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Title: The Abbot
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 ABBOT.

BEING THE SEQUEL TO THE MONASTERY.

     By Sir Walter Scott



[Illustration: ROLAND GRAEME AND CATHERINE SETON BEFORE QUEEN MARY.]



INTRODUCTION--(1831.)

From what is said in the Introduction to the Monastery, it must
necessarily be inferred, that the Author considered that romance as
something very like a failure. It is true, the booksellers did not
complain of the sale, because, unless on very felicitous occasions,
or on those which are equally the reverse, literary popularity is not
gained or lost by a single publication. Leisure must be allowed for the
tide both to flow and ebb. But I was conscious that, in my situation,
not to advance was in some Degree to recede, and being naturally
unwilling to think that the principle of decay lay in myself, I was
at least desirous to know of a certainty, whether the degree of
discountenance which I had incurred, was now owing to an ill-managed
story, or an ill-chosen subject.

I was never, I confess, one of those who are willing to suppose the
brains of an author to be a kind of milk, which will not stand above
a single creaming, and who are eternally harping to young authors to
husband their efforts, and to be chary of their reputation, lest it grow
hackneyed in the eyes of men. Perhaps I was, and have always been, the
more indifferent to the degree of estimation in which I might be held
as an author, because I did not put so high a value as many others upon
what is termed literary reputation in the abstract, or at least upon the
species of popularity which had fallen to my share; for though it
were worse than affectation to deny that my vanity was satisfied at my
success in the department in which chance had in some measure enlisted
me, I was, nevertheless, far from thinking that the novelist or
romance-writer stands high in the ranks of literature. But I spare the
reader farther egotism on this subject, as I have expressed my opinion
very fully in the Introductory Epistle to the Fortunes of Nigel, first
edition; and, although it be composed in an imaginary character, it is
as sincere and candid as if it had been written "without my gown and
band."

In a word, when I considered myself as having been unsuccessful in the
Monastery, I was tempted to try whether I could not restore, even at
the risk of totally losing, my so-called reputation, by a new hazard--I
looked round my library, and could not but observe, that, from the time
of Chaucer to that of Byron, the most popular authors had been the
most prolific. Even the aristarch Johnson allowed that the quality
of readiness and profusion had a merit in itself, independent of the
intrinsic value of the composition. Talking of Churchill, I believe,
who had little merit in his prejudiced eyes, he allowed him that of
fertility, with some such qualification as this, "A Crab-apple can bear
but crabs after all; but there is a great difference in favour of that
which bears a large quantity of fruit, however indifferent, and that
which produces only a few."

Looking more attentively at the patriarchs of literature, whose earner
was as long as it was brilliant, I thought I perceived that in the
busy and prolonged course of exertion, there were no doubt occasional
failures, but that still those who were favourites of their age
triumphed over these miscarriages. By the new efforts which they
made, their errors were obliterated, they became identified with the
literature of their country, and after having long received law from the
critics, came in some degree to impose it. And when such a writer was at
length called from the scene, his death first made the public sensible
what a large share he had occupied in their attention. I recollected a
passage in Grimm's Correspondence, that while the unexhausted Voltaire
sent forth tract after tract to the very close of a long life, the first
impression made by each as it appeared, was, that it was inferior to
its predecessors; an opinion adopted from the general idea that the
Patriarch of Ferney must at last find the point from which he was to
decline. But the opinion of the public finally ranked in succession
the last of Voltaire's Essays on the same footing with those which had
formerly charmed the French nation. The inference from this and similar
facts seemed to me to be, that new works were often judged of by the
public, not so much from their own intrinsic merit, as from extrinsic
ideas which readers had previously formed with regard to them, and over
which a writer might hope to triumph by patience and by exertion. There
is risk in the attempt;

   "If he fall in, good night, or sink or swim."

But this is a chance incident to every literary attempt, and by which
men of a sanguine temper are little moved.

I may illustrate what I mean, by the feelings of most men in travelling.
If we have found any stage particularly tedious, or in an especial
degree interesting, particularly short, or much longer than we expected,
our imaginations are so apt to exaggerate the original impression, that,
on repeating the journey, we usually find that we have considerably
over-rated the predominating quality, and the road appears to be duller
or more pleasant, shorter or more tedious, than what we expected, and,
consequently, than what is actually the case. It requires a third or
fourth journey to enable us to form an accurate judgment of its beauty,
its length, or its other attributes.

In the same manner, the public, judging of a new work, which it receives
perhaps with little expectation, if surprised into applause, becomes
very often ecstatic, gives a great deal more approbation than is due,
and elevates the child of its immediate favour to a rank which, as it
affects the author, it is equally difficult to keep, and painful to
lose. If, on this occasion, the author trembles at the height to which
he is raised, and becomes afraid of the shadow of his own renown, he may
indeed retire from the lottery with the prize which he has drawn, but,
in future ages, his honour will be only in proportion to his labours.
If, on the contrary, he rushes again into the lists, he is sure to be
judged with severity proportioned to the former favour of the public. If
he be daunted by a bad reception on this second occasion, he may again
become a stranger to the arena. If, on the contrary, he can keep his
ground, and stand the shuttlecock's fate, of being struck up and down,
he will probably, at length, hold with some certainty the level in
public opinion which he may be found to deserve; and he may perhaps
boast of arresting the general attention, in the same manner as the
Bachelor Samson Carrasco, of fixing the weathercock La Giralda of
Seville for weeks, months, or years, that is, for as long as the wind
shall uniformly blow from one quarter. To this degree of popularity the
author had the hardihood to aspire, while, in order to attain it, he
assumed the daring resolution to keep himself in the view of the public
by frequent appearances before them.

It must be added, that the author's incognito gave him greater courage
to renew his attempts to please the public, and an advantage similar to
that which Jack the Giant-killer received from his coat of darkness.
In sending the Abbot forth so soon after the Monastery, he had used the
well-known practice recommended by Bassanio:--

  "In my school days, when I had lost one shaft,
  I shot another of the self-same flight,
  The self-same way, with more advised watch,
  To find the other forth."

And, to continue the simile, his shafts, like those of the lesser Ajax,
were discharged more readily that the archer was as inaccessible
to criticism, personally speaking, as the Grecian archer under his
brother's sevenfold shield.

Should the reader desire to know upon what principles the Abbot was
expected to amend the fortune of the Monastery, I have first to request
his attention to the Introductory Epistle addressed to the imaginary
Captain Clutterbuck; a mode by which, like his predecessors in this walk
of fiction, the real author makes one of his _dramatis personae_ the
means of communicating his own sentiments to the public, somewhat more
artificially than by a direct address to the readers. A pleasing French
writer of fairy tales, Monsieur Pajon, author of the History of Prince
Soly, has set a diverting example of the same machinery, where he
introduces the presiding Genius of the land of Romance conversing with
one of the personages of the tale.

In this Introductory Epistle, the author communicates, in confidence, to
Captain Clutterbuck, his sense that the White Lady had not met the taste
of the times, and his reason for withdrawing her from the scene. The
author did not deem it equally necessary to be candid respecting another
alteration. The Monastery was designed, at first, to have contained some
supernatural agency, arising out of the fact, that Melrose had been the
place of deposit of the great Robert Bruce's heart. The writer shrunk,
however, from filling up, in this particular, the sketch as it was
originally traced; nor did he venture to resume, in continuation, the
subject which he had left unattempted in the original work. Thus, the
incident of the discovery of the heart, which occupies the greater
part of the Introduction to the Monastery, is a mystery unnecessarily
introduced, and which remains at last very imperfectly explained. In
this particular, I was happy to shroud myself by the example of the
author of "Caleb Williams," who never condescends to inform us of the
actual contents of that Iron Chest which makes such a figure in his
interesting work, and gives the name to Mr. Colman's drama.

The public had some claim to inquire into this matter, but it seemed
indifferent policy in the author to give the explanation. For, whatever
praise may be due to the ingenuity which brings to a general combination
all the loose threads of a narrative, like the knitter at the finishing
of her stocking, I am greatly deceived if in many cases a superior
advantage is not attained, by the air of reality which the deficiency
of explanation attaches to a work written on a different system. In life
itself, many things befall every mortal, of which the individual never
knows the real cause or origin; and were we to point out the most marked
distinction between a real and a fictitious narrative, we would say,
that the former in reference to the remote causes of the events it
relates, is obscure, doubtful, and mysterious; whereas, in the latter
case, it is a part of the author's duty to afford satisfactory details
upon the causes of the separate events he has recorded, and, in a word,
to account for every thing. The reader, like Mungo in the Padlock, will
not be satisfied with hearing what he is not made fully to comprehend.

I omitted, therefore, in the Introduction to the Abbot, any attempt to
explain the previous story, or to apologize for unintelligibility.

Neither would it have been prudent to have endeavoured to proclaim,
in the Introduction to the Abbot, the real spring, by which I hoped
it might attract a greater degree of interest than its immediate
predecessor. A taking title, or the announcement of a popular subject,
is a recipe for success much in favour with booksellers, but which
authors will not always find efficacious. The cause is worth a moment's
examination.

There occur in every country some peculiar historical characters, which
are, like a spell or charm, sovereign to excite curiosity and attract
attention, since every one in the slightest degree interested in the
land which they belong to, has heard much of them, and longs to hear
more. A tale turning on the fortunes of Alfred or Elizabeth in England,
or of Wallace or Bruce in Scotland, is sure by the very announcement
to excite public curiosity to a considerable degree, and ensure the
publisher's being relieved of the greater part of an impression,
even before the contents of the work are known. This is of the last
importance to the bookseller, who is at once, to use a technical phrase,
"brought home," all his outlay being repaid. But it is a different case
with the author, since it cannot be denied that we are apt to feel least
satisfied with the works of which we have been induced, by titles and
laudatory advertisements, to entertain exaggerated expectations.
The intention of the work has been anticipated, and misconceived or
misrepresented, and although the difficulty of executing the work again
reminds us of Hotspur's task of "o'er-walking a current roaring loud,"
yet the adventurer must look for more ridicule if he fails, than
applause if he executes, his undertaking.

Notwithstanding a risk, which should make authors pause ere they adopt
a theme which, exciting general interest and curiosity, is often
the preparative for disappointment, yet it would be an injudicious
regulation which should deter the poet or painter from attempting to
introduce historical portraits, merely from the difficulty of executing
the task in a satisfactory manner. Something must be trusted to the
generous impulse, which often thrusts an artist upon feats of which he
knows the difficulty, while he trusts courage and exertion may afford
the means of surmounting it.

It is especially when he is sensible of losing ground with the public,
that an author may be justified in using with address, such selection of
subject or title as is most likely to procure a rehearing. It was with
these feelings of hope and apprehension, that I venture to awaken, in
a work of fiction, the memory of Queen Mary, so interesting by her
wit, her beauty, her misfortunes, and the mystery which still does, and
probably always will, overhang her history. In doing so, I was aware
that failure would be a conclusive disaster, so that my task was
something like that of an enchanter who raises a spirit over whom he
is uncertain of possessing an effectual control; and I naturally paid
attention to such principles of composition, as I conceived were best
suited to the historical novel.

Enough has been already said to explain the purpose of composing the
Abbot. The historical references are, as usual, explained in the notes.
That which relates to Queen Mary's escape from Lochleven Castle, is a
more minute account of that romantic adventure, than is to be found in
the histories of the period.

ABBOTSFORD,

1_st January_, 1831.



INTRODUCTORY EPISTLE.

FROM THE AUTHOR OF "WAVERLEY," TO CAPTAIN CLUTTERBUCK, LATE OF HIS
MAJESTY'S ---- REGIMENT OF INFANTRY.

DEAR CAPTAIN:

I am sorry to observe, by your last favour, that you disapprove of
the numerous retrenchments and alterations which I have been under the
necessity of making on the Manuscript of your friend, the Benedictine,
and I willingly make you the medium of apology to many, who have
honoured me more than I deserve.

I admit that my retrenchments have been numerous, and leave gaps in the
story, which, in your original manuscript, would have run well-nigh to
a fourth volume, as my printer assures me. I am sensible, besides, that,
in consequence of the liberty of curtailment you have allowed me, some
parts of the story have been huddled up without the necessary details.
But, after all, it is better that the travellers should have to step
over a ditch, than to wade through a morass--that the reader should have
to suppose what may easily be inferred, than be obliged to creep through
pages of dull explanation. I have struck out, for example, the whole
machinery of the White Lady, and the poetry by which it is so ably
supported, in the original manuscript. But you must allow that
the public taste gives little encouragement to those legendary
superstitions, which formed alternately the delight and the terror of
our predecessors. In like manner, much is omitted illustrative of
the impulse of enthusiasm in favour of the ancient religion in Mother
Magdalen and the Abbot. But we do not feel deep sympathy at this period
with what was once the most powerful and animating principle in
Europe, with the exception of that of the Reformation, by which it was
successfully opposed.

You rightly observe, that these retrenchments have rendered the title
no longer applicable to the subject, and that some other would have been
more suitable to the Work, in its present state, than that of THE ABBOT,
who made so much greater figure in the original, and for whom your
friend, the Benedictine, seems to have inspired you with a sympathetic
respect. I must plead guilty to this accusation, observing, at the same
time, in manner of extenuation, that though the objection might have
been easily removed, by giving a new title to the Work, yet, in doing
so, I should have destroyed the necessary cohesion between the present
history, and its predecessor THE MONASTERY, which I was unwilling to do,
as the period, and several of the personages, were the same.

After all, my good friend, it is of little consequence what the work
is called, or on what interest it turns, provided it catches the public
attention; for the quality of the wine (could we but insure it) may,
according to the old proverb, render the bush unnecessary, or of little
consequence.

I congratulate you upon your having found it consistent with prudence
to establish your Tilbury, and approve of the colour, and of your
boy's livery, (subdued green and pink.)--As you talk of completing
your descriptive poem on the "Ruins of Kennaquhair, with notes by an
Antiquary," I hope you have procured a steady horse.--I remain, with
compliments to all friends, dear Captain, very much

Yours, &c. &c. &c.

THE AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY.



THE ABBOT.



Chapter the First.


  _Domum mansit--lanam fecit._
              Ancient Roman Epitaph.

  She keepit close the hous, and birlit at the quhele.
                                      GAWAIN DOUGLAS.

The time which passes over our heads so imperceptibly, makes the
same gradual change in habits, manners, and character, as in personal
appearance. At the revolution of every five years we find ourselves
another, and yet the same--there is a change of views, and no less of
the light in which we regard them; a change of motives as well as
of actions. Nearly twice that space had glided away over the head of
Halbert Glendinning and his lady, betwixt the period of our former
narrative, in which they played a distinguished part, and the date at
which our present tale commences.

Two circumstances only had imbittered their union, which was otherwise
as happy as mutual affection could render it. The first of these was
indeed the common calamity of Scotland, being the distracted state of
that unhappy country, where every man's sword was directed against his
neighbour's bosom. Glendinning had proved what Murray expected of him,
a steady friend, strong in battle, and wise in counsel, adhering to him,
from motives of gratitude, in situations where by his own unbiassed will
he would either have stood neuter, or have joined the opposite party.
Hence, when danger was near--and it was seldom far distant--Sir Halbert
Glendinning, for he now bore the rank of knighthood, was perpetually
summoned to attend his patron on distant expeditions, or on perilous
enterprises, or to assist him with his counsel in the doubtful intrigues
of a half-barbarous court. He was thus frequently, and for a long space,
absent from his castle and from his lady; and to this ground of regret
we must add, that their union had not been blessed with children, to
occupy the attention of the Lady of Avenel, while she was thus deprived
of her husband's domestic society.

On such occasions she lived almost entirely secluded from the world,
within the walls of her paternal mansion. Visiting amongst neighbors
was a matter entirely out of the question, unless on occasions of solemn
festival, and then it was chiefly confined to near kindred. Of these the
Lady of Avenel had none who survived, and the dames of the neighbouring
barons affected to regard her less as the heiress of the house of Avenel
than as the wife of a peasant, the son of a church-vassal, raised up to
mushroom eminence by the capricious favour of Murray.

The pride of ancestry, which rankled in the bosom of the ancient gentry,
was more openly expressed by their ladies, and was, moreover, imbittered
not a little by the political feuds of the time, for most of the
Southern chiefs were friends to the authority of the Queen, and very
jealous of the power of Murray. The Castle of Avenel was, therefore, on
all these accounts, as melancholy and solitary a residence for its lady
as could well be imagined. Still it had the essential recommendation of
great security. The reader is already aware that the fortress was built
upon an islet on a small lake, and was only accessible by a causeway,
intersected by a double ditch, defended by two draw-bridges, so that
without artillery, it might in those days be considered as impregnable.
It was only necessary, therefore, to secure against surprise, and
the service of six able men within the castle was sufficient for that
purpose. If more serious danger threatened, an ample garrison was
supplied by the male inhabitants of a little hamlet, which, under the
auspices of Halbert Glendinning, had arisen on a small piece of level
ground, betwixt the lake and the hill, nearly adjoining to the spot
where the causeway joined the mainland. The Lord of Avenel had found
it an easy matter to procure inhabitants, as he was not only a kind and
beneficent overlord, but well qualified, both by his experience in arms,
his high character for wisdom and integrity, and his favour with the
powerful Earl of Murray, to protect and defend those who dwelt under his
banner. In leaving his castle for any length of time, he had, therefore,
the consolation to reflect, that this village afforded, on the slightest
notice, a band of thirty stout men, which was more than sufficient for
its defence; while the families of the villagers, as was usual on such
occasions, fled to the recesses of the mountains, drove their cattle
to the same places of shelter, and left the enemy to work their will on
their miserable cottages.

One guest only resided generally, if not constantly, at the Castle of
Avenel. This was Henry Warden, who now felt himself less able for the
stormy task imposed on the reforming clergy; and having by his zeal
given personal offence to many of the leading nobles and chiefs, did not
consider himself as perfectly safe, unless when within the walls of the
strong mansion of some assured friend. He ceased not, however, to serve
his cause as eagerly with his pen, as he had formerly done with his
tongue, and had engaged in a furious and acrimonious contest, concerning
the sacrifice of the mass, as it was termed, with the Abbot Eustatius,
formerly the Sub-Prior of Kennaquhair. Answers, replies, duplies,
triplies, quadruplies, followed thick upon each other, and displayed, as
is not unusual in controversy, fully as much zeal as Christian charity.
The disputation very soon became as celebrated as that of John Knox
and the Abbot of Crosraguel, raged nearly as fiercely, and, for aught I
know, the publications to which it gave rise may be as precious in the
eyes of bibliographers. [Footnote: The tracts which appeared in the
Disputation between the Scottish Reformer and Quentin Kennedy, Abbot
of Crosraguel, are among the scarcest in Scottish Bibliography. See
M'Crie's _Life of Knox_, p. 258.] But the engrossing nature of his
occupation rendered the theologian not the most interesting companion
for a solitary female; and his grave, stern, and absorbed deportment,
which seldom showed any interest, except in that which concerned his
religious profession, made his presence rather add to than diminish the
gloom which hung over the Castle of Avenel. To superintend the tasks of
numerous female domestics, was the principal part of the Lady's daily
employment; her spindle and distaff, her Bible, and a solitary walk upon
the battlements of the castle, or upon the causeway, or occasionally,
but more seldom, upon the banks of the little lake, consumed the rest
of the day. But so great was the insecurity of the period, that when
she ventured to extend her walk beyond the hamlet, the warder on the
watch-tower was directed to keep a sharp look-out in every direction,
and four or five men held themselves in readiness to mount and sally
forth from the castle on the slightest appearance of alarm.

Thus stood affairs at the castle, when, after an absence of several
weeks, the Knight of Avenel, which was now the title most frequently
given to Sir Halbert Glendinning, was daily expected to return home. Day
after day, however, passed away, and he returned not. Letters in
those days were rarely written, and the Knight must have resorted to a
secretary to express his intentions in that manner; besides, intercourse
of all kinds was precarious and unsafe, and no man cared to give any
public intimation of the time and direction of a journey, since, if his
route were publicly known, it was always likely he might in that case
meet with more enemies than friends upon the road. The precise day,
therefore, of Sir Halbert's return, was not fixed, but that which his
lady's fond expectation had calculated upon in her own mind had long
since passed, and hope delayed began to make the heart sick.

It was upon the evening of a sultry summer's day, when the sun was
half-sunk behind the distant western mountains of Liddesdale, that the
Lady took her solitary walk on the battlements of a range of buildings,
which formed the front of the castle, where a flat roof of flag-stones
presented a broad and convenient promenade. The level surface of the
lake, undisturbed except by the occasional dipping of a teal-duck, or
coot, was gilded with the beams of the setting luminary, and reflected,
as if in a golden mirror, the hills amongst which it lay embossed. The
scene, otherwise so lonely, was occasionally enlivened by the voices of
the children in the village, which, softened by distance, reached the
ear of the Lady, in her solitary walk, or by the distant call of the
herdsman, as he guided his cattle from the glen in which they had
pastured all day, to place them in greater security for the night,
in the immediate vicinity of the village. The deep lowing of the cows
seemed to demand the attendance of the milk-maidens, who, singing
shrilly and merrily, strolled forth, each with her pail on her head,
to attend to the duty of the evening. The Lady of Avenel looked and
listened; the sounds which she heard reminded her of former days, when
her most important employment, as well as her greatest delight, was
to assist Dame Glendinning and Tibb Tackett in milking the cows at
Glendearg. The thought was fraught with melancholy.

"Why was I not," she said, "the peasant girl which in all men's eyes I
seemed to be? Halbert and I had then spent our life peacefully in his
native glen, undisturbed by the phantoms either of fear or of ambition.
His greatest pride had then been to show the fairest herd in the
Halidome; his greatest danger to repel some pilfering snatcher from the
Border; and the utmost distance which would have divided us, would have
been the chase of some outlying deer. But, alas! what avails the blood
which Halbert has shed, and the dangers which he encounters, to support
a name and rank, dear to him because he has it from me, but which we
shall never transmit to our posterity! with me the name of Avenel must
expire."

She sighed as the reflections arose, and, looking towards the shore of
the lake, her eye was attracted by a group of children of various ages,
assembled to see a little ship, constructed by some village artist,
perform its first voyage on the water. It was launched amid the shouts
of tiny voices and the clapping of little hands, and shot bravely forth
on its voyage with a favouring wind, which promised to carry it to the
other side of the lake. Some of the bigger boys ran round to receive and
secure it on the farther shore, trying their speed against each other
as they sprang like young fawns along the shingly verge of the lake. The
rest, for whom such a journey seemed too arduous, remained watching the
motions of the fairy vessel from the spot where it had been launched.
The sight of their sports pressed on the mind of the childless Lady of
Avenel.

"Why are none of these prattlers mine?" she continued, pursuing the
tenor of her melancholy reflections. "Their parents can scarce find them
the coarsest food--and I, who could nurse them in plenty, I am doomed
never to hear a child call me mother!"

The thought sunk on her heart with a bitterness which resembled envy,
so deeply is the desire of offspring implanted in the female breast. She
pressed her hands together as if she were wringing them in the extremity
of her desolate feeling, as one whom Heaven had written childless. A
large stag-hound of the greyhound species approached at this moment, and
attracted perhaps by the gesture, licked her hands and pressed his large
head against them. He obtained the desired caresses in return, but still
the sad impression remained.

"Wolf," she said, as if the animal could have understood her complaints,
"thou art a noble and beautiful animal; but, alas! the love and
affection that I long to bestow, is of a quality higher than can fall to
thy share, though I love thee much."

And, as if she were apologizing to Wolf for withholding from him any
part of her regard, she caressed his proud head and crest, while,
looking in her eyes, he seemed to ask her what she wanted, or what he
could do to show his attachment. At this moment a shriek of distress
was heard on the shore, from the playful group which had been lately so
jovial. The Lady looked, and saw the cause with great agony.

The little ship, the object of the children's delighted attention, had
stuck among some tufts of the plant which bears the water-lily, that
marked a shoal in the lake about an arrow-flight from the shore. A hardy
little boy, who had taken the lead in the race round the margin of the
lake, did not hesitate a moment to strip off his _wylie-coat_, plunge
into the water, and swim towards the object of their common solicitude.
The first movement of the Lady was to call for help; but she observed
that the boy swam strongly and fearlessly, and as she saw that one or
two villagers, who were distant spectators of the incident, seemed to
give themselves no uneasiness on his account, she supposed that he was
accustomed to the exercise, and that there was no danger. But whether,
in swimming, the boy had struck his breast against a sunken rock,
or whether he was suddenly taken with cramp, or whether he had
over-calculated his own strength, it so happened, that when he had
disembarrassed the little plaything from the flags in which it was
entangled, and sent it forward on its course, he had scarce swam a few
yards in his way to the shore, than he raised himself suddenly from the
water, and screamed aloud, clapping his hands at the same time with an
expression of fear and pain.

The Lady of Avenel, instantly taking the alarm, called hastily to the
attendants to get the boat ready. But this was an affair of some time.
The only boat permitted to be used on the lake, was moored within the
second cut which intersected the canal, and it was several minutes ere
it could be unmoored and got under way. Meantime, the Lady of Avenel,
with agonizing anxiety, saw that the efforts that the poor boy made to
keep himself afloat, were now exchanged for a faint struggling, which
would soon have been over, but for aid equally prompt and unhoped-for.
Wolf, who, like some of that large species of greyhound, was a practised
water-dog, had marked the object of her anxiety, and, quitting his
mistress's side, had sought the nearest point from which he could with
safety plunge into the lake. With the wonderful instinct which these
noble animals have so often displayed in the like circumstances, he
swam straight to the spot where his assistance was so much wanted,
and seizing the child's under-dress in his mouth, he not only kept him
afloat, but towed him towards the causeway. The boat having put off with
a couple of men, met the dog half-way, and relieved him of his burden.
They landed on the causeway, close by the gates of the castle, with
their yet lifeless charge, and were there met by the Lady of Avenel,
attended by one or two of her maidens, eagerly waiting to administer
assistance to the sufferer.

He was borne into the castle, deposited upon a bed, and every mode of
recovery resorted to, which the knowledge of the times, and the skill
of Henry Warden, who professed some medical science, could dictate. For
some time it was all in vain, and the Lady watched, with unspeakable
earnestness, the pallid countenance of the beautiful child. He seemed
about ten years old. His dress was of the meanest sort, but his long
curled hair, and the noble cast of his features, partook not of that
poverty of appearance. The proudest noble in Scotland might have been
yet prouder could he have called that child his heir. While, with
breathless anxiety, the Lady of Avenel gazed on his well-formed and
expressive features, a slight shade of colour returned gradually to the
cheek; suspended animation became restored by degrees, the child sighed
deeply, opened his eyes, which to the human countenance produces the
effect of light upon the natural landscape, stretched his arms towards
the Lady, and muttered the word "Mother," that epithet, of all others,
which is dearest to the female ear.

"God, madam," said the preacher, "has restored the child to your wishes;
it must be yours so to bring him up, that he may not one day wish that
he had perished in his innocence."

"It shall be my charge," said the Lady; and again throwing her arms
around the boy, she overwhelmed him with kisses and caresses, so much
was she agitated by the terror arising from the danger in which he had
been just placed, and by joy at his unexpected deliverance.

"But you are not my mother," said the boy, recovering his recollection,
and endeavouring, though faintly, to escape from the caresses of the
Lady of Avenel; "you are not my mother,--alas! I have no mother--only I
have dreamt that I had one."

"I will read the dream for you, my love," answered the Lady of Avenel;
"and I will be myself your mother. Surely God has heard my wishes,
and, in his own marvellous manner, hath sent me an object on which my
affections may expand themselves." She looked towards Warden as she
spoke. The preacher hesitated what he should reply to a burst of
passionate feeling, which, perhaps, seemed to him more enthusiastic than
the occasion demanded. In the meanwhile, the large stag-hound, Wolf,
which, dripping wet as he was, had followed his mistress into the
apartment, and had sat by the bedside, a patient and quiet spectator of
all the means used for resuscitation of the being whom he had preserved,
now became impatient of remaining any longer unnoticed, and began to
whine and fawn upon the Lady with his great rough paws.

"Yes," she said, "good Wolf, and you shall be remembered also for your
day's work; and I will think the more of you for having preserved the
life of a creature so beautiful."

But Wolf was not quite satisfied with the share of attention which he
thus attracted; he persisted in whining and pawing upon his mistress,
his caresses rendered still more troublesome by his long shaggy hair
being so much and thoroughly wetted, till she desired one of the
domestics, with whom he was familiar, to call the animal out of the
apartment. Wolf resisted every invitation to this purpose, until his
mistress positively commanded him to be gone, in an angry tone; when,
turning towards the bed on which the body still lay, half awake to
sensation, half drowned in the meanders of fluctuating delirium, he
uttered a deep and savage growl, curled up his nose and lips, showing
his full range of white and sharpened teeth, which might have matched
those of an actual wolf, and then, turning round, sullenly followed the
domestic out of the apartment.

"It is singular," said the Lady, addressing Warden; "the animal is not
only so good-natured to all, but so particularly fond of children. What
can ail him at the little fellow whose life he has saved?"

"Dogs," replied the preacher, "are but too like the human race in their
foibles, though their instinct be less erring than the reason of poor
mortal man when relying upon his own unassisted powers. Jealousy, my
good lady, is a passion not unknown to them, and they often evince it,
not only with respect to the preferences which they see given by their
masters to individuals of their own species, but even when their rivals
are children. You have caressed that child much and eagerly, and the dog
considers himself as a discarded favourite."

"It is a strange instinct," said the Lady; "and from the gravity with
which you mention it, my reverend friend, I would almost say that you
supposed this singular jealousy of my favourite Wolf, was not only well
founded, but justifiable. But perhaps you speak in jest?"

"I seldom jest," answered the preacher; "life was not lent to us to
be expended in that idle mirth which resembles the crackling of thorns
under the pot. I would only have you derive, if it so please you,
this lesson from what I have said, that the best of our feelings, when
indulged to excess, may give pain to others. There is but one in which
we may indulge to the utmost limit of vehemence of which our bosom is
capable, secure that excess cannot exist in the greatest intensity to
which it can be excited--I mean the love of our Maker."

"Surely," said the Lady of Avenel, "we are commanded by the same
authority to love our neighbour?"

"Ay, madam," said Warden, "but our love to God is to be unbounded--we
are to love him with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole
strength. The love which the precept commands us to bear to our
neighbour, has affixed to it a direct limit and qualification--we are to
love our neighbour as ourself; as it is elsewhere explained by the great
commandment, that we must do unto him as we would that he should do unto
us. Here there is a limit, and a bound, even to the most praiseworthy of
our affections, so far as they are turned upon sublunary and terrestrial
objects. We are to render to our neighbour, whatever be his rank or
degree, that corresponding portion of affection with which we could
rationally expect we should ourselves be regarded by those standing in
the same relation to us. Hence, neither husband nor wife, neither son
nor daughter, neither friend nor relation, are lawfully to be made the
objects of our idolatry. The Lord our God is a jealous God, and will not
endure that we bestow on the creature that extremity of devotion which
He who made us demands as his own share. I say to you, Lady, that even
in the fairest, and purest, and most honourable feelings of our nature,
there is that original taint of sin which ought to make us pause and
hesitate, ere we indulge them to excess."

"I understand not this, reverend sir," said the Lady; "nor do I guess
what I can have now said or done, to draw down on me an admonition which
has something a taste of reproof."

"Lady," said Warden, "I crave your pardon, if I have urged aught beyond
the limits of my duty. But consider, whether in the sacred promise to be
not only a protectress, but a mother, to this poor child, your purpose
may meet the wishes of the noble knight your husband. The fondness which
you have lavished on the unfortunate, and, I own, most lovely child,
has met something like a reproof in the bearing of your household
dog.--Displease not your noble husband. Men, as well as animals, are
jealous of the affections of those they love."

"This is too much, reverend sir," said the Lady of Avenel, greatly
offended. "You have been long our guest, and have received from the
Knight of Avenel and myself that honour and regard which your character
and profession so justly demand. But I am yet to learn that we have at
any time authorized your interference in our family arrangements, or
placed you as a judge of our conduct towards each other. I pray this may
be forborne in future."

"Lady," replied the preacher, with the boldness peculiar to the clergy
of his persuasion at that time, "when you weary of my admonitions--when
I see that my services are no longer acceptable to you, and the noble
knight your husband, I shall know that my Master wills me no longer to
abide here; and, praying for a continuance of his best blessings on your
family I will then, were the season the depth of winter, and the hour
midnight, walk out on yonder waste, and travel forth through these wild
mountains, as lonely and unaided, though far more helpless, than when
I first met your husband in the valley of Glendearg. But while I
remain here, I will not see you err from the true path, no, not a
hair's-breadth, without making the old man's voice and remonstrance
heard."

"Nay, but," said the Lady, who both loved and respected the good man,
though sometimes a little offended at what she conceived to be an
exuberant degree of zeal, "we will not part this way, my good friend.
Women are quick and hasty in their feelings; but, believe me, my wishes
and my purposes towards this child are such as both my husband and
you will approve of." The clergyman bowed, and retreated to his own
apartment.



Chapter the Second.


  How steadfastly he fix'd his eyes on me--
  His dark eyes shining through forgotten tears--
  Then stretch'd his little arms, and call'd me mother!
  What could I do? I took the bantling home--
  I could not tell the imp he had no mother.
                         COUNT BASIL.

When Warden had left the apartment, the Lady of Avenel gave way to the
feelings of tenderness which the sight of the boy, his sudden danger,
and his recent escape, had inspired; and no longer awed by the
sternness, as she deemed it, of the preacher, heaped with caresses the
lovely and interesting child. He was now, in some measure, recovered
from the consequences of his accident, and received passively, though
not without wonder, the tokens of kindness with which he was thus
loaded. The face of the lady was strange to him, and her dress different
and far more sumptuous than any he remembered. But the boy was naturally
of an undaunted temper; and indeed children are generally acute
physiognomists, and not only pleased by that which is beautiful in
itself, but peculiarly quick in distinguishing and replying to the
attentions of those who really love them. If they see a person in
company, though a perfect stranger, who is by nature fond of children,
the little imps seem to discover it by a sort of free-masonry, while the
awkward attempts of those who make advances to them for the purpose of
recommending themselves to the parents, usually fail in attracting their
reciprocal attention. The little boy, therefore, appeared in some degree
sensible of the lady's caresses, and it was with difficulty she withdrew
herself from his pillow, to afford him leisure for necessary repose.

"To whom belongs our little rescued varlet?" was the first question
which the Lady of Avenel put to her handmaiden Lilias, when they had
retired to the hall.

"To an old woman in the hamlet," said Lilias, "who is even now come so
far as the porter's lodge to inquire concerning his safety. Is it your
pleasure that she be admitted?"

"Is it my pleasure?" said the Lady of Avenel, echoing the question with
a strong accent of displeasure and surprise; "can you make any doubt
of it? What woman but must pity the agony of the mother, whose heart is
throbbing for the safety of a child so lovely!"

"Nay, but, madam," said Lilias, "this woman is too old to be the mother
of the child; I rather think she must be his grandmother, or some more
distant relation."

"Be she who she will, Lilias," replied the Lady, "she must have an
aching heart while the safety of a creature so lovely is uncertain.
Go instantly and bring her hither. Besides, I would willingly learn
something concerning his birth."

Lilias left the hall, and presently afterwards returned, ushering in a
tall female very poorly dressed, yet with more pretension to decency
and cleanliness than was usually combined with such coarse garments. The
Lady of Avenel knew her figure the instant she presented herself. It was
the fashion of the family, that upon every Sabbath, and on two evenings
in the week besides, Henry Warden preached or lectured in the chapel at
the castle. The extension of the Protestant faith was, upon principle,
as well as in good policy, a primary object with the Knight of Avenel.
The inhabitants of the village were therefore invited to attend upon the
instructions of Henry Warden, and many of them were speedily won to
the doctrine which their master and protector approved. These sermons,
homilies, and lectures, had made a great impression on the mind of the
Abbot Eustace, or Eustatius, and were a sufficient spur to the severity
and sharpness of his controversy with his old fellow-collegiate;
and, ere Queen Mary was dethroned, and while the Catholics still had
considerable authority in the Border provinces, he more than once
threatened to levy his vassals, and assail and level with the earth
that stronghold of heresy the Castle of Avenel. But notwithstanding the
Abbot's impotent resentment, and notwithstanding also the disinclination
of the country to favour the new religion, Henry Warden proceeded
without remission in his labours, and made weekly converts from the
faith of Rome to that of the reformed church. Amongst those who gave
most earnest and constant attendance on his ministry, was the aged
woman, whose form, tall, and otherwise too remarkable to be forgotten,
the Lady had of late observed frequently as being conspicuous among the
little audience. She had indeed more than once desired to know who
that stately-looking woman was, whose appearance was so much above the
poverty of her vestments. But the reply had always been, that she was an
Englishwoman, who was tarrying for a season at the hamlet, and that
no one knew more concerning her. She now asked her after her name and
birth.

"Magdalen Graeme is my name," said the woman; "I come of the Graemes of
Heathergill, in Nicol Forest, [Footnote: A district of Cumberland, lying
close to the Scottish border.] a people of ancient blood."

"And what make you," continued the Lady, "so far distant from your
home?"

"I have no home," said Magdalen Graeme, "it was burnt by your
Border-riders--my husband and my son were slain--there is not a drop's
blood left in the veins of any one which is of kin to mine."

"That is no uncommon fate in these wild times, and in this unsettled
land," said the Lady; "the English hands have been as deeply dyed in our
blood as ever those of Scotsmen have been in yours."

"You have right to say it, Lady," answered Magdalen Graeme; "for men
tell of a time when this castle was not strong enough to save your
father's life, or to afford your mother and her infant a place of
refuge. And why ask ye me, then, wherefore I dwell not in mine own home,
and with mine own people?"

"It was indeed an idle question," answered the Lady, "where misery so
often makes wanderers; but wherefore take refuge in a hostile country?"

"My neighbours were Popish and mass-mongers," said the old woman; "it
has pleased Heaven to give me a clearer sight of the gospel, and I have
tarried here to enjoy the ministry of that worthy man Henry Warden, who,
to the praise and comfort of many, teacheth the Evangel in truth and in
sincerity."

"Are you poor?" again demanded the Lady of Avenel.

"You hear me ask alms of no one," answered the Englishwoman.

Here there was a pause. The manner of the woman was, if not
disrespectful, at least much less than gracious; and she appeared to
give no encouragement to farther communication. The Lady of Avenel
renewed the conversation on a different topic.

"You have heard of the danger in which your boy has been placed?"

"I have, Lady, and how by an especial providence he was rescued from
death. May Heaven make him thankful, and me!"

"What relation do you bear to him?"

"I am his grandmother, lady, if it so please you; the only relation he
hath left upon earth to take charge of him."

"The burden of his maintenance must necessarily be grievous to you in
your deserted situation?" pursued the Lady.

"I have complained of it to no one," said Magdalen Graeme, with the same
unmoved, dry, and unconcerned tone of voice, in which she had answered
all the former questions.

"If," said the Lady of Avenel, "your grandchild could be received into a
noble family, would it not advantage both him and you?"

"Received into a noble family!" said the old woman, drawing herself up,
and bending her brows until her forehead was wrinkled into a frown of
unusual severity; "and for what purpose, I pray you?--to be my lady's
page, or my lord's jackman, to eat broken victuals, and contend with
other menials for the remnants of the master's meal? Would you have
him to fan the flies from my lady's face while she sleeps, to carry
her train while she walks, to hand her trencher when she feeds, to ride
before her on horseback, to walk after her on foot, to sing when she
lists, and to be silent when she bids?--a very weathercock, which,
though furnished in appearance with wings and plumage, cannot soar into
the air--cannot fly from the spot where it is perched, but receives all
its impulse, and performs all its revolutions, obedient to the changeful
breath of a vain woman? When the eagle of Helvellyn perches on the tower
of Lanercost, and turns and changes his place to show how the wind sits,
Roland Graeme shall be what you would make him."

The woman spoke with a rapidity and vehemence which seemed to have in it
a touch of insanity; and a sudden sense of the danger to which the child
must necessarily be exposed in the charge of such a keeper, increased
the Lady's desire to keep him in the castle if possible.

"You mistake me, dame," she said, addressing the old woman in a soothing
manner; "I do not wish your boy to be in attendance on myself, but upon
the good knight my husband. Were he himself the son of a belted earl,
he could not better be trained to arms, and all that befits a gentleman,
than by the instructions and discipline of Sir Halbert Glendinning."

"Ay," answered the old woman, in the same style of bitter irony, "I know
the wages of that service;--a curse when the corslet is not sufficiently
brightened,--a blow when the girth is not tightly drawn,--to be beaten
because the hounds are at fault,--to be reviled because the foray is
unsuccessful,--to stain his hands for the master's bidding in the blood
alike of beast and of man,--to be a butcher of harmless deer, a murderer
and defacer of God's own image, not at his own pleasure, but at that of
his lord,--to live a brawling ruffian, and a common stabber--exposed to
heat, to cold, to want of food, to all the privations of an anchoret,
not for the love of God, but for the service of Satan,--to die by the
gibbet, or in some obscure skirmish,--to sleep out his brief life
in carnal security, and to awake in the eternal fire, which is never
quenched."

"Nay," said the Lady of Avenel, "but to such unhallowed course of life
your grandson will not be here exposed. My husband is just and kind to
those who live under his banner; and you yourself well know, that youth
have here a strict as well as a good preceptor in the person of our
chaplain."

The old woman appeared to pause.

"You have named," she said, "the only circumstance which can move me. I
must soon onward, the vision has said it--I must not tarry in the same
spot--I must on,--I must on, it is my weird.--Swear, then, that you will
protect the boy as if he were your own, until I return hither and claim
him, and I will consent for a space to part with him. But especially
swear, he shall not lack the instruction of the godly man who hath
placed the gospel-truth high above those idolatrous shavelings, the
monks and friars."

"Be satisfied, dame," said the Lady of Avenel; "the boy shall have as
much care as if he were born of my own blood. Will you see him now?"

"No," answered the old woman sternly; "to part is enough. I go forth
on my own mission. I will not soften my heart by useless tears and
wailings, as one that is not called to a duty."

"Will you not accept of something to aid you in your pilgrimage?" said
the Lady of Avenel, putting into her hands two crowns of the sun. The
old woman flung them down on the table.

"Am I of the race of Cain," she said, "proud Lady, that you offer me
gold in exchange for my own flesh and blood?"

"I had no such meaning," said the Lady, gently; "nor am I the proud
woman you term me. Alas! my own fortunes might have taught me humility,
even had it not been born with me."

The old woman seemed somewhat to relax her tone of severity.

"You are of gentle blood," she said, "else we had not parleyed thus long
together.--You are of gentle blood, and to such," she added, drawing up
her tall form as she spoke, "pride is as graceful as is the plume upon
the bonnet. But for these pieces of gold, lady, you must needs resume
them. I need not money. I am well provided; and I may not care for
myself, nor think how, or by whom, I shall be sustained. Farewell, and
keep your word. Cause your gates to be opened, and your bridges to be
lowered. I will set forward this very night. When I come again, I will
demand from you a strict account, for I have left with you the jewel of
my life! Sleep will visit me but in snatches, food will not refresh me,
rest will not restore my strength, until I see Roland Graeme. Once more,
farewell."

"Make your obeisance, dame," said Lilias to Magdalen Graeme, as she
retired, "make your obeisance to her ladyship, and thank her for her
goodness, as is but fitting and right."

The old woman turned short around on the officious waiting-maid. "Let
her make her obeisance to me then, and I will return it. Why should
I bend to her?--is it because her kirtle is of silk, and mine of blue
lockeram?--Go to, my lady's waiting-woman. Know that the rank of the man
rates that of the wife, and that she who marries a churl's son, were she
a king's daughter, is but a peasant's bride."

Lilias was about to reply in great indignation, but her mistress imposed
silence on her, and commanded that the old woman should be safely
conducted to the mainland.

"Conduct her safe!" exclaimed the incensed waiting-woman, while Magdalen
Graeme left the apartment; "I say, duck her in the loch, and then we
will see whether she is witch or not, as every body in the village of
Lochside will say and swear. I marvel your ladyship could bear so long
with her insolence." But the commands of the Lady were obeyed, and the
old dame, dismissed from the castle, was committed to her fortune. She
kept her word, and did not long abide in that place, leaving the hamlet
on the very night succeeding the interview, and wandering no one asked
whither. The Lady of Avenel inquired under what circumstances she had
appeared among them, but could only learn that she was believed to
be the widow of some man of consequence among the Graemes who then
inhabited the Debateable Land, a name given to a certain portion of
territory which was the frequent subject of dispute betwixt Scotland
and England--that she had suffered great wrong in some of the frequent
forays by which that unfortunate district was wasted, and had been
driven from her dwelling-place. She had arrived in the hamlet no one
knew for what purpose, and was held by some to be a witch, by others a
zealous Protestant, and by others again a Catholic devotee. Her language
was mysterious, and her manners repulsive; and all that could be
collected from her conversation seemed to imply that she was under the
influence either of a spell or of a vow,--there was no saying which,
since she talked as one who acted under a powerful and external agency.

Such were the particulars which the Lady's inquiries were able
to collect concerning Magdalen Graeme, being far too meagre and
contradictory to authorize any satisfactory deduction. In truth, the
miseries of the time, and the various turns of fate incidental to a
frontier country, were perpetually chasing from their habitations those
who had not the means of defence or protection. These wanderers in the
land were too often seen, to excite much attention or sympathy. They
received the cold relief which was extorted by general feelings of
humanity; a little excited in some breasts, and perhaps rather chilled
in others, by the recollection that they who gave the charity to-day
might themselves want it to-morrow. Magdalen Graeme, therefore, came and
departed like a shadow from the neighbourhood of Avenel Castle.

The boy whom Providence, as she thought, had thus strangely placed
under her care, was at once established a favourite with the Lady of
the castle. How could it be otherwise? He became the object of those
affectionate feelings, which, finding formerly no object on which to
expand themselves, had increased the gloom of the castle, and imbittered
the solitude of its mistress. To teach him reading and writing as far as
her skill went, to attend to his childish comforts, to watch his boyish
sports, became the Lady's favourite amusement. In her circumstances,
where the ear only heard the lowing of the cattle from the distant
hills, or the heavy step of the warder as he walked upon his post,
or the half-envied laugh of her maiden as she turned her wheel, the
appearance of the blooming and beautiful boy gave an interest which
can hardly be conceived by those who live amid gayer and busier scenes.
Young Roland was to the Lady of Avenel what the flower, which occupies
the window of some solitary captive, is to the poor wight by whom it is
nursed and cultivated,--something which at once excited and repaid
her care; and in giving the boy her affection, she felt, as it were,
grateful to him for releasing her from the state of dull apathy in
which she had usually found herself during the absence of Sir Halbert
Glendinning.

But even the charms of this blooming favourite were unable to chase the
recurring apprehensions which arose from her husband's procrastinated
return. Soon after Roland Graeme became a resident at the castle, a
groom, despatched by Sir Halbert, brought tidings that business still
delayed the Knight at the Court of Holyrood. The more distant period
which the messenger had assigned for his master's arrival at length
glided away, summer melted into autumn, and autumn was about to give
place to winter, and yet he came not.



Chapter the Third.


 The waning harvest-moon shone broad and bright,
 The warder's horn was heard at dead of night,
 And while the portals-wide were flung,
 With trampling hoofs the rocky pavement rung.
                                         LEYDEN.

"And you, too, would be a soldier, Roland?" said the Lady of Avenel
to her young charge, while, seated on a stone chair at one end of the
battlements, she saw the boy attempt, with a long stick, to mimic the
motions of the warder, as he alternately shouldered, or ported, or
sloped pike.

"Yes, Lady," said the boy,--for he was now familiar, and replied to her
questions with readiness and alacrity,-"a soldier will I be; for there
ne'er was gentleman but who belted him with the brand."

"Thou a gentleman!" said Lilias, who, as usual, was in attendance; "such
a gentleman as I would make of a bean-cod with a rusty knife."

"Nay, chide him not, Lilias," said the Lady of Avenel, "for, beshrew me,
but I think he comes of gentle blood--see how it musters in his face at
your injurious reproof."

"Had I my will, madam," answered Lilias, "a good birchen wand should
make his colour muster to better purpose still."

"On my word, Lilias," said the Lady, "one would think you had received
harm from the poor boy--or is he so far on the frosty side of your
favour because he enjoys the sunny side of mine?"

"Over heavens forbode, my Lady!" answered Lilias; "I have lived too long
with gentles, I praise my stars for it, to fight with either follies or
fantasies, whether they relate to beast, bird, or boy."

Lilias was a favourite in her own class, a spoiled domestic, and often
accustomed to take more licence than her mistress was at all times
willing to encourage. But what did not please the Lady of Avenel, she
did not choose to hear, and thus it was on the present occasion. She
resolved to look more close and sharply after the boy, who had hitherto
been committed chiefly to the management of Lilias. He must, she
thought, be born of gentle blood; it were shame to think otherwise of
a form so noble, and features so fair;--the very wildness in which
he occasionally indulged, his contempt of danger, and impatience of
restraint, had in them something noble;--assuredly the child was born of
high rank. Such was her conclusion, and she acted upon it accordingly.
The domestics around her, less jealous, or less scrupulous than Lilias,
acted as servants usually do, following the bias, and flattering, for
their own purposes, the humour of the Lady; and the boy soon took on him
those airs of superiority, which the sight of habitual deference seldom
fails to inspire. It seemed, in truth, as if to command were his natural
sphere, so easily did he use himself to exact and receive compliance
with his humours. The chaplain, indeed, might have interposed to check
the air of assumption which Roland Graeme so readily indulged, and
most probably would have willingly rendered him that favour; but the
necessity of adjusting with his brethren some disputed points of church
discipline had withdrawn him for some time from the castle, and detained
him in a distant part of the kingdom.

Matters stood thus in the castle of Avenel, when a winded bugle sent its
shrill and prolonged notes from the shore of the lake, and was replied
to cheerily by the signal of the warder. The Lady of Avenel knew the
sounds of her husband, and rushed to the window of the apartment in
which she was sitting. A band of about thirty spearmen, with a pennon
displayed before them, winded along the indented shores of the lake,
and approached the causeway. A single horseman rode at the head of the
party, his bright arms catching a glance of the October sun as he moved
steadily along. Even at that distance, the Lady recognized the lofty
plume, bearing the mingled colours of her own liveries and those of
Glendonwyne, blended with the holly-branch; and the firm seat and
dignified demeanour of the rider, joined to the stately motion of the
dark-brown steed, sufficiently announced Halbert Glendinning.

The Lady's first thought was that of rapturous joy at her husband's
return--her second was connected with a fear which had sometimes
intruded itself, that he might not altogether approve the peculiar
distinction with which she had treated her orphan ward. In this fear
there was implied a consciousness, that the favour she had shown him was
excessive; for Halbert Glendinning was at least as gentle and indulgent,
as he was firm and rational in the intercourse of his household; and to
her in particular, his conduct had ever been most affectionately tender.

Yet she did fear, that, on the present occasion, her conduct might incur
Sir Halbert's censure; and hastily resolving that she would not mention,
the anecdote of the boy until the next day, she ordered him to be
withdrawn from the apartment by Lilias.

"I will not go with Lilias, madam," answered the spoiled child, who
had more than once carried his point by perseverance, and who, like his
betters, delighted in the exercise of such authority,--"I will not go to
Lilias's gousty room--I will stay and see that brave warrior who comes
riding so gallantly along the drawbridge."

"You must not stay, Roland," said the Lady, more positively than she
usually spoke to her little favourite.

"I will," reiterated the boy, who had already felt his consequence, and
the probable chance of success.

"You _will_, Roland!" answered the Lady, "what manner of word is that? I
tell you, you must go."

"_Will_," answered the forward boy, "is a word for a man, and _must_ is
no word for a lady."

"You are saucy, sirrah," said the Lady--"Lilias, take him with you
instantly."

"I always thought," said Lilias, smiling, as she seized the reluctant
boy by the arm, "that my young master must give place to my old one."

"And you, too, are malapert, mistress!" said the Lady; "hath the moon
changed, that ye all of you thus forget yourselves?"

Lilias made no reply, but led off the boy, who, too proud to offer
unavailing resistance, darted at his benefactress a glance, which
intimated plainly, how willingly he would have defied her authority, had
he possessed the power to make good his point.

The Lady of Avenel was vexed to find how much this trifling circumstance
had discomposed her, at the moment when she ought naturally to have
been entirely engrossed by her husband's return. But we do not recover
composure by the mere feeling that agitation is mistimed. The glow of
displeasure had not left the Lady's cheek, her ruffled deportment was
not yet entirely composed, when her husband, unhelmeted, but still
wearing the rest of his arms, entered the apartment. His appearance
banished the thoughts of every thing else; she rushed to him, clasped
his iron-sheathed frame in her arms, and kissed his martial and manly
face with an affection which was at once evident and sincere. The
warrior returned her embrace and her caress with the same fondness; for
the time which had passed since their union had diminished its romantic
ardour, perhaps, but it had rather increased its rational tenderness,
and Sir Halbert Glendinning's long and frequent absences from his castle
had prevented affection from degenerating by habit into indifference.

When the first eager greetings were paid and received, the Lady
gazed fondly on her husband's face as she remarked, "You are altered,
Halbert--you have ridden hard and far to-day, or you have been ill?"

"I have been well, Mary," answered the Knight, "passing well have
I been; and a long ride is to me, thou well knowest, but a thing of
constant custom. Those who are born noble may slumber out their lives
within the walls of their castles and manor-houses; but he who hath
achieved nobility by his own deeds must ever be in the saddle, to show
that he merits his advancement."

While he spoke thus, the Lady gazed fondly on him, as if endeavouring
to read his inmost soul; for the tone in which he spoke was that of
melancholy depression.

Sir Halbert Glendinning was the same, yet a different person from what
he had appeared in his early years. The fiery freedom of the aspiring
youth had given place to the steady and stern composure of the approved
soldier and skilful politician. There were deep traces of care on those
noble features, over which each emotion used formerly to pass, like
light clouds across a summer sky. That sky was now, not perhaps clouded,
but still and grave, like that of the sober autumn evening. The forehead
was higher and more bare than in early youth, and the locks which still
clustered thick and dark on the warrior's head, were worn away at the
temples, not by age, but by the constant pressure of the steel cap, or
helmet. His beard, according to the fashion of the time, grew short and
thick, and was turned into mustaches on the upper lip, and peaked at the
extremity. The cheek, weather-beaten and embrowned, had lost the glow
of youth, but showed the vigorous complexion of active and confirmed
manhood. Halbert Glendinning was, in a word, a knight to ride at a
king's right hand, to bear his banner in war, and to be his counsellor
in time of peace; for his looks expressed the considerate firmness which
can resolve wisely and dare boldly. Still, over these noble features,
there now spread an air of dejection, of which, perhaps, the owner was
not conscious, but which did not escape the observation of his anxious
and affectionate partner.

"Something has happened, or is about to happen," said the Lady of
Avenel; "this sadness sits not on your brow without cause--misfortune,
national or particular, must needs be at hand."

"There is nothing new that I wot of," said Halbert Glendinning; "but
there is little of evil which can befall a kingdom, that may not be
apprehended in this unhappy and divided realm."

"Nay, then," said the Lady, "I see there hath really been some fatal
work on foot. My Lord of Murray has not so long detained you at
Holyrood, save that he wanted your help in some weighty purpose."

"I have not been at Holyrood, Mary," answered the Knight; "I have been
several weeks abroad."

"Abroad! and sent me no word?" replied the Lady.

"What would the knowledge have availed, but to have rendered you
unhappy, my love?" replied the Knight; "your thoughts would have
converted the slightest breeze that curled your own lake, into a tempest
raging in the German ocean."

"And have you then really crossed the sea?" said the Lady, to whom the
very idea of an element which she had never seen conveyed notions of
terror and of wonder,--"really left your own native land, and trodden
distant shores, where the Scottish tongue is unheard and unknown?"

"Really, and really," said the Knight, taking her hand in affectionate
playfulness, "I have done this marvellous deed--have rolled on the ocean
for three days and three nights, with the deep green waves dashing by
the side of my pillow, and but a thin plank to divide me from it."

"Indeed, my Halbert," said the Lady, "that was a tempting of Divine
Providence. I never bade you unbuckle the sword from your side, or lay
the lance from your hand--I never bade you sit still when your honour
called you to rise and ride; but are not blade and spear dangers enough
for one man's life, and why would you trust rough waves and raging
seas?"

"We have in Germany, and in the Low Countries, as they are called,"
answered Glendinning, "men who are united with us in faith, and with
whom it is fitting we should unite in alliance. To some of these I was
despatched on business as important as it was secret. I went in safety,
and I returned in security; there is more danger to a man's life betwixt
this and Holyrood, than are in all the seas that wash the lowlands of
Holland."

"And the country, my Halbert, and the people," said the Lady, "are they
like our kindly Scots? or what bearing have they to strangers?"

"They are a people, Mary, strong in their wealth, which renders all
other nations weak, and weak in those arts of war by which other nations
are strong."

"I do not understand you," said the Lady.

"The Hollander and the Fleming, Mary, pour forth their spirit in
trade, and not in war; their wealth purchases them the arms of foreign
soldiers, by whose aid they defend it. They erect dikes on the sea-shore
to protect the land which they have won, and they levy regiments of the
stubborn Switzers and hardy Germans to protect the treasures which they
have amassed. And thus they are strong in their weakness; for the very
wealth which tempts their masters to despoil them, arms strangers in
their behalf."

"The slothful hinds!" exclaimed Mary, thinking and feeling like a
Scotswoman of the period; "have they hands, and fight not for the land
which bore them? They should be notched off at the elbow!"

"Nay, that were but hard justice," answered her husband; "for their
hands serve their country, though not in battle, like ours. Look at
these barren hills, Mary, and at that deep winding vale by which the
cattle are even now returning from their scanty browse. The hand of the
industrious Fleming would cover these mountains with wood, and raise
corn where we now see a starved and scanty sward of heath and ling. It
grieves me, Mary, when I look on that land, and think what benefit it
might receive from such men as I have lately seen--men who seek not
the idle fame derived from dead ancestors, or the bloody renown won in
modern broils, but tread along the land, as preservers and improvers,
not as tyrants and destroyers."

"These amendments would here be but a vain fancy, my Halbert," answered
the Lady of Avenel; "the trees would be burned by the English foemen,
ere they ceased to be shrubs, and the grain that you raised would be
gathered in by the first neighbour that possessed more riders than
follow your train. Why should you repine at this? The fate that made
you Scotsman by birth, gave you head, and heart, and hand, to uphold the
name as it must needs be upheld."

"It gave _me_ no name to uphold," said Halbert, pacing the floor slowly;
"my arm has been foremost in every strife--my voice has been heard in
every council, nor have the wisest rebuked me. The crafty Lethington,
the deep and dark Morton, have held secret council with me, and Grange
and Lindsay have owned, that in the field I did the devoir of a gallant
knight--but let the emergence be passed when they need my head and hand,
and they only know me as son of the obscure portioner of Glendearg."

This was a theme which the Lady always dreaded; for the rank conferred
on her husband, the favour in which he was held by the powerful Earl of
Murray, and the high talents by which he vindicated his right to
that rank and that favour, were qualities which rather increased than
diminished the envy which was harboured against Sir Halbert Glendinning
among a proud aristocracy, as a person originally of inferior and
obscure birth, who had risen to his present eminence solely by his
personal merit. The natural firmness of his mind did not enable him to
despise the ideal advantages of a higher pedigree, which were held in
such universal esteem by all with whom he conversed; and so open are
the noblest minds to jealous inconsistencies, that there were moments in
which he felt mortified that his lady should possess those advantages
of birth and high descent which he himself did not enjoy, and regretted
that his importance as the proprietor of Avenel was qualified by his
possessing it only as the husband of the heiress. He was not so unjust
as to permit any unworthy feelings to retain permanent possession of his
mind, but yet they recurred from time to time, and did not escape his
lady's anxious observation.

"Had we been blessed with children," she was wont on such occasions
to say to herself, "had our blood been united in a son who might have
joined my advantages of descent with my husband's personal worth, these
painful and irksome reflections had not disturbed our union even for a
moment. But the existence of such an heir, in whom our affections, as
well as our pretensions, might have centred, has been denied to us."

With such mutual feelings, it cannot be wondered that it gave the
Lady pain to hear her husband verging towards this topic of mutual
discontent. On the present, as on other similar occasions, she
endeavoured to divert the knight's thoughts from this painful channel.

"How can you," she said, "suffer yourself to dwell upon things which
profit nothing? Have you indeed no name to uphold? You, the good and the
brave, the wise in council, and the strong in battle, have you not
to support the reputation your own deeds have won, a reputation more
honourable than mere ancestry can supply? Good men love and honour you,
the wicked fear, and the turbulent obey you; and is it not necessary you
should exert yourself to ensure the endurance of that love, that honour,
and wholesome fear, and that necessary obedience?"

As she thus spoke, the eye of her husband caught from hers courage and
comfort, and it lightened as he took her hand and replied, "It is
most true, my Mary, and I deserve thy rebuke, who forget what I am, in
repining because I am not what I cannot be. I am now what the most famed
ancestors of those I envy were, the mean man raised into eminence by
his own exertions; and sure it is a boast as honourable to have those
capacities which are necessary to the foundation of a family, as to be
descended from one who possessed them some centuries before. The Hay of
Loncarty, who bequeathed his bloody yoke to his lineage,--the 'dark gray
man,' who first founded the house of Douglas, had yet less of ancestry
to boast than I have. For thou knowest, Mary, that my name derives
itself from a line of ancient warriors, although my immediate
forefathers preferred the humble station in which thou didst first
find them; and war and counsel are not less proper to the house of
Glendonwyne, even, in its most remote descendants, than to the proudest
of their baronage." [Footnote: This was a house of ancient descent and
superior consequence, including persons who fought at Bannockburn and
Otterburn, and closely connected by alliance and friendship with the
great Earls of Douglas. The Knight in this story argues as most Scotsmen
would do in his situation, for all of the same clan are popularly
considered as descended from the same stock, and as having a right to
the ancestral honor of the chief branch. This opinion, though sometimes
ideal, is so strong even at this day of innovation, that it may be
observed as a national difference between my countrymen and the English.
If you ask an Englishman of good birth, whether a person of the same
name be connected with him, he answers (if _in dubio._) "No--he is a
mere namesake." Ask a similar question of a Scot, (I mean a Scotsman,)
he replies--"He is one of our clan; I daresay there is a relationship,
though I do not know how distant." The Englishman thinks of
discountenancing a species of rivalry in society; the Scotsman's answer
is grounded on the ancient idea of strengthening the clan.]

He strode across the hall as he spoke; and the Lady smiled internally
to observe how much his mind dwelt upon the prerogatives of birth, and
endeavoured to establish his claims, however remote, to a share in them,
at the very moment when he affected to hold them in contempt. It will
easily be guessed, however, that she permitted no symptom to escape
her that could show she was sensible of the weakness of her husband, a
perspicacity which perhaps his proud spirit could not very easily have
brooked.

As he returned from the extremity of the hall, to which he had stalked
while in the act of vindicating the title of the house of Glendonwyne in
its most remote branches to the full privileges of aristocracy, "Where,"
he said, "is Wolf? I have not seen him since my return, and he was
usually the first to welcome my home-coming."

"Wolf," said the Lady, with a slight degree of embarrassment, for which
perhaps, she would have found it difficult to assign any reason even to
herself, "Wolf is chained up for the present. He hath been surly to my
page."

"Wolf chained up--and Wolf surly to your page!" answered Sir Halbert
Glendinning; "Wolf never was surly to any one; and the chain will either
break his spirit or render him savage--So ho, there--set Wolf free
directly."

He was obeyed; and the huge dog rushed into the hall, disturbing, by his
unwieldy and boisterous gambols, the whole economy of reels, rocks, and
distaffs, with which the maidens of the household were employed when the
arrival of their lord was a signal to them to withdraw, and extracting
from Lilias, who was summoned to put them again in order, the natural
observation, "That the Laird's pet was as troublesome as the lady's
page."

"And who is this page, Mary?" said the Knight, his attention again
called to the subject by the observation of the waiting-woman,--"Who
is this page, whom every one seems to weigh in the balance with my
old friend and favourite, Wolf?--When did you aspire to the dignity of
keeping a page, or who is the boy?"

"I trust, my Halbert," said the Lady, not without a blush, "you will
not think your wife entitled to less attendance than other ladies of her
quality?"

"Nay, Dame Mary," answered the Knight, "it is enough you desire such
an attendant.--Yet I have never loved to nurse such useless menials--a
lady's page--it may well suit the proud English dames to have a slender
youth to bear their trains from bower to hall, fan them when they
slumber, and touch the lute for them when they please to listen; but our
Scottish matrons were wont to be above such vanities, and our Scottish
youth ought to be bred to the spear and the stirrup."

"Nay, but, my husband," said the Lady, "I did but jest when I called
this boy my page; he is in sooth a little orphan whom we saved from
perishing in the lake, and whom I have since kept in the castle out of
charity.--Lilias, bring little Roland hither."

Roland entered accordingly, and, flying to the Lady's side, took hold
of the plaits of her gown, and then turned round, and gazed with
an attention not unmingled with fear, upon the stately form of the
Knight.--"Roland," said the Lady, "go kiss the hand of the noble Knight,
and ask him to be thy protector."--But Roland obeyed not, and, keeping
his station, continued to gaze fixedly and timidly on Sir Halbert
Glendinning.--"Go to the Knight, boy," said the Lady; "what dost thou
fear, child? Go, kiss Sir Halbert's hand."

"I will kiss no hand save yours, Lady," answered the boy.

"Nay, but do as you are commanded, child," replied the Lady.--"He is
dashed by your presence," she said, apologizing to her husband; "but is
he not a handsome boy?"

"And so is Wolf," said Sir Halbert, as he patted his huge four-footed
favourite, "a handsome dog; but he has this double advantage over your
new favourite, that he does what he is commanded, and hears not when he
is praised."

"Nay, now you are displeased with me," replied the Lady; "and yet why
should you be so? There is nothing wrong in relieving the distressed
orphan, or in loving that which is in itself lovely and deserving of
affection. But you have seen Mr. Warden at Edinburgh, and he has set you
against the poor boy."

"My dear Mary," answered her husband, "Mr. Warden better knows his place
than to presume to interfere either in your affairs or mine. I neither
blame your relieving this boy, nor your kindness for him. But, I think,
considering his birth and prospects, you ought not to treat him with
injudicious fondness, which can only end in rendering him unfit for the
humble situation to which Heaven has designed him."

"Nay, but, my Halbert, do but look at the boy," said the Lady, "and see
whether he has not the air of being intended by Heaven for something
nobler than a mere peasant. May he not be designed, as others have been,
to rise out of a humble situation into honour and eminence?"

Thus far had she proceeded, when the consciousness that she was treading
upon delicate ground at once occurred to her, and induced her to take
the most natural, but the worst of all courses in such occasions,
whether in conversation or in an actual bog, namely, that of stopping
suddenly short in the illustration which she had commenced. Her brow
crimsoned, and that of Sir Halbert Glendinning was slightly overcast.
But it was only for an instant; for he was incapable of mistaking his
lady's meaning, or supposing that she meant intentional disrespect to
him.

"Be it as you please, my love," he replied; "I owe you too much to
contradict you in aught which may render your solitary mode of life
more endurable. Make of this youth what you will, and you have my
full authority for doing so. But remember he is your charge, not
mine--remember he hath limbs to do man's service, a soul and a tongue
to worship God; breed him, therefore, to be true to his country and to
Heaven; and for the rest, dispose of him as you list--it is, and shall
rest, your own matter."

This conversation decided the fate of Roland Graeme, who from
thence-forward was little noticed by the master of the mansion of
Avenel, but indulged and favoured by its mistress.

This situation led to many important consequences, and, in truth, tended
to bring forth the character of the youth in all its broad lights and
deep shadows. As the Knight himself seemed tacitly to disclaim alike
interest and control over the immediate favourite of his lady, young
Roland was, by circumstances, exempted from the strict discipline to
which, as the retainer of a Scottish man of rank, he would otherwise
have been subjected, according to all the rigour of the age. But the
steward, or master of the household--such was the proud title assumed
by the head domestic of each petty baron--deemed it not advisable to
interfere with the favourite of the Lady, and especially since she had
brought the estate into the present family. Master Jasper Wingate was a
man experienced, as he often boasted, in the ways of great families, and
knew how to keep the steerage even when the wind and tide chanced to be
in contradiction.

This prudent personage winked at much, and avoided giving opportunity
for farther offence, by requesting little of Roland Graeme beyond
the degree of attention which he was himself disposed to pay; rightly
conjecturing, that however lowly the place which the youth might hold in
the favour of the Knight of Avenel, still to make an evil report of
him would make an enemy of the Lady, without securing the favour of her
husband. With these prudential considerations, and doubtless not without
an eye to his own ease and convenience, he taught the boy as much, and
only as much, as he chose to learn, readily admitting whatever apology
it pleased his pupil to allege in excuse for idleness or negligence.
As the other persons in the castle, to whom such tasks were delegated,
readily imitated the prudential conduct of the major-domo, there was
little control used towards Roland Graeme, who, of course, learned no
more than what a very active mind, and a total impatience of absolute
idleness led him to acquire upon his own account, and by dint of his
own exertions. The latter were especially earnest, when the Lady herself
condescended to be his tutress, or to examine his progress.

It followed also from his quality as my Lady's favourite, that Roland
was viewed with no peculiar good-will by the followers of the Knight,
many of whom, of the same age, and apparently similar origin, with the
fortunate page, were subjected to severe observance of the ancient and
rigorous discipline of a feudal retainer. To these, Roland Graeme was
of course an object of envy, and, in consequence, of dislike and
detraction; but the youth possessed qualities which it was impossible
to depreciate. Pride, and a sense of early ambition, did for him what
severity and constant instruction did for others. In truth, the youthful
Roland displayed that early flexibility both of body and mind, which
renders exercise, either mental or bodily, rather matter of sport than
of study; and it seemed as if he acquired accidentally, and by starts,
those accomplishments, which earnest and constant instruction, enforced
by frequent reproof and occasional chastisement, had taught to others.
Such military exercises, such lessons of the period, as he found it
agreeable or convenient to apply to, he learned so perfectly, as
to confound those who were ignorant how often the want of constant
application is compensated by vivacity of talent and ardent enthusiasm.
The lads, therefore, who were more regularly trained to arms, to
horsemanship, and to other necessary exercises of the period, while they
envied Roland Graeme the indulgence or negligence with which he
seemed to be treated, had little reason to boast of their own superior
acquirements; a few hours, with the powerful exertion of a most
energetic will, seemed to do for him more than the regular instruction
of weeks could accomplish for others.

Under these advantages, if, indeed, they were to be termed such,
the character of young Roland began to develope itself. It was bold,
peremptory, decisive, and overbearing; generous, if neither withstood
nor contradicted; vehement and passionate, if censured or opposed. He
seemed to consider himself as attached to no one, and responsible to
no one, except his mistress, and even over her mind he had gradually
acquired that species of ascendancy which indulgence is so apt to
occasion. And although the immediate followers and dependents of Sir
Halbert Glendinning saw his ascendancy with jealousy, and often took
occasion to mortify his vanity, there wanted not those who were willing
to acquire the favour of the Lady of Avenel by humouring and taking part
with the youth whom she protected; for although a favourite, as the poet
assures us, has no friend, he seldom fails to have both followers and
flatterers.

The partisans of Roland Graeme were chiefly to be found amongst the
inhabitants of the little hamlet on the shore of the lake. These
villagers, who were sometimes tempted to compare their own situation
with that of the immediate and constant followers of the Knight, who
attended him on his frequent journeys to Edinburgh and elsewhere,
delighted in considering and representing themselves as more properly
the subjects of the Lady of Avenel than of her husband. It is true, her
wisdom and affection on all occasions discountenanced the distinction
which was here implied; but the villagers persisted in thinking it must
be agreeable to her to enjoy their peculiar and undivided homage, or at
least in acting as if they thought so; and one chief mode by which they
evinced their sentiments, was by the respect they paid to young Roland
Graeme, the favourite attendant of the descendant of their ancient
lords. This was a mode of flattery too pleasing to encounter rebuke or
censure; and the opportunity which it afforded the youth to form, as
it were, a party of his own within the limits of the ancient barony
of Avenel, added not a little to the audacity and decisive tone of a
character, which was by nature bold, impetuous, and incontrollable.

Of the two members of the household who had manifested an early jealousy
of Roland Graeme, the prejudices of Wolf were easily overcome; and in
process of time the noble dog slept with Bran, Luath, and the celebrated
hounds of ancient days. But Mr. Warden, the chaplain, lived, and
retained his dislike to the youth. That good man, single-minded and
benevolent as he really was, entertained rather more than a reasonable
idea of the respect due to him as a minister, and exacted from the
inhabitants of the castle more deference than the haughty young page,
proud of his mistress's favour, and petulant from youth and situation,
was at all times willing to pay. His bold and free demeanour, his
attachment to rich dress and decoration, his inaptitude to receive
instruction, and his hardening himself against rebuke, were
circumstances which induced the good old man, with more haste than
charity, to set the forward page down as a vessel of wrath, and to
presage that the youth nursed that pride and haughtiness of spirit which
goes before ruin and destruction. On the other hand, Roland evinced
at times a marked dislike, and even something like contempt, of
the chaplain. Most of the attendants and followers of Sir Halbert
Glendinning entertained the same charitable thoughts as the reverend
Mr. Warden; but while Roland was favoured by their lady, and endured by
their lord, they saw no policy in making their opinions public.

Roland Graeme was sufficiently sensible of the unpleasant situation in
which he stood; but in the haughtiness of his heart he retorted upon the
other domestics the distant, cold, and sarcastic manner in which they
treated him, assumed an air of superiority which compelled the most
obstinate to obedience, and had the satisfaction at least to be dreaded,
if he was heartily hated.

The chaplain's marked dislike had the effect of recommending him to
the attention of Sir Halbert's brother, Edward, who now, under the
conventual appellation of Father Ambrose, continued to be one of the
few monks who, with the Abbot Eustatius, had, notwithstanding the nearly
total downfall of their faith under the regency of Murray, been still
permitted to linger in the cloisters at Kennaquhair. Respect to Sir
Halbert had prevented their being altogether driven out of the Abbey,
though their order was now in a great measure suppressed, and they were
interdicted the public exercise of their ritual, and only allowed for
their support a small pension out of their once splendid revenues.
Father Ambrose, thus situated, was an occasional, though very rare
visitant, at the Castle of Avenel, and was at such times observed to pay
particular attention to Roland Graeme, who seemed to return it with more
depth of feeling than consisted with his usual habits.

Thus situated, years glided on, during which the Knight of Avenel
continued to act a frequent and important part in the convulsions of his
distracted country; while young Graeme anticipated, both in wishes and
personal accomplishments, the age which should enable him to emerge from
the obscurity of his present situation.



Chapter the Fourth.


  Amid their cups that freely flow'd,
    Their revelry and mirth,
  A youthful lord tax'd Valentine
    With base and doubtful birth.
                 VALENTINE AND ORSON.

When Roland Graeme was a youth about seventeen years of age, he
chanced one summer morning to descend to the mew in which Sir Halbert
Glendinning kept his hawks, in order to superintend the training of an
eyas, or young hawk, which he himself, at the imminent risk of neck and
limbs, had taken from the celebrated eyry in the neighborhood, called
Gledscraig. As he was by no means satisfied with the attention which had
been bestowed on his favourite bird, he was not slack in testifying his
displeasure to the falconer's lad, whose duty it was to have attended
upon it.

"What, ho! sir knave," exclaimed Roland, "is it thus you feed the
eyas with unwashed meat, as if you were gorging the foul brancher of a
worthless hoodie-crow? by the mass, and thou hast neglected its castings
also for these two days! Think'st thou I ventured my neck to bring the
bird down from the crag, that thou shouldst spoil him by thy neglect?"
And to add force to his remonstrances, he conferred a cuff or two on the
negligent attendant of the hawks, who, shouting rather louder than was
necessary under all the circumstances, brought the master falconer to
his assistance.

Adam Woodcock, the falconer of Avenel, was an Englishman by birth, but
so long in the service of Glendinning, that he had lost much of his
notional attachment in that which he had formed to his master. He was
a favourite in his department, jealous and conceited of his skill, as
masters of the game usually are; for the rest of his character he was
a jester and a parcel poet, (qualities which by no means abated his
natural conceit,) a jolly fellow, who, though a sound Protestant, loved
a flagon of ale better than a long sermon, a stout man of his hands
when need required, true to his master, and a little presuming on his
interest with him.

Adam Woodcock, such as we have described him, by no means relished the
freedom used by young Graeme, in chastising his assistant. "Hey, hey,
my Lady's page," said he, stepping between his own boy and Roland, "fair
and softly, an it like your gilt jacket--hands off is fair play--if my
boy has done amiss, I can beat him myself, and then you may keep your
hands soft."

"I will beat him and thee too," answered Roland, without hesitation, "an
you look not better after your business. See how the bird is cast away
between you. I found the careless lurdane feeding him with unwashed
flesh, and she an eyas." [Footnote: There is a difference amongst
authorities how long the nestling hawk should be fed with flesh which
has previously been washed.]

"Go to," said the falconer, "thou art but an eyas thyself, child
Roland.--What knowest thou of feeding? I say that the eyas should have
her meat unwashed, until she becomes a brancher--'twere the ready way
to give her the frounce, to wash her meat sooner, and so knows every one
who knows a gled from a falcon."

"It is thine own laziness, thou false English blood, that dost nothing
but drink and sleep," retorted the page, "and leaves that lither lad to
do the work, which he minds as little as thou."

"And am I so idle then," said the falconer, "that have three cast of
hawks to look after, at perch and mew, and to fly them in the field
to boot?--and is my Lady's page so busy a man that he must take me
up short?--and am I of false English blood?--I marvel what blood thou
art--neither Englander nor Scot--fish nor flesh--a bastard from the
Debateable Land, without either kith, kin, or ally!--Marry, out upon
thee, foul kite, that would fain be a tercel gentle!"

The reply to this sarcasm was a box on the ear, so well applied, that it
overthrew the falconer into the cistern in which water was kept for
the benefit of the hawks. Up started Adam Woodcock, his wrath no way
appeased by the cold immersion, and seizing on a truncheon which stood
by, would have soon requited the injury he had received, had not Roland
laid his hand on his poniard, and sworn by all that was sacred, that
if he offered a stroke towards him, he would sheath the blade in his
bowels. The noise was now so great, that more than one of the household
came in, and amongst others the major-domo, a grave personage, already
mentioned, whose gold chain and white wand intimated his authority.
At the appearance of this dignitary, the strife was for the present
appeased. He embraced, however, so favourable an opportunity, to read
Roland Graeme a shrewd lecture on the impropriety of his deportment to
his fellow-menials, and to assure him, that, should he communicate this
fray to his master, (who, though now on one of his frequent expeditions,
was speedily expected to return,) which but for respect to his Lady he
would most certainly do, the residence of the culprit in the Castle of
Avenel would be but of brief duration. "But, however," added the prudent
master of the household, "I will report the matter first to my Lady."

"Very just, very right, Master Wingate," exclaimed several voices
together; "my Lady will consider if daggers, are to be drawn on us for
every idle word, and whether we are to live in a well-ordered household,
where there is the fear of God, or amidst drawn dirks and sharp knives."

The object of this general resentment darted an angry glance around him,
and suppressing with difficulty the desire which urged him to reply
in furious or in contemptuous language, returned his dagger into his
scabbard, looked disdainfully around upon the assembled menials, turned
short upon his heel, and pushing aside those who stood betwixt him and
the door, left the apartment.

"This will be no tree for my nest," said the falconer, "if this
cock-sparrow is to crow over us as he seems to do."

"He struck me with his switch yesterday," said one of the grooms,
"because the tail of his worship's gelding was not trimmed altogether so
as suited his humour."

"And I promise you," said the laundress, "my young master will stick
nothing to call an honest woman slut and quean, if there be but a speck
of soot upon his band-collar."

"If Master Wingate do not his errand to my Lady," was the general
result, "there will be no tarrying in the same house with Roland
Graeme."

The master of the household heard them all for some time, and then,
motioning for universal silence, he addressed them with all the
dignity of Malvolio himself.--"My masters,--not forgetting you, my
mistresses,--do not think the worse of me that I proceed with as much
care as haste in this matter. Our master is a gallant knight, and will
have his sway at home and abroad, in wood and field, in hall and bower,
as the saying is. Our Lady, my benison upon her, is also a noble person
of long descent, and rightful heir of this place and barony, and she
also loves her will; as for that matter, show me the woman who doth
not. Now, she hath favoured, doth favour, and will favour, this
jack-an-ape,--for what good part about him I know not, save that as one
noble lady will love a messan dog, and another a screaming popinjay,
and a third a Barbary ape, so doth it please our noble dame to set her
affections upon this stray elf of a page, for nought that I can think
of, save that she--was the cause of his being saved (the more's the
pity) from drowning." And here Master Wingate made a pause.

"I would have been his caution for a gray groat against salt water or
fresh," said Roland's adversary, the falconer; "marry, if he crack not a
rope for stabbing or for snatching, I will be content never to hood hawk
again."

"Peace, Adam Woodcock," said Wingate, waving his hand; "I prithee, peace
man--Now, my Lady liking this springald, as aforesaid, differs therein
from my Lord, who loves never a bone in his skin. Now, is it for me to
stir up strife betwixt them, and put as'twere my finger betwixt the bark
and the tree, on account of a pragmatical youngster, whom, nevertheless,
I would willingly see whipped forth of the barony? Have patience, and
this boil will break without our meddling. I have been in service since
I wore a beard on my chin, till now that that beard is turned gray, and
I have seldom known any one better themselves, even by taking the lady's
part against the lord's; but never one who did not dirk himself, if he
took the lord's against the lady's."

"And so," said Lilias, "we are to be crowed over, every one of us, men
and women, cock and hen, by this little upstart?--I will try titles with
him first, I promise you.--I fancy, Master Wingate, for as wise as you
look, you will be pleased to tell what you have seen to-day, if my lady
commands you?"

"To speak the truth when my lady commands me," answered the prudential
major-domo, "is in some measure my duty, Mistress Lilias; always
providing for and excepting those cases in which it cannot be
spoken without breeding mischief and inconvenience to myself or my
fellow-servants; for the tongue of a tale-bearer breaketh bones as well
as Jeddart-staff." [Footnote: A species of battle-axe, so called as
being in especial use in that ancient burgh, whose armorial bearing
still represent an armed horseman brandishing such a weapon.]

"But this imp of Satan is none of your friends or fellow-servants," said
Lilias; "and I trust you mean not to stand up for him against the whole
family besides?"

"Credit me, Mrs. Lilias," replied the senior, "should I see the time
fitting, I would, with right good-will give him a lick with the rough
side of my tongue."

"Enough said, Master Wingate," answered Lilias; "then trust me his song
shall soon be laid. If my mistress does not ask me what is the matter
below stairs before she be ten minutes of time older, she is no born
woman, and my name is not Lilias Bradbourne."

In pursuance of her plan, Mistress Lilias failed not to present herself
before her mistress with all the exterior of one who is possessed of
an important secret,--that is, she had the corners of her mouth turned
down, her eyes raised up, her lips pressed as fast together as if they
had been sewed up, to prevent her babbling, and an air of prim mystical
importance diffused over her whole person and demeanour, which seemed to
intimate, "I know something which I am resolved not to tell you!"

Lilias had rightly read her mistress's temper, who, wise and good as
she was, was yet a daughter of grandame Eve, and could not witness this
mysterious bearing on the part of her waiting-woman without longing to
ascertain the secret cause. For a space, Mrs. Lilias was obdurate to all
inquiries, sighed, turned her eyes up higher yet to heaven, hoped for
the best, but had nothing particular to communicate. All this, as was
most natural and proper, only stimulated the Lady's curiosity;
neither was her importunity to be parried with,--"Thank God, I am no
makebate--no tale-bearer,--thank God, I never envied any one's favour,
or was anxious to propale their misdemeanour-only, thank God, there has
been no bloodshed and murder in the house--that is all."

"Bloodshed and murder!" exclaimed the Lady, "what does the quean
mean?--if you speak not plain out, you shall have something you will
scarce be thankful for."

"Nay, my Lady," answered Lilias, eager to disburden her mind, or, in,
Chaucer's phrase, to "unbuckle her mail," "if you bid me speak out
the truth, you must not be moved with what might displease you--Roland
Graeme has dirked Adam Woodstock--that is all."

"Good Heaven!" said the Lady, turning pale as ashes, "is the man slain?"

"No, madam," replied Lilias, "but slain he would have been, if there
had not been ready help; but may be, it is your Ladyship's pleasure that
this young esquire shall poniard the servants, as well as switch and
baton them."

"Go to, minion," said the Lady, "you are saucy-tell the master of the
household to attend me instantly."

Lilias hastened to seek out Mr. Wingate, and hurry him to his lady's
presence, speaking as a word in season to him on the way, "I have set
the stone a-trowling, look that you do not let it stand still."

The steward, too prudential a person to commit himself otherwise,
answered by a sly look and a nod of intelligence, and presently after
stood in the presence of the Lady of Avenel, with a look of great
respect for his lady, partly real, partly affected, and an air of great
sagacity, which inferred no ordinary conceit of himself.

"How is this, Wingate," said the Lady, "and what rule do you keep in the
castle, that the domestics of Sir Halbert Glendinning draw the dagger on
each other, as in a cavern of thieves and murderers?--is the wounded man
much hurt? and what--what hath become of the unhappy boy?"

"There is no one wounded as yet, madam," replied he of the golden chain;
"it passes my poor skill to say how many may be wounded before Pasche,
[Footnote: Easter.] if some rule be not taken with this youth--not but
the youth is a fair youth," he added, correcting himself, "and able at
his exercise; but somewhat too ready with the ends of his fingers, the
butt of his riding-switch, and the point of his dagger."

"And whose fault is that," said the Lady, "but yours, who should have
taught him better discipline, than to brawl or to draw his dagger."

"If it please your Ladyship so to impose the blame on me," answered the
steward, "it is my part, doubtless, to bear it--only I submit to your
consideration, that unless I nailed his weapon to the scabbard, I could
no more keep it still, than I could fix quicksilver, which defied even
the skill of Raymond Lullius."

"Tell me not of Raymond Lullius," said the Lady, losing patience, "but
send me the chaplain hither. You grow all of you too wise for me, during
your lord's long and repeated absences. I would to God his affairs would
permit him to remain at home and rule his own household, for it passes
my wit and skill!"

"God forbid, my Lady!" said the old domestic, "that you should sincerely
think what you are now pleased to say: your old servants might well
hope, that after so many years' duty, you would do their service more
justice than to distrust their gray hairs, because they cannot rule the
peevish humour of a green head, which the owner carries, it may be, a
brace of inches higher than becomes him."

"Leave me," said the Lady; "Sir Halbert's return must now be expected
daily, and he will look into these matters himself--leave me, I say,
Wingate, without saying more of it. I know you are honest, and I believe
the boy is petulant; and yet I think it is my favour which hath set all
of you against him."

The steward bowed and retired, after having been silenced in a second
attempt to explain the motives on which he acted.

The chaplain arrived; but neither from him did the Lady receive much
comfort. On the contrary, she found him disposed, in plain terms, to
lay to the door of her indulgence all the disturbances which the fiery
temper of Roland Graeme had already occasioned, or might hereafter
occasion, in the family. "I would," he said, "honoured Lady, that you
had deigned to be ruled by me in the outset of this matter, sith it is
easy to stem evil in the fountain, but hard to struggle against it in
the stream. You, honoured madam, (a word which I do not use according to
the vain forms of this world, but because I have ever loved and honoured
you as an honourable and elect lady,)--you, I say, madam, have been
pleased, contrary to my poor but earnest counsel, to raise this boy from
his station, into one approaching to your own."

"What mean you, reverend sir?" said the Lady; "I have made this youth
a page--is there aught in my doing so that does not become my character
and quality?"

"I dispute not, madam," said the pertinacious preacher, "your benevolent
purpose in taking charge of this youth, or your title to give him this
idle character of page, if such was your pleasure; though what the
education of a boy in the train of a female can tend to, save to ingraft
foppery and effeminacy on conceit and arrogance, it passes my knowledge
to discover. But I blame you more directly for having taken little care
to guard him against the perils of his condition, or to tame and humble
a spirit naturally haughty, overbearing, and impatient. You have brought
into your bower a lion's cub; delighted with the beauty of his fur, and
the grace of his gambols, you have bound him with no fetters befitting
the fierceness of his disposition. You have let him grow up as unawed as
if he had been still a tenant of the forest, and now you are surprised,
and call out for assistance, when he begins to ramp, rend, and tear,
according to his proper nature."

"Mr. Warden," said the Lady, considerably offended, "you are my
husband's ancient friend, and I believe your love sincere to him and
to his household. Yet let me say, that when I asked you for counsel,
I expected not this asperity of rebuke. If I have done wrong in loving
this poor orphan lad more than others of his class, I scarce think
the error merited such severe censure; and if stricter discipline were
required to keep his fiery temper in order, it ought, I think, to be
considered, that I am a woman, and that if I have erred in this matter,
it becomes a friend's part rather to aid than to rebuke me. I would
these evils were taken order with before my lord's return. He loves not
domestic discord or domestic brawls; and I would not willingly that he
thought such could arise from one whom I favoured--What do you counsel
me to do?"

"Dismiss this youth from your service, madam," replied the preacher.

"You cannot bid me do so," said the Lady; "you cannot, as a Christian
and a man of humanity, bid me turn away an unprotected creature against
whom my favour, my injudicious favour if you will, has reared up so many
enemies."

"It is not necessary you should altogether abandon him, though you
dismiss him to another service, or to a calling better suiting his
station and character," said the preacher; "elsewhere he maybe an useful
and profitable member of the commonweal--here he is but a makebate, and
a stumbling-block of offence. The youth has snatches of sense and of
intelligence, though he lacks industry. I will myself give him letters
commendatory to Olearius Schinderhausen, a learned professor at the
famous university of Leyden, where they lack an under-janitor--where,
besides gratis instruction, if God give him the grace to seek it, he
will enjoy five merks by the year, and the professor's cast-off suit,
which he disparts with biennially."

"This will never do, good Mr. Warden," said the Lady, scarce able to
suppress a smile; "we will think more at large upon this matter. In the
meanwhile, I trust to your remonstrances with this wild boy and with the
family, for restraining these violent and unseemly jealousies and bursts
of passion; and I entreat you to press on him and them their duty in
this respect towards God, and towards their master."

"You shall be obeyed, madam," said Warden. "On the next Thursday I
exhort the family, and will, with God's blessing, so wrestle with the
demon of wrath and violence, which hath entered into my little flock,
that I trust to hound the wolf out of the fold, as if he were chased
away with bandogs."

This was the part of the conference from which Mr. Warden derived the
greatest pleasure. The pulpit was at that time the same powerful engine
for affecting popular feeling which the press has since become, and he
had been no unsuccessful preacher, as we have already seen. It followed
as a natural consequence, that he rather over-estimated the powers of
his own oratory, and, like some of his brethren about the period, was
glad of an opportunity to handle any matters of importance, whether
public or private, the discussion of which could be dragged into his
discourse. In that rude age the delicacy was unknown which prescribed
time and place to personal exhortations; and as the court-preacher often
addressed the King individually, and dictated to him the conduct he
ought to observe in matters of state, so the nobleman himself, or any of
his retainers, were, in the chapel of the feudal castle, often incensed
or appalled, as the case might be, by the discussion of their private
faults in the evening exercise, and by spiritual censures directed
against them, specifically, personally, and by name. The sermon, by
means of which Henry Warden purposed to restore concord and good order
to the Castle of Avenel, bore for text the well-known words, "_He who
striketh with the sword shall perish by the sword,_" and was a singular
mixture of good sense and powerful oratory with pedantry and bad taste.
He enlarged a good deal on the word striketh, which he assured his
hearers comprehended blows given with the point as well as with
the edge, and more generally, shooting with hand-gun, cross-bow, or
long-bow, thrusting with a lance, or doing any thing whatever by which
death might be occasioned to the adversary. In the same manner,
he proved satisfactorily, that the word sword comprehended all
descriptions, whether backsword or basket-hilt, cut-and-thrust or
rapier, falchion, or scimitar. "But if," he continued, with still
greater animation, "the text includeth in its anathema those who strike
with any of those weapons which man hath devised for the exercise of his
open hostility, still more doth it comprehend such as from their form
and size are devised rather for the gratification of privy malice by
treachery, than for the destruction of an enemy prepared and standing
upon his defence. Such," he proceeded, looking sternly at the place
where the page was seated on a cushion at the feet of his mistress, and
wearing in his crimson belt a gay dagger with a gilded hilt,--"such,
more especially, I hold to be those implements of death, which, in
our modern and fantastic times, are worn not only by thieves and
cut-throats, to whom they most properly belong, but even by those who
attend upon women, and wait in the chambers of honourable ladies. Yes,
my friends,--every species of this unhappy weapon, framed for all evil
and for no good, is comprehended under this deadly denunciation, whether
it be a stillet, which we have borrowed from the treacherous Italian, or
a dirk, which is borne by the savage Highlandman, or a whinger, which is
carried by our own Border thieves and cut-throats, or a dudgeon-dagger,
all are alike engines invented by the devil himself, for ready
implements of deadly wrath, sudden to execute, and difficult to be
parried. Even the common sword-and-buckler brawler despises the use of
such a treacherous and malignant instrument, which is therefore fit to
be used, not by men or soldiers, but by those who, trained under female
discipline, become themselves effeminate hermaphrodites, having female
spite and female cowardice added to the infirmities and evil passions of
their masculine nature."

The effect which this oration produced upon the assembled congregation
of Avenel cannot very easily be described. The lady seemed at once
embarrassed and offended; the menials could hardly contain, under
an affectation of deep attention, the joy with which they heard the
chaplain launch his thunders at the head of the unpopular favourite, and
the weapon which they considered as a badge of affectation and finery.
Mrs. Lilias crested and drew up her head with all the deep-felt pride of
gratified resentment; while the steward, observing a strict neutrality
of aspect, fixed his eyes upon an old scutcheon on the opposite side
of the wall, which he seemed to examine with the utmost accuracy, more
willing, perhaps, to incur the censure of being inattentive to the
sermon, than that of seeming to listen with marked approbation to what
appeared so distasteful to his mistress.

The unfortunate subject of the harangue, whom nature had endowed with
passions which had hitherto found no effectual restraint, could not
disguise the resentment which he felt at being thus directly held up to
the scorn, as well as the censure, of the assembled inhabitants of the
little world in which he lived. His brow grew red, his lip grew pale, he
set his teeth, he clenched his hand, and then with mechanical readiness
grasped the weapon of which the clergyman had given so hideous a
character; and at length, as the preacher heightened the colouring of
his invective, he felt his rage become so ungovernable, that, fearful
of being hurried into some deed of desperate violence, he rose up,
traversed the chapel with hasty steps, and left the congregation.

The preacher was surprised into a sudden pause, while the fiery youth
shot across him like a flash of lightning, regarding him as he passed,
as if he had wished to dart from his eyes the same power of blighting
and of consuming. But no sooner had he crossed the chapel, and shut
with violence behind him the door of the vaulted entrance by which
it communicated with the castle, than the impropriety of his conduct
supplied Warden with one of those happier subjects for eloquence, of
which he knew how to take advantage for making a suitable impression on
his hearers. He paused for an instant, and then pronounced, in a slow
and solemn voice, the deep anathema: "He hath gone out from us because
he was not of us--the sick man hath been offended at the wholesome
bitter of the medicine--the wounded patient hath flinched from the
friendly knife of the surgeon--the sheep hath fled from the sheepfold
and delivered himself to the wolf, because he could not assume the
quiet and humble conduct demanded of us by the great Shepherd. Ah! my
brethren, beware of wrath--beware of pride--beware of the deadly and
destroying sin which so often shows itself to our frail eyes in
the garments of light! What is our earthly honour? Pride, and pride
only--What our earthly gifts and graces? Pride and vanity. Voyagers
speak of Indian men who deck themselves with shells, and anoint
themselves with pigments, and boast of their attire as we do of our
miserable carnal advantages--Pride could draw down the morning-star from
Heaven even to the verge of the pit--Pride and self-opinion kindled the
flaming sword which waves us off from Paradise--Pride made Adam mortal,
and a weary wanderer on the face of the earth, which he had else been at
this day the immortal lord of--Pride brought amongst us sin, and doubles
every sin it has brought. It is the outpost which the devil and the
flesh most stubbornly maintain against the assaults of grace; and until
it be subdued, and its barriers levelled with the very earth, there is
more hope of a fool than of the sinner. Rend, then, from your bosoms
this accursed shoot of the fatal apple; tear it up by the roots, though
it be twisted with the chords of your life. Profit by the example of the
miserable sinner that has passed from us, and embrace the means of
grace while it is called to-day 'ere your conscience is seared as with
a fire-brand, and your ears deafened like those of the adder, and
your heart hardened like the nether mill-stone. Up, then, and be
doing--wrestle and overcome; resist, and the enemy shall flee from
you--Watch and pray, lest ye fall into temptation, and let the stumbling
of others be your warning and your example. Above all, rely not on
yourselves, for such self-confidence is even the worst symptom of the
disorder itself. The Pharisee, perhaps, deemed himself humble while he
stooped in the Temple, and thanked God that he was not as other men, and
even as the publican. But while his knees touched the marble pavement,
his head was as high as the topmost pinnacle of the Temple. Do not,
therefore, deceive yourselves, and offer false coin, where the purest
you can present is but as dross--think not that such--will pass the
assay of Omnipotent Wisdom. Yet shrink not from the task, because, as
is my bounden duty, I do not disguise from you its difficulties.
Self-searching can do much--Meditation can do much--Grace can do all."

And he concluded with a touching and animating exhortation to his
hearers to seek divine grace, which is perfected in human wakness.

The audience did not listen to this address without being considerably
affected; though it might be doubted whether the feelings of triumph,
excited by the disgraceful retreat of the favourite page, did not
greatly qualify in the minds of many the exhortations of the preacher
to charity and to humility. And, in fact, the expression of their
countenances much resembled the satisfied triumphant air of a set of
children, who, having just seen a companion punished for a fault in
which they had no share, con their task with double glee, both because
they themselves are out of the scrape, and because the culprit is in it.

With very different feelings did the Lady of Avenel seek her own
apartment. She felt angry at Warden having made a domestic matter,
in which she took a personal interest, the subject of such public
discussion. But this she knew the good man claimed as a branch of his
Christian liberty as a preacher, and also that it was vindicated by the
universal custom of his brethren. But the self-willed conduct of her
protegé afforded her yet deeper concern. That he had broken through in
so remarkable a degree, not only the respect due to her presence, but
that which was paid to religious admonition in those days with such
peculiar reverence, argued a spirit as untameable as his enemies had
represented him to possess. And yet so far as he had been under her own
eye, she had seen no more of that fiery spirit than appeared to her to
become his years and his vivacity. This opinion might be founded in
some degree on partiality; in some degree, too, it might be owing to the
kindness and indulgence which she had always extended to him; but still
she thought it impossible that she could be totally mistaken in the
estimate she had formed of his character. The extreme of violence is
scarce consistent with a course of continued hypocrisy, (although Lilias
charitably hinted, that in some instances they were happily united,) and
there fore she could not exactly trust the report of others against her
own experience and observation. The thoughts of this orphan boy clung
to her heartstrings with a fondness for which she herself was unable to
account. He seemed to have been sent to her by Heaven, to fill up those
intervals of languor and vacuity which deprived her of much enjoyment.
Perhaps he was not less dear to her, because she well saw that he was
a favourite with no one else, and because she felt, that to give him up
was to afford the judgment of her husband and others a triumph over
her own; a circumstance not quite indifferent to the best of spouses of
either sex.

In short, the Lady of Avenel formed the internal resolution, that she
would not desert her page while her page could be rationally protected;
and, with a view of ascertaining how far this might be done, she caused
him to be summoned to her presence.



Chapter the Fifth.


  --In the wild storm,
  The seaman hews his mast down, and the merchant
  Heaves to the billows wares he once deem'd precious;
  So prince and peer, 'mid popular contentions,
  Cast off their favourites.
                                  OLD PLAY.

It was some time ere Roland Graeme appeared. The messenger (his old
friend Lilias) had at first attempted to open the door of his little
apartment with the charitable purpose, doubtless, of enjoying the
confusion, and marking the demeanour of the culprit. But an oblong bit
of iron, ycleped a bolt, was passed across the door on the inside, and
prevented her benign intentions. Lilias knocked and called at intervals.
"Roland--Roland Graeme--_Master_ Roland Graeme" (an emphasis on the word
Master,) "will you be pleased to undo the door?--What ails you?--are
you at your prayers in private, to complete the devotion which you left
unfinished in public?--Surely we must have a screened seat for you in
the chapel, that your gentility may be free from the eyes of common
folks!" Still no whisper was heard in reply. "Well, master Roland," said
the waiting-maid, "I must tell my mistress, that if she would have an
answer, she must either come herself, or send those on errand to you who
can beat the door down."

"What says your Lady?" answered the page from within.

"Marry, open the door, and you shall hear," answered the waiting-maid.
"I trow it becomes my Lady's message to be listened to face to face; and
I will not for your idle pleasure, whistle it through a key-hole."

"Your mistress's name," said the page, opening the door, "is too fair a
cover for your impertinence--What says my Lady?"

"That you will be pleased to come to her directly, in the
withdrawing-room," answered Lilias. "I presume she has some directions
for you concerning the forms to be observed in leaving chapel in
future."

"Say to my Lady, that I will directly wait on her," answered the page;
and returning into his apartment, he once more locked the door in the
face of the waiting-maid.

"Rare courtesy!" muttered Lilias; and, returning to her mistress,
acquainted her that Roland Graeme would wait on her when it suited his
convenience.

"What, is that his addition, or your own phrase, Lilias?" said the Lady,
coolly.

"Nay, madam," replied the attendant, not directly answering the
question, "he looked as if he could have said much more impertinent
things than that, if I had been willing to hear them.--But here he comes
to answer for himself."

Roland Graeme entered the apartment with a loftier mien, and somewhat a
higher colour than his wont; there was embarrassment in his manner, but
it was neither that of fear nor of penitence.

"Young man," said the Lady, "what trow you I am to think of your conduct
this day?"

"If it has offended you, madam, I am deeply grieved," replied the youth.

"To have offended me alone," replied the Lady, "were but little--You
have been guilty of conduct which will highly offend your master--of
violence to your fellow-servants, and of disrespect to God himself, in
the person of his ambassador."

"Permit me again to reply," said the page, "that if I have offended
my only mistress, friend, and benefactress, it includes the sum of my
guilt, and deserves the sum of my penitence--Sir Halbert Glendinning
calls me not servant, nor do I call him master--he is not entitled to
blame me for chastising an insolent groom--nor do I fear the wrath
of Heaven for treating with scorn the unauthorized interference of a
meddling preacher."

The Lady of Avenel had before this seen symptoms in her favourite of
boyish petulance, and of impatience of censure or reproof. But his
present demeanour was of a graver and more determined character, and she
was for a moment at a loss how she should treat the youth, who seemed to
have at once assumed the character not only of a man, but of a bold and
determined one. She paused an instant, and then assuming the dignity
which was natural to her, she said, "Is it to me, Roland, that you hold
this language? Is it for the purpose of making me repent the favour I
have shown you, that you declare yourself independent both of an earthly
and a Heavenly master? Have you forgotten what you were, and to what the
loss of my protection would speedily again reduce you?"

"Lady," said the page, "I have forgot nothing, I remember but too much.
I know, that but for you, I should have perished in yon blue waves,"
pointing, as he spoke, to the lake, which was seen through the
window, agitated by the western wind. "Your goodness has gone farther,
madam--you have protected me against the malice of others, and against
my own folly. You are free, if you are willing, to abandon the orphan
you have reared. You have left nothing undone by him, and he complains
of nothing. And yet, Lady, do not think I have been ungrateful--I have
endured something on my part, which I would have borne for the sake of
no one but my benefactress."

"For my sake!" said the Lady; "and what is it that I can have subjected
you to endure, which can be remembered with other feelings than those of
thanks and gratitude?"

"You are too just, madam, to require me to be thankful for the cold
neglect with which your husband has uniformly treated me--neglect not
unmingled with fixed aversion. You are too just, madam, to require me
to be grateful for the constant and unceasing marks of scorn and
malevolence with which I have been treated by others, or for such a
homily as that with which your reverend chaplain has, at my expense,
this very day regaled the assembled household."

"Heard mortal ears the like of this!" said the waiting-maid, with her
hands expanded and her eyes turned up to heaven; "he speaks as if he
were son of an earl, or of a belted knight the least penny!"

The page glanced on her a look of supreme contempt, but vouchsafed
no other answer. His mistress, who began to feel herself seriously
offended, and yet sorry for the youth's folly, took up the same tone.

"Indeed, Roland, you forget yourself so strangely," said she, "that you
will tempt me to take serious measures to lower you in your own opinion
by reducing you to your proper station in society."

"And that," added Lilias, "would be best done by turning him out the
same beggar's brat that your ladyship took him in."

"Lilias speaks too rudely," continued the Lady, "but she has spoken the
truth, young man; nor do I think I ought to spare that pride which
hath so completely turned your head. You have been tricked up with fine
garments, and treated like the son of a gentleman, until you have forgot
the fountain of your churlish blood."

"Craving your pardon, most honourable madam, Lilias hath _not_ spoken
truth, nor does your ladyship know aught of my descent, which should
entitle you to treat it with such decided scorn. I am no beggar's
brat--my grandmother begged from no one, here nor elsewhere--she would
have perished sooner on the bare moor. We were harried out and driven
from our home--a chance which has happed elsewhere, and to others.
Avenel Castle, with its lake and its towers, was not at all times able
to protect its inhabitants from want and desolation."

"Hear but his assurance!" said Lilias, "he upbraids my Lady with the
distresses of her family!"

"It had indeed been a theme more gratefully spared," said the Lady,
affected nevertheless with the allusion.

"It was necessary, madam, for my vindication," said the page, "or I
had not even hinted at a word that might give you pain. But believe,
honoured Lady, I am of no churl's blood. My proper descent I know not;
but my only relation has said, and my heart has echoed it back and
attested the truth, that I am sprung of gentle blood, and deserve gentle
usage."

"And upon an assurance so vague as this," said the Lady, "do you propose
to expect all the regard, all the privileges, befitting high rank and
distinguished birth, and become a contender for concessions which are
only due to the noble? Go to, sir, know yourself, or the master of
the household shall make you know you are liable to the scourge as a
malapert boy. You have tasted too little the discipline fit for your age
and station."

"The master of the household shall taste of my dagger, ere I taste of
his discipline," said the page, giving way to his restrained passion.
"Lady, I have been too long the vassal of a pantoufle, and the slave
of a silver whistle. You must henceforth find some other to answer your
call; and let him be of birth and spirit mean enough to brook the scorn
of your menials, and to call a church vassal his master."

"I have deserved this insult," said the Lady, colouring deeply, "for
so long enduring and fostering your petulance. Begone, sir. Leave this
castle to-night--I will send you the means of subsistence till you find
some honest mode of support, though I fear your imaginary grandeur will
be above all others, save those of rapine and violence. Begone, sir, and
see my face no more."

The page threw himself at her feet in an agony of sorrow. "My dear
and honoured mistress," he said, but was unable to bring out another
syllable.

"Arise, sir," said the Lady, "and let go my mantle--hypocrisy is a poor
cloak for ingratitude."

"I am incapable of either, madam," said the page, springing up with the
hasty start of passion which belonged to his rapid and impetuous temper.
"Think not I meant to implore permission to reside here; it has been
long my determination to leave Avenel, and I will never forgive myself
for having permitted you to say the word begone, ere I said, 'I leave
you.' I did but kneel to ask your forgiveness for an ill-considered word
used in the height of displeasure, but which ill became my mouth,
as addressed to you. Other grace I asked not--you have done much for
me--but I repeat, that you better know what you yourself have done, than
what I have suffered."

"Roland," said the Lady, somewhat appeased, and relenting towards her
favourite, "you had me to appeal to when you were aggrieved. You were
neither called upon to suffer wrong, nor entitled to resent it, when you
were under my protection."

"And what," said the youth, "if I sustained wrong from those you loved
and favoured, was I to disturb your peace with idle tale-bearings and
eternal complaints? No, madam; I have borne my own burden in silence,
and without disturbing you with murmurs; and the respect with which
you accuse me of wanting, furnishes the only reason why I have neither
appealed to you, nor taken vengeance at my own hand in a manner far more
effectual. It is well, however, that we part. I was not born to be a
stipendiary, favoured by his mistress, until ruined by the calumnies
of others. May Heaven multiply its choicest blessings on your honoured
head; and, for your sake, upon all that are dear to you!"

He was about to leave the apartment, when the Lady called upon him to
return. He stood still, while she thus addressed him: "It was not my
intention, nor would it be just, even in the height of my displeasure,
to dismiss you without the means of support; take this purse of gold."

"Forgive me, Lady," said the boy, "and let me go hence with the
consciousness that I have not been degraded to the point of accepting
alms. If my poor services can be placed against the expense of my
apparel and my maintenance, I only remain debtor to you for my life, and
that alone is a debt which I can never repay; put up then that purse,
and only say, instead, that you do not part from me in anger."

"No, not in anger," said the Lady, "in sorrow rather for your
wilfulness; but take the gold, you cannot but need it."

"May God evermore bless you for the kind tone and the kind word! but the
gold I cannot take. I am able of body, and do not lack friends so wholly
as you may think; for the time may come that I may yet show myself more
thankful than by mere words." He threw himself on his knees, kissed the
hand which she did not withdraw, and then, hastily left the apartment.

Lilias, for a moment or two, kept her eye fixed on her mistress, who
looked so unusually pale, that she seemed about to faint; but the Lady
instantly recovered herself, and declining the assistance which her
attendant offered her, walked to her own apartment.



Chapter the Sixth.


  Thou hast each secret of the household, Francis.
  I dare be sworn thou hast been in the buttery,
  Steeping thy curious humour in fat ale,
  And in thy butler's tattle--ay, or chatting
  With the glib waiting-woman o'er her comfits--
  These bear the key to each domestic mystery.
                                  OLD PLAY.

Upon the morrow succeeding the scene we have described, the disgraced
favourite left the castle; and at breakfast-time the cautious old
steward and Mrs. Lilias sat in the apartment of the latter personage,
holding grave converse on the important event of the day, sweetened by a
small treat of comfits, to which the providence of Mr. Wingate had added
a little flask of racy canary.

"He is gone at last," said the abigail, sipping her glass; "and here is
to his good journey."

"Amen," answered the steward, gravely; "I wish the poor deserted lad no
ill."

"And he is gone like a wild-duck, as he came," continued Mrs. Lilias;
"no lowering of drawbridges, or pacing along causeways, for him. My
master has pushed off in the boat which they call the little Herod,
(more shame to them for giving the name of a Christian to wood and
iron,) and has rowed himself by himself to the farther side of the loch,
and off and away with himself, and left all his finery strewed about his
room. I wonder who is to clean his trumpery out after him--though the
things are worth lifting, too."

"Doubtless, Mistress Lilias," answered the master of the household,
"in the which case, I am free to think, they will not long cumber the
floor."

"And now tell me, Master Wingate," continued the damsel, "do not the
very cockles of your heart rejoice at the house being rid of this
upstart whelp, that flung us all into shadow?"

"Why, Mistress Lilias," replied Wingate, "as to rejoicing--those who
have lived as long in great families as has been my lot, will be in no
hurry to rejoice at any thing. And for Roland Graeme, though he may be a
good riddance in the main, yet what says the very sooth proverb, 'Seldom
comes a better.'"

"Seldom comes a better, indeed!" echoed Mrs. Lilias. "I say, never can
come a worse, or one half so bad. He might have been the ruin of our
poor dear mistress," (here she used her kerchief,) "body and soul, and
estate too; for she spent more coin on his apparel than on any four
servants about the house."

"Mistress Lilias," said the sage steward, "I do opine that our mistress
requireth not this pity at your hands, being in all respects competent
to take care of her own body, soul, and estate into the bargain."

"You would not mayhap have said so," answered the waiting-woman, "had
you seen how like Lot's wife she looked when young master took his
leave. My mistress is a good lady, and a virtuous, and a well-doing
lady, and a well-spoken of--but I would not Sir Halbert had seen her
last evening for two and a plack."

"Oh, foy! foy! foy!" reiterated the steward; "servants should hear and
see, and say nothing. Besides that, my lady is utterly devoted to Sir
Halbert, as well she may, being, as he is, the most renowned knight in
these parts."

"Well, well," said the abigail, "I mean no more harm; but they that seek
least renown abroad, are most apt to find quiet at home, that's all; and
my Lady's lonesome situation is to be considered, that made her fain to
take up with the first beggar's brat that a dog brought her out of the
loch."

"And, therefore," said the steward, "I say, rejoice not too much, or too
hastily, Mistress Lilias; for if your Lady wished a favourite to pass
away the time, depend upon it, the time will not pass lighter now that
he is gone. So she will have another favourite to choose for herself;
and be assured, if she wishes such a toy, she will not lack one."

"And where should she choose one, but among her own tried and faithful
servants," said Mrs. Lilias, "who have broken her bread, and drunk her
drink, for so many years? I have known many a lady as high as she is,
that never thought either of a friend or favourite beyond their own
waiting-woman--always having a proper respect, at the same time, for
their old and faithful master of the household, Master Wingate."

"Truly, Mistress Lilias," replied the steward, "I do partly see the mark
at which you shoot, but I doubt your bolt will fall short. Matters
being with our Lady as it likes you to suppose, it will neither be your
crimped pinners, Mrs. Lilias, (speaking of them with due respect,) nor
my silver hair, or golden chain, that will fill up the void which Roland
Graeme must needs leave in our Lady's leisure. There will be a learned
young divine with some new doctrine--a learned leech with some new
drug--a bold cavalier, who will not be refused the favour of wearing her
colours at a running at the ring--a cunning harper that could harp the
heart out of woman's breast, as they say Signer David Rizzio did to
our poor Queen;--these are the sort of folk who supply the loss of
a well-favoured favourite, and not an old steward, or a middle-aged
waiting-woman."

"Well," replied Lilias, "you have experience, Master Wingate, and truly
I would my master would leave off his picking hither and thither,
and look better after the affairs of his household. There will be a
papestrie among us next, for what should I see among master's clothes
but a string of gold beads! I promise you, _aves_ and _credos_ both!--I
seized on them like a falcon."

"I doubt it not, I doubt it not," said the steward, sagaciously nodding
his head; "I have often noticed that the boy had strange observances
which savoured of popery, and that he was very jealous to conceal them.
But you will find the Catholic under the Presbyterian cloak as often as
the knave under the Friar's hood--what then? we are all mortal--Right
proper beads they are," he added, looking attentively at them, "and may
weigh four ounces of fine gold."

"And I will have them melted down presently," she said, "before they be
the misguiding of some poor blinded soul."

"Very cautious, indeed, Mistress Lilias," said the steward, nodding his
head in assent.

"I will have them made," said Mrs. Lilias, "into a pair of shoe-buckles;
I would not wear the Pope's trinkets, or whatever has once borne the
shape of them, one inch above my instep, were they diamonds instead
of gold.--But this is what has come of Father Ambrose coming about the
castle, as demure as a cat that is about to steal cream."

"Father Ambrose is our master's brother," said the steward gravely.

"Very true, Master Wingate," answered the Dame; "but is that a good
reason why he should pervert the king's liege subjects to papistrie?"

"Heaven forbid, Mistress Lilias," answered the sententious major-domo;
"but yet there are worse folk than the Papists."

"I wonder where they are to be found," said the waiting-woman, with some
asperity; "but I believe, Master Wingate, if one were to speak to you
about the devil himself, you would say there were worse people than
Satan."

"Assuredly I might say so," replied the steward, "supposing that I saw
Satan standing at my elbow."

The waiting-woman started, and having exclaimed, "God bless us!" added,
"I wonder, Master Wingate, you can take pleasure in frightening one
thus."

"Nay, Mistress Lilias, I had no such purpose," was the reply; "but look
you here--the Papists are but put down for the present, but who knows
how long this word _present_ will last? There are two great Popish earls
in the north of England, that abominate the very word reformation; I
mean the Northumberland and Westmoreland Earls, men of power enough to
shake any throne in Christendom. Then, though our Scottish king be,
God bless him, a true Protestant, yet he is but a boy; and here is his
mother that was our queen--I trust there is no harm to say, God bless
her too--and she is a Catholic; and many begin to think she has had but
hard measure, such as the Hamiltons in the west, and some of our Border
clans here, and the Gordons in the north, who are all wishing to see a
new world; and if such a new world should chance to come up, it is like
that the Queen will take back her own crown, and that the mass and the
cross will come up, and then down go pulpits, Geneva-gowns, and black
silk skull-caps."

"And have you, Master Jasper Wingate, who have heard the word, and
listened unto pure and precious Mr. Henry Warden, have you, I say, the
patience to speak, or but to think, of popery coming down on us like a
storm, or of the woman Mary again making the royal seat of Scotland a
throne of abomination? No marvel that you are so civil to the cowled
monk, Father Ambrose, when he comes hither with his downcast eyes that
he never raises to my Lady's face, and with his low sweet-toned voice,
and his benedicites, and his benisons; and who so ready to take them
kindly as Master Wingate?"

"Mistress Lilias," replied the butler, with an air which was intended
to close the debate, "there are reasons for all things. If I received
Father Ambrose debonairly, and suffered him to steal a word now and
then with this same Roland Graeme, it was not that I cared a brass
bodle for his benison or malison either, but only because I respected
my master's blood. And who can answer, if Mary come in again, whether he
may not be as stout a tree to lean to as ever his brother hath proved
to us? For down goes the Earl of Murray when the Queen comes by her
own again; and good is his luck if he can keep the head on his own
shoulders. And down goes our Knight, with the Earl, his patron; and who
so like to mount into his empty saddle as this same Father Ambrose? The
Pope of Rome can so soon dispense with his vows, and then we should have
Sir Edward the soldier, instead of Ambrose the priest."

Anger and astonishment kept Mrs. Lilias silent,--while her old friend,
in his self-complacent manner, was making known to her his political
speculations. At length her resentment found utterance in words of
great ire and scorn. "What, Master Wingate! have you eaten my mistress's
bread, to say nothing of my master's, so many years, that you could live
to think of her being dispossessed of her own Castle of Avenel, by a
wretched monk, who is not a drop's blood to her in the way of relation?
I, that am but a woman, would try first whether my rock or his cowl was
the better metal. Shame on you, Master Wingate! I If I had not held
you as so old an acquaintance, this should have gone to my Lady's ears
though I had been called pickthank and tale-pyet for my pains, as when I
told of Roland Graeme shooting the wild swan."

Master Wingate was somewhat dismayed at perceiving, that the details
which he had given of his far-sighted political views had produced on
his hearer rather suspicion of his fidelity, than admiration of his
wisdom, and endeavoured, as hastily as possible, to apologize and to
explain, although internally extremely offended at the unreasonable
view, as he deemed it, which it had pleased Mistress Lilias
Bradbourne to take of his expressions; and mentally convinced that her
disapprobation of his sentiments arose solely out of the consideration,
that though Father Ambrose, supposing him to become the master of the
castle, would certainly require the services of a steward, yet those
of a waiting-woman would, in the supposed circumstances, be altogether
superfluous.

After his explanation had been received as explanations usually are, the
two friends separated; Lilias to attend the silver whistle which called
her to her mistress's chamber, and the sapient major-domo to the duties
of his own department. They parted with less than their usual degree of
reverence and regard; for the steward felt that his worldly wisdom was
rebuked by the more disinterested attachment of the waiting-woman, and
Mistress Lilias Bradbourne was compelled to consider her old friend as
something little better than a time-server.



Chapter the Seventh.


  When I hae a saxpence under my thumb,
  Then I get credit in ilka town;
  But when I am puir they bid me gae by--
  Oh, poverty parts good company!
                         OLD SONG.

While the departure of the page afforded subject for the conversation
which we have detailed in our last chapter, the late favourite was far
advanced on his solitary journey, without well knowing what was its
object, or what was likely to be its end. He had rowed the skiff in
which he left the castle, to the side of the lake most distant from the
village, with the desire of escaping from the notice of the inhabitants.
His pride whispered, that he would be in his discarded state, only the
subject of their wonder and compassion; and his generosity told him,
that any mark of sympathy which his situation should excite, might be
unfavourably reported at the castle. A trifling incident convinced him
he had little to fear for his friends on the latter score. He was met by
a young man some years older than himself, who had on former occasions
been but too happy to be permitted to share in his sports in the
subordinate character of his assistant. Ralph Fisher approached to greet
him, with all the alacrity of an humble friend.

"What, Master Roland, abroad on this side, and without either hawk or
hound?"

"Hawk or hound," said Roland, "I will never perhaps hollo to again. I
have been dismissed--that is, I have left the castle."

Ralph was surprised. "What! you are to pass into the Knight's service,
and take the black jack and the lance?"

"Indeed," replied Roland Graeme, "I am not--I am now leaving the service
of Avenel for ever."

"And whither are you going, then?" said the young peasant.

"Nay, that is a question which it craves time to answer--I have that
matter to determine yet," replied the disgraced favourite.

"Nay, nay," said Ralph, "I warrant you it is the same to you which way
you go--my Lady would not dismiss you till she had put some lining into
the pouches of your doublet."

"Sordid slave!" said Roland Graeme, "dost thou think I would have
accepted a boon from one who was giving me over a prey to detraction
and to ruin, at the instigation of a canting priest and a meddling
serving-woman? The bread that I had bought with such an alms would have
choked me at the first mouthful."

Ralph looked at his quondam friend with an air of wonder not
unmixed with contempt. "Well," he said, at length, "no occasion for
passion--each man knows his own stomach best--but, were I on a black
moor at this time of day, not knowing whither I was going, I should
be glad to have a broad piece or two in my pouch, come by them as I
could.--But perhaps you will go with me to my father's--that is, for a
night, for to-morrow we expect my uncle Menelaus and all his folk; but,
as I said, for one night----"

The cold-blooded limitation of the offered shelter to one night only,
and that tendered most unwillingly, offended the pride of the discarded
favourite.

"I would rather sleep on the fresh heather, as I have done many a night
on less occasion," said Roland Graeme, "than in the smoky garret of your
father, that smells of peat smoke and usquebaugh like a Highlander's
plaid."

"You may choose, my master, if you are so nice," replied Ralph Fisher;
"you may be glad to smell a peat-fire, and usquebaugh too, if you
journey long in the fashion you propose. You might have said God-a-mercy
for your proffer, though--it is not every one that will put themselves
in the way of ill-will by harbouring a discarded serving-man."

"Ralph," said Roland Graeme, "I would pray you to remember that I have
switched you before now, and this is the same riding-wand which you have
tasted."

Ralph, who was a thickset clownish figure, arrived at his full strength,
and conscious of the most complete personal superiority, laughed
contemptuously at the threats of the slight-made stripling.

"It may be the same wand," he said, "but not the same hand; and that is
as good rhyme as if it were in a ballad. Look you, my Lady's page
that was, when your switch was up, it was no fear of you, but of
your betters, that kept mine down--and I wot not what hinders me from
clearing old scores with this hazel rung, and showing you it was your
Lady's livery-coat which I spared, and not your flesh and blood, Master
Roland."

In the midst of his rage, Roland Graeme was just wise enough to see,
that by continuing this altercation, he would subject himself to very
rude treatment from the boor, who was so much older and stronger than
himself; and while his antagonist, with a sort of jeering laugh of
defiance, seemed to provoke the contest, he felt the full bitterness of
his own degraded condition, and burst into a passion of tears, which he
in vain endeavoured to conceal with both his hands.

Even the rough churl was moved with the distress of his quondam
companion.

"Nay, Master Roland," he said, "I did but as 'twere jest with thee--I
would not harm thee, man, were it but for old acquaintance sake. But
ever look to a man's inches ere you talk of switching--why, thine arm,
man, is but like a spindle compared to mine.--But hark, I hear old Adam
Woodcock hollowing to his hawk--Come along, man, we will have a merry
afternoon, and go jollily to my father's in spite of the peat-smoke and
usquebaugh to boot. Maybe we may put you into some honest way of winning
your bread, though it's hard to come by in these broken times."

The unfortunate page made no answer, nor did he withdraw his hands from
his face, and Fisher continued in what he imagined a suitable tone of
comfort.

"Why, man, when you were my Lady's minion, men held you proud, and some
thought you a Papist, and I wot not what; and so, now that you have no
one to bear you out, you must be companionable and hearty, and wait on
the minister's examinations, and put these things out of folk's head;
and if he says you are in fault, you must jouk your head to the stream;
and if a gentleman, or a gentleman's gentleman, give you a rough word,
or a light blow, you must only say, thank you for dusting my doublet, or
the like, as I have done by you.--But hark to Woodcock's whistle again.
Come, and I will teach you all the trick on't as we go on."

"I thank you," said Roland Graeme, endeavouring to assume an air of
indifference and of superiority; "but I have another path before me, and
were it otherwise, I could not tread in yours."

"Very true, Master Roland," replied the clown; "and every man knows his
own matters best, and so I will not keep you from the path, as you say.
Give us a grip of your hand, man, for auld lang syne.--What! not clap
palms ere we part?--well, so be it--a wilful man will have his way, and
so farewell, and the blessing of the morning to you."

"Good-morrow--good-morrow," said Roland, hastily; and the clown walked
lightly off, whistling as he went, and glad, apparently, to be rid of an
acquaintance, whose claims might be troublesome, and who had no longer
the means to be serviceable to him.

Roland Graeme compelled himself to walk on while they were within sight
of each other that his former intimate might not augur any vacillation
of purpose, or uncertainty of object, from his remaining on the same
spot; but the effort was a painful one. He seemed stunned, as it were,
and giddy; the earth on which he stood felt as if unsound, and quaking
under his feet like the surface of a bog; and he had once or twice
nearly fallen, though the path he trode was of firm greensward. He kept
resolutely moving forward, in spite of the internal agitation to which
these symptoms belonged, until the distant form of his acquaintance
disappeared behind the slope of a hill, when his heart failed at once;
and, sitting down on the turf, remote from human ken, he gave way to
the natural expressions of wounded pride, grief, and fear, and wept with
unrestrained profusion and unqualified bitterness.

When the first violent paroxysm of his feelings had subsided, the
deserted and friendless youth felt that mental relief which usually
follows such discharges of sorrow. The tears continued to chase each
other down his cheeks, but they were no longer accompanied by the same
sense of desolation; an afflicting yet milder sentiment was awakened
in his mind, by the recollection of his benefactress, of the unwearied
kindness which had attached her to him, in spite of many acts of
provoking petulance, now recollected as offences of a deep dye, which
had protected him against the machinations of others, as well as against
the consequences of his own folly, and would have continued to do so,
had not the excess of his presumption compelled her to withdraw her
protection.

"Whatever indignity I have borne," he said, "has been the just reward of
my own ingratitude. And have I done well to accept the hospitality, the
more than maternal kindness, of my protectress, yet to detain from her
the knowledge of my religion?--but she shall know that a Catholic has
as much gratitude as a Puritan--that I have been thoughtless, but not
wicked--that in my wildest moments I have loved, respected, and honoured
her--and that the orphan boy might indeed be heedless, but was never
ungrateful!"

He turned, as these thoughts passed through his mind, and began hastily
to retread his footsteps towards the castle. But he checked the first
eagerness of his repentant haste, when he reflected on the scorn and
contempt with which the family were likely to see the return of
the fugitive, humbled, as they must necessarily suppose him, into a
supplicant, who requested pardon for his fault, and permission to return
to his service. He slackened his pace, but he stood not still.

"I care not," he resolutely determined; "let them wink, point, nod,
sneer, speak of the conceit which is humbled, of the pride which has had
a fall--I care not; it is a penance due to my folly, and I will endure
it with patience. But if she also, my benefactress, if she also should
think me sordid and weak-spirited enough to beg, not for her pardon
alone, but for a renewal of the advantages which I derived from her
favour--_her_ suspicion of my meanness I cannot--I will not brook."

He stood still, and his pride rallying with constitutional obstinacy
against his more just feeling, urged that he would incur the scorn of
the Lady of Avenel, rather than obtain her favour, by following the
course which the first ardour of his repentant feelings had dictated to
him.

"If I had but some plausible pretext," he thought, "some ostensible
reason for my return, some excuse to allege which might show I came not
as a degraded supplicant, or a discarded menial, I might go thither--but
as I am, I cannot--my heart would leap from its place and burst."

As these thoughts swept through his mind, something passed in the air
so near him as to dazzle his eyes, and almost to brush the plume in his
cap. He looked up--it was the favourite falcon of Sir Halbert, which,
flying around his head, seemed to claim his attention, as that of a
well-known friend. Roland extended his arm, and gave the accustomed
whoop, and the falcon instantly settled on his wrist, and began to prune
itself, glancing at the youth from time to time an acute and brilliant
beam of its hazel eye, which seemed to ask why he caressed it not with
his usual fondness.

"Ah, Diamond!" he said, as if the bird understood him, "thou and I must
be strangers henceforward. Many a gallant stoop have I seen thee make,
and many a brave heron strike down; but that is all gone and over, and
there is no hawking more for me!"

"And why not, Master Roland," said Adam Woodcock the falconer, who came
at that instant from behind a few alder bushes which had concealed him
from view, "why should there be no more hawking for you? Why, man, what
were our life without our sports?--thou know'st the jolly old song--

  "And rather would Allan in dungeon lie,
  Than live at large where the falcon cannot fly;
  And Allan would rather lie in Sexton's pound,
  Than live where he followed not the merry hawk and hound."

The voice of the falconer was hearty and friendly, and the tone in which
he half-sung half-recited his rude ballad, implied honest frankness
and cordiality. But remembrance of their quarrel, and its consequences,
embarrassed Roland, and prevented his reply. The falconer saw his
hesitation, and guessed the cause.

"What now," said he, "Master Roland? do you, who are half an Englishman,
think that I, who am a whole one, would keep up anger against you,
and you in distress? That were like some of the Scots, (my master's
reverence always excepted,) who can be fair and false, and wait their
time, and keep their mind, as they say, to themselves, and touch pot and
flagon with you, and hunt and hawk with you, and, after all, when
time serves, pay off some old feud with the point of the dagger. Canny
Yorkshire has no memory for such old sores. Why, man, an you had hit me
a rough blow, maybe I would rather have taken it from you, than a rough
word from another; for you have a good notion of falconry, though you
stand up for washing the meat for the eyases. So give us your hand, man,
and bear no malice."

Roland, though he felt his proud blood rebel at the familiarity of
honest Adam's address, could not resist its downright frankness.
Covering his face with the one hand, he held out the other to the
falconer, and returned with readiness his friendly grasp.

"Why, this is hearty now," said Woodcock; "I always said you had a kind
heart, though you have a spice of the devil in your disposition, that is
certain. I came this way with the falcon on purpose to find you, and yon
half-bred lubbard told me which way you took flight. You ever thought
too much of that kestril-kite, Master Roland, and he knows nought of
sport after all, but what he caught from you. I saw how it had been
betwixt you, and I sent him out of my company with a wanion--I would
rather have a rifler on my perch than a false knave at my elbow--and
now, Master Roland, tell me what way wing ye?"

"That is as God pleases," replied the page, with a sigh which he could
not suppress.

"Nay, man, never droop a feather for being cast off," said the falconer;
"who knows but you may soar the better and fairer flight for all this
yet?--Look at Diamond there, 'tis a noble bird, and shows gallantly
with his hood, and bells, and jesses; but there is many a wild falcon
in Norway that would not change properties with him--And that is what
I would say of you. You are no longer my Lady's page, and you will
not clothe so fair, or feed so well, or sleep so soft, or show so
gallant--What of all that? if you are not her page, you are your own
man, and may go where you will, without minding whoop or whistle. The
worst is the loss of the sport, but who knows what you may come to? They
say that Sir Halbert himself, I speak with reverence, was once glad to
be the Abbot's forester, and now he has hounds and hawks of his own, and
Adam Woodcock for a falconer to the boot."

"You are right, and say well, Adam," answered the youth, the blood
mantling in his cheeks, "the falcon will soar higher without his bells
than with them, though the bells be made of silver."

"That is cheerily spoken," replied the falconer; "and whither now?"

"I thought of going to the Abbey of Kennaquhair," answered Roland
Graeme, "to ask the counsel of Father Ambrose."

"And joy go with you," said the falconer, "though it is likely you may
find the old monks in some sorrow; they say the commons are threatening
to turn them out of their cells, and make a devil's mass of it in the
old church, thinking they have forborne that sport too long; and troth I
am clear of the same opinion."

"Then will Father Ambrose be the better of having a friend beside him!"
said the page, manfully.

"Ay, but, my young fearnought," replied the falconer, "the friend will
scarce be the better of being beside Father Ambrose--he may come by the
redder's lick, and that is ever the worst of the battle."

"I care not for that," said the page, "the dread of a lick should not
hold me back; but I fear I may bring trouble between the brothers by
visiting Father Ambrose. I will tarry to-night at Saint Cuthbert's cell,
where the old priest will give me a night's shelter; and I will send to
Father Ambrose to ask his advice before I go down to the convent."

"By Our Lady," said the falconer, "and that is a likely plan--and now,"
he continued, exchanging his frankness of manner for a sort of awkward
embarrassment, as if he had somewhat to say that he had no ready means
to bring out--"and now, you wot well that I wear a pouch for my hawk's
meat, [Footnote: This same hag, like every thing belonging to falconry,
was esteemed an honourable distinction, and worn often by the nobility
and gentry. One of the Sommervilles of Camnethan was called _Sir John
with the red bag_, because it was his wont to wear his hawking pouch
covered with satin of that colour.] and so forth; but wot you what it is
lined with, Master Roland?"

"With leather, to be sure," replied Roland, somewhat surprised at the
hesitation with which Adam Woodcock asked a question apparently so
simple.

"With leather, lad?" said Woodcock; "ay, and with silver to the boot of
that. See here," he said, showing a secret slit in the lining of his bag
of office--"here they are, thirty good Harry groats as ever were struck
in bluff old Hal's time, and ten of them are right heartily at your
service; and now the murder is out."

Roland's first idea was to refuse his assistance; but he recollected the
vows of humility which he had just taken upon him, and it occurred that
this was the opportunity to put his new-formed resolution to the test.
Assuming a strong command of himself, he answered Adam Woodcock with as
much frankness as his nature permitted him to wear, in doing what was
so contrary to his inclinations, that he accepted thankfully of his
kind offer, while, to soothe his own reviving pride, he could not help
adding, "he hoped soon to requite the obligation."

"That as you list--that as you list, young man," said the falconer, with
glee, counting out and delivering to his young friend the supply he had
so generously offered, and then adding, with great cheerfulness,--"Now
you may go through the world; for he that can back a horse, wind a horn,
hollow a greyhound, fly a hawk, and play at sword and buckler, with a
whole pair of shoes, a green jacket, and ten lily-white groats in his
pouch, may bid Father Care hang himself in his own jesses. Farewell, and
God be with you!"

So saying, and as if desirous to avoid the thanks of his companion,
he turned hastily round, and left Roland Graeme to pursue his journey
alone.



Chapter the Eight.


  The sacred tapers lights are gone.
  Gray moss has clad the altar stone,
  The holy image is o'erthrown,
    The bell has ceased to toll,
  The long ribb'd aisles are burst and shrunk,
  The holy shrines to ruin sunk,
  Departed is the pious monk,
    God's blessing on his soul!
                             REDIVIVA.

The cell of Saint Cuthbert, as it was called, marked, or was supposed
to mark, one of those resting-places, which that venerable saint was
pleased to assign to his monks, when his convent, being driven from
Lindisfern by the Danes, became a peripatetic society of religionists,
and bearing their patron's body on their shoulders, transported him from
place to place through Scotland and the borders of England, until he was
pleased at length to spare them the pain of carrying him farther, and
to choose his ultimate place of rest in the lordly towers of Durham.
The odour of his sanctity remained behind him at each place where he had
granted the monks a transient respite from their labours; and proud were
those who could assign, as his temporary resting-place, any spot within
their vicinity. There were few cells more celebrated and honoured
than that of Saint Cuthbert, to which Roland Graeme now bent his
way, situated considerably to the north-west of the great Abbey of
Kennaquhair, on which it was dependent. In the neighbourhood were some
of those recommendations which weighed with the experienced priesthood
of Rome, in choosing their sites for places of religion.

There was a well, possessed of some medicinal qualities, which, of
course, claimed the saint for its guardian and patron, and occasionally
produced some advantage to the recluse who inhabited his cell, since
none could reasonably expect to benefit by the fountain who did not
extend their bounty to the saint's chaplain. A few rods of fertile land
afforded the monk his plot of garden ground; an eminence well clothed
with trees rose behind the cell, and sheltered it from, the north and
the east, while the front, opening to the south-west, looked up a wild
but pleasant valley, down which wandered a lively brook, which battled
with every stone that interrupted its passage.

The cell itself was rather plainly than rudely constructed--a low Gothic
building with two small apartments, one of which served the priest for
his dwelling-place, the other for his chapel. As there were few of
the secular clergy who durst venture to reside so near the Border, the
assistance of this monk in spiritual affairs had not been useless to the
community, while the Catholic religion retained the ascendancy; as he
could marry, christen, and administer the other sacraments of the Roman
church. Of late, however, as the Protestant doctrines gained ground, he
had found it convenient to live in close retirement, and to avoid, as
much as possible, drawing upon himself observation or animadversion. The
appearance of his habitation, however, when Roland Graeme came before
it in the close of the evening, plainly showed that his caution had been
finally ineffectual.

The page's first movement was to knock at the door, when he observed,
to his surprise, that it was open, not from being left unlatched, but
because, beat off its upper hinge, it was only fastened to the door-post
by the lower, and could therefore no longer perform its functions.
Somewhat alarmed at this, and receiving no answer when he knocked and
called, Roland began to look more at leisure upon the exterior of the
little dwelling before he ventured to enter it. The flowers, which had
been trained with care against the walls, seemed to have been recently
torn down, and trailed their dishonoured garlands on the earth; the
latticed window was broken and dashed in. The garden, which the monk had
maintained by his constant labour in the highest order and beauty, bore
marks of having been lately trod down and destroyed by the hoofs of
animals, and the feet of men.

The sainted spring had not escaped. It was wont to rise beneath a canopy
of ribbed arches, with which the devotion of elder times had secured
and protected its healing waters. These arches were now almost entirely
demolished, and the stones of which they were built were tumbled
into the well, as if for the purpose of choking up and destroying the
fountain, which, as it had shared in other days the honour of the saint,
was, in the present, doomed to partake his unpopularity. Part of the
roof had been pulled down from the house itself, and an attempt had
been made with crows and levers upon one of the angles, by which several
large corner-stones had been forced out of their place; but the solidity
of ancient mason-work had proved too great for the time or patience of
the assailants, and they had relinquished their task of destruction.
Such dilapidated buildings, after the lapse of years, during which
nature has gradually covered the effects of violence with creeping
plants, and with weather-stains, exhibit, amid their decay, a melancholy
beauty. But when the visible effects of violence appear raw and recent,
there is no feeling to mitigate the sense of devastation with which they
impress the spectators; and such was now the scene on which the youthful
page gazed, with the painful feelings it was qualified to excite.

When his first momentary surprise was over, Roland Graeme was at no loss
to conjecture the cause of these ravages. The destruction of the
Popish edifices did not take place at once throughout Scotland, but at
different times, and according to the spirit which actuated the
reformed clergy; some of whom instigated their hearers to these acts of
demolition, and others, with better taste and feeling, endeavoured to
protect the ancient shrines, while they desired to see them purified
from the objects which had attracted idolatrous devotion. From time to
time, therefore, the populace of the Scottish towns and villages,
when instigated either by their own feelings of abhorrence for Popish
superstition, or by the doctrines of the more zealous preachers, resumed
the work of destruction, and exercised it upon some sequestered church,
chapel, or cell, which had escaped the first burst of their indignation
against the religion of Rome. In many places, the vices of the Catholic
clergy, arising out of the wealth and the corruption of that tremendous
hierarchy, furnished too good an apology for wreaking vengeance upon
the splendid edifices which they inhabited; and of this an old Scottish
historian gives a remarkable instance.

"Why mourn ye," said an aged matron, seeing the discontent of some of
the citizens, while a stately convent was burnt by the multitude,--"why
mourn ye for its destruction? If you knew half the flagitious wickedness
which has been perpetrated within that house, you would rather bless
the divine judgment, which permits not even the senseless walls that
screened such profligacy, any longer to cumber Christian ground."

But although, in many instances, the destruction of the Roman Catholic
buildings might be, in the matron's way of judging, an act of justice,
and in others an act of policy, there is no doubt that the humour of
demolishing monuments of ancient piety and munificence, and that in a
poor country like Scotland, where there was no chance of their being
replaced, was both useless, mischievous, and barbarous.

In the present instance, the unpretending and quiet seclusion of the
monk of Saint Cuthbert's had hitherto saved him from the general
wreck; but it would seem ruin had now at length reached him. Anxious to
discover if he had at least escaped personal harm, Roland Graeme entered
the half ruined cell.

The interior of the building was in a state which fully justified the
opinion he had formed from its external injuries. The few rude utensils
of the solitary's hut were broken down, and lay scattered on the floor,
where it seemed as if a fire had been made with some of the fragments
to destroy the rest of his property, and to consume, in particular, the
rude old image of Saint Cuthbert, in its episcopal habit, which lay on
the hearth like Dagon of yore, shattered with the axe and scorched with
the flames, but only partially destroyed. In the little apartment which
served as a chapel, the altar was overthrown, and the four huge stones
of which it had been once composed lay scattered around the floor. The
large stone crucifix which occupied the niche behind the altar, and
fronted the supplicant while he paid his devotion there, had been pulled
down and dashed by its own weight into three fragments. There were marks
of sledge-hammers on each of these; yet the image had been saved from
utter demolition by the size and strength of the remaining fragments,
which, though much injured, retained enough of the original sculpture to
show what it had been intended to represent.

[Footnote: I may here observe, that this is entirely an ideal scene.
Saint Cuthbert, a person of established sanctity, had, no doubt, several
places of worship on the Borders, where he flourished whilst living;
but Tillmouth Chapel is the only one which bears some resemblance to
the hermitage described in the text. It has, indeed, a well, famous
for gratifying three wishes for every worshipper who shall quaff the
fountain with sufficient belief in its efficacy. At this spot the Saint
is said to have landed in his stone coffin, in which he sailed down the
Tweed from Melrose and here the stone coffin long lay, in evidence of
the fact. The late Sir Francis Blake Delaval is said to have taken the
exact measure of the coffin, and to have ascertained, by hydrostatic
principles, that it might have actually swum. A profane farmer in the
neighborhood announced his intention of converting this last bed of
the Saint into a trough for his swine; but the profanation was rendered
impossible, either by the Saint, or by some pious votary in his behalf,
for on the following morning the stone sarcophargus was found broken in
two fragments.

Tillmouth Chapel, with these points of resemblance, lies, however, in
exactly the opposite direction as regards Melrose, which the supposed
cell of St. Cuthbert is said to have borne towards Kennaquhair.]

Roland Graeme, secretly nursed in the tenets of Rome, saw with horror
the profanation of the most sacred emblem, according to his creed, of
our holy religion.

"It is the badge of our redemption," he said, "which the felons have
dared to violate--would to God my weak strength were able to replace
it--my humble strength, to atone for the sacrilege!"

He stooped to the task he first meditated, and with a sudden, and to
himself almost an incredible exertion of power, he lifted up the one
extremity of the lower shaft of the cross, and rested it upon the edge
of the large stone which served for its pedestal. Encouraged by this
success, he applied his force to the other extremity, and, to his own
astonishment, succeeded so far as to erect the lower end of the limb
into the socket, out of which it had been forced, and to place this
fragment of the image upright.

While he was employed in this labour, or rather at the very moment when
he had accomplished the elevation of the fragment, a voice, in thrilling
and well-known accents, spoke behind him these words:--"Well done,
thou good and faithful servant! Thus would I again meet the child of my
love--the hope of my aged eyes."

Roland turned round in astonishment, and the tall commanding form of
Magdalen Graeme stood beside him. She was arrayed in a sort of loose
habit, in form like that worn by penitents in Catholic countries, but
black in colour, and approaching as near to a pilgrim's cloak as it was
safe to wear in a country where the suspicion of Catholic devotion
in many places endangered the safety of those who were suspected of
attachment to the ancient faith. Roland Graeme threw himself at her
feet. She raised and embraced him, with affection indeed, but not
unmixed with gravity which amounted almost to sternness.

"Thou hast kept well," she said, "the bird in thy bosom. [Footnote: An
expression used by Sir Ralph Percy, slain in the battle of Hedgly-moor
in 1464, when dying, to express his having preserved unstained his
fidelity to the house of Lancaster.] As a boy, as a youth, thou hast
held fast thy faith amongst heretics--thou hast kept thy secret and mine
own amongst thine enemies. I wept when I parted from you--I who seldom
weep, then shed tears, less for thy death than for thy spiritual
danger--I dared not even see thee to bid thee a last farewell--my grief,
my swelling grief, had betrayed me to these heretics. But thou hast been
faithful--down, down on thy knees before the holy sign, which evil men
injure and blaspheme; down, and praise saints and angels for the grace
they have done thee, in preserving thee from the leprous plague which
cleaves to the house in which thou wert nurtured."

"If, my mother--so I must ever call you" replied Graeme,--"if I am
returned such as thou wouldst wish me, thou must thank the care of the
pious father Ambrose, whose instructions confirmed your early precepts,
and taught me at once to be faithful and to be silent."

"Be he blessed for it," said she; "blessed in the cell and in the field,
in the pulpit and at the altar--the saints rain blessings on him!--they
are just, and employ his pious care to counteract the evils which his
detested brother works against the realm and the church,--but he knew
not of thy lineage?"

"I could not myself tell him that," answered Roland. "I knew but darkly
from your words, that Sir Halbert Glendinning holds mine inheritance,
and that I am of blood as noble as runs in the veins of any Scottish
Baron--these are things not to be forgotten, but for the explanation I
must now look to you."

"And when time suits, thou shalt not look for it in vain. But men say,
my son, that thou art bold and sudden; and those who bear such tempers
are not lightly to be trusted with what will strongly move them."

"Say rather, my mother," returned Roland Graeme, "that I am laggard and
cold-blooded--what patience or endurance can you require of which _he_
is not capable, who for years has heard his religion ridiculed and
insulted, yet failed to plunge his dagger into the blasphemer's bosom!"

"Be contented, my child," replied Magdalen Graeme; "the time, which then
and even now demands patience, will soon ripen to that of effort and
action--great events are on the wing, and thou,--thou shalt have thy
share in advancing them. Thou hast relinquished the service of the Lady
of Avenel?"

"I have been dismissed from it, my mother--I have lived to be dismissed,
as if I were the meanest of the train."

"It is the better, my child," replied she; "thy mind will be the more
hardened to undertake that which must be performed."

"Let it be nothing, then, against the Lady of Avenel," said the page,
"as thy look and words seem to imply. I have eaten her bread--I have
experienced her favour--I will neither injure nor betray her."

"Of that hereafter, my son," said she; "but learn this, that it is not
for thee to capitulate in thy duty, and to say this will I do, and that
will I leave undone--No, Roland! God and man will no longer abide the
wickedness of this generation. Seest thou these fragments--knowest
thou what they represent?--and canst thou think it is for thee to make
distinctions amongst a race so accursed by Heaven, that they renounce,
violate, blaspheme, and destroy, whatsoever we are commanded to believe
in, whatsoever we are commanded to reverence?"

As she spoke, she bent her head towards the broken image, with a
countenance in which strong resentment and zeal were mingled with an
expression of ecstatic devotion; she raised her left hand aloft as
in the act of making a vow, and thus proceeded; "Bear witness for me,
blessed symbol of our salvation, bear witness, holy saint, within whose
violated temple we stand, that as it is not for vengeance of my own
that my hate pursues these people, so neither, for any favour or earthly
affection towards any amongst them, will I withdraw my hand from the
plough, when it shall pass through the devoted furrow! Bear witness,
holy saint, once thyself a wanderer and fugitive as we are now--bear
witness, Mother of Mercy, Queen of Heaven--bear witness, saints and
angels!"

In this high train of enthusiasm, she stood, raising her eyes through
the fractured roof of the vault, to the stars which now began to twinkle
through the pale twilight, while the long gray tresses which hung
down over her shoulders waved in the night-breeze, which the chasm and
fractured windows admitted freely.

Roland Graeme was too much awed by early habits, as well as by the
mysterious import of her words, to ask for farther explanation of the
purpose she obscurely hinted at. Nor did she farther press him on the
subject; for, having concluded her prayer or obtestation, by clasping
her hands together with solemnity, and then signing herself with the
cross, she again addressed her grandson, in a tone more adapted to the
ordinary business of life.

"Thou must hence," she said, "Roland, thou must hence, but not till
morning--And now, how wilt thou shift for thy night's quarters?--thou
hast been more softly bred than when we were companions in the misty
hills of Cumberland and Liddesdale."

"I have at least preserved, my good mother, the habits which I then
learned--can lie hard, feed sparingly, and think it no hardship. Since I
was a wanderer with thee on the hills, I have been a hunter, and fisher,
and fowler, and each of these is accustomed to sleep freely in a worse
shelter than sacrilege has left us here."

"Than sacrilege has left us here!" said the matron, repeating his words,
and pausing on them. "Most true, my son; and God's faithful children are
now worst sheltered, when they lodge in God's own house and the demesne
of his blessed saints. We shall sleep cold here, under the nightwind,
which whistles through the breaches which heresy has made. They shall
lie warmer who made them--ay, and through a long hereafter."

Notwithstanding the wild and singular expression of this female, she
appeared to retain towards Roland Graeme, in a strong degree, that
affectionate and sedulous love which women bear to their nurslings,
and the children dependent on their care. It seemed as if she would not
permit him to do aught for himself which in former days her attention
had been used to do for him, and that she considered the tall stripling
before her as being equally dependent on her careful attention as
when he was the orphan child, who had owed all to her affectionate
solicitude.

"What hast thou to eat now?" she said, as, leaving the chapel, they went
into the deserted habitation of the priest; "or what means of kindling
a fire, to defend thee from this raw and inclement air? Poor child! thou
hast made slight provision for a long journey; nor hast thou skill to
help thyself by wit, when means are scanty. But Our Lady has placed by
thy side one to whom want, in all its forms, is as familiar as plenty
and splendour have formerly been. And with want, Roland, come the arts
of which she is the inventor."

With an active and officious diligence, which strangely contrasted with
her late abstracted and high tone of Catholic devotion, she set about
her domestic arrangements for the evening. A pouch, which was hidden
under her garment, produced a flint and steel, and from the scattered
fragments around (those pertaining to the image of Saint Cuthbert
scrupulously excepted) she obtained splinters sufficient to raise a
sparkling and cheerful fire on the hearth of the deserted cell.

"And now," she said, "for needful food."

"Think not of it, mother," said Roland, "unless you yourself feel
hunger. It is a little thing for me to endure a night's abstinence, and
a small atonement for the necessary transgression of the rules of the
Church upon which I was compelled during my stay in the castle."

"Hunger for myself!" answered the matron--"Know, youth, that a mother
knows not hunger till that of her child is satisfied." And with
affectionate inconsistency, totally different from her usual manner, she
added, "Roland, you must not fast; you have dispensation; you are young,
and to youth food and sleep are necessaries not to be dispensed with.
Husband your strength, my child,--your sovereign, your religion, your
country, require it. Let age macerate by fast and vigil a body which can
only suffer; let youth, in these active times, nourish the limbs and the
strength which action requires."

While she thus spoke, the scrip, which had produced the means of
striking fire, furnished provision for a meal; of which she herself
scarce partook, but anxiously watched her charge, taking a pleasure,
resembling that of an epicure, in each morsel which he swallowed with a
youthful appetite which abstinence had rendered unusually sharp. Roland
readily obeyed her recommendations, and ate the food which she so
affectionately and earnestly placed before him. But she shook her head
when invited by him in return to partake of the refreshment her own
cares had furnished; and when his solicitude became more pressing, she
refused him in a loftier tone of rejection.

"Young man," she said, "you know not to whom or of what you speak. They
to whom Heaven declares its purpose must merit its communication by
mortifying the senses; they have that within which requires not the
superfluity of earthly nutriment, which is necessary to those who are
without the sphere of the Vision. To them the watch spent in prayer is
a refreshing slumber, and the sense of doing the will of Heaven is a
richer banquet than the tables of monarchs can spread before them!--But
do thou sleep soft, my son," she said, relapsing from the tone of
fanaticism into that of maternal affection and tenderness; "do thou
sleep sound while life is but young with thee, and the cares of the day
can be drowned in the slumbers of the evening. Different is thy duty and
mine, and as different the means by which we must qualify and strengthen
ourselves to perform it. From thee is demanded strength of body--from
me, strength of soul."

When she thus spoke, she prepared with ready address a pallet-couch,
composed partly of the dried leaves which had once furnished a bed to
the solitary, and the guests who occasionally received his hospitality,
and which, neglected by the destroyers of his humble cell, had remained
little disturbed in the corner allotted for them. To these her care
added some of the vestures which lay torn and scattered on the floor.
With a zealous hand she selected all such as appeared to have made
any part of the sacerdotal vestments, laying them aside as sacred
from ordinary purposes, and with the rest she made, with dexterous
promptness, such a bed as a weary man might willingly stretch himself
on; and during the time she was preparing it, rejected, even with
acrimony, any attempt which the youth made to assist her, or any
entreaty which he urged, that she would accept of the place of rest for
her own use. "Sleep thou," said she, "Roland Graeme, sleep thou--the
persecuted, the disinherited orphan--the son of an ill-fated
mother--sleep thou! I go to pray in the chapel beside thee."

The manner was too enthusiastically earnest, too obstinately firm, to
permit Roland Graeme to dispute her will any farther. Yet he felt some
shame in giving way to it. It seemed as if she had forgotten the years
that had passed away since their parting; and expected to meet, in the
tall, indulged, and wilful youth, whom she had recovered, the passive
obedience of the child whom she had left in the Castle of Avenel. This
did not fail to hurt her grandson's characteristic and constitutional
pride. He obeyed, indeed, awed into submission by the sudden recurrence
of former subordination, and by feelings of affection and gratitude.
Still, however, he felt the yoke.

"Have I relinquished the hawk and the hound," he said, "to become the
pupil of her pleasure, as if I were still a child?--I, whom even my
envious mates allowed to be superior in those exercises which they took
most pains to acquire, and which came to me naturally, as if a knowledge
of them had been my birthright? This may not, and must not be. I will be
no reclaimed sparrow-hawk, who is carried hooded on a woman's wrist,
and has his quarry only shown to him when his eyes are uncovered for his
flight. I will know her purpose ere it is proposed to me to aid it."

These, and other thoughts, streamed through the mind of Roland Graeme;
and although wearied with the fatigues of the day, it was long ere he
could compose himself to rest.



Chapter the Ninth.


  Kneel with me--swear it--'tis not in words I trust,
  Save when they're fenced with an appeal to Heaven.
                                   OLD PLAY

After passing the night in that sound sleep for which agitation and
fatigue had prepared him, Roland was awakened by the fresh morning
air, and by the beams of the rising sun. His first feeling was that of
surprise; for, instead of looking forth from a turret window on the
Lake of Avenel, which was the prospect his former apartment afforded,
an unlatticed aperture gave him the view of the demolished garden of the
banished anchorite. He sat up on his couch of leaves, and arranged in
his memory, not without wonder, the singular events of the preceding
day, which appeared the more surprising the more he considered them.
He had lost the protectress of his youth, and, in the same day, he
had recovered the guide and guardian of his childhood. The former
deprivation he felt ought to be matter of unceasing regret, and
it seemed as if the latter could hardly be the subject of unmixed
self-congratulation. He remembered this person, who had stood to him in
the relation of a mother, as equally affectionate in her attention, and
absolute in her authority. A singular mixture of love and fear attended
upon his early remembrances as they were connected with her; and the
fear that she might desire to resume the same absolute control over
his motions--a fear which her conduct of yesterday did not tend much to
dissipate--weighed heavily against the joy of this second meeting.

"She cannot mean," said his rising pride, "to lead and direct me as
a pupil, when I am at the age of judging of my own actions?--this she
cannot mean, or meaning it, will feel herself strangely deceived."

A sense of gratitude towards the person against whom his heart thus
rebelled, checked his course of feeling. He resisted the thoughts which
involuntarily arose in his mind, as he would have resisted an actual
instigation of the foul fiend; and, to aid him in his struggle, he felt
for his beads. But, in his hasty departure from the Castle of Avenel, he
had forgotten and left them behind him.

"This is yet worse," he said; "but two things I learned of her under the
most deadly charge of secrecy--to tell my beads, and to conceal that I
did so; and I have kept my word till now; and when she shall ask me
for the rosary, I must say I have forgotten it! Do I deserve she should
believe me when. I say I have kept the secret of my faith, when I set so
light by its symbol?"

He paced the floor in anxious agitation. In fact, his attachment to
his faith was of a nature very different from that which animated the
enthusiastic matron, but which, notwithstanding, it would have been his
last thought to relinquish.

The early charges impressed on him by his grandmother, had been
instilled into a mind and memory of a character peculiarly tenacious.
Child as he was, he was proud of the confidence reposed in his
discretion, and resolved to show that it had not been rashly intrusted
to him. At the same time, his resolution was no more than that of
a child, and must, necessarily, have gradually faded away under the
operation both of precept and example, during his residence at the
Castle of Avenel, but for the exhortations of Father Ambrose, who, in
his lay estate, had been called Edward Glendinning. This zealous
monk had been apprized, by an unsigned letter placed in his hand by
a pilgrim, that a child educated in the Catholic faith was now in the
Castle of Avenel, perilously situated, (so was the scroll expressed,)
as ever the three children who were cast into the fiery furnace of
persecution. The letter threw upon Father Ambrose the fault, should
this solitary lamb, unwillingly left within the demesnes of the prowling
wolf, become his final prey. There needed no farther exhortation to the
monk than the idea that a soul might be endangered, and that a Catholic
might become an apostate; and he made his visits more frequent than
usual to the castle of Avenel, lest, through want of the private
encouragement and instruction which he always found some opportunity of
dispensing, the church should lose a proselyte, and, according to the
Romish creed, the devil acquire a soul.

Still these interviews were rare; and though they encouraged the
solitary boy to keep his secret and hold fast his religion, they were
neither frequent nor long enough to inspire him with any thing beyond
a blind attachment to the observances which the priest recommended. He
adhered to the forms of his religion rather because he felt it would
be dishonourable to change that of his fathers, than from any rational
conviction or sincere belief of its mysterious doctrines. It was a
principal part of the distinction which, in his own opinion, singled him
out from those with whom he lived, and gave him an additional, though an
internal and concealed reason, for contemning those of the household who
showed an undisguised dislike of him, and for hardening himself against
the instructions of the chaplain, Henry Warden.

"The fanatic preacher," he thought within himself, during some one
of the chaplain's frequent discourses against the Church of Rome, "he
little knows whose ears are receiving his profane doctrine, and with
what contempt and abhorrence they hear his blasphemies against the holy
religion by which kings have been crowned, and for which martyrs have
died!"

But in such proud feelings of defiance of heresy, as it was termed, and
of its professors, which associated the Catholic religion with a
sense of generous independence, and that of the Protestants with the
subjugation of his mind and temper to the direction of Mr. Warden, began
and ended the faith of Roland Graeme, who, independently of the pride of
singularity, sought not to understand, and had no one to expound to
him, the peculiarities of the tenets which he professed. His regret,
therefore, at missing the rosary which had been conveyed to him through
the hands of Father Ambrose, was rather the shame of a soldier who has
dropped his cockade, or badge of service, than that of a zealous votary
who had forgotten a visible symbol of his religion.

His thoughts on the subject, however, were mortifying, and the more
so from apprehension that his negligence must reach the ears of
his relative. He felt it could be no one but her who had secretly
transmitted these beads to Father Ambrose for his use, and that his
carelessness was but an indifferent requital of her kindness.

"Nor will she omit to ask me about them," said he to himself; "for hers
is a zeal which age cannot quell; and if she has not quitted her wont,
my answer will not fail to incense her."

While he thus communed with himself, Magdalen Graeme entered the
apartment. "The blessing of the morning on your youthful head, my son,"
she said, with a solemnity of expression which thrilled the youth to the
heart, so sad and earnest did the benediction flow from her lips, in a
tone where devotion was blended with affection. "And thou hast started
thus early from thy couch to catch the first breath of the dawn? But it
is not well, my Roland. Enjoy slumber while thou canst; the time is not
far behind when the waking eye must be thy portion, as well as mine."

She uttered these words with an affectionate and anxious tone, which
showed, that devotional as were the habitual exercises of her mind, the
thoughts of her nursling yet bound her to earth with the cords of human
affection and passion.

But she abode not long in a mood which she probably regarded as a
momentary dereliction of her imaginary high calling--"Come," she said,
"youth, up and be doing--It is time that we leave this place."

"And whither do we go?" said the young man; "or what is the object of
our journey?"

The matron stepped back, and gazed on him with surprise, not unmingled
with displeasure.

"To what purpose such a question?" she said; "is it not enough that I
lead the way? Hast thou lived with heretics till thou hast learned to
instal the vanity of thine own private judgment in place of due honour
and obedience?"

"The time," thought Roland Graeme within himself, "is already come, when
I must establish my freedom, or be a willing thrall for ever--I feel
that I must speedily look to it."

She instantly fulfilled his foreboding, by recurring to the theme by
which her thoughts seemed most constantly engrossed, although, when she
pleased, no one could so perfectly disguise her religion.

"Thy beads, my son--hast thou told thy beads?"

Roland Graeme coloured high; he felt the storm was approaching, but
scorned to avert it by a falsehood.

"I have forgotten my rosary," he said, "at the Castle of Avenel."

"Forgotten thy rosary!" she exclaimed; "false both to religion and to
natural duty, hast thou lost what was sent so far, and at such risk, a
token of the truest affection, that should have been, every bead of it,
as dear to thee as thine eyeballs?"

"I am grieved it should have so chanced, mother," replied the youth,
"and much did I value the token, as coming from you. For what remains,
I trust to win gold enough, when I push my way in the world; and till
then, beads of black oak, or a rosary of nuts, must serve the turn."

"Hear him!" said his grandmother; "young as he is, he hath learned
already the lessons of the devil's school! The rosary, consecrated by
the Holy Father himself, and sanctified by his blessing, is but a few
knobs of gold, whose value may be replaced by the wages of his
profane labour, and whose virtue may be supplied by a string of
hazel-nuts!--This is heresy--So Henry Warden, the wolf who ravages the
flock of the Shepherd, hath taught thee to speak and to think."

"Mother," said Roland Graeme, "I am no heretic; I believe and I pray
according to the rules of our church--This misfortune I regret, but I
cannot amend it."

"Thou canst repent it, though," replied his spiritual directress,
"repent it in dust and ashes, atone for it by fasting, prayer, and
penance, instead of looking on me with a countenance as light as if thou
hadst lost but a button from thy cap."

"Mother," said Roland, "be appeased; I will remember my fault in the
next confession which I have space and opportunity to make, and will
do whatever the priest may require of me in atonement. For the heaviest
fault I can do no more.--But, mother," he added, after a moment's pause,
"let me not incur your farther displeasure, if I ask whither our journey
is bound, and what is its object. I am no longer a child, but a man, and
at my own disposal, with down upon my chin, and a sword by my side--I
will go to the end of the world with you to do your pleasure; but I owe
it to myself to inquire the purpose and direction of our travels."

"You owe it to yourself, ungrateful boy?" replied his relative,
passion rapidly supplying the colour which age had long chased from her
features,--"to yourself you owe nothing--you can owe nothing--to me
you owe every thing--your life when an infant--your support while a
child--the means of instruction, and the hopes of honour--and, sooner
than thou shouldst abandon the noble cause to which I have devoted thee,
would I see thee lie a corpse at my feet!"

Roland was alarmed at the vehement agitation with which she spoke,
and which threatened to overpower her aged frame; and he hastened to
reply,--"I forget nothing of what I owe to you, my dearest mother--show
me how my blood can testify my gratitude, and you shall judge if I spare
it. But blindfold obedience has in it as little merit as reason."

"Saints and angels!" replied Magdalen, "and do I hear these words from
the child of my hopes, the nursling by whose bed I have kneeled, and for
whose weal I have wearied every saint in heaven with prayers? Roland,
by obedience only canst thou show thy affection and thy gratitude. What
avails it that you might perchance adopt the course I propose to thee,
were it to be fully explained? Thou wouldst not then follow my command,
but thine own judgment; thou wouldst not do the will of Heaven,
communicated through thy best friend, to whom thou owest thine all; but
thou wouldst observe the blinded dictates of thine own imperfect reason.
Hear me, Roland! a lot calls thee--solicits thee--demands thee--the
proudest to which man can be destined, and it uses the voice of thine
earliest, thy best, thine only friend--Wilt thou resist it? Then go
thy way--leave me here--my hopes on earth are gone and withered--I will
kneel me down before yonder profaned altar, and when the raging heretics
return, they shall dye it with the blood of a martyr."

"But, my dearest mother," said Roland Graeme, whose early recollections
of her violence were formidably renewed by these wild expressions of
reckless passion, "I will not forsake you--I will abide with you--worlds
shall not force me from your side--I will protect--I will defend you--I
will live with you, and die for you!"

"One word, my son, were worth all these--say only, 'I will obey you.'"

"Doubt it not, mother," replied the youth, "I will, and that with all my
heart; only----"

"Nay, I receive no qualifications of thy promise," said Magdalen Graeme,
catching at the word, "the obedience which I require is absolute; and
a blessing on thee, thou darling memory of my beloved child, that thou
hast power to make a promise so hard to human pride! Trust me well, that
in the design in which thou dost embark, thou hast for thy partners the
mighty and the valiant, the power of the church, and the pride of the
noble. Succeed or fail, live or die, thy name shall be among those
with whom success or failure is alike glorious, death or life alike
desirable. Forward, then, forward! life is short, and our plan is
laborious--Angels, saints, and the whole blessed host of heaven, have
their eyes even now on this barren and blighted land of Scotland--What
say I? on Scotland? their eye is on _us_, Roland--on the frail woman, on
the inexperienced youth, who, amidst the ruins which sacrilege hath made
in the holy place, devote themselves to God's cause, and that of
their lawful Sovereign. Amen, so be it! The blessed eyes of saints and
martyrs, which see our resolve, shall witness the execution; or their
ears, which hear our vow, shall hear our death-groan, drawn in the
sacred cause!"

While thus speaking, she held Roland Graeme firmly with one hand, while
she pointed upward with the other, to leave him, as it were, no means of
protest against the obtestation to which he was thus made a party.
When she had finished her appeal to Heaven, she left him no leisure for
farther hesitation, or for asking any explanation of her purpose; but
passing with the same ready transition as formerly, to the solicitous
attentions of an anxious parent, overwhelmed him with questions
concerning his residence in the Castle of Avenel, and the qualities and
accomplishments he had acquired.

"It is well," she said, when she had exhausted her inquiries, "my gay
goss-hawk

[Footnote: The comparison is taken from some beautiful verses in an old
ballad, entitled Fause Foodrage, published in the "Minstrelsy of the
Scottish Border." A deposed queen, to preserve her infant son from
the traitors who have slain his father, exchanges him with the female
offspring of a faithful friend, and goes on to direct the education of
the children, and the private signals by which the parents are to hear
news each of her own offspring.

 "And you shall learn my gay goss-hawk
  Right well to breast a steed;
  And so will I your turtle dow,
  As well to write and read.

  And ye shall learn my gay goss-hawk
  To wield both bow and brand;
  And so will I your turtle dow,
  To lay gowd with her hand.

  At kirk or market when we meet,
  We'll dare make no avow,
  But, 'Dame, how does my gay goss-hawk?'
  'Madame, how does my dow?'" ]

hath been well trained, and will soar high; but those who bred him will
have cause to fear as well as to wonder at his flight.--Let us now," she
said, "to our morning meal, and care not though it be a scanty one. A
few hours' walk will bring us to more friendly quarters."

They broke their fast accordingly, on such fragments as remained of
their yesterday's provision, and immediately set out on their farther
journey. Magdalen Graeme led the way, with a firm and active step much
beyond her years, and Roland Graeme followed, pensive and anxious, and
far from satisfied with the state of dependence to which he seemed again
to be reduced.

"Am I for ever," he said to himself, "to be devoured with the desire
of independence and free agency, and yet to be for ever led on, by
circumstances, to follow the will of others?"



Chapter the Tenth.


  She dwelt unnoticed and alone,
    Beside the springs of Dove:
  A maid whom there was none to praise,
    And very few to love.
                        WORDSWORTH.

In the course of their journey the travellers spoke little to each
other. Magdalen Graeme chanted, from time to time, in a low voice, a
part of some one of those beautiful old Latin hymns which belong to the
Catholic service, muttered an Ave or a Credo, and so passed on, lost in
devotional contemplation. The meditations of her grandson were more
bent on mundane matters; and many a time, as a moor-fowl arose from the
heath, and shot along the moor, uttering his bold crow of defiance, he
thought of the jolly Adam Woodcock, and his trusty goss-hawk; or, as
they passed a thicket where the low trees and bushes were intermingled
with tall fern, furze, and broom, so as to form a thick and intricate
cover, his dreams were of a roebuck and a brace of gaze-hounds. But
frequently his mind returned to the benevolent and kind mistress whom he
had left behind him, offended justly, and unreconciled by any effort of
his.

"My step would be lighter," he thought, "and so would my heart, could
I but have returned to see her for one instant, and to say, Lady, the
orphan boy was wild, but not ungrateful!"

Travelling in these divers moods, about the hour of noon they reached
a small straggling village, in which, as usual, were seen one or two
of those predominating towers, or peel houses, which, for reasons of
defence elsewhere detailed, were at that time to be found in every
Border hamlet. A brook flowed beside the village, and watered the valley
in which it stood. There was also a mansion at the end of the village,
and a little way separated from it, much dilapidated, and in very
bad order, but appearing to have been the abode of persons of some
consideration. The situation was agreeable, being an angle formed by the
stream, bearing three or four large sycamore trees, which were in full
leaf, and served to relieve the dark appearance of the mansion, which
was built of a deep red stone. The house itself was a large one, but was
now obviously too big for the inmates; several windows were built
up, especially those which opened from the lower story; others were
blockaded in a less substantial manner. The court before the door, which
had once been defended with a species of low outer-wall, now ruinous,
was paved, but the stones were completely covered with long gray
nettles, thistles, and other weeds, which, shooting up betwixt the
flags, had displaced many of them from their level. Even matters
demanding more peremptory attention had been left neglected, in a manner
which argued sloth or poverty in the extreme. The stream, undermining a
part of the bank near an angle of the ruinous wall, had brought it down,
with a corner turret, the ruins of which lay in the bed of the river.
The current, interrupted by the ruins which it had overthrown, and
turned yet nearer to the site of the tower, had greatly enlarged the
breach it had made, and was in the process of undermining the ground
on which the house itself stood, unless it were speedily protected by
sufficient bulwarks.

All this attracted Roland Graeme's observation, as they approached the
dwelling by a winding path, which gave them, at intervals, a view of it
from different points.

"If we go to yonder house," he said to his mother, "I trust it is but
for a short visit. It looks as if two rainy days from the north-west
would send the whole into the brook."

"You see but with the eyes of the body," said the old woman; "God will
defend his own, though it be forsaken and despised of men. Better to
dwell on the sand, under his law, than fly to the rock of human trust."

As she thus spoke, they entered the court before the old mansion, and
Roland could observe that the front of it had formerly been considerably
ornamented with carved work, in the same dark-coloured freestone of
which it was built. But all these ornaments had been broken down and
destroyed, and only the shattered vestiges of niches and entablatures
now strewed the place which they had once occupied. The larger
entrance in front was walled up, but a little footpath, which, from its
appearance, seemed to be rarely trodden, led to a small wicket, defended
by a door well clenched with iron-headed nails, at which Magdalen Graeme
knocked three times, pausing betwixt each knock, until she heard an
answering tap from within. At the last knock, the wicket was opened by a
pale thin female, who said, "_Benedicti qui venient in nomine Domini_."
They entered, and the portress hastily shut behind them the wicket, and
made fast the massive fastenings by which it was secured.

The female led the way through a narrow entrance, into a vestibule of
some extent, paved with stone, and having benches of the same solid
material ranged around. At the upper end was an oriel window, but some
of the intervals formed by the stone shafts and mullions were blocked
up, so that the apartment was very gloomy.

Here they stopped, and the mistress of the mansion, for such she was,
embraced Magdalen Graeme, and greeting her by the title of sister,
kissed her with much solemnity, on either side of the face.

"The blessing of Our Lady be upon you, my sister," were her next words;
and they left no doubt upon Roland's mind respecting the religion of
their hostess, even if he could have suspected his venerable and
zealous guide of resting elsewhere than in the habitation of an orthodox
Catholic. They spoke together a few words in private, during which
he had leisure to remark more particularly the appearance of his
grandmother's friend.

Her age might be betwixt fifty and sixty; her looks had a mixture of
melancholy and unhappiness that bordered on discontent, and obscured the
remains of beauty which age had still left on her features. Her dress
was of the plainest and most ordinary description, of a dark colour,
and, like Magdalen Graeme's, something approaching to a religious habit.
Strict neatness and cleanliness of person, seemed to intimate, that if
poor, she was not reduced to squalid or heart-broken distress, and that
she was still sufficiently attached to life to retain a taste for its
decencies, if not its elegancies. Her manner, as well as her features
and appearance, argued an original condition and education far above the
meanness of her present appearance. In short, the whole figure was
such as to excite the idea, "That female must have had a history worth
knowing." While Roland Graeme was making this very reflection, the
whispers of the two females ceased, and the mistress of the mansion,
approaching him, looked on his face and person with much attention, and,
as it seemed, some interest.

"This, then," she said, addressing his relative, "is the child of thine
unhappy daughter, sister Magdalen; and him, the only shoot from your
ancient tree, you are willing to devote to the Good Cause?"

"Yes, by the rood," answered Magdalen Graeme, in her usual tone of
resolved determination, "to the good cause I devote him, flesh and fell,
sinew and limb, body and soul."

"Thou art a happy woman, sister Magdalen," answered her companion,
"that, lifted so high above human affection and human feeling, thou
canst bind such a victim to the horns of the altar. Had I been called
to make such a sacrifice--to plunge a youth so young and fair into the
plots and bloodthirsty dealings of the time, not the patriarch Abraham,
when he led Isaac up the mountain, would have rendered more melancholy
obedience."

She then continued to look at Roland with a mournful aspect of
compassion, until the intentness of her gaze occasioned his colour to
rise, and he was about to move out of its influence, when he was stopped
by his grand-mother with one hand, while with the other she divided the
hair upon his forehead, which was now crimson with bashfulness, while
she added, with a mixture of proud affection and firm resolution,--"Ay,
look at him well, my sister, for on a fairer face thine eye never
rested. I too, when I first saw him, after a long separation, felt as
the worldly feel, and was half shaken in my purpose. But no wind can
tear a leaf from the withered tree which has long been stripped of its
foliage, and no mere human casualty can awaken the mortal feelings which
have long slept in the calm of devotion."

While the old woman thus spoke, her manner gave the lie to her
assertions, for the tears rose to her eyes while she added, "But the
fairer and the more spotless the victim, is it not, my sister, the more
worthy of acceptance?"

She seemed glad to escape from the sensations which agitated her, and
instantly added, "He will escape, my sister--there will be a ram caught
in the thicket, and the hand of our revolted brethren shall not be on
the youthfull Joseph. Heaven can defend its own rights, even by means of
babes and sucklings, of women and beardless boys."

"Heaven hath left us," said the other female; "for our sins and our
fathers' the succours of the blessed Saints have abandoned this accursed
land. We may win the crown of Martyrdom, but not that of earthly
triumph. One, too, whose prudence was at this deep crisis so
indispensable, has been called to a better world. The Abbot Eustatius is
no more."

"May his soul have mercy!" said Magdalen Graeme, "and may Heaven, too,
have mercy upon us, who linger behind in this bloody land! His loss
is indeed a perilous blow to our enterprise; for who remains behind
possessing his far-fetched experience, his self-devoted zeal, his
consummate wisdom, and his undaunted courage! He hath fallen with the
church's standard in his hand, but God will raise up another to lift the
blessed banner. Whom have the Chapter elected in his room?"

"It is rumoured no one of the few remaining brethren dare accept
the office. The heretics have sworn that they will permit no future
election, and will heavily punish any attempt to create a new Abbot of
Saint Mary's. _Conjuraverunt inter se principes, dicentes, Projiciamus
laqueos ejus_."

"_Quousque, Domine!_"--ejaculated Magdalen; "this, my sister, were
indeed a perilous and fatal breach in our band; but I am firm in my
belief, that another will arise in the place of him so untimely removed.
Where is thy daughter Catharine?"

"In the parlour," answered the matron, "but"--She looked at Roland
Graeme, and muttered something in the ear of her friend.

"Fear it not," answered Magdalen Graeme, "it is both lawful and
necessary--fear nothing from him--I would he were as well grounded in
the faith by which alone comes safety, as he is free from thought,
deed, or speech of villany. Therein is the heretics' discipline to be
commended, my sister, that they train up their youth in strong morality,
and choke up every inlet to youthful folly."

"It is but a cleansing the outside of the cup," answered her friend,
"a whitening of the sepulchre; but he shall see Catharine, since you,
sister, judge it safe and meet.--Follow us, youth," she added, and led
the way from the apartment--with her friend. These were the only words
which the matron had addressed to Roland Graeme, who obeyed them in
silence. As they paced through several winding passages and waste
apartments with a very slow step, the young page had leisure to make
some reflections on his situation,--reflections of a nature which his
ardent temper considered as specially disagreeable. It seemed he had now
got two mistresses, or tutoresses, instead of one, both elderly women,
and both, it would seem, in league to direct his motions according to
their own pleasure, and for the accomplishment of plans to which he was
no party. This, he thought, was too much; arguing reasonably enough,
that whatever right his grandmother and benefactress had to guide his
motions, she was neither entitled to transfer her authority or divide it
with another, who seemed to assume, without ceremony, the same tone of
absolute command over him.

"But it shall not long continue thus," thought Roland; "I will not be
all my life the slave of a woman's whistle, to go when she bids, and
come when she calls. No, by Saint Andrew! the hand that can hold the
lance is above the control of the distaff. I will leave them the slipp'd
collar in their hands on the first opportunity, and let them execute
their own devices by their own proper force. It may save them both from
peril, for I guess what they meditate is not likely to prove either safe
or easy--the Earl of Murray and his heresy are too well rooted to be
grubbed up by two old women."

As he thus resolved, they entered a low room, in which a third female
was seated. This apartment was the first he had observed in the mansion
which was furnished with moveable seats, and with a wooden table, over
which was laid a piece of tapestry. A carpet was spread on the floor,
there was a grate in the chimney, and, in brief, the apartment had the
air of being habitable and inhabited.

But Roland's eyes found better employment than to make observations on
the accommodations of the chamber; for this second female inhabitant of
the mansion seemed something very different from any thing he had yet
seen there. At his first entry, she had greeted with a silent and low
obeisance the two aged matrons, then glancing her eyes towards Roland,
she adjusted a veil which hung back over her shoulders, so as to bring
it over her face; an operation which she performed with much modesty,
but without either affected haste or embarrassed timidity.

During this manoeuvre Roland had time to observe, that the face was that
of a girl apparently not much past sixteen, and that the eyes were at
once soft and brilliant. To these very favourable observations was added
the certainty that the fair object to whom they referred possessed an
excellent shape, bordering perhaps on _enbonpoint_, and therefore rather
that of a Hebe than of a Sylph, but beautifully formed, and shown to
great advantage by the close jacket and petticoat which she wore after a
foreign fashion, the last not quite long enough to conceal a very pretty
foot, which rested on a bar of the table at which she sate; her round
arms and taper fingers very busily employed in repairing--the piece
of tapestry which was spread on it, which exhibited several deplorable
fissures, enough to demand the utmost skill of the most expert
seamstress.

It is to be remarked, that it was by stolen glances that Roland Graeme
contrived to ascertain these interesting particulars; and he thought he
could once or twice, notwithstanding the texture of the veil, detect the
damsel in the act of taking similar cognizance of his own person. The
matrons in the meanwhile continued their separate conversation, eyeing
from time to time the young people, in a manner which left Roland in
no doubt that they were the subject of their conversation. At length he
distinctly heard Magdalen Graeme say these words--"Nay, my sister, we
must give them opportunity to speak together, and to become acquainted;
they must be personally known to each other, or how shall they be able
to execute what they are intrusted with?"

It seemed as if the matron, not fully satisfied with her friend's
reasoning, continued to offer some objections; but they were borne down
by her more dictatorial friend.

"It must be so," she said, "my dear sister; let us therefore go forth
on the balcony, to finish our conversation.--And do you," she said,
addressing Roland and the girl, "become acquainted with each other."

With this she stepped up to the young woman, and raising her veil,
discovered features which, whatever might be their ordinary complexion,
were now covered with a universal blush.

"_Licitum sit,_" said Magdalen, looking at the other matron.

"_Vix licitum,_" replied the other, with reluctant and hesitating
acquiescence; and again adjusting the veil of the blushing girl, she
dropped it so as to shade, though not to conceal her countenance, and
whispered to her, in a tone loud enough for the page to hear, "Remember,
Catharine, who thou art, and for what destined."

The matron then retreated with Magdalen Graeme through one of the
casements of the apartment, that opened on a large broad balcony, which,
with its ponderous balustrade, had once run along the whole south
front of the building which faced the brook, and formed a pleasant and
commodious walk in the open air. It was now in some places deprived of
the balustrade, in others broken and narrowed; but, ruinous as it was,
could still be used as a pleasant promenade. Here then walked the two
ancient dames, busied in their private conversation; yet not so much so,
but that Roland could observe the matrons, as their thin forms darkened
the casement in passing or repassing before it, dart a glance into the
apartment, to see how matters were going on there.



Chapter the Eleventh.


  Life hath its May, and is mirthful then:
  The woods are vocal, and the flowers all odour;
  Its very blast has mirth in't,--and the maidens,
  The while they don their cloaks to screen their kirtles,
  Laugh at the rain that wets them.
                             OLD PLAY.

Catherine was at the happy age of innocence and buoyancy of spirit,
when, after the first moment of embarrassment was over, a situation
of awkwardness, like that in which she was suddenly left to make
acquaintance with a handsome youth, not even known to her by name,
struck her, in spite of herself, in a ludicrous point of view. She bent
her beautiful eyes upon the work with which she was busied, and with
infinite gravity sate out the two first turns of the matrons upon the
balcony; but then, glancing her deep blue eye a little towards Roland,
and observing the embarrassment under which he laboured, now shifting on
his chair, and now dangling his cap, the whole man evincing that he was
perfectly at a loss how to open the conversation, she could keep her
composure no longer, but after a vain struggle broke out into a sincere,
though a very involuntary fit of laughing, so richly accompanied by the
laughter of her merry eyes, which actually glanced through the tears
which the effort filled them with, and by the waving of her rich
tresses, that the goddess of smiles herself never looked more lovely
than Catherine at that moment. A court page would not have left her long
alone in her mirth; but Roland was country-bred, and, besides, having
some jealousy as well as bashfulness, he took it into his head that he
was himself the object of her inextinguishable laughter. His endeavours
to sympathize with Catherine, therefore, could carry him no farther than
a forced giggle, which had more of displeasure than of mirth in it, and
which so much enhanced that of the girl, that it seemed to render it
impossible for her ever to bring her laughter to an end, with whatever
anxious pains she laboured to do so. For every one has felt, that when a
paroxysm of laughter has seized him at a misbecoming time and place,
the efforts which he made to suppress it, nay, the very sense of the
impropriety of giving way to it, tend only to augment and prolong the
irresistible impulse.

It was undoubtedly lucky for Catherine, as well as for Roland, that the
latter did not share in the excessive mirth of the former. For, seated
as she was, with her back to the casement, Catherine could easily escape
the observation of the two matrons during the course of their promenade;
whereas Graeme was so placed, with his side to the window, that his
mirth, had he shared that of his companion, would have been instantly
visible, and could not have failed to give offence to the personages in
question. He sate, however, with some impatience, until Catherine had
exhausted either her power or her desire of laughing, and was returning
with good grace to the exercise of her needle, and then he observed with
some dryness, that "there seemed no great occasion to recommend to them
to improve their acquaintance, as it seemed, that they were already
tolerably familiar."

Catherine had an extreme desire to set off upon a fresh score, but
she repressed it strongly, and fixing her eyes on her work, replied by
asking his pardon, and promising to avoid future offence.

Roland had sense enough to feel, that an air of offended dignity was
very much misplaced, and that it was with a very different bearing he
ought to meet the deep blue eyes which had borne such a hearty burden in
the laughing scene. He tried, therefore, to extricate himself as well as
he could from his blunder, by assuming a tone of correspondent gaiety,
and requesting to know of the nymph, "how it was her pleasure that they
should proceed in improving the acquaintance which had commenced so
merrily."

"That," she said, "you must yourself discover; perhaps I have gone a
step too far in opening our interview."

"Suppose," said Roland Graeme, "we should begin as in a tale-book, by
asking each other's names and histories?"

"It is right well imagined," said Catherine, "and shows an argute
judgment. Do you begin, and I will listen, and only put in a question
or two at the dark parts of the story. Come, unfold then your name and
history, my new acquaintance."

"I am called Roland Graeme, and that tall woman is my grandmother."

"And your tutoress?--good. Who are your parents?"

"They are both dead," replied Roland.

"Ay, but who were they? you _had_ parents, I presume?"

"I suppose so," said Roland, "but I have never been able to learn much
of their history. My father was a Scottish knight, who died gallantly
in his stirrups--my mother was a Graeme of Hathergill, in the Debateable
Land--most of her family were killed when the Debateable country was
burned by Lord Maxwell and Herries of Caerlaverock."

"Is it long ago?" said the damsel.

"Before I was born," answered the page.

"That must be a great while since," said she, shaking her head gravely;
"look you, I cannot weep for them."

"It needs not," said the youth, "they fell with honour."

"So much for your lineage, fair sir," replied his companion, "of whom I
like the living specimen (a glance at the casement) far less than those
that are dead. Your much honoured grandmother looks as if she could make
one weep in sad earnest. And now, fair sir, for your own person--if you
tell not the tale faster, it will be cut short in the middle; Mother
Bridget pauses longer and longer every time she passes the window, and
with her there is as little mirth as in the grave of your ancestors."

"My tale is soon told--I was introduced into the castle of Avenel to be
page to the lady of the mansion."

"She is a strict Huguenot, is she not?" said the maiden.

"As strict as Calvin himself. But my grandmother can play the puritan
when it suits her purpose, and she had some plan of her own, for
quartering me in the Castle--it would have failed, however, after we had
remained several weeks at the hamlet, but for an unexpected master of
ceremonies--"

"And who was that?" said the girl.

"A large black dog, Wolf by name, who brought me into the castle one day
in his mouth, like a hurt wild-duck, and presented me to the lady."

"A most respectable introduction, truly," said Catherine; "and what
might you learn at this same castle? I love dearly to know what my
acquaintances can do at need."

"To fly a hawk, hollow to a hound, back a horse, and wield lance, bow,
and brand."

"And to boast of all this when you have learned it," said Catherine,
"which, in France at least, is the surest accomplishment of a page. But
proceed, fair sir; how came your Huguenot lord and your no less Huguenot
lady to receive and keep in the family so perilous a person as a
Catholic page?"

"Because they knew not that part of my history, which from infancy I
have been taught to keep secret--and because my grand-dame's former
zealous attendance on their heretic chaplain, had laid all this
suspicion to sleep, most fair Callipolis," said the page; and in so
saying, he edged his chair towards the seat of the fair querist.

"Nay, but keep your distance, most gallant sir," answered the blue-eyed
maiden, "for, unless I greatly mistake, these reverend ladies will soon
interrupt our amicable conference, if the acquaintance they recommend
shall seem to proceed beyond a certain point--so, fair sir, be
pleased to abide by your station, and reply to my questions.--By what
achievements did you prove the qualities of a page, which you had thus
happily acquired?"

Roland, who began to enter into the tone and spirit of the damsel's
conversation, replied to her with becoming spirit.

"In no feat, fair gentlewoman, was I found inexpert, wherein there was
mischief implied. I shot swans, hunted cats, frightened serving-women,
chased the deer, and robbed the orchard. I say nothing of tormenting the
chaplain in various ways, for that was my duty as a good Catholic."

"Now, as I am a gentlewoman," said Catherine, "I think these heretics
have done Catholic penance in entertaining so all-accomplished a
serving-man! And what, fair sir, might have been the unhappy event which
deprived them of an inmate altogether so estimable?"

"Truly, fair gentlewoman," answered the youth, "your real proverb says
that the longest lane will have a turning, and mine was more--it was, in
fine, a turning off."

"Good!" said the merry young maiden, "it is an apt play on the word--and
what occasion was taken for so important a catastrophe?--Nay, start not
for my learning, I do know the schools--in plain phrase, why were you
sent from service?"

The page shrugged his shoulders while he replied,--"A short tale is soon
told--and a short horse soon curried. I made the falconer's boy taste of
my switch--the falconer threatened to make me brook his cudgel--he is a
kindly clown as well as a stout, and I would rather have been cudgelled
by him than any man in Christendom to choose--but I knew not his
qualities at that time--so I threatened to make him brook the stab, and
my Lady made me brook the 'Begone;' so adieu to the page's office and
the fair Castle of Avenel--I had not travelled far before I met my
venerable parent--And so tell your tale, fair gentlewoman, for mine is
done."

"A happy grandmother," said the maiden, "who had the luck to find the
stray page just when his mistress had slipped his leash, and a most
lucky page that has jumped at once from a page to an old lady's
gentleman-usher!"

"All this is nothing of your history," answered Roland Graeme, began
to be much interested in the congenial vivacity of this facetious young
gentlewoman,--"tale for tale is fellow-traveller's justice."

"Wait till we are fellow-travellers, then," replied Catherine.

"Nay, you escape me not so," said the page; "if you deal not justly by
me, I will call out to Dame Bridget, or whatever your dame be called,
and proclaim you for a cheat."

"You shall not need," answered the maiden--"my history is the
counterpart of your own; the same words might almost serve, change but
dress and name. I am called Catherine Seyton, and I also am an orphan."

"Have your parents been long dead?"

"This is the only question," said she, throwing down her fine eyes with
a sudden expression of sorrow, "that is the only question I cannot laugh
at."

"And Dame Bridget is your grandmother?"

The sudden cloud passed away like that which crosses for an instant the
summer sun, and she answered with her usual lively expression, "Worse by
twenty degrees--Dame Bridget is my maiden aunt."

"Over gods forbode!" said Roland--"Alas! that you have such a tale to
tell! and what horror comes next?"

"Your own history, exactly. I was taken upon trial for service--"

"And turned off for pinching the duenna, or affronting my lady's
waiting-woman?"

"Nay, our history varies there," said the damsel--"Our mistress broke
up house, or had her house broke up, which is the same thing, and I am a
free woman of the forest."

"And I am as glad of it as if any one had lined my doublet with cloth of
gold," said the youth.

"I thank you for your mirth," said she, "but the matter is not likely to
concern you."

"Nay, but go on," said the page, "for you will be presently interrupted;
the two good dames have been soaring yonder on the balcony, like two old
hooded crows, and their croak grows hoarser as night comes on; they will
wing to roost presently.--This mistress of yours, fair gentlewoman, who
was she, in God's name?"

"Oh, she has a fair name in the world," replied Catherine Seyton. "Few
ladies kept a fairer house, or held more gentlewomen in her household;
my aunt Bridget was one of her housekeepers. We never saw our mistress's
blessed face, to be sure, but we heard enough of her; were up early and
down late, and were kept to long prayers and light food."

"Out upon the penurious old beldam!" said the page.

"For Heaven's sake, blaspheme not!" said the girl, with an expression
of fear.--"God pardon us both! I meant no harm. I speak of our blessed
Saint Catherine of Sienna!--may God forgive me that I spoke so lightly,
and made you do a great sin and a great blasphemy. This was her nunnery,
in which there were twelve nuns and an abbess. My aunt was the abbess,
till the heretics turned all adrift."

"And where are your companions?" asked the youth.

"With the last year's snow," answered the maiden; "east, north, south,
and west--some to France, some to Flanders, some, I fear, into the
world and its pleasures. We have got permission to remain, or rather our
remaining has been connived at, for my aunt has great relations among
the Kerrs, and they have threatened a death-feud if any one touches us;
and bow and spear are the best warrant in these times."

"Nay, then, you sit under a sure shadow," said the youth; "and I suppose
you wept yourself blind when Saint Catherine broke up housekeeping
before you had taken arles [Footnote: _Anglice_--Earnest-money] in her
service?"

"Hush! for Heaven's sake," said the damsel, crossing herself; "no more
of that! but I have not quite cried my eyes out," said she, turning them
upon him, and instantly again bending them upon her work. It was one of
those glances which would require the threefold plate of brass around
the heart, more than it is needed by the mariners, to whom Horace
recommends it. Our youthful page had no defence whatever to offer.

"What say you, Catherine," he said, "if we two, thus strangely turned
out of service at the same time, should give our two most venerable
duennas the torch to hold, while we walk a merry measure with each other
over the floor of this weary world?"

"A goodly proposal, truly," said Catherine, "and worthy the mad-cap
brain of a discarded page!--And what shifts does your worship propose
we should live by?--by singing ballads, cutting purses, or swaggering
on the highway? for there, I think, you would find your most productive
exchequer."

"Choose, you proud peat!" said the page, drawing off in huge disdain
at the calm and unembarrassed ridicule with which his wild proposal was
received. And as he spoke the words, the casement was again darkened by
the forms of the matrons--it opened, and admitted Magdalen Graeme and
the Mother Abbess, so we must now style her, into the apartment.



Chapter the Twelfth.


  Nay, hear me, brother--I am elder, wiser,
  And holier than thou--And age, and wisdom,
  And holiness, have peremptory claims,
  And will be listen'd to.
                              OLD PLAY.

When the matrons re-entered, and put an end to the conversation--which
we have detailed in the last chapter, Dame Magdalen Graeme thus
addressed her grandson and his pretty companion: "Have you spoke
together, my children?--Have you become known to each other as
fellow-travellers on the same dark and dubious road, whom chance hath
brought together, and who study to learn the tempers and dispositions of
those by whom their perils are to be shared?"

It was seldom the light-hearted Catharine could suppress a jest, so that
she often spoke when she would have acted more wisely in holding her
peace.

"Your grandson admires the journey which you propose so very greatly,
that he was even now preparing for setting out upon it instantly."

"This is to be too forward, Roland," said the dame, addressing him, "as
yesterday you were over slack--the just mean lies in obedience, which
both waits for the signal to start, and obeys it when given.--But once
again, my children, have you so perused each other's countenances, that
when you meet, in whatever disguise the times may impose upon you, you
may recognize each in the other the secret agent of the mighty work in
which you are to be leagued?--Look at each other, know each line and
lineament of each other's countenance. Learn to distinguish by the step,
by the sound of the voice, by the motion of the hand, by the glance
of the eye, the partner whom Heaven hath sent to aid in working its
will.--Wilt thou know that maiden, whensoever, or wheresoever you shall
again meet her, my Roland Graeme?"

As readily as truly did Roland answer in the affirmative. "And thou, my
daughter, wilt thou again remember the features of this youth?"

"Truly, mother," replied Catherine Seyton, "I have not seen so many men
of late, that I should immediately forget your grandson, though I mark
not much about him that is deserving of especial remembrance."

"Join hands, then, my children," said Magdalen Graeme; but, in saying
so, was interrupted by her companion, whose conventual prejudices had
been gradually giving her more and more uneasiness, and who could remain
acquiescent no longer.

"Nay, my good sister, you forget," said she to Magdalen, "Catharine is
the betrothed bride of Heaven--these intimacies cannot be."

"It is in the cause of Heaven that I command them to embrace," said
Magdalen, with the full force of her powerful voice; "the end, sister,
sanctifies the means we must use."

"They call me Lady Abbess, or Mother at the least, who address me,"
said Dame Bridget, drawing herself up, as if offended at her friend's
authoritative manner--"the Lady of Heathergill forgets that she speaks
to the Abbess of Saint Catherine."

"When I was what you call me," said Magdalen, "you indeed were the
Abbess of Saint Catherine, but both names are now gone, with all the
rank that the world and that the church gave to them; and we are now, to
the eye of human judgment, two poor, despised, oppressed women, dragging
our dishonoured old age to a humble grave. But what are we in the eye of
Heaven?--Ministers, sent forth to work his will,--in whose weakness the
strength of the church shall be manifested-before whom shall be humbled
the wisdom of Murray, and the dark strength of Morton,--And to such
wouldst thou apply the narrow rules of thy cloistered seclusion?--or,
hast thou forgotten the order which I showed thee from thy Superior,
subjecting thee to me in these matters?"

"On thy head, then, be the scandal and the sin," said the Abbess,
sullenly.

"On mine be they both," said Magdalen. "I say, embrace each other, my
children."

But Catherine, aware, perhaps, how the dispute was likely to terminate,
had escaped from the apartment, and so disappointed the grandson, at
least as much as the old matron.

"She is gone," said the Abbess, "to provide some little refreshment. But
it will have little savour to those who dwell in the world; for I, at
least, cannot dispense with the rules to which I am vowed, because it is
the will of wicked men to break down the sanctuary in which they wont to
be observed."

"It is well, my sister," replied Magdalen, "to pay each even the
smallest tithes of mint and cummin which the church demands, and I blame
not thy scrupulous observance of the rules of thine order. But they were
established by the church, and for the church's benefit; and reason it
is that they should give way when the salvation of the church herself is
at stake."

The Abbess made no reply.

One more acquainted with human nature than the inexperienced page, might
have found amusement in comparing the different kinds of fanaticisms
which these two females exhibited. The Abbess, timid, narrowminded, and
discontented, clung to ancient usages and pretensions which were ended
by the Reformation; and was in adversity, as she had been in prosperity,
scrupulous, weak-spirited, and bigoted. While the fiery and more lofty
spirit of her companion suggested a wider field of effort, and would
not be limited by ordinary rules in the extraordinary schemes which
were suggested by her bold and irregular imagination. But Roland Graeme,
instead of tracing these peculiarities of character in the two old
damps, only waited with great anxiety for the return of Catherine,
expecting probably that the proposal of the fraternal embrace would be
renewed, as his grandmother seemed disposed to carry matters with a high
hand.

His expectations, or hopes, if we may call them so, were, however,
disappointed; for, when Catherine re-entered on the summons of the
Abbess, and placed on the table an earthen pitcher of water, and
four wooden platters, with cups of the same materials, the Dame of
Heathergill, satisfied with the arbitrary mode in which she had borne
down the opposition of the Abbess, pursued her victory no farther--a
moderation for which her grandson, in his heart, returned her but
slender thanks.

In the meanwhile, Catherine continued to place upon the table the
slender preparations for the meal of a recluse, which consisted almost
entirely of colewort, boiled and served up in a wooden platter, having
no better seasoning than a little salt, and no better accompaniment than
some coarse barley-bread, in very moderate quantity. The water-pitcher,
already mentioned, furnished the only beverage. After a Latin
grace, delivered by the Abbess, the guests sat down to their spare
entertainment. The simplicity of the fare appeared to produce no
distaste in the females, who ate of it moderately, but with the usual
appearance of appetite. But Roland Graeme had been used to better
cheer. Sir Halbert Glendinning, who affected even an unusual degree
of nobleness in his housekeeping, maintained it in a style of genial
hospitality, which rivalled that of the Northern Barons of England. He
might think, perhaps, that by doing so, he acted yet more completely
the part for which he was born--that of a great Baron and a leader. Two
bullocks, and six sheep, weekly, were the allowance when the Baron was
at home, and the number was not greatly diminished during his absence. A
boll of malt was weekly brewed into ale, which was used by the household
at discretion. Bread was baked in proportion for the consumption of his
domestics and retainers; and in this scene of plenty had Roland Graeme
now lived for several years. It formed a bad introduction to lukewarm
greens and spring-water; and probably his countenance indicated some
sense of the difference, for the Abbess observed, "It would seem,
my son, that the tables of the heretic Baron, whom you have so long
followed, are more daintily furnished than those of the suffering
daughters of the church; and yet, not upon the most solemn nights of
festival, when the nuns were permitted to eat their portion at mine own
table, did I consider the cates, which were then served up, as half so
delicious as these vegetables and this water, on which I prefer to feed,
rather than do aught which may derogate from the strictness of my vow.
It shall never be said that the mistress of this house made it a house
of feasting, when days of darkness and of affliction were hanging over
the Holy Church, of which I am an unworthy member."

"Well hast thou said, my sister," replied Magdalen Graeme; "but now
it is not only time to suffer in the good cause, but to act in it. And
since our pilgrim's meal is finished, let us go apart to prepare for our
journey tomorrow, and to advise on the manner in which these children
shall be employed, and what measures we can adopt to supply their
thoughtlessness and lack of discretion."

Notwithstanding his indifferent cheer, the heart of Roland Graeme
bounded high at this proposal, which he doubted not would lead to
another _tête-â-tête_ betwixt him and the pretty novice. But he was
mistaken. Catherine, it would seem, had no mind so far to indulge him;
for, moved either by delicacy or caprice, or some of those indescribable
shades betwixt the one and the other, with which women love to tease,
and at the same time to captivate, the ruder sex, she reminded the
Abbess that it was necessary she should retire an hour before vespers;
and, receiving the ready and approving nod of her Superior, she arose
to withdraw. But before leaving the apartment, she made obeisance to the
matrons, bending herself till her hands touched her knees, and then made
a lesser reverence to Roland, which consisted in a slight bend of
the body and gentle depression of the head. This she performed very
demurely; but the party on whom the salutation was conferred, thought he
could discern in her manner an arch and mischievous exultation over his
secret disappointment.--"The devil take the saucy girl," he thought in
his heart, though the presence of the Abbess should have repressed all
such profane imaginations,--"she is as hard-hearted as the laughing
hyaena that the story-books tell of--she has a mind that I shall not
forget her this night at least."

The matrons now retired also, giving the page to understand that he
was on no account to stir from the convent, or to show himself at the
windows, the Abbess assigning as a reason, the readiness with which the
rude heretics caught at every occasion of scandalizing the religious
orders.

"This is worse than the rigour of Mr. Henry Warden, himself," said the
page, when he was left alone; "for, to do him justice, however strict in
requiring the most rigid attention during the time of his homilies, he
left us to the freedom of our own wills afterwards--ay, and would take
a share in our pastimes, too, if he thought them entirely innocent.
But these old women are utterly wrapt up in gloom, mystery and
self-denial.--Well, then, if I must neither stir out of the gate nor
look out at window, I will at least see what the inside of the house
contains that may help to pass away one's time--peradventure I may light
on that blue-eyed laugher in some corner or other."

Going, therefore, out of the chamber by the entrance opposite to that
through which the two matrons had departed, (for it may be readily
supposed that he had no desire to intrude on their privacy.) he wandered
from one chamber to another, through the deserted edifice, seeking, with
boyish eagerness, some source of interest and amusement. Here he passed
through a long gallery, opening on either hand into the little cells
of the nuns, all deserted, and deprived of the few trifling articles of
furniture which the rules of the order admitted.

"The birds are flown," thought the page; "but whether they will find
themselves worse off in the open air than in these damp narrow cages, I
leave my Lady Abbess and my venerable relative to settle betwixt them.
I think the wild young lark whom they have left behind them, would like
best to sing under God's free sky."

A winding stair, strait and narrow, as if to remind the nuns of their
duties of fast and maceration, led down to a lower suite of apartments,
which occupied the ground story of the house. These rooms were even more
ruinous than those which he had left; for, having encountered the first
fury of the assailants by whom the nunnery had been wasted, the windows
had been dashed in, the doors broken down, and even the partitions
betwixt the apartments, in some places, destroyed. As he thus stalked
from desolation to desolation, and began to think of returning from
so uninteresting a research to the chamber which he had left, he was
surprised to hear the low of a cow very close to him. The sound was so
unexpected at the time and place, that Roland Graeme started as if it
had been the voice of a lion, and laid his hand on his dagger, while at
the same moment the light and lovely form of Catherine Seyton presented
itself at the door of the apartment from which the sound had issued.

"Good even to you, valiant champion!" said she: "since the days of Guy
of Warwick, never was one more worthy to encounter a dun cow."

"Cow?" said Roland Graeme, "by my faith, I thought it had been the
devil that roared so near me. Who ever heard of a convent containing a
cow-house?"

"Cow and calf may come hither now," answered Catherine, "for we have no
means to keep out either. But I advise you, kind sir, to return to the
place from whence you came."

"Not till I see your charge, fair sister," answered Roland, and made
his way into the apartment, in spite of the half serious half laughing
remonstrances of the girl.

The poor solitary cow, now the only severe recluse within the nunnery,
was quartered in a spacious chamber, which had once been the refectory
of the convent. The roof was graced with groined arches, and the wall
with niches, from which the images had been pulled down. These remnants
of architectural ornaments were strangely contrasted with the rude crib
constructed for the cow in one corner of the apartment, and the stack of
fodder which was piled beside it for her food. [Footnote: This, like
the cell of Saint Cuthbert, is an imaginary scene, but I took one or
two ideas of the desolation of the interior from a story told me by my
father. In his youth--it may be near eighty years since, as he was born
in 1729--he had occasion to visit an old lady who resided in a Border
castle of considerable renown. Only one very limited portion of the
extensive ruins sufficed for the accommodation of the inmates, and my
father amused himself by wandering through the part that was untenanted.
In a dining-apartment, having a roof richly adorned with arches and
drops, there was deposited a large stack of hay, to which calves were
helping themselves from opposite sides. As my father was scaling a
dark ruinous turnpike staircase, his greyhound ran up before him, and
probably was the means of saving his life, for the animal fell through
a trap-door, or aperture in the stair, thus warning the owner of the
danger of the ascent. As the dog continued howling from a great depth,
my father got the old butler, who alone knew most of the localities
about the castle, to unlock a sort of stable, in which Kill-buck was
found safe and sound, the place being filled with the same commodity
which littered the stalls of Augeas, and which had rendered the dog's
fall an easy one.]

"By my faith," said the page, "Crombie is more lordly lodged than any
one here!"

"You had best remain with her," said Catherine, "and supply by your
filial attentions the offspring she has had the ill luck to lose."

"I will remain, at least, to help you to prepare her night's lair,
pretty Catherine," said Roland, seizing upon a pitch-fork.

"By no means," said Catherine; "for, besides that you know not in the
least how to do her that service, you will bring a chiding my way, and I
get enough of that in the regular course of things."

"What! for accepting my assistance?" said the page,--"for accepting _my_
assistance, who am to be your confederate in some deep matter of import?
That were altogether unreasonable--and, now I think on it, tell me if
you can, what is this mighty emprise to which I am destined?"

"Robbing a bird's nest, I should suppose," said Catherine, "considering
the champion whom they have selected."

"By my faith," said the youth, "and he that has taken a falcon's nest
in the Scaurs of Polmoodie, has done something to brag of, my fair
sister.--But that is all over now--a murrain on the nest, and the eyases
and their food, washed or unwashed, for it was all anon of cramming
these worthless kites that I was sent upon my present travels. Save
that I have met with you, pretty sister, I could eat my dagger-hilt for
vexation at my own folly. But, as we are to be fellow-travellers--"

"Fellow-labourers! not fellow-travellers!" answered the girl; "for to
your comfort be it known, that the Lady Abbess and I set out earlier
than you and your respected relative to-morrow, and that I partly endure
your company at present, because it may be long ere we meet again."

"By Saint Andrew, but it shall not though," answered Roland; "I will not
hunt at all unless we are to hunt in couples."

"I suspect, in that and in other points, we must do as we are bid,"
replied the young lady.--"But, hark! I hear my aunt's voice."

The old lady entered in good earnest, and darted a severe glance at her
niece, while Roland had the ready wit to busy himself about the halter
of the cow.

"The young gentleman," said Catherine, gravely, "is helping me to tie
the cow up faster to her stake, for I find that last night when she put
her head out of window and lowed, she alarmed the whole village;
and--we shall be suspected of sorcery among the heretics, if they do not
discover the cause of the apparition, or lose our cow if they do."

"Relieve yourself of that fear," said the Abbess, somewhat ironically;
"the person to whom she is now sold, comes for the animal presently."

"Good night, then, my poor companion," said Catherine, patting the
animal's shoulders; "I hope thou hast fallen into kind hands, for my
happiest hours of late have been spent in tending thee--I would I had
been born to no better task!"

"Now, out upon thee, mean-spirited wench!" said the Abbess; "is that a
speech worthy of the name of Seyton, or of the mouth of a sister of this
house, treading the path of election--and to be spoken before a stranger
youth, too?--Go to my oratory, minion--there read your Hours till I come
thither, when I will read you such a lecture as shall make you prize the
blessings which you possess."

Catherine was about to withdraw in silence, casting a half sorrowful
half comic glance at Roland Graeme, which seemed to say--"You see to
what your untimely visit has exposed me," when, suddenly changing her
mind, she came forward to the page, and extended her hand as she bid
him good evening. Their palms had pressed each other ere the astonished
matron could interfere, and Catherine had time to say--"Forgive me,
mother; it is long since we have seen a face that looked with kindness
on us. Since these disorders have broken up our peaceful retreat, all
has been gloom and malignity. I bid this youth kindly farewell, because
he has come hither in kindness, and because the odds are great, that
we may never again meet in this world. I guess better than he, that the
schemes on which you are rushing are too mighty for your management, and
that you are now setting the stone a-rolling, which must surely crush
you in its descent. I bid fare-well," she added, "to my fellow-victim!"

This was spoken with a tone of deep and serious feeling, altogether
different from the usual levity of Catherine's manner, and plainly
showed, that beneath the giddiness of extreme youth and total
inexperience, there lurked in her bosom a deeper power of sense and
feeling, than her conduct had hitherto expressed.

The Abbess remained a moment silent after she had left the room. The
proposed rebuke died on her tongue, and she appeared struck with the
deep and foreboding, tone in which her niece had spoken her good-even.
She led the way in silence to the apartment which they had formerly
occupied, and where there was prepared a small refection, as the
Abbess termed it, consisting of milk and barley-bread. Magdalen Graeme,
summoned to take share in this collation, appeared from an adjoining
apartment, but Catherine was seen no more. There was little said during
the hasty meal, and after it was finished, Roland Graeme was dismissed
to the nearest cell, where some preparations had been made for his
repose.

The strange circumstances in which he found himself, had their usual
effect in preventing slumber from hastily descending on him, and he
could distinctly hear, by a low but earnest murmuring in the apartment
which he had left, that the matrons continued in deep consultation to
a late hour. As they separated he heard the Abbess distinctly express
herself thus: "In a word, my sister, I venerate your character and the
authority with which my Superiors have invested you; yet it seems to me,
that, ere entering on this perilous course, we should consult some of
the Fathers of the Church."

"And how and where are we to find a faithful Bishop or Abbot at whom to
ask counsel? The faithful Eustatius is no more--he is withdrawn from a
world of evil, and from the tyranny of heretics. May Heaven and our
Lady assoilzie him of his sins, and abridge the penance of his mortal
infirmities!--Where shall we find another, with whom to take counsel?"

"Heaven will provide for the Church," said the Abbess; "and the faithful
fathers who yet are suffered to remain in the house of Kennaquhair, will
proceed to elect an Abbot. They will not suffer the staff to fall down,
or the mitre to be unfilled, for the threats of heresy."

"That will I learn to-morrow," said Magdalen Graeme; "yet who now takes
the office of an hour, save to partake with the spoilers in their work
of plunder?--to-morrow will tell us if one of the thousand saints who
are sprung from the House of Saint Mary's continues to look down on it
in its misery.--Farewell, my sister--we meet at Edinburgh."

"Benedicito!" answered the Abbess, and they parted.

"To Kennaquhair and to Edinburgh we bend our way." thought Roland
Graeme. "That information have I purchased by a sleepless hour--it suits
well with my purpose. At Kennaquhair I shall see Father Ambrose;--at
Edinburgh I shall find the means of shaping my own course through
this bustling world, without burdening my affectionate relation--at
Edinburgh, too, I shall see again the witching novice, with her blue
eyes and her provoking smile."--He fell asleep, and it was to dream of
Catherine Seyton.



Chapter the Thirteenth.


  What, Dagon up again!--I thought we had hurl'd him
  Down on the threshold, never more to rise.
  Bring wedge and axe; and, neighbours, lend your hands
  And rive the idol into winter fagots!
                   ATHELSTANE, OR THE CONVERTED DANE.

Roland Graeme slept long and sound, and the sun was high over the
horizon, when the voice of his companion summoned him to resume their
pilgrimage; and when, hastily arranging his dress, he went to attend her
call, the enthusiastic matron stood already at the threshold, prepared
for her journey. There was in all the deportment of this remarkable
woman, a promptitude of execution, and a sternness of perseverance,
founded on the fanaticism which she nursed so deeply, and which seemed
to absorb all the ordinary purposes and feelings of mortality. One only
human affection gleamed through her enthusiastic energies, like the
broken glimpses of the sun through the rising clouds of a storm. It was
her maternal fondness for her grandson--a fondness carried almost to the
verge of dotage, in circumstances where the Catholic religion was not
concerned, but which gave way instantly when it chanced either to thwart
or come in contact with the more settled purpose of her soul, and the
more devoted duty of her life. Her life she would willingly have laid
down to save the earthly object of her affection; but that object itself
she was ready to hazard, and would have been willing to sacrifice,
could the restoration of the Church of Rome have been purchased with his
blood. Her discourse by the way, excepting on the few occasions in which
her extreme love of her grandson found opportunity to display itself in
anxiety for his health and accommodation, turned entirely on the duty
of raising up the fallen honours of the Church, and replacing a Catholic
sovereign on the throne. There were times at which she hinted, though
very obscurely and distantly, that she herself was foredoomed by Heaven
to perform a part in this important task; and that she had more than
mere human warranty for the zeal with which she engaged in it. But on
this subject she expressed herself in such general language, that it was
not easy to decide whether she made any actual pretensions to a direct
and supernatural call, like the celebrated Elizabeth Barton, commonly
called the Nun of Kent; [Footnote: A fanatic nun, called the Holy Maid
of Kent, who pretended to the gift of prophecy and power of miracles.
Having denounced the doom of speedy death against Henry VIII. for his
marriage with Anne Boleyn, the prophetess was attainted in Parliament,
and executed with her accomplices. Her imposture was for a time so
successful, that even Sir Thomas More was disposed to be a believer.]
or whether she dwelt upon the general duty which was incumbent on
all Catholics of the time, and the pressure of which she felt in an
extraordinary degree.

Yet though Magdalen Graeme gave no direct intimation of her pretensions
to be considered as something beyond the ordinary class of mortals,
the demeanour of one or two persons amongst the travellers whom they
occasionally met, as they entered the more fertile and populous part of
the valley, seemed to indicate their belief in her superior attributes.
It is true, that two clowns, who drove before them a herd of cattle--one
or two village wenches, who seemed bound for some merry-making--a
strolling soldier, in a rusted morion, and a wandering student, as his
threadbare black cloak and his satchel of books proclaimed him--passed
our travellers without observation, or with a look of contempt; and,
moreover, that two or three children, attracted by the appearance of
a dress so nearly resembling that of a pilgrim, joined in hooting and
calling "Out upon the mass-monger!" But one or two, who nourished in
their bosoms respect for the downfallen hierarchy--casting first a
timorous glance around, to see that no one observed them--hastily
crossed themselves--bent their knee to Sister Magdalen, by which
name they saluted her--kissed her hand, or even the hem of her
dalmatique--received with humility the Benedicite with which she repaid
their obeisance; and then starting up, and again looking timidly round
to see that they had been unobserved, hastily resumed their journey.
Even while within sight of persons of the prevailing faith, there were
individuals bold enough, by folding their arms and bending their head,
to give distant and silent intimation that they recognized Sister
Magdalen, and honoured alike her person and her purpose.

She failed not to notice to her grandson these marks of honour and
respect which from time to time she received. "You see," she said, "my
son, that the enemies have been unable altogether to suppress the good
spirit, or to root out the true seed. Amid heretics and schismatics,
spoilers of the church's lands, and scoffers at saints and sacraments,
there is left a remnant."

"It is true, my mother," said Roland Graeme; "but methinks they are of
a quality which can help us but little. See you not all those who wear
steel at their side, and bear marks of better quality, ruffle past us as
they would past the meanest beggars? for those who give us any marks of
sympathy, are the poorest of the poor, and most outcast of the needy,
who have neither bread to share with us, nor swords to defend us, nor
skill to use them if they had. That poor wretch that last kneeled to you
with such deep devotion, and who seemed emaciated by the touch of some
wasting disease within, and the grasp of poverty without--that pale,
shivering, miserable caitiff, how can he aid the great schemes you
meditate?"

"Much, my son," said the Matron, with more mildness than the page
perhaps expected. "When that pious son of the church returns from the
shrine of Saint Ringan, whither he now travels by my counsel, and by the
aid of good Catholics,--when he returns, healed, of his wasting
malady, high in health, and strong in limb, will not the glory of his
faithfulness, and its miraculous reward, speak louder in the ears of
this besotted people of Scotland, than the din which is weekly made in a
thousand heretical pulpits?"

"Ay, but, mother, I fear the Saint's hand is out. It is long since we
have heard of a miracle performed at St. Ringan's."

The matron made a dead pause, and, with a voice tremulous with emotion,
asked, "Art thou so unhappy as to doubt the power of the blessed Saint?"

"Nay, mother," the youth hastened to reply, "I believe as the Holy
Church commands, and doubt not Saint Ringan's power of healing; but, be
it said with reverence, he hath not of late showed the inclination."

"And has this land deserved it?" said the Catholic matron, advancing
hastily while she spoke, until she attained the summit of a rising
ground, over which the path led, and then standing again still.
"Here," she said, "stood the Cross, the limits of the Halidome of Saint
Mary's--here--on this eminence--from which the eye of the holy pilgrim
might first catch a view of that ancient monastery, the light of the
land, the abode of Saints, and the grave of monarchs--Where is now that
emblem of our faith? It lies on the earth--a shapeless block, from which
the broken fragments have been carried off, for the meanest uses, till
now no semblance of its original form remains. Look towards the east,
my son, where the sun was wont to glitter on stately spires--from which
crosses and bells have now been hurled, as if the land had been invaded
once more by barbarous heathens.--Look at yonder battlements, of which
we can, even at this distance, descry the partial demolition; and ask
if this land can expect from the blessed saints, whose shrines and whose
images have been profaned, any other miracles but those of vengeance?
How long," she exclaimed, looking upward, "How long shall it be
delayed?" She paused, and then resumed with enthusiastic rapidity, "Yes,
my son, all on earth is but for a period--joy and grief, triumph and
desolation, succeed each other like cloud and sunshine;--the vineyard
shall not be forever trodden down, the gaps shall be amended, and the
fruitful branches once more dressed and trimmed. Even this day--ay,
even this hour, I trust to hear news of importance. Dally not--let us
on--time is brief, and judgment is certain."

She resumed the path which led to the Abbey--a path which, in ancient
times, was carefully marked out by posts and rails, to assist the
pilgrim in his journey--these were now torn up and destroyed. A
half-hour's walk placed them in front of the once splendid Monastery,
which, although the church was as yet entire, had not escaped the fury
of the times. The long range of cells and of apartments for the use of
the brethren, which occupied two sides of the great square, were almost
entirely ruinous, the interior having been consumed by fire, which
only the massive architecture of the outward walls had enabled them to
resist. The Abbot's house, which formed the third side of the square,
was, though injured, still inhabited, and afforded refuge to the few
brethren, who yet, rather by connivance than by actual authority,--were
permitted to remain at Kennaquhair. Their stately offices--their
pleasant gardens--the magnificent cloisters constructed for their
recreation, were all dilapidated and ruinous; and some of the building
materials had apparently been put into requisition by persons in the
village and in the vicinity, who, formerly vassals of the Monastery, had
not hesitated to appropriate to themselves a part of the spoils. Roland
saw fragments of Gothic pillars richly carved, occupying the place of
door-posts to the meanest huts; and here and there a mutilated statue,
inverted or laid on its side, made the door-post, or threshold, of a
wretched cow-house. The church itself was less injured than the other
buildings of the Monastery. But the images which had been placed in the
numerous niches of its columns and buttresses, having all fallen under
the charge of idolatry, to which the superstitious devotion of the
Papists had justly exposed them, had been broken and thrown down,
without much regard to the preservation of the rich and airy canopies
and pedestals on which they were placed; nor, if the devastation had
stopped short at this point, could we have considered the preservation
of these monuments of antiquity as an object to be put in the balance
with the introduction of the reformed worship.

Our pilgrims saw the demolition of these sacred and venerable
representations of saints and angels--for as sacred and venerable they
had been taught to consider them--with very different feelings. The
antiquary may be permitted to regret the necessity of the action, but
to Magdalen Graeme it seemed a deed of impiety, deserving the instant
vengeance of heaven,--a sentiment in which her relative joined for the
moment as cordially as herself. Neither, however, gave vent to their
feelings in words, and uplifted hands and eyes formed their only mode of
expressing them. The page was about to approach the great eastern gate
of the church, but was prevented by his guide. "That gate," she said,
"has long been blockaded, that the heretical rabble may not know there
still exist among the brethren of Saint Mary's men who dare worship
where their predecessors prayed while alive, and were interred when
dead--follow me this way, my son."

Roland Graeme followed accordingly; and Magdalen, casting a hasty glance
to see whether they were observed, (for she had learned caution from the
danger of the times,) commanded her grandson to knock at a little wicket
which she pointed out to him. "But knock gently," she added, with a
motion expressive of caution. After a little space, during which no
answer was returned, she signed to Roland to repeat his summons for
admission; and the door at length partially opening, discovered a
glimpse of the thin and timid porter, by whom the duty was performed,
skulking from the observation of those who stood without; but
endeavouring at the same time to gain a sight of them without being
himself seen. How different from the proud consciousness of dignity with
which the porter of ancient days offered his important brow, and his
goodly person, to the pilgrims who repaired to Kennaquhair! His solemn
"_Intrate, mei filii,_" was exchanged for a tremulous "You cannot enter
now--the brethren are in their chambers." But, when Magdalen Graeme
asked, in an under tone of voice, "Hast thou forgotten me, my brother?"
he changed his apologetic refusal to "Enter, my honoured sister, enter
speedily, for evil eyes are upon us."

They entered accordingly, and having waited until the porter had, with
jealous haste, barred and bolted the wicket, were conducted by him
through several dark and winding passages. As they walked slowly on,
he spoke to the matron in a subdued voice, as if he feared to trust the
very walls with the avowal which he communicated.

"Our Fathers are assembled in the Chapter-house, worthy sister--yes, in
the Chapter-house--for the election of an Abbott.--Ah, Benedicite! there
must be no ringing of bells--no high mass--no opening of the great gates
now, that the people might see and venerate their spiritual Father! Our
Fathers must hide themselves rather like robbers who choose a leader,
than godly priests who elect a mitred Abbot."

"Regard not that, my brother," answered Magdalen Graeme; "the first
successors of Saint Peter himself were elected, not in sunshine, but
in tempests--not in the halls of the Vatican, but in the subterranean
vaults and dungeons of heathen Rome--they were not gratulated with
shouts and salvos of cannon-shot and of musketry, and the display of
artificial fire--no, my brother--but by the hoarse summons of Lictors
and Praetors, who came to drag the Fathers of the Church to martyrdom.
From such adversity was the Church once raised, and by such will it
now be purified.--And mark me, brother! not in the proudest days of the
mitred Abbey, was a Superior ever chosen, whom his office shall so much
honour, as _he_ shall be honoured, who now takes it upon him in these
days of tribulation. On whom, my brother, will the choice fall?"

"On whom can it fall--or, alas! who would dare to reply to the call,
save the worthy pupil of the Sainted Eustatius--the good and valiant
Father Ambrose?"

"I know it," said Magdalen; "my heart told me long ere your lips had
uttered his name. Stand forth, courageous champion, and man the fatal
breach!--Rise, bold and experienced pilot, and seize the helm while
the tempest rages!--Turn back the battle, brave raiser of the fallen
standard!--Wield crook and slang, noble shepherd of a scattered flock!"

"I pray you, hush, my sister!" said the porter, opening a door which led
into the great church, "the brethren will be presently here to celebrate
their election with a solemn mass--I must marshal them the way to the
high altar--all the offices of this venerable house have now devolved on
one poor decrepit old man."

He left the church, and Magdalen and Roland remained alone in that great
vaulted space, whose style of rich, yet chaste architecture, referred
its origin to the early part of the fourteenth century, the best period
of Gothic building. But the niches were stripped of their images in the
inside as well as the outside of the church; and in the pell-mell havoc,
the tombs of warriors and of princes had been included in the demolition
of the idolatrous shrines. Lances and swords of antique size, which had
hung over the tombs of mighty warriors of former days, lay now strewed
among relics, with which the devotion of pilgrims had graced those of
their peculiar saints; and the fragments of the knights and dames, which
had once lain recumbent, or kneeled in an attitude of devotion, where
their mortal relics were reposed, were mingled with those of the saints
and angels of the Gothic chisel, which the hand of violence had sent
headlong from their stations.

The most fatal symptom of the whole appeared to be, that, though this
violence had now been committed for many months, the Fathers had lost so
totally all heart and resolution, that they had not adventured even upon
clearing away the rubbish, or restoring the church to some decent degree
of order. This might have been done without much labour. But terror had
overpowered the scanty remains of a body once so powerful, and, sensible
they were only suffered to remain in this ancient seat by connivance and
from compassion, they did not venture upon taking any step which might
be construed into an assertion of their ancient rights, contenting
themselves with the secret and obscure exercise of their religious
ceremonial, in as unostentatious a manner as was possible.

Two or three of the more aged brethren had sunk under the pressure of
the times, and the ruins had been partly cleared away to permit their
interment. One stone had been laid over Father Nicholas, which recorded
of him in special, that he had taken the vows during the incumbency of
Abbot Ingelram, the period to which his memory so frequently recurred.
Another flag-stone, yet more recently deposited, covered the body of
Philip the Sacristan, eminent for his aquatic excursion with the phantom
of Avenel, and a third, the most recent of all, bore the outline of a
mitre, and the words _Hic jacet Eustatius Abbas_; for no one dared to
add a word of commendation in favour of his learning, and strenuous zeal
for the Roman Catholic faith.

Magdalen Graeme looked at and perused the brief records of these
monuments successively, and paused over that of Father Eustace. "In
a good hour for thyself," she said, "but oh! in an evil hour for the
Church, wert thou called from us. Let thy spirit be with us, holy
man--encourage thy successor to tread in thy footsteps--give him thy
bold and inventive capacity, thy zeal and thy discretion--even _thy_
piety exceeds not his." As she spoke, a side door, which closed a
passage from the Abbot's house into the church, was thrown open, that
the Fathers might enter the choir, and conduct to the high altar the
Superior whom they had elected.

In former times, this was one of the most splendid of the many pageants
which the hierarchy of Rome had devised to attract the veneration of
the faithful. The period during which the Abbacy remained vacant, was
a state of mourning, or, as their emblematical phrase expressed it,
of widowhood; a melancholy term, which was changed into rejoicing and
triumph when a new Superior was chosen. When the folding doors were on
such solemn occasions thrown open, and the new Abbot appeared on the
threshold in full-blown dignity, with ring and mitre, and dalmatique
and crosier, his hoary standard-bearers and his juvenile dispensers of
incense preceding him, and the venerable train of monks behind him, with
all besides which could announce the supreme authority to which he was
now raised, his appearance was a signal for the magnificent _jubilate_
to rise from the organ and music-loft, and to be joined by the
corresponding bursts of Alleluiah from the whole assembled congregation.
Now all was changed. In the midst of rubbish and desolation, seven or
eight old men, bent and shaken as much by grief and fear as by age,
shrouded hastily in the proscribed dress of their order, wandered like
a procession of spectres, from the door which had been thrown open, up
through the encumbered passage, to the high altar, there to instal their
elected Superior a chief of ruins. It was like a band of bewildered
travellers choosing a chief in the wilderness of Arabia; or a
shipwrecked crew electing a captain upon the barren island on which fate
has thrown them.

They who, in peaceful times, are most ambitious of authority among
others, shrink from the competition at such eventful periods, when
neither ease nor parade attend the possession of it, and when it gives
only a painful pre-eminence both in danger and in labour, and exposes
the ill-fated chieftain to the murmurs of his discontented associates,
as well as to the first assault of the common enemy. But he on whom the
office of the Abbot of Saint Mary's was now conferred, had a mind fitted
for the situation to which he was called. Bold and enthusiastic, yet
generous and forgiving--wise and skilful, yet zealous and prompt--he
wanted but a better cause than the support of a decaying superstition,
to have raised him to the rank of a truly great man. But as the end
crowns the work, it also forms the rule by which it must be ultimately
judged; and those who, with sincerity and generosity, fight and fall in
an evil cause, posterity can only compassionate as victims of a generous
but fatal error. Amongst these, we must rank Ambrosius, the last Abbot
of Kennaqubair, whose designs must be condemned, as their success would
have riveted on Scotland the chains of antiquated superstition and
spiritual tyranny; but whose talents commanded respect, and whose
virtues, even from the enemies of his faith, extorted esteem.

The bearing of the new Abbot served of itself to dignify a ceremonial
which was deprived of all other attributes of grandeur. Conscious of
the peril in which they stood, and recalling, doubtless, the better days
they had seen, there hung over his brethren an appearance of mingled
terror, and grief, and shame, which induced them to hurry over the
office in which they were engaged, as something at once degrading and
dangerous.

But not so Father Ambrose. His features, indeed, expressed a deep
melancholy, as he walked up the centre aisle, amid the ruin of things
which he considered as holy, but his brow was undejected, and his step
firm and solemn. He seemed to think that the dominion which he was about
to receive, depended in no sort upon the external circumstances under
which it was conferred; and if a mind so firm was accessible to sorrow
or fear, it was not on his own account, but on that of the Church to
which he had devoted himself.

At length he stood on the broken steps of the high altar, barefooted, as
was the rule, and holding in his hand his pastoral staff, for the gemmed
ring and jewelled mitre had become secular spoils. No obedient vassals
came, man after man, to make their homage, and to offer the tribute
which should provide their spiritual Superior with palfrey and
trappings. No Bishop assisted at the solemnity, to receive into the
higher ranks of the Church nobility a dignitary, whose voice in the
legislature was as potential as his own. With hasty and maimed rites,
the few remaining brethren stepped forward alternately to give their new
Abbot the kiss of peace, in token of fraternal affection and spiritual
homage. Mass was then hastily performed, but in such precipitation as if
it had been hurried over rather to satisfy the scruples of a few youths,
who were impatient to set out on a hunting party, than as if it made the
most solemn part of a solemn ordination. The officiating priest faltered
as he spoke the service, and often looked around, as if he expected to
be interrupted in the midst of his office; and the brethren listened to
that which, short as it was, they wished yet more abridged.[Footnote:
In Catholic countries, in order to reconcile the pleasures of the great
with the observances of religion, it was common, when a party was bent
for the chase, to celebrate mass, abridged and maimed of its rites,
called a hunting-mass, the brevity of which was designed to correspond
with the impatience of the audience.]

These symptoms of alarm increased as the ceremony proceeded, and, as it
seemed, were not caused by mere apprehension alone; for, amid the pauses
of the hymn, there were heard without sounds of a very different sort,
beginning faintly and at a distance, but at length approaching close to
the exterior of the church, and stunning with dissonant clamour those
engaged in the service. The winding of horns, blown with no regard to
harmony or concert; the jangling of bells, the thumping of drums,
the squeaking of bagpipes, and the clash of cymbals--the shouts of a
multitude, now as in laughter, now as in anger--the shrill tones of
female voices, and of those of children, mingling with the deeper
clamour of men, formed a Babel of sounds, which first drowned, and then
awed into utter silence, the official hymns of the Convent. The cause
and result of this extraordinary interruption will be explained in the
next chapter.



Chapter the Fourteenth.


  Not the wild billow, when it breaks its barrier--
  Not the wild wind, escaping from its cavern--
  Not the wild fiend, that mingles both together,
  And pours their rage upon the ripening harvest,
  Can match the wild freaks of this mirthful meeting--
  Comic, yet fearful--droll, and yet destructive.
                              THE CONSPIRACY.

The monks ceased their song, which, like that of the choristers in the
legend of the Witch of Berkley, died away in a quaver of consternation;
and, like a flock of chickens disturbed by the presence of the
kite, they at first made a movement to disperse and fly in different
directions, and then, with despair, rather than hope, huddled themselves
around their new Abbot; who, retaining the lofty and undismayed look
which had dignified him through the whole ceremony, stood on the higher
step of the altar, as if desirous to be the most conspicuous mark on
which danger might discharge itself, and to save his companions by his
self-devotion, since he could afford them no other protection.

Involuntarily, as it were, Magdalen Graeme and the page stepped from the
station which hitherto they had occupied unnoticed, and approached to
the altar, as desirous of sharing the fate which approached the monks,
whatever that might be. Both bowed reverently low to the Abbot; and
while Magdalen seemed about to speak, the youth, looking towards the
main entrance, at which the noise now roared most loudly, and which was
at the same time assailed with much knocking, laid his hand upon his
dagger.

The Abbot motioned to both to forbear: "Peace, my sister," he said, in a
low tone, but which, being in a different key from the tumultuary sounds
without, could be distinctly heard, even amidst the tumult;--"Peace," he
said, "my sister; let the new Superior of Saint Mary's himself receive
and reply to the grateful acclamations of the vassals, who come to
celebrate his installation.--And thou, my son, forbear, I charge thee,
to touch thy earthly weapon;--if it is the pleasure of our protectress,
that her shrine be this day desecrated by deeds of violence, and
polluted by blood-shedding, let it not, I charge thee, happen through
the deed of a Catholic son of the church."

The noise and knocking at the outer gate became now every moment louder;
and voices were heard impatiently demanding admittance. The Abbot, with
dignity, and with a step which even the emergency of danger rendered
neither faltering nor precipitate, moved towards the portal, and
demanded to know, in a tone of authority, who it was that disturbed
their worship, and what they desired?

There was a moment's silence, and then a loud laugh from without. At
length a voice replied, "We desire entrance into the church; and when
the door is opened you will soon see who we are."

"By whose authority do you require entrance?" said the Father.

"By authority of the right reverend Lord Abbot of Unreason."

[Footnote: We learn from no less authority than that of Napoleon
Bonaparte, that there is but a single step between the sublime and
ridiculous; and it is a transition from one extreme to another; so very
easy, that the vulgar of every degree are peculiarly captivated with it.
Thus the inclination to laugh becomes uncontrollable, when the solemnity
and gravity of time, place, and circumstances, render it peculiarly
improper. Some species of general license, like that which inspired the
ancient Saturnalia, or the modern Carnival, has been commonly indulged
to the people at all times and in almost all countries. But it was, I
think, peculiar to the Roman Catholic Church, that while they studied
how to render their church rites imposing and magnificent, by all that
pomp, music, architecture, and external display could add to them, they
nevertheless connived, upon special occasions, at the frolics of the
rude vulgar, who, in almost all Catholic countries, enjoyed, or at least
assumed, the privilege of making: some Lord of the revels, who, under
the name of the Abbot of Unreason, the Boy Bishop, or the President
of Fools, occupied the churches, profaned the holy places by a mock
imitation of the sacred rites, and sung indecent parodies on hymns of
the church. The indifference of the clergy, even when their power was
greatest, to the indecent exhibitions which they always tolerated, and
sometimes encouraged, forms a strong contrast to the sensitiveness with
which they regarded any serious attempt, by preaching or writing, to
impeach any of the doctrines of the church. It could only be compared to
the singular apathy with which they endured, and often admired the gross
novels which Chaucer, Dunbar, Boccacio, Bandello, and others, composed
upon the bad morals of the clergy. It seems as if the churchmen in both
instances had endeavoured to compromise with the laity, and allowed them
occasionally to gratify their coarse humour by indecent satire, provided
they would abstain from any grave question concerning the foundation
of the doctrines on which was erected such an immense fabric of
ecclesiastical power.

But the sports thus licensed assumed a very different appearance, so
soon as the Protestant doctrines began to prevail; and the license which
their forefathers had exercised in mere gaiety of heart, and without
the least intention of dishonouring religion by their frolics, were now
persevered in by the common people as a mode of testifying their utter
disregard for the Roman priesthood and its ceremonies.

I may observe, for example, the case of an apparitor sent to Borthwick
from the Primate of Saint Andrews, to cite the lord of that castle, who
was opposed by an Abbot of Unreason, at whose command the officer of the
spiritual court was appointed to be ducked in a mill-dam, and obliged to
eat up his parchment citation.

The reader may be amused with the following whimsical details of this
incident, which took place in the castle of Borthwick, in the year 1517.
It appears, that in consequence of a process betwixt Master George
Hay de Minzeane and the Lord Borthwick, letters of excommunication
had passed against the latter, on account of the contumacy of certain
witnesses. William Langlands, an apparitor or macer (_bacularius_) of
the See of St Andrews, presented these letters to the curate of the
church of Borthwick, requiring him to publish the same at the service of
high mass. It seems that the inhabitants of the castle were at this
time engaged in the favourite sport of enacting the Abbot of Unreason,
a species of high jinks, in which a mimic prelate was elected, who, like
the Lord of Misrule in England, turned all sort of lawful authority, and
particularly the church ritual, into ridicule. This frolicsome person
with his retinue, notwithstanding of the apparitor's character, entered
the church, seized upon the primate's officer without hesitation, and,
dragging him to the mill-dam on the south side of the castle, compelled
him to leap into the water. Not contented with this partial immersion,
the Abbot of Unreason pronounced, that Mr. William Langlands was not yet
sufficiently bathed, and therefore caused his assistants to lay him
on his back in the stream, and duck him in the most satisfactory and
perfect manner. The unfortunate apparitor was then conducted back to
the church, where, for his refreshment after his bath, the letters of
excommunication were torn to pieces, and steeped in a bowl of wine; the
mock abbot being probably of opinion that a tough parchment was but
dry eating, Langlands was compelled to eat the letters, and swallow
the wine, and dismissed by the Abbot of Unreason, with the comfortable
assurance, that if any more such letters should arrive during the
continuance of his office, "they should a' gang the same gate," _i. e._
go the same road.

A similar scene occurs betwixt a sumner of the Bishop of Rochester,
and Harpool, the servant of Lord Cobham, in the old play of Sir John
Oldcastle, when the former compels the church-officer to eat his
citation. The dialogue, which may be found in the note, contains most
of the jests which may be supposed, appropriate to such an extraordinary
occasion:

_Harpool_ Marry, sir, is, this process parchment?

_Sumner._ Yes, marry is it.

_Harpool._ And this seal wax?

_Sumner._ It is so.

_Harpool._ If this be parchment, and this be wax, eat you this parchment
and wax, or I will make parchment of your skin, and beat your brains
into wax. Sirrah Sumner, despatch--devour, sirrah, devour.

_Sumner._ I am my Lord of Rochester's sumner; I came to do my office,
and thou shall answer it.

_Harpool._ Sirrah, no railing, but, betake thyself to thy teeth. Thou
shalt, eat no worse than thou bringest with thee. Thou bringest it for
my lord; and wilt thou bring my lord worse than thou wilt eat thyself?

_Sumner._ Sir. I brought it not my lord to eat.

_Harpool._ O, do you Sir me now? All's one for that; I'll make you eat
it for bringing it.

_Sumner._ I cannot eat it.

_Harpool._ Can you not? 'Sblood, I'll beat you till you have a stomach!
(_Beats him._)

_Sumner._ Oh, hold, hold, good Mr. Servingman; I will eat it.

_Harpool._ Be champing, be chewing, sir, or I will chew you, you rogue.
Tough wax is the purest of the honey.

_Sumner._ The purest of the honey?--O Lord, sir, oh! oh!

_Harpool._ Feed, feed; 'tis wholesome, rogue, wholesome. Cannot you,
like an honest sumner, walk with the devil your brother, to fetch in
your bailiff's rents, but you must come to a nobleman's house with
process! If the seal were broad as the lead which covers Rochester
Church, thou shouldst eat it.

_Sumner._ Oh, I am almost choked--I am almost choked!

_Harpool._ Who's within there? Will you shame my lord? Is there no beer
in the house? Butler, I say.

    _Enter_ BUTLER.

_Butler._ Here, here.

_Harpool._ Give him beer. Tough old sheep skin's but dry meat.

    _First Part of Sir John Oldcastle_, Act II. Scene I.]


replied the voice from without; and, from the laugh--which followed,
it seemed as if there was something highly ludicrous couched under this
reply.

"I know not, and seek not to know, your meaning," replied the Abbot,
"since it is probably a rude one. But begone, in the name of God, and
leave his servants in peace. I speak this, as having lawful authority to
command here."

"Open the door," said another rude voice, "and we will try titles with
you, Sir Monk, and show you a superior we must all obey."

"Break open the doors if he dallies any longer," said a third, "and down
with the carrion monks who would bar us of our privilege!" A general
shout followed. "Ay, ay, our privilege! our privilege! down with the
doors, and with the lurdane monks, if they make opposition!"

The knocking was now exchanged for blows with great, hammers, to which
the doors, strong as they were, must soon have given way. But the Abbot,
who saw resistance would be in vain, and who did not wish to incense the
assailants by an attempt at offering it, besought silence earnestly, and
with difficulty obtained a hearing. "My children," said he, "I will
save you from committing a great sin. The porter will presently undo the
gate--he is gone to fetch the keys--meantime I pray you to consider with
yourselves, if you are in a state of mind to cross the holy threshold."

"Tillyvally for your papistry!" was answered from without; "we are in
the mood of the monks when they are merriest, and that is when they sup
beef-brewis for lanten-kail. So, if your porter hath not the gout, let
him come speedily, or we heave away readily.--Said I well, comrades?"

"Bravely said, and it shall be as bravely done," said the multitude; and
had not the keys arrived at that moment, and the porter in hasty terror
performed his office, throwing open the great door, the populace would
have saved him the trouble. The instant he had done so, the affrighted
janitor fled, like one who has drawn the bolts of a flood-gate, and
expects to be overwhelmed by the rushing inundation. The monks, with one
consent, had withdrawn themselves behind the Abbot, who alone kept his
station, about three yards from the entrance, showing no signs of fear
or perturbation. His brethren--partly encouraged by his devotion, partly
ashamed to desert him, and partly animated by a sense of duty.--remained
huddled close together, at the back of their Superior. There was a loud
laugh and huzza when the doors were opened; but, contrary to what might
have been expected, no crowd of enraged assailants rushed into the
church. On the contrary, there was a cry of "A halt!-a halt--to order,
my masters! and let the two reverend fathers greet each other, as
beseems them."

The appearance of the crowd who were thus called to order, was grotesque
in the extreme. It was composed of men, women, and children, ludicrously
disguised in various habits, and presenting groups equally diversified
and grotesque. Here one fellow with a horse's head painted before him,
and a tail behind, and the whole covered with a long foot-cloth, which
was supposed to hide the body of the animal, ambled, caracoled, pranced,
and plunged, as he performed the celebrated part of the hobby-horse,

[Footnote: This exhibition, the play-mare of Scotland, stood high among
holyday gambols. It must be carefully separated from the wooden
chargers which furnish out our nurseries. It gives rise to Hamlet's
ejaculation,--

    But oh, but oh, the hobby-horse is forgot!

There is a very comic scene in Beaumont and Fletcher's play of "Woman
Pleased," where Hope-on-high Bombye, a puritan cobbler, refuses to dance
with the hobby-horse. There was much difficulty and great variety in the
motions which the hobby-horse was expected to exhibit.

The learned Mr. Douce, who has contributed so much to the illustration
of our theatrical antiquities, has given us a full account of this
pageant, and the burlesque horsemanship which it practised.

"The hobby-horse," says Mr. Douce, "was represented by a man equipped
with as much pasteboard as was sufficient to form the head and hinder
parts of a horse, the quadrupedal defects being concealed by a long
mantle or footcloth that nearly touched the ground. The former, on this
occasion, exerted all his skill in burlesque horsemanship. In Sympson's
play of the Law-breakers, 1636, a miller personates the hobby-horse, and
being angry that the Mayor of the city is put in competition with him,
exclaims, 'Let the mayor play the hobby-horse among his brethren, an he
will; I hope our town-lads cannot want a hobby-horse. Have I practised
my reins, my careers, my prankers, my ambles, my false trots, my smooth
ambles, and Canterbury paces, and shall master mayor put me beside
the hobby-horse? Have I borrowed the fore-horse bells, his plumes, his
braveries; nay, had his mane new shorn and frizzled, and shall the mayor
put me beside the hobby-horse?" --_Douce's Illustrations_, vol. II. p.
468]

so often alluded to in our ancient drama; and which still flourishes
on the stage in the battle that concludes Bayes's tragedy. To rival
the address and agility displayed by this character, another personage
advanced in the more formidable character of a huge dragon, with gilded
wings, open jaws, and a scarlet tongue, cloven at the end, which made
various efforts to overtake and devour a lad, dressed as the lovely
Sabaea, daughter of the King of Egypt, who fled before him; while a
martial Saint George, grotesquely armed with a goblet for a helmet, and
a spit for a lance, ever and anon interfered, and compelled the monster
to relinquish his prey. A bear, a wolf, and one or two other wild
animals, played their parts with the discretion of Snug the joiner; for
the decided preference which they gave to the use of their hind legs,
was sufficient, without any formal annunciation, to assure the most
timorous spectators that they had to do with habitual bipeds. There was
a group of outlaws with Robin Hood and Little John at their head

[Footnote: The representation of Robin Hood was the darling Maygame both
in England and Scotland, and doubtless the favourite personification was
often revived, when the Abbot of Unreason, or other pretences of frolic,
gave an unusual decree of license.

The Protestant clergy, who had formerly reaped advantage from the
opportunities which these sports afforded them of directing their own
satire and the ridicule of the lower orders against the Catholic church,
began to find that, when these purposes were served, their favourite
pastimes deprived them of the wish to attend divine worship, and
disturbed the frame of mind in which it can be attended to advantage.
The celebrated Bishop Latimer gives a very _naive_ account of the manner
in which, bishop as he was, he found himself compelled to give place to
Robin Hood and his followers.

"I came once myselfe riding on a journey homeward from London, and I
sent word over night into the towne that I would preach there in the
morning, because it was holiday, and me thought it was a holidayes
worke. The church stood in my way, and I took my horse and my company,
and went thither, (I thought I should have found a great company in
the church,) and when I came there the church doore was fast locked. I
tarryed there halfe an houre and more. At last the key was found, and
one of the parish comes to me and said,--'Sir, this is a busie day with
us, we cannot hear you; it is Robin Hood's day. The parish are gone
abroad to gather for Robin Hood. I pray you let them not.' I was faine
there to give place to Robin Hood. I thought my rochet should have been
regarded, though I were not: but it would not serve, it was faine to
give place to Robin Hood's men. It is no laughing matter, my friends,
it is a weeping matter, a heavie matter, a heavie matter. Under the
pretence for gathering for Robin Hood, a traytour, and a theif, to put
out a preacher; to have his office lesse esteemed; to preferre Robin
Hood before the ministration of God's word; and all this hath come of
unpreaching prelates. This realme hath been ill provided for, that it
hath had such corrupt judgments in it, to prefer Robin Hood to God's
word."--_Bishop Latimer's sixth Sermon before King Edward_.

While the English Protestants thus preferred the outlaw's pageant to the
preaching of their excellent Bishop, the Scottish calvinistic clergy,
with the celebrated John Knox at their head, and backed by the authority
of the magistrates of Edinburgh, who had of late been chosen exclusively
from this party, found it impossible to control the rage of the
populace, when they attempted to deprive them of the privilege of
presenting their pageant of Robin Hood.

[Note on old Scottish spelling: leading y = modern 'th'; leading v =
modern 'u']

(561) "Vpon the xxi day of Junij. Archibalde Dowglas of Kilspindie,
Provest of Edr., David Symmer and Adame Fullartoun, baillies of the
samyne, causit ane cordinare servant, callit James Gillion takin of
befoir, for playing in Edr. with Robene Hude, to wnderly the law, and
put him to the knawlege of ane assyize qlk yaij haid electit of yair
favoraris, quha with schort deliberatioun condemnit him to be hangit for
ye said cryme. And the deaconis of ye craftismen fearing vproare, maid
great solistatuis at ye handis of ye said provost and baillies, and als
requirit John Knox, minister, for eschewing of tumult, to superceid ye
execution of him, vnto ye tyme yai suld adverteis my Lord Duke yairof.
And yan, if it wes his mynd and will yat he should be disponit vpoun, ye
said deaconis and craftismen sould convey him yaire; quha answerit, yat
yai culd na way stope ye executioun of justice. Quhan ye time of ye said
pouer mans hanging approchit, and yat ye hangman wes cum to ye jibbat
with ye ledder, vpoune ye qlk ye said cordinare should have bene hangit,
ane certaine and remanent craftischilder, quha wes put to ye horne with
ye said Gillione, ffor ye said Robene Huide's _playes_, and vyris yair
assistaris and favoraris, past to wappinis, and yai brak down ye said
jibbat, and yan chacit ye said provest, baillies, and Alexr. Guthrie, in
ye said Alexander's writing buith, and held yame yairin; and yairefter
past to ye tolbuyt, and becaus the samyne was steiket, and onnawayes
culd get the keyes thairof, thai brak the said tolbuith dore with foure
harberis, per force, (the said provest and baillies luckand thairon.)
and not onlie put thar the said Gillione to fredome and libertie, and
brocht him furth of the said tolbuit, bot alsua the remanent presonaris
being thairintill; and this done, the said craftismen's servands, with
the said condempnit cordonar, past doun to the Netherbow, to have past
furth thairat; bot becaus the samyne on thair coming thairto wes
closet, thai past vp agane the Hie streit of the said bourghe to the
Castellhill, and in this menetymne the saidis provest and baillies, and
thair assistaris being in the writing buith of the said Alexr. Guthrie,
past and enterit in the said tolbuyt, and in the said servandes passage
vp the Hie streit, then schote furth thairof at thame ane dog, and hurt
ane servand of the said childer. This being done, thair wes nathing
vthir but the one partie schuteand out and castand stanes furth of the
said tolbuyt, and the vther pairtie schuteand hagbuttis in the same
agane. Aund sua the craftismen's servandis, aboue written, held and
inclosit the said provest and baillies continewallie in the said
tolbuyth, frae three houris efternone, quhill aught houris at even,
and na man of the said town prensit to relieve their said provest and
baillies. And than thai send to the maisters of the Castell, to caus
tham if thai mycht stay the said servandis, quha maid ane maner to do
the same, bot thai could not bring the same to ane finall end, ffor
the said servands wold on noways stay fra, quhill thai had revengit the
hurting of ane of them; and thairefter the constable of the castell come
down thairfra, and he with the said maisters treatet betwix the said
pties in this maner:--That the said provost and baillies sall remit to
the said craftischilder, all actioun, cryme, and offens that thai had
committit aganes thame in any tyme bygane; and band and oblast thame
never to pursew them thairfor; and als commandit thair maisters to
resaue them agane in thair services, as thai did befoir. And this being
proclainit at the mercat cross, thai scalit, and the said provest and
bailies come furth of the same tolbouyth." &c. &c. &c.

John Knox, who writes at large upon this tumult, informs us it was
inflamed by the deacons of craftes, who, resenting; the superiority
assumed over them by the magistrates, would yield no assistance to put
down the tumult. "They will be magistrates alone," said the recusant
deacons, "e'en let them rule the populace alone;" and accordingly
they passed quietly to take _their four-hours penny_, and left the
magistrates to help themselves as they could. Many persons were
excommunicated for this outrage, and not admitted to church ordinances
till they had made satisfaction.] --the best representation exhibited
at the time; and no great wonder, since most of the actors were, by
profession, the banished men and thieves whom they presented. Other
masqueraders there were, of a less marked description. Men were
disguised as women, and women as men--children wore the dress of aged
people, and tottered with crutch-sticks in their hands, furred gowns
on their little backs, and caps on their round heads--while grandsires
assumed the infantine tone as well as the dress of children. Besides
these, many had their faces painted, and wore their shirts over the
rest of their dress; while coloured pasteboard and ribbons furnished out
decorations for others. Those who wanted all these properties,
blacked their faces, and turned their jackets inside out; and thus the
transmutation of the whole assembly into a set of mad grotesque mummers,
was at once completed.

The pause which the masqueraders made, waiting apparently for some
person of the highest authority amongst them, gave those within the
Abbey Church full time to observe all these absurdities. They were at no
loss to comprehend their purpose and meaning.

Few readers can be ignorant, that at an early period, and during the
plenitude of her power, the Church of Rome not only connived at,
but even encouraged, such Saturnalian licenses as the inhabitants of
Kennaquhair and the neighbourhood had now in hand, and that the vulgar,
on such occasions, were not only permitted but encouraged by a number of
gambols, sometimes puerile and ludicrous, sometimes immoral and profane,
to indemnify themselves for the privations and penances imposed on them
at other seasons. But, of all other topics for burlesque and ridicule,
the rites and ceremonial of the church itself were most frequently
resorted to; and, strange to say, with the approbation of the clergy
themselves.

While the hierarchy flourished in full glory, they do not appear to
have dreaded the consequences of suffering the people to become so
irreverently familiar with things sacred; they then imagined the laity
to be much in the condition of the labourer's horse, which does not
submit to the bridle and the whip with greater reluctance, because, at
rare intervals, he is allowed to frolic at large in his pasture, and
fling out his heels in clumsy gambols at the master who usually drives
him. But, when times changed--when doubt of the Roman Catholic doctrine,
and hatred of their priesthood, had possessed the reformed party, the
clergy discovered, too late, that no small inconvenience arose from
the established practice of games and merry-makings, in which they
themselves, and all they held most sacred, were made the subject of
ridicule. It then became obvious to duller politicians than the Romish
churchmen, that the same actions have a very different tendency when
done in the spirit of sarcastic insolence and hatred, than when
acted merely in exuberance of rude and uncontrollable spirits. They,
therefore, though of the latest, endeavoured, where they had any
remaining influence, to discourage the renewal of these indecorous
festivities. In this particular, the Catholic clergy were joined by most
of the reformed preachers, who were more shocked at the profanity and
immorality of many of these exhibitions, than disposed to profit by
the ridiculous light in which they placed the Church of Rome and her
observances. But it was long ere these scandalous and immoral sports
could be abrogated;--the rude multitude continued attached to their
favourite pastimes, and, both in England and Scotland, the mitre of the
Catholic--the rochet of the reformed bishop--and the cloak and band of
the Calvinistic divine--were, in turn, compelled to give place to those
jocular personages, the Pope of Fools, the Boy-Bishop, and the Abbot of
Unreason. [Footnote: From the interesting novel entitled Anastasius, it
seems the same burlesque ceremonies were practised in the Greek Church.
]

It was the latter personage who now, in full costume, made his approach
to the great door of the church of St. Mary's, accoutred in such a
manner as to form a caricature, or practical parody, on the costume and
attendants of the real Superior, whom he came to beard on the very day
of his installation, in the presence of his clergy, and in the chancel
of his church. The mock dignitary was a stout-made under-sized fellow,
whose thick squab form had been rendered grotesque by a supplemental
paunch, well stuffed. He wore a mitre of leather, with the front like a
grenadier's cap, adorned with mock embroidery, and trinkets of tin. This
surmounted a visage, the nose of which was the most prominent feature,
being of unusual size, and at least as richly gemmed as his head-gear.
His robe was of buckram, and his cope of canvass, curiously painted, and
cut into open work. On one shoulder was fixed the painted figure of an
owl; and he bore in the right hand his pastoral staff, and in the left a
small mirror having a handle to it, thus resembling a celebrated
jester, whose adventures, translated into English, were whilom extremely
popular, and which may still be procured in black letter, for about one
sterling pound per leaf.

The attendants of this mock dignitary had their proper dresses and
equipage, bearing the same burlesque resemblance to the officers of
the Convent which their leader did to the Superior. They followed their
leader in regular procession, and the motley characters, which had
waited his arrival, now crowded into the church in his train, shouting
as they came,--"A hall, a hall! for the venerable Father Howleglas, the
learned Monk of Misrule, and the Right Reverend Abbot of Unreason!"

The discordant minstrelsy of every kind renewed its din; the boys
shrieked and howled, and the men laughed and hallooed, and the women
giggled and screamed, and the beasts roared, and the dragon wallopped
and hissed, and the hobby-horse neighed, pranced, and capered, and the
rest frisked and frolicked, clashing their hobnailed shoes against the
pavement, till it sparkled with the marks of their energetic caprioles.

It was, in fine, a scene of ridiculous confusion, that deafened the ear,
made the eyes giddy, and must have altogether stunned any indifferent
spectator; the monks, whom personal apprehension and a consciousness
that much of the popular enjoyment arose from the ridicule being
directed against them, were, moreover, little comforted by the
reflection, that, bold in their disguise, the mummers who whooped and
capered around them, might, on slight provocation, turn their jest into
earnest, or at least proceed to those practical pleasantries, which
at all times arise so naturally out of the frolicsome and mischievous
disposition of the populace. They looked to their Abbot amid the tumult,
with such looks as landsmen cast upon the pilot when the storm is at the
highest--looks which express that they are devoid of all hope arising
from their own exertions, and not very confident in any success likely
to attend those of their Palinurus.

The Abbot himself seemed at a stand; he felt no fear, but he was
sensible of the danger of expressing his rising indignation, which he
was scarcely able to suppress. He made a gesture with his hand as if
commanding silence, which was at first only replied to by redoubled
shouts, and peals of wild laughter. When, however, the same motion,
and as nearly in the same manner, had been made by Howleglas, it was
immediately obeyed by his riotous companions, who expected fresh food
for mirth in the conversation betwixt the real and mock Abbot, having
no small confidence in the vulgar wit and impudence of their leader.
Accordingly, they began to shout, "To it, fathers--to it I"--"Fight
monk, fight madcap--Abbot against Abbot is fair play, and so is reason
against unreason, and malice against monkery!"

"Silence, my mates!" said Howleglas; "cannot two learned Fathers of
the Church hold communion together, but you must come here with your
bear-garden whoop and hollo, as if you were hounding forth a mastiff
upon a mad bull? I say silence! and let this learned Father and me
confer, touching matters affecting our mutual state and authority."

"My children"-said Father Ambrose.

"_My_ children too,--and happy children they are!" said his burlesque
counterpart; "many a wise child knows not its own father, and it is well
they have two to choose betwixt."

"If thou hast aught in thee, save scoffing and ribaldry," said the real
Abbot, "permit me, for thine own soul's sake, to speak a few words to
these misguided men."

"Aught in me but scoffing, sayest thou?" retorted the Abbot of Unreason;
"why, reverend brother, I have all that becomes mine office at this
time a-day--I have beef, ale, and brandy-wine, with other condiments not
worth mentioning; and for speaking, man--why, speak away, and we will
have turn about, like honest fellows."

During this discussion the wrath of Magdalen Graeme had risen to the
uttermost; she approached the Abbot, and placing herself by his side,
said in a low and yet distinct tone-"Wake and arouse thee, Father--the
sword of Saint Peter is in thy hand--strike and avenge Saint Peter's
patrimony!--Bind them in the chains which, being riveted by the church
on earth, are riveted in Heaven--"

"Peace, sister!" said the Abbot; "let not their madness destroy our
discretion--I pray thee, peace, and let me do mine office. It is the
first, peradventure it may be the last time, I shall be called on to
discharge it."

"Nay, my holy brother!" said Howleglas, "I rede you, take the holy
sister's advice--never throve convent without woman's counsel."

"Peace, vain man!" said the Abbot; "and you, my brethren--"

"Nay, nay!" said the Abbot of Unreason, "no speaking to the lay people,
until you have conferred with your brother of the cowl. I swear by bell,
book, and candle, that no one of my congregation shall listen to one
word you have to say; so you had as well address yourself to me who
will."

To escape a conference so ludicrous, the Abbot again attempted an appeal
to what respectful feelings might yet remain amongst the inhabitants of
the Halidome, once so devoted to their spiritual Superiors. Alas!
the Abbot of Unreason had only to nourish his mock crosier, and the
whooping, the hallooing, and the dancing, were renewed with a vehemence
which would have defied the lungs of Stentor.

"And now, my mates," said the Abbot of Unreason, "once again dight your
gabs and be hushed-let us see if the Cock of Kennaquhair will fight or
flee the pit."

There was again a dead silence of expectation, of which Father Ambrose
availed himself to address his antagonist, seeing plainly that he could
gain an audience on no other terms. "Wretched man!" said he, "hast thou
no better employment for thy carnal wit, than to employ it in leading
these blind and helpless creatures into the pit of utter darkness?"

"Truly, my brother," replied Howleglas, "I can see little difference
betwixt your employment and mine, save that you make a sermon of a jest,
and I make a jest of a sermon."

"Unhappy being," said the Abbot, "who hast no better subject of
pleasantry than that which should make thee tremble--no sounder jest
than thine own sins, and no better objects for laughter than those who
can absolve thee from the guilt of them!"

"Verily, my reverend brother," said the mock Abbot, "what you say
might be true, if, in laughing at hypocrites, I meant to laugh at
religion.--Oh, it is a precious thing to wear a long dress, with a
girdle and a cowl--we become a holy pillar of Mother Church, and a boy
must not play at ball against the walls for fear of breaking a painted
window!"

"And will you, my friends," said the Abbot, looking round and speaking
with a vehemence which secured him a tranquil audience for some
time,--"will you suffer a profane buffoon, within the very church of
God, to insult his ministers? Many of you--all of you, perhaps--have
lived under my holy predecessors, who were called upon to rule in this
church where I am called upon to suffer. If you have worldly goods, they
are their gift; and, when you scorned not to accept better gifts--the
mercy and forgiveness of the church--were they not ever at your
command?--did we not pray while you were jovial--wake while you slept?"

"Some of the good wives of the Halidome were wont to say so," said
the Abbot of Unreason; but his jest met in this instance but slight
applause, and Father Ambrose, having gained a moment's attention,
hastened to improve it.

"What!" said he; "and is this grateful--is it seemly--is it honest--to
assail with scorn a few old men, from whose predecessors you hold all,
and whose only wish is to die in peace among these fragments of what was
once the light of the land, and whose daily prayer is, that they may be
removed ere that hour comes when the last spark shall be extinguished,
and the land left in the darkness which it has chosen rather than light?
We have not turned against you the edge of the spiritual sword, to
revenge our temporal persecution; the tempest of your wrath hath
despoiled us of land, and deprived us almost of our daily food, but we
have not repaid it with the thunders of excommunication--we only pray
your leave to live and die within the church which is our own, invoking
God, our Lady, and the Holy Saints to pardon your sins, and our own,
undisturbed by scurril buffoonery and blasphemy."

This speech, so different in tone and termination from that which the
crowd had expected, produced an effect upon their feelings unfavourable
to the prosecution of their frolic. The morris-dancers stood still--the
hobby-horse surceased his capering--pipe and tabor were mute, and
"silence, like a heavy cloud," seemed to descend on the once noisy
rabble. Several of the beasts were obviously moved to compunction; the
bear could not restrain his sobs, and a huge fox was observed to wipe
his eyes with his tail. But in especial the dragon, lately so formidably
rampant, now relaxed the terror of his claws, uncoiled his tremendous
rings, and grumbled out of his fiery throat in a repentant tone, "By
the mass, I thought no harm in exercising our old pastime, but an I had
thought the good Father would have taken it so to heart, I would as soon
have played your devil, as your dragon."

In this momentary pause, the Abbot stood amongst the miscellaneous and
grotesque forms by which he was surrounded, triumphant as Saint Anthony,
in Callot's Temptations; but Howleglas would not so resign his purpose.

"And how now, my masters!" said he, "is this fair play or no? Have you
not chosen me Abbot of Unreason, and is it lawful for any of you to
listen to common sense to-day? Was I not formally elected by you in
solemn chapter, held in Luckie Martin's change-house, and will you now
desert me, and give up your old pastime and privilege? Play out the
play--and he that speaks the next word of sense or reason, or bids us
think or consider, or the like of that, which befits not the day, I will
have him solemnly ducked in the mill-dam!"

The rabble, mutable as usual, huzzaed, the pipe and tabor struck up, the
hobby-horse pranced, the beasts roared, and even the repentant dragon
began again to coil up his spires, and prepare himself for fresh
gambols. But the Abbot might still have overcome, by his eloquence and
his entreaties, the malicious designs of the revellers, had not Dame
Magdalen Graeme given loose to the indignation which she had long
suppressed.

"Scoffers," she said, "and men of Belial--Blasphemous heretics, and
truculent tyrants----"

"Your patience, my sister, I entreat and I command you!" said the Abbot;
"let me do my duty--disturb me not in mine office!"

But Dame Magdalen continued to thunder forth her threats in the name
of Popes and Councils, and in the name of every Saint, from St. Michael
downward.

"My comrades!" said the Abbot of Unreason, "this good dame hath not
spoken a single word of reason, and therein may esteem herself free from
the law. But what she spoke was meant for reason, and, therefore, unless
she confesses and avouches all which she has said to be nonsense, it
shall pass for such, so far as to incur our statutes. Wherefore, holy
dame, pilgrim, or abbess, or whatever thou art, be mute with thy mummery
or beware the mill-dam. We will have neither spiritual nor temporal
scolds in our Diocese of Unreason!"

As he spoke thus, he extended his hand towards the old woman, while his
followers shouted, "A doom--a doom!" and prepared to second his purpose,
when lo! it was suddenly frustrated. Roland Graeme had witnessed with
indignation the insults offered to his old spiritual preceptor, but yet
had wit enough to reflect he could render him no assistance, but might
well, by ineffective interference, make matters worse. But when he saw
his aged relative in danger of personal violence, he gave way to the
natural impetuosity of his temper, and, stepping forward, struck his
poniard into the body of the Abbot of Unreason, whom the blow instantly
prostrated on the pavement.



Chapter the Fifteenth.


  As when in tumults rise the ignoble crowd,
  Mad are their motions, and their tongues are loud,
  And stones and brands in rattling furies fly,
  And all the rustic arms which fury can supply--
  Then if some grave and pious man appear,
  They hush their noise, and lend a listening ear.
                                  DRYDEN'S VIRGIL

A dreadful shout of vengeance was raised by the revellers, whose sport
was thus so fearfully interrupted; but for an instant, the want of
weapons amongst the multitude, as well as the inflamed features and
brandished poniard of Roland Graeme, kept them at bay, while the Abbot,
horror-struck at the violence, implored, with uplifted hands, pardon
for blood-shed committed within the sanctuary. Magdalen Graeme alone
expressed triumph in the blow her descendant had dealt to the scoffer,
mixed, however, with a wild and anxious expression of terror for her
grandson's safety. "Let him perish," she said, "in his blasphemy--let
him die on the holy pavement which he has insulted!"

But the rage of the multitude, the grief of the Abbot, the exultation of
the enthusiastic Magdalen, were all mistimed and unnecessary. Howleglas,
mortally wounded as he was supposed to be, sprung alertly up from the
floor, calling aloud, "A miracle, a miracle, my masters! as brave a
miracle as ever was wrought in the kirk of Kennaquhair. And I charge
you, my masters, as your lawfully chosen Abbot, that you touch no one
without my command--You, wolf and bear, will guard this pragmatic youth,
but without hurting him--And you, reverend brother, will, with your
comrades, withdraw to your cells; for our conference has ended like all
conferences, leaving each of his own mind, as before; and if we
fight, both you, and your brethren, and the Kirk, will have the worst
on't--Wherefore, pack up you pipes and begone."

The hubbub was beginning again to awaken, but still Father Ambrose
hesitated, as uncertain to what path his duty called him, whether to
face out the present storm, or to reserve himself for a better moment.
His brother of Unreason observed his difficulty, and said, in a tone
more natural and less affected than that with which he had hitherto
sustained his character, "We came hither, my good sir, more in mirth
than in mischief--our bark is worse than our bite--and, especially, we
mean you no personal harm--wherefore, draw off while the play is good;
for it is ill whistling for a hawk when she is once on the soar, and
worse to snatch the quarry from the ban-dog--Let these fellows once
begin their brawl, and it will be too much for madness itself, let alone
the Abbot of Unreason, to bring them back to the lure."

The brethren crowded around Father Ambrosius, and joined in urging
him to give place to the torrent. The present revel was, they said,
an ancient custom which his predecessors had permitted, and old
Father Nicholas himself had played the dragon in the days of the Abbot
Ingelram.

"And we now reap the fruit of the seed which they have so unadvisedly
sown," said Ambrosius; "they taught men to make a mock of what is
holy, what wonder that the descendants of scoffers become robbers
and plunderers? But be it as you list, my brethren--move towards the
dortour--And you, dame, I command you, by the authority which I have
over you, and by your respect for that youth's safety, that you go with
us without farther speech--Yet, stay--what are your intentions towards
that youth whom you detain prisoner?--Wot ye," he continued, addressing
Howleglas in a stern tone of voice, "that he bears the livery of the
House of Avenel? They who fear not the anger of Heaven, may at least
dread the wrath of man."

"Cumber not yourself concerning him," answered Howleglas, "we know right
well who and what he is."

"Let me pray," said the Abbot, in a tone of entreaty, "that you do him
no wrong for the rash deed--which he attempted in his imprudent zeal."

"I say, cumber not yourself about it, father," answered Howleglas, "but
move off with your train, male and female, or I will not undertake to
save yonder she-saint from the ducking-stool--And as for bearing of
malice, my stomach has no room for it; it is," he added, clapping
his hand on his portly belly, "too well bumbasted out with straw and
buckram--gramercy to them both--they kept out that madcap's dagger as
well as a Milan corslet could have done."

In fact, the home-driven poniard of Roland Graeme had lighted upon the
stuffing of the fictitious paunch, which the Abbot of Unreason wore as a
part of his characteristic dress, and it was only the force of the blow
which had prostrated that reverend person on the ground for a moment.

Satisfied in some degree by this man's assurances, and compelled--to
give way to superior force, the Abbot Ambrosius retired from the Church
at the head of the monks, and left the court free for the revellers
to work their will. But, wild and wilful as these rioters were, they
accompanied the retreat of the religionists with none of those shouts
of contempt and derision with which they had at first hailed them. The
Abbot's discourse had affected some of them with remorse, others with
shame, and all with a transient degree of respect. They remained
silent until the last monk had disappeared through the side-door which
communicated with their dwelling-place, and even then it cost
some exhortations on the part of Howleglas, some caprioles of the
hobby-horse, and some wallops of the dragon, to rouse once more the
rebuked spirit of revelry.

"And how now, my masters?" said the Abbot of Unreason; "and wherefore
look on me with such blank Jack-a-Lent visages? Will you lose your old
pastime for an old wife's tale of saints and purgatory? Why, I thought
you would have made all split long since--Come, strike up, tabor and
harp, strike up, fiddle and rebeck--dance and be merry to-day, and
let care come to-morrow. Bear and wolf, look to your prisoner--prance,
hobby--hiss, dragon, and halloo, boys--we grow older every moment we
stand idle, and life is too short to be spent in playing mumchance."

This pithy exhortation was attended with the effect desired. They
fumigated the Church with burnt wool and feathers instead of incense,
put foul water into the holy-water basins, and celebrated a parody on
the Church-service, the mock Abbot officiating at the altar; they sung
ludicrous and indecent parodies, to the tunes of church hymns; they
violated whatever vestments or vessels belonging to the Abbey they could
lay their hands upon; and, playing every freak which the whim of the
moment could suggest to their wild caprice, at length they fell to
more lasting deeds of demolition, pulled down and destroyed some carved
wood-work, dashed out the painted windows which had escaped former
violence, and in their rigorous search after sculpture dedicated to
idolatry, began to destroy what ornaments yet remained entire upon the
tombs, and around the cornices of the pillars.

The spirit of demolition, like other tastes, increases by indulgence;
from these lighter attempts at mischief, the more tumultuous part of the
meeting began to meditate destruction on a more extended scale--"Let
us heave it down altogether, the old crow's nest," became a general cry
among them; "it has served the Pope and his rooks too long;" and up
they struck a ballad which was then popular among the lower classes.
[Footnote: These rude rhymes are taken, with some trifling alterations,
from a ballad called Trim-go-trix. It occurs in a singular collection,
entitled; "A Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs, collected
out of sundrie parts of the Scripture, with sundry of other ballatis
changed out of prophane sanges for avoyding of sin and harlotrie, with
Augmentation of sundrie Gude and Godly Ballates. Edinburgh, printed by
Andro Hart." This curious collection has been reprinted in Mr. John.
Grahame Dalyell's Scottish Poems of the 16th century Edin. 1801, 2
vols.]

  "The Paip, that pagan full of pride,
  Hath blinded us ower lang.
  For where the blind the blind doth lead,
  No marvel baith gae wrang.
  Like prince and king,
  He led the ring
  Of all iniquity.
  Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
  Under the greenwood tree.

  "The Bishop rich, he could not preach
  For sporting with the lasses;
  The silly friar behoved to fleech
  For awmous as he passes:
  The curate his creed
  He could not read,--
  Shame fa' company!
  Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
  Under the greenwood tree."

Thundering out this chorus of a notable hunting song, which had been
pressed into the service of some polemical poet, the followers of the
Abbot of Unreason were turning every moment more tumultuous, and getting
beyond the management even of that reverend prelate himself, when a
knight in full armour, followed by two or three men-at-arms, entered
the church, and in a stern voice commanded them to forbear their riotous
mummery.

His visor was up, but if it had been lowered, the cognizance of the
holly-branch sufficiently distinguished Sir Halbert Glendinning, who, on
his homeward road, was passing through the village of Kennaquhair; and
moved, perhaps, by anxiety for his brother's safety, had come directly
to the church on hearing of the uproar.

"What is the meaning of this," he said, "my masters? are ye Christian
men, and the king's subjects, and yet waste and destroy church and
chancel like so many heathens?"

All stood silent, though doubtless there were several disappointed
and surprised at receiving chiding instead of thanks from so zealous a
protestant.

The dragon, indeed, did at length take upon him to be spokesman, and
growled from the depth of his painted maw, that they did but sweep
Popery out of the church with the besom of destruction.

"What! my friends," replied Sir Halbert Glendinning, "think you this
mumming and masking has not more of Popery in it than have these stone
walls? Take the leprosy out of your flesh, before you speak of purifying
stone walls--abate your insolent license, which leads but to idle vanity
and sinful excess; and know, that what you now practise, is one of
the profane and unseemly sports introduced by the priests of Rome
themselves, to mislead and to brutify the souls which fell into their
net."

"Marry come up--are you there with your bears?" muttered the dragon,
with a draconic sullenness, which was in good keeping with his
character, "we had as good have been Romans still, if we are to have no
freedom in our pastimes!"

"Dost thou reply to me so?" said Halbert Glendinning; "or is there
any pastime in grovelling on the ground there like a gigantic
kail-worm?--Get out of thy painted case, or, by my knighthood, I will
treat you like the beast and reptile you have made yourself."

"Beast and reptile?" retorted the offended dragon, "setting aside your
knighthood, I hold myself as well a born man as thyself."

The Knight made no answer in words, but bestowed two such blows with the
butt of his lance on the petulant dragon, that had not the hoops which
constituted the ribs of the machine been pretty strong, they would
hardly have saved those of the actor from being broken. In all haste the
masker crept out of his disguise, unwilling to abide a third buffet from
the lance of the enraged Knight. And when the ex-dragon stood on the
floor of the church, he presented to Halbert Glendinning the well-known
countenance of Dan of the Howlet-hirst, an ancient comrade of his own,
ere fate had raised him so high above the rank to which he was born.
The clown looked sulkily upon the Knight, as if to upbraid him for his
violence towards an old acquaintance, and Glendinning's own good-nature
reproached him for the violence he had acted upon him.

"I did wrong to strike thee," he said, "Dan; but in truth, I knew thee
not--thou wert ever a mad fellow--come to Avenel Castle, and we shall
see how my hawks fly."

"And if we show him not falcons that will mount as merrily as rockets,"
said the Abbot of Unreason, "I would your honour laid as hard on my
bones as you did on his even now."

"How now, Sir Knave," said the Knight, "and what has brought you
hither?"

The Abbot, hastily ridding himself of the false nose which mystified
his physiognomy, and the supplementary belly which made up his disguise,
stood before his master in his real character, of Adam Woodcock, the
falconer of Avenel.

"How, varlet!" said the Knight; "hast thou dared to come here and
disturb the very house my brother was dwelling in?"

"And it was even for that reason, craving your honour's pardon, that I
came hither--for I heard the country was to be up to choose an Abbot of
Unreason, and sure, thought I, I that can sing, dance, leap backwards
over a broadsword, and am as good a fool as ever sought promotion, have
all chance of carrying the office; and if I gain my election, I may
stand his honour's brother in some stead, supposing things fall roughly
out at the Kirk of Saint Mary's."

"Thou art but a cogging knave," said Sir Halbert, "and well I wot, that
love of ale and brandy, besides the humour of riot and frolic, would
draw thee a mile, when love of my house would not bring thee a yard.
But, go to--carry thy roisterers elsewhere--to the alehouse if they
list, and there are crowns to pay your charges--make out the day's
madness without doing more mischief, and be wise men to-morrow--and
hereafter learn to serve a good cause better than by acting like
buffoons or ruffians."

Obedient to his master's mandate, the falconer was collecting
his discouraged followers, and whispering into their ears--"Away,
away--_tace_ is Latin for a candle--never mind the good Knight's
puritanism--we will play the frolic out over a stand of double ale in
Dame Martin the Brewster's barn-yard--draw off, harp and tabor--bagpipe
and drum--mum till you are out of the church-yard, then let the welkin
ring again--move on, wolf and bear--keep the hind legs till you cross
the kirk-stile, and then show yourselves beasts of mettle--what devil
sent him here to spoil our holiday!--but anger him not, my hearts; his
lance is no goose-feather, as Dan's ribs can tell."

"By my soul," said Dan, "had it been another than my ancient comrade, I
would have made my father's old fox [Footnote: _Fox_, An old-fashioned
broadsword was often so called.] fly about his ears!"

"Hush! hush! man," replied Adam Woodcock, "not a word that way, as you
value the safety of your bones--what man? we must take a clink as it
passes, so it is not bestowed in downright ill-will."

"But I will take no such thing," said Dan of the Howlet-hirst, suddenly
resisting the efforts of Woodcock, who was dragging him out of the
church; when the quick military eye of Sir Halbert Glendinning detecting
Roland Graeme betwixt his two guards, the Knight exclaimed, "So ho!
falconer,--Woodcock,--knave, hast thou brought my Lady's page in mine
own livery, to assist at this hopeful revel of thine, with your wolves
and bears? Since you were at such mummings, you might, if you would,
have at least saved the credit of my household, by dressing him up as a
jackanapes--bring him hither, fellows!"

Adam Woodcock was too honest and downright, to permit blame to light
upon the youth, when it was undeserved. "I swear," he said, "by Saint
Martin of Bullions--" [Footnote: The Saint Swithin, or weeping Saint of
Scotland. If his festival (fourth July) prove wet, forty days of rain
are expected.]

"And what hast thou to do with Saint Martin?"

"Nay, little enough, sir, unless when he sends such rainy days that we
cannot fly a hawk--but I say to your worshipful knighthood, that as I
am, a true man----"

"As you are a false varlet, had been the better obtestation."

"Nay, if your knighthood allows me not to speak," said Adam, "I can hold
my tongue--but the boy came not hither by my bidding, for all that."

"But to gratify his own malapert pleasure, I warrant me," said Sir
Halbert Glendinning--"Come hither, young springald, and tell me whether
you have your mistress's license to be so far absent from the castle, or
to dishonour my livery by mingling in such a May-game?"

"Sir Halbert Glendinning," answered Roland Graeme with steadiness, "I
have obtained the permission, or rather the commands, of your lady, to
dispose of my time hereafter according to my own pleasure. I have been a
most unwilling spectator of this May-game, since it is your pleasure so
to call it; and I only wear your livery until I can obtain clothes which
bear no such badge of servitude."

"How am I to understand this, young man?" said Sir Halbert Glendinning;
"speak plainly, for I am no reader of riddles.--That my lady favoured
thee, I know. What hast thou done to disoblige her, and occasion thy
dismissal?"

"Nothing to speak of," said Adam Woodcock, answering for the boy--"a
foolish quarrel with me, which was more foolishly told over again to
my honoured lady, cost the poor boy his place. For my part, I will say
freely, that I was wrong from beginning to end, except about the washing
of the eyas's meat. There I stand to it that I was right."

With that, the good-natured falconer repeated to his master the whole
history of the squabble which had brought Roland Graeme into disgrace
with his mistress, but in a manner so favourable for the page, that Sir
Halbert could not but suspect his generous motive.

"Thou art a good-natured fellow," he said, "Adam Woodcock."

"As ever had falcon upon fist," said Adam; "and, for that matter, so is
Master Roland; but, being half a gentleman by his office, his blood is
soon up, and so is mine."

"Well," said Sir Halbert, "be it as it will, my lady has acted hastily,
for this was no great matter of offence to discard the lad whom she
had trained up for years; but he, I doubt not, made it worse by his
prating--it jumps well with a purpose, however, which I had in my mind.
Draw off these people, Woodcock,--and you, Roland Graeme, attend me."

The page followed him in silence into the Abbot's house, where, stepping
into the first apartment which he found open, he commanded one of his
attendants to let his brother, Master Edward Glendinning, know that he
desired to speak with him. The men-at-arms went gladly off to join their
comrade, Adam Woodcock, and the jolly crew whom he had assembled at Dame
Martin's, the hostler's wife, and the Page and Knight were left alone in
the apartment. Sir Halbert Glendinning paced the floor for a moment in
silence and then thus addressed his attendant--

"Thou mayest have remarked, stripling, that I have but seldom
distinguished thee by much notice;--I see thy colour rises, but do not
speak till thou nearest me out. I say I have never much distinguished
thee, not because I did not see that in thee which I might well have
praised, but because I saw something blameable, which such praises might
have made worse. Thy mistress, dealing according to her pleasure in her
own household, as no one had better reason or title, had picked thee
from the rest, and treated thee more like a relation than a domestic;
and if thou didst show some vanity and petulance under such distinction,
it were injustice not to say that thou hast profited both in thy
exercises and in thy breeding, and hast shown many sparkles of a gentle
and manly spirit. Moreover, it were ungenerous, having bred thee up
freakish and fiery, to dismiss thee to want or wandering, for showing
that very peevishness and impatience of discipline which arose from thy
too delicate nurture. Therefore, and for the credit of my own household,
I am determined to retain thee in my train, until I can honourably
dispose of thee elsewhere, with a fair prospect of thy going through the
world with credit to the house that brought thee up."

If there was something in Sir Halbert Glendinning's speech which
flattered Roland's pride, there was also much that, according to his
mode of thinking, was an alloy to the compliment. And yet his conscience
instantly told him that he ought to accept, with grateful deference, the
offer which was made him by the husband of his kind protectress; and his
prudence, however slender, could not but admit he should enter the world
under very different auspices as a retainer of Sir Halbert Glendinning,
so famed for wisdom, courage, and influence, from those under which
he might partake the wanderings, and become an agent in the visionary
schemes, for such they appeared to him, of Magdalen, his relative.
Still, a strong reluctance to re-enter a service from which he had been
dismissed with contempt, almost counterbalanced these considerations.

Sir Halbert looked on the youth with surprise, and resumed--"You seem to
hesitate, young man. Are your own prospects so inviting, that you should
pause ere you accept those which I should offer to you? or, must I
remind you that, although you have offended your benefactress, even to
the point of her dismissing you, yet I am convinced, the knowledge that
you have gone unguided on your own wild way, into a world so disturbed
as ours of Scotland, cannot, in the upshot, but give her sorrow and
pain; from which it is, in gratitude, your duty to preserve her, no less
than it is in common wisdom your duty to accept my offered protection,
for your own sake, where body and soul are alike endangered, should you
refuse it."

Roland Graeme replied in a respectful tone, but at the same time with
some spirit, "I am not ungrateful for such countenance as has been
afforded me by the Lord of Avenel, and I am glad to learn, for the
first time, that I have not had the misfortune to be utterly beneath his
observation, as I had thought--And it is only needful to show me how
I can testify my duty and my gratitude towards my early and constant
benefactress with my life's hazard, and I will gladly peril it." He
stopped.

"These are but words, young man," answered Glendinning, "large
protestations are often used to supply the place of effectual service.
I know nothing in which the peril of your life can serve the Lady of
Avenel; I can only say, she will be pleased to learn you have adopted
some course which may ensure the safety of your person, and the weal
of your soul--What ails you, that you accept not that safety when it is
offered you?"

"My only relative who is alive," answered Roland, "at least the only
relative whom I have ever seen, has rejoined me since I was dismissed
from the Castle of Avenel, and I must consult with her whether I can
adopt the line to which you now call me, or whether her increasing
infirmities, or the authority which she is entitled to exercise over me,
may not require me to abide with her."

"Where is this relation?" said Sir Halbert Glendinning.

"In this house," answered the page.

"Go then, and seek her out," said the Knight of Avenel; "more than meet
it is that thou shouldst have her approbation, yet worse than foolish
would she show herself in denying it."

Roland left the apartment to seek for his grandmother; and, as he
retreated, the Abbot entered.

The two brothers met as brothers who loved each other fondly, yet
meet rarely together. Such indeed was the case. Their mutual affection
attached them to each other; but in every pursuit, habit or sentiment,
connected with the discords of the times, the friend and counsellor of
Murray stood opposed to the Roman Catholic priest; nor, indeed, could
they have held very much society together, without giving cause of
offence and suspicion to their confederates on each side. After a close
embrace on the part of both, and a welcome on that of the Abbot, Sir
Halbert Glendinning expressed his satisfaction that he had come in time
to appease the riot raised by Howleglas and his tumultuous followers.

"And yet," he said, "when I look on your garments, brother Edward, I
cannot help thinking there still remains an Abbot of Unreason within the
bounds of the Monastery."

"And wherefore carp at my garments, brother Halbert?" said the Abbot;
"it is the spiritual armour of my calling, and, as such, beseems me as
well as breastplate and baldric becomes your own bosom."

"Ay, but there were small wisdom, methinks, in putting on armour where
we have no power to fight; it is but a dangerous temerity to defy the
foe whom we cannot resist."

"For that, my brother, no one can answer," said the Abbot, "until the
battle be fought; and, were it even as you say, methinks a brave man,
though desperate of victory, would rather desire to fight and fall, than
to resign sword and shield on some mean and dishonourable composition
with his insulting antagonist. But, let not you and I make discord of
a theme on which we cannot agree, but rather stay and partake, though a
heretic, of my admission feast. You need not fear, my brother, that your
zeal for restoring the primitive discipline of the church will, on this
occasion, be offended with the rich profusion of a conventual banquet.
The days of our old friend Abbot Boniface are over; and the Superior of
Saint Mary's has neither forests nor fishings, woods nor pastures, nor
corn-fields;--neither flocks nor herds, bucks nor wild-fowl--granaries
of wheat, nor storehouses of oil and wine, of ale and of mead. The
refectioner's office is ended; and such a meal as a hermit in romance
can offer to a wandering knight, is all we have to set before you. But,
if you will share it with us, we shall eat it with a cheerful heart,
and thank you, my brother, for your timely protection against these rude
scoffers."

"My dearest brother," said the Knight, "it grieves me deeply I cannot
abide with you; but it would sound ill for us both were one of the
reformed congregation to sit down at your admission feast; and, if I
can ever have the satisfaction of affording you effectual protection,
it will be much owing to my remaining unsuspected of countenancing or
approving your religious rites and ceremonies. It will demand whatever
consideration I can acquire among my own friends, to shelter the bold
man, who, contrary to law and the edicts of parliament, has dared to
take up the office of Abbot of Saint Mary's."

"Trouble not yourself with the task, my brother," replied Father
Ambrosius. "I would lay down my dearest blood to know that you defended
the church for the church's sake; but, while you remain unhappily her
enemy, I would not that you endangered your own safety, or diminished
your own comforts, for the sake of my individual protection.--But who
comes hither to disturb the few minutes of fraternal communication which
our evil fate allows us?"

The door of the apartment opened as the Abbot spoke, and Dame Magdalen
entered.

"Who is this woman?" said Sir Halbert Glendinning, somewhat sternly,
"and what does she want?"

"That you know me not," said the matron, "signifies little; I come
by your own order, to give my free consent that the stripling, Roland
Graeme, return to your service; and, having said so, I cumber you no
longer with my presence. Peace be with you!" She turned to go away, but
was stopped by inquiries of Sir Halbert Glendinning.

"Who are you?--what are you?--and why do you not await to make me
answer?"

"I was," she replied, "while yet I belonged to the world, a matron of no
vulgar name; now I am Magdalen, a poor pilgrimer, for the sake of Holy
Kirk."

"Yea," said Sir Halbert, "art thou a Catholic? I thought my dame said
that Roland Graeme came of reformed kin.'

"His father," said the matron, "was a heretic, or rather one who
regarded neither orthodoxy or heresy--neither the temple of the church
or of antichrist. I, too, for the sins of the times make sinners, have
seemed to conform to your unhallowed rites--but I had my dispensation
and my absolution."

"You see, brother," said Sir Halbert, with a smile of meaning towards
his brother, "that we accuse you not altogether without grounds of
mental equivocation."

"My brother, you do us injustice," replied the Abbot; "this woman,
as her bearing may of itself warrant you, is not in her perfect mind.
Thanks, I must needs say, to the persecution of your marauding barons,
and of your latitudinarian clergy."

"I will not dispute the point," said Sir Halbert; "the evils of the time
are unhappily so numerous, that both churches may divide them, and have
enow to spare." So saying, he leaned from the window of the apartment,
and winded his bugle.

"Why do you sound your horn, my brother?" said the Abbot; "we have spent
but few minutes together."

"Alas!" said the elder brother, "and even these few have been sullied
by disagreement. I sound to horse, my brother--the rather that, to avert
the consequences of this day's rashness on your part, requires hasty
efforts on mine.--Dame, you will oblige me by letting your young
relative know that we mount instantly. I intend not that he shall return
to Avenel with me--it would lead to new quarrels betwixt him and my
household; at least to taunts which his proud heart could ill brook,
and my wish is to do him kindness. He shall, therefore, go forward to
Edinburgh with one of my retinue, whom I shall send back to say what
has chanced here.--You seem rejoiced at this?" he added, fixing his eyes
keenly on Magdalen Graeme, who returned his gaze with calm indifference.

"I would rather," she said, "that Roland, a poor and friendless orphan,
were the jest of the world at large, than of the menials at Avenel."

"Fear not, dame--he shall be scorned by neither," answered the Knight.

"It may be," she replied--"it may well be--but I will trust more to his
own bearing than to your countenance." She left the room as she spoke.

The Knight looked after her as she departed, but turned instantly to his
brother, and expressing, in the most affectionate terms, his wishes for
his welfare and happiness, craved his leave to depart. "My knaves," he
said, "are too busy at the ale-stand, to leave their revelry for the
empty breath of a bugle-horn."

"You have freed them from higher restraint, Halbert," answered the
Abbot, "and therein taught them to rebel against your own."

"Fear not that, Edward," exclaimed Halbert, who never gave his brother
his monastic name of Ambrosius; "none obey the command of real duty so
well as those who are free from the observance of slavish bondage."

He was turning to depart, when the Abbot said,--"Let us not yet part, my
brother--here comes some light refreshment. Leave not the house which I
must now call mine, till force expel me from it, until you have at least
broken bread with me."

The poor lay brother, the same who acted as porter, now entered the
apartment, bearing some simple refreshment, and a flask of wine. "He had
found it," he said with officious humility, "by rummaging through every
nook of the cellar."

The Knight filled a small silver cup, and, quaffing it off, asked his
brother to pledge him, observing, the wine was Bacharac, of the first
vintage, and great age.

"Ay," said the poor lay brother, "it came out of the nook which old
brother Nicholas, (may his soul be happy!) was wont to call Abbot
Ingelram's corner; and Abbot Ingelram was bred at the Convent of
Wurtzburg, which I understand to be near where that choice wine grows."

"True, my reverend sir," said Sir Halbert; "and therefore I entreat my
brother and you to pledge me in a cup of this orthodox vintage."

The thin old porter looked with a wishful glance towards the Abbot. "_Do
veniam_," said his Superior; and the old man seized, with a trembling
hand, a beverage to which he had been long unaccustomed; drained the cup
with protracted delight, as if dwelling on the flavour and perfume, and
set it down with a melancholy smile and shake of the head, as if bidding
adieu in future to such delicious potations. The brothers smiled. But
when Sir Halbert motioned to the Abbot to take up his cup and do him
reason, the Abbot, in turn, shook his head, and replied--"This is no
day for the Abbot of Saint Mary's to eat the fat and drink the sweat.
In water from our Lady's well," he added, filling a cup with the limpid
element, "I wish you, brother, all happiness, and above all, a true
sight of your spiritual errors."

"And to you, my beloved Edward," replied Glendinning, "I wish the free
exercise of your own free reason, and the discharge of more important
duties than are connected with the idle name which you have so rashly
assumed."

The brothers parted with deep regret; and yet, each confident in his
opinion, felt somewhat relieved by the absence of one whom he respected
so much, and with whom he could agree so little.

Soon afterwards the sound of the Knight of Avenel's trumpets was heard,
and the Abbot went to the top of the tower, from whose dismantled
battlements he could soon see the horsemen ascending the rising ground
in the direction of the drawbridge. As he gazed, Magdalen Graeme came to
his side.

"Thou art come," he said, "to catch the last glimpse of thy grandson,
my sister. Yonder he wends, under the charge of the best knight in
Scotland, his faith ever excepted."

"Thou canst bear witness, my father, that it was no wish either of
mine or of Roland's," replied the matron, "which induced the Knight
of Avenel, as he is called, again to entertain my grandson in his
household--Heaven, which confounds the wise with their own wisdom,
and the wicked with their own policy, hath placed him where, for the
services of the Church, I would most wish him to be."

"I know not what you mean, my sister," said the Abbot.

"Reverend father," replied Magdalen, "hast thou never heard that there
are spirits powerful to rend the walls of a castle asunder when once
admitted, which yet cannot enter the house unless they are invited, nay,
dragged over the threshold?

[Footnote: There is a popular belief respecting evil spirits, that they
cannot enter an inhabited house unless invited, nay, dragged over the
threshold. There is an instance of the same superstition in the Tales of
the Genii, where an enchanter is supposed to have intruded himself into
the Divan of the Sultan.

"'Thus,' said the illustrious Misnar, 'let the enemies of Mahomet be
dismayed! but inform me, O ye sages! under the semblance of which of
your brethren did that foul enchanter gain admittance here?'--'May the
lord of my heart,' answered Balihu, the hermit of the faithful from
Queda, 'triumph over all his foes! As I travelled on the mountains from
Queda, and saw neither the footsteps of beasts, nor the flight of birds,
behold, I chanced to pass through a cavern, in whose hollow sides I
found this accursed sage, to whom I unfolded the invitation of the
Sultan of India, and we, joining, journeyed towards the Divan; but ere
we entered, he said unto me. 'Put thy hand forth, and pull me towards
thee into the Divan, calling on the name of Mahomet, for the evil
spirits are on me and vex me.'"

I have understood that many parts of these fine tales, and in particular
that of the Sultan Misnar, were taken from genuine Oriental sources by
the editor, Mr. James Ridley.

But the most picturesque use of this popular belief occurs in
Coleridge's beautiful and tantalizing fragment of Christabel. Has not
our own imaginative poet cause to fear that future ages will desire to
summon him from his place of rest, as Milton longed

  "To call him up, who left half told
   The story of Cambuscan bold?"

The verses I refer to are when Christabel conducts into her father's
castle a mysterious and malevolent being, under the guise of a
distressed female stranger.


  'They cross'd the moat, and Christabel
  Took the key that fitted well;
  A little door she open'd straight,
  All in the middle of the gate;
  The gate that was iron'd within and without,
  Where an army in battle array had march'd out.

  "The lady sank, belike through pain,
  And Christabel with might and main
  Lifted her up, a weary weight,
  Over the threshold of the gate:
  Then the lady rose again,
  And moved as she were not in pain.

  "So free from danger, free from fear,
  They cross'd the court;--right glad they were,
  And Christabel devoutly cried
  To the lady by her side:
  'Praise we the Virgin, all divine,
    Who hath rescued thee from this distress.'
  'Alas, alas!' said Geraldine,
  'I cannot speak from weariness.'
  So free from danger, free from fear,
  They cross'd the court: right glad they were
]

Twice hath Roland Graeme been thus drawn into the household of Avenel by
those who now hold the title. Let them look to the issue."

So saying she left the turret; and the Abbot, after pausing a moment on
her words, which he imputed to the unsettled state of her mind, followed
down the winding stair to celebrate his admission to his high office by
fast and prayer instead of revelling and thanksgiving.



Chapter the Sixteenth.


  Youth! thou wear'st to manhood now,
  Darker lip and darker brow,
  Statelier step, more pensive mien,
  In thy face and gate are seen:
  Thou must now brook midnight watches,
  Take thy food and sport by snatches;
  For the gambol and the jest,
  Thou wert wont to love the best,
  Graver follies must thou follow,
  But as senseless, false, and hollow.
                        LIFE, A POEM.

Young Roland Graeme now trotted gaily forward in the train of
Sir Halbert Glendinning. He was relieved from his most galling
apprehension,--the encounter of the scorn and taunt which might possibly
hail his immediate return to the Castle of Avenel. "There will be a
change ere they see me again," he thought to himself; "I shall wear the
coat of plate, instead of the green jerkin, and the steel morion for the
bonnet and feather. They will be bold that may venture to break a gibe
on the man-at-arms for the follies of the page; and I trust, that ere we
return I shall have done something more worthy of note than hallooing
a hound after a deer, or scrambling a crag for a kite's nest." He
could not, indeed, help marvelling that his grandmother, with all her
religious prejudices, leaning, it would seem, to the other side, had
consented so readily to his re-entering the service of the House of
Avenel; and yet more, at the mysterious joy with which she took leave of
him at the Abbey.

"Heaven," said the dame, as she kissed her young relation, and bade him
farewell, "works its own work, even by the hands of those of our enemies
who think themselves the strongest and the wisest. Thou, my child, be
ready to act upon the call of thy religion and country; and remember,
each earthly bond which thou canst form is, compared to the ties which
bind thee to them, like the loose flax to the twisted cable. Thou hast
not forgot the face or form of the damsel Catherine Seyton?"

Roland would have replied in the negative, but the word seemed to stick
in his throat and Magdalen continued her exhortations.

"Thou must not forget her, my son; and here I intrust thee with a token,
which I trust thou wilt speedily find an opportunity of delivering with
care and secrecy into her own hand."

She put here into Roland's hand a very small packet, of which she again
enjoined him to take the strictest care, and to suffer it to be seen
by no one save Catherine Seyton, who, she again (very unnecessarily)
reminded him, was the young lady he had met on the preceding day. She
then bestowed on him her solemn benediction, and bade God speed him.

There was something in her manner and her conduct which implied mystery;
but Roland Graeme was not of an age or temper to waste much time
in endeavoring to decipher her meaning. All that was obvious to his
perception in the present journey, promised pleasure and novelty. He
rejoiced that he was travelling towards Edinburgh, in order to assume
the character of a man, and lay aside that of a boy. He was delighted to
think that he would have an opportunity of rejoining Catherine
Seyton, whose bright eyes and lively manners had made so favourable an
impression on his imagination; and, as an experienced, yet high-spirited
youth, entering for the first time upon active life, his heart bounded
at the thought, that he was about to see all those scenes of courtly
splendour and warlike adventures, of which the followers of Sir Halbert
used to boast on their occasional visits to Avenel, to the wonderment
and envy of those who, like Roland, knew courts and camps only by
hearsay, and were condemned to the solitary sports and almost monastic
seclusion of Avenel, surrounded by its lonely lake, and embossed
among its pathless mountains. "They shall mention my name," he said
to himself, "if the risk of my life can purchase me opportunities of
distinction, and Catherine Seyton's saucy eye shall rest with more
respect on the distinguished soldier, than that with which she laughed
to scorn the raw and inexperienced page."--There was wanting but
one accessary to complete the sense of rapturous excitation, and he
possessed it by being once more mounted on the back of a fiery and
active horse, instead of plodding along on foot, as had been the case
during the preceding days.

Impelled by the liveliness of his own spirits, which so many
circumstances tended naturally to exalt, Roland Graeme's voice and his
laughter were soon distinguished amid the trampling of the horses of the
retinue, and more than once attracted the attention of the leader, who
remarked with satisfaction, that the youth replied with good-humoured
raillery to such of the train as jested with him on his dismissal and
return to the service of the House of Avenel.

"I thought the holly-branch in your bonnet had been blighted, Master
Roland?" said one of the men-at-arms.

"Only pinched with half an hour's frost; you see it flourishes as green
as ever."

"It is too grave a plant to flourish on so hot a soil as that headpiece
of thine, Master Roland Graeme," retorted the other, who was an old
equerry of Sir Halbert Glendinning.

"If it will not flourish alone," said Roland, "I will mix it with the
laurel and the myrtle--and I will carry them so near the sky, that it
shall make amends for their stinted growth."

Thus speaking, he dashed his spurs into his horse's sides, and, checking
him at the same time, compelled him to execute a lofty caracole. Sir
Halbert Glendinning looked at the demeanour of his new attendant with
that sort of melancholy pleasure with which those who have long followed
the pursuits of life, and are sensible of their vanity, regard the gay,
young, and buoyant spirits to whom existence, as yet, is only hope and
promise.

In the meanwhile, Adam Woodcock, the falconer, stripped of his masquing
habit, and attired, according to his rank and calling, in a green
jerkin, with a hawking-bag on the one side, and a short hanger on the
other, a glove on his left hand which reached half way up his arm, and
a bonnet and feather upon his head, came after the party as fast as
his active little galloway-nag could trot, and immediately entered into
parley with Roland Graeme.

"So, my youngster, you are once more under shadow of the holly-branch?"

"And in case to repay you, my good friend," answered Roland, "your ten
groats of silver."

"Which, but an hour since," said the falconer, "you had nearly paid me
with ten inches of steel. On my faith, it is written in the book of our
destiny, that I must brook your dagger after all."

"Nay, speak not of that, my good friend," said the youth, "I would
rather have broached my own bosom than yours; but who could have known
you in the mumming dress you wore?"

"Yes," the falconer resumed,--for both as a poet and actor he had
his own professional share of self-conceit,--"I think I was as good a
Howleglas as ever played part at a Shrovetide revelry, and not a much
worse Abbot of Unreason. I defy the Old Enemy to unmask me when I choose
to keep my vizard on. What the devil brought the Knight on us before we
had the game out? You would have heard me hollo my own new ballad with a
voice should have reached to Berwick. But I pray you, Master Roland, be
less free of cold steel on slight occasions; since, but for the stuffing
of my reverend doublet, I had only left the kirk to take my place in the
kirkyard."

"Nay, spare me that feud," said Roland Graeme, "we shall have no time to
fight it out; for, by our lord's command, I am bound for Edinburgh."

"I know it," said Adam Woodcock, "and even therefore we shall have time
to solder up this rent by the way, for Sir Halbert has appointed me your
companion and guide."

"Ay? and with what purpose?" said the page.

"That," said the falconer, "is a question I cannot answer; but I know,
that be the food of the eyases washed or unwashed, and, indeed, whatever
becomes of perch and mew, I am to go with you to Edinburgh, and see you
safely delivered to the Regent at Holyrood."

"How, to the Regent?" said Roland, in surprise.

"Ay, by my faith, to the Regent," replied Woodcock; "I promise you, that
if you are not to enter his service, at least you are to wait upon him
in the character of a retainer of our Knight of Avenel."

"I know no right," said the youth, "which the Knight of Avenel hath to
transfer my service, supposing that I owe it to himself."

"Hush, hush!" said the falconer; "that is a question I advise no one to
stir in until he has the mountain or the lake, or the march of another
kingdom, which is better than either, betwixt him and his feudal
superior."

"But Sir Halbert Glendinning," said the youth, "is not my feudal
superior; nor has he aught of authority--"

"I pray you, my son, to rein your tongue," answered Adam Woodcock; "my
lord's displeasure, if you provoke it, will be worse to appease than
my lady's. The touch of his least finger were heavier than her hardest
blow. And, by my faith, he is a man of steel, as true and as pure, but
as hard and as pitiless. You remember the Cock of Capperlaw, whom he
hanged over his gate for a mere mistake--a poor yoke of oxen taken in
Scotland, when he thought he was taking them in English land? I loved
the Cock of Capperlaw; the Kerrs had not an honester man in their clan,
and they have had men that might have been a pattern to the Border--men
that would not have lifted under twenty cows at once, and would have
held themselves dishonoured if they had taken a drift of sheep, or the
like, but always managed their raids in full credit and honour.--But
see, his worship halts, and we are close by the bridge. Ride up--ride
up--we must have his last instructions."

It was as Adam Woodcock said. In the hollow way descending towards the
bridge, which was still in the guardianship of Peter Bridgeward, as he
was called, though he was now very old, Sir Halbert Glendinning halted
his retinue, and beckoned to Woodcock and Graeme to advance to the head
of the train.

"Woodcock," said he, "thou knowest to whom thou art to conduct this
youth. And thou, young man, obey discreetly and with diligence the
orders that shall be given thee. Curb thy vain and peevish temper. Be
just, true, and faithful; and there is in thee that which may raise
thee many a degree above thy present station. Neither shalt thou--always
supposing thine efforts to be fair and honest--want the protection and
countenance of Avenel."

Leaving them in front of the bridge, the centre tower of which now began
to cast a prolonged shade upon the river, the Knight of Avenel turned
to the left, without crossing the river, and pursued his way towards the
chain of hills within whose recesses are situated the Lake and Castle
of Avenel. There remained behind, the falconer, Roland Graeme, and a
domestic of the Knight, of inferior rank, who was left with them to look
after their horses while on the road, to carry their baggage, and to
attend to their convenience.

So soon as the more numerous body of riders had turned off to pursue
their journey westward, those whose route lay across the river, and was
directed towards the north, summoned the Bridgeward, and demanded a free
passage.

"I will not lower the bridge," answered Peter, in a voice querulous with
age and ill-humour.--"Come Papist, come Protestant, ye are all the
same. The Papist threatened us with Purgatory, and fleeched us with
pardons--the Protestant mints at us with his sword, and cuttles us with
the liberty of conscience; but never a one of either says, 'Peter, there
is your penny.' I am well tired of all this, and for no man shall the
bridge fall that pays me not ready money; and I would have you know I
care as little for Geneva as for Rome--as little for homilies as for
pardons; and the silver pennies are the only passports I will hear of."

"Here is a proper old chuff!" said Woodcock to his companion; then
raising his voice, he exclaimed, "Hark thee, dog--Bridgeward, villain,
dost thou think we have refused thy namesake Peter's pence to Rome, to
pay thine at the bridge of Kennaquhair? Let thy bridge down instantly to
the followers of the house of Avenel, or by the hand of my father, and
that handled many a bridle rein, for he was a bluff Yorkshireman--I say,
by my father's hand, our Knight will blow thee out of thy solan-goose's
nest there in the middle of the water, with the light falconet which we
are bringing southward from Edinburgh to-morrow."

The Bridgeward heard, and muttered, "A plague on falcon and falconet,
on cannon and demicannon, and all the barking bull-dogs whom they halloo
against stone and lime in these our days! It was a merry time when there
was little besides handy blows, and it may be a flight of arrows that
harmed an ashler wall as little as so many hailstones. But we must jouk
and let the jaw gang by." Comforting himself in his state of diminished
consequence with this pithy old proverb, Peter Bridgeward lowered the
drawbridge, and permitted them to pass over. At the sight of his white
hair, albeit it discovered a visage equally peevish through age and
misfortune, Roland was inclined to give him an alms, but Adam Woodcock
prevented him. "E'en let him pay the penalty of his former churlishness
and greed," he said; "the wolf, when he has lost his teeth, should be
treated no better than a cur."

Leaving the Bridgeward to lament the alteration of times, which sent
domineering soldiers and feudal retainers to his place of passage,
instead of peaceful pilgrims, and reduced him to become the oppressed,
instead of playing the extortioner, the travellers turned them
northward; and Adam Woodcock, well acquainted with that part of the
country, proposed to cut short a considerable portion of the road, by
traversing the little vale of Glendearg, so famous for the adventures
which befell therein during the earlier part of the Benedictine's
manuscript. With these, and with the thousand commentaries,
representations, and misrepresentations, to which they had given rise,
Roland Graeme was, of course, well acquainted; for in the Castle of
Avenel, as well as in other great establishments, the inmates talked of
nothing so often, or with such pleasure, as of the private affairs of
their lord and lady. But while Roland was viewing with interest these
haunted scenes, in which things were said to have passed beyond the
ordinary laws of nature, Adam Woodcock was still regretting in his
secret soul the unfinished revel and the unsung ballad, and kept every
now and then, breaking out with some such verses as these:--

    "The Friars of Fail drank berry-brown ale,
       The best that e'er was tasted;
     The Monks of Melrose made gude kale
       On Fridays, when they fasted.
          Saint Monance' sister.
          The gray priest kist her--
           Fiend save the company!
          Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix.
            Under the greenwood tree."

"By my hand, friend Woodcock," said the page, "though I know you for a
hardy gospeller, that fear neither saint nor devil, yet, if I were
you, I would not sing your profane songs in this valley of Glendearg,
considering what has happened here before our time."

"A straw for your wandering spirits!" said Adam Woodcock; "I mind them
no more than an earn cares for a string of wild-geese--they have all
fled since the pulpits were filled with honest men, and the people's
ears with sound doctrine. Nay, I have a touch at them in my ballad, an I
had but had the good luck to have it sung to end;" and again he set off
in the same key:

  From haunted spring and grassy ring,
    Troop goblin, elf, and fairy;
  And the kelpie must flit from the black bog-pit,
    And the brownie must not tarry;
       To Limbo-lake,
       Their way they take,
         With scarce the pith to flee.
       Sing hay trix, trim-go-trix,
         Under the greenwood tree.

"I think," he added, "that could Sir Halbert's patience have stretched
till we came that length, he would have had a hearty laugh, and that is
what he seldom enjoys."

"If it be all true that men tell of his early life," said Roland, "he
has less right to laugh at goblins than most men."

"Ay, _if_ it be all true," answered Adam Woodcock; "but who can ensure
us of that? Moreover, these were but tales the monks used to gull us
simple laymen withal; they knew that fairies and hobgoblins brought
aves and paternosters into repute; but, now we have given up worship
of images in wood and stone, methinks it were no time to be afraid of
bubbles in the water, or shadows in the air."

"However," said Roland Graeme, "as the Catholics say they do not worship
wood or stone, but only as emblems of the holy saints, and not as things
holy in themselves----"

"Pshaw! pshaw!" answered the falconer; "a rush for their prating.
They told us another story when these baptized idols of theirs brought
pike-staves and sandalled shoon from all the four winds, and whillied
the old women out of their corn and their candle ends, and their butter,
bacon, wool, and cheese, and when not so much as a gray groat escaped
tithing."

Roland Graeme had been long taught, by necessity, to consider his form
of religion as a profound secret, and to say nothing whatever in its
defence when assailed, lest he should draw on himself the suspicion of
belonging to the unpopular and exploded church. He therefore suffered
Adam Woodcock to triumph without farther opposition, marvelling in his
own mind whether any of the goblins, formerly such active agents, would
avenge his rude raillery before they left the valley of Glendearg.
But no such consequences followed. They passed the night quietly in a
cottage in the glen, and the next day resumed their route to Edinburgh.



Chapter the Seventeenth.


Edina! Scotia's darling seat,  All hail thy palaces and towers,
Where once, beneath a monarch's feet,  Sate legislation's sovereign powers.
                          BURNS.

"This, then, is Edinburgh?" said the youth, as the fellow-travellers
arrived at one of the heights to the southward, which commanded a view
of the great northern capital--"This is that Edinburgh of which we have
heard so much!"

"Even so," said the falconer; "yonder stands Auld Reekie--you may see
the smoke hover over her at twenty miles' distance, as the gosshawk
hangs over a plump of young wild-ducks--ay, yonder is the heart of
Scotland, and each throb that she gives is felt from the edge of Solway
to Duncan's-bay-head. See, yonder is the old Castle; and see to the
right, on yon rising ground, that is the Castle of Craigmillar, which I
have known a merry place in my time."

"Was it not there," said the page in a low voice, "that the Queen held
her court?"

"Ay, ay," replied the falconer, "Queen she was then, though you must not
call her so now. Well, they may say what they will--many a true heart
will be sad for Mary Stewart, e'en if all be true men say of her; for
look you, Master Roland--she was the loveliest creature to look upon
that I ever saw with eye, and no lady in the land liked better the fair
flight of a falcon. I was at the great match on Roslin Moor betwixt
Bothwell--he was a black sight to her that Bothwell--and the Baron
of Roslin, who could judge a hawk's flight as well as any man in
Scotland--a butt of Rhenish and a ring of gold was the wager, and it was
flown as fairly for as ever was red gold and bright wine. And to see
her there on her white palfrey, that flew as if it scorned to touch more
than the heather blossom; and to hear her voice, as clear and sweet as
the mavis's whistle, mix among our jolly whooping and whistling; and to
mark all the nobles dashing round her; happiest he who got a word or a
look--tearing through moss and hagg, and venturing neck and limb to
gain the praise of a bold rider, and the blink of a bonny Queen's bright
eye!--she will see little hawking where she lies now--ay, ay, pomp and
pleasure pass away as speedily as the wap of a falcon's wing."

"And where is this poor Queen now confined?" said Roland Graeme,
interested in the fate of a woman whose beauty and grace had made so
strong an impression even on the blunt and careless character of Adam
Woodcock.

"Where is she now imprisoned?" said honest Adam; "why, in some castle
in the north, they say--I know not where, for my part, nor is it worth
while to vex one's sell anent what cannot be mended--An she had guided
her power well whilst she had it, she had not come to so evil a pass.
Men say she must resign her crown to this little baby of a prince, for
that they will trust her with it no longer. Our master has been as busy
as his neighbours in all this work. If the Queen should come to her
own again, Avenel Castle is like to smoke for it, unless he makes
his bargain all the better." "In a castle in the north Queen Mary is
confined?" said the page. "Why, ay--they say so, at least--In a castle
beyond that great river which comes down yonder, and looks like a river,
but it is a branch of the sea, and as bitter as brine."

"And amongst all her subjects," said the page, with some emotion, "is
there none that will adventure anything for her relief?"

"That is a kittle question," said the falconer; "and if you ask it
often, Master Roland, I am fain to tell you that you will be mewed up
yourself in some of those castles, if they do not prefer twisting your
head off, to save farther trouble with you--Adventure any thing? Lord,
why, Murray has the wind in his poop now, man, and flies so high and
strong, that the devil a wing of them can match him--No, no; there she
is, and there she must lie, till Heaven send her deliverance, or till
her son has the management of all--But Murray will never let her loose
again, he knows her too well.--And hark thee, we are now bound for
Holyrood, where thou wilt find plenty of news, and of courtiers to tell
it--But, take my counsel, and keep a calm sough, as the Scots say--hear
every man's counsel, and keep your own. And if you hap to learn any
news you like, leap not up as if you were to put on armour direct in the
cause--Our old Mr. Wingate says--and he knows court-cattle well--that if
you are told old King Coul is come alive again, you should turn it off
with, 'And is he in truth?--I heard not of it,' and should seem no more
moved, than if one told you, by way of novelty, that old King Coul was
dead and buried. Wherefore, look well to your bearing, Master Roland,
for, I promise you, you come among a generation that are keen as a
hungry hawk--And never be dagger out of sheath at every wry word you
hear spoken; for you will find as hot blades as yourself, and then will
be letting of blood without advice either of leech or almanack."

"You shall see how staid I will be, and how cautious, my good friend,"
said Graeme; "but, blessed Lady, what goodly house is that which is
lying all in ruins so close to the city? Have they been playing at the
Abbot of Unreason here, and ended the gambol by burning the church?"

"There again now," replied his companion, "you go down the wind like a
wild haggard, that minds neither lure nor beck--that is a question you
should have asked in as low a tone as I shall answer it."

"If I stay here long," said Roland Graeme, "it is like I shall lose the
natural use of my voice--but what are the ruins then?"

"The Kirk of Field," said the falconer, in a low and impressive whisper,
laying at the same time his finger on his lip; "ask no more about
it--somebody got foul play, and somebody got the blame of it; and the
game began there which perhaps may not be played out in our time.--Poor
Henry Darnley! to be an ass, he understood somewhat of a hawk; but
they sent him on the wing through the air himself one bright moonlight
night."

The memory of this catastrophe was so recent, that the page averted his
eyes with horror from the scathed ruins in which it had taken place; and
the accusations against the Queen, to which it had given rise, came over
his mind with such strength as to balance the compassion he had begun to
entertain for her present forlorn situation.

It was, indeed, with that agitating state of mind which arises partly
from horror, but more from anxious interest and curiosity, that young
Graeme found himself actually traversing the scene of those tremendous
events, the report of which had disturbed the most distant solitudes
in Scotland, like the echoes of distant thunder rolling among the
mountains.

"Now," he thought, "now or never shall I become a man, and bear my part
in those deeds which the simple inhabitants of our hamlets repeat to
each other, as if they were wrought by beings of a superior order to
their own. I will know now, wherefore the Knight of Avenel carries his
crest so much above those of the neighbouring baronage, and how it is
that men, by valour and wisdom, work their way from the hoddin-gray
coat to the cloak of scarlet and gold. Men say I have not much wisdom to
recommend me; and if that be true, courage must do it; for I will be a
man amongst living men, or a dead corpse amongst the dead."

From these dreams of ambition he turned his thoughts to those of
pleasure, and began to form many conjectures, when and where he should
see Catherine Seyton, and in what manner their acquaintance was to be
renewed. With such conjectures he was amusing himself, when he found
that they had entered the city, and all other feelings were suspended
in the sensation of giddy astonishment with which an inhabitant of the
country is affected, when, for the first time, he finds himself in the
streets of a large and populous city, a unit in the midst of thousands.

The principal street of Edinburgh was then, as now, one of the most
spacious in Europe. The extreme height of the houses, and the variety of
Gothic gables and battlements, and balconies, by which the sky-line on
each side was crowned and terminated, together with the width of the
street itself, might have struck with surprise a more practised eye than
that of young Graeme. The population, close packed within the walls of
the city, and at this time increased by the number of the lords of
the King's party who had thronged to Edinburgh to wait upon the Regent
Murray, absolutely swarmed like bees on the wide and stately street.
Instead of the shop-windows, which are now calculated for the display
of goods, the traders had their open booths projecting on the street,
in which, as in the fashion of the modern bazaars, all was exposed which
they had upon sale. And though the commodities were not of the richest
kinds, yet Graeme thought he beheld the wealth of the whole world in the
various bales of Flanders cloths, and the specimens of tapestry; and,
at other places, the display of domestic utensils and pieces of plate
struck him with wonder. The sight of cutlers' booths, furnished with
swords and poniards, which were manufactured in Scotland, and with
pieces of defensive armour, imported from Flanders, added to his
surprise; and, at every step, he found so much to admire and gaze upon,
that Adam Woodcock had no little difficulty in prevailing on him to
advance through such a scene of enchantment.

The sight of the crowds which filled the streets was equally a subject
of wonder. Here a gay lady, in her muffler, or silken veil, traced her
way delicately, a gentleman-usher making way for her, a page bearing up
her train, and a waiting gentlewoman carrying her Bible, thus intimating
that her purpose was towards the church--There he might see a group of
citizens bending the same way, with their short Flemish cloaks, wide
trowsers, and high-caped doublets, a fashion to which, as well as to
their bonnet and feather, the Scots were long faithful. Then, again,
came the clergyman himself, in his black Geneva cloak and band, lending
a grave and attentive ear to the discourse of several persons who
accompanied him, and who were doubtless holding serious converse on
the religious subject he was about to treat of. Nor did there lack
passengers of a different class and appearance.

At every turn, Roland Graeme might see a gallant ruffle along in the
newer or French mode, his doublet slashed, and his points of the same
colours with the lining, his long sword on one side, and his poniard on
the other, behind him a body of stout serving men, proportioned to
his estate and quality, all of whom walked with the air of military
retainers, and were armed with sword and buckler, the latter being a
small round shield, not unlike the Highland target, having a steel
spike in the centre. Two of these parties, each headed by a person of
importance, chanced to meet in the very centre of the street, or, as
it was called, "the crown of the cause-way," a post of honour as
tenaciously asserted in Scotland, as that of giving or taking the wall
used to be in the more southern part of the island. The two leaders
being of equal rank, and, most probably, either animated by political
dislike, or by recollection of some feudal enmity, marched close up
to each other, without yielding an inch to the right or the left; and
neither showing the least purpose of giving way, they stopped for an
instant, and then drew their swords. Their followers imitated their
example; about a score of weapons at once flashed in the sun, and there
was an immediate clatter of swords and bucklers, while the followers on
either side cried their master's name; the one shouting "Help, a Leslie!
a Leslie!" while the others answered with shouts of "Seyton! Seyton!"
with the additional punning slogan, "Set on, set on--bear the knaves to
the ground!"

If the falconer found difficulty in getting the page to go forward
before, it was now perfectly impossible. He reined up his horse, clapped
his hands, and, delighted with the fray, cried and shouted as fast as
any of those who were actually engaged in it.

The noise and cries thus arising on the Highgate, as it was called,
drew into the quarrel two or three other parties of gentlemen and their
servants, besides some single passengers, who, hearing a fray betwixt
these two distinguished names, took part in it, either for love or
hatred.

The combat became now very sharp, and although the sword-and-buckler men
made more clatter and noise than they did real damage, yet several
good cuts were dealt among them; and those who wore rapiers, a more
formidable weapon than the ordinary Scottish swords, gave and received
dangerous wounds. Two men were already stretched on the causeway, and
the party of Seyton began to give ground, being much inferior in number
to the other, with which several of the citizens had united themselves,
when young Roland Graeme, beholding their leader, a noble gentleman,
fighting bravely, and hard pressed with numbers, could withhold no
longer. "Adam Woodcock," he said, "an you be a man, draw, and let us
take part with the Seyton." And, without waiting a reply, or listening
to the falconer's earnest entreaty, that he would leave alone a strife
in which he had no concern, the fiery youth sprung from his horse, drew
his short sword, and shouting like the rest, "A Seyton! a Seyton! Set
on! set on!" thrust forward into the throng, and struck down one
of those who was pressing hardest upon the gentleman whose cause he
espoused. This sudden reinforcement gave spirit to the weaker party,
who began to renew the combat with much alacrity, when four of the
magistrates of the city, distinguished by their velvet cloaks and gold
chains, came up with a guard of halberdiers and citizens, armed with
long weapons, and well accustomed to such service, thrust boldly
forward, and compelled the swordsmen to separate, who immediately
retreated in different directions, leaving such of the wounded on both
sides, as had been disabled in the fray, lying on the street.

The falconer, who had been tearing his beard for anger at his comrade's
rashness, now rode up to him with the horse which he had caught by
the bridle, and accosted him with "Master Roland--master goose--master
mad-cap--will it please you to get on horse, and budge? or will you
remain here to be carried to prison, and made to answer for this pretty
day's work?"

The page, who had begun his retreat along with the Seytons, just as
if he had been one of their natural allies, was by this unceremonious
application made sensible that he was acting a foolish part; and,
obeying Adam Woodcock with some sense of shame, he sprung actively on
horseback, and upsetting with the shoulder of the animal a city-officer,
who was making towards him, he began to ride smartly down the street,
along with his companion, and was quickly out of the reach of the hue
and cry. In fact, rencounters of the kind were so common in Edinburgh
at that period, that the disturbance seldom excited much attention after
the affray was over, unless some person of consequence chanced to have
fallen, an incident which imposed on his friends the duty of avenging
his death on the first convenient opportunity. So feeble, indeed, was
the arm of the police, that it was not unusual for such skirmishes to
last for hours, where the parties were numerous and well matched. But at
this time the Regent, a man of great strength of character, aware of the
mischief which usually arose from such acts of violence, had prevailed
with the magistrates to keep a constant guard on foot for preventing or
separating such affrays as had happened in the present case.

The falconer and his young companion were now riding down the Canongate,
and had slackened their pace to avoid attracting attention, the rather
that there seemed to be no appearance of pursuit. Roland hung his head
as one who was conscious his conduct had been none of the wisest, whilst
his companion thus addressed him:

"Will you be pleased to tell me one thing, Master Roland Graeme, and
that is, whether there be a devil incarnate in you or no?"

"Truly, Master Adam Woodcock," answered the page, "I would fain hope
there is not."

"Then," said Adam, "I would fain know by what other influence or
instigation you are perpetually at one end or the other of some bloody
brawl? What, I pray, had you to do with these Seytons and Leslies, that
you never heard the names of in your life before?"

"You are out there, my friend," said Roland Graeme, "I have my own
reasons for being a friend to the Seytons."

"They must have been very secret reasons then," answered Adam Woodcock,
"for I think I could have wagered, you had never known one of the name;
and I am apt to believe still, that it was your unhallowed passion
for that clashing of cold iron, which has as much charm for you as the
clatter of a brass pan hath for a hive of bees, rather than any care
either for Seyton or for Leslie, that persuaded you to thrust your
fool's head into a quarrel that no ways concerned you. But take this for
a warning, my young master, that if you are to draw sword with every man
who draws sword on the Highgate here, it will be scarce worth your while
to sheathe bilbo again for the rest of your life, since, if I guess
rightly, it will scarce endure on such terms for many hours--all which I
leave to your serious consideration."

"By my word, Adam, I honour your advice; and I promise you, that I will
practise by it as faithfully as if I were sworn apprentice to you,
to the trade and mystery of bearing myself with all wisdom and safety
through the new paths of life that I am about to be engaged in."

"And therein you will do well," said the falconer; "and I do not quarrel
with you, Master Roland, for having a grain over much spirit, because
I know one may bring to the hand a wild hawk which one never can a
dung-hill hen--and so betwixt two faults you have the best on't. But
besides your peculiar genius for quarrelling and lugging out your side
companion, my dear Master Roland, you have also the gift of peering
under every woman's muffler and screen, as if you expected to find
an old acquaintance. Though were you to spy one, I should be as much
surprised at it, well wotting how few you have seen of these same
wild-fowl, as I was at your taking so deep an interest even now in the
Seyton."

"Tush, man! nonsense and folly," answered Roland Graeme, "I but sought
to see what eyes these gentle hawks have got under their hood."

"Ay, but it's a dangerous subject of inquiry," said the falconer; "you
had better hold out your bare wrist for an eagle to perch upon.--Look
you, Master Roland, these pretty wild-geese cannot be hawked at without
risk--they have as many divings, boltings, and volleyings, as the most
gamesome quarry that falcon ever flew at--And besides, every woman of
them is manned with her husband, or her kind friend, or her brother,
or her cousin, or her sworn servant at the least--But you heed me not,
Master Roland, though I know the game so well--your eye is all on that
pretty damsel who trips down the gate before us--by my certes, I will
warrant her a blithe dancer either in reel or revel--a pair of silver
morisco bells would become these pretty ankles as well as the jesses
would suit the fairest Norway hawk."

"Thou art a fool, Adam," said the page, "and I care not a button about
the girl or her ankles--But, what the foul fiend, one must look at
something!"

"Very true, Master Roland Graeme," said his guide, "but let me pray you
to choose your objects better. Look you, there is scarce a woman walks
this High-gate with a silk screen or a pearlin muffler, but, as I said
before, she has either gentleman-usher before her, or kinsman, or lover,
or husband, at her elbow, or it may be a brace of stout fellows with
sword and buckler, not so far behind but what they can follow close--But
you heed me no more than a goss-hawk minds a yellow yoldring."

"O yes, I do--I do mind you indeed," said Roland Graeme; "but hold my
nag a bit--I will be with you in the exchange of a whistle." So saying,
and ere Adam Woodcock could finish the sermon which was dying on his
tongue, Roland Graeme, to the falconer's utter astonishment, threw him
the bridle of his jennet, jumped off horseback, and pursued down one of
the closes or narrow lanes, which, opening under a vault, terminate upon
the main-street, the very maiden to whom his friend had accused him of
showing so much attention, and who had turned down the pass in question.

"Saint Mary, Saint Magdalen, Saint Benedict, Saint Barnabas!" said the
poor falconer, when he found himself thus suddenly brought to a pause
in the midst of the Canongate, and saw his young charge start off like a
madman in quest of a damsel whom he had never, as Adam supposed, seen in
his life before,--"Saint Satan and Saint Beelzebub--for this would
make one swear saint and devil--what can have come over the lad, with
a wanion! And what shall I do the whilst!--he will have his throat cut,
the poor lad, as sure as I was born at the foot of Roseberry-Topping.
Could I find some one to hold the horses! but they are as sharp here
north-away as in canny Yorkshire herself, and quit bridle, quit titt,
as we say. An I could but see one of our folks now, a holly-sprig were
worth a gold tassel; or could I but see one of the Regent's men--but to
leave the horses to a stranger, that I cannot--and to leave the place
while the lad is in jeopardy, that I wonot."

We must leave the falconer, however, in the midst of his distress, and
follow the hot-headed youth who was the cause of his perplexity.

The latter part of Adam Woodcock's sage remonstrance had been in a great
measure lost upon Roland, for whose benefit it was intended; because,
in one of the female forms which tripped along the street, muffled in
a veil of striped silk, like the women of Brussels at this day, his eye
had discerned something which closely resembled the exquisite shape and
spirited bearing of Catherine Seyton.--During all the grave advice which
the falconer was dinning in his ears, his eye continued intent upon so
interesting an object of observation; and at length, as the damsel, just
about to dive under one of the arched passages which afforded an outlet
to the Canongate from the houses beneath, (a passage, graced by a
projecting shield of arms, supported by two huge foxes of stone,) had
lifted her veil for the purpose perhaps of descrying who the horseman
was who for some time had eyed her so closely, young Roland saw, under
the shade of the silken plaid, enough of the bright azure eyes, fair
locks, and blithe features, to induce him, like an inexperienced
and rash madcap, whose wilful ways never had been traversed by
contradiction, nor much subjected to consideration, to throw the bridle
of his horse into Adam Woodcock's hand, and leave him to play the
waiting gentleman, while he dashed down the paved court after Catherine
Seyton--all as aforesaid.

Women's wits are proverbially quick, but apparently those of Catherine
suggested no better expedient than fairly to betake herself to speed of
foot, in hopes of baffling the page's vivacity, by getting safely lodged
before he could discover where. But a youth of eighteen, in pursuit of
a mistress, is not so easily outstripped. Catherine fled across a
paved court, decorated with large formal vases of stone, in which yews,
cypresses, and other evergreens, vegetated in sombre sullenness, and
gave a correspondent degree of solemnity to the high and heavy building
in front of which they were placed as ornaments, aspiring towards a
square portion of the blue hemisphere, corresponding exactly in extent
to the quadrangle in which they were stationed, and all around which
rose huge black walls, exhibiting windows in rows of five stories, with
heavy architraves over each, bearing armorial and religious devices.

Through this court Catherine Seyton flashed like a hunted doe, making
the best use of those pretty legs which had attracted the commendation
even of the reflective and cautious Adam Woodcock. She hastened towards
a large door in the centre of the lower front of the court, pulled the
bobbin till the latch flew up, and ensconced herself in the ancient
mansion. But, if she fled like a doe, Roland Graeme followed with the
speed and ardour of a youthful stag-hound, loosed for the first time
on his prey. He kept her in view in spite of her efforts; for it is
remarkable what an advantage, in such a race, the gallant who desires to
see, possesses over the maiden who wishes not to be seen--an advantage
which I have known counterbalance a great start in point of distance.
In short, he saw the waving of her screen, or veil, at one corner, heard
the tap of her foot, light as that was, as it crossed the court, and
caught a glimpse of her figure just as she entered the door of the
mansion.

Roland Graeme, inconsiderate and headlong as we have described him,
having no knowledge of real life but from the romances which he had
read, and not an idea of checking himself in the midst of any eager
impulse; possessed, besides, of much courage and readiness, never
hesitated for a moment to approach the door through which the object of
his search had disappeared. He, too, pulled the bobbin, and the latch,
though heavy and massive, answered to the summons, and arose. The
page entered with the same precipitation which had marked his whole
proceeding, and found himself in a large hall, or vestibule, dimly
enlightened by latticed casements of painted glass, and rendered yet
dimmer through the exclusion of the sunbeams, owing to the height of the
walls of those buildings by which the court-yard was enclosed. The walls
of the hall were surrounded with suits of ancient and rusted armour,
interchanged with huge and massive stone scutcheons, bearing double
tressures, fleured and counter-fleured, wheat-sheaves, coronets, and so
forth, things to which Roland Graeme gave not a moment's attention.

In fact, he only deigned to observe the figure of Catherine Seyton, who,
deeming herself safe in the hall, had stopped to take breath after her
course, and was reposing herself for a moment on a large oaken settle
which stood at the upper end of the hall. The noise of Roland's entrance
at once disturbed her; she started up with a faint scream of surprise,
and escaped through one of the several folding-doors which opened
into this apartment as a common centre. This door, which Roland Graeme
instantly approached, opened on a large and well-lighted gallery, at the
upper end of which he could hear several voices, and the noise of hasty
steps approaching towards the hall or vestibule. A little recalled to
sober thought by an appearance of serious danger, he was deliberating
whether he should stand fast or retire, when Catherine Seyton re-entered
from a side door, running towards him with as much speed as a few
minutes since she had fled from him.

"Oh, what mischief brought you hither?" she said; "fly--fly, or you are
a dead man,--or stay--they come--flight is impossible--say you came to
ask for Lord Seyton."

She sprung from him and disappeared through the door by which she had
made her second appearance; and, at the same instant, a pair of large
folding-doors at the upper end of the gallery flew open with vehemence,
and six or seven young gentlemen, richly dressed, pressed forward into
the apartment, having, for the greater part, their swords drawn.

"Who is it," said one, "dare intrude on us in our own mansion?"

"Cut him to pieces," said another; "let him pay for this day's insolence
and violence--he is some follower of the Rothes."

"No, by Saint Mary," said another; "he is a follower of the arch-fiend
and ennobled clown Halbert Glendinning, who takes the style of
Avenel--once a church-vassal, now a pillager of the church."

"It is so," said a fourth; "I know him by the holly-sprig, which is
their cognizance. Secure the door, he must answer for this insolence."

Two of the gallants, hastily drawing their weapons, passed on to the
door by which Roland had entered the hall, and stationed themselves
there as if to prevent his escape. The others advanced on Graeme, who
had just sense enough to perceive that any attempt at resistance would
be alike fruitless and imprudent. At once, and by various voices, none
of which sounded amicably, the page was required to say who he was,
whence he came, his name, his errand, and who sent him hither. The
number of the questions demanded of him at once, afforded a momentary
apology for his remaining silent, and ere that brief truce had elapsed,
a personage entered the hall, at whose appearance those who had gathered
fiercely around Roland, fell back with respect.

This was a tall man, whose dark hair was already grizzled, though his
high and haughty features retained all the animation of youth. The upper
part of his person was undressed to his Holland shirt, whose ample folds
were stained with blood. But he wore a mantle of crimson, lined with
rich fur, cast around him, which supplied the deficiency of his dress.
On his head he had a crimson velvet bonnet, looped up on one side with
a small golden chain of many links, which, going thrice around the hat,
was fastened by a medal, agreeable to the fashion amongst the grandees
of the time.

"Whom have you here, sons and kinsmen," said he, "around whom you crowd
thus roughly?--Know you not that the shelter of this roof should secure
every one fair treatment, who shall come hither either in fair peace, or
in open and manly hostility?"

"But here, my lord," answered one of the youths, "is a knave who comes
on treacherous espial!"

"I deny the charge!" said Roland Graeme, boldly, "I came to inquire
after my Lord Seyton."

"A likely tale," answered his accusers, "in the mouth of a follower of
Glendinning."

"Stay, young men," said the Lord Seyton, for it was that nobleman
himself, "let me look at this youth--By heaven, it is the very same who
came so boldly to my side not very many minutes since, when some of my
own knaves bore themselves with more respect to their own worshipful
safety than to mine! Stand back from him, for he well deserves honour
and a friendly welcome at your hands, instead of this rough treatment."

They fell back on all sides, obedient to Lord Seyton's commands, who,
taking Roland Graeme by the hand, thanked him for his prompt and gallant
assistance, adding, that he nothing doubted, "the same interest which
he had taken in his cause in the affray, brought him hither to inquire
after his hurt."

Roland bowed low in acquiescence.

"Or is there any thing in which I can serve you, to show my sense of
your ready gallantry?"

But the page, thinking it best to abide by the apology for his visit
which the Lord Seyton had so aptly himself suggested, replied, "that
to be assured of his lordship's safety, had been the only cause of his
intrusion. He judged," he added, "he had seen him receive some hurt in
the affray."

"A trifle," said Lord Seyton; "I had but stripped my doublet, that the
chirurgeon might put some dressing on the paltry scratch, when these
rash boys interrupted us with their clamour."

Roland Graeme, making a low obeisance, was now about to depart, for,
relieved from the danger of being treated as a spy, he began next to
fear, that his companion, Adam Woodcock, whom he had so unceremoniously
quitted, would either bring him into some farther dilemma, by venturing
into the hotel in quest of him, or ride off and leave him behind
altogether. But Lord Seyton did not permit him to escape so easily.
"Tarry," he said, "young man, and let me know thy rank and name. The
Seyton has of late been more wont to see friends and followers shrink
from his side, than to receive aid from strangers-but a new world
may come around, in which he may have the chance of rewarding his
well-wishers."

"My name is Roland Graeme, my lord," answered the youth, "a page, who,
for the present, is in the service of Sir Halbert Glendinning."

"I said so from the first," said one of the young men; "my life I will
wager, that this is a shaft out of the heretic's quiver-a stratagem from
first to last, to injeer into your confidence some espial of his own.
They know how to teach both boys and women to play the intelligencers."

"That is false, if it be spoken of me," said Roland; "no man in Scotland
should teach me such a foul part!"

"I believe thee, boy," said Lord Seyton, "for thy strokes were too fair
to be dealt upon an understanding with those that were to receive them.
Credit me, however, I little expected to have help at need from one of
your master's household; and I would know what moved thee in my quarrel,
to thine own endangering?"

"So please you, my lord," said Roland, "I think my master himself would
not have stood by, and seen an honourable man borne to earth by odds,
if his single arm could help him. Such, at least, is the lesson we were
taught in chivalry, at the Castle of Avenel."

"The good seed hath fallen into good ground, young man," said Seyton;
"but, alas! if thou practise such honourable war in these dishonourable
days, when right is every where borne down by mastery, thy life, my poor
boy, will be but a short one."

"Let it be short, so it be honourable," said Roland Graeme; "and permit
me now, my lord, to commend me to your grace, and to take my leave. A
comrade waits with my horse in the street."

"Take this, however, young man," said Lord Seyton,

[Footnote: George, fifth Lord Seton, was immovably faithful to Queen
Mary during all the mutabilities of her fortune. He was grand master of
the household, in which capacity he had a picture painted of himself,
with his official baton, and the following motto:

  In adversitate, patiens;
  In prosperitate, benevolus.
  Hazard, yet forward.

On various parts of his castle he inscribed, as expressing his religious
and political creed, the legend:

  Un Dieu, un Foy, un Roy, un Loy.

He declined to be promoted to an earldom, which Queen Mary offered him
at the same time when she advanced her natural brother to be Earl of
Mar, and afterwards of Murray.

On his refusing this honour, Mary wrote, or caused to be written, the
following lines in Latin and French:

  Sunt comites, ducesque alii; sunt denique reges;
  Sethom dominum sit satis esse mihi.

  Il y a des comptes, des roys, des ducs; ainsi
  C'est assez pour moy d'estre Seigneur de Seton.

Which may be thus rendered:--

  Earl, duke, or king, be thou that list to be:
  Seton, thy lordship is enough for me.

This distich reminds us of the "pride which aped humility," in the motto
of the house of Couci:

  Je suis ni roy, ni prince aussi;
  Je suis le Seigneur de Coucy.

After the battle of Langside, Lord Seton was obliged to retire abroad
for safety, and was an exile for two years, during which he was reduced
to the necessity of driving a waggon in Flanders for his subsistence. He
rose to favour in James VI's reign, and assuming his paternal property,
had himself painted in his waggoner's dress, and in the act of driving
a wain with four horses, on the north end of a stately gallery at Seton
Castle]

undoing from his bonnet the golden chain and medal, "and wear it for my
sake."

With no little pride Roland Graeme accepted the gift, which he hastily
fastened around his bonnet, as he had seen gallants wear such an
ornament, and renewing his obeisance to the Baron, left the hall,
traversed the court, and appeared in the street, just as Adam Woodcock,
vexed and anxious at his delay, had determined to leave the horses to
their fate, and go in quest of his youthful comrade. "Whose barn hast
thou broken next?" he exclaimed, greatly relieved by his appearance,
although his countenance indicated that he had passed through an
agitating scene.

"Ask me no questions," said Roland, leaping gaily on his horse; "but see
how short time it takes to win a chain of gold," pointing to that which
he now wore.

"Now, God forbid that thou hast either stolen it, or reft it by
violence," said the falconer; "for, otherwise, I wot not how the devil
thou couldst compass it. I have been often here, ay, for months at an
end, and no one gave me either chain or medal."

"Thou seest I have got one on shorter acquaintance with the city,"
answered the page, "but set thine honest heart at rest; that which is
fairly won and freely given, is neither reft nor stolen."

"Marry, hang thee, with thy fanfarona [Footnote: A name given to the
gold chains worn by the military men of the period. It is of Spanish
origin: for the fashion of wearing these costly ornaments was much
followed amongst the conquerors of the New World.] about thy neck!" said
the falconer; "I think water will not drown, nor hemp strangle thee.
Thou hast been discarded as my lady's page, to come in again as my
lord's squire; and for following a noble young damsel into some great
household, thou gettest a chain and medal, where another would have
had the baton across his shoulders, if he missed having the dirk in his
body. But here we come in front of the old Abbey. Bear thy good luck
with you when you cross these paved stones, and, by our Lady, you may
brag Scotland."

As he spoke, they checked their horses, where the huge old vaulted
entrance to the Abbey or Palace of Holyrood crossed the termination of
the street down which they had proceeded. The courtyard of the palace
opened within this gloomy porch, showing the front of an irregular pile
of monastic buildings, one wing of which is still extant, forming a part
of the modern palace, erected in the days of Charles I.

At the gate of the porch the falconer and page resigned their horses to
the serving-man in attendance; the falconer commanding him with an air
of authority, to carry them safely to the stables. "We follow," he said,
"the Knight of Avenel--We must bear ourselves for what we are here,"
said he in a whisper to Roland, "for every one here is looked on as they
demean themselves; and he that is too modest must to the wall, as the
proverb says; therefore cock thy bonnet, man, and let us brook the
causeway bravely."

Assuming, therefore, an air of consequence, corresponding to what he
supposed to be his master's importance and quality, Adam Woodcock led
the way into the courtyard of the Palace of Holyrood.

He appears to have been fond of the arts; for there exists a beautiful
family-piece of him in the centre of his family. Mr. Pinkerton, in his
Scottish Iconographia, published an engraving of this curious portrait.
The original is the property of Lord Somerville, nearly connected with
the Seton family, and is at present at his lordship's fishing villa of
the Pavilion, near Melrose.



Chapter the Eighteenth.


  --The sky is clouded, Gaspard,
  And the vexed ocean sleeps a troubled sleep,
  Beneath a lurid gleam of parting sunshine.
  Such slumber hangs o'er discontented lands,
  While factions doubt, as yet, if they have strength
  To front the open battle.
                             ALBION--A POEM.

The youthful page paused on the entrance of the court-yard, and implored
his guide to give him a moment's breathing space. "Let me but look
around me, man," said he; "you consider not I have never seen such a
scene as this before.--And this is Holyrood--the resort of the gallant
and gay, and the fair, and the wise, and the powerful!"

"Ay, marry, is it!" said Woodcock; "but I wish I could hood thee as they
do the hawks, for thou starest as wildly as if you sought another fray
or another fanfarona. I would I had thee safely housed, for thou lookest
wild as a goss-hawk."

It was indeed no common sight to Roland, the vestibule of a palace
traversed by its various groups,--some radiant with gaiety--some
pensive, and apparently weighed down by affairs concerning the state, or
concerning themselves. Here the hoary statesman, with his cautious
yet commanding look, his furred cloak and sable pantoufles; there the
soldier in buff and steel, his long sword jarring against the pavement,
and his whiskered upper lip and frowning brow, looking an habitual
defiance of danger, which perhaps was not always made good; there again
passed my lord's serving-man, high of heart, and bloody of hand, humble
to his master and his master's equals, insolent to all others. To these
might be added, the poor suitor, with his anxious look and depressed
mien--the officer, full of his brief authority, elbowing his betters,
and possibly his benefactors, out of the road--the proud priest, who
sought a better benefice--the proud baron, who sought a grant of church
lands--the robber chief, who came to solicit a pardon for the injuries
he had inflicted on his neighbors--the plundered franklin, who came to
seek vengeance for that which he had himself received. Besides there was
the mustering and disposition of guards and soldiers--the despatching of
messengers, and the receiving them--the trampling and neighing of horses
without the gate--the flashing of arms, and rustling of plumes, and
jingling of spurs, within it. In short, it was that gay and splendid
confusion, in which the eye of youth sees all that is brave and
brilliant, and that of experience much that is doubtful, deceitful,
false, and hollow--hopes that will never be gratified--promises
which will never be fulfilled--pride in the disguise of humility--and
insolence in that of frank and generous bounty.

As, tired of the eager and enraptured attention which the page gave to
a scene so new to him, Adam Woodcock endeavoured to get him to move
forward, before his exuberance of astonishment should attract the
observation of the sharp-witted denizens of the court, the falconer
himself became an object of attention to a gay menial in a dark-green
bonnet and feather, with a cloak of a corresponding colour, laid down,
as the phrase then went, by six broad bars of silver lace, and welted
with violet and silver. The words of recognition burst from both
at once. "What! Adam Woodcock at court!" and "What! Michael
Wing-the-wind--and how runs the hackit greyhound bitch now?"

"The waur for the wear, like ourselves, Adam--eight years this grass--no
four legs will carry a dog forever; but we keep her for the breed, and
so she 'scapes Border doom--But why stand you gazing there? I promise
you my lord has wished for you, and asked for you."

"My Lord of Murray asked for me, and he Regent of the kingdom too!" said
Adam. "I hunger and thirst to pay my duty to my good lord;--but I fancy
his good lordship remembers the day's sport on Carnwath-moor; and my
Drummelzier falcon, that beat the hawks from the Isle of Man, and won
his lordship a hundred crowns from the Southern baron whom they called
Stanley."

"Nay, not to flatter thee, Adam," said his court-friend, "he remembers
nought of thee, or of thy falcon either. He hath flown many a higher
flight since that, and struck his quarry too. But come, come hither
away; I trust we are to be good comrades on the old score."

"What!" said Adam, "you would have me crush a pot with you; but I must
first dispose of my eyas, where he will neither have girl to chase, nor
lad to draw sword upon."

"Is the youngster such a one?" said Michael.

"Ay, by my hood, he flies at all game," replied Woodcock.

"Then had he better come with us," said Michael Wing-the-wind; "for we
cannot have a proper carouse just now, only I would wet my lips, and so
must you. I want to hear the news from Saint Mary's before you see my
lord, and I will let you know how the wind sits up yonder."

While he thus spoke, he led the way to a side door which opened into the
court; and threading several dark passages with the air of one who knew
the most secret recesses of the palace, conducted them to a small matted
chamber, where he placed bread and cheese and a foaming flagon of ale
before the falconer and his young companion, who immediately did justice
to the latter in a hearty draught, which nearly emptied the measure.
Having drawn his breath, and dashed the froth from his whiskers, he
observed, that his anxiety for the boy had made him deadly dry.

"Mend your draught," said his hospitable friend, again supplying
the flagon from a pitcher which stood beside. "I know the way to the
butterybar. And now, mind what I say--this morning the Earl of Morton
came to my lord in a mighty chafe."

"What! they keep the old friendship, then?" said Woodcock.

"Ay, ay, man, what else?" said Michael; "one hand must scratch the
other. But in a mighty chafe was my Lord of Morton, who, to say truth,
looketh on such occasions altogether uncanny, and, as it were, fiendish;
and he says to my lord,--for I was in the chamber taking orders about
a cast of hawks that are to be fetched from Darnoway--they match your
long-winged falcons, friend Adam."

"I will believe that when I see them fly as high a pitch," replied
Woodcock, this professional observation forming a sort of parenthesis.

"However," said Michael, pursuing his tale, "my Lord of Morton, in a
mighty chafe, asked my Lord Regent whether he was well dealt with--'for
my brother,' said he, 'should have had a gift to be Commendator of
Kennaqubair, and to have all the temporalities erected into a lordship
of regality for his benefit; and here,' said he, 'the false monks have
had the insolence to choose a new Abbot to put his claim in my brother's
way; and moreover, the rascality of the neighbourhood have burnt and
plundered all that was left in the Abbey, so that my brother will
not have a house to dwell in, when he hath ousted the lazy hounds of
priests.' And my lord, seeing him chafed, said mildly to him, 'These
are shrewd tidings, Douglas, but I trust they be not true; for Halbert
Glendinning went southward yesterday, with a band of spears, and
assuredly, had either of these chances happened, that the monks had
presumed to choose an Abbot, or that the Abbey had been burnt, as
you say, he had taken order on the spot for the punishment of such
insolence, and had despatched us a messenger.' And the Earl of Morton
replied--now I pray you, Adam, to notice, that I say this out of love
to you and your lord, and also for old comradeship, and also because Sir
Halbert hath done me good, and may again--and also because I love not
the Earl of Morton, as indeed more fear than like him--so then it were
a foul deed in you to betray me.--'But,' said the Earl to the Regent,
'take heed, my lord, you trust not this Glendinning too far--he comes
of churl's blood, which was never true to the nobles'--by Saint Andrew,
these were his very words.--'And besides,' he said, 'he hath a brother,
a monk in Saint Mary's, and walks all by his guidance, and is making
friends on the Border with Buccleuch and with Ferniehirst, [Footnote:
Both these Border Chieftains were great friends of Queen Mary.] and will
join hand with them, were there likelihood of a new world.' And my lord
answered, like a free noble lord as he is; 'Tush! my Lord of Morton, I
will be warrant for Glendinning's faith; and for his brother, he is a
dreamer, that thinks of nought but book and breviary--and if such hap
have chanced as you tell of, I look to receive from Glendinning the cowl
of a hanged monk, and the head of a riotous churl, by way of sharp
and sudden justice.'--And my Lord of Morton left the place, and, as it
seemed to me, somewhat malecontent. But since that time, my lord has
asked me more than once whether there has arrived no messenger from the
Knight of Avenel. And all this I have told you, that you may frame your
discourse to the best purpose, for it seems to me that my lord will not
be well-pleased, if aught has happened like what my Lord of Morton said,
and if your lord hath not ta'en strict orders with it."

There was something in this communication which fairly blanked the bold
visage of Adam Woodcock, in spite of the reinforcement which his natural
hardihood had received from the berry-brown ale of Holyrood.

"What was it he said about a churl's head, that grim Lord of Morton?"
said the discontented falconer to his friend.

"Nay, it was my Lord Regent, who said that he expected, if the Abbey was
injured, your Knight would send him the head of the ringleader among the
rioters."

"Nay, but is this done like a good Protestant," said Adam Woodcock,
"or a true Lord of the Congregation? We used to be their white-boys and
darlings when we pulled down the convents in Fife and Perthshire." "Ay,
but that," said Michael, "was when old mother Rome held her own, and our
great folks were determined she should have no shelter for her head in
Scotland. But, now that the priests are fled in all quarters, and their
houses and lands are given to our grandees, they cannot see that we are
working the work of reformation in destroying the palaces of zealous
Protestants."

"But I tell you Saint Mary's is not destroyed!" said Woodcock, in
increasing agitation; "some trash of painted windows there were
broken--things that no nobleman could have brooked in his house--some
stone saints were brought on their marrow-bones, like old Widdrington at
Chevy-Chase; but as for fire-raising, there was not so much as a lighted
lunt amongst us, save the match which the dragon had to light the
burning tow withal, which he was to spit against Saint George; nay, I
had caution of that."

"How! Adam Woodcock," said his comrade, "I trust thou hadst no hand in
such a fair work? Look you, Adam, I were loth to terrify you, and you
just come from a journey; but I promise you, Earl Morton hath brought
you down a Maiden from Halifax, you never saw the like of her--and
she'll clasp you round the neck, and your head will remain in her arms."

"Pshaw!" answered Adam, "I am too old to have my head turned by any
maiden of them all. I know my Lord of Morton will go as far for a buxom
lass as anyone; but what the devil took him to Halifax all the way? and
if he has got a gamester there, what hath she to do with my head?"

"Much, much!" answered Michael. "Herod's daughter, who did such
execution with her foot and ankle, danced not men's heads off more
cleanly than this maiden of Morton. [Footnote: Maiden of Morton--a
species of Guillotine which the Regent Morton brought down from Halifax,
certainly at a period considerably later than intimated in the tale. He
was himself the first who suffered by the engine.] 'Tis an axe, man,--an
axe which falls of itself like a sash window, and never gives the
headsmen the trouble to wield it."

"By my faith, a shrewd device," said Woodcock; "heaven keep us free
on't!"

The page, seeing no end to the conversation betwixt these two old
comrades, and anxious from what he had heard, concerning the fate of the
Abbot, now interrupted their conference.

"Methinks," he said, "Adam Woodcock, thou hadst better deliver thy
master's letter to the Regent; questionless he hath therein stated
what has chanced at Kennaquhair, in the way most advantageous for all
concerned."

"The boy is right," said Michael Wing-the-wind, "my lord will be very
impatient."

"The child hath wit enough to keep himself warm," said Adam Woodcock,
producing from his hawking-bag his lord's letter, addressed to the Earl
of Murray, "and for that matter so have I. So, Master Roland, you will
e'en please to present this yourself to the Lord Regent; his presence
will be better graced by a young page than by an old falconer."

"Well said, canny Yorkshire!" replied his friend; "and but now you were
so earnest to see our good lord!--Why, wouldst thou put the lad into
the noose that thou mayst slip tether thyself?--or dost thou think
the maiden will clasp his fair young neck more willingly than thy old
sunburnt weasand?"

"Go to," answered the falconer; "thy wit towers high an it could strike
the quarry. I tell thee, the youth has nought to fear--he had nothing
to do with the gambol--a rare gambol it was, Michael, as mad-caps ever
played; and I had made as rare a ballad, if we had had the luck to get
it sung to an end. But mum for that--_tace_, as I said before, is Latin
for a candle. Carry the youth to the presence, and I will remain here,
with bridle in hand, ready to strike the spurs up to the rowel-heads, in
case the hawk flies my way.--I will soon put Soltraedge, I trow, betwixt
the Regent and me, if he means me less than fair play."

"Come on then, my lad," said Michael, "since thou must needs take
the spring before canny Yorkshire." So saying, he led the way through
winding passages, closely followed by Roland Graeme, until they arrived
at a large winding stone stair, the steps of which were so long and
broad, and at the same time so low, as to render the ascent uncommonly
easy. When they had ascended about the height of one story, the
guide stepped aside, and pushed open the door of a dark and gloomy
antechamber; so dark, indeed, that his youthful companion stumbled, and
nearly fell down upon a low step, which was awkwardly placed on the very
threshold.

"Take heed," said Michael Wing-the-wind, in a very low tone of voice,
and first glancing cautiously round to see if any one listened--"Take
heed, my young friend, for those who fall on these boards seldom rise
again--Seest thou that," he added, in a still lower voice, pointing to
some dark crimson stains on the floor, on which a ray of light, shot
through a small aperture, and traversing the general gloom of the
apartment, fell with mottled radiance--"Seest thou that, youth?--walk
warily, for men have fallen here before you."

"What mean you?" said the page, his flesh creeping, though he scarce
knew why; "Is it blood?"

"Ay, ay," said the domestic, in the same whispering tone, and dragging
the youth on by the arm--"Blood it is,--but this is no time to question,
or even to look at it. Blood it is, foully and fearfully shed, as foully
and fearfully avenged. The blood," he added, in a still more cautious
tone, "of Seignior David."

Roland Graeme's heart throbbed when he found himself so unexpectedly in
the scene of Rizzio's slaughter, a catastrophe which had chilled with
horror all even in that rude age, which had been the theme of wonder and
pity through every cottage and castle in Scotland, and had not escaped
that of Avenel. But his guide hurried him forward, permitting no farther
question, and with the manner of one who has already tampered too much
with a dangerous subject. A tap which he made at a low door at one end
of the vestibule, was answered by a huissier or usher, who, opening
it cautiously, received Michael's intimation that a page waited the
Regent's leisure, who brought letters from the Knight of Avenel.

"The Council is breaking up," said the usher; "but give me the packet;
his Grace the Regent will presently see the messenger."

"The packet," replied the page, "must be delivered into the Regent's own
hands; such were the orders of my master."

The usher looked at him from head to foot, as if surprised at his
boldness, and then replied, with some asperity, "Say you so, my young
master? Thou crowest loudly to be but a chicken, and from a country
barn-yard too."

"Were it a time or place," said Roland, "thou shouldst see I can do
more than crow; but do your duty, and let the Regent know I wait his
pleasure."

"Thou art but a pert knave to tell me of my duty," said the courtier
in office; "but I will find a time to show you you are out of yours;
meanwhile, wait there till you are wanted." So saying, he shut the door
in Roland's face.

Michael Wing-the-wind, who had shrunk from his youthful companion during
this altercation, according to the established maxim of courtiers of
all ranks, and in all ages, now transgressed their prudential line of
conduct so far as to come up to him once more. "Thou art a hopeful young
springald," said he, "and I see right well old Yorkshire had reason in
his caution. Thou hast been five minutes in the court, and hast employed
thy time so well, as to make a powerful and a mortal enemy out of the
usher of the council-chamber. Why, man, you might almost as well have
offended the deputy butler!"

"I care not what he is," said Roland Graeme; "I will teach whomever I
speak with to speak civilly to me in return. I did not come from Avenel
to be browbeaten in Holyrood."

"Bravo, my lad!" said Michael; "it is a fine spirit if you can but hold
it--but see, the door opens."

The usher appeared, and, in a more civil tone of voice and manner, said,
that his Grace the Regent would receive the Knight of Avenel's message;
and accordingly marshalled Roland Graeme the way into the apartment,
from which the Council had been just dismissed, after finishing their
consultations. There was in the room a long oaken table, surrounded by
stools of the same wood, with a large elbow chair, covered with crimson
velvet, at the head. Writing materials and papers were lying there
in apparent disorder; and one or two of the privy counsellors who had
lingered behind, assuming their cloaks, bonnets, and swords, and bidding
farewell to the Regent, were departing slowly by a large door, on the
opposite side to that through which the page entered. Apparently the
Earl of Murray had made some jest, for the smiling countenances of the
statesmen expressed that sort of cordial reception which is paid by
courtiers to the condescending pleasantries of a prince.

The Regent himself was laughing heartily as he said, "Farewell, my
lords, and hold me remembered to the Cock of the North."

He then turned slowly round towards Roland Graeme, and the marks of
gaiety, real or assumed, disappeared from his countenance, as completely
as the passing bubbles leave the dark mirror of a still profound lake
into which a traveller has cast a stone; in the course of a minute his
noble features had assumed their natural expression of deep and even
melancholy gravity.

This distinguished statesman, for as such his worst enemies acknowledged
him, possessed all the external dignity, as well as almost all the
noble qualities, which could grace the power that he enjoyed; and had he
succeeded to the throne as his legitimate inheritance, it is probable he
would have been recorded as one of Scotland's wisest and greatest kings.
But that he held his authority by the deposition and imprisonment of
his sister and benefactress, was a crime which those only can excuse
who think ambition an apology for ingratitude. He was dressed plainly
in black velvet, after the Flemish fashion, and wore in his high-crowned
hat a jewelled clasp, which looped it up on one side, and formed the
only ornament of his apparel. He had his poniard by his side, and his
sword lay on the council table.

Such was the personage before whom Roland Graeme now presented himself,
with a feeling of breathless awe, very different from the usual boldness
and vivacity of his temper. In fact, he was, from education and nature,
forward, but not impudent, and was much more easily controlled by the
moral superiority, arising from the elevated talents and renown of those
with whom he conversed, than by pretensions founded only on rank or
external show. He might have braved with indifference the presence of an
earl, merely distinguished by his belt and coronet; but he felt overawed
in that of the eminent soldier and statesman, the wielder of a nation's
power, and the leader of her armies.--The greatest and wisest are
flattered by the deference of youth--so graceful and becoming in itself;
and Murray took, with much courtesy, the letter from the hands of
the abashed and blushing page, and answered with complaisance to the
imperfect and half-muttered greeting, which he endeavoured to deliver to
him on the part of Sir Halbert of Avenel. He even paused a moment ere
he broke the silk with which the letter was secured, to ask the page his
name--so much he was struck with his very handsome features and form.

"Roland Graeme," he said, repeating the words after the hesitating page.
"What! of the Grahams of the Lennox?"

"No, my lord," replied Roland; "my parents dwelt in the Debateable
Land."

Murray made no further inquiry, but proceeded to read his dispatches;
during the perusal of which his brow began to assume a stern expression
of displeasure, as that of one who found something which at once
surprised and disturbed him. He sat down on the nearest seat, frowned
till his eyebrows almost met together, read the letter twice over, and
was then silent for several minutes. At length, raising his head, his
eye encountered that of the usher, who in vain endeavoured to exchange
the look of eager and curious observation with which he had been
perusing the Regent's features, for that open and unnoticing expression
of countenance, which, in looking at all, seems as if it saw and marked
nothing--a cast of look which may be practised with advantage by all
those, of whatever degree, who are admitted to witness the familiar and
unguarded hours of their superiors. Great men are as jealous of their
thoughts as the wife of King Candaules was of her charms, and will as
readily punish those who have, however involuntarily, beheld them in
mental deshabille and exposure.

"Leave the apartment, Hyndman," said the Regent, sternly, "and carry
your observation elsewhere. You are too knowing, sir, for your post,
which, by special order, is destined for men of blunter capacity. So!
now you look more like a fool than you did,"--(for Hyndman, as may
easily be supposed, was not a little disconcerted by this rebuke)--"keep
that confused stare, and it may keep your office. Begone, sir!"

The usher departed in dismay, not forgetting to register, amongst his
other causes of dislike to Roland Graeme, that he had been the witness
of this disgraceful chiding. When he had left the apartment, the Regent
again addressed the page.

"Your name, you say, is Armstrong?"

"No," replied Roland, "my name is Graeme, so please you--Roland Graeme,
whose forbears were designated of Heathergill, in the Debateable Land."

"Ay, I knew it was a name from the Debateable Land. Hast thou any
acquaintance in Edinburgh?"

"My lord," replied Roland, willing rather to evade this question than
to answer it directly, for the prudence of being silent with respect
to Lord Seyton's adventure immediately struck him, "I have been in
Edinburgh scarce an hour, and that for the first time in my life."

"What! and thou Sir Halbert Glendinning's page?" said the Regent.

"I was brought up as my Lady's page," said the youth, "and left Avenel
Castle for the first time in my life--at least since my childhood--only
three days since."

"My Lady's page!" repeated the Earl of Murray, as if speaking to
himself; "it was strange to send his Lady's page on a matter of such
deep concernment--Morton will say it is of a piece with the nomination
of his brother to be Abbot; and yet in some sort an inexperienced youth
will best serve the turn.--What hast thou been taught, young man, in thy
doughty apprenticeship?"

"To hunt, my lord, and to hawk," said Roland Graeme.

"To hunt coneys, and to hawk at ouzels!" said the Regent, smiling; "for
such are the sports of ladies and their followers."

Graeme's cheek reddened deeply as he replied, not without some emphasis,
"To hunt red-deer of the first head, and to strike down herons of the
highest soar, my lord, which, in Lothian speech, may be termed, for
aught I know, coneys and ouzels;-also I can wield a brand and couch a
lance, according to our Border meaning; in inland speech these may be
termed water-flags and bulrushes."

"Thy speech rings like metal," said the Regent, "and I pardon the
sharpness of it for the truth.--Thou knowest, then, what belongs to the
duty of a man-at-arms?"

"So far as exercise can teach--it without real service in the field,"
answered Roland Graeme; "but our Knight permitted none of his household
to make raids, and I never had the good fortune to see a stricken
field."

"The good fortune!" repeated the Regent, smiling somewhat sorrowfully,
"take my word, young man, war is the only game from which both parties
rise losers."

"Not always, my lord!" answered the page, with his characteristic
audacity, "if fame speaks truth."

"How, sir?" said the Regent, colouring in his turn, and perhaps
suspecting an indiscreet allusion to the height which he himself had
attained by the hap of civil war.

"Because, my lord," said Roland Graeme, without change of tone, "he who
fights well, must have fame in life, or honour in death; and so war is a
game from which no one can rise a loser."

The Regent smiled and shook his head, when at that moment the door
opened, and the Earl of Morton presented himself.

"I come somewhat hastily," he said, "and I enter unannounced because my
news are of weight--It is as I said; Edward Glendinning is named Abbot,
and--"

"Hush, my lord!" said the Regent, "I know it, but--"

"And perhaps you knew it before I did, my Lord of Murray," answered
Morton, his dark red brow growing darker and redder as he spoke.

"Morton," said Murray, "suspect me not--touch not mine honour--I have
to suffer enough from the calumnies of foes, let me not have to contend
with the unjust suspicions of my friends.--We are not alone," said he,
recollecting himself, "or I could tell you more."

He led Morton into one of the deep embrasures which the windows formed
in the massive wall, and which afforded a retiring place for their
conversing apart. In this recess, Roland observed them speak together
with much earnestness, Murray appearing to be grave and earnest, and
Morton having a jealous and offended air, which seemed gradually to give
way to the assurances of the Regent.

As their conversation grew more earnest, they became gradually louder
in speech, having perhaps forgotten the presence of the page, the more
readily as his position in the apartment placed him put of sight, so
that he found himself unwillingly privy to more of their discourse than
he cared to hear. For, page though he was, a mean curiosity after the
secrets of others had never been numbered amongst Roland's failings;
and moreover, with all his natural rashness, he could not but doubt the
safety of becoming privy to the secret discourse of these powerful and
dreaded men. Still he could neither stop his ears, nor with propriety
leave the apartment; and while he thought of some means of signifying
his presence, he had already heard so much, that, to have produced
himself suddenly would have been as awkward, and perhaps as dangerous,
as in quiet to abide the end of their conference. What he overheard,
however, was but an imperfect part of their communication; and although
an expert politician, acquainted with the circumstances of the times,
would have had little difficulty in tracing the meaning, yet Roland
Graeme could only form very general and vague conjectures as to the
import of their discourse.

"All is prepared," said Murray, "and Lindsay is setting forward--She
must hesitate no longer--thou seest I act by thy counsel, and harden
myself against softer considerations."

"True, my lord," replied Morton, "in what is necessary to gain power,
you do not hesitate, but go boldly to the mark. But are you as careful
to defend and preserve what you have won?--Why this establishment of
domestics around her?--has not your sister men and maidens enough
to tend her, but you must consent to this superfluous and dangerous
retinue?"

"For shame, Morton!--a Princess, and my sister, could I do less than
allow her due attendance?"

"Ay," replied Morton, "even thus fly all your shafts--smartly enough
loosened from the bow, and not unskilfully aimed--but a breath of
foolish affection ever crosses in the mid volley, and sways the arrow
from the mark."

"Say not so, Morton," replied Murray, "I have both dared and done--"

"Yes, enough to gain, but not enough to keep--reckon not that she will
think and act thus--you have wounded her deeply, both in pride and
in power--it signifies nought, that you would tent now the wound with
unavailing salves--as matters stand with you, you must forfeit the
title of an affectionate brother, to hold that of a bold and determined
statesman."

"Morton!" said Murray, with some impatience, "I brook not these
taunts--what I have done I have done--what I must farther do, I must
and will--but I am not made of iron like thee, and I cannot but
remember--Enough of this-my purpose holds."

"And I warrant me," said Morton, "the choice of these domestic
consolations will rest with--"

Here he whispered names which escaped Roland Graeme's ear. Murray
replied in a similar tone, but so much raised towards the conclusion, of
the sentence, that the page heard these words--"And of him I hold myself
secure, by Glendinning's recommendation."

"Ay, which may be as much trustworthy as his late conduct at the Abbey
of Saint Mary's--you have heard that his brother's election has taken
place. Your favourite Sir Halbert, my Lord of Murray, has as much
fraternal affection as yourself."

"By heaven, Morton, that taunt demanded an unfriendly answer, but I
pardon it, for your brother also is concerned; but this election shall
be annulled. I tell you, Earl of Morton, while I hold the sword of state
in my royal nephew's name, neither Lord nor Knight in Scotland shall
dispute my authority; and if I bear--with insults from my friends, it is
only while I know them to be such, and forgive their follies for their
faithfulness."

Morton muttered what seemed to be some excuse, and the Regent answered
him in a milder tone, and then subjoined, "Besides, I have another
pledge than Glendinning's recommendation, for this youth's fidelity--his
nearest relative has placed herself in my hands as his security, to be
dealt withal as his doings shall deserve."

"That is something," replied Morton; "but yet in fair love and goodwill,
I must still pray you to keep on your guard. The foes are stirring
again, as horse-flies and hornets become busy so soon as the storm-blast
is over. George of Seyton was crossing the causeway this morning with a
score of men at his back, and had a ruffle with my friends of the
house of Leslie--they met at the Tron, and were fighting hard, when the
provost, with his guard of partisans, came in thirdsman, and staved them
asunder with their halberds, as men part dog and bear."

"He hath my order for such interference," said the Regent--"Has any one
been hurt?"

"George of Seyton himself, by black Ralph Leslie--the devil take the
rapier that ran not through from side to side! Ralph has a bloody
coxcomb, by a blow from a messan-page whom nobody knew--Dick Seyton of
Windygowl is run through the arm, and two gallants of the Leslies have
suffered phlebotomy. This is all the gentle blood which has been spilled
in the revel; but a yeoman or two on both sides have had bones broken
and ears chopped. The ostlere-wives, who are like to be the only losers
by their miscarriage, have dragged the knaves off the street, and are
crying a drunken coronach over them."

"You take it lightly, Douglas," said the Regent; "these broils and feuds
would shame the capital of the great Turk, let alone that of a Christian
and reformed state. But, if I live, this gear shall be amended; and men
shall say, when they read my story, that if it were my cruel hap to rise
to power by the dethronement of a sister, I employed it, when gained,
for the benefit of the commonweal."

"And of your friends," replied Morton; "wherefore I trust for your
instant order annulling the election of this lurdane Abbot, Edward
Glendinning."

"You shall be presently satisfied." said the Regent; and stepping
forward, he began to call, "So ho, Hyndman!" when suddenly his eye
lighted on Roland Graeme--"By my faith, Douglas," said he, turning to
his friend, "here have been three at counsel!"

"Ay, but only two can keep counsel," said Morton; "the galliard must be
disposed of."

"For shame, Morton--an orphan boy!--Hearken thee, my child--Thou hast
told me some of thy accomplishments--canst thou speak truth?" "Ay, my
lord, when it serves my turn," replied Graeme.

"It shall serve thy turn now," said the Regent; "and falsehood shall be
thy destruction. How much hast thou heard or understood of what we two
have spoken together?"

"But little, my lord," replied Roland Graeme boldly, "which met my
apprehension, saving that it seemed to me as if in something you doubted
the faith of the Knight of Avenel, under whose roof I was nurtured."

"And what hast thou to say on that point, young man?" continued the
Regent, bending his eyes upon him with a keen and strong expression of
observation.

"That," said the page, "depends on the quality of those who speak
against his honour whose bread I have long eaten. If they be my
inferiors, I say they lie, and will maintain what I say with my baton;
if my equals, still I say they lie, and will do battle in the quarrel,
if they list, with my sword; if my superiors"--he paused.

"Proceed boldly," said the Regent--"What if thy superiors said aught
that nearly touched your master's honour?"

"I would say," replied Graeme, "that he did ill to slander the absent,
and that my master was a man who could render an account of his actions
to any one who should manfully demand it of him to his face."

"And it were manfully said," replied the Regent--"what thinkest thou, my
Lord of Morton?"

"I think," replied Morton, "that if the young galliard resemble a
certain ancient friend of ours, as much in the craft of his disposition
as he does in eye and in brow, there may be a wide difference betwixt
what he means and what he speaks."

"And whom meanest thou that he resembles so closely?" said Murray.

"Even the true and trusty Julian Avenel," replied Morton.

"But this youth belongs to the Debateable Land," said Murray.

"It may be so; but Julian was an outlaying striker of venison, and made
many a far cast when he had a fair doe in chase."

"Pshaw!" said the Regent, "this is but idle talk--Here,
thou Hyndman--thou curiosity," calling to the usher, who now
entered,--"conduct this youth to his companion--You will both," he
said to Graeme, "keep yourselves in readiness to travel on short
notice."--And then motioning to him courteously to withdraw, he broke up
the interview.



Chapter the Nineteenth.


  It is and is not--'tis the thing I sought for,
  Have kneel'd for, pray'd for, risk'd my fame and life for,
  And yet it is not--no more than the shadow
  Upon the hard, cold, flat, and polished mirror,
  Is the warm, graceful, rounded, living substance
  Which it presents in form and lineament.
                                     OLD PLAY.

The usher, with gravity which ill concealed a jealous scowl, conducted
Roland Graeme to a lower apartment, where he found his comrade the
falconer. The man of office then briefly acquainted them that this would
be their residence till his Grace's farther orders; that they were to go
to the pantry, to the buttery, to the cellar, and to the kitchen, at
the usual hours, to receive the allowances becoming their
station,--instructions which Adam Woodcock's old familiarity with the
court made him perfectly understand--"For your beds," he said, "you must
go to the hostelry of Saint Michael's, in respect the palace is now full
of the domestics of the greater nobles."

No sooner was the usher's back turned than Adam exclaimed with all
the glee of eager curiosity, "And now, Master Roland, the news--the
news--come unbutton thy pouch, and give us thy tidings--What says the
Regent? asks he for Adam Woodcock?--and is all soldered up, or must the
Abbot of Unreason strap for it?"

"All is well in that quarter," said the page; "and for the rest--But,
hey-day, what! have you taken the chain and medal off from my bonnet?"

"And meet time it was, when yon usher, vinegar-faced rogue that he is,
began to inquire what Popish trangam you were wearing.--By the mass, the
metal would have been confiscated for conscience-sake, like your other
rattle-trap yonder at Avenel, which Mistress Lilias bears about on her
shoes in the guise of a pair of shoe-buckles--This comes of carrying
Popish nicknackets about you."

"The jade!" exclaimed Roland Graeme, "has she melted down my rosary into
buckles for her clumsy hoofs, which will set off such a garnish nearly
as well as a cow's might?--But, hang her, let her keep them--many a
dog's trick have I played old Lilias, for want of having something
better to do, and the buckles will serve for a remembrance. Do you
remember the verjuice I put into the comfits, when old Wingate and she
were to breakfast together on Easter morning?"

"In troth do I, Master Roland--the major-domo's mouth was as crooked as
a hawk's beak for the whole morning afterwards, and any other page in
your room would have tasted the discipline of the porter's lodge for it.
But my Lady's favour stood between your skin and many a jerking--Lord
send you may be the better for her protection in such matters!"

"I am least grateful for it, Adam! and I am glad you put me in mind of
it."

"Well, but the news, my young master," said Woodcock, "spell me the
tidings--what are we to fly at next?--what did the Regent say to you?"

"Nothing that I am to repeat again," said Roland Graeme, shaking his
head.

"Why, hey-day," said Adam, "how prudent we are become all of a sudden!
You have advanced rarely in brief space, Master Roland. You have well
nigh had your head broken, and you have gained your gold chain, and you
have made an enemy, Master Usher to wit, with his two legs like hawks'
perches, and you have had audience of the first man in the realm, and
bear as much mystery in your brow, as if you had flown in the court-sky
ever since you were hatched. I believe, in my soul, you would run with a
piece of the egg-shell on your head like the curlews, which (I would we
were after them again) we used to call whaups in the Halidome and its
neighbourhood. But sit thee down, boy; Adam Woodcock was never the lad
to seek to enter into forbidden secrets--sit thee down, and I will go
and fetch the vivers--I know the butler and the pantler of old."

The good-natured falconer set forth upon his errand, busying himself
about procuring their refreshment; and, during his absence, Roland
Graeme abandoned himself to the strange, complicated, and yet
heart-stirring reflections, to which the events of the morning had given
rise. Yesterday he was of neither mark nor likelihood; a vagrant boy,
the attendant on a relative, of whose sane judgment he himself had
not the highest opinion; but now he had become, he knew not why, or
wherefore, or to what extent, the custodier, as the Scottish phrase
went, of some important state secret, in the safe keeping of which the
Regent himself was concerned. It did not diminish from, but rather added
to the interest of a situation so unexpected, that Roland himself
did not perfectly understand wherein he stood committed by the state
secrets, in which he had unwittingly become participator. On the
contrary, he felt like one who looks on a romantic landscape, of which
he sees the features for the first time, and then obscured with mist and
driving tempest. The imperfect glimpse which the eye catches of rocks,
trees, and other objects around him, adds double dignity to these
shrouded mountains and darkened abysses, of which the height, depth, and
extent, are left to imagination.

But mortals, especially at the well-appetized age which precedes twenty
years, are seldom so much engaged either by real or conjectural subjects
of speculation, but that their earthly wants claim their hour of
attention. And with many a smile did our hero, so the reader may term
him if he will, hail the re-appearance of his friend Adam Woodcock,
bearing on one platter a tremendous portion of boiled beef, and on
another a plentiful allowance of greens, or rather what the Scotch call
lang-kale. A groom followed with bread, salt, and the other means of
setting forth a meal; and when they had both placed on the oaken table
what they bore in their hands, the falconer observed, that since he knew
the court, it had got harder and harder every day to the poor gentlemen
and yeoman retainers, but that now it was an absolute flaying of a flea
for the hide and tallow. Such thronging to the wicket, and such
churlish answers, and such bare beef-bones, such a shouldering at
the buttery-hatch and cellarage, and nought to be gained beyond small
insufficient single ale, or at best with a single straike of malt to
counterbalance a double allowance of water--"By the mass, though, my
young friend," said he, while he saw the food disappearing fast under
Roland's active exertions, "it is not so to well to lament for former
times as to take the advantage of the present, else we are like to lose
on both sides."

So saying, Adam Woodcock drew his chair towards the table, unsheathed
his knife, (for every one carried that minister of festive distribution
for himself,) and imitated his young companion's example, who for the
moment had lost his anxiety for the future in the eager satisfaction of
an appetite sharpened by youth and abstinence.

In truth, they made, though the materials were sufficiently simple, a
very respectable meal, at the expense of the royal allowance; and Adam
Woodcock, notwithstanding the deliberate censure which he had passed on
the household beer of the palace, had taken the fourth deep draught
of the black jack ere he remembered him that he had spoken in its
dispraise. Flinging himself jollily and luxuriously back in an old
danske elbow-chair, and looking with careless glee towards the page,
extending at the same time his right leg, and stretching the other
easily over it, he reminded his companion that he had not yet heard
the ballad which he had made for the Abbot of Unreason's revel. And
accordingly he struck merrily up with

  "The Pope, that pagan full of pride,
   Has blinded us full lang."------

Roland Graeme, who felt no great delight, as may be supposed, in the
falconer's satire, considering its subject, began to snatch up his
mantle, and fling it around his shoulders, an action which instantly
interrupted the ditty of Adam Woodcock.

"Where the vengeance are you going now," he said, "thou restless
boy?--Thou hast quicksilver in the veins of thee to a certainty, and
canst no more abide any douce and sensible communing, than a hoodless
hawk would keep perched on my wrist!"

"Why, Adam," replied the page, "if you must needs know, I am about to
take a walk and look at this fair city. One may as well be still mewed
up in the old castle of the lake, if one is to sit the live-long night
between four walls, and hearken to old ballads."

"It is a new ballad--the Lord help thee!" replied Adam, "and that one of
the best that ever was matched with a rousing chorus."

"Be it so," said the page, "I will hear it another day, when the rain
is dashing against the windows, and there is neither steed stamping, nor
spur jingling, nor feather waving in the neighbourhood to mar my marking
it well. But, even now, I want to be in the world, and to look about
me."

"But the never a stride shall you go without me," said the falconer,
"until the Regent shall take you whole and sound off my hand; and so, if
you will, we may go to the hostelrie of Saint Michael's, and there you
will see company enough, but through the casement, mark you me; for as
to rambling through the street to seek Seytons and Leslies, and having
a dozen holes drilled in your new jacket with rapier and poniard, I will
yield no way to it."

"To the hostelrie of Saint Michael's, then, with all my heart," said the
page; and they left the palace accordingly, rendered to the sentinels
at the gate, who had now taken their posts for the evening, a strict
account of their names and business, were dismissed through a small
wicket of the close-barred portal, and soon reached the inn or hostelrie
of Saint Michael, which stood in a large court-yard, off the main
street, close under the descent of the Calton-hill. The place, wide,
waste, and uncomfortable, resembled rather an Eastern caravansary, where
men found shelter indeed, but were obliged to supply themselves with
every thing else, than one of our modern inns;

  Where not one comfort shall to those be lost,
  Who never ask, or never feel, the cost.

But still, to the inexperienced eye of Roland Graeme, the bustle and
confusion of this place of public resort, furnished excitement and
amusement. In the large room, into which they had rather found their own
way than been ushered by mine host, travellers and natives of the city
entered and departed, met and greeted, gamed or drank together, forming
the strongest contrast to the stern and monotonous order and silence
with which matters were conducted in the well-ordered household of the
Knight of Avenel. Altercation of every kind, from brawling to jesting,
was going on amongst the groups around them, and yet the noise and
mingled voices seemed to disturb no one and indeed to be noticed by
no others than by those who composed the group to which the speaker
belonged.

The falconer passed through the apartment to a projecting latticed
window, which formed a sort of recess from the room itself; and
having here ensconced himself and his companion, he called for some
refreshments; and a tapster, after he had shouted for the twentieth
time, accommodated him with the remains of a cold capon and a neat's
tongue, together with a pewter stoup of weak French vin-de-pays. "Fetch
a stoup of brandy-wine, thou knave--We will be jolly to-night, Master
Roland," said he, when he saw himself thus accommodated, "and let care
come to-morrow."

But Roland had eaten too lately to enjoy the good cheer; and feeling his
curiosity much sharper than his appetite, he made it his choice to
look out of the lattice, which overhung a large yard, surrounded by the
stables of the hostelrie, and fed his eyes on the busy sight beneath,
while Adam Woodcock, after he had compared his companion to the "Laird
of Macfarlane's geese, who liked their play better than their meat,"
disposed of his time with the aid of cup and trencher, occasionally
humming the burden of his birth-strangled ballad, and beating time to
it with his fingers on the little round table. In this exercise he was
frequently interrupted by the exclamations of his companion, as he saw
something new in the yard beneath, to attract and interest him.

It was a busy scene, for the number of gentlemen and nobles who were now
crowded into the city, had filled all spare stables and places of public
reception with their horses and military attendants. There were some
score of yeomen, dressing their own or their masters' horses in the
yard, whistling, singing, laughing, and upbraiding each other, in a
style of wit which the good order of Avenel Castle rendered strange
to Roland Graeme's ears. Others were busy repairing their own arms, or
cleaning those of their masters. One fellow, having just bought a bundle
of twenty spears, was sitting in a corner, employed in painting the
white staves of the weapons with yellow and vermillion. Other lacqueys
led large stag-hounds, or wolf-dogs, of noble race, carefully muzzled to
prevent accidents to passengers. All came and went, mixed together and
separated, under the delighted eye of the page, whose imagination had
not even conceived a scene so gaily diversified with the objects he
had most pleasure in beholding; so that he was perpetually breaking the
quiet reverie of honest Woodcock, and the mental progress which he was
making in his ditty, by exclaiming, "Look here, Adam--look at the bonny
bay horse--Saint Anthony, what, a gallant forehand he hath got!--and see
the goodly gray, which yonder fellow in the frieze-jacket is dressing
as awkwardly as if he had never touched aught but a cow--I would I were
nigh him to teach him his trade!--And lo you, Adam, the gay Milan armour
that the yeoman is scouring, all steel and silver, like our Knight's
prime suit, of which old Wingate makes such account--And see to yonder
pretty wench, Adam, who comes tripping through them all with her
milk-pail--I warrant me she has had a long walk from the loaning; she
has a stammel waistcoat, like your favourite Cicely Sunderland, Master
Adam!"

"By my hood, lad," answered the falconer, "it is well for thee thou wert
brought up where grace grew. Even in the Castle of Avenel thou wert
a wild-blood enough, but hadst thou been nurtured here, within a
flight-shot of the Court, thou hadst been the veriest crack-hemp of a
page that ever wore feather in thy bonnet or steel by thy side: truly, I
wish it may end well with thee."

"Nay, but leave thy senseless humming and drumming, old Adam, and come
to the window ere thou hast drenched thy senses in the pint-pot there.
See here comes a merry minstrel with his crowd, and a wench with him,
that dances with bells at her ankles; and see, the yeomen and pages
leave their horses and the armour they were cleaning, and gather round,
as is very natural, to hear the music. Come, old Adam, we will thither
too."

"You shall call me cutt if I do go down," said Adam; "you are near as
good minstrelsy as the stroller can make, if you had but the grace to
listen to it."

"But the wench in the stammel waistcoat is stopping too, Adam--by
heaven, they are going to dance! Frieze-jacket wants to dance with
stammel waistcoat, but she is coy and recusant."

Then suddenly changing his tone of levity into one of deep interest and
surprise, he exclaimed, "Queen of Heaven! what is it that I see!" and
then remained silent.

The sage Adam Woodcock, who was in a sort of languid degree amused with
the page's exclamations, even while he professed to despise them, became
at length rather desirous to set his tongue once more a-going, that he
might enjoy the superiority afforded by his own intimate familiarity
with all the circumstances which excited in his young companion's mind
so much wonderment.

"Well, then," he said at last, "what is it you do see, Master Roland,
that you have become mute all of a sudden?"

Roland returned no answer.

"I say, Master Roland Graeme," said the falconer, "it is manners in my
country for a man to speak when he is spoken to."

Roland Graeme remained silent.

"The murrain is in the boy," said Adam Woodcock, "he has stared out his
eyes, and talked his tongue to pieces, I think."

The falconer hastily drank off his can of wine, and came to Roland,
who stood like a statue, with his eyes eagerly bent on the court-yard,
though Adam Woodcock was unable to detect amongst the joyous scenes
which it exhibited aught that could deserve such devoted attention.

"The lad is mazed!" said the falconer to himself.

But Roland Graeme had good reasons for his surprise, though they were
not such as he could communicate to his companion.

The touch of the old minstrel's instrument, for he had already begun to
play, had drawn in several auditors from the street when one entered the
gate of the yard, whose appearance exclusively arrested the attention of
Roland Graeme. He was of his own age, or a good deal younger, and from
his dress and bearing might be of the same rank and calling, having all
the air of coxcombry and pretension, which accorded with a handsome,
though slight and low figure, and an elegant dress, in part hid by
a large purple cloak. As he entered, he cast a glance up towards the
windows, and, to his extreme astonishment, under the purple velvet
bonnet and white feather, Roland recognized the features so deeply
impressed on his memory, the bright and clustered tresses, the laughing
full blue eyes, the well-formed eyebrows, the nose, with the slightest
possible inclination to be aquiline, the ruby lip, of which an arch and
half-suppressed smile seemed the habitual expression--in short, the form
and face of Catherine Seyton; in man's attire, however, and mimicking,
as it seemed, not unsuccessfully, the bearing of a youthful but forward
page.

"Saint George and Saint Andrew!" exclaimed the amazed Roland Graeme to
himself, "was there ever such an audacious quean!--she seems a little
ashamed of her mummery too, for she holds the lap of her cloak to her
face, and her colour is heightened--but Santa Maria, how she threads the
throng, with as firm and bold a step as if she had never tied petticoat
round her waist!--Holy Saints! she holds up her riding-rod as if she
would lay it about some of their ears, that stand most in her way--by
the hand of my father! she bears herself like the very model of
pagehood.--Hey! what! sure she will not strike frieze-jacket in
earnest?" But he was not long left in doubt; for the lout whom he had
before repeatedly noticed, standing in the way of the bustling page, and
maintaining his place with clownish obstinacy or stupidity, the advanced
riding-rod was, without a moment's hesitation, sharply applied to his
shoulders, in a manner which made him spring aside, rubbing the part of
the body which had received so unceremonious a hint that it was in the
way of his betters. The party injured growled forth an oath or two of
indignation, and Roland Graeme began to think of flying down stairs to
the assistance of the translated Catherine; but the laugh of the yard
was against frieze-jacket, which indeed had, in those days, small
chance of fair play in a quarrel with velvet and embroidery; so that
the fellow, who was menial in the inn, slunk back to finish his task of
dressing the bonny gray, laughed at by all, but most by the wench in the
stammel waistcoat, his fellow-servant, who, to crown his disgrace, had
the cruelty to cast an applauding smile upon the author of the injury,
while, with a freedom more like the milk-maid of the town than she of
the plains, she accosted him with--"Is there any one you want here, my
pretty gentleman, that you seem in such haste?"

"I seek a sprig of a lad," said the seeming gallant, "with a sprig of
holly in his cap, black hair, and black eyes, green jacket, and the air
of a country coxcomb--I have sought him through every close and alley in
the Canongate, the fiend gore him!"

"Why, God-a-mercy, Nun!" muttered Roland Graeme, much bewildered.

"I will inquire him presently out for your fair young worship," said the
wench of the inn.

"Do," said the gallant squire, "and if you bring me to him, you shall
have a groat to-night, and a kiss on Sunday when you have on a cleaner
kirtle."

"Why, God-a-mercy, Nun!" again muttered Roland, "this is a note above E
La."

In a moment after, the servant entered the room, and ushered in the
object of his surprise.

While the disguised vestal looked with unabashed brow, and bold and
rapid glance of her eye, through the various parties in the large old
room, Roland Graeme, who felt an internal awkward sense of bashful
confusion, which he deemed altogether unworthy of the bold and dashing
character to which he aspired, determined not to be browbeaten and
put down by this singular female, but to meet her with a glance of
recognition so sly, so penetrating, so expressively humorous, as should
show her at once he was in possession of her secret and master of her
fate, and should compel her to humble herself towards him, at least into
the look and manner of respectful and deprecating observance.

This was extremely well planned; but just as Roland had called up the
knowing glance, the suppressed smile, the shrewd intelligent look, which
was to ensure his triumph, he encountered the bold, firm, and steady
gaze of his brother or sister-page, who, casting on him a falcon glance,
and recognizing him at once as the object of his search, walked up with
the most unconcerned look, the most free and undaunted composure, and
hailed him with "You, Sir Holly-top, I would speak with you."

The steady coolness and assurance with which these words were uttered,
although the voice was the very voice he had heard at the old convent,
and although the features more nearly resembled those of Catharine when
seen close than when viewed from a distance, produced, nevertheless,
such a confusion in Roland's mind, that he became uncertain whether he
was not still under a mistake from the beginning; the knowing shrewdness
which should have animated his visage faded into a sheepish bashfulness,
and the half-suppressed but most intelligible smile, became the
senseless giggle of one who laughs to cover his own disorder of ideas.

"Do they understand a Scotch tongue in thy country, Holly-top?" said
this marvellous specimen of metamorphosis. "I said I would speak with
thee."

"What is your business with my comrade, my young chick of the game?"
said Adam Woodcock, willing to step in to his companion's assistance,
though totally at a loss to account for the sudden disappearance of all
Roland's usual smartness and presence of mind.

"Nothing to you, my old cock of the perch," replied the gallant; "go
mind your hawk's castings. I guess by your bag and your gauntlet that
you are squire of the body to a sort of kites."

He laughed as he spoke, and the laugh reminded Roland so irresistibly
of the hearty fit of risibility, in which Catherine had indulged at his
expense when they first met in the old nunnery, that he could scarce
help exclaiming, "Catherine Seyton, by Heavens!"--He checked the
exclamation, however, and only said, "I think, sir, we two are not
totally strangers to each other."

"We must have met in our dreams then" said the youth; "and my days are
too busy to remember what I think on at nights."

"Or apparently to remember upon one day those whom you may have seen on
the preceding eve" said Roland Graeme.

The youth in his turn cast on him a look of some surprise, as he
replied, "I know no more of what you mean than does the horse I ride
on--if there be offence in your words, you shall find me ready to take
it as any lad in Lothian."

"You know well," said Roland, "though it pleases you to use the language
of a stranger, that with you I have no purpose to quarrel."

"Let me do mine errand, then, and be rid of you," said the page. "Step
hither this way, out of that old leathern fist's hearing."

They walked into the recess of the window, which Roland had left upon
the youth's entrance into the apartment. The messenger then turned his
back on the company, after casting a hasty and sharp glance around to
see if they were observed. Roland did the same, and the page in the
purple mantle thus addressed him, taking at the same time from under his
cloak a short but beautifully wrought sword, with the hilt and ornaments
upon the sheath of silver, massively chased and over-gilded--"I bring
you this weapon from a friend, who gives it you under the solemn
condition, that you will not unsheath it until you are commanded by
your rightful Sovereign. For your warmth of temper is known, and the
presumption with which you intrude yourself into the quarrels of others;
and, therefore, this is laid upon you as a penance by those who wish you
well, and whose hand will influence your destiny for good or for evil.
This is what I was charged to tell you. So if you will give a fair word
for a fair sword, and pledge your promise, with hand and glove, good and
well; and if not, I will carry back Caliburn to those who sent it."

"And may I not ask who these are?" said Roland Graeme, admiring at the
same time the beauty of the weapon thus offered him.

"My commission in no way leads me to answer such a question," said he of
the purple mantle.

"But if I am offended" said Roland, "may I not draw to defend myself?"

"Not _this_ weapon," answered the sword-bearer; "but you have your own
at command, and, besides, for what do you wear your poniard?"

"For no good," said Adam Woodcock, who had now approached close to them,
"and that I can witness as well as any one."

"Stand back, fellow," said the messenger, "thou hast an intrusive
curious face, that will come by a buffet if it is found where it has no
concern."

"A buffet, my young Master Malapert?" said Adam, drawing back, however;
"best keep down fist, or, by Our Lady, buffet will beget buffet!"

"Be patient, Adam Woodcock," said Roland Graeme; "and let me pray
you, fair sir, since by such addition you choose for the present to
be addressed, may I not barely unsheathe this fair weapon, in pure
simplicity of desire to know whether so fair a hilt and scabbard are
matched with a befitting blade?"

"By no manner of means," said the messenger; "at a word, you must
take it under the promise that you never draw it until you receive the
commands of your lawful Sovereign, or you must leave it alone."

"Under that condition, and coming from your friendly hand, I accept of
the sword," said Roland, taking it from his hand; "but credit me, if we
are to work together in any weighty emprise, as I am induced to believe,
some confidence and openness on your part will be necessary to give the
right impulse to my zeal--I press for no more at present, it is enough
that you understand me."

"I understand you!" said the page, exhibiting the appearance of
unfeigned surprise in his turn,--"Renounce me if I do!--here you stand
jiggeting, and sniggling, and looking cunning, as if there were some
mighty matter of intrigue and common understanding betwixt you and me,
whom you never set your eyes on before!"

"What!" said Roland Graeme, "will you deny that we have met before?"

"Marry that I will, in any Christian court," said the other page.

"And will you also deny," said Roland, "that it was recommended to us
to study each other's features well, that in whatever disguise the time
might impose upon us, each should recognize in the other the secret
agent of a mighty work? Do not you remember, that Sister Magdalen and
Dame Bridget----"

The messenger here interrupted him, shrugging up his shoulders, with
a look of compassion, "Bridget and Magdalen! why, this is madness
and dreaming! Hark ye, Master Holly-top, your wits are gone on
wool-gathering; comfort yourself with a caudle, and thatch your
brain-sick noddle with a woollen night-cap, and so God be with you!"

As he concluded this polite parting address, Adam Woodcock, who was
again seated by the table on which stood the now empty can, said to him,
"Will you drink a cup, young man, in the way of courtesy, now you have
done your errand, and listen to a good song?" and without waiting for an
answer, he commenced his ditty,--

  "The Pope, that pagan full of pride,
  Hath blinded us full lang--"

It is probable that the good wine had made some innovation in the
falconer's brain, otherwise he would have recollected the danger of
introducing any thing like political or polemical pleasantry into a
public assemblage at a time when men's minds were in a state of great
irritability. To do him justice, he perceived his error, and stopped
short so soon as he saw that the word Pope had at once interrupted the
separate conversations of the various parties which were assembled in
the apartment; and that many began to draw themselves up, bridle, look
big, and prepare to take part in the impending brawl; while others,
more decent and cautious persons, hastily paid down their lawing, and
prepared to leave the place ere bad should come to worse.

And to worse it was soon likely to come; for no sooner did Woodcock's
ditty reach the ear of the stranger page, than, uplifting his
riding-rod, he exclaimed, "He who speaks irreverently of the Holy Father
of the church in my presence, is the cub of a heretic wolf-bitch, and I
will switch him as I would a mongrel-cur."

"And I will break thy young pate," said Adam, "if thou darest to lift a
finger to me." And then, in defiance of the young Drawcansir's threats,
with a stout heart and dauntless accent, he again uplifted the stave.

  "The Pope, that pagan full of pride.
  Hath blinded--"

But Adam was able to proceed no farther, being himself unfortunately
blinded by a stroke of the impatient youth's switch across his eyes.
Enraged at once by the smart and the indignity, the falconer started
up, and darkling as he was, for his eyes watered too fast to permit
his seeing any thing, he would soon have been at close grips with his
insolent adversary, had not Roland Graeme, contrary to his nature,
played for once the prudent man and the peacemaker, and thrown himself
betwixt them, imploring Woodcock's patience. "You know not," he said,
"with whom you have to do.--And thou," addressing the messenger, who
stood scornfully laughing at Adam's rage, "get thee gone, whoever
thou art; if thou be'st what I guess thee, thou well knowest there are
earnest reasons why thou shouldst."

"Thou hast hit it right for once, Holly-top," said the gallant, "though
I guess you drew your bow at a venture.--Here, host, let this yeoman
have a bottle of wine to wash the smart out of his eyes--and there is
a French crown for him." So saying, he threw the piece of money on the
table, and left the apartment, with a quick yet steady pace, looking
firmly at right and left, as if to defy interruption: and snapping his
fingers at two or three respectable burghers, who, declaring it was a
shame that any one should be suffered to rant and ruffle in defence of
the Pope, were labouring to find the hilts of their swords, which had
got for the present unhappily entangled in the folds of their cloaks.
But, as the adversary was gone ere any of them had reached his weapon,
they did not think it necessary to unsheath cold iron, but merely
observed to each other, "This is more than masterful violence, to see
a poor man stricken in the face just for singing a ballad against the
whore of Babylon! If the Pope's champions are to be bangsters in our
very change-houses, we shall soon have the old shavelings back again."

"The provost should look to it," said another, "and have some five or
six armed with partisans, to come in upon the first whistle, to teach
these gallants their lesson. For, look you, neighbour Lugleather, it
is not for decent householders like ourselves to be brawling with the
godless grooms and pert pages of the nobles, that are bred up to little
else save bloodshed and blasphemy."

"For all that, neighbour," said Lugleather, "I would have curried that
youngster as properly as ever I curried a lamb's hide, had not the hilt
of my bilbo been for the instant beyond my grasp; and before I could
turn my girdle, gone was my master!"

"Ay," said the others, "the devil go with him, and peace abide with
us--I give my rede, neighbours, that we pay the lawing, and be stepping
homeward, like brother and brother; for old Saint Giles's is tolling
curfew, and the street grows dangerous at night."

With that the good burghers adjusted their cloaks, and prepared for
their departure, while he that seemed the briskest of the three, laying
his hand on his Andrea Ferrara, observed, "that they that spoke in the
praise of the Pope on the High-gate of Edinburgh, had best bring the
sword of Saint Peter to defend them."

While the ill-humour excited by the insolence of the young aristocrat
was thus evaporating in empty menace, Roland Graeme had to control the
far more serious indignation of Adam Woodcock. "Why, man, it was but a
switch across the mazzard--blow your nose, dry your eyes, and you will
see all the better for it."

"By this light, which I cannot see," said Adam Woodcock, "thou hast been
a false friend to me, young man--neither taking up my rightful quarrel,
nor letting me fight it out myself."

"Fy for shame, Adam Woodcock," replied the youth, determined to turn
the tables on him, and become in turn the counsellor of good order and
peaceable demeanour--"I say, fy for shame!--Alas, that you will speak
thus! Here are you sent with me, to prevent my innocent youth getting
into snares----"

"I wish your innocent youth were cut short with a halter, with all my
heart," said Adam, who began to see which way the admonition tended.
--"And instead of setting before me," continued Roland, "an example of
patience and sobriety becoming the falconer of Sir Halbert Glendinning,
you quaff me off I know not how many flagons of ale, besides a gallon of
wine, and a full measure of strong waters."

"It was but one small pottle," said poor Adam, whom consciousness of his
own indiscretion now reduced to a merely defensive warfare.

"It was enough to pottle you handsomely, however," said the page--"And
then, instead of going to bed to sleep off your liquor, must you sit
singing your roistering songs about popes and pagans, till you have got
your eyes almost switched out of your head; and but for my interference,
whom your drunken ingratitude accuses of deserting you, yon galliard
would have cut your throat, for he was whipping out a whinger as broad
as my hand, and as sharp as a razor--And these are lessons for an
inexperienced youth!--Oh, Adam! out upon you! out upon you!"

"Marry, amen, and with all my heart," said Adam; "out upon my folly for
expecting any thing but impertinent raillery from a page like thee, that
if he saw his father in a scrape, would laugh at him, instead of lending
him aid.

"Nay, but I will lend you aid," said the page, still laughing, "that is,
I will lend thee aid to thy chamber, good Adam, where thou shalt sleep
off wine and ale, ire and indignation, and awake the next morning with
as much fair wit as nature has blessed thee withal. Only one thing
I will warn thee, good Adam, that henceforth and for ever, when thou
railest at me for being somewhat hot at hand, and rather too prompt to
out with poniard or so, thy admonition shall serve as a prologue to the
memorable adventure of the switching of Saint Michael's."

With such condoling expressions he got the crest-fallen falconer to his
bed, and then retired to his own pallet, where it was some time ere
he could fall asleep. If the messenger whom he had seen were really
Catherine Seyton, what a masculine virago and termagant must she be! and
stored with what an inimitable command of insolence and assurance!--The
brass on her brow would furbish the front of twenty pages; "and I should
know," thought Roland, "what that amounts to--And yet, her features, her
look, her light gait, her laughing eye, the art with which she disposed
the mantle to show no more of her limbs than needs must be seen--I am
glad she had at least that grace left--the voice, the smile--it must
have been Catherine Seyton, or the devil in her likeness! One thing
is good, I have silenced the eternal predications of that ass, Adam
Woodcock, who has set up for being a preacher and a governor, over me,
so soon as he has left the hawks' mew behind him."

And with this comfortable reflection, joined to the happy indifference
which youth hath for the events of the morrow, Roland Graeme fell fast
asleep.



Chapter the Twentieth.


  Now have you reft me from my staff, my guide,
  Who taught my youth, as men teach untamed falcons,
  To use my strength discreetly--I am reft
  Of comrade and of counsel.
                                        OLD PLAY.

In the gray of the next morning's dawn, there was a loud knocking at the
gate of the hostelrie; and those without, proclaiming that they came
in the name of the Regent, were instantly admitted. A moment or
two afterwards, Michael Wing-the-wind stood by the bedside of our
travellers.

"Up! up!" he said, "there is no slumber where Murray hath work ado."

Both sleepers sprung up, and began to dress themselves.

"You, old friend," said Wing-the-wind to Adam Woodcock, "must to horse
instantly, with this packet to the Monks of Kennaquhair; and with this,"
delivering them as he spoke, "to the Knight of Avenel."

"As much as commanding the monks to annul their election, I'll warrant
me, of an Abbot," quoth Adam Woodcock, as he put the packets into his
bag, "and charging my master to see it done--To hawk at one brother with
another, is less than fair play, methinks."

"Fash not thy beard about it, old boy," said Michael, "but betake thee
to the saddle presently; for if these orders are not obeyed, there will
be bare walls at the Kirk of Saint Mary's, and it may be at the Castle
of Avenel to boot; for I heard my Lord of Morton loud with the Regent,
and we are at a pass that we cannot stand with him anent trifles."

"But," said Adam, "touching the Abbot of Unreason--what say they to
that outbreak--An they be shrewishly disposed, I were better pitch the
packets to Satan, and take the other side of the Border for my bield."

"Oh, that was passed over as a jest, since there was little harm
done.--But, hark thee, Adam," continued his comrade, "if there was a
dozen vacant abbacies in your road, whether of jest or earnest, reason
or unreason, draw thou never one of their mitres over thy brows.--The
time is not fitting, man!--besides, our Maiden longs to clip the neck of
a fat churchman."

"She shall never sheer mine in that capacity," said the falconer, while
he knotted the kerchief in two or three double folds around his sunburnt
bull-neck, calling out at the same time, "Master Roland, Master Roland,
make haste! we must back to perch and mew, and, thank Heaven, more than
our own wit, with our bones whole, and without a stab in the stomach."

"Nay, but," said Wing-the-wind, "the page goes not back with you; the
Regent has other employment for him."

"Saints and sorrows!" exclaimed the falconer--"Master Roland Graeme to
remain here, and I to return to Avenel!--Why, it cannot be--the child
cannot manage himself in this wide world without me, and I question
if he will stoop to any other whistle than mine own; there are times I
myself can hardly bring him to my lure."

It was at Roland's tongue's end to say something concerning the occasion
they had for using mutually each other's prudence, but the real anxiety
which Adam evinced at parting with him, took away his disposition
to such ungracious raillery. The falconer did not altogether escape,
however, for, in turning his face towards the lattice, his friend
Michael caught a glimpse of it, and exclaimed, "I prithee, Adam
Woodcock, what hast thou been doing with these eyes of thine? They are
swelled to the starting from the socket!"

"Nought in the world," said he, after casting a deprecating glance
at Roland Graeme, "but the effect of sleeping in this d--ned truckle
without a pillow."

"Why, Adam Woodcock, thou must be grown strangely dainty," said his old
companion; "I have known thee sleep all night with no better pillow than
a bush of ling, and start up with the sun, as glegg as a falcon; and now
thine eyes resemble----"

"Tush, man, what signifies how mine eyes look now?" said Adam--"let
us but roast a crab-apple, pour a pottle of ale on it, and bathe our
throats withal, thou shalt see a change in me."

"And thou wilt be in heart to sing thy jolly ballad about the Pope,"
said his comrade.

"Ay, that I will," replied the falconer, "that is, when we have left
this quiet town five miles behind us, if you will take your hobby and
ride so far on my way."

"Nay, that I may not," said Michael--"I can but stop to partake your
morning draught, and see you fairly to horse--I will see that they
saddle them, and toast the crab for thee, without loss of time."

During his absence the falconer took the page by the hand--"May I never
hood hawk again," said the good-natured fellow, "if I am not as sorry to
part with you as if you were a child of mine own, craving pardon for the
freedom--I cannot tell what makes me love you so much, unless it be for
the reason that I loved the vicious devil of a brown galloway nag whom
my master the Knight called Satan, till Master Warden changed his name
to Seyton; for he said it was over boldness to call a beast after the
King of Darkness----"

"And," said the page, "it was over boldness in him, I trow, to call a
vicious brute after a noble family."

"Well," proceeded Adam, "Seyton or Satan, I loved that nag over every
other horse in the stable---There was no sleeping on his back--he was
for ever fidgeting, bolting, rearing, biting, kicking, and giving you
work to do, and maybe the measure of your back on the heather to the
boot of it all. And I think I love you better than any lad in the
castle, for the self-same qualities."

"Thanks, thanks, kind Adam. I regard myself bound to you for the good
estimation in which you hold me."

"Nay, interrupt me not," said the falconer--"Satan was a good nag--But
I say I think I shall call the two eyases after you, the one Roland,
and the other Graeme; and while Adam Woodcock lives, be sure you have a
friend--Here is to thee, my dear son."

Roland most heartily returned the grasp of the hand, and Woodcock,
having taken a deep draught, continued his farewell speech.

"There are three things I warn you against, Roland, now that you art to
tread this weary world without my experience to assist you. In the first
place, never draw dagger on slight occasion--every man's doublet is not
so well stuffed as a certain abbot's that you wot of. Secondly, fly not
at every pretty girl, like a merlin at a thrush--you will not always win
a gold chain for your labour--and, by the way, here I return to you your
fanfarona--keep it close, it is weighty, and may benefit you at a pinch
more ways than one. Thirdly, and to conclude, as our worthy preacher
says, beware of the pottle-pot--it has drenched the judgment of wiser
men than you. I could bring some instances of it, but I dare say it
needeth not; for if you should forget your own mishaps, you will scarce
fail to remember mine--And so farewell, my dear son."

Roland returned his good wishes, and failed not to send his humble duty
to his kind Lady, charging the falconer, at the same time, to express
his regret that he should have offended her, and his determination so
to bear him in the world that she would not be ashamed of the generous
protection she had afforded him.

The falconer embraced his young friend, mounted his stout, round-made,
trotting-nag, which the serving-man, who had attended him, held ready at
the door, and took the road to the southward. A sullen and heavy
sound echoed from the horse's feet, as if indicating the sorrow of the
good-natured rider. Every hoof-tread seemed to tap upon Roland's heart
as he heard his comrade withdraw with so little of his usual alert
activity, and felt that he was once more alone in the world.

He was roused from his reverie by Michael Wing-the-wind, who reminded
him that it was necessary they should instantly return to the palace,
as my Lord Regent went to the Sessions early in the morning. They went
thither accordingly, and Wing-the-wind, a favourite old domestic, who
was admitted nearer to the Regent's person and privacy, than many whose
posts were more ostensible, soon introduced Graeme into a small matted
chamber, where he had an audience of the present head of the troubled
State of Scotland. The Earl of Murray was clad in a sad-coloured
morning-gown, with a cap and slippers of the same cloth, but, even in
this easy deshabillé, held his sheathed rapier in his hand, a precaution
which he adopted when receiving strangers, rather in compliance with
the earnest remonstrances of his friends and partisans, than from any
personal apprehensions of his own. He answered with a silent nod the
respectful obeisance of the page, and took one or two turns through
the small apartment in silence, fixing his keen eye on Roland, as if he
wished to penetrate into his very soul. At length he broke silence.

"Your name is, I think, Julian Graeme?"

"Roland Graeme, my lord, not Julian," replied the page.

"Right--I was misled by some trick of my memory--Roland Graeme, from
the Debateable Land.--Roland, thou knowest the duties which belong to a
lady's service?"

"I should know them, my lord," replied Roland, "having been bred so
near the person of my Lady of Avenel; but I trust never more to practise
them, as the Knight hath promised----"

"Be silent, young man," said the Regent, "I am to speak, and you to hear
and obey. It is necessary that, for some space at least, you shall
again enter into the service of a lady, who, in rank, hath no equal in
Scotland; and this service accomplished, I give thee my word as Knight
and Prince, that it shall open to you a course of ambition, such as may
well gratify the aspiring wishes of one whom circumstances entitle
to entertain much higher views than thou. I will take thee into my
household and near to my person, or, at your own choice, I will give you
the command of a foot-company--either is a preferment which the proudest
laird in the land might be glad to ensure for a second son."

"May I presume to ask, my lord," said Roland, observing the Earl paused
for a reply, "to whom my poor services are in the first place destined?"

"You will be told hereafter," said the Regent; and then, as if
overcoming some internal reluctance to speak farther himself, he added,
"or why should I not myself tell you, that you are about to enter into
the service of a most illustrious--most unhappy lady--into the service
of Mary of Scotland."

"Of the Queen, my lord!" said the page, unable to suppress his surprise.

"Of her who was the Queen!" said Murray, with a singular mixture of
displeasure and embarrassment in his tone of voice. "You must be aware,
young man, that her son reigns in her stead."

He sighed from an emotion, partly natural, perhaps, and partly assumed.

"And am I to attend upon her Grace in her place of imprisonment,
my lord?" again demanded the page, with a straightforward and hardy
simplicity, which somewhat disconcerted the sage and powerful statesman.

"She is not imprisoned," answered Murray, angrily; "God forbid she
should--she is only sequestered from state affairs, and from the
business of the public, until the world be so effectually settled, that
she may enjoy her natural and uncontrolled freedom, without her royal
disposition being exposed to the practices of wicked and designing men.
It is for this purpose," he added, "that while she is to be furnished,
as right is, with such attendance as may befit her present secluded
state, it becomes necessary that those placed around her, are persons on
whose prudence I can have reliance. You see, therefore, you are at once
called on to discharge an office most honourable in itself, and so to
discharge it that you may make a friend of the Regent of Scotland. Thou
art, I have been told, a singularly apprehensive youth; and I perceive
by thy look, that thou dost already understand what I would say on this
matter. In this schedule your particular points of duty are set down
at length--but the sum required of you is fidelity--I mean fidelity
to myself and to the state. You are, therefore, to watch every attempt
which is made, or inclination displayed, to open any communication with
any of the lords who have become banders in the west--with Hamilton,
Seyton, with Fleming, or the like. It is true that my gracious sister,
reflecting upon the ill chances that have happened to the state of this
poor kingdom, from evil counsellors who have abused her royal nature in
time past, hath determined to sequestrate herself from state affairs in
future. But it is our duty, as acting for and in the name of our infant
nephew, to guard against the evils which may arise from any mutation or
vacillation in her royal resolutions. Wherefore, it will be thy duty to
watch, and report to our lady mother, whose guest our sister is for the
present, whatever may infer a disposition to withdraw her person from
the place of security in which she is lodged, or to open communication
with those without. If, however, your observation should detect any
thing of weight, and which may exceed mere suspicion, fail not to send
notice by an especial messenger to me directly, and this ring shall be
thy warrant to order horse and men on such service.--And now begone.
If there be half the wit in thy head that there is apprehension in
thy look, thou fully comprehendest all that I would say--Serve me
faithfully, and sure as I am belted earl, thy reward shall be great."

Roland Graeme made an obeisance, and was about to depart.

The Earl signed to him to remain. "I have trusted thee deeply," he said,
"young man, for thou art the only one of her suite who has been sent
to her by my own recommendation. Her gentlewomen are of her own
nomination--it were too hard to have barred her that privilege, though
some there were who reckoned it inconsistent with sure policy. Thou
art young and handsome. Mingle in their follies, and see they cover not
deeper designs under the appearance of female levity--if they do mine,
do thou countermine. For the rest, bear all decorum and respect to the
person of thy mistress--she is a princess, though a most unhappy one,
and hath been a queen! though now, alas! no longer such! Pay, therefore,
to her all honour and respect, consistent with thy fidelity to the King
and me--and now, farewell.--Yet stay--you travel with Lord Lindesay, a
man of the old world, rough and honest, though untaught; see that thou
offend him not, for he is not patient of raillery, and thou, I have
heard, art a crack-halter." This he said with a smile, then added, "I
could have wished the Lord Lindesay's mission had been intrusted to some
other and more gentle noble."

"And wherefore should you wish that, my lord?" said Morton, who even
then entered the apartment; "the council have decided for the best--we
have had but too many proofs of this lady's stubbornness of mind, and
the oak that resists the sharp steel axe, must be riven with the rugged
iron wedge.--And this is to be her page?--My Lord Regent hath doubtless
instructed you, young man, how you shall guide yourself in these
matters; I will add but a little hint on my part. You are going to the
castle of a Douglas, where treachery never thrives--the first moment of
suspicion will be the last of your life. My kinsman, William Douglas,
understands no raillery, and if he once have cause to think you false,
you will waver in the wind from the castle battlements ere the sun set
upon his anger.--And is the lady to have an almoner withal?"

"Occasionally, Douglas," said the Regent; "it were hard to deny the
spiritual consolation which she thinks essential to her salvation."

"You are ever too soft hearted, my lord--What! a false priest to
communicate her lamentations, not only to our unfriends in Scotland, but
to the Guises, to Rome, to Spain, and I know not where!"

"Fear not," said the Regent, "we will take such order that no treachery
shall happen."

"Look to it then." said Morton; "you know my mind respecting the wench
you have consented she shall receive as a waiting-woman--one of a
family, which, of all others, has ever been devoted to her, and inimical
to us. Had we not been wary, she would have been purveyed of a page as
much to her purpose as her waiting-damsel. I hear a rumour that an old
mad Romish pilgrimer, who passes for at least half a saint among them,
was employed to find a fit subject."

"We have escaped that danger at least," said Murray, "and converted it
into a point of advantage, by sending this boy of Glendinning's--and for
her waiting-damsel, you cannot grudge her one poor maiden instead of her
four noble Marys and all their silken train?"

"I care not so much for the waiting-maiden," said Morton, "but I cannot
brook the almoner--I think priests of all persuasions are much like
each other--Here is John Knox, who made such a noble puller-down, is
ambitious of becoming a setter-up, and a founder of schools and colleges
out of the Abbey lands, and bishops' rents, and other spoils of Rome,
which the nobility of Scotland have won with their sword and bow, and
with which he would endow new hives to sing the old drone."

"John is a man of God," said the Regent, "and his scheme is a devout
imagination."

The sedate smile with which this was spoken, left it impossible to
conjecture whether the words were meant in approbation, or in derision,
of the plan of the Scottish Reformer. Turning then to Roland Graeme, as
if he thought he had been long enough a witness of this conversation,
he bade him get him presently to horse, since my Lord of Lindesay was
already mounted. The page made his reverence, and left the apartment.

Guided by Michael Wing-the-wind, he found his horse ready saddled and
prepared for the journey, in front of the palace porch, where hovered
about a score of men-at-arms, whose leader showed no small symptoms of
surly impatience.

"Is this the jackanape page for whom we have waited thus long?" said
he to Wing-the-wind.--"And my Lord Ruthven will reach the castle long
before us."

Michael assented, and added, that the boy had been detained by the
Regent to receive some parting instructions. The leader made an
inarticulate sound in his throat, expressive of sullen acquiescence, and
calling to one of his domestic attendants, "Edward," said he, "take the
gallant into your charge, and let him speak with no one else."

He then addressed, by the title of Sir Robert, an elderly and
respectable-looking gentleman, the only one of the party who seemed
above the rank of a retainer or domestic, and observed, that they must
get to horse with all speed.

During this discourse, and while they were riding slowly along the
street of the suburb, Roland had time to examine more accurately the
looks and figure of the Baron, who was at their head.

Lord Lindesay of the Byres was rather touched than stricken with years.
His upright stature and strong limbs, still showed him fully equal to
all the exertions and fatigues of war. His thick eyebrows, now partially
grizzled, lowered over large eyes full of dark fire, which seemed yet
darker from the uncommon depth at which they were set in his head. His
features, naturally strong and harsh, had their sternness exaggerated
by one or two scars received in battle. These features, naturally
calculated to express the harsher passions, were shaded by an open steel
cap, with a projecting front, but having no visor, over the gorget
of which fell the black and grizzled beard of the grim old Baron, and
totally hid the lower part of his face. The rest of his dress was a
loose buff-coat, which had once been lined with silk and adorned with
embroidery, but which seemed much stained with travel, and damaged with
cuts, received probably in battle. It covered a corslet, which had once
been of polished steel, fairly gilded, but was now somewhat injured with
rust. A sword of antique make and uncommon size, framed to be wielded
with both hands, a kind of weapon which was then beginning to go out
of use, hung from his neck in a baldrick, and was so disposed as
to traverse his whole person, the huge hilt appearing over his left
shoulder, and the point reaching well-nigh to the right heel, and
jarring against his spur as he walked. This unwieldy weapon could only
be unsheathed by pulling the handle over the left shoulder--for no human
arm was long enough to draw it in the usual manner. The whole
equipment was that of a rude warrior, negligent of his exterior even to
misanthropical sullenness; and the short, harsh, haughty tone, which he
used towards his attendants, belonged to the same unpolished character.

The personage who rode with Lord Lindesay, at the head of the party, was
an absolute contrast to him, in manner, form, and features. His thin and
silky hair was already white, though he seemed not above forty-five or
fifty years old. His tone of voice was soft and insinuating--his
form thin, spare, and bent by an habitual stoop--his pale cheek was
expressive of shrewdness and intelligence--his eye was quick though
placid, and his whole demeanour mild and conciliatory. He rode an
ambling nag, such as were used by ladies, clergymen, or others of
peaceful professions--wore a riding habit of black velvet, with a cap
and feather of the same hue, fastened up by a golden medal--and
for show, and as a mark of rank rather than for use, carried a
walking-sword, (as the short light rapiers were called,) without any
other arms, offensive or defensive.

The party had now quitted the town, and proceeded, at a steady trot,
towards the west.--As they prosecuted their journey, Roland Graeme
would gladly have learned something of its purpose and tendency, but
the countenance of the personage next to whom he had been placed in the
train, discouraged all approach to familiarity. The Baron himself did
not look more grim and inaccessible than his feudal retainer, whose
grisly beard fell over his mouth like the portcullis before the gate of
a castle, as if for the purpose of preventing the escape of any word, of
which absolute necessity did not demand the utterance. The rest of the
train seemed under the same taciturn influence, and journeyed on without
a word being exchanged amongst them--more like a troop of Carthusian
friars than a party of military retainers. Roland Graeme was surprised
at this extremity of discipline; for even in the household of the Knight
of Avenel, though somewhat distinguished for the accuracy with which
decorum was enforced, a journey was a period of license, during which
jest and song, and every thing within the limits of becoming mirth and
pastime were freely permitted. This unusual silence was, however, so far
acceptable, that it gave him time to bring any shadow of judgment which
he possessed to council on his own situation and prospects, which would
have appeared to any reasonable person in the highest degree dangerous
and perplexing.

It was quite evident that he had, through various circumstances not
under his own control, formed contradictory connexions with both the
contending factions, by whose strife the kingdom was distracted, without
being properly an adherent of either. It seemed also clear, that the
same situation in the household of the deposed Queen, to which he was
now promoted by the influence of the Regent, had been destined to him by
his enthusiastic grandmother, Magdalen Graeme; for on this subject, the
words which Morton had dropped had been a ray of light; yet it was no
less clear that these two persons, the one the declared enemy, the other
the enthusiastic votary, of the Catholic religion,--the one at the head
of the King's new government, the other, who regarded that government
as a criminal usurpation--must have required and expected very different
services from the individual whom they had thus united in recommending.
It required very little reflection to foresee that these contradictory
claims on his services might speedily place him in a situation where his
honour as well as his life might be endangered. But it was not in Roland
Graeme's nature to anticipate evil before it came, or to prepare to
combat difficulties before they arrived. "I will see this beautiful and
unfortunate Mary Stewart," said he, "of whom we have heard so much, and
then there will be time enough to determine whether I will be kingsman
or queensman. None of them can say I have given word or promise to
either of their factions; for they have led me up and down like a blind
Billy, without giving me any light into what I was to do. But it was
lucky that grim Douglas came into the Regent's closet this morning,
otherwise I had never got free of him without plighting my troth to do
all the Earl would have me, which seemed, after all, but foul play to
the poor imprisoned lady, to place her page as an espial on her."

Skipping thus lightly over a matter of such consequence, the thoughts of
the hare-brained boy went a wool-gathering after more agreeable
topics. Now he admired the Gothic towers of Barnbougle, rising from the
seabeaten rock, and overlooking one of the most glorious landscapes in
Scotland--and now he began to consider what notable sport for the hounds
and the hawks must be afforded by the variegated ground over which they
travelled--and now he compared the steady and dull trot at which they
were then prosecuting their journey, with the delight of sweeping
over hill and dale in pursuit of his favourite sports. As, under the
influence of these joyous recollections, he gave his horse the spur,
and made him execute a gambade, he instantly incurred the censure of his
grave neighbour, who hinted to him to keep the pace, and move quietly
and in order, unless he wished such notice to be taken of his eccentric
movements as was likely to be very displeasing to him.

The rebuke and the restraint under which the youth now found
himself, brought back to his recollection his late good-humoured and
accommodating associate and guide, Adam Woodcock; and from that topic
his imagination made a short flight to Avenel Castle, to the quiet
and unconfined life of its inhabitants, the goodness of his early
protectress, not forgetting the denizens of its stables, kennels, and
hawk-mews. In a brief space, all these subjects of meditation gave way
to the resemblance of that riddle of womankind, Catherine Seyton, who
appeared before the eye of his mind--now in her female form, now in
her male attire--now in both at once--like some strange dream, which
presents to us the same individual under two different characters at
the same instant. Her mysterious present also recurred to his
recollection--the sword which he now wore at his side, and which he was
not to draw save by command of his legitimate Sovereign! But the key of
this mystery he judged he was likely to find in the issue of his present
journey.

With such thoughts passing through his mind, Roland Graeme accompanied
the party of Lord Lindesay to the Queen's-Ferry, which they passed in
vessels that lay in readiness for them. They encountered no adventure
whatever in their passage, excepting one horse being lamed in getting
into the boat, an accident very common on such occasions, until a
few years ago, when the ferry was completely regulated. What was more
peculiarly characteristic of the olden age, was the discharge of a
culverin at the party from the battlements of the old castle of Rosythe,
on the north side of the Ferry, the lord of which happened to have some
public or private quarrel with the Lord Lindesay, and took this mode
of expressing his resentment. The insult, however, as it was harmless,
remained unnoticed and unavenged, nor did any thing else occur worth
notice until the band had come where Lochleven spread its magnificent
sheet of waters to the beams of a bright summer's sun.

The ancient castle, which occupies an island nearly in the centre of
the lake, recalled to the page that of Avenel, in which he had been
nurtured. But the lake was much larger, and adorned with several islets
besides that on which the fortress was situated; and instead of being
embosomed in hills like that of Avenel, had upon the southern side only
a splendid mountainous screen, being the descent of one of the Lomond
hills, and on the other was surrounded by the extensive and fertile
plain of Kinross. Roland Graeme looked with some degree of dismay on the
water-girdled fortress, which then, as now, consisted only of one
large donjon-keep, surrounded with a court-yard, with two round
flanking-towers at the angles, which contained within its circuit some
other buildings of inferior importance. A few old trees, clustered
together near the castle, gave some relief to the air of desolate
seclusion; but yet the page, while he gazed upon a building so
sequestrated, could not but feel for the situation of a captive Princess
doomed to dwell there, as well as for his own. "I must have been born,"
he thought, "under the star that presides over ladies and lakes of
water, for I cannot by any means escape from the service of the one, or
from dwelling in the other. But if they allow me not the fair freedom
of my sport and exercise, they shall find it as hard to confine a
wild-drake, as a youth who can swim like one."

The band had now reached the edge of the water, and one of the party
advancing displayed Lord Lindesay's pennon, waving it repeatedly to and
fro, while that Baron himself blew a clamorous blast on his bugle. A
banner was presently displayed from the roof of the castle in reply to
these signals, and one or two figures were seen busied as if unmooring a
boat which lay close to the islet.

"It will be some time ere they can reach us with the boat," said the
companion of Lord Lindesay; "should we not do well to proceed to
the town, and array ourselves in some better order, ere we appear
before----"

"You may do as you list, Sir Robert," replied Lindesay, "I have neither
time nor temper to waste on such vanities. She has cost me many a hard
ride, and must not now take offence at the threadbare cloak and soiled
doublet that I am arrayed in. It is the livery to which she has brought
all Scotland."

"Do not speak so harshly," said Sir Robert; "if she hath done wrong,
she hath dearly abied it; and in losing all real power, one would not
deprive her of the little external homage due at once to a lady and a
princess."

"I say to you once more, Sir Robert Melville," replied Lindesay, "do as
you will--for me, I am now too old to dink myself as a gallant to grace
the bower of dames."

"The bower of dames, my lord!" said Melville, looking at the rude old
tower--"is it yon dark and grated castle, the prison of a captive Queen,
to which you give so gay a name?"

"Name it as you list," replied Lindesay; "had the Regent desired to send
an envoy capable to speak to a captive Queen, there are many gallants
in his court who would have courted the occasion to make speeches out of
Amadis of Gaul, or the Mirror of Knighthood. But when he sent blunt old
Lindesay, he knew he would speak to a misguided woman, as her former
misdoings and her present state render necessary. I sought not this
employment--it has been thrust upon me; and I will not cumber myself
with more form in the discharge of it, than needs must be tacked to such
an occupation."

So saying, Lord Lindesay threw himself from horseback, and wrapping
his riding-cloak around him, lay down at lazy length upon the sward, to
await the arrival of the boat, which was now seen rowing from the castle
towards the shore. Sir Robert Melville, who had also dismounted, walked
at short turns to and fro upon the bank, his arms crossed on his breast,
often looking to the castle, and displaying in his countenance a mixture
of sorrow and of anxiety. The rest of the party sate like statues on
horseback, without moving so much as the points of their lances, which
they held upright in the air.

As soon as the boat approached a rude quay or landing-place, near to
which they had stationed themselves, Lord Lindesay started up from his
recumbent posture, and asked the person who steered, why he had not
brought a larger boat with him to transport his retinue.

"So please you," replied the boatman, "because it is the order of our
lady, that we bring not to the castle more than four persons."

"Thy lady is a wise woman," said Lindesay, "to suspect me of
treachery!--Or, had I intended it, what was to hinder us from throwing
you and your comrades into the lake, and filling the boat with my own
fellows?"

The steersman, on hearing this, made a hasty signal to his men to back
their oars, and hold off from the shore which they were approaching.

"Why, thou ass," said Lindesay, "thou didst not think that I meant
thy fool's head serious harm? Hark thee, friend--with fewer than three
servants I will go no whither--Sir Robert Melville will require at least
the attendance of one domestic; and it will be at your peril and your
lady's to refuse us admission, come hither as we are, on matters of
great national concern."

The steersman answered with firmness, but with great civility of
expression, that his orders were positive to bring no more than four
into the island, but he offered to row back to obtain a revisal of his
orders.

"Do so, my friend," said Sir Robert Melville, after he had in vain
endeavoured to persuade his stubborn companion to consent to a temporary
abatement of his train, "row back to the castle, sith it will be no
better, and obtain thy lady's orders to transport the Lord Lindesay,
myself, and our retinue hither."

"And hearken," said Lord Lindesay, "take with you this page, who comes
as an attendant on your lady's guest.--Dismount, sirrah," said he,
addressing Roland, "and embark with them in that boat."

"And what is to become of my horse?" said Graeme; "I am answerable for
him to my master."

"I will relieve you of the charge," said Lindesay; "thou wilt have
little enough to do with horse, saddle, or bridle, for ten years to
come--Thou mayst take the halter an thou wilt--it may stand thee in a
turn."

"If I thought so," said Roland--but he was interrupted by Sir Robert
Melville, who said to him good-humouredly, "Dispute it not, young
friend--resistance can do no good, but may well run thee into danger."

Roland Graeme felt the justice of what he said, and, though neither
delighted with the matter or manner of Lindesay's address, deemed it
best to submit to necessity, and to embark without farther remonstrance.
The men plied their oars. The quay, with the party of horse stationed
near it, receded from the page's eyes--the castle and the islet seemed
to draw near in the same proportion, and in a brief space he landed
under the shadow of a huge old tree which overhung the landing place.
The steersman and Graeme leaped ashore; the boatmen remained lying on
their oars ready for farther service.



Chapter the Twenty-First.


  Could valour aught avail or people's love,
    France had not wept Navarre's brave Henry slain;
  If wit or beauty could compassion move,
    The rose of Scotland had not wept in vain.
           _Elegy in a Royal Mausoleum._ LEWIS.

At the gate of the court-yard of Lochleven appeared the stately form of
the Lady Lochleven, a female whose early charms had captivated James V.,
by whom she became mother of the celebrated Regent Murray. As she was of
noble birth (being a daughter of the house of Mar) and of great beauty,
her intimacy with James did not prevent her being afterwards sought in
honourable marriage by many gallants of the time, among whom she had
preferred Sir William Douglas of Lochleven. But well has it been said

  ----"Our pleasant vices
  Are made the whips to scourge us"---

The station which the Lady of Lochleven now held as the wife of a man
of high rank and interest, and the mother of a lawful family, did not
prevent her nourishing a painful sense of degradation, even while she
was proud of the talents, the power, and the station of her son, now
prime ruler of the state, but still a pledge of her illicit intercourse.
"Had James done to her," she said, in her secret heart, "the justice he
owed her, she had seen in her son, as a source of unmixed delight and of
unchastened pride, the lawful monarch of Scotland, and one of the
ablest who ever swayed the sceptre." The House of Mar, not inferior in
antiquity or grandeur to that of Drummond, would then have also boasted
a Queen among its daughters, and escaped the stain attached to female
frailty, even when it has a royal lover for its apology. While such
feelings preyed on a bosom naturally proud and severe, they had a
corresponding effect on her countenance, where, with the remains of
great beauty, were mingled traits of inward discontent and peevish
melancholy. It perhaps contributed to increase this habitual
temperament, that the Lady Lochleven had adopted uncommonly rigid and
severe views of religion, imitating in her ideas of reformed faith
the very worst errors of the Catholics, in limiting the benefit of the
gospel to those who profess their own speculative tenets.

In every respect, the unfortunate Queen Mary, now the compulsory guest,
or rather prisoner, of this sullen lady, was obnoxious to her hostess.
Lady Lochleven disliked her as the daughter of Mary of Guise, the legal
possessor of those rights over James's heart and hand, of which she
conceived herself to have been injuriously deprived; and yet more so as
the professor of a religion which she detested worse than Paganism.

Such was the dame, who, with stately mien, and sharp yet handsome
features, shrouded by her black velvet coif, interrogated the domestic
who steered her barge to the shore, what had become of Lindesay and
Sir Robert Melville. The man related what had passed, and she smiled
scornfully as she replied, "Fools must be flattered, not foughten
with.--Row back--make thy excuse as thou canst--say Lord Ruthven
hath already reached this castle, and that he is impatient for Lord
Lindesay's presence. Away with thee, Randal--yet stay--what galopin is
that thou hast brought hither?"

"So please you, my lady, he is the page who is to wait upon----"

"Ay, the new male minion," said the Lady Lochleven; "the female
attendant arrived yesterday. I shall have a well-ordered house with this
lady and her retinue; but I trust they will soon find some others to
undertake such a charge. Begone, Randal--and you" (to Roland Graeme)
"follow me to the garden."

She led the way with a slow and stately step to the small garden, which,
enclosed by a stone wall ornamented with statues, and an artificial
fountain in the centre, extended its dull parterres on the side of
the court-yard, with which it communicated by a low and arched portal.
Within the narrow circuit of its formal and limited walks, Mary Stewart
was now learning to perform the weary part of a prisoner, which, with
little interval, she was doomed to sustain during the remainder of her
life. She was followed in her slow and melancholy exercise by two female
attendants; but in the first glance which Roland Graeme bestowed
upon one so illustrious by birth, so distinguished by her beauty,
accomplishments, and misfortunes, he was sensible of the presence of no
other than the unhappy Queen of Scotland.

Her face, her form, have been so deeply impressed upon the imagination,
that even at the distance of nearly three centuries, it is unnecessary
to remind the most ignorant and uninformed reader of the striking traits
which characterize that remarkable countenance, which seems at once
to combine our ideas of the majestic, the pleasing, and the brilliant,
leaving us to doubt whether they express most happily the queen, the
beauty, or the accomplished woman. Who is there, that, at the very
mention of Mary Stewart's name, has not her countenance before him,
familiar as that of the mistress of his youth, or the favourite daughter
of his advanced age? Even those who feel themselves compelled to believe
all, or much, of what her enemies laid to her charge, cannot think
without a sigh upon a countenance expressive of anything rather than
the foul crimes with which she was charged when living, and which still
continue to shade, if not to blacken, her memory. That brow, so truly
open and regal--those eyebrows, so regularly graceful, which yet were
saved from the charge of regular insipidity by the beautiful effect of
the hazel eyes which they overarched, and which seem to utter a thousand
histories--the nose, with all its Grecian precision of outline--the
mouth, so well proportioned, so sweetly formed, as if designed to speak
nothing but what was delightful to hear--the dimpled chin--the stately
swan-like neck, form a countenance, the like of which we know not to
have existed in any other character moving in that class of life,
where the actresses as well as the actors command general and undivided
attention. It is in vain to say that the portraits which exist of this
remarkable woman are not like each other; for, amidst their discrepancy,
each possesses general features which the eye at once acknowledges as
peculiar to the vision which our imagination has raised while we read
her history for the first time, and which has been impressed upon it by
the numerous prints and pictures which we have seen. Indeed we cannot
look on the worst of them, however deficient in point of execution,
without saying that it is meant for Queen Mary; and no small instance
it is of the power of beauty, that her charms should have remained the
subject not merely of admiration, but of warm and chivalrous interest,
after the lapse of such a length of time. We know that by far the most
acute of those who, in latter days, have adopted the unfavourable view
of Mary's character, longed, like the executioner before his dreadful
task was performed, to kiss the fair hand of her on whom he was about to
perform so horrible a duty.

Dressed, then, in a deep mourning robe, and with all those charms of
face, shape, and manner, with which faithful tradition has made each
reader familiar, Mary Stewart advanced to meet the Lady of Lochleven,
who, on her part, endeavoured to conceal dislike and apprehension under
the appearance of respectful indifference. The truth was, that she
had experienced repeatedly the Queen's superiority in that species of
disguised yet cutting sarcasm, with which women can successfully avenge
themselves, for real and substantial injuries. It may be well doubted,
whether this talent was not as fatal to its possessor as the many others
enjoyed by that highly gifted, but most unhappy female; for, while it
often afforded her a momentary triumph over her keepers, it failed not
to exasperate their resentment; and the satire and sarcasm in which she
had indulged were frequently retaliated by the deep and bitter hardships
which they had the power of inflicting. It is well known that her death
was at length hastened by a letter which she wrote to Queen Elizabeth,
in which she treated her jealous rival, and the Countess of Shrewsbury,
with the keenest irony and ridicule.

As the ladies met together, the Queen said, bending her head at the same
time, in return to the obeisance of the Lady Lochleven, "We are this
day fortunate--we enjoy the company of our amiable hostess at an unusual
hour, and during a period which we have hitherto been permitted to give
to our private exercise. But our good hostess knows well she has at all
times access to our presence, and need not observe the useless ceremony
of requiring our permission."

"I am sorry my presence is deemed an intrusion by your Grace," said the
Lady of Lochleven. "I came but to announce the arrival of an addition
to your train," motioning with her hand towards Roland Graeme; "a
circumstance to which ladies are seldom indifferent."

"Oh! I crave your ladyship's pardon; and am bent to the earth with
obligations for the kindness of my nobles--or my sovereigns, shall I
call them?--who have permitted me such a respectable addition to my
personal retinue."

"They have indeed studied, Madam," said the Lady of Lochleven, "to show
their kindness towards your Grace--something at the risk perhaps of
sound policy, and I trust their doings will not be misconstrued."

"Impossible!" said the Queen; "the bounty which permits the daughter of
so many kings, and who yet is Queen of the realm, the attendance of
two waiting-women and a boy, is a grace which Mary Stewart can never
sufficiently acknowledge. Why! my train will be equal to that of any
country dame in this your kingdom of Fife, saving but the lack of a
gentleman-usher, and a pair or two of blue-coated serving-men. But I
must not forget, in my selfish joy, the additional trouble and charges
to which this magnificent augmentation of our train will put our kind
hostess, and the whole house of Lochleven. It is this prudent anxiety, I
am aware, which clouds your brows, my worthy lady. But be of good cheer;
the crown of Scotland has many a fair manor, and your affectionate son,
and my no less affectionate brother, will endow the good knight your
husband with the best of them, ere Mary should be dismissed from this
hospitable castle from your ladyship's lack of means to support the
charges."

"The Douglasses of Lochleven, madam," answered the lady, "have known
for ages how to discharge their duty to the State, without looking for
reward, even when the task was both irksome and dangerous."

"Nay! but, my dear Lochleven," said the Queen, "you are over
scrupulous--I pray you accept of a goodly manor; what should support
the Queen of Scotland in this her princely court, saving her own
crown-lands--and who should minister to the wants of a mother, save an
affectionate son like the Earl of Murray, who possesses so wonderfully
both the power and inclination?--Or said you it was the danger of the
task which clouded your smooth and hospitable brow?--No doubt, a page is
a formidable addition to my body-guard of females; and I bethink me it
must have been for that reason that my Lord of Lindesay refused even
now to venture within the reach of a force so formidable, without being
attended by a competent retinue."

The Lady Lochleven started, and looked something surprised; and Mary
suddenly changing her manner from the smooth ironical affectation of
mildness to an accent of austere command, and drawing up at the same
time her fine person, said, with the full majesty of her rank, "Yes!
Lady of Lochleven; I know that Ruthven is already in the castle, and
that Lindesay waits on the bank the return of your barge to bring him
hither along with Sir Robert Melville. For what purpose do these nobles
come--and why am I not in ordinary decency apprised of their arrival?"'

"Their purpose, madam," replied the Lady of Lochleven, "they must
themselves explain--but a formal annunciation were needless, where your
Grace hath attendants who can play the espial so well."

"Alas! poor Fleming," said the Queen, turning to the elder of the female
attendants, "thou wilt be tried, condemned, and gibbeted, for a spy in
the garrison, because thou didst chance to cross the great hall while my
good Lady of Lochleven was parleying at the full pitch of her voice with
her pilot Randal. Put black wool in thy ears, girl, as you value the
wearing of them longer. Remember, in the Castle of Lochleven, ears and
tongues are matters not of use, but for show merely. Our good hostess
can hear, as well as speak, for us all. We excuse your farther
attendance, my lady hostess," she said, once more addressing the object
of her resentment, "and retire to prepare for an interview with our
rebel lords. We will use the ante-chamber of our sleeping apartment as
our hall of audience. You, young man," she proceeded, addressing Roland
Graeme, and at once softening the ironical sharpness of her manner into
good-humoured raillery, "you, who are all our male attendance, from our
Lord High Chamberlain down to our least galopin, follow us to prepare
our court."

She turned, and walked slowly towards the castle. The Lady of Lochleven
folded her arms, and smiled in bitter resentment, as she watched her
retiring steps.

"The whole male attendance!" she muttered, repeating the Queen's last
words, "and well for thee had it been had thy train never been larger;"
then turning to Roland, in whose way she had stood while making this
pause, she made room for him to pass, saying at the same time, "Art thou
already eaves-dropping? follow thy mistress, minion, and, if thou wilt,
tell her what I have now said."

Roland Graeme hastened after his royal mistress and her attendants, who
had just entered a postern-gate communicating betwixt the castle and the
small garden. They ascended a winding-stair as high as the second story,
which was in a great measure occupied by a suite of three rooms, opening
into each other, and assigned as the dwelling of the captive Princess.
The outermost was a small hall or ante-room, within which opened a
large parlour, and from that again the Queen's bedroom. Another small
apartment, which opened into the same parlour, contained the beds of the
gentlewomen in waiting.

Roland Graeme stopped, as became his station, in the outermost of these
apartments, there to await such orders as might be communicated to him.
From the grated window of the room he saw Lindesay, Melville, and their
followers disembark; and observed that they were met at the castle gate
by a third noble, to whom Lindesay exclaimed, in his loud harsh voice,
"My Lord of Ruthven, you have the start of us!"

At this instant, the page's attention was called to a burst of
hysterical sobs from the inner apartment, and to the hurried
ejaculations of the terrified females, which led him almost instantly to
hasten to their assistance. When he entered, he saw that the Queen had
thrown herself into the large chair which stood nearest the door, and
was sobbing for breath in a strong fit of hysterical affection. The
elder female supported her in her arms, while the younger bathed her
face with water and with tears alternately.

"Hasten, young man!" said the elder lady, in alarm, "fly--call in
assistance--she is swooning!"

But the Queen ejaculated in a faint and broken voice, "Stir not, I
charge you!--call no one to witness--I am better--I shall recover
instantly." And, indeed, with an effort which seemed like that of one
struggling for life, she sate up in her chair, and endeavoured to resume
her composure, while her features yet trembled with the violent emotion
of body and mind which she had undergone. "I am ashamed of my weakness,
girls," she said, taking the hands of her attendants; "but it is
over--and I am Mary Stewart once more. The savage tone of that man's
voice--my knowledge of his insolence--the name which he named--the
purpose for which they come--may excuse a moment's weakness, and it
shall be a moment's only." She snatched from her head the curch or cap,
which had been disordered during her hysterical agony, shook down the
thick clustered tresses of dark brown which had been before veiled under
it--and, drawing her slender fingers across the labyrinth which they
formed, she arose from the chair, and stood like the inspired image of a
Grecian prophetess in a mood which partook at once of sorrow and pride,
of smiles and of tears. "We are ill appointed," she said, "to meet
our rebel subjects; but, as far as we may, we will strive to present
ourselves as becomes their Queen. Follow me, my maidens," she said;
"what says thy favourite song, my Fleming?

  'My maids, come to my dressing-bower,
  And deck my nut-brown hair;
  Where'er ye laid a plait before,
  Look ye lay ten times 'mair.'

"Alas!" she added, when she had repeated with a smile these lines of an
old ballad, "violence has already robbed me of the ordinary decorations
of my rank; and the few that nature gave me have been destroyed by
sorrow and by fear." Yet while she spoke thus, she again let her slender
fingers stray through the wilderness of the beautiful tresses which
veiled her kingly neck and swelling bosom, as if, in her agony of mind,
she had not altogether lost the consciousness of her unrivalled charms.
Roland Graeme, on whose youth, inexperience, and ardent sense of what
was dignified and lovely, the demeanour of so fair and high-born a lady
wrought like the charm of a magician, stood rooted to the spot with
surprise and interest, longing to hazard his life in a quarrel so
fair as that which Mary Stewart's must needs be. She had been bred in
France--she was possessed of the most distinguished beauty--she had
reigned a Queen and a Scottish Queen, to whom knowledge of character was
as essential as the use of vital air. In all these capacities, Mary
was, of all women on the earth, most alert at perceiving and using the
advantages which her charms gave her over almost all who came within the
sphere of their influence. She cast on Roland a glance which might have
melted a heart of stone. "My poor boy," she said, with a feeling partly
real, partly politic, "thou art a stranger to us--sent to this doleful
captivity from the society of some tender mother, or sister, or maiden,
with whom you had freedom to tread a gay measure round the Maypole. I
grieve for you; but you are the only male in my limited household--wilt
thou obey my orders?"

"To the death, madam," said Graeme, in a determined tone.

"Then keep the door of mine apartment," said the Queen; "keep it till
they offer actual violence, or till we shall be fitly arrayed to receive
these intrusive visiters."

"I will defend it till they pass over my body," said Roland Graeme; any
hesitation which he had felt concerning the line of conduct he ought to
pursue being completely swept away by the impulse of the moment.

"Not so, my good youth," answered Mary; "not so, I command. If I have
one faithful subject beside me, much need, God wot, I have to care for
his safety. Resist them but till they are put to the shame of using
actual violence, and then give way, I charge you. Remember my commands."
And, with a smile expressive at once of favour and of authority, she
turned from him, and, followed by her attendants, entered the bedroom.

The youngest paused for half a second ere she followed her companion,
and made a signal to Roland Graeme with her hand. He had been already
long aware that this was Catherine Seyton--a circumstance which could
not much surprise a youth of quick intellects, who recollected the sort
of mysterious discourse which had passed betwixt the two matrons at the
deserted nunnery, and on which his meeting with Catherine in this place
seemed to cast so much light. Yet such was the engrossing effect of
Mary's presence, that it surmounted for the moment even the feelings of
a youthful lover; and it was not until Catherine Seyton had disappeared,
that Roland began to consider in what relation they were to stand to
each other. "She held up her hand to me in a commanding manner," he
thought; "perhaps she wanted to confirm my purpose for the execution of
the Queen's commands; for I think she could scarce purpose to scare me
with the sort of discipline which she administered to the groom in the
frieze-jacket, and to poor Adam Woodcock. But we will see to that anon;
meantime, let us do justice to the trust reposed in us by this unhappy
Queen. I think my Lord of Murray will himself own that it is the duty of
a faithful page to defend his lady against intrusion on her privacy."

Accordingly, he stepped to the little vestibule, made fast, with lock
and bar, the door which opened from thence to the large staircase, and
then sat himself down to attend the result. He had not long to wait--a
rude and strong hand first essayed to lift the latch, then pushed and
shook the door with violence, and, when it resisted his attempt to open
it, exclaimed, "Undo the door there, you within!"

"Why, and at whose command," said the page, "am I to undo the door of
the apartments of the Queen of Scotland?"

Another vain attempt, which made hinge and bolt jingle, showed that
the impatient applicant without would willingly have entered altogether
regardless of his challenge; but at length an answer was returned.

"Undo the door, on your peril--the Lord Lindesay comes to speak with the
Lady Mary of Scotland."

"The Lord Lindesay, as a Scottish noble," answered the page, "must await
his Sovereign's leisure."

An earnest altercation ensued amongst those without, in which Roland
distinguished the remarkable harsh voice of Lindesay in reply to
Sir Robert Melville, who appeared to have been using some soothing
language--"No! no! no! I tell thee, no! I will place a petard against
the door rather than be baulked by a profligate woman, and bearded by an
insolent footboy."

"Yet, at least," said Melville, "let me try fair means in the first
instance. Violence to a lady would stain your scutcheon for ever. Or
await till my Lord Ruthven comes."

"I will await no longer," said Lindesay; "it is high time the business
were done, and we on our return to the council. But thou mayest try thy
fair play, as thou callest it, while I cause my train to prepare the
petard. I came hither provided with as good gunpowder as blew up the
Kirk of Field."

"For God's sake, be patient," said Melville; and, approaching the door,
he said, as speaking to those within, "Let the Queen know, that I, her
faithful servant, Robert Melville, do entreat her, for her own sake, and
to prevent worse consequences, that she will undo the door, and admit
Lord Lindesay, who brings a mission from the Council of State."

"I will do your errand to the Queen," said the page, "and report to you
her answer."

He went to the door of the bedchamber, and tapping against it gently, it
was opened by the elderly lady, to whom he communicated his errand, and
returned with directions from the Queen to admit Sir Robert Melville and
Lord Lindesay. Roland Graeme returned to the vestibule, and opened the
door accordingly, into which the Lord Lindesay strode, with the air of
a soldier who has fought his way into a conquered fortress; while
Melville, deeply dejected, followed him more slowly.

"I draw you to witness, and to record," said the page to this last,
"that, save for the especial commands of the Queen, I would have made
good the entrance, with my best strength, and my best blood, against all
Scotland."

"Be silent, young man," said Melville, in a tone of grave rebuke; "add
not brands to fire--this is no time to make a flourish of thy boyish
chivalry."

"She has not appeared even yet," said Lindesay, who had now reached the
midst of the parlour or audience-room; "how call you this trifling?"

"Patience, my lord," replied Sir Robert, "time presses not--and Lord
Ruthven hath not as yet descended."

At this moment the door of the inner apartment opened, and Queen Mary
presented herself, advancing with an air of peculiar grace and majesty,
and seeming totally unruffled, either by the visit, or by the rude
manner in which it had been enforced. Her dress was a robe of black
velvet; a small ruff, open in front, gave a full view of her beautifully
formed chin and neck, but veiled the bosom. On her head she wore a small
cap of lace, and a transparent white veil hung from her shoulders over
the long black robe, in large loose folds, so that it could be drawn at
pleasure over the face and person. She wore a cross of gold around her
neck, and had her rosary of gold and ebony hanging from her girdle. She
was closely followed by her two ladies, who remained standing behind her
during the conference. Even Lord Lindesay, though the rudest noble
of that rude age, was surprised into something like respect by the
unconcerned and majestic mien of her, whom he had expected to find
frantic with impotent passion, or dissolved in useless and vain sorrow,
or overwhelmed with the fears likely in such a situation to assail
fallen royalty.

"We fear we have detained you, my Lord of Lindesay," said the Queen,
while she curtsied with dignity in answer to his reluctant obeisance;
"but a female does not willingly receive her visiters without some
minutes spent at the toilette. Men, my lord, are less dependant on such
ceremonies."

Lord Lindesay, casting his eye down on his own travel-stained and
disordered dress, muttered something of a hasty journey, and the Queen
paid her greeting to Sir Robert Melville with courtesy, and even, as
it seemed, with kindness. There was then a dead pause, during which
Lindesay looked towards the door, as if expecting with impatience the
colleague of their embassy. The Queen alone was entirely unembarrassed,
and, as if to break the silence, she addressed Lord Lindesay, with
a glance at the large and cumbrous sword which he wore, as already
mentioned, hanging from his neck.

"You have there a trusty and a weighty travelling companion, my lord.
I trust you expected to meet with no enemy here, against whom such
a formidable weapon could be necessary? it is, methinks, somewhat a
singular ornament for a court, though I am, as I well need to be, too
much of a Stuart to fear a sword."

"It is not the first time, madam," replied Lindesay, bringing round the
weapon so as to rest its point on the ground, and leaning one hand on
the huge cross-handle, "it is not the first time that this weapon has
intruded itself into the presence of the House of Stewart."

"Possibly, my lord," replied the Queen, "it may have done service to my
ancestors--Your ancestors were men of loyalty"

"Ay, madam," replied he, "service it hath done; but such as kings love
neither to acknowledge nor to reward. It was the service which the knife
renders to the tree when trimming it to the quick, and depriving it of
the superfluous growth of rank and unfruitful suckers, which rob it of
nourishment."

"You talk riddles, my lord," said Mary; "I will hope the explanation
carries nothing insulting with it."

"You shall judge, madam," answered Lindesay. "With this good sword was
Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, girded on the memorable day when he
acquired the name of Bell-the-Cat, for dragging from the presence of
your great grandfather, the third James of the race, a crew of minions,
flatterers, and favourites whom he hanged over the bridge of Lauder,
as a warning to such reptiles how they approach a Scottish throne. With
this same weapon, the same inflexible champion of Scottish honour
and nobility slew at one blow Spens of Kilspindie, a courtier of your
grandfather, James the fourth, who had dared to speak lightly of him
in the royal presence. They fought near the brook of Fala; and
Bell-the-Cat, with this blade, sheared through the thigh of his
opponent, and lopped the limb as easily as a shepherd's boy slices a
twig from a sapling."

"My lord," replied the Queen, reddening, "my nerves are too good to
be alarmed even by this terrible history--May I ask how a blade
so illustrious passed from the House of Douglas to that of
Lindesay?--Methinks it should have been preserved as a consecrated
relic, by a family who have held all that they could do against their
king, to be done in favour of their country."

"Nay, madam," said Melville, anxiously interfering, "ask not
that question of Lord Lindesay--And you, my lord, for shame--for
decency--forbear to reply to it."

"It is time that this lady should hear the truth," replied Lindesay.

"And be assured," said the Queen, "that she will be moved to anger by
none that you can tell her, my lord. There are cases in which just scorn
has always the mastery over just anger."

"Then know," said Lindesay, "that upon the field of Carberry-hill, when
that false and infamous traitor and murderer, James, sometime Earl of
Bothwell, and nicknamed Duke of Orkney, offered to do personal battle
with any of the associated nobles who came to drag him to justice, I
accepted his challenge, and was by the noble Earl of Morton gifted
with his good sword that I might therewith fight it out--Ah! so help me
Heaven, had his presumption been one grain more, or his cowardice one
grain less, I should have done such work with this good steel on his
traitorous corpse, that the hounds and carrion-crows should have found
their morsels daintily carved to their use !"

The Queen's courage well-nigh gave way at the mention of Bothwell's
name--a name connected with such a train of guilt, shame, and disaster.
But the prolonged boast of Lindesay gave her time to rally herself, and
to answer with an appearance of cold contempt--"It is easy to slay
an enemy who enters not the lists. But had Mary Stewart inherited her
father's sword as well as his sceptre, the boldest of her rebels should
not upon that day have complained that they had no one to cope withal.
Your lordship will forgive me if I abridge this conference. A brief
description of a bloody fight is long enough to satisfy a lady's
curiosity; and unless my Lord of Lindesay has something more important
to tell us than of the deeds which old Bell-the-Cat achieved, and how he
would himself have emulated them, had time and tide permitted, we will
retire to our private apartment, and you, Fleming, shall finish reading
to us yonder little treatise _Des Rodomontades Espagnolles_."

"Tarry, madam," said Lindesay, his complexion reddening in his turn, "I
know your quick wit too well of old to have sought an interview that
you might sharpen its edge at the expense of my honour. Lord Ruthven and
myself, with Sir Robert Melville as a concurrent, come to your Grace on
the part of the Secret Council, to tender to you what much concerns the
safety of your own life and the welfare of the State."

"The Secret Council?" said the Queen; "by what powers can it subsist or
act, while I, from whom it holds its character, am here detained under
unjust restraint? But it matters not--what concerns the welfare of
Scotland shall be acceptable to Mary Stewart, come from whatever quarter
it will--and for what concerns her own life, she has lived long enough
to be weary of it, even at the age of twenty-five.--Where is your
colleague, my lord?--why tarries he?"

"He comes, madam," said Melville, and Lord Ruthven entered at the
instant, holding in his hand a packet. As the Queen returned his
salutation she became deadly pale, but instantly recovered herself
by dint of strong and sudden resolution, just as the noble, whose
appearance seemed to excite such emotions in her bosom, entered the
apartment in company with George Douglas, the youngest son of the Knight
of Lochleven, who, during the absence of his father and brethren,
acted as Seneschal of the Castle, under the direction of the elder Lady
Lochleven, his father's mother.



Chapter the Twenty-Second.


  I give this heavy weight from off my head,
  And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand;
  With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
  With mine own hand I give away my crown,
  With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
  With mine own breath release all duteous oaths.
                                   RICHARD II.

Lord Ruthven had the look and bearing which became a soldier and a
statesman, and the martial cast of his form and features procured him
the popular epithet of Greysteil, by which he was distinguished by his
intimates, after the hero of a metrical romance then generally known.
His dress, which was a buff-coat embroidered, had a half-military
character, but exhibited nothing of the sordid negligence which
distinguished that of Lindesay. But the son of an ill-fated sire, and
the father of a yet more unfortunate family, bore in his look that cast
of inauspicious melancholy, by which the physiognomists of that time
pretended to distinguish those who were predestined to a violent and
unhappy death.

The terror which the presence of this nobleman impressed on the Queen's
mind, arose from the active share he had borne in the slaughter of
David Rizzio; his father having presided at the perpetration of that
abominable crime, although so weak from long and wasting illness, that
he could not endure the weight of his armour, having arisen from a
sick-bed to commit a murder in the presence of his Sovereign. On that
occasion his son also had attended and taken an active part. It was
little to be wondered at, that the Queen, considering her condition
when such a deed of horror was acted in her presence, should retain an
instinctive terror for the principal actors in the murder. She returned,
however, with grace the salutation of Lord Ruthven, and extended her
hand to George Douglas, who kneeled, and kissed it with respect; the
first mark of a subject's homage which Roland Graeme had seen any of
them render to the captive Sovereign. She returned his greeting in
silence, and there was a brief pause, during which the steward of the
castle, a man of a sad brow and a severe eye, placed, under George
Douglas's directions, a table and writing materials; and the page,
obedient to his mistress's dumb signal, advanced a large chair to the
side on which the Queen stood, the table thus forming a sort of bar
which divided the Queen and her personal followers from her unwelcome
visitors. The steward then withdrew after a low reverence. When he had
closed the door behind him, the Queen broke silence--"With your favour,
my lords, I will sit--my walks are not indeed extensive enough at
present to fatigue me greatly, yet I find repose something more
necessary than usual."

She sat down accordingly, and, shading her cheek with her beautiful
hand, looked keenly and impressively at each of the nobles in turn.
Mary Fleming applied her kerchief to her eyes, and Catherine Seyton and
Roland Graeme exchanged a glance, which showed that both were too deeply
engrossed with sentiments of interest and commiseration for their royal
mistress, to think of any thing which regarded themselves.

"I wait the purpose of your mission, my lords," said the Queen, after
she had been seated for about a minute without a word-being spoken,--"I
wait your message from those you call the Secret Council.-I trust it
is a petition of pardon, and a desire that I will resume my rightful
throne, without using with due severity my right of punishing those who
have dispossessed me of it."

"Madam," replied Ruthven, "it is painful for us to speak harsh truths to
a Princess who has long ruled us. But we come to offer, not to implore,
pardon. In a word, madam, we have to propose to you on the part of the
Secret Council, that you sign these deeds, which will contribute greatly
to the pacification of the State, the advancement of God's word, and the
welfare of your own future life."

"Am I expected to take these fair words on trust, my lord? or may I hear
the contents of these reconciling papers, ere I am asked to sign them?"

"Unquestionably, madam; it is our purpose and wish, you should read what
you are required to sign," replied Ruthven.

"Required?" replied the Queen, with some emphasis; "but the phrase suits
well the matter-read, my lord."

The Lord Ruthven proceeded to read a formal instrument, running in the
Queen's name, and setting forth that she had been called, at an early
age, to the administration of the crown and realm of Scotland, and had
toiled diligently therein, until she was in body and spirit so wearied
out and disgusted, that she was unable any longer to endure the travail
and pain of State affairs; and that since God had blessed her with a
fair and hopeful son, she was desirous to ensure to him, even while
she yet lived, his succession to the crown, which was his by right of
hereditary descent. "Wherefore," the instrument proceeded, "we, of the
motherly affection we bear to our said son, have renounced and demitted,
and by these our letters of free good-will, renounce and demit, the
Crown, government, and guiding of the realm of Scotland, in favour of
our said son, that he may succeed to us as native Prince thereof, as
much as if we had been removed by disease, and not by our own proper
act. And that this demission of our royal authority may have the more
full and solemn effect, and none pretend ignorance, we give, grant,
and commit, fall and free and plain power to our trusty cousins, Lord
Lindesay of the Byres, and William Lord Ruthven, to appear in our
name before as many of the nobility, clergy, and burgesses, as may be
assembled at Stirling, and there, in our name and behalf, publicly, and
in their presence, to renounce the Crown, guidance, and government of
this our kingdom of Scotland."

The Queen here broke in with an air of extreme surprise. "How is this,
my lords?" she said: "Are my ears turned rebels, that they deceive me
with sounds so extraordinary?--And yet it is no wonder that, having
conversed so long with rebellion, they should now force its language
upon my understanding. Say I am mistaken, my lords--say, for the honour
of yourselves and the Scottish nobility, that my right trusty cousins of
Lindesay and Ruthven, two barons of warlike fame and ancient line, have
not sought the prison-house of their kind mistress for such a purpose as
these words seem to imply. Say, for the sake of honour and loyalty, that
my ears have deceived me."

"No, madam," said Ruthven gravely, "your ears do _not_ deceive you--they
deceived you when they were closed against the preachers of the
evangele, and the honest advice of your faithful subjects; and when
they were ever open to flattery of pickthanks and traitors, foreign
cubiculars and domestic minions. The land may no longer brook the rule
of one who cannot rule herself; wherefore, I pray you to comply with the
last remaining wish of your subjects and counsellors, and spare yourself
and us the farther agitation of matter so painful."

"And is this _all_ my loving subjects require of me, my lord?" said
Mary, in a tone of bitter irony. "Do they really stint themselves to the
easy boon that I should yield up the crown, which is mine by birthright,
to an infant which is scarcely more than a year old--fling down my
sceptre, and take up a distaff--Oh no! it is too little for them to
ask--That other roll of parchment contains something harder to be
complied with, and which may more highly task my readiness to comply
with the petitions of my lieges."

"This parchment," answered Ruthven, in the same tone of inflexible
gravity, and unfolding the instrument as he spoke, "is one by which your
grace constitutes your nearest in blood, and the most honourable and
trustworthy of your subjects, James, Earl of Murray, Regent of the
kingdom during the minority of the young King. He already holds the
appointment from the Secret Council."

The Queen gave a sort of shriek, and, clapping her hands together,
exclaimed, "Comes the arrow out of his quiver?--out of my brother's
bow?--Alas! I looked for his return from France as my sole, at least my
readiest, chance of deliverance.--And yet, when I heard he had assumed
the government, I guessed he would shame to wield it in my name."

"I must pray your answer, madam," said Lord Ruthven, "to the demand of
the Council."

"The demand of the Council!" said the Queen; "say rather the demand of a
set of robbers, impatient to divide the spoil they have seized. To such
a demand, and sent by the mouth of a traitor, whose scalp, but for my
womanish mercy, should long since have stood on the city gates, Mary of
Scotland has no answer."

"I trust, madam," said Lord Ruthven, "my being unacceptable to your
presence will not add to your obduracy of resolution. It may become
you to remember that the death of the minion, Rizzio, cost the house
of Ruthven its head and leader. My father, more worthy than a whole
province of such vile sycophants, died in exile, and broken-hearted."

The Queen clasped her hands on her face, and, resting her arms on the
table, stooped down her head and wept so bitterly, that the tears were
seen to find their way in streams between the white and slender fingers
with which she endeavoured to conceal them.

"My lords," said Sir Robert Melville, "this is too much rigour. Under
your lordship's favour, we came hither, not to revive old griefs, but to
find the mode of avoiding new ones."

"Sir Robert Melville," said Ruthven, "we best know for what purpose we
were delegated hither, and wherefore you were somewhat unnecessarily
sent to attend us."

"Nay, by my hand," said Lord Lindesay, "I know not why we were cumbered
with the good knight, unless he comes in place of the lump of sugar
which pothicars put into their wholesome but bitter medicaments, to
please a froward child--a needless labour, methinks, where men have the
means to make them swallow the physic otherwise."

"Nay, my lords," said Melville, "ye best know your own secret
instructions. I conceive I shall best obey mine in striving to mediate
between her Grace and you."

"Be silent, Sir Robert Melville," said the Queen, arising, and her face
still glowing with agitation as she spoke. "My kerchief, Fleming--I
shame that traitors should have power to move me thus.--Tell me, proud
lords," she added, wiping away the tears as she spoke, "by what earthly
warrant can liege subjects pretend to challenge the rights of an
anointed Sovereign--to throw off the allegiance they have vowed, and to
take away the crown from the head on which Divine warrant hath placed
it?"

"Madam," said Ruthven, "I will deal plainly with you. Your reign, from
the dismal field of Pinkie-cleugh, when you were a babe in the cradle,
till now that ye stand a grown dame before us, hath been such a tragedy
of losses, disasters, civil dissensions, and foreign wars, that the like
is not to be found in our chronicles. The French and English have, with
one consent, made Scotland the battle-field on which to fight out their
own ancient quarrel.--For ourselves every man's hand hath been
against his brother, nor hath a year passed over without rebellion and
slaughter, exile of nobles, and oppressing of the commons. We may endure
it no longer, and therefore, as a prince, to whom God hath refused the
gift of hearkening to wise counsel, and on whose dealings and projects
no blessing hath ever descended, we pray you to give way to other rule
and governance of the land, that a remnant may yet be saved to this
distracted realm."

"My lord," said Mary, "it seems to me that you fling on my unhappy and
devoted head those evils, which, with far more justice, I may impute
to your own turbulent, wild, and untameable dispositions--the frantic
violence with which you, the Magnates of Scotland, enter into feuds
against each other, sticking at no cruelty to gratify your wrath, taking
deep revenge for the slightest offences, and setting at defiance those
wise laws which your ancestors made for stanching of such cruelty,
rebelling against the lawful authority, and bearing yourselves as if
there were no king in the land; or rather as if each were king in his
own premises. And now you throw the blame on me--on me, whose life has
been embittered--whose sleep has been broken--whose happiness has been
wrecked by your dissensions. Have I not myself been obliged to traverse
wilds and mountains, at the head of a few faithful followers, to
maintain peace and put down oppression? Have I not worn harness on my
person, and carried pistols at my saddle; fain to lay aside the softness
of a woman, and the dignity of a Queen, that I might show an example to
my followers?"

"We grant, madam," said Lindesay, "that the affrays occasioned by your
misgovernment, may sometimes have startled you in the midst of a masque
or galliard; or it may be that such may have interrupted the idolatry of
the mass, or the jesuitical counsels of some French ambassador. But the
longest and severest journey which your Grace has taken in my memory,
was from Hawick to Hermitage Castle; and whether it was for the weal of
the state, or for your own honour, rests with your Grace's conscience."

The Queen turned to him with inexpressible sweetness of tone and manner,
and that engaging look which Heaven had assigned her, as if to show
that the choicest arts to win men's affections may be given in vain.
"Lindesay," she said, "you spoke not to me in this stern tone, and with
such scurril taunt, yon fair summer evening, when you and I shot at the
butts against the Earl of Mar and Mary Livingstone, and won of them the
evening's collation, in the privy garden of Saint Andrews. The Master
of Lindesay was then my friend, and vowed to be my soldier. How I have
offended the Lord of Lindesay I know not, unless honours have changed
manners."

Hardhearted as he was, Lindesay seemed struck with this unexpected
appeal, but almost instantly replied, "Madam, it is well known that
your Grace could in those days make fools of whomever approached you.
I pretend not to have been wiser than others. But gayer men and better
courtiers soon jostled aside my rude homage, and I think your Grace
cannot but remember times, when my awkward attempts to take the manners
that pleased you, were the sport of the court-popinjays, the Marys and
the Frenchwomen."

"My lord, I grieve if I have offended you through idle gaiety," said
the Queen; "and can but say it was most unwittingly done. You are fully
revenged; for through gaiety," she said with a sigh, "will I never
offend any one more."

"Our time is wasting, madam," said Lord Ruthven; "I must pray your
decision on this weighty matter which I have submitted to you."

"What, my lord!" said the Queen, "upon the instant, and without a
moment's time to deliberate?--Can the Council, as they term themselves,
expect this of me?"

"Madam," replied Ruthven, "the Council hold the opinion, that since the
fatal term which passed betwixt the night of King Henry's murder and the
day of Carberry-hill, your Grace should have held you prepared for the
measure now proposed, as the easiest escape from your numerous dangers
and difficulties."

"Great God!" exclaimed the Queen; "and is it as a boon that you propose
to me, what every Christian king ought to regard as a loss of honour
equal to the loss of life!--You take from me my crown, my power, my
subjects, my wealth, my state. What, in the name of every saint, can you
offer, or do you offer, in requital of my compliance?"

"We give you pardon," answered Ruthven, sternly--"we give you space and
means to spend your remaining life in penitence and seclusion--we give
you time to make your peace with Heaven, and to receive the pure Gospel,
which you have ever rejected and persecuted."

The Queen turned pale at the menace which this speech, as well as
the rough and inflexible tones of the speaker, seemed distinctly to
infer--"And if I do not comply with your request so fiercely urged, my
lord, what then follows?"

She said this in a voice in which female and natural fear was contending
with the feelings of insulted dignity.--There was a pause, as if no one
cared to return to the question a distinct answer. At length Ruthven
spoke: "There is little need to tell to your Grace, who are well read
both in the laws and in the chronicles of the realm, that murder and
adultery are crimes for which ere now queens themselves have suffered
death."

"And where, my lord, or how, found you an accusation so horrible,
against her who stands before you?" said Queen Mary. "The foul and
odious calumnies which have poisoned the general mind of Scotland, and
have placed me a helpless prisoner in your hands, are surely no proof of
guilt?"

"We need look for no farther proof," replied the stern Lord Ruthven,
"than the shameless marriage betwixt the widow of the murdered and the
leader of the band of murderers!--They that joined hands in the fated
month of May, had already united hearts and counsel in the deed which
preceded that marriage but a few brief weeks."

"My lord, my lord!" said the Queen, eagerly, "remember well there were
more consents than mine to that fatal union, that most unhappy act of
a most unhappy life. The evil steps adopted by sovereigns are often
the suggestion of bad counsellors; but these counsellors are worse than
fiends who tempt and betray, if they themselves are the first to call
their unfortunate princes to answer for the consequences of their own
advice.--Heard ye never of a bond by the nobles, my lords, recommending
that ill-fated union to the ill-fated Mary? Methinks, were it carefully
examined, we should see that the names of Morton and of Lindesay, and
of Ruthven, may be found in that bond, which pressed me to marry that
unhappy man.--Ah! stout and loyal Lord Herries, who never knew guile
or dishonour, you bent your noble knee to me in vain, to warn me of my
danger, and wert yet the first to draw thy good sword in my cause when
I suffered for neglecting thy counsel! Faithful knight and true noble,
what a difference betwixt thee and those counsellors of evil, who now
threaten my life for having fallen into the snares they spread for me!"

"Madam," said Ruthven, "we know that you are an orator; and perhaps for
that reason the Council has sent hither men, whose converse hath been
more with the wars, than with the language of the schools or the cabals
of state. We but desire to know if, on assurance of life and honour, ye
will demit the rule of this kingdom of Scotland?"

"And what warrant have I," said the Queen, "that ye will keep treaty
with me, if I should barter my kingly estate for seclusion, and leave to
weep in secret?"

"Our honour and our word, madam," answered Ruthven.

"They are too slight and unsolid pledges, my lord," said the Queen; "add
at least a handful of thistle-down to give them weight in the balance."

"Away, Ruthven," said Lindesay; "she was ever deaf to counsel, save of
slaves and sycophants; let her remain by her refusal, and abide by it!"

"Stay, my lord," said Sir Robert Melville, "or rather permit me to have
but a few minutes' private audience with her Grace. If my presence with
you could avail aught, it must be as a mediator--do not, I conjure you,
leave the castle, or break off the conference, until I bring you word
how her Grace shall finally stand disposed."

"We will remain in the hall," said Lindesay, "for half an hour's space;
but in despising our words and our pledge of honour, she has touched the
honour of my name--let her look herself to the course she has to pursue.
If the half hour should pass away without her determining to comply with
the demands of the nation, her career will be brief enough."

With little ceremony the two nobles left the apartment, traversed the
vestibule, and descended the winding-stairs, the clash of Lindesay's
huge sword being heard as it rang against each step in his descent.
George Douglas followed them, after exchanging with Melville a gesture
of surprise and sympathy.

As soon as they were gone, the Queen, giving way to grief, fear, and
agitation, threw herself into the seat, wrung her hands, and seemed to
abandon herself to despair. Her female attendants, weeping themselves,
endeavoured yet to pray her to be composed, and Sir Robert Melville,
kneeling at her feet, made the same entreaty. After giving way to a
passionate burst of sorrow, she at length said to Melville, "Kneel not
to me, Melville--mock me not with the homage of the person, when the
heart is far away--Why stay you behind with the deposed, the condemned?
her who has but few hours perchance to live? You have been favoured as
well as the rest; why do you continue the empty show of gratitude and
thankfulness any longer than they?"

"Madam," said Sir Robert Melville, "so help me Heaven at my need, my
heart is as true to you as when you were in your highest place."

"True to me! true to me!" repeated the Queen, with some scorn; "tush,
Melville, what signifies the truth which walks hand in hand with my
enemies' falsehood?--thy hand and thy sword have never been so well
acquainted that I can trust thee in aught where manhood is required--Oh,
Seyton, for thy bold father, who is both wise, true, and valiant!"

Roland Graeme could withstand no longer his earnest desire to offer his
services to a princess so distressed and so beautiful. "If one sword,"
he said, "madam, can do any thing to back the wisdom of this grave
counsellor, or to defend your rightful cause, here is my weapon, and
here is my hand ready to draw and use it." And raising his sword with
one hand, he laid the other upon the hilt.

As he thus held up the weapon, Catherine Seyton exclaimed, "Methinks
I see a token from my father, madam;" and immediately crossing the
apartment, she took Roland Graeme by the skirt of the cloak, and asked
him earnestly whence he had that sword.

The page answered with surprise, "Methinks this is no presence in
which to jest--Surely, damsel, you yourself best know whence and how I
obtained the weapon."

"Is this a time for folly?" said Catherine Seyton; "unsheathe the sword
instantly!"

"If the Queen commands me," said the youth, looking towards his royal
mistress.

"For shame, maiden!" said the Queen; "wouldst thou instigate the poor
boy to enter into useless strife with the two most approved soldiers in
Scotland?"

"In your Grace's cause," replied the page, "I will venture my life upon
them!" And as he spoke, he drew his weapon partly from the sheath, and a
piece of parchment, rolled around the blade, fell out and dropped on the
floor. Catherine Seyton caught it up with eager haste.

"It is my father's hand-writing," she said, "and doubtless conveys his
best duteous advice to your Majesty; I know that it was prepared to be
sent in this weapon, but I expected another messenger."

"By my faith, fair one," thought Roland, "and if you knew not that I had
such a secret missive about me, I was yet more ignorant."

The Queen cast her eye upon the scroll, and remained a few minutes
wrapped in deep thought. "Sir Robert Melville," she at length said,
"this scroll advises me to submit myself to necessity, and to subscribe
the deeds these hard men have brought with them, as one who gives way to
the natural fear inspired by the threats of rebels and murderers. You,
Sir Robert, are a wise man, and Seyton is both sagacious and brave.
Neither, I think, would mislead me in this matter."

"Madam," said Melville, "if I have not the strength of body of the Lord
Herries or Seyton, I will yield to neither in zeal for your Majesty's
service. I cannot fight for you like these lords, but neither of them is
more willing to die for your service."

"I believe it, my old and faithful counsellor," said the Queen, "and
believe me, Melville, I did thee but a moment's injustice. Read what my
Lord Seyton hath written to us, and give us thy best counsel."

He glanced over the parchment, and instantly replied,--"Oh! my dear and
royal mistress, only treason itself could give you other advice than
Lord Seyton has here expressed. He, Herries, Huntly, the English
ambassador Throgmorton, and others, your friends, are all alike of
opinion, that whatever deeds or instruments you execute within these
walls, must lose all force and effect, as extorted from your Grace by
duresse, by sufferance of present evil, and fear of men, and harm to
ensue on your refusal. Yield, therefore, to the tide, and be assured,
that in subscribing what parchments they present to you, you bind
yourself to nothing, since your act of signature wants that which alone
can make it valid, the free will of the granter."

"Ay, so says my Lord Seyton," replied Mary; "yet methinks, for the
daughter of so long a line of sovereigns to resign her birthright,
because rebels press upon her with threats, argues little of royalty,
and will read ill for the fame of Mary in future chronicles. Tush! Sir
Robert Melville, the traitors may use black threats and bold words, but
they will not dare to put their hands forth on our person."

"Alas! madam, they have already dared so far and incurred such peril by
the lengths which they have gone, that they are but one step from the
worst and uttermost."

"Surely," said the Queen, her fears again predominating, "Scottish
nobles would not lend themselves to assassinate a helpless woman?"

"Bethink you, madam," he replied, "what horrid spectacles have been seen
in our day; and what act is so dark, that some Scottish hand has not
been found to dare it? Lord Lindesay, besides his natural sullenness and
hardness of temper, is the near kinsman of Henry Darnley, and Ruthven
has his own deep and dangerous plans. The Council, besides, speak of
proofs by writ and word, of a casket with letters--of I know not what."

"Ah! good Melville," answered the Queen, "were I as sure of the
even-handed integrity of my judges, as of my own innocence--and yet----"

"Oh! pause, madam," said Melville; "even innocence must sometimes for a
season stoop to injurious blame. Besides, you are here--"

He looked round, and paused.

"Speak out, Melville," said the Queen, "never one approached my person
who wished to work me evil; and even this poor page, whom I have
to-day seen for the first time in my life, I can trust safely with your
communication."

"Nay, madam," answered Melville, "in such emergence, and he being the
bearer of Lord Seyton's message, I will venture to say, before him and
these fair ladies, whose truth and fidelity I dispute not--I say I will
venture to say, that there are other modes besides that of open trial,
by which deposed sovereigns often die; and that, as Machiavel saith,
there is but one step betwixt a king's prison and his grave."

"Oh I were it but swift and easy for the body," said the unfortunate
Princess, "were it but a safe and happy change for the soul, the woman
lives not that would take the step so soon as I--But, alas! Melville,
when we think of death, a thousand sins, which we have trod as
worms beneath our feet, rise up against us as flaming serpents. Most
injuriously do they accuse me of aiding Darnley's death; yet, blessed
Lady! I afforded too open occasion for the suspicion--I espoused
Bothwell."

"Think not of that now, madam," said Melville, "think rather of the
immediate mode of saving yourself and son. Comply with the present
unreasonable demands, and trust that better times will shortly arrive."

"Madam," said Roland Graeme, "if it pleases you that I should do so, I
will presently swim through the lake, if they refuse me other conveyance
to the shore; I will go to the courts successively of England, France,
and Spain, and will show you have subscribed these vile instruments from
no stronger impulse than the fear of death, and I will do battle against
them that say otherwise."

The Queen turned her round, and with one of those sweet smiles which,
during the era of life's romance, overpay every risk, held her hand
towards Roland, but without "speaking a word. He kneeled reverently, and
kissed it, and Melville again resumed his plea.

"Madam," he said, "time presses, and you must not let those boats,
which I see they are even now preparing, put forth on the lake. Here are
enough of witnesses--your ladies--this bold youth--myself, when it can
serve your cause effectually, for I would not hastily stand committed in
this matter--but even without me here is evidence enough to show, that
you have yielded to the demands of the Council through force and fear,
but from no sincere and unconstrained assent. Their boats are already
manned for their return--oh! permit your old servant to recall them."

"Melville," said the Queen, "thou art an ancient courtier--when didst
thou ever know a Sovereign Prince recall to his presence subjects who
had parted from him on such terms as those on which these envoys of
the Council left us, and who yet were recalled without submission or
apology?--Let it cost me both life and crown, I will not again command
them to my presence."

"Alas! madam, that empty form should make a barrier! If I rightly
understand, you are not unwilling to listen to real and advantageous
counsel--but your scruple is saved--I hear them returning to ask your
final resolution. Oh! take the advice of the noble Seyton, and you may
once more command those who now usurp a triumph over you. But hush! I
hear them in the vestibule."

As he concluded speaking, George Douglas opened the door of the
apartment, and marshalled in the two noble envoys.

"We come, madam," said the Lord Ruthven, "to request your answer to the
proposal of the Council."

"Your final answer," said Lord Lindesay; "for with a refusal you must
couple the certainty that you have precipitated your fate, and renounced
the last opportunity of making peace with God, and ensuring your longer
abode in the world."

"My lords," said Mary, with inexpressible grace and dignity, "the evils
we cannot resist we must submit to--I will subscribe these parchments
with such liberty of choice as my condition permits me. Were I on yonder
shore, with a fleet jennet and ten good and loyal knights around me,
I would subscribe my sentence of eternal condemnation as soon as the
resignation of my throne. But here, in the Castle of Lochleven, with
deep water around me--and you, my lords, beside me,--I have no freedom
of choice.--Give me the pen, Melville, and bear witness to what I do,
and why I do it."

"It is our hope your Grace will not suppose yourself compelled by any
apprehensions from us," said the Lord Ruthven, "to execute what must be
your own voluntary deed."

The Queen had already stooped towards the table, and placed the
parchment before her, with the pen between her fingers, ready for the
important act of signature. But when Lord Ruthven had done speaking, she
looked up, stopped short, and threw down the pen. "If," she said, "I am
expected to declare I give away my crown of free will, or otherwise than
because I am compelled to renounce it by the threat of worse evils to
myself and my subjects, I will not put my name to such an untruth--not
to gain full possession of England, France, and Scotland!--all once my
own, in possession, or by right."

"Beware, madam," said Lindesay, and, snatching hold of the Queen's arm
with his own gauntleted hand, he pressed it, in the rudeness of his
passion, more closely, perhaps, than he was himself aware of,--"beware
how you contend with those who are the stronger, and have the mastery of
your fate!"

He held his grasp on her arm, bending his eyes on her with a stern
and intimidating look, till both Ruthven and Melville cried shame; and
Douglas, who had hitherto remained in a state of apparent apathy, had
made a stride from the door, as if to interfere. The rude Baron then
quitted his hold, disguising the confusion which he really felt
at having indulged his passion to such extent, under a sullen and
contemptuous smile.

The Queen immediately began, with an expression of pain, to bare the
arm which he had grasped, by drawing up the sleeve of her gown, and it
appeared that his gripe had left the purple marks of his iron fingers
upon her flesh--"My lord," she said, "as a knight and gentleman, you
might have spared my frail arm so severe a proof that you have the
greater strength on your side, and are resolved to use it--But I thank
you for it--it is the most decisive token of the terms on which this
day's business is to rest.--I draw you to witness, both lords and
ladies," she said, showing the marks of the grasp on her arm, "that I
subscribe these instruments in obedience to the sign manual of my Lord
of Lindesay, which you may see imprinted on mine arm."

[Footnote: The details of this remarkable event are, as given in
the preceding chapter, imaginary; but the outline of the events is
historical. Sir Robert Lindesay, brother to the author of the Memoirs,
was at first intrusted with the delicate commission of persuading the
imprisoned queen to resign her crown. As he flatly refused to interfere,
they determined to send the Lord Lindesay, one of the rudest and most
violent of their own faction, with instructions, first to use fair
persuasions, and if these did not succeed, to enter into harder terms.
Knox associates Lord Ruthven with Lindesay in this alarming commission.
He was the son of that Lord Ruthven who was prime agent in the murder
of Rizzio; and little mercy was to be expected from his conjunction with
Lindesay.

The employment of such rude tools argued a resolution on the part of
those who had the Queen's person in their power, to proceed to the
utmost extremities, should they find Mary obstinate. To avoid this
pressing danger, Sir Robert Melville was despatched by them to
Lochleven, carrying with him, concealed in the scabbard of his sword,
letters to the Queen from the Earl of Athole, Maitland of Lethington,
and even from Throgmorton, the English Ambassador, who was then
favourable to the unfortunate Mary, conjuring her to yield to the
necessity of the times, and to subscribe such deeds as Lindesay should
lay before her, without being startled by their tenor; and assuring her
that her doing so, in the state of captivity under which she was placed,
would neither, in law, honour, nor conscience, be binding upon her when
she should obtain her liberty. Submitting by the advice of one part of
her subjects to the menace of the others, and learning that Lindesay
was arrived in a boasting, that is, threatening humour, the Queen,
"with some reluctancy, and with tears," saith Knox, subscribed one deed
resigning her crown to her infant son, and another establishing the Earl
of Murray regent. It seems agreed by historians that Lindesay behaved
with great brutality on the occasion. The deeds were signed 24th July,
1567.]

Lindesay would have spoken, but was restrained by his colleague Ruthven,
who said to him, "Peace, my lord. Let the Lady Mary of Scotland ascribe
her signature to what she will, it is our business to procure it, and
carry it to the Council. Should there be debate hereafter on the manner
in which it was adhibited, there will be time enough for it."

Lindesay was silent accordingly, only muttering within his beard,
"I meant not to hurt her; but I think women's flesh be as tender as
new-fallen snow."

The Queen meanwhile subscribed the rolls of parchment with a hasty
indifference, as if they had been matters of slight consequence, or of
mere formality. When she had performed this painful task, she arose,
and, having curtsied to the lords, was about to withdraw to her chamber.
Ruthven and Sir Robert Melville made, the first a formal reverence, the
second an obeisance, in which his desire to acknowledge his sympathy was
obviously checked by the fear of appearing in the eyes of his colleagues
too partial to his former mistress. But Lindesay stood motionless, even
when they were preparing to withdraw. At length, as if moved by a sudden
impulse, he walked round the table which had hitherto been betwixt them
and the Queen, kneeled on one knee, took her hand, kissed it, let it
fall, and arose--"Lady," he said, "thou art a noble creature, even
though thou hast abused God's choicest gifts. I pay that devotion to thy
manliness of spirit, which I would not have paid to the power thou hast
long undeservedly wielded--I kneel to Mary Stewart, not to the Queen."

"The Queen and Mary Stewart pity thee alike, Lindesay," said
Mary--"alike thee pity, and they forgive thee. An honoured soldier hadst
thou been by a king's side--leagued with rebels, what art thou but a
good blade in the hands of a ruffian?--Farewell, my Lord Ruthven, the
smoother but the deeper traitor.--Farewell, Melville--Mayest thou find
masters that can understand state policy better, and have the means
to reward it more richly, than Mary Stewart.--Farewell, George of
Douglas--make your respected grand-dame comprehend that we would be
alone for the remainder of the day--God wot, we have need to collect our
thoughts."

All bowed and withdrew; but scarce had they entered the vestibule, ere
Ruthven and Lindesay were at variance. "Chide not with me, Ruthven,"
Lindesay was heard to say, in answer to something more indistinctly
urged by his colleague--"Chide not with me, for I will not brook it! You
put the hangman's office on me in this matter, and even the very hangman
hath leave to ask some pardon of those on whom he does his office. I
would I had as deep cause to be this lady's friend as I have to be her
enemy--thou shouldst see if I spared limb and life in her quarrel."

"Thou art a sweet minion," said Ruthven, "to fight a lady's quarrel, and
all for a brent brow and a tear in the eye! Such toys have been out of
thy thoughts this many a year."

"Do me right, Ruthven," said Lindesay. "You are like a polished corslet
of steel; it shines more gaudily, but it is not a whit softer--nay,
it is five times harder than a Glasgow breastplate of hammered iron.
Enough. We know each other."

They descended the stairs, were heard to summon their boats, and the
Queen signed to Roland Graeme to retire to the vestibule, and leave her
with her female attendants.



Chapter the Twenty-Third.


  Give me a morsel on the greensward rather,
  Coarse as you will the cooking--Let the fresh spring
  Bubble beside my napkin--and the free birds
  Twittering and chirping, hop from bough to bough,
  To claim the crumbs I leave for perquisites--
  Your prison feasts I like not.
                           THE WOODSMAN, A DRAMA.

A recess in the vestibule was enlightened by a small window, at which
Roland Graeme stationed himself to mark the departure of the lords. He
could see their followers mustering on horseback under their respective
banners--the western sun glancing on their corslets and steel-caps
as they moved to and fro, mounted or dismounted, at intervals. On the
narrow space betwixt the castle and the water, the Lords Ruthven and
Lindesay were already moving slowly to their boats, accompanied by the
Lady of Lochleven, her grandson, and their principal attendants. They
took a ceremonious leave of each other, as Roland could discern by their
gestures, and the boats put oft from their landing-place; the boatmen
stretched to their oars, and they speedily diminished upon the eye
of the idle gazer, who had no better employment than to watch their
motions. Such seemed also the occupation of the Lady Lochleven and
George Douglas, who, returning from the landing-place, looked frequently
back to the boats, and at length stopped as if to observe their progress
under the window at which Roland Graeme was stationed.--As they gazed on
the lake, he could hear the lady distinctly say, "And she has bent her
mind to save her life at the expense of her kingdom?"

"Her life, madam!" replied her son; "I know not who would dare to
attempt it in the castle of my father. Had I dreamt that it was with
such purpose that Lindesay insisted on bringing his followers hither,
neither he nor they should have passed the iron gate of Lochleven
castle."

"I speak not of private slaughter, my son, but of open trial,
condemnation, and execution; for with such she has been threatened, and
to such threats she has given way. Had she not more of the false Gusian
blood than of the royal race of Scotland in her veins, she had bidden
them defiance to their teeth--But it is all of the same complexion,
and meanness is the natural companion of profligacy.--I am discharged,
forsooth, from intruding on her gracious presence this evening. Go
thou, my son, and render the usual service of the meal to this unqueened
Queen."

"So please you, lady mother," said Douglas, "I care not greatly to
approach her presence."

"Thou art right, my son; and therefore I trust thy prudence, even
because I have noted thy caution. She is like an isle on the ocean,
surrounded with shelves and quicksands; its verdure fair and inviting to
the eye, but the wreck of many a goodly vessel which hath approached it
too rashly. But for thee, my son, I fear nought; and we may not, with
our honour, suffer her to eat without the attendance of one of us. She
may die by the judgment of Heaven, or the fiend may have power over her
in her despair; and then we would be touched in honour to show that
in our house, and at our table, she had had all fair play and fitting
usage."

Here Roland was interrupted by a smart tap on the shoulders, reminding
him sharply of Adam Woodcock's adventure of the preceding evening.
He turned round, almost expecting to see the page of Saint Michael's
hostelry. He saw, indeed, Catherine Seyton; but she was in female
attire, differing, no doubt, a great deal in shape and materials from
that which she had worn when they first met, and becoming her birth
as the daughter of a great baron, and her rank as the attendant on a
princess. "So, fair page," said she, "eaves-dropping is one of your
page-like qualities, I presume."

"Fair sister," answered Roland, in the same tone, "if some friends of
mine be as well acquainted with the rest of our mystery as they are with
the arts of swearing, swaggering, and switching, they need ask no page
in Christendom for farther insight into his vocation."

"Unless that pretty speech infer that you have yourself had the
discipline of the switch since we last met, the probability whereof I
nothing doubt, I profess, fair page, I am at a loss to conjecture your
meaning. But there is no time to debate it now--they come with the
evening meal. Be pleased, Sir Page, to do your duty."

Four servants entered bearing dishes, preceded by the same stern old
steward whom Roland had already seen, and followed by George Douglas,
already mentioned as the grandson of the Lady of Lochleven, and who,
acting as seneschal, represented, upon this occasion, his father, the
Lord of the Castle. He entered with his arms folded on his bosom, and
his looks bent on the ground. With the assistance of Roland Graeme, a
table was suitably covered in the next or middle apartment, on which
the domestics placed their burdens with great reverence, the steward and
Douglas bending low when they had seen the table properly adorned, as if
their royal prisoner had sat at the board in question. The door opened,
and Douglas, raising his eyes hastily, cast them again on the earth,
when he perceived it was only the Lady Mary Fleming who entered.

"Her Grace," she said, "will not eat to-night."

"Let us hope she may be otherwise persuaded," said Douglas; "meanwhile,
madam, please to see our duty performed."

A servant presented bread and salt on a silver plate, and the old
steward carved for Douglas a small morsel in succession from each of the
dishes presented, which he tasted, as was then the custom at the tables
of princes, to which death was often suspected to find its way in the
disguise of food.

"The Queen will not then come forth to-night?" said Douglas.

"She has so determined," replied the lady.

"Our farther attendance then is unnecessary--we leave you to your
supper, fair ladies, and wish you good even."

He retired slowly as he came, and with the same air of deep dejection,
and was followed by the attendants belonging to the castle. The two
ladies sate down to their meal, and Roland Graeme, with ready alacrity,
prepared to wait upon them. Catherine Seyton whispered to her companion,
who replied with the question spoken in a low tone, but looking at the
page--"Is he of gentle blood and well nurtured?"

The answer which she received seemed satisfactory, for she said to
Roland, "Sit down, young gentleman, and eat with your sisters in
captivity."

"Permit me rather to perform my duty in attending them," said Roland,
anxious to show he was possessed of the high tone of deference
prescribed by the rules of chivalry towards the fair sex, and especially
to dames and maidens of quality.

"You will find, Sir Page," said Catherine, "you will have little time
allowed you for your meal; waste it not in ceremony, or you may rue your
politeness ere to-morrow morning."

"Your speech is too free, maiden," said the elder lady; "the modesty of
the youth may teach you more fitting fashions towards one whom to-day
you have seen for the first time."

Catherine Seyton cast down her eyes, but not till she had given a single
glance of inexpressible archness towards Roland, whom her more grave
companion now addressed in a tone of protection.

"Regard her not, young gentleman--she knows little of the world, save
the forms of a country nunnery--take thy place at the board-end, and
refresh thyself after thy journey."

Roland Graeme obeyed willingly, as it was the first food he had that day
tasted; for Lindesay and his followers seemed regardless of human wants.
Yet, notwithstanding the sharpness of his appetite, a natural gallantry
of disposition, the desire of showing himself a well-nurtured gentleman,
in all courtesies towards the fair sex, and, for aught I know, the
pleasure of assisting Catherine Seyton, kept his attention awake, during
the meal, to all those nameless acts of duty and service which gallants
of that age were accustomed to render. He carved with neatness and
decorum, and selected duly whatever was most delicate to place before
the ladies. Ere they could form a wish, he sprung from the table, ready
to comply with it--poured wine--tempered it with water--removed the
exchanged trenchers, and performed the whole honours of the table, with
an air at once of cheerful diligence, profound respect, and graceful
promptitude.

When he observed that they had finished eating, he hastened to offer to
the elder lady the silver ewer, basin, and napkin, with the ceremony and
gravity which he would have used towards Mary herself. He next, with the
same decorum, having supplied the basin with fair water, presented it
to Catherine Seyton. Apparently, she was determined to disturb his
self-possession, if possible; for, while in the act of bathing her
hands, she contrived, as it were by accident, to flirt some drops of
water upon the face of the assiduous assistant. But if such was her
mischievous purpose she was completely disappointed; for Roland Graeme,
internally piquing himself on his self-command, neither laughed nor was
discomposed; and all that the maiden gained by her frolic was a severe
rebuke from her companion, taxing her with mal-address and indecorum.
Catherine replied not, but sat pouting, something in the humour of a
spoilt child, who watches the opportunity of wreaking upon some one or
other its resentment for a deserved reprimand.

The Lady Mary Fleming, in the mean-while, was naturally well pleased
with the exact and reverent observance of the page, and said to
Catherine, after a favourable glance at Roland Graeme,--"You might well
say, Catherine, our companion in captivity was well born and gentle
nurtured. I would not make him vain by my praise, but his services
enable us to dispense with those which George Douglas condescends not to
afford us, save when the Queen is herself in presence."

"Umph! I think hardly," answered Catherine. "George Douglas is one of
the most handsome gallants in Scotland, and 'tis pleasure to see
him even still, when the gloom of Lochleven Castle has shed the same
melancholy over him, that it has done over every thing else. When he was
at Holyrood who would have said the young sprightly George Douglas would
have been contented to play the locksman here in Lochleven, with no
gayer amusement than that of turning the key on two or three helpless
women?--a strange office for a Knight of the Bleeding Heart--why does he
not leave it to his father or his brothers?"

"Perhaps, like us, he has no choice," answered the Lady Fleming. "But,
Catherine, thou hast used thy brief space at court well, to remember
what George Douglas was then."

"I used mine eyes, which I suppose was what I was designed to do, and
they were worth using there. When I was at the nunnery, they were very
useless appurtenances; and now I am at Lochleven, they are good for
nothing, save to look over that eternal work of embroidery."

"You speak thus, when you have been but a few brief hours amongst
us--was this the maiden who would live and die in a dungeon, might she
but have permission to wait on her gracious Queen?"

"Nay, if you chide in earnest, my jest is ended," said Catherine Seyton.
"I would not yield in attachment to my poor god-mother, to the gravest
dame that ever had wise saws upon her tongue, and a double-starched ruff
around her throat--you know I would not, Dame Mary Fleming, and it is
putting shame on me to say otherwise."

"She will challenge the other court lady," thought Roland Graeme; "she
will to a certainty fling down her glove, and if Dame Mary Fleming hath
but the soul to lift it, we may have a combat in the lists!"--but the
answer of Lady Mary Fleming was such as turns away wrath.

"Thou art a good child," she said, "my Catherine, and a faithful;
but Heaven pity him who shall have one day a creature so beautiful to
delight him, and a thing so mischievous to torment him--thou art fit to
drive twenty husbands stark mad."

"Nay," said Catherine, resuming the full career of her careless
good-humour, "he must be half-witted beforehand, that gives me such
an opportunity. But I am glad you are not angry with me in sincerity,"
casting herself as she spoke into the arms of her friend, and
continuing, with a tone of apologetic fondness, while she kissed her
on either side of the face; "you know, my dear Fleming, that I have to
contend with both my father's lofty pride, and with my mother's high
spirit--God bless them! they have left me these good qualities, having
small portion to give besides, as times go--and so I am wilful and
saucy; but let me remain only a week in this castle, and oh, my dear
Fleming, my spirit will be as chastised and humble as thine own."

Dame Mary Fleming's sense of dignity, and love of form, could not
resist this affectionate appeal. She kissed Catherine Seyton in her turn
affectionately; while, answering the last part of her speech, she said,
"Now Our Lady forbid, dear Catherine, that you should lose aught that
is beseeming of what becomes so well your light heart and lively humour.
Keep but your sharp wit on this side of madness, and it cannot but be
a blessing to us. But let me go, mad wench--I hear her Grace touch her
silver call." And, extricating herself from Catherine's grasp, she went
towards the door of Queen Mary's apartment, from which was heard the low
tone of a silver whistle, which, now only used by the boatswains in the
navy, was then, for want of bells, the ordinary mode by which ladies,
even of the very highest rank, summoned their domestics. When she had
made two or three steps towards the door, however, she turned back, and
advancing to the young couple whom she left together, she said, in a
very serious though a low tone, "I trust it is impossible that we can,
any of us, or in any circumstances, forget, that, few as we are, we form
the household of the Queen of Scotland; and that, in her calamity, all
boyish mirth and childish jesting can only serve to give a great triumph
to her enemies, who have already found their account in objecting to her
the lightness of every idle folly, that the young and the gay practised
in her court." So saying, she left the apartment.

Catherine Seyton seemed much struck with this remonstrance--She suffered
herself to drop into the seat which she had quitted when she went to
embrace Dame Mary Fleming, and for some time rested her brow upon her
hands; while Roland Graeme looked at her earnestly, with a mixture
of emotions which perhaps he himself could neither have analysed nor
explained. As she raised her face slowly from the posture to which a
momentary feeling of self-rebuke had depressed it, her eyes encountered
those of Roland, and became gradually animated with their usual
spirit of malicious drollery, which not unnaturally excited a similar
expression in those of the equally volatile page. They sat for the space
of two minutes, each looking at the other with great seriousness on
their features, and much mirth in their eyes, until at length Catherine
was the first to break silence.

"May I pray you, fair sir," she began, very demurely, "to tell me what
you see in my face to arouse looks so extremely sagacious and knowing
as those with which it is your worship's pleasure to honour me? It would
seem as if there were some wonderful confidence and intimacy betwixt us,
fair sir, if one is to judge from your extremely cunning looks; and so
help me, Our Lady, as I never saw you but twice in my life before."

"And where were those happy occasions," said Roland, "if I may be bold
enough to ask the question?"

"At the nunnery of St. Catherine's," said the damsel, "in the first
instance; and, in the second, during five minutes of a certain raid or
foray which it was your pleasure to make into the lodging of my lord
and father, Lord Seyton, from which, to my surprise, as probably to
your own, you returned with a token of friendship and favour, instead
of broken bones, which were the more probable reward of your intrusion,
considering the prompt ire of the house of Seyton. I am deeply
mortified," she added, ironically, "that your recollection should
require refreshment on a subject so important; and that my memory should
be stronger than yours on such an occasion, is truly humiliating."

"Your own, memory is not so exactly correct, fair mistress," answered
the page, "seeing you have forgotten meeting the third, in the hostelrie
of St. Michael's, when it pleased you to lay your switch across the
face of my comrade, in order, I warrant, to show that, in the house of
Seyton, neither the prompt ire of its descendants, nor the use of the
doublet and hose, are subject to Salique law, or confined to the use of
the males."

"Fair sir," answered Catherine, looking at him with great steadiness,
and some surprise, "unless your fair wits have forsaken you, I am at a
loss what to conjecture of your meaning."

"By my troth, fair mistress," answered Roland, "and were I as wise a
warlock as Michael Scott, I could scarce riddle the dream you read me.
Did I not see you last night in the hostelrie of St. Michael's?--Did you
not bring me this sword, with command not to draw it save at the command
of my native and rightful Sovereign? And have I not done as you required
me? Or is the sword a piece of lath--my word a bulrush--my memory a
dream--and my eyes good for nought--espials which corbies might pick out
of my head?"

"And if your eyes serve you not more truly on other occasions than
in your vision of St. Michael," said Catherine, "I know not, the
pain apart, that the corbies would do you any great injury in
the deprivation--But hark, the bell--hush, for God's sake, we are
interrupted.--"

The damsel was right; for no sooner had the dull toll of the castle bell
begun to resound through the vaulted apartment, than the door of the
vestibule flew open, and the steward, with his severe countenance, his
gold chain, and his white rod, entered the apartment, followed by the
same train of domestics who had placed the dinner on the table, and who
now, with the same ceremonious formality, began to remove it.

The steward remained motionless as some old picture, while the domestics
did their office; and when it was accomplished, every thing removed from
the table, and the board itself taken from its tressels and disposed
against the wall, he said aloud, without addressing any one in
particular, and somewhat in the tone of a herald reading a proclamation,
"My noble lady, Dame Margaret Erskine, by marriage Douglas, lets the
Lady Mary of Scotland and her attendants to wit, that a servant of the
true evangele, her reverend chaplain, will to-night, as usual, expound,
lecture, and catechise, according to the forms of the congregation of
gospellers."

"Hark you, my friend, Mr. Dryfesdale," said Catherine, "I understand
this announcement is a nightly form of yours. Now, I pray you to remark,
that the Lady Fleming and I--for I trust your insolent invitation
concerns us only--have chosen Saint Peter's pathway to Heaven, so I see
no one whom your godly exhortation, catechise, or lecture, can benefit,
excepting this poor page, who, being in Satan's hand as well as
yourself, had better worship with you than remain to cumber our
better-advised devotions."

The page was well-nigh giving a round denial to the assertions which
this speech implied, when, remembering what had passed betwixt him and
the Regent, and seeing Catherine's finger raised in a monitory fashion,
he felt himself, as on former occasions at the Castle of Avenel, obliged
to submit to the task of dissimulation, and followed Dryfesdale down to
the castle chapel, where he assisted in the devotions of the evening.

The chaplain was named Elias Henderson. He was a man in the prime of
life, and possessed of good natural parts, carefully improved by the
best education which those times afforded. To these qualities were added
a faculty of close and terse reasoning; and, at intervals, a flow of
happy illustration and natural eloquence. The religious faith of Roland
Graeme, as we have already had opportunity to observe, rested on
no secure basis, but was entertained rather in obedience to his
grandmother's behests, and his secret desire to contradict the chaplain
of Avenel Castle, than from any fixed or steady reliance which he placed
on the Romish creed. His ideas had been of late considerably enlarged
by the scenes he had passed through; and feeling that there was shame
in not understanding something of those political disputes betwixt the
professors of the ancient and the reformed faith, he listened with
more attention than it had hitherto been in his nature to yield on such
occasions, to an animated discussion of some of the principal points
of difference betwixt the churches. So passed away the first day in the
Castle of Lochleven; and those which followed it were, for some time, of
a very monotonous and uniform tenor.



Chapter the Twenty-Fourth.


  'Tis a weary life this--
  Vaults overhead, and grates and bars around me,
  And my sad hours spent with as sad companions,
  Whose thoughts are brooding: o'er their own mischances,
  Far, far too deeply to take part in mine.
                                      THE WOODSMAN.

The course of life to which Mary and her little retinue were doomed,
was in the last degree secluded and lonely, varied only as the weather
permitted or rendered impossible the Queen's usual walk in the garden or
on the battlements. The greater part of the morning she wrought with her
ladies at those pieces of needlework, many of which still remain proofs
of her indefatigable application. At such hours the page was permitted
the freedom of the castle and islet; nay, he was sometimes invited to
attend George Douglas when he went a-sporting upon the lake, or on
its margin; opportunities of diversion which were only clouded by the
remarkable melancholy which always seemed to brood on that gentleman's
brow, and to mark his whole demeanour,--a sadness so profound, that
Roland never observed him to smile, or to speak any word unconnected
with the immediate object of their exercise.

The most pleasant part of Roland's day, was the occasional space which
he was permitted to pass in personal attendance on the Queen and her
ladies, together with the regular dinner-time, which he always spent
with Dame Mary Fleming and Catharine Seyton. At these periods, he had
frequent occasion to admire the lively spirit and inventive imagination
of the latter damsel, who was unwearied in her contrivances to amuse
her mistress, and to banish, for a time at least, the melancholy which
preyed on her bosom. She danced, she sung, she recited tales of ancient
and modern times, with that heartfelt exertion of talent, of which the
pleasure lies not in the vanity of displaying it to others, but in the
enthusiastic consciousness that we possess it ourselves. And yet these
high accomplishments were mixed with an air of rusticity and harebrained
vivacity, which seemed rather to belong to some village maid, the
coquette of the ring around the Maypole, than to the high-bred
descendant of an ancient baron. A touch of audacity, altogether short
of effrontery, and far less approaching to vulgarity, gave as it were a
wildness to all that she did; and Mary, while defending her from some
of the occasional censures of her grave companion, compared her to a
trained singing-bird escaped from a cage, which practises in all the
luxuriance of freedom, and in full possession of the greenwood bough,
the airs which it had learned during its earlier captivity.

The moments which the page was permitted to pass in the presence of this
fascinating creature, danced so rapidly away, that, brief as they were,
they compensated the weary dulness of all the rest of the day. The
space of indulgence, however, was always brief, nor were any private
interviews betwixt him and Catharine permitted, or even possible.
Whether it were some special precaution respecting the Queen's
household, or whether it were her general ideas of propriety, Dame
Fleming seemed particularly attentive to prevent the young people
from holding any separate correspondence together, and bestowed, for
Catharine's sole benefit in this matter, the full stock of prudence and
experience which she had acquired, when mother of the Queen's maidens
of honour, and by which she had gained their hearty hatred. Casual
meetings, however, could not be prevented, unless Catherine had been
more desirous of shunning, or Roland Graeme less anxious in watching for
them. A smile, a gibe, a sarcasm, disarmed of its severity by the arch
look with which it was accompanied, was all that time permitted to pass
between them on such occasions. But such passing interviews neither
afforded means nor opportunity to renew the discussion of the
circumstances attending their earlier acquaintance, nor to permit Roland
to investigate more accurately the mysterious apparition of the page in
the purple velvet cloak at the hostelrie of Saint Michael's.

The winter months slipped heavily away, and spring was already advanced,
when Roland Graeme observed a gradual change in the manners of his
fellow-prisoners. Having no business of his own to attend to, and being,
like those of his age, education, and degree, sufficiently curious
concerning what passed around, he began by degrees to suspect, and
finally to be convinced, that there was something in agitation among his
companions in captivity, to which they did not desire that he should be
privy. Nay, he became almost certain that, by some means unintelligible
to him, Queen Mary held correspondence beyond the walls and waters which
surrounded her prison-house, and that she nourished some secret hope
of deliverance or escape. In the conversations betwixt her and her
attendants, at which he was necessarily present, the Queen could not
always avoid showing that she was acquainted with the events which were
passing abroad in the world, and which he only heard through her report.
He observed that she wrote more and worked less than had been her former
custom, and that, as if desirous to lull suspicion asleep, she changed
her manner towards the Lady Lochleven into one more gracious, and which
seemed to express a resigned submission to her lot. "They think I am
blind," he said to himself, "and that I am unfit to be trusted because
I am so young, or it may be because I was sent hither by the Regent.
Well!--be it so--they may be glad to confide in me in the long run;
and Catherine Seyton, for as saucy as she is, may find me as safe a
confidant as that sullen Douglas, whom she is always running after. It
may be they are angry with me for listening to Master Elias Henderson;
but it was their own fault for sending me there, and if the man speaks
truth and good sense, and preaches only the word of God, he is as likely
to be right as either Pope or Councils."

It is probable that in this last conjecture, Roland Graeme had hit upon
the real cause why the ladies had not intrusted him with their councils.
He had of late had several conferences with Henderson on the subject of
religion, and had given him to understand that he stood in need of his
instructions, although he had not thought there was either prudence or
necessity for confessing that hitherto he had held the tenets of the
Church of Rome.

Elias Henderson, a keen propagator of the reformed faith, had sought the
seclusion of Lochleven Castle, with the express purpose and expectation
of making converts from Rome amongst the domestics of the dethroned
Queen, and confirming the faith of those who already held the Protestant
doctrines. Perhaps his hopes soared a little higher, and he might
nourish some expectation of a proselyte more distinguished in the person
of the deposed Queen. But the pertinacity with which she and her female
attendants refused to see or listen to him, rendered such hope, if he
nourished it, altogether abortive.

The opportunity, therefore, of enlarging the religious information of
Roland Graeme, and bringing him to a more due sense of his duties to
Heaven, was hailed by the good man as a door opened by Providence
for the salvation of a sinner. He dreamed not, indeed, that he was
converting a Papist, but such was the ignorance which Roland displayed
upon some material points of the reformed doctrine, that Master
Henderson, while praising his docility to the Lady Lochleven and her
grandson, seldom failed to add, that his venerable brother, Henry
Warden, must be now decayed in strength and in mind, since he found a
catechumen of his flock so ill-grounded in the principles of his belief.
For this, indeed, Roland Graeme thought it was unnecessary to assign the
true reason, which was his having made it a point of honour to forget
all that Henry Warden taught him, as soon as he was no longer compelled
to read it over as a lesson acquired by rote. The lessons of his new
instructor, if not more impressively delivered, were received by a more
willing ear, and a more awakened understanding, and the solitude of
Lochleven Castle was favourable to graver thoughts than the page had
hitherto entertained. He wavered yet, indeed, as one who was almost
persuaded; but his attention to the chaplain's instructions procured him
favour even with the stern old dame herself; and he was once or twice,
but under great precaution, permitted to go to the neighbouring
village of Kinross, situated on the mainland, to execute some ordinary
commission of his unfortunate mistress.

For some time Roland Graeme might be considered as standing neuter
betwixt the two parties who inhabited the water-girdled Tower of
Lochleven; but, as he rose in the opinion of the Lady of the Castle and
her chaplain, he perceived, with great grief, that he lost ground in
that of Mary and her female allies.

He came gradually to be sensible that he was regarded as a spy upon
their discourse, and that, instead of the ease with which they had
formerly conversed in his presence, without suppressing any of the
natural feelings of anger, of sorrow, or mirth, which the chance topic
of the moment happened to call forth, their talk was now guardedly
restricted to the most indifferent subjects, and a studied reserve
observed even in their mode of treating these. This obvious want of
confidence was accompanied with a correspondent change in their personal
demeanor towards the unfortunate page. The Queen, who had at first
treated him with marked courtesy, now scarce spoke to him, save
to convey some necessary command for her service. The Lady Fleming
restricted her notice to the most dry and distant expressions of
civility, and Catherine Seyton became bitter in her pleasantries, and
shy, cross, and pettish, in any intercourse they had together. What was
yet more provoking, he saw, or thought he saw, marks of intelligence
betwixt George Douglas and the beautiful Catherine Seyton; and,
sharpened by jealousy, he wrought himself almost into a certainty, that
the looks which they exchanged, conveyed matters of deep and serious
import. "No wonder," he thought, "if, courted by the son of a proud
and powerful baron, she can no longer spare a word or look to the poor
fortuneless page."

In a word, Roland Graeme's situation became truly disagreeable, and his
heart naturally enough rebelled against the injustice of this treatment,
which deprived him of the only comfort which he had received for
submitting to a confinement in other respects irksome. He accused Queen
Mary and Catherine Seyton (for concerning the opinion of Dame Fleming
he was indifferent) of inconsistency in being displeased with him on
account of the natural consequences of an order of their own. Why did
they send him to hear this overpowering preacher? The Abbot Ambrosius,
he recollected, understood the weakness of their Popish cause better,
when he enjoined him to repeat within his own mind, _aves_, and
_credos_, and _paters_, all the while old Henry Warden preached or
lectured, that so he might secure himself against lending even a
momentary ear to his heretical doctrine. "But I will endure this life no
longer," said he to himself, manfully; "do they suppose I would betray
my mistress, because I see cause to doubt of her religion?--that would
be a serving, as they say, the devil for God's sake. I will forth into
the world--he that serves fair ladies, may at least expect kind looks
and kind words; and I bear not the mind of a gentleman, to submit to
cold treatment and suspicion, and a life-long captivity besides. I will
speak to George Douglas to-morrow when we go out a-fishing."

A sleepless night was spent in agitating this magnanimous resolution,
and he arose in the morning not perfectly decided in his own mind
whether he should abide by it or not. It happened that he was summoned
by the Queen at an unusual hour, and just as he was about to go out with
George Douglas. He went to attend her commands in, the garden; but as he
had his angling-rod in his hand, the circumstance announced his previous
intention, and the Queen, turning to the Lady Fleming, said, "Catherine
must devise some other amusement for us, _ma bonnie amie_; our discreet
page has already made his party for the day's pleasure."

"I said from the beginning," answered the Lady Fleming, "that your Grace
ought not to rely on being favoured with the company of a youth who has
so many Huguenot acquaintances, and has the means of amusing himself far
more agreeably than with us."

"I wish," said Catherine, her animated features reddening with
mortification, "that his friends would sail away with him for good, and
bring us in return a page (if such a thing can be found) faithful to his
Queen and to his religion."

"One part of your wishes may be granted, madam," said Roland Graeme,
unable any longer to restrain his sense of the treatment which he
received on all sides; and he was about to add, "I heartily wish you a
companion in my room, if such can be found, who is capable of enduring
women's caprices without going distracted." Luckily, he recollected the
remorse which he had felt at having given way to the vivacity of his
temper upon a similar occasion; and, closing his lips, imprisoned,
until it died on his tongue, a reproach so misbecoming the presence of
majesty.

"Why do you remain there," said the Queen, "as if you were rooted to the
parterre?"

"I but attend your Grace's commands," said the page.

"I have none to give you--Begone, sir."

As he left the garden to go to the boat, he distinctly heard Mary
upbraid one of her attendants in these words:--"You see to what you have
exposed us!"

This brief scene at once determined Roland Graeme's resolution to quit
the castle, if it were possible, and to impart his resolution to George
Douglas without loss of time. That gentleman, in his usual mood of
silence, sate in the stern of the little skiff which they used on
such occasions, trimming his fishing-tackle, and, from time to time,
indicating by signs to Graeme, who pulled the oars, which way he should
row. When they were a furlong or two from the castle, Roland rested
on the oars, and addressed his companion somewhat abruptly,--"I have
something of importance to say to you, under your pleasure, fair sir."

The pensive melancholy of Douglas's countenance at once gave way to the
eager, keen, and startled look of one who expects to hear something of
deep and alarming import.

"I am wearied to the very death of this Castle of Lochleven," continued
Roland.

"Is that all?" said Douglas; "I know none of its inhabitants who are
much better pleased with it."

"Ay, but I am neither a native of the house, nor a prisoner in it, and
so I may reasonably desire to leave it."

"You might desire to quit it with equal reason," answered Douglas, "if
you were both the one and the other."

"But," said Roland Graeme, "I am not only tired of living in Lochleven
Castle, but I am determined to quit it."

"That is a resolution more easily taken than executed," replied Douglas.

"Not if yourself, sir, and your Lady Mother, choose to consent,"
answered the page.

"You mistake the matter, Roland," said Douglas; "you will find that the
consent of two other persons is equally essential--that of the Lady Mary
your mistress, and that of my uncle the Regent, who placed you about
her person, and who will not think it proper that she should change her
attendants so soon."

"And must I then remain whether I will or no?" demanded the page,
somewhat appalled at a view of the subject, which would have occurred
sooner to a person of more experience.

"At least," said George Douglas, "you must will to remain till my uncle
consents to dismiss you."

"Frankly," said the page, "and speaking to you as a gentleman who is
incapable of betraying me, I will confess, that if I thought myself a
prisoner here, neither walls nor water should confine me long."

"Frankly," said Douglas, "I could not much blame you for the attempt;
yet, for all that, my father, or uncle, or the earl, or any of my
brothers, or in short any of the king's lords into whose hands you fell,
would in such a case hang you like a dog, or like a sentinel who deserts
his post; and I promise you that you will hardly escape them. But row
towards Saint Serf's island--there is a breeze from the west, and we
shall have sport, keeping to windward of the isle, where the ripple is
strongest. We will speak more of what you have mentioned when we have
had an hour's sport."

Their fishing was successful, though never did two anglers pursue even
that silent and unsocial pleasure with less of verbal intercourse.

When their time was expired, Douglas took the oars in his turn, and by
his order Roland Graeme steered the boat, directing her course upon the
landing-place at the castle. But he also stopped in the midst of his
course, and, looking around him, said to Graeme, "There is a thing which
I could mention to thee; but it is so deep a secret, that even here,
surrounded as we are by sea and sky, without the possibility of a
listener, I cannot prevail on myself to speak it out."

"Better leave it unspoken, sir," answered Roland Graeme, "if you doubt
the honour of him who alone can hear it."

"I doubt not your honour," replied George Douglas; "but you are young,
imprudent, and changeful."

"Young," said Roland, "I am, and it may be imprudent--but who hath
informed you that I am changeful?"

"One that knows you, perhaps, better than you know yourself," replied
Douglas.

"I suppose you mean Catherine Seyton," said the page, his heart rising
as he spoke; "but she is herself fifty times more variable in her humour
than the very water which we are floating upon."

"My young acquaintance," said Douglas, "I pray you to remember that
Catherine Seyton is a lady of blood and birth, and must not be lightly
spoken of."

"Master George of Douglas," said Graeme, "as that speech seemed to
be made under the warrant of something like a threat, I pray you to
observe, that I value not the threat at the estimation of a fin of one
of these dead trouts; and, moreover, I would have you to know that the
champion who undertakes the defence of every lady of blood and birth,
whom men accuse of change of faith and of fashion, is like to have
enough of work on his hands."

"Go to," said the Seneschal, but in a tone of good-humour, "thou art a
foolish boy, unfit to deal with any matter more serious than the casting
of a net, or the flying of a hawk."

"If your secret concern Catherine Seyton," said the page, "I care not
for it, and so you may tell her if you will. I wot she can shape you
opportunity to speak with her, as she has ere now."

The flush which passed over Douglas's face, made the page aware that he
had alighted on a truth, when he was, in fact, speaking at random; and
the feeling that he had done so, was like striking a dagger into his
own heart. His companion, without farther answer, resumed the oars,
and pulled lustily till they arrived at the island and the castle.
The servants received the produce of their spoil, and the two fishers,
turning from each other in silence, went each to his several apartment.

Roland Graeme had spent about an hour in grumbling against Catherine
Seyton, the Queen, the Regent, and the whole house of Lochleven, with
George Douglas at the head of it, when the time approached that his duty
called him to attend the meal of Queen Mary. As he arranged his dress
for this purpose, he grudged the trouble, which, on similar occasions,
he used, with boyish foppery, to consider as one of the most important
duties of his day; and when he went to take his place behind the chair
of the Queen, it was with an air of offended dignity, which could not
escape her observation, and probably appeared to her ridiculous enough,
for she whispered something in French to her ladies, at which the
lady Fleming laughed, and Catherine appeared half diverted and half
disconcerted. This pleasantry, of which the subject was concealed from
him, the unfortunate page received, of course, as a new offence, and
called an additional degree of sullen dignity into his mien, which might
have exposed him to farther raillery, but that Mary appeared disposed to
make allowance for and compassionate his feelings.

With the peculiar tact and delicacy which no woman possessed in greater
perfection, she began to soothe by degrees the vexed spirit of her
magnanimous attendant. The excellence of the fish which he had taken in
his expedition, the high flavour and beautiful red colour of the trouts,
which have long given distinction to the lake, led her first to express
her thanks to her attendant for so agreeable an addition to her table,
especially upon a _jour de jeune_; and then brought on inquiries
into the place where the fish had been taken, their size, their
peculiarities, the times when they were in season, and a comparison
between the Lochleven trouts and those which are found in the lakes and
rivers of the south of Scotland. The ill humour of Roland Graeme was
never of an obstinate character. It rolled away like mist before the
sun, and he was easily engaged in a keen and animated dissertation about
Lochleven trout, and sea trout, and river trout, and bull trout, and
char, which never rise to a fly, and par, which some suppose infant
salmon, and _herlings_, which frequent the Nith, and _vendisses_, which
are only found in the Castle-Loch of Lochmaben; and he was hurrying on
with the eager impetuosity and enthusiasm of a young sportsman, when he
observed that the smile with which the Queen at first listened to him
died languidly away, and that, in spite of her efforts to suppress them,
tears rose to her eyes. He stopped suddenly short, and, distressed
in his turn, asked, "If he had the misfortune unwittingly to give
displeasure to her Grace?"

"No, my poor boy," replied the Queen; "but as you numbered up the lakes
and rivers of my kingdom, imagination cheated me, as it will do, and
snatched me from these dreary walls away to the romantic streams of
Nithsdale, and the royal towers of Lochmaben.--O land, which my fathers
have so long ruled! of the pleasures which you extend so freely, your
Queen is now deprived, and the poorest beggar, who may wander free from
one landward town to another, would scorn to change fates with Mary of
Scotland!"

"Your highness," said the Lady Fleming, "will do well to withdraw."

"Come with me, then, Fleming," said the Queen, "I would not burden
hearts so young as these are, with the sight of my sorrows."

She accompanied these words with a look of melancholy compassion towards
Roland and Catherine, who were now left alone together in the apartment.

The page found his situation not a little embarrassing; for, as every
reader has experienced who may have chanced to be in such a situation,
it is extremely difficult to maintain the full dignity of an offended
person in the presence of a beautiful girl, whatever reason we may have
for being angry with her. Catherine Seyton, on her part, sate still
like a lingering ghost, which, conscious of the awe which its presence
imposes, is charitably disposed to give the poor confused mortal whom
it visits, time to recover his senses, and comply with the grand rule of
demonology by speaking first. But as Roland seemed in no hurry to avail
himself of her condescension, she carried it a step farther, and herself
opened the conversation.

"I pray you, fair sir, if it may be permitted me to disturb your august
reverie by a question so simple,--what may have become of your rosary?"

"It is lost, madam--lost some time since," said Roland, partly
embarrassed and partly indignant.

"And may I ask farther, sir," said Catherine, "why you have not replaced
it with another?--I have half a mind," she said, taking from her pocket
a string of ebony beads adorned with gold, "to bestow one upon you, to
keep for my sake, just to remind you of former acquaintance."

There was a little tremulous accent in the tone with which these words
were delivered, which at once put to flight Roland Graeme's resentment,
and brought him to Catherine's side; but she instantly resumed the bold
and firm accent which was more familiar to her. "I did not bid you," she
said, "come and sit so close by me; for the acquaintance that I spoke
of, has been stiff and cold, dead and buried, for this many a day."

"Now Heaven forbid!" said the page, "it has only slept, and now that you
desire it should awake, fair Catherine, believe me that a pledge of your
returning favour--"

"Nay, nay," said Catherine, withholding the rosary, towards which, as
he spoke, he extended his hand, "I have changed my mind on better
reflection. What should a heretic do with these holy beads, that have
been blessed by the father of the church himself?"

Roland winced grievously, for he saw plainly which way the discourse was
now likely to tend, and felt that it must at all events be embarrassing.
"Nay, but," he said, "it was as a token of your own regard that you
offered them."

"Ay, fair sir, but that regard attended the faithful subject, the loyal
and pious Catholic, the individual who was so solemnly devoted at
the same time with myself to the same grand duty; which, you must now
understand, was to serve the church and Queen. To such a person, if you
ever heard of him, was my regard due, and not to him who associates with
heretics, and is about to become a renegado."

"I should scarce believe, fair mistress," said Roland, indignantly,
"that the vane of your favour turned only to a Catholic wind,
considering that it points so plainly to George Douglas, who, I think,
is both kingsman and Protestant."

"Think better of George Douglas," said Catherine, "than to believe--"
and then checking herself, as if she had spoken too much, she went on,
"I assure you, fair Master Roland, that all who wish you well are sorry
for you."

"Their number is very few, I believe," answered Roland, "and their
sorrow, if they feel any, not deeper than ten minutes' time will cure."

"They are more numerous, and think more deeply concerning you, than
you seem to be aware," answered Catherine. "But perhaps they think
wrong--You are the best judge in your own affairs; and if you prefer
gold and church-lands to honour and loyalty, and the faith of your
fathers, why should you be hampered in conscience more than others?"

"May Heaven bear witness for me," said Roland, "that if I entertain
any difference of opinion--that is, if I nourish any doubts in point of
religion, they have been adopted on the conviction of my own mind, and
the suggestion of my own conscience!"

"Ay, ay, your conscience--your conscience!" repeated she with satiric
emphasis; "your conscience is the scape-goat; I warrant it an able
one--it will bear the burden of one of the best manors of the Abbey of
Saint Mary of Kennaquhair, lately forfeited to our noble Lord the King,
by the Abbot and community thereof, for the high crime of fidelity
to their religious vows, and now to be granted by the High and Mighty
Traitor, and so forth, James Earl of Murray, to the good squire of dames
Roland Graeme, for his loyal and faithful service as under-espial, and
deputy-turnkey, for securing the person of his lawful sovereign, Queen
Mary."

"You misconstrue me cruelly," said the page; "yes, Catherine, most
cruelly--God knows I would protect this poor lady at the risk of my
life, or with my life; but what can I do--what can any one do for her?"

"Much may be done--enough may be done--all may be done--if men will be
but true and honourable, as Scottish men were in the days of Bruce and
Wallace. Oh, Roland, from what an enterprise you are now withdrawing
your heart and hand, through mere fickleness and coldness of spirit!"

"How can I withdraw," said Roland, "from an enterprise which has never
been communicated to me?--Has the Queen, or have you, or has any
one, communicated with me upon any thing for her service which I have
refused? Or have you not, all of you, held me at such distance from
your counsels, as if I were the most faithless spy since the days
of Ganelon?" [Footnote: Gan, Gano, or Ganelon of Mayence, is in
the Romances on the subject of Charlemagne and his Paladins, always
represented as the traitor by whom the Christian champions are
betrayed.]

"And who," said Catherine Seyton, "would trust the sworn friend, and
pupil, and companion, of the heretic preacher Henderson? ay--a proper
tutor you have chosen, instead of the excellent Ambrosius, who is now
turned out of house and homestead, if indeed he is not languishing in
a dungeon, for withstanding the tyranny of Morton, to whose brother the
temporalities of that noble house of God have been gifted away by the
Regent."

"Is it possible?" said the page; "and is the excellent Father Ambrose in
such distress?"

"He would account the news of your falling away from the faith of your
fathers," answered Catherine, "a worse mishap than aught that tyranny
can inflict on himself."

"But why," said Roland, very much moved, "why should you suppose
that--that--that it is with me as you say?"

"Do you yourself deny it?" replied Catherine; "do you not admit that you
have drunk the poison which you should have dashed from your lips?--Do
you deny that it now ferments in your veins, if it has not altogether
corrupted the springs of life?--Do you deny that you have your doubts,
as you proudly term them, respecting what popes and councils have
declared it unlawful to doubt of?--Is not your faith wavering, if not
overthrown?--Does not the heretic preacher boast his conquest?--Does
not the heretic woman of this prison-house hold up thy example to
others?--Do not the Queen and the Lady Fleming believe in thy falling
away?--And is there any except one--yes, I will speak it out, and think
as lightly as you please of my good-will--is there one except myself
that holds even a lingering hope that you may yet prove what we once all
believed of you?"

"I know not," said our poor page, much embarrassed by the view which was
thus presented to him of the conduct he was expected to pursue, and by
a person in whom he was not the less interested that, though long a
resident in Lochleven Castle, with no object so likely to attract his
undivided attention, no lengthened interview had taken place since they
had first met,--"I know not what you expect of me, or fear from me. I
was sent hither to attend Queen Mary, and to her I acknowledge the duty
of a servant through life and death. If any one had expected service
of another kind, I was not the party to render it. I neither avow
nor disclaim the doctrines of the reformed church.--Will you have the
truth?--It seems to me that the profligacy of the Catholic clergy has
brought this judgment on their own heads, and, for aught I know, it may
be for their reformation. But, for betraying this unhappy Queen, God
knows I am guiltless of the thought. Did I even believe worse of her,
than as her servant I wish--as her subject I dare to do--I would not
betray her--far from it--I would aid her in aught which could tend to a
fair trial of her cause."

"Enough! enough!" answered Catherine, clasping her hands together; "then
thou wilt not desert us if any means are presented, by which, placing
our Royal Mistress at freedom, this case may be honestly tried betwixt
her and her rebellious subjects?"

"Nay--but, fair Catherine," replied the page, "hear but what the Lord of
Murray said when he sent me hither."--

"Hear but what the devil said," replied the maiden, "rather than what
a false subject, a false brother, a false counsellor, a false friend,
said! A man raised from a petty pensioner on the crown's bounty, to be
the counsellor of majesty, and the prime distributor of the bounties of
the state;--one with whom rank, fortune, title, consequence, and power,
all grew up like a mushroom, by the mere warm good-will of the sister,
whom, in requital, he hath mewed up in this place of melancholy
seclusion--whom, in farther requital, he has deposed, and whom, if he
dared, he would murder!"

"I think not so ill of the Earl of Murray," said Roland Graeme; "and
sooth to speak," he added, with a smile, "it would require some bribe to
make me embrace, with firm and desperate resolution, either one side or
the other."

"Nay, if that is all," replied Catherine Seyton, in a tone of
enthusiasm, "you shall be guerdoned with prayers from oppressed
subjects--from dispossessed clergy--from insulted nobles--with immortal
praise by future ages--with eager gratitude by the present--with fame
on earth, and with felicity in heaven! Your country will thank you--your
Queen will be debtor to you--you will achieve at once the highest from
the lowest degree in chivalry--all men will honour, all women will
love you--and I, sworn with you so early to the accomplishment of Queen
Mary's freedom, will--yes, I will--love you better than--ever sister
loved brother!" "Say on--say on!" whispered Roland, kneeling on
one knee, and taking her hand, which, in the warmth of exhortation,
Catherine held towards him.

"Nay," said she, pausing, "I have already said too much--far too much,
if I prevail not with you--far too little if I do. But I prevail,"
she continued, seeing that the countenance of the youth she addressed
returned the enthusiasm of her own--"I prevail; or rather the good cause
prevails through its own strength--thus I devote thee to it." And as
she spoke she approached her finger to the brow of the astonished youth,
and, without touching it, signed the cross over his forehead--stooped
her face towards him, and seemed to kiss the empty space in which she
had traced the symbol; then starting up, and extricating herself from
his grasp, darted into the Queen's apartment.

Roland Graeme remained as the enthusiastic maiden had left him, kneeling
on one knee, with breath withheld, and with eyes fixed upon the space
which the fairy form of Catherine Seyton had so lately occupied. If
his thoughts were not of unmixed delight, they at least partook of that
thrilling and intoxicating, though mingled sense of pain and pleasure,
the most over-powering which life offers in its blended cup. He rose and
retired slowly; and although the chaplain Mr. Henderson preached on that
evening his best sermon against the errors of Popery, I would not engage
that he was followed accurately through the train of his reasoning
by the young proselyte, with a view to whose especial benefit he had
handled the subject.



Chapter the Twenty-Fifth.


  And when love's torch hath set the heart in flame,
  Comes Seignor Reason, with his saws and cautions,
  Giving such aid as the old gray-beard Sexton,
  Who from the church-vault drags the crazy engine,
  To ply its dribbling ineffectual streamlet
  Against a conflagration.
                                OLD PLAY.

In a musing mood, Roland Graeme upon the ensuing morning betook himself
to the battlements of the Castle, as a spot where he might indulge the
course of his thick-coming fancies with least chance of interruption.
But his place of retirement was in the present case ill chosen, for he
was presently joined by Mr. Elias Henderson.

"I sought you, young man," said the preacher, "having to speak of
something which concerns you nearly."

The page had no pretence for avoiding the conference which the chaplain
thus offered, though he felt that it might prove an embarrassing one.

"In teaching thee, as far as my feeble knowledge hath permitted, thy
duty towards God," said the chaplain, "there are particulars of your
duty towards man, upon which I was unwilling long or much to insist.
You are here in the service of a lady, honourable as touching her birth,
deserving of all compassion as respects her misfortunes, and garnished
with even but too many of those outward qualities which win men's regard
and affection. Have you ever considered your regard to this Lady Mary of
Scotland, in its true light and bearing?"

"I trust, reverend sir," replied Roland Graeme, "that I am well aware
of the duties a servant in my condition owes to his royal mistress,
especially in her lowly and distressed condition."

"True," answered the preacher; "but it is even that honest feeling
which may, in the Lady Mary's case, carry thee into great crime and
treachery."

"How so, reverend sir?" replied the page; "I profess I understand you
not."

"I speak to you not of the crimes of this ill-advised lady," said the
preacher; "they are not subjects for the ears of her sworn servant. But
it is enough to say, that this unhappy person hath rejected more offers
of grace, and more hopes of glory, than ever were held out to
earthly princes; and that she is now, her day of favour being passed,
sequestered in this lonely castle, for the common weal of the people of
Scotland, and it may be for the benefit of her own soul."

"Reverend sir," said Roland, somewhat impatiently, "I am but too well
aware that my unfortunate mistress is imprisoned, since I have the
misfortune to share in her restraint myself--of which, to speak sooth, I
am heartily weary."

"It is even of that which I am about to speak," said the chaplain,
mildly; "but, first, my good Roland, look forth on the pleasant prospect
of yonder cultivated plain. You see, where the smoke arises, yonder
village standing half hidden by the trees, and you know it to be the
dwelling-place of peace and industry. From space to space, each by the
side of its own stream, you see the gray towers of barons, with cottages
interspersed; and you know that they also, with their household, are now
living in unity; the lance hung upon the wall, and the sword resting
in its sheath. You see, too, more than one fair church, where the pure
waters of life are offered to the thirsty, and where the hungry are
refreshed with spiritual food.--What would he deserve, who should bring
fire and slaughter into so fair and happy a scene--who should bare the
swords of the gentry and turn them against each other--who should give
tower and cottage to the flames, and slake the embers with the blood
of the indwellers?--What would he deserve who should lift up again that
ancient Dagon of Superstition, whom the worthies of the time have beaten
down, and who should once more make the churches of God the high places
of Baal?"

"You have limned a frightful picture, reverend sir," said Roland Graeme;
"yet I guess not whom you would charge with the purpose of effecting a
change so horrible."

"God forbid," replied the preacher, "that I should say to thee, Thou art
the man.--Yet beware, Roland Graeme, that thou, in serving thy mistress,
hold fast the still higher service which thou owest to the peace of thy
country, and the prosperity of her inhabitants; else, Roland Graeme,
thou mayest be the very man upon whose head will fall the curses and
assured punishment due to such work. If thou art won by the song of
these sirens to aid that unhappy lady's escape from this place of
penitence and security, it is over with the peace of Scotland's
cottages, and with the prosperity of her palaces--and the babe unborn
shall curse the name of the man who gave inlet to the disorder which
will follow the war betwixt the mother and the son."

"I know of no such plan, reverend sir," answered the page, "and
therefore can aid none such.--My duty towards the Queen has been
simply that of an attendant; it is a task, of which, at times, I would
willingly have been freed; nevertheless--"

"It is to prepare thee for the enjoyment of something more of liberty,"
said the preacher, "that I have endeavoured to impress upon you the
deep responsibility under which your office must be discharged. George
Douglas hath told the Lady Lochleven that you are weary of this service,
and my intercession hath partly determined her good ladyship, that, as
your discharge cannot be granted, you shall, instead, be employed in
certain commissions on the mainland, which have hitherto been discharged
by other persons of confidence. Wherefore, come with me to the lady, for
even to-day such duty will be imposed on you."

"I trust you will hold me excused, reverend sir," said the page, who
felt that an increase of confidence on the part of the Lady of the
Castle and her family would render his situation in a moral view doubly
embarrassing, "one cannot serve two masters--and I much fear that my
mistress will not hold me excused for taking employment under another."

"Fear not that," said the preacher; "her consent shall be asked and
obtained. I fear she will yield it but too easily, as hoping to avail
herself of your agency to maintain correspondence with her friends, as
those falsely call themselves, who would make her name the watchword for
civil war."

"And thus," said the page, "I shall be exposed to suspicion on all
sides; for my mistress will consider me as a spy placed on her by her
enemies, seeing me so far trusted by them; and the Lady Lochleven will
never cease to suspect the possibility of my betraying her, because
circumstances put it into my power to do so--I would rather remain as I
am."

There followed a pause of one or two minutes, during which Henderson
looked steadily in Roland's countenance, as if desirous to ascertain
whether there was not more in the answer than the precise words seemed
to imply. He failed in this point, however; for Roland, bred a page from
childhood, knew how to assume a sullen pettish cast of countenance, well
enough calculated to hide all internal emotions.

"I understand thee not, Roland," said the preacher, "or rather thou
thinkest on this matter more deeply than I apprehended to be in thy
nature. Methought, the delight of going on shore with thy bow, or thy
gun, or thy angling-rod, would have borne away all other feelings."

"And so it would," replied Roland, who perceived the danger of suffering
Henderson's half-raised suspicions to become fully awake,--"I would have
thought of nothing but the gun and the oar, and the wild water-fowl that
tempt me by sailing among the sedges yonder so far out of flight-shot,
had you not spoken of my going on shore as what was to occasion burning
of town and tower, the downfall of the evangele, and the upsetting of
the mass."

"Follow me, then," said Henderson, "and we will seek the Lady
Lochleven."

They found her at breakfast with her grandson George Douglas.--"Peace be
with your ladyship!" said the preacher, bowing to his patroness; "Roland
Graeme awaits your order."

"Young man," said the lady, "our chaplain hath warranted for thy
fidelity, and we are determined to give you certain errands to do for us
in our town of Kinross."

"Not by my advice," said Douglas, coldly.

"I said not that it was," answered the lady, something sharply. "The
mother of thy father may, I should think, be old enough to judge for
herself in a matter so simple.--Thou wilt take the skiff, Roland, and
two of my people, whom Dryfesdale or Randal will order out, and fetch
off certain stuff of plate and hangings, which should last night be
lodged at Kinross by the wains from Edinburgh."

"And give this packet," said George Douglas, "to a servant of ours,
whom you will find in waiting there.--It is the report to my father,"
he added, looking towards his grandmother, who acquiesced by bending her
head.

"I have already mentioned to Master Henderson," said Roland Graeme,
"that as my duty requires my attendance on the Queen, her Grace's
permission for my journey ought to be obtained before I can undertake
your commission."

"Look to it, my son," said the old lady, "the scruple of the youth is
honourable."

"Craving your pardon, madam, I have no wish to force myself on her
presence thus early," said. Douglas, in an indifferent tone; "it might
displease her, and were no way agreeable to me."

"And I," said the Lady Lochleven, "although her temper hath been more
gentle of late, have no will to undergo, without necessity, the rancour
of her wit."

"Under your permission, madam," said the chaplain, "I will myself render
your request to the Queen. During my long residence in this house she
hath not deigned to see me in private, or to hear my doctrine; yet so
may Heaven prosper my labours, as love for her soul, and desire to bring
her into the right path, was my chief desire for coming hither."

"Take care, Master Henderson," said Douglas, in a tone which seemed
almost sarcastic, "lest you rush hastily on an adventure to which you
have no vocation--you are learned, and know the adage, _Ne accesseris in
consilium nisi vocatus_.--Who hath required this at your hand?"

"The Master to whose service I am called," answered the preacher,
looking upward,--"He who hath commanded me to be earnest in season and
out of season."

"Your acquaintance hath not been much, I think, with courts or princes,"
continued the young Esquire.

"No, sir," replied Henderson, "but like my Master Knox, I see nothing
frightful in the fair face of a pretty lady."

"My son," said the Lady of Lochleven, "quench not the good man's
zeal--let him do the errand to this unhappy Princess."

"With more willingness than I would do it myself," said George Douglas.
Yet something in his manner appeared to contradict his words.

The minister went accordingly, followed by Roland Graeme, and, demanding
an audience of the imprisoned Princess, was admitted. He found her with
her ladies engaged in the daily task of embroidery. The Queen received
him with that courtesy, which, in ordinary cases, she used towards all
who approached her, and the clergyman, in opening his commission, was
obviously somewhat more embarrassed than he had expected to be.--"The
good Lady of Lochleven--may it please your Grace--"

He made a short pause, during which Mary said, with a smile, "My Grace
would, in truth, be well pleased, were the Lady Lochleven our _good_
lady--But go on--what is the will of the good Lady of Lochleven?"

"She desires, madam," said the chaplain, "that your Grace will permit
this young gentleman, your page, Roland Graeme, to pass to Kinross, to
look after some household stuff and hangings, sent hither for the better
furnishing your Grace's apartments."

"The Lady of Lochleven," said the Queen, "uses needless ceremony, in
requesting our permission for that which stands within her own pleasure.
We well know that this young gentleman's attendance on us had not been
so long permitted, were he not thought to be more at the command of that
good lady than at ours.--But we cheerfully yield consent that he shall
go on her errand--with our will we would doom no living creature to the
captivity which we ourselves must suffer."

"Ay, madam," answered the preacher, "and it is doubtless natural for
humanity to quarrel with its prison-house. Yet there have been those,
who have found, that time spent in the house of temporal captivity may
be so employed as to redeem us from spiritual slavery."

"I apprehend your meaning, sir," replied the Queen, "but I have heard
your apostle--I have heard Master John Knox; and were I to be perverted,
I would willingly resign to the ablest and most powerful of heresiarchs,
the poor honour he might acquire by overcoming my faith and my hope."

"Madam," said the preacher, "it is not to the talents or skill of the
husbandman that God gives the increase--the words which were offered
in vain by him whom you justly call our apostle, during the bustle and
gaiety of a court, may yet find better acceptance during the leisure for
reflection which this place affords. God knows, lady, that I speak in
singleness of heart, as one who would as soon compare himself to the
immortal angels, as to the holy man whom you have named. Yet would you
but condescend to apply to their noblest use, those talents and that
learning which all allow you to be possessed of--would you afford us
but the slightest hope that you would hear and regard what can be urged
against the blinded superstition and idolatry in which you are brought
up, sure am I, that the most powerfully-gifted of my brethren, that even
John Knox himself, would hasten hither, and account the rescue of your
single soul from the nets of Romish error--"

"I am obliged to you and to them for their charity," said Mary; "but as
I have at present but one presence-chamber, I would reluctantly see it
converted into a Huguenot synod."

"At least, madam, be not thus obstinately blinded in your errors! Hear
one who has hungered and thirsted, watched and prayed, to undertake
the good work of your conversion, and who would be content to die the
instant that a work so advantageous for yourself and so beneficial to
Scotland were accomplished--Yes, lady, could I but shake the remaining
pillar of the heathen temple in this land--and that permit me to
term your faith in the delusions of Rome--I could be content to die
overwhelmed in the ruins!"

"I will not insult your zeal, sir," replied Mary, "by saying you
are more likely to make sport for the Philistines than to overwhelm
them--your charity claims my thanks, for it is warmly expressed and may
be truly purposed--But believe as well of me as I am willing to do of
you, and think that I may be as anxious to recall you to the ancient and
only road, as you are to teach me your new by-ways to paradise."

"Then, madam, if such be your generous purpose," said Henderson,
eagerly, "--what hinders that we should dedicate some part of that time,
unhappily now too much at your Grace's disposal, to discuss a question
so weighty? You, by report of all men, are both learned and witty; and
I, though without such advantages, am strong in my cause as in a tower
of defence. Why should we not spend some space in endeavouring to
discover which of us hath the wrong side in this important matter?"

"Nay," said Queen Mary, "I never alleged my force was strong enough
to accept of a combat _en champ clos_, with a scholar and a polemic.
Besides, the match is not equal. You, sir, might retire when you felt
the battle go against you, while I am tied to the stake, and have no
permission to say the debate wearies me.--I would be alone."

She curtsied low to him as she uttered these words; and Henderson, whose
zeal was indeed ardent, but did not extend to the neglect of delicacy,
bowed in return, and prepared to withdraw.

"I would," he said, "that my earnest wish, my most zealous prayer, could
procure to your Grace any blessing or comfort, but especially that
in which alone blessing or comfort is, as easily as the slightest
intimation of your wish will remove me from your presence."

He was in the act of departing, when Mary said to him with much
courtesy, "Do me no injury in your thoughts, good sir; it may be, that
if my time here be protracted longer--as surely I hope it will not,
trusting that either my rebel subjects will repent of their disloyalty,
or that my faithful lieges will obtain the upper hand--but if my time
be here protracted, it may be I shall have no displeasure in hearing one
who seems so reasonable and compassionate as yourself, and I may hazard
your contempt by endeavouring to recollect and repeat the reasons which
schoolmen and councils give for the faith that is in me,--although
I fear that, God help me! my Latin has deserted me with my other
possessions. This must, however, be for another day. Meanwhile, sir,
let the Lady of Lochleven employ my page as she lists--I will not afford
suspicion by speaking a word to him before he goes.--Roland Graeme, my
friend, lose not an opportunity of amusing thyself--dance, sing, run,
and leap--all may be done merrily on the mainland; but he must have more
than quicksilver in his veins who would frolic here."

"Alas! madam," said the preacher, "to what is it you exhort the youth,
while time passes, and eternity summons? Can our salvation be insured by
idle mirth, or our good work wrought out without fear and trembling?"

"I cannot fear or tremble," replied the Queen; "to Mary Stewart such
emotions are unknown. But if weeping and sorrow on my part will atone
for the boy's enjoying an hour of boyish pleasure, be assured the
penance shall be duly paid."

"Nay, but, gracious lady," said the preacher, "in this you greatly
err;--our tears and our sorrows are all too little for our own faults
and follies, nor can we transfer them, as your church falsely teaches,
to the benefit of others."

"May I pray you, sir," answered the Queen, "with as little offence as
such a prayer may import, to transfer yourself elsewhere? We are sick at
heart, and may not now be disposed with farther controversy--and thou,
Roland, take this little purse;" (then, turning to the divine, she said,
showing its contents,) "Look, reverend sir,--it contains only these
two or three gold testoons, a coin which, though bearing my own poor
features, I have ever found more active against me than on my side, just
as my subjects take arms against me, with my own name for their
summons and signal.--Take this purse, that thou mayest want no means of
amusement. Fail not--fail not to bring met back news from Kinross; only
let it be such as, without suspicion or offence, may be told in the
presence of this reverend gentleman, or of the good Lady Lochleven
herself."

The last hint was too irresistible to be withstood; and Henderson
withdrew, half mortified, half pleased, with his reception; for Mary,
from long habit, and the address which was natural to her, had learned,
in an extraordinary degree, the art of evading discourse which was
disagreeable to her feelings or prejudices, without affronting those by
whom it was proffered.

Roland Graeme retired with the chaplain, at a signal from his lady; but
it did not escape him, that as he left the room, stepping backwards, and
making the deep obeisance due to royalty, Catherine Seyton held up her
slender forefinger, with a gesture which he alone could witness, and
which seemed to say, "Remember what has passed betwixt us."

The young page had now his last charge from the Lady of Lochleven.
"There are revels," she said, "this day at the village--my son's
authority is, as yet, unable to prevent these continued workings of the
ancient leaven of folly which the Romish priests have kneaded into the
very souls of the Scottish peasantry. I do not command thee to abstain
from them--that would be only to lay a snare for thy folly, or to teach
thee falsehood; but enjoy these vanities with moderation, and mark
them as something thou must soon learn to renounce and contemn. Our
chamberlain at Kinross, Luke Lundin,--Doctor, as he foolishly calleth
himself,--will acquaint thee what is to be done in the matter about
which thou goest. Remember thou art trusted--show thyself, therefore,
worthy of trust."

When we recollect that Roland Graeme was not yet nineteen, and that he
had spent his whole life in the solitary Castle of Avenel, excepting
the few hours he had passed in Edinburgh, and his late residence at
Lochleven, (the latter period having very little served to enlarge his
acquaintance with the gay world.) we cannot wonder that his heart beat,
high with hope and curiosity, at the prospect of partaking the sport
even of a country wake. He hastened to his little cabin, and turned over
the wardrobe with which (in every respect becoming his station) he had
been supplied from Edinburgh, probably by order of the Earl of Murray.
By the Queen's command he had hitherto waited upon her in mourning, or
at least in sad-coloured raiment. Her condition, she said, admitted
of nothing more gay. But now he selected the gayest dress his wardrobe
afforded; composed of scarlet slashed with black satin, the royal
colours of Scotland--combed his long curled hair--disposed his chain and
medal round a beaver hat of the newest block; and with the gay falchion
which had reached him in so mysterious a manner, hung by his side in
an embroidered belt, his apparel, added to his natural frank mien and
handsome figure, formed a most commendable and pleasing specimen of the
young gallant of the period. He sought to make his parting reverence to
the Queen and her ladies, but old Dryfesdale hurried him to the boat.

"We will have no private audiences," he said, "my master; since you are
to be trusted with somewhat, we will try at least to save thee from
the temptation of opportunity. God help thee, child," he added, with a
glance of contempt at his gay clothes, "an the bear-ward be yonder from
Saint Andrews, have a care thou go not near him."

"And wherefore, I pray you?" said Roland.

"Lest he take thee for one of his runaway jackanapes," answered the
steward, smiling sourly.

"I wear not my clothes at thy cost," said Roland indignantly.

"Nor at thine own either, my son" replied the steward, "else would thy
garb more nearly resemble thy merit and thy station."

Roland Graeme suppressed with difficulty the repartee which arose to his
lips, and, wrapping his scarlet mantle around him, threw himself into
the boat, which two rowers, themselves urged by curiosity to see the
revels, pulled stoutly towards the west end of the lake. As they put
off, Roland thought he could discover the face of Catherine Seyton,
though carefully withdrawn from observation, peeping from a loophole
to view his departure. He pulled off his hat, and held it up as a token
that he saw and wished her adieu. A white kerchief waved for a second
across the window, and for the rest of the little voyage, the thoughts
of Catherine Seyton disputed ground in his breast with the expectations
excited by the approaching revel. As they drew nearer and nearer the
shore, the sounds of mirth and music, the laugh, the halloo, and the
shout, came thicker upon the ear, and in a trice the boat was moored,
and Roland Graeme hastened in quest of the chamberlain, that, being
informed what time he had at his own disposal, he might lay it out to
the best advantage.



Chapter the Twenty-Sixth.


  Room for the master of the ring, ye swains,
  Divide your crowded ranks--before him march
  The rural minstrelsy, the rattling drum,
  The clamorous war-pipe, and far-echoing horn.
               _Rural Sports_.--SOMERVILLE.

No long space intervened ere Roland Graeme was able to discover among
the crowd of revellers, who gambolled upon the open space which extends
betwixt the village and the lake, a person of so great importance as Dr.
Luke Lundin, upon whom devolved officially the charge of representing
the lord of the land, and who was attended for support of his authority
by a piper, a drummer, and four sturdy clowns armed with rusty halberds,
garnished with party-coloured ribbons; myrmidons who, early as the day
was, had already broken more than one head in the awful names of the
Laird of Lochleven and his chamberlain.

[Footnote: At Scottish fairs, the bailie, or magistrate, deputed by the
lord in whose name the meeting is held, attends the fair with his
guard, decides trifling disputes, and punishes on the spot any petty
delinquencies. His attendants are usually armed with halberds, and
sometimes, at least, escorted by music. Thus, in the "Life and Death of
Habbie Simpson," we are told of that famous minstrel,--

   "At fairs he play'd before the spear-men,
   And gaily graithed in their gear-men;--
   Steel bonnets, jacks, and swords shone clear then,
        Like ony bead;
   Now wha shall play before sic weir-men,
        Since Habbie's dead! ]

As soon as this dignitary was informed that the castle skiff had
arrived, with a gallant, dressed like a lord's son at the least, who
desired presently to speak to him, he adjusted his ruff and his black
coat, turned round his girdle till the garnished hilt of his long rapier
became visible, and walked with due solemnity towards the beach. Solemn
indeed he was entitled to be, even on less important occasions, for he
had been bred to the venerable study of medicine, as those acquainted
with the science very soon discovered from the aphorisms which
ornamented his discourse. His success had not been equal to his
pretensions; but as he was a native of the neighbouring kingdom of Fife,
and bore distant relation to, or dependence upon, the ancient family of
Lundin of that Ilk, who were bound in close friendship with the house
of Lochleven, he had, through their interest, got planted comfortably
enough in his present station upon the banks of that beautiful lake.
The profits of his chamberlainship being moderate, especially in those
unsettled times, he had eked it out a little with some practice in his
original profession; and it was said that the inhabitants of the village
and barony of Kinross were not more effectually thirled (which may
be translated enthralled) to the baron's mill, than they were to the
medical monopoly of the chamberlain. Wo betide the family of the rich
boor, who presumed to depart this life without a passport from Dr. Luke
Lundin! for if his representatives had aught to settle with the baron,
as it seldom happened otherwise, they were sure to find a cold friend
in the chamberlain. He was considerate enough, however, gratuitously
to help the poor out of their ailments, and sometimes out of all their
other distresses at the same time.

Formal, in a double proportion, both as a physician and as a person in
office, and proud of the scraps of learning which rendered his language
almost universally unintelligible, Dr. Luke Lundin approached the beach,
and hailed the page as he advanced towards him.--"The freshness of the
morning upon you, fair sir--You are sent, I warrant me, to see if we
observe here the regimen which her good ladyship hath prescribed, for
eschewing all superstitious observances and idle anilities in these
our revels. I am aware that her good ladyship would willingly have
altogether abolished and abrogated them--But as I had the honour to
quote to her from the works of the learned Hercules of Saxony, _omnis
curatio est vel canonica vel coacta_,--that is, fair sir, (for silk and
velvet have seldom their Latin _ad unguem_,) every cure must be wrought
either by art and induction of rule, or by constraint; and the wise
physician chooseth the former. Which argument her ladyship being pleased
to allow well of, I have made it my business so to blend instruction and
caution with delight--_fiat mixtio_, as we say--that I can answer
that the vulgar mind will be defecated and purged of anile and Popish
fooleries by the medicament adhibited, so that the _primae vice_ being
cleansed, Master Henderson, or any other able pastor, may at will throw
in tonics, and effectuate a perfect moral cure, _tuto, cito, jucunde_."

"I have no charge, Dr. Lundin," replied the page--

"Call me not doctor," said the chamberlain, "since I have laid aside
my furred gown and bonnet, and retired me into this temporality of
chamberlainship."

"Oh, sir," said the page, who was no stranger by report to the character
of this original, "the cowl makes not the monk, neither the cord the
friar--we have all heard of the cures wrought by Dr. Lundin."

"Toys, young sir--trifles," answered the leech with grave disclamation
of superior skill; "the hit-or-miss practice of a poor retired
gentleman, in a short cloak and doublet--Marry, Heaven sent its
blessing--and this I must say, better fashioned mediciners have
brought fewer patients through--_lunga roba corta scienzia_, saith the
Italian--ha, fair sir, you have the language?"

Roland Graeme did not think it necessary to expound to this learned
Theban whether he understood him or no; but, leaving that matter
uncertain, he told him he came in quest of certain packages which should
have arrived at Kinross, and been placed under the chamberlain's charge
the evening before.

"Body o' me!" said Doctor Lundin, "I fear our common carrier, John
Auchtermuchty, hath met with some mischance, that he came not up last
night with his wains--bad land this to journey in, my master; and the
fool will travel by night too, although, (besides all maladies from your
_tussis_ to your _pestis_, which walk abroad in the night-air,) he may
well fall in with half a dozen swash-bucklers, who will ease him at once
of his baggage and his earthly complaints. I must send forth to inquire
after him, since he hath stuff of the honourable household on hand--and,
by our Lady, he hath stuff of mine too--certain drugs sent me from
the city for composition of my alexipharmics--this gear must be looked
to.--Hodge," said he, addressing one of his redoubted body-guard,
"do thou and Toby Telford take the mickle brown aver and the black
cut-tailed mare, and make out towards the Kerry-craigs, and see what
tidings you can have of Auchtermuchty and his wains--I trust it is only
the medicine of the pottle-pot, (being the only _medicamentum_ which
the beast useth,) which hath caused him to tarry on the road. Take
the ribbons from your halberds, ye knaves, and get on your jacks,
plate-sleeves, and knapskulls, that your presence may work some terror
if you meet with opposers." He then added, turning to Roland Graeme, "I
warrant me, we shall have news of the wains in brief season. Meantime
it will please you to look upon the sports; but first to enter my
poor lodging and take your morning's cup. For what saith the school of
Salerno?

  _Poculum, mane haustum,
  Restaurat naturam exhaustam."_

"Your learning is too profound for me," replied the page; "and so would
your draught be likewise, I fear."

"Not a whit, fair sir--a cordial cup of sack, impregnated with wormwood,
is the best anti-pestilential draught; and, to speak truth, the
pestilential miasmata are now very rife in the atmosphere. We live in
a happy time, young man," continued he, in a tone of grave irony, "and
have many blessings unknown to our fathers--Here are two sovereigns
in the land, a regnant and a claimant--that is enough of one good
thing--but if any one wants more, he may find a king in every peel-house
in the country; so if we lack government, it is not for want of
governors. Then have we a civil war to phlebotomize us every year, and
to prevent our population from starving for want of food--and for the
same purpose we have the Plague proposing us a visit, the best of all
recipes for thinning a land, and converting younger brothers into elder
ones. Well, each man in his vocation. You young fellows of the sword
desire to wrestle, fence, or so forth, with some expert adversary; and
for my part, I love to match myself for life or death against that same
Plague."

As they proceeded up the street of the little village towards the
Doctor's lodgings, his attention was successively occupied by the
various personages whom he met, and pointed out to the notice of his
companion.

"Do you see that fellow with the red bonnet, the blue jerkin, and the
great rough baton in his hand?--I believe that clown hath the strength
of a tower--he has lived fifty years in the world, and never encouraged
the liberal sciences by buying one penny-worth of medicaments.--But see
you that man with the _facies hippocratica_?" said he, pointing out
a thin peasant, with swelled legs, and a most cadaverous countenance;
"that I call one of the worthiest men in the barony--he breakfasts,
luncheons, dines, and sups by my advice, and not without my medicine;
and, for his own single part, will go farther to clear out a moderate
stock of pharmaceutics, than half the country besides.--How do you,
my honest friend?" said he to the party in question, with a tone of
condolence.

"Very weakly, sir, since I took the electuary," answered the patient;
"it neighboured ill with the two spoonfuls of pease-porridge and the
kirnmilk."

"Pease-porridge and kirnmilk! Have you been under medicine these ten
years, and keep your diet so ill?--the next morning take the electuary
by itself, and touch nothing for six hours."--The poor object bowed, and
limped off.

The next whom the Doctor deigned to take notice of, was a lame fellow,
by whom the honour was altogether undeserved, for at sight of the
mediciner, he began to shuffle away in the crowd as fast as his
infirmities would permit.

"There is an ungrateful hound for you," said Doctor Lundin; "I cured
him of the gout in his feet, and now he talks of the chargeableness of
medicine, and makes the first use of his restored legs to fly from his
physician. His _podagra_ hath become a _chiragra_, as honest Martial
hath it--the gout has got into his fingers, and he cannot draw his
purse. Old saying and true,

  Praemia cum poscit medicus, Sathan est.

We are angels when we come to cure--devils when we ask payment--but I
will administer a purgation to his purse I warrant him. There is his
brother too, a sordid chuff.--So ho, there! Saunders Darlet! you have
been ill, I hear?"

"Just got the turn, as I was thinking to send to your honour, and I am
brawly now again--it was nae great thing that ailed me."

"Hark you, sirrah," said the Doctor, "I trust you remember you are owing
to the laird four stones of barleymeal, and a bow of oats; and I would
have you send no more such kain-fowls as you sent last season, that
looked as wretchedly as patients just dismissed from a plague-hospital;
and there is hard money owing besides."

"I was thinking, sir," said the man, _more Scotico_, that is, returning
no direct answer on the subject on which he was addressed, "my best way
would be to come down to your honour, and take your advice yet, in case
my trouble should come back."

"Do so, then, knave," replied Lundin, "and remember what Ecclesiasticus
saith--'Give place to the physician-let him not go from thee, for thou
hast need of him.'"

His exhortation was interrupted by an apparition, which seemed to strike
the doctor with as much horror and surprise, as his own visage inflicted
upon sundry of those persons whom he had addressed.

The figure which produced this effect on the Esculapius of the village,
was that of a tall old woman, who wore a high-crowned hat and muffler.
The first of these habiliments added apparently to her stature, and
the other served to conceal the lower part of her face, and as the hat
itself was slouched, little could be seen besides two brown cheek-bones,
and the eyes of swarthy fire, that gleamed from under two shaggy gray
eyebrows. She was dressed in a long dark-coloured robe of unusual
fashion, bordered at the skirts, and on the stomacher, with a sort of
white trimming resembling the Jewish phylacteries, on which were wrought
the characters of some unknown language. She held in her hand a walking
staff of black ebony.

"By the soul of Celsus," said Doctor Luke Lundin, "it is old Mother
Nicneven herself--she hath come to beard me within mine own bounds, and
in the very execution of mine office! Have at thy coat, Old Woman, as
the song says--Hob Anster, let her presently be seized and committed to
the tolbooth; and if there are any zealous brethren here who would give
the hag her deserts, and duck her, as a witch, in the loch, I pray let
them in no way be hindered."

But the myrmidons of Dr. Lundin showed in this case no alacrity to do
his bidding. Hob Anster even ventured to remonstrate in the name of
himself and his brethren. "To be sure he was to do his honour's bidding;
and for a' that folks said about the skill and witcheries of Mother
Nicneven, he would put his trust in God, and his hand on her collar,
without dreadour. But she was no common spaewife, this Mother Nicneven,
like Jean Jopp that lived in the Bricrie-baulk. She had lords and lairds
that would ruffle for her. There was Moncrieff of Tippermalloch, that
was Popish, and the laird of Carslogie, a kend Queen's man, were in the
fair, with wha kend how mony swords and bucklers at their back; and they
would be sure to make a break-out if the officers meddled with the auld
Popish witch-wife, who was sae weel friended; mair especially as the
laird's best men, such as were not in the castle, were in Edinburgh with
him, and he doubted his honour the Doctor would find ower few to make a
good backing, if blades were bare."

The doctor listened unwillingly to this prudential counsel, and was only
comforted by the faithful promise of his satellite, that "the old
woman should," as he expressed it, "be ta'en canny the next time she
trespassed on the bounds."

"And in that event," said the Doctor to his companion, "fire and fagot
shall be the best of her welcome."

This he spoke in hearing of the dame herself, who even then, and in
passing the Doctor, shot towards him from under her gray eyebrows a look
of the most insulting and contemptuous superiority.

"This way," continued the physician, "this way," marshalling his guest
into his lodging,--"take care you stumble not over a retort, for it is
hazardous for the ignorant to walk in the ways of art."

The page found all reason for the caution; for besides stuffed birds,
and lizards, and snakes bottled up, and bundles of simples made up, and
other parcels spread out to dry, and all the confusion, not to mention
the mingled and sickening smells, incidental to a druggist's stock in
trade, he had also to avoid heaps of charcoal crucibles, bolt-heads,
stoves, and the other furniture of a chemical laboratory.

Amongst his other philosophical qualities, Doctor Lundin failed not to
be a confused sloven, and his old dame housekeeper, whose life, as she
said, was spent in "redding him up," had trotted off to the mart of
gaiety with other and younger folks. Much chattering and jangling
therefore there was among jars, and bottles, and vials, ere the Doctor
produced the salutiferous potion which he recommended so strongly, and
a search equally long and noisy followed, among broken cans and cracked
pipkins, ere he could bring forth a cup out of which to drink it. Both
matters being at length achieved, the Doctor set the example to his
guest, by quaffing off a cup of the cordial, and smacking his lips with
approbation as it descended his gullet.--Roland, in turn, submitted to
swallow the potion which his host so earnestly recommended, but which
he found so insufferably bitter, that he became eager to escape from the
laboratory in search of a draught of fair water to expel the taste. In
spite of his efforts, he was nevertheless detained by the garrulity of
his host, till he gave him some account of Mother Nicneven.

"I care not to speak of her," said the Doctor, "in the open air, and
among the throng of people; not for fright, like yon cowardly dog
Anster, but because I would give no occasion for a fray, having no
leisure to look to stabs, slashes, and broken bones. Men call the old
hag a prophetess--I do scarce believe she could foretell when a brood
of chickens will chip the shell--Men say she reads the heavens--my black
bitch knows as much of them when she sits baying the moon--Men pretend
the ancient wretch is a sorceress, a witch, and, what not--_Inter nos_,
I will never contradict a rumour which may bring her to the stake which
she so justly deserves; but neither will I believe that the tales of
witches which they din into our ears are aught but knavery, cozenage,
and old women's fables."

"In the name of Heaven, what is she then," said the page, "that you make
such a stir about her?"

"She is one of those cursed old women," replied the Doctor, "who take
currently and impudently upon themselves to act as advisers and curers
of the sick, on the strength of some trash of herbs, some rhyme of
spells, some julap or diet, drink or cordial."

"Nay, go no farther," said the page; "if they brew cordials, evil be
their lot and all their partakers!"

"You say well, young man," said Dr. Lundin; "for mine own part, I know
no such pests to the commonwealth as these old incarnate devils, who
haunt the chambers of the brain-sick patients, that are mad enough to
suffer them to interfere with, disturb, and let, the regular process of
a learned and artificial cure, with their sirups, and their julaps, and
diascordium, and mithridate, and my Lady What-shall-call'um's powder,
and worthy Dame Trashem's pill; and thus make widows and orphans, and
cheat the regular and well-studied physician, in order to get the
name of wise women and skeely neighbours, and so forth. But no more
on't--Mother Nicneven [Footnote: This was the name given to the grand
Mother Witch, the very Hecate of Scottish popular superstition. Her name
was bestowed, in one or two instances, upon sorceresses, who were held
to resemble her by their superior skill in "Hell's black grammar."] and
I will meet one day, and she shall know there is danger in dealing with
the Doctor."

"It is a true word, and many have found it," said the page; "but under
your favour, I would fain walk abroad for a little, and see these
sports."

"It is well moved," said the Doctor, "and I too should be showing myself
abroad. Moreover the play waits us, young man-to-day, _totus mundus
agit histrionem_."--And they sallied forth accordingly into the mirthful
scene.



Chapter the Twenty-Seventh.


  See on yon verdant lawn, the gathering crowd
  Thickens amain; the buxom nymphs advance,
  Usher'd by jolly clowns; distinctions cease,
  Lost in the common joy, and the bold slave
  Leans on his wealthy master unreproved.
              _Rural Games_.--SOMERVILLLE.

The re-appearance of the dignified Chamberlain on the street of the
village was eagerly hailed by the revellers, as a pledge that the
play, or dramatic representation, which had been postponed owing to his
absence, was now full surely to commence. Any thing like an approach
to this most interesting of all amusements, was of recent origin in
Scotland, and engaged public attention in proportion. All other sports
were discontinued. The dance around the Maypole was arrested--the ring
broken up and dispersed, while the dancers, each leading his partner by
the hand, tripped, off to the silvan theatre. A truce was in like
manner achieved betwixt a huge brown bear and certain mastiffs, who
were tugging and pulling at his shaggy coat, under the mediation of the
bear-ward and half a dozen butchers and yeomen, who, by dint of _staving
and tailing_, as it was technically termed, separated the unfortunate
animals, whose fury had for an hour past been their chief amusement.
The itinerant minstrel found himself deserted by the audience he had
collected, even in the most interesting passage of the romance which he
recited, and just as he was sending about his boy, with bonnet in hand,
to collect their oblations. He indignantly stopped short in the midst
of _Rosewal and Lilian_, and, replacing his three-stringed fiddle, or
rebeck, in its leathern case, followed the crowd, with no good-will, to
the exhibition which had superseded his own. The juggler had ceased his
exertions of emitting flame and smoke, and was content to respire in the
manner of ordinary mortals, rather than to play gratuitously the part
of a fiery dragon. In short, all other sports were suspended, so eagerly
did the revellers throng towards the place of representation.

They would err greatly, who should regulate their ideas of this dramatic
exhibition upon those derived from a modern theatre; for the rude shows
of Thespis were far less different from those exhibited by Euripides on
the stage of Athens, with all its magnificent decorations and pomp of
dresses and of scenery. In the present case, there were no scenes, no
stage, no machinery, no pit, box, and gallery, no box-lobby; and, what
might in poor Scotland be some consolation for other negations, there
was no taking of money at the door. As in the devices of the magnanimous
Bottom, the actors had a greensward plot for a stage, and a hawthorn
bush for a greenroom and tiring-house; the spectators being accommodated
with seats on the artificial bank which had been raised around
three-fourths of the playground, the remainder being left open for the
entrance and exit of the performers. Here sate the uncritical audience,
the Chamberlain in the centre, as the person highest in office, all
alive to enjoyment and admiration, and all therefore dead to criticism.

The characters which appeared and disappeared before the amused and
interested audience, were those which fill the earlier stage in all
nations--old men, cheated by their wives and daughters, pillaged by
their sons, and imposed on by their domestics, a braggadocia captain,
a knavish pardoner or quaestionary, a country bumpkin and a wanton city
dame. Amid all these, and more acceptable than almost the whole put
together, was the all-licensed fool, the Gracioso of the Spanish drama,
who, with his cap fashioned into the resemblance of a coxcomb, and his
bauble, a truncheon terminated by a carved figure wearing a fool's cap,
in his hand, went, came, and returned, mingling in every scene of the
piece, and interrupting the business, without having any share himself
in the action, and ever and anon transferring his gibes from the actors
on the stage to the audience who sate around, prompt to applaud the
whole.

The wit of the piece, which was not of the most polished kind, was
chiefly directed against the superstitious practices of the Catholic
religion; and the stage artillery had on this occasion been levelled
by no less a person than Doctor Lundin, who had not only commanded the
manager of the entertainment to select one of the numerous satires which
had been written against the Papists, (several of which were cast in a
dramatic form,) but had even, like the Prince of Denmark, caused them to
insert, or according to his own phrase, to infuse here and there, a
few pleasantries of his own penning, on the same inexhaustible subject,
hoping thereby to mollify the rigour of the Lady of Lochleven towards
pastimes of this description. He failed not to jog Roland's elbow,
who was sitting in state behind him, and recommend to his particular
attention those favourite passages. As for the page, to whom, the very
idea of such an exhibition, simple as it was, was entirely new, he
beheld it with the undiminished and ecstatic delight with which men
of all ranks look for the first time on dramatic representation, and
laughed, shouted, and clapped his hands as the performance proceeded. An
incident at length took place, which effectually broke off his interest
in the business of the scene.

One of the principal personages in the comic part of the drama was,
as we have already said, a quaestionary or pardoner, one of those
itinerants who hawked about from place to place relics, real or
pretended, with which he excited the devotion at once, and the charity
of the populace, and generally deceived both the one and the other. The
hypocrisy, impudence, and profligacy of these clerical wanderers, had
made them the subject of satire from the time of Chaucer down to that of
Heywood. Their present representative failed not to follow the same line
of humour, exhibiting pig's bones for relics, and boasting the virtues
of small tin crosses, which had been shaken in the holy porringer at
Loretto, and of cockleshells, which had been brought from the shrine
of Saint James of Compostella, all which he disposed of to the devout
Catholics at nearly as high a price as antiquaries are now willing
to pay for baubles of similar intrinsic value. At length the pardoner
pulled from his scrip a small phial of clear water, of which he vaunted
the quality in the following verses:--

  Listneth, gode people, everiche one
  For in the londe of Babylone,
  Far eastward I wot it lyeth,
  And is the first londe the sonne espieth,
  Ther, as he cometh fro out the sé;
  In this ilk londe, as thinketh me,
  Right as holie legendes tell.
  Snottreth from a roke a well,
  And falleth into ane bath of ston,
  Where chaste Susanne, in times long gon,

  Wax wont to wash her bodie and lim
  Mickle vertue hath that streme,
  As ye shall se er that ye pas,
  Ensample by this little glas--
  Through nightés cold and dayés hote
  Hiderward I have it brought;
  Hath a wife made slip or side,
  Or a maiden stepp'd aside,
  Putteth this water under her nese,
  Wold she nold she, she shall snese.

The jest, as the reader skilful in the antique language of the drama
must at once perceive, turned on the same pivot as in the old minstrel
tales of the Drinking Horn of King Arthur, and the Mantle made Amiss.
But the audience were neither learned nor critical enough to challenge
its want of originality. The potent relic was, after such grimace and
buffoonery as befitted the subject, presented successively to each
of the female personages of the drama, not one of whom sustained
the supposed test of discretion; but, to the infinite delight of the
audience, sneezed much louder and longer than perhaps they themselves
had counted on. The jest seemed at last worn threadbare, and the
pardoner was passing on to some new pleasantry, when the jester or clown
of the drama, possessing himself secretly of the phial which contained
the wondrous liquor, applied it suddenly to the nose of a young woman,
who, with her black silk muffler, or screen drawn over her face, was
sitting in the foremost rank of the spectators, intent apparently upon
the business of the stage. The contents of the phial, well calculated to
sustain the credit of the pardoner's legend, set the damsel a-sneezing
violently, an admission of frailty which was received with shouts
of rapture by the audience. These were soon, however, renewed at the
expense of the jester himself, when the insulted maiden extricated, ere
the paroxysm was well over, one hand from the folds of her mantle, and
bestowed on the wag a buffet, which made him reel fully his own
length from the pardoner, and then acknowledge the favour by instant
prostration.

No one pities a jester overcome in his vocation, and the clown met with
little sympathy, when, rising from the ground, and whimpering forth his
complaints of harsh treatment, he invoked the assistance and sympathy
of the audience. But the Chamberlain, feeling his own dignity insulted,
ordered two of his halberdiers to bring the culprit before him. When
these official persons first approached the virago, she threw herself
into an attitude of firm defiance, as if determined to resist their
authority; and from the sample of strength and spirit which she
had already displayed, they showed no alacrity at executing their
commission. But on half a minute's reflection, the damsel changed
totally her attitude and manner, folded her cloak around her arms in
modest and maiden-like fashion, and walked of her own accord to the
presence of the great man, followed and guarded by the two manful
satellites. As she moved across the vacant space, and more especially
as she stood at the footstool of the Doctor's judgment-seat, the maiden
discovered that lightness and elasticity of step, and natural grace of
manner, which connoisseurs in female beauty know to be seldom divided
from it. Moreover, her neat russet-coloured jacket, and short petticoat
of the same colour, displayed a handsome form and a pretty leg. Her
features were concealed by the screen; but the Doctor, whose gravity did
not prevent his pretensions to be a connoisseur of the school we have
hinted at, saw enough to judge favourably of the piece by the sample.

He began, however, with considerable austerity of manner.--"And how now,
saucy quean!" said the medical man of office; "what have you to say why
I should not order you to be ducked in the loch, for lifting your hand
to the man in my presence?"

"Marry," replied the culprit, "because I judge that your honour will not
think the cold bath necessary for my complaints."

"A pestilent jade," said the Doctor, whispering to Roland Graeme; "and
I'll warrant her a good one--her voice is as sweet as sirup.--But,
my pretty maiden," said he, "you show us wonderful little of that
countenance of yours--be pleased to throw aside your muffler."

"I trust your honour will excuse me till we are more private," answered
the maiden; "for I have acquaintance, and I should like ill to be known
in the country as the poor girl whom that scurvy knave put his jest
upon."

"Fear nothing for thy good name, my sweet little modicum of candied
manna," replied the Doctor, "for I protest to you, as I am Chamberlain
of Lochleven, Kinross, and so forth, that the chaste Susanna herself
could not have snuffed that elixir without sternutation, being in truth
a curious distillation of rectified _acetum_, or vinegar of the sun,
prepared by mine own hands--Wherefore, as thou sayest thou wilt come to
me in private, and express thy contrition for the offence whereof thou
hast been guilty, I command that all for the present go forward as if no
such interruption of the prescribed course had taken place."

The damsel curtsied and tripped back to her place. The play proceeded,
but it no longer attracted the attention of Roland Graeme.

The voice, the figure, and what the veil permitted to be seen of the
neck and tresses of the village damsel, bore so strong a resemblance to
those of Catherine Seyton, that he felt like one bewildered in the
mazes of a changeful and stupifying dream. The memorable scene of
the hostelrie rushed on his recollection, with all its doubtful and
marvellous circumstances. Were the tales of enchantment which he
had read in romances realized in this extraordinary girl? Could she
transport herself from the walled and guarded Castle of Lochleven,
moated with its broad lake, (towards which he cast back a look as if to
ascertain it was still in existence,) and watched with such scrupulous
care as the safety of a nation demanded?--Could she surmount all these
obstacles, and make such careless and dangerous use of her liberty, as
to engage herself publicly in a quarrel in a village fair? Roland was
unable to determine whether the exertions which it must have cost her
to gain her freedom or the use to which she had put it, rendered her the
most unaccountable creature.

Lost in these meditations, he kept his gaze fixed on the subject of
them; and in every casual motion, discovered, or thought he discovered,
something which reminded him still more strongly of Catherine Seyton.
It occurred to him more than once, indeed, that he might be deceiving
himself by exaggerating some casual likeness into absolute identity.
But then the meeting at the hostelrie of Saint Michael's returned to his
mind, and it seemed in the highest degree improbable, that, under
such various circumstances, mere imagination should twice have found
opportunity to play him the selfsame trick. This time, however, he
determined to have his doubts resolved, and for this purpose he sate
during the rest of the play like a greyhound in the slip, ready to
spring upon the hare the instant that she was started. The damsel, whom
he watched attentively lest she should escape in the crowd when the
spectacle was closed, sate as if perfectly unconscious that she was
observed. But the worthy Doctor marked the direction of his eyes, and
magnanimously suppressed his own inclination to become the Theseus
to this Hippolyta, in deference to the rights of hospitality, which
enjoined him to forbear interference with the pleasurable pursuits
of his young friend. He passed one or two formal gibes upon the fixed
attention which the page paid to the unknown, and upon his own jealousy;
adding, however, that if both were to be presented to the patient at
once, he had little doubt she would think the younger man the sounder
prescription. "I fear me," he added, "we shall have no news of the knave
Auchtermuchty for some time, since the vermin whom I sent after him seem
to have proved corbie-messengers. So you have an hour or two on your
hands, Master Page; and as the minstrels are beginning to strike up, now
the play is ended, why, an you incline for a dance, yonder is the green,
and there sits your partner--I trust you will hold me perfect in my
diagnostics, since I see with half an eye what disease you are sick of,
and have administered a pleasing remedy.

  "_Discernit sapiens res_ (as Chambers hath it) _quas
    confundit asellus_."

The page hardly heard the end of the learned adage, or the charge
which the Chamberlain gave him to be within reach, in case of the wains
arriving suddenly, and sooner than expected--so eager he was at once
to shake himself free of his learned associate, and to satisfy his
curiosity regarding the unknown damsel. Yet in the haste with which he
made towards her he found time to reflect, that, in order to secure an
opportunity of conversing with her in private, he must not alarm her
at first accosting her. He therefore composed his manner and gait,
and advancing with becoming self-confidence before three or four
country-fellows who were intent on the same design, but knew not so well
how to put their request into shape, he acquainted her that he, as the
deputy of the venerable Chamberlain, requested the honour of her hand as
a partner.

"The venerable Chamberlain," said the damsel frankly, reaching the page
her hand, "does very well to exercise this part of his privilege by
deputy; and I suppose the laws of the revels leave me no choice but to
accept of his faithful delegate."

"Provided, fair damsel," said the page, "his choice of a delegate is not
altogether distasteful to you."

"Of that, fair sir," replied the maiden, "I will tell you more when we
have danced the first measure."

Catherine Seyton had admirable skill in gestic lore, and was sometimes
called on to dance for the amusement of her royal mistress. Roland
Graeme had often been a spectator of her skill, and sometimes, at
the Queen's command, Catherine's partner on such occasions. He was,
therefore, perfectly acquainted with Catherine's mode of dancing; and
observed that his present partner, in grace, in agility, in quickness
of ear, and precision of execution, exactly resembled her, save that the
Scottish jig, which he now danced with her, required a more violent
and rapid motion, and more rustic agility, than the stately pavens,
lavoltas, and courantoes, which he had seen her execute in the chamber
of Queen Mary. The active duties of the dance left him little time for
reflection, and none for conversation; but when their _pas de deux_
was finished, amidst the acclamations of the villagers, who had seldom
witnessed such an exhibition, he took an opportunity, when they yielded
up the green to another couple, to use the privilege of a partner and
enter into conversation with the mysterious maiden, whom he still held
by the hand.

"Fair partner, may I not crave the name of her who has graced me thus
far?"

"You may," said the maiden; "but it is a question whether I shall answer
you."

"And why?" asked Roland.

"Because nobody gives anything for nothing--and you can tell me nothing
in return which I care to hear."

"Could I not tell you my name and lineage, in exchange for yours?"
returned Roland.

"No!" answered the maiden, "for you know little of either."

"How?" said the page, somewhat angrily.

"Wrath you not for the matter," said the damsel; "I will show you in an
instant that I know more of you than you do of yourself."

"Indeed," answered Graeme; "for whom then do you take me?"

"For the wild falcon," answered she, "whom a dog brought in his mouth to
a certain castle, when he was but an unfledged eyas--for the hawk
whom men dare not fly, lest he should check at game, and pounce on
carrion--whom folk must keep hooded till he has the proper light of his
eyes, and can discover good from evil."

"Well--be it so," replied Roland Graeme; "I guess at a part of your
parable, fair mistress mine--and perhaps I know as much of you as you
do of me, and can well dispense with the information which you are so
niggard in giving."

"Prove that," said the maiden, "and I will give you credit for more
penetration than I judged you to be gifted withal."

"It shall be proved instantly," said Roland Graeme. "The first letter of
your name is S, and the last N."

"Admirable," said his partner, "guess on."

"It pleases you to-day," continued Roland, "to wear the snood and
kirtle, and perhaps you may be seen to-morrow in hat and feather, hose
and doublet."

"In the clout! in the clout! you have hit the very white," said the
damsel, suppressing a great inclination to laugh.

"You can switch men's eyes out of their heads, as well as the heart out
of their bosoms."

These last words were uttered in a low and tender tone, which, to
Roland's great mortification, and somewhat to his displeasure, was so
far from allaying, that it greatly increased, his partner's disposition
to laughter. She could scarce compose herself while she replied, "If you
had thought my hand so formidable," extricating it from his hold, "you
would not have grasped it so hard; but I perceive you know me so fully,
that there is no occasion to show you my face."

"Fair Catherine," said the page, "he were unworthy ever to have seen
you, far less to have dwelt so long in the same service, and under the
same roof with you, who could mistake your air, your gesture, your step
in walking or in dancing, the turn of your neck, the symmetry of your
form--none could be so dull as not to recognize you by so many proofs;
but for me, I could swear even to that tress of hair that escapes from
under your muffler."

"And to the face, of course, which that muffler covers," said the
maiden, removing her veil, and in an instant endeavouring to replace it.
She showed the features of Catherine; but an unusual degree of petulant
impatience inflamed them, when, from some awkwardness in her management
of the muffler, she was unable again to adjust it with that dexterity
which was a principal accomplishment of the coquettes of the time.

"The fiend rive the rag to tatters!" said the damsel, as the veil
fluttered about her shoulders, with an accent so earnest and decided,
that it made the page start. He looked again at the damsel's face, but
the information which his eyes received, was to the same purport as
before. He assisted her to adjust her muffler, and both were for
an instant silent. The damsel spoke first, for Roland Graeme was
overwhelmed with surprise at the contrarieties which Catherine Seyton
seemed to include in her person and character.

"You are surprised," said the damsel to him, "at what you see and
hear--But the times which make females men, are least of all fitted for
men to become women; yet you yourself are in danger of such a change."

"I in danger of becoming effeminate!" said the page.

"Yes, you, for all the boldness of your reply," said the damsel. "When
you should hold fast your religion, because it is assailed on all sides
by rebels, traitors, and heretics, you let it glide out of your breast
like water grasped in the hand. If you are driven from the faith of
your fathers from fear of a traitor, is not that womanish?--If you
are cajoled by the cunning arguments of a trumpeter of heresy, or the
praises of a puritanic old woman, is not that womanish?--If you are
bribed by the hope of spoil and preferment, is not that womanish?--And
when you wonder at my venting a threat or an execration, should you not
wonder at yourself, who, pretending to a gentle name and aspiring
to knighthood, can be at the same time cowardly, silly, and
self-interested!"

"I would that a man would bring such a charge," said the page; "he
should see, ere his life was a minute older, whether he had cause to
term me coward or no."

"Beware of such big words," answered the maiden; "you said but anon that
I sometimes wear hose and doublet."

"But remain still Catharine Seyton, wear what you list," said the page,
endeavouring again to possess himself of her hand.

"You indeed are pleased to call me so," replied the maiden, evading his
intention, "but I have many other names besides."

"And will you not reply to that," said the page, "by which you are
distinguished beyond every other maiden in Scotland?"

The damsel, unallured by his praises, still kept aloof, and sung with
gaiety a verse from an old ballad,

  "Oh, some do call me Jack, sweet love,
    And some do call me Gill;
  But when I ride to Holyrood,
    My name is Wilful Will."

"Wilful Will" exclaimed the page, impatiently; "say rather Will o' the
Wisp--Jack with the Lantern--for never was such a deceitful or wandering
meteor!"

"If I be such," replied the maiden, "I ask no fools to follow me--If
they do so, it is at their own pleasure, and must be on their own proper
peril."

"Nay, but, dearest Catherine," said Roland Graeme, "be for one instant
serious."

"If you will call me your dearest Catherine, when I have given you so
many names to choose upon," replied the damsel, "I would ask you how,
supposing me for two or three hours of my life escaped from yonder
tower, you have the cruelty to ask me to be serious during the only
merry moments I have seen perhaps for months?"

"Ay, but, fair Catherine, there are moments of deep and true feeling,
which are worth ten thousand years of the liveliest mirth; and such was
that of yesterday, when you so nearly--"

"So nearly what?" demanded the damsel, hastily.

"When you approached your lips so near to the sign you had traced on my
forehead."

"Mother of Heaven!" exclaimed she, in a yet fiercer tone, and with a
more masculine manner than she had yet exhibited,-"Catherine Seyton
approach her lips to a man's brow, and thou that man!--vassal, thou
liest!"

The page stood astonished; but, conceiving he had alarmed the damsel's
delicacy by alluding to the enthusiasm of a moment, and the manner in
which she had expressed it, he endeavoured to falter forth an apology.
His excuses, though he was unable to give them any regular shape, were
accepted by his companion, who had indeed suppressed her indignation
after its first explosion--"Speak no more on't," she said. "And now let
us part; our conversation may attract more notice than is convenient for
either of us."

"Nay, but allow me at least to follow you to some sequestered place."

"You dare not," replied the maiden.

"How," said the youth, "dare not? where is it you dare go, where I dare
not follow?"

"You fear a Will o' the Wisp," said the damsel; "how would you face a
fiery dragon, with an enchantress mounted on its back?"

"Like Sir Eger, Sir Grime, or Sir Greysteil," said the page; "but be
there such toys to be seen here?"

"I go to Mother Nicneven's," answered the maid; "and she is witch enough
to rein the horned devil, with a red silk thread for a bridle, and a
rowan-tree switch for a whip."

"I will follow you," said the page.

"Let it be at some distance," said the maiden.

And wrapping her mantle round her with more success than on her former
attempt, she mingled with the throng, and walked towards the village,
heedfully followed by Roland Graeme at some distance, and under
every precaution which he could use to prevent his purpose from being
observed.



Chapter the Twenty-Eighth.


  Yes, it is he whose eyes look'd on thy childhood,
  And watch'd with trembling hope thy dawn of youth,
  That now, with these same eyeballs dimm'd with age,
  And dimmer yet with tears, sees thy dishonour.
                                OLD PLAY.

At the entrance of the principal, or indeed, so to speak, the only
street in Kinross, the damsel, whose steps were pursued by Roland
Graeme, cast a glance behind her, as if to be certain he had not lost
trace of her and then plunged down a very narrow lane which ran betwixt
two rows of poor and ruinous cottages. She paused for a second at the
door of one of those miserable tenements, again cast her eye up the lane
towards Roland, then lifted the latch, opened the door, and disappeared
from his view.

With whatever haste the page followed her example, the difficulty which
he found in discovering the trick of the latch, which did not work quite
in the usual manner, and in pushing open the door, which did not yield
to his first effort, delayed for a minute or two his entrance into the
cottage. A dark and smoky passage led, as usual, betwixt the exterior
wall of the house, and the _hallan_, or clay wall, which served as a
partition betwixt it and the interior. At the end of this passage,
and through the partition, was a door leading into the _ben_, or inner
chamber of the cottage, and when Roland Graeme's hand was upon the latch
of this door, a female voice pronounced, "_Benedictus qui veniat in
nomine Domini, damnandus qui in nomine inimici._" On entering the
apartment, he perceived the figure which the chamberlain had pointed out
to him as Mother Nicneven, seated beside the lowly hearth. But there was
no other person in the room. Roland Graeme gazed around in surprise at
the disappearance of Catherine Seyton, without paying much regard to the
supposed sorceress, until she attracted and riveted his regard by the
tone in which she asked him--"What seekest thou here?"

"I seek," said the page, with much embarrassment; "I seek--"

But his answer was cut short, when the old woman, drawing her huge gray
eyebrows sternly together, with a frown which knitted her brow into a
thousand wrinkles, arose, and erecting herself up to her full natural
size, tore the kerchief from her head, and seizing Roland by the arm,
made two strides across the floor of the apartment to a small window
through which the light fell full on her face, and showed the astonished
youth the countenance of Magdalen Graeme.--"Yes, Roland," she said,
"thine eyes deceive thee not; they show thee truly the features of her
whom thou hast thyself deceived, whose wine thou hast turned into gall,
her bread of joyfulness into bitter poison, her hope into the blackest
despair--it is she who now demands of thee, what seekest thou here?--She
whose heaviest sin towards Heaven hath been, that she loved thee
even better than the weal of the whole church, and could not without
reluctance surrender thee even in the cause of God--she now asks you,
what seekest thou here?"

While she spoke, she kept her broad black eye riveted on the youth's
face, with the expression with which the eagle regards his prey ere he
tears it to pieces. Roland felt himself at the moment incapable either
of reply or evasion. This extraordinary enthusiast had preserved over
him in some measure the ascendency which she had acquired during his
childhood; and, besides, he knew the violence of her passions and her
impatience of contradiction, and was sensible that almost any reply
which he could make, was likely to throw her into an ecstasy of rage.
He was therefore silent; and Magdalen Graeme proceeded with increasing
enthusiasm in her apostrophe--"Once more, what seek'st thou, false
boy?--seek'st thou the honour thou hast renounced, the faith thou hast
abandoned, the hopes thou hast destroyed?--Or didst thou seek me, the
sole protectress of thy youth, the only parent whom thou hast known,
that thou mayest trample on my gray hairs, even as thou hast already
trampled on the best wishes of my heart?"

"Pardon me, mother," said Roland Graeme; "but, in truth and reason,
I deserve not your blame. I have been treated amongst you--even by
yourself, my revered parent, as well as by others--as one who lacked the
common attributes of free-will and human reason, or was at least deemed
unfit to exercise them. A land of enchantment have I been led into, and
spells have been cast around me--every one has met me in disguise--every
one has spoken to me in parables--I have been like one who walks in a
weary and bewildering dream; and now you blame me that I have not the
sense, and judgment, and steadiness of a waking, and a disenchanted, and
a reasonable man, who knows what he is doing, and wherefore he does it.
If one must walk with masks and spectres, who waft themselves from place
to place as it were in vision rather than reality, it might shake the
soundest faith and turn the wisest head. I sought, since I must needs
avow my folly, the same Catherine Seyton with whom you made me first
acquainted, and whom I most strangely find in this village of Kinross,
gayest among the revellers, when I had but just left her in the
well-guarded castle of Lochleven, the sad attendant of an imprisoned
Queen-I sought her, and in her place I find you, my mother, more
strangely disguised than even she is."

"And what hadst thou to do with Catherine Seyton?" said the matron,
sternly; "is this a time or a world to follow maidens, or to dance
around a Maypole? When the trumpet summons every true-hearted Scotsman
around the standard of the true sovereign, shalt thou be found loitering
in a lady's bower?"

"No, by Heaven, nor imprisoned in the rugged walls of an island castle!"
answered Roland Graeme: "I would the blast were to sound even now, for I
fear that nothing less loud will dispel the chimerical visions by which
I am surrounded."

"Doubt not that it will be winded," said the matron, "and that so
fearfully loud, that Scotland will never hear the like until the last
and loudest blast of all shall announce to mountain and to valley that
time is no more. Meanwhile, be thou but brave and constant--Serve God
and honour thy sovereign--Abide by thy religion--I cannot--I will
not--I dare not ask thee the truth of the terrible surmises I have heard
touching thy falling away--perfect not that accursed sacrifice--and yet,
even at this late hour, thou mayest be what I have hoped for the son
of my dearest hope--what say I? the son of _my_ hope--thou shalt be the
hope of Scotland, her boast and her honour!--Even thy wildest and most
foolish wishes may perchance be fulfilled--I might blush to mingle
meaner motives with the noble guerdon I hold out to thee--It shames me,
being such as I am, to mention the idle passions of youth, save with
contempt and the purpose of censure. But we must bribe children to
wholesome medicine by the offer of cates, and youth to honourable
achievement with the promise of pleasure. Mark me, therefore, Roland.
The love of Catherine Seyton will follow him only who shall achieve the
freedom of her mistress; and believe, it may be one day in thine own
power to be that happy lover. Cast, therefore, away doubt and fear, and
prepare to do what religion calls for, what thy country demands of thee,
what thy duty as a subject and as a servant alike require at your hand;
and be assured, even the idlest or wildest wishes of thy heart will be
most readily attained by following the call of thy duty."

As she ceased speaking, a double knock was heard against the inner door.
The matron hastily adjusting her muffler, and resuming her chair by the
hearth, demanded who was there.

"_Salve in nomine sancto_," was answered from without.

"_Salvete et vos_," answered Magdalen Graeme.

And a man entered in the ordinary dress of a nobleman's retainer,
wearing at his girdle a sword and buckler--"I sought you," said he, "my
mother, and him whom I see with you." Then addressing himself to Roland
Graeme, he said to him, "Hast thou not a packet from George Douglas?"

"I have," said the page, suddenly recollecting that which had been
committed to his charge in the morning, "but I may not deliver it to any
one without some token that they have a right to ask it."

"You say well," replied the serving-man, and whispered into his ear,
"The packet which I ask is the report to his father--will this token
suffice?"

"It will," replied the page, and taking the packet from his bosom, gave
it to the man.

"I will return presently," said the serving-man, and left the cottage.

Roland had now sufficiently recovered his surprise to accost his
relative in turn, and request to know the reason why he found her in
so precarious a disguise, and a place so dangerous--"You cannot be
ignorant," he said, "of the hatred that the Lady of Lochleven bears to
those of your--that is of our religion--your present disguise lays you
open to suspicion of a different kind, but inferring no less hazard;
and whether as a Catholic, or as a sorceress, or as a friend to the
unfortunate Queen, you are in equal danger, if apprehended within the
bounds of the Douglas; and in the chamberlain who administers their
authority, you have, for his own reasons, an enemy, and a bitter one."

"I know it," said the matron, her eyes kindling with triumph; "I know
that, vain of his school-craft, and carnal wisdom, Luke Lundin views
with jealousy and hatred the blessings which the saints have conferred
on my prayers, and on the holy relics, before the touch, nay, before the
bare presence of which, disease and death have so often been known to
retreat.--I know he would rend and tear me; but there is a chain and
a muzzle on the ban dog that shall restrain his fury, and the Master's
servant shall not be offended by him until the Master's work is wrought.
When that hour comes, let the shadows of the evening descend on me in
thunder and in tempest; the time shall be welcome that relieves my eyes
from seeing guilt, and my ears from listening to blasphemy. Do thou but
be constant--play thy part as I have played and will play mine, and my
release shall be like that of a blessed martyr whose ascent to heaven
angels hail with psalm and song, while earth pursues him with hiss and
with execration."

As she concluded, the serving-man again entered the cottage, and said,
"All is well! the time holds for to-morrow night."

"What time? what holds?" exclaimed Roland Graeme; "I trust I have given
the Douglas's packet to no wrong--"

"Content yourself, young man," answered the serving-man; "thou hast my
word and token."

"I know not if the token be right," said the page; "and I care not much
for the word of a stranger."

"What," said the matron, "although thou mayest have given a packet
delivered to thy charge by one of the Queen's rebels into the hand of
a loyal subject--there were no great mistake in that, thou hot-brained
boy!"

"By Saint Andrew, there were foul mistake, though," answered the page;
"it is the very spirit of my duty, in this first stage of chivalry,
to be faithful to my trust; and had the devil given me a message to
discharge, I would not (so I had plighted my faith to the contrary)
betray his counsel to an angel of light."

"Now, by the love I once bore thee," said the matron, "I could slay thee
with mine own hand, when I hear thee talk of a dearer faith being due to
rebels and heretics, than thou owest to thy church and thy prince!"

"Be patient, my good sister," said the serving-man; "I will give him
such reasons as shall counterbalance the scruples which beset
him---the spirit is honourable, though now it may be mistimed and
misplaced.--Follow me, young man."

"Ere I go to call this stranger to a reckoning," said the page to the
matron, "is there nothing I can do for your comfort and safety?"

"Nothing," she replied, "nothing, save what will lead more to thine own
honour;--the saints who have protected me thus far, will lend me succour
as I need it. Tread the path of glory that is before thee, and only
think of me as the creature on earth who will be most delighted to hear
of thy fame.--Follow the stranger--he hath tidings for you that you
little expect."

The stranger remained on the threshold as if waiting for Roland, and as
soon as he saw him put himself in motion, he moved on before at a quick
pace. Diving still deeper down the lane, Roland perceived that it was
now bordered by buildings upon the one side only, and that the other
was fenced by a high old wall, over which some trees extended their
branches. Descending a good way farther, they came to a small door in
the wall. Roland's guide paused, looked around an instant to see if any
one were within sight, then taking a key from his pocket, opened the
door and entered, making a sign to Roland Graeme to follow him. He did
so, and the stranger locked the door carefully on the inside. During
this operation the page had a moment to look around, and perceived that
he was in a small orchard very trimly kept.

The stranger led him through an alley or two, shaded by trees loaded
with summer-fruit, into a pleached arbour, where, taking the turf-seat
which was on the one side, he motioned to Roland to occupy that
which was opposite to him, and, after a momentary silence, opened the
conversation as follows: "You have asked a better warrant than the word
of a mere stranger, to satisfy you that I have the authority of George
of Douglas for possessing myself of the packet intrusted to your
charge."

"It is precisely the point on which I demand reckoning of you," said
Roland. "I fear I have acted hastily; if so, I must redeem my error as I
best may."

"You hold me then as a perfect stranger?" said the man. "Look at my face
more attentively, and see if the features do not resemble those of a man
much known to you formerly."

Roland gazed attentively; but the ideas recalled to his mind were so
inconsistent with the mean and servile dress of the person before him,
that he did not venture to express the opinion which he was irresistibly
induced to form.

"Yes, my son," said the stranger, observing his embarrassment, "you
do indeed see before you the unfortunate Father Ambrosius, who once
accounted his ministry crowned in your preservation from the snares of
heresy, but who is now condemned to lament thee as a castaway!"

Roland Graeme's kindness of heart was at least equal to his vivacity
of temper--he could not bear to see his ancient and honoured master and
spiritual guide in a situation which inferred a change of fortune so
melancholy, but throwing himself at his feet, grasped his knees and wept
aloud.

"What mean these tears, my son?" said the Abbot; "if they are shed for
your own sins and follies, surely they are gracious showers, and may
avail thee much--but weep not, if they fall on my account. You indeed
see the Superior of the community of Saint Mary's in the dress of a poor
sworder, who gives his master the use of his blade and buckler, and,
if needful, of his life, for a coarse livery coat and four marks by the
year. But such a garb suits the time, and, in the period of the church
militant, as well becomes her prelates, as staff, mitre, and crosier, in
the days of the church's triumph."

"By what fate," said the page--"and yet why," added he, checking
himself, "need I ask? Catherine Seyton in some sort prepared me for
this. But that the change should be so absolute--the destruction so
complete!"--

"Yes, my son," said the Abbot Ambrosius, "thine own eyes beheld, in my
unworthy elevation to the Abbot's stall, the last especial act of holy
solemnity which shall be seen in the church of Saint Mary's, until it
shall please Heaven to turn back the captivity of the church. For the
present, the shepherd is smitten--ay, well-nigh to the earth--the
flock are scattered, and the shrines of saints and martyrs, and pious
benefactors to the church, are given to the owls of night, and the
satyrs of the desert."

"And your brother, the Knight of Avenel--could he do nothing for your
protection?"

"He himself hath fallen under the suspicion of the ruling powers," said
the Abbot, "who are as unjust to their friends as they are cruel to
their enemies. I could not grieve at it, did I hope it might estrange
him from his cause; but I know the soul of Halbert, and I rather fear
it will drive him to prove his fidelity to their unhappy cause, by some
deed which may be yet more destructive to the church, and more offensive
to Heaven. Enough of this; and now to the business of our meeting.--I
trust you will hold it sufficient if I pass my word to you that the
packet of which you were lately the bearer, was designed for my hands by
George of Douglas?"

"Then," said the page, "is George of Douglas----"

"A true friend to his Queen, Roland; and will soon, I trust, have his
eyes opened to the errors of his (miscalled) church."

"But what is he to his father, and what to the Lady of Lochleven, who
has been as a mother to him?" said the page impatiently.

"The best friend to both, in time and through eternity," said the Abbot,
"if he shall prove the happy instrument for redeeming the evil they have
wrought, and are still working."

"Still," said the page, "I like not that good service which begins in
breach of trust."

"I blame not thy scruples, my son," said the Abbot; "but the time which
has wrenched asunder the allegiance of Christians to the church, and of
subjects to their king, has dissolved all the lesser bonds of society;
and, in such days, mere human ties must no more restrain our progress,
than the brambles and briers which catch hold of his garments, should
delay the path of a pilgrim who travels to pay his vows."

"But, my father,"--said the youth, and then stopt short in a hesitating
manner.

"Speak on, my son," said the Abbot; "speak without fear."

"Let me not offend you then," said Roland, "when I say, that it is
even this which our adversaries charge against us; when they say that,
shaping the means according to the end, we are willing to commit great
moral evil in order that we may work out eventual good."

"The heretics have played their usual arts on you, my son," said the
Abbot; "they would willingly deprive us of the power of acting wisely
and secretly, though their possession of superior force forbids our
contending with them on terms of equality. They have reduced us to a
state of exhausted weakness, and now would fain proscribe the means by
which weakness, through all the range of nature, supplies the lack of
strength and defends itself against its potent enemies. As well might
the hound say to the hare, use not these wily turns to escape me, but
contend with me in pitched battle, as the armed and powerful heretic
demand of the down-trodden and oppressed Catholic to lay aside the
wisdom of the serpent, by which alone they may again hope to raise
up the Jerusalem over which they weep, and which it is their duty to
rebuild--But more of this hereafter. And now, my son, I command thee
on thy faith to tell me truly and particularly what has chanced to thee
since we parted, and what is the present state of thy conscience. Thy
relation, our sister Magdalen, is a woman of excellent gifts, blessed
with a zeal which neither doubt nor danger can quench; but yet it is
not a zeal altogether according to knowledge; wherefore, my son, I would
willingly be myself thy interrogator, and thy counsellor, in these days
of darkness and stratagem."

With the respect which he owed to his first instructor, Roland Graeme
went rapidly through the events which the reader is acquainted with; and
while he disguised not from the prelate the impression which had
been made on his mind by the arguments of the preacher Henderson, he
accidentally and almost involuntarily gave his Father Confessor to
understand the influence which Catherine Seyton had acquired over his
mind.

"It is with joy I discover, my dearest son," replied the Abbot, "that
I have arrived in time to arrest thee on the verge of the precipice to
which thou wert approaching. These doubts of which you complain, are the
weeds which naturally grow up in a strong soil, and require the careful
hand of the husbandman to eradicate them. Thou must study a little
volume, which I will impart to thee in fitting time, in which, by Our
Lady's grace, I have placed in somewhat a clearer light than heretofore,
the points debated betwixt us and these heretics, who sow among the
wheat the same tares which were formerly privily mingled with the good
seed by the Albigenses and the Lollards. But it is not by reason alone
that you must hope to conquer these insinuations of the enemy: It is
sometimes by timely resistance, but oftener by timely flight. You
must shut your ears against the arguments of the heresiarch, when
circumstances permit you not to withdraw the foot from his company.
Anchor your thoughts upon the service of Our Lady, while he is expending
in vain his heretical sophistry. Are you unable to maintain your
attention on heavenly objects--think rather on thine own earthly
pleasures, than tempt Providence and the Saints by giving an attentive
ear to the erring doctrine--think of thy hawk, thy hound, thine angling
rod, thy sword and buckler--think even of Catherine Seyton, rather than
give thy soul to the lessons of the tempter. Alas! my son, believe not
that, worn out with woes, and bent more by affliction than by years, I
have forgotten the effect of beauty over the heart of youth. Even in
the watches of the night, broken by thoughts of an imprisoned Queen, a
distracted kingdom, a church laid waste and ruinous, come other thoughts
than these suggest, and feelings which belonged to an earlier and
happier course of life. Be it so--we must bear our load as we may: and
not in vain are these passions implanted in our breast, since, as now
in thy case, they may come in aid of resolutions founded upon higher
grounds. Yet beware, my son--this Catherine Seyton is the daughter of
one of Scotland's proudest, as well as most worthy barons; and thy state
may not suffer thee, as yet, to aspire so high. But thus it is--Heaven
works its purposes through human folly; and Douglas's ambitious
affection, as well as thine, shall contribute alike to the desired end."

"How, my father," said the page, "my suspicions are then true!--Douglas
loves----"

"He does; and with a love as much misplaced as thine own; but beware of
him--cross him not--thwart him not."

"Let him not cross or thwart me," said the page; "for I will not yield
him an inch of way, had he in his body the soul of every Douglas
that has lived since the time of the Dark Gray Man." [Footnote: By an
ancient, though improbable tradition, the Douglasses are said to have
derived their name from a champion who had greatly distinguished himself
in an action. When the king demanded by whom the battle had been won,
the attendants are said to have answered, "Sholto Douglas, sir;" which
is said to mean, "Yonder dark gray man." But the name is undoubtedly
territorial, and taken from Douglas river and vale.]

"Nay, have patience, idle boy, and reflect that your suit can never
interfere with his.--But a truce with these vanities, and let us better
employ the little space which still remains to us to spend together. To
thy knees, my son, and resume the long-interrupted duty of confession,
that, happen what may, the hour may find in thee a faithful Catholic,
relieved from the guilt of his sins by authority of the Holy Church.
Could I but tell thee, Roland, the joy with which I see thee once more
put thy knee to its best and fittest use! _Quid dicis, mi fili?_"

"_Culpas meas_" answered the youth; and according to the ritual of the
Catholic Church, he confessed and received absolution, to which was
annexed the condition of performing certain enjoined penances.

When this religious ceremony was ended, an old man, in the dress of
a peasant of the better order, approached the arbour, and greeted the
Abbot.--"I have waited the conclusion of your devotions," he said, "to
tell you the youth is sought after by the chamberlain, and it were well
he should appear without delay. Holy Saint Francis, if the halberdiers
were to seek him here, they might sorely wrong my garden-plot--they are
in office, and reck not where they tread, were each step on jessamine
and clovegilly-flowers."

"We will speed him forth, my brother," said the Abbot; "but alas! is it
possible that such trifles should live in your mind at a crisis so awful
as that which is now impending?"

"Reverend father," answered the proprietor of the garden, for such he
was, "how oft shall I pray you to keep your high counsel for high minds
like your own? What have you required of me, that I have not granted
unresistingly, though with an aching heart?"

"I would require of you to be yourself, my brother," said the Abbot
Ambrosius; "to remember what you were, and to what your early vows have
bound you."

"I tell thee, Father Ambrosius," replied the gardener, "the patience of
the best saint that ever said pater-noster, would be exhausted by the
trials to which you have put mine--What I have been, it skills not
to speak at present-no one knows better than yourself, father, what I
renounced, in hopes to find ease and quiet during the remainder of
my days--and no one better knows how my retreat has been invaded, my
fruit-trees broken, my flower-beds trodden down, my quiet frightened
away, and my very sleep driven from my bed, since ever this poor Queen,
God bless her, hath been sent to Lochleven.--I blame her not; being a
prisoner, it is natural she should wish to get out from so vile a hold,
where there is scarcely any place even for a tolerable garden, and where
the water-mists, as I am told, blight all the early blossoms--I say, I
cannot blame her for endeavouring for her freedom; but why I should be
drawn into the scheme--why my harmless arbours, that I planted with my
own hands, should become places of privy conspiracy-why my little quay,
which I built for my own fishing boat, should have become a haven for
secret embarkations--in short, why I should be dragged into matters
where both heading and hanging are like to be the issue, I profess to
you, reverend father, I am totally ignorant."

"My brother," answered the Abbot, "you are wise, and ought to know--"

"I am not--I am not--I am not wise," replied the horticulturist,
pettishly, and stopping his ears with his fingers--"I was never called
wise but when men wanted to engage me in some action of notorious
folly."

"But, my good brother," said the Abbot--

"I am not good neither," said the peevish gardener; "I am neither good
nor wise--Had I been wise, you would not have been admitted here; and
were I good, methinks I should send you elsewhere to hatch plots for
destroying the quiet of the country. What signifies disputing about
queen or king,--when men may sit at peace--_sub umbra vitis sui?_ and so
would I do, after the precept of Holy Writ, were I, as you term me, wise
or good. But such as I am, my neck is in the yoke, and you make me draw
what weight you list.--Follow me, youngster. This reverend father, who
makes in his jackman's dress nearly as reverend a figure as I myself,
will agree with me in one thing at least, and that is, that you have
been long enough here."

"Follow the good father, Roland," said the Abbot, "and remember my
words--a day is approaching that will try the temper of all true
Scotsmen--may thy heart prove faithful as the steel of thy blade!"

The page bowed in silence, and they parted; the gardener,
notwithstanding his advanced age, walking on before him very briskly,
and muttering as he went, partly to himself, partly to his companion,
after the manner of old men of weakened intellects--"When I was great,"
thus ran his maundering, "and had my mule and my ambling palfrey at
command, I warrant you I could have as well flown through the air
as have walked at this pace. I had my gout and my rheumatics, and an
hundred things besides, that hung fetters on my heels; and, now, thanks
to Our Lady, and honest labour, I can walk with any good man of my age
in the kingdom of Fife--Fy upon it, that experience should be so long in
coming!"

As he was thus muttering, his eye fell upon the branch of a pear-tree
which drooped down for want of support, and at once forgetting his
haste, the old man stopped and set seriously about binding it up.
Roland Graeme had both readiness, neatness of hand, and good nature in
abundance; he immediately lent his aid, and in a minute or two the bough
was supported, and tied up in a way perfectly satisfactory to the old
man, who looked at it with great complaisance. "They are bergamots,"
he said, "and if you will come ashore in autumn, you shall taste of
them--the like are not in Lochleven Castle--the garden there is a poor
pin-fold, and the gardener, Hugh Houkham, hath little skill of his
craft--so come ashore, Master Page, in autumn, when you would eat pears.
But what am I thinking of--ere that time come, they may have given thee
sour pears for plums. Take an old man's advice, youth, one who hath seen
many days, and sat in higher places than thou canst hope for--bend thy
sword into a pruning-hook, and make a dibble of thy dagger--thy days
shall be the longer, and thy health the better for it,--and come to
aid me in my garden, and I will teach thee the real French fashion of
_imping_, which the Southron call graffing. Do this, and do it without
loss of time, for there is a whirlwind coming over the land, and only
those shall escape who lie too much beneath the storm to have their
boughs broken by it."

So saying, he dismissed Roland Graeme, through a different door
from that by which he had entered, signed a cross, and pronounced a
benedicite as they parted, and then, still muttering to himself, retired
into the garden, and locked the door on the inside.



Chapter the Twenty-Ninth.


  Pray God she prove not masculine ere long!
                        KING HENRY VI.

Dismissed from the old man's garden, Roland Graeme found that a grassy
paddock, in which sauntered two cows, the property of the gardener,
still separated him from the village. He paced through it, lost in
meditation upon the words of the Abbot. Father Ambrosius had, with
success enough, exerted over him that powerful influence which the
guardians and instructors of our childhood possess over our more mature
youth. And yet, when Roland looked back upon what the father had said,
he could not but suspect that he had rather sought to evade entering
into the controversy betwixt the churches, than to repel the objections
and satisfy the doubts which the lectures of Henderson had excited.
"For this he had no time," said the page to himself, "neither have I now
calmness and learning sufficient to judge upon points of such magnitude.
Besides, it were base to quit my faith while the wind of fortune sets
against it, unless I were so placed, that my conversion, should it take
place, were free as light from the imputation of self-interest. I was
bred a Catholic--bred in the faith of Bruce and Wallace--I will hold
that faith till time and reason shall convince me that it errs. I
will serve this poor Queen as a subject should serve an imprisoned
and wronged sovereign--they who placed me in her service have to blame
themselves--who sent me hither, a gentleman trained in the paths of
loyalty and honour, when they should have sought out some truckling,
cogging, double-dealing knave, who would have been at once the observant
page of the Queen, and the obsequious spy of her enemies. Since I must
choose betwixt aiding and betraying her, I will decide as becomes her
servant and her subject; but Catherine Seyton--Catherine Seyton, beloved
by Douglas and holding me on or off as the intervals of her leisure or
caprice will permit--how shall I deal with the coquette?--By heaven,
when I next have an opportunity, she shall render me some reason for her
conduct, or I will break with her for ever!"

As he formed this doughty resolution, he crossed the stile which led out
of the little enclosure, and was almost immediately greeted by Dr. Luke
Lundin.

"Ha! my most excellent young friend," said the Doctor, "from whence come
you?--but I note the place.--Yes, neighbour Blinkhoolie's garden is a
pleasant rendezvous, and you are of the age when lads look after a bonny
lass with one eye, and a dainty plum with another. But hey! you look
subtriste and melancholic--I fear the maiden has proved cruel, or the
plums unripe; and surely I think neighbour Blinkhoolie's damsons can
scarcely have been well preserved throughout the winter--he spares the
saccharine juice on his confects. But courage, man, there are more Kates
in Kinross; and for the immature fruit, a glass of my double distilled
_aqua mirabilis--probatum est_."

The page darted an ireful glance at the facetious physician; but
presently recollecting that the name Kate, which had provoked his
displeasure, was probably but introduced for the sake of alliteration,
he suppressed his wrath, and only asked if the wains had been heard of?

"Why, I have been seeking for you this hour, to tell you that the stuff
is in your boat, and that the boat waits your pleasure. Auchtermuchty
had only fallen into company with an idle knave like himself, and a
stoup of aquavitae between them. Your boatmen lie on their oars, and
there have already been made two wefts from the warder's turret to
intimate that those in the castle are impatient for your return. Yet
there is time for you to take a slight repast; and, as your friend and
physician, I hold it unfit you should face the water-breeze with an
empty stomach."

Roland Graeme had nothing for it but to return, with such cheer as he
might, to the place where his boat was moored on the beach, and resisted
all offer of refreshment, although the Doctor promised that he should
prelude the collation with a gentle appetizer--a decoction of herbs,
gathered and distilled by himself. Indeed, as Roland had not forgotten
the contents of his morning cup, it is possible that the recollection
induced him to stand firm in his refusal of all food, to which such
an unpalatable preface was the preliminary. As they passed towards the
boat, (for the ceremonious politeness of the worthy Chamberlain would
not permit the page to go thither without attendance,) Roland Graeme,
amidst a group who seemed to be assembled around a party of wandering
musicians, distinguished, as he thought, the dress of Catherine Seyton.
He shook himself clear from his attendant, and at one spring was in
the midst of the crowd, and at the side of the damsel. "Catherine," he
whispered, "is it well for you to be still here?--will you not return to
the castle?"

"To the devil with your Catherines and your castles!" answered the
maiden, snappishly; "have you not had time enough already to get rid of
your follies? Begone! I desire not your farther company, and there will
be danger in thrusting it upon me."

"Nay--but if there be danger, fairest Catherine," replied Roland; "why
will you not allow me to stay and share it with you?"

"Intruding fool," said the maiden, "the danger is all on thine own
side--the risk in, in plain terms, that I strike thee on the mouth with
the hilt of my dagger." So saying, she turned haughtily from him,
and moved through the crowd, who gave way in some astonishment at the
masculine activity with which she forced her way among them.

As Roland, though much irritated, prepared to follow, he was grappled
on the other side by Doctor Luke Lundin, who reminded him of the loaded
boat, of the two wefts, or signals with the flag, which had been made
from the tower, of the danger of the cold breeze to an empty stomach,
and of the vanity of spending more time upon coy wenches and sour plums.
Roland was thus, in a manner, dragged back to his boat, and obliged to
launch her forth upon his return to Lochleven Castle.

That little voyage was speedily accomplished, and the page was
greeted at the landing-place by the severe and caustic welcome of old
Dryfesdale. "So, young gallant, you are come at last, after a delay of
six hours, and after two signals from the castle? But, I warrant, some
idle junketing hath occupied you too deeply to think of your service
or your duty. Where is the note of the plate and household stuff?--Pray
Heaven it hath not been diminished under the sleeveless care of so young
a gad-about!"

"Diminished under my care, Sir Steward!" retorted the page angrily; "say
so in earnest, and by Heaven your gray hair shall hardly protect your
saucy tongue!"

"A truce with your swaggering, young esquire," returned the steward; "we
have bolts and dungeons for brawlers. Go to my lady, and swagger before
her, if thou darest--she will give thee proper cause of offence, for she
has waited for thee long and impatiently."

"And where then is the Lady of Lochleven?" said the page; "for I
conceive it is of her thou speakest."

"Ay--of whom else?" replied Dryfesdale; "or who besides the Lady of
Lochleven hath a right to command in this castle?"

"The Lady of Lochleven is thy mistress," said Roland Graeme; "but mine
is the Queen of Scotland."

The steward looked at him fixedly for a moment, with an air in which
suspicion and dislike were ill concealed by an affectation of contempt.
"The bragging cock-chicken," he said, "will betray himself by his rash
crowing. I have marked thy altered manner in the chapel of late--ay, and
your changing of glances at meal-time with a certain idle damsel, who,
like thyself, laughs at all gravity and goodness. There is something
about you, my master, which should be looked to. But, if you would
know whether the Lady of Lochleven, or that other lady, hath a right
to command thy service, thou wilt find them together in the Lady Mary's
ante-room."

Roland hastened thither, not unwilling to escape from the ill-natured
penetration of the old man, and marvelling at the same time what
peculiarity could have occasioned the Lady of Lochleven's being in the
Queen's apartment at this time of the afternoon, so much contrary to
her usual wont. His acuteness instantly penetrated the meaning. "She
wishes," he concluded, "to see the meeting betwixt the Queen and me
on my return, that she may form a guess whether there is any private
intelligence or understanding betwixt us--I must be guarded."

With this resolution he entered the parlour, where the Queen, seated
in her chair, with the Lady Fleming leaning upon the back of it, had
already kept the Lady of Lochleven standing in her presence for the
space of nearly an hour, to the manifest increase of her very visible
bad humour. Roland Graeme, on entering the apartment, made a deep
obeisance to the Queen, and another to the Lady, and then stood still as
if to await their farther question. Speaking almost together, the Lady
Lochleven said, "So, young man, you are returned at length?"

And then stopped indignantly short, while the Queen went on without
regarding her--"Roland, you are welcome home to us--you have proved the
true dove and not the raven--Yet I am sure I could have forgiven you,
if, once dismissed, from this water-circled ark of ours, you had never
again returned to us. I trust you have brought back an olive-branch, for
our kind and worthy hostess has chafed herself much on account of
your long absence, and we never needed more some symbol of peace and
reconciliation."

"I grieve I should have been detained, madam," answered the page; "but
from the delay of the person intrusted with the matters for which I was
sent, I did not receive them till late in the day."

"See you there now," said the Queen to the Lady Lochleven; "we could not
persuade you, our dearest hostess, that your household goods were in all
safe keeping and surety. True it is, that we can excuse your anxiety,
considering that these august apartments are so scantily furnished, that
we have not been able to offer you even the relief of a stool during the
long time you have afforded us the pleasure of your society."

"The will, madam," said the lady, "the will to offer such accommodation
was more wanting than the means."

"What!" said the Queen, looking round, and affecting surprise, "there
are then stools in this apartment--one, two--no less than four,
including the broken one--a royal garniture!--We observed them not--will
it please your ladyship to sit?"

"No, madam, I will soon relieve you of my presence," replied the Lady
Lochleven; "and while with you, my aged limbs can still better brook
fatigue, than my mind stoop to accept of constrained courtesy."

"Nay, Lady of Lochleven, if you take it so deeply," said the Queen,
rising and motioning to her own vacant chair, "I would rather you
assumed my seat--you are not the first of your family who has done so."

The Lady of Lochleven curtsied a negative, but seemed with much
difficulty to suppress the angry answer which rose to her lips.

During this sharp conversation, the page's attention had been almost
entirely occupied by the entrance of Catherine Seyton, who came from
the inner apartment, in the usual dress in which she attended upon the
Queen, and with nothing in her manner which marked either the hurry or
confusion incident to a hasty change of disguise, or the conscious fear
of detection in a perilous enterprise. Roland Graeme ventured to make
her an obeisance as she entered, but she returned it with an air of the
utmost indifference, which, in his opinion, was extremely
inconsistent with the circumstances in which they stood towards each
other.--"Surely," he thought, "she cannot in reason expect to bully me
out of the belief due to mine own eyes, as she tried to do concerning
the apparition in the hostelry of Saint Michael's--I will try if
I cannot make her feel that this will be but a vain task, and that
confidence in me is the wiser and safer course to pursue."

These thoughts had passed rapidly through his mind, when the Queen,
having finished her altercation with the Lady of the castle, again
addressed him--"What of the revels at Kinross, Roland Graeme? Methought
they were gay, if I may judge from some faint sounds of mirth and
distant music, which found their way so far as these grated windows,
and died when they entered them, as all that is mirthful must--But
thou lookest as sad as if thou hadst come from a conventicle of the
Huguenots!"

"And so perchance he hath, madam," replied the Lady of Lochleven, at
whom this side-shaft was lanched. "I trust, amid yonder idle fooleries,
there wanted not some pouring forth of doctrine to a better purpose than
that vain mirth, which, blazing and vanishing like the crackling of dry
thorns, leaves to the fools who love it nothing but dust and ashes."

"Mary Fleming," said the Queen, turning round and drawing her mantle
about her, "I would that we had the chimney-grate supplied with a fagot
or two of these same thorns which the Lady of Lochleven describes so
well. Methinks the damp air from the lake, which stagnates in these
vaulted rooms, renders them deadly cold."

"Your Grace's pleasure shall be obeyed," said the Lady of Lochleven;
"yet may I presume to remind you that we are now in summer?"

"I thank you for the information, my good lady," said the Queen; "for
prisoners better learn their calender from the mouth of their jailor,
than from any change they themselves feel in the seasons.--Once more,
Roland Graeme, what of the revels?"

"They were gay, madam," said the page, "but of the usual sort, and
little worth your Highness's ear."

"Oh, you know not," said the Queen, "how very indulgent my ear has
become to all that speaks of freedom and the pleasures of the free.
Methinks I would rather have seen the gay villagers dance their ring
round the Maypole, than have witnessed the most stately masques within
the precincts of a palace. The absence of stone-wall--the sense that the
green turf is under the foot which may tread it free and unrestrained,
is worth all that art or splendour can add to more courtly revels."

"I trust," said the Lady Lochleven, addressing the page in her turn,
"there were amongst these follies none of the riots or disturbances to
which they so naturally lead?"

Roland gave a slight glance to Catherine Seyton, as if to bespeak her
attention, as he replied,--"I witnessed no offence, madam, worthy of
marking--none indeed of any kind, save that a bold damsel made her
hand somewhat too familiar with the cheek of a player-man, and ran some
hazard of being ducked in the lake."

As he uttered these words he cast a hasty glance at Catherine; but she
sustained, with the utmost serenity of manner and countenance, the hint
which he had deemed could not have been thrown out before her without
exciting some fear and confusion.

"I will cumber your Grace no longer with my presence," said the Lady
Lochleven, "unless you have aught to command me."

"Nought, our good hostess," answered the Queen, "unless it be to pray
you, that on another occasion you deem it not needful to postpone your
better employment to wait so long upon us."

"May it please you," added the Lady Lochleven, "to command this your
gentleman to attend us, that I may receive some account of these matters
which have been sent hither for your Grace's use?"

"We may not refuse what you are pleased to require, madam," answered the
Queen. "Go with the lady, Roland, if our commands be indeed necessary
to thy doing so. We will hear to-morrow the history of thy Kinross
pleasures. For this night we dismiss thy attendance."

Roland Graeme went with the Lady of Lochleven, who failed not to ask
him many questions concerning what had passed at the sports, to which he
rendered such answers as were most likely to lull asleep any suspicions
which she might entertain of his disposition to favour Queen Mary,
taking especial care to avoid all allusion to the apparition of Magdalen
Graeme, and of the Abbot Ambrosius. At length, after undergoing a long
and somewhat close examination, he was dismissed with such expressions,
as, coming from the reserved and stern Lady of Lochleven, might seem to
express a degree of favour and countenance.

His first care was to obtain some refreshment, which was more cheerfully
afforded him by a good-natured pantler than by Dryfesdale, who was, on
this occasion, much disposed to abide by the fashion of Pudding-burn
House, where

  They who came not the first call.
  Gat no more meat till the next meal.

When Roland Graeme had finished his repast, having his dismissal from
the Queen for the evening, and being little inclined for such society
as the castle afforded, he stole into the garden, in which he had
permission to spend his leisure time, when it pleased him. In this
place, the ingenuity of the contriver and disposer of the walks had
exerted itself to make the most of little space, and by screens, both
of stone ornamented with rude sculpture, and hedges of living green, had
endeavoured to give as much intricacy and variety as the confined limits
of the garden would admit.

Here the young man walked sadly, considering the events of the day,
and comparing what had dropped from the Abbot with what he had himself
noticed of the demeanour of George Douglas. "It must be so," was the
painful but inevitable conclusion at which he arrived. "It must be by
his aid that she is thus enabled, like a phantom, to transport herself
from place to place, and to appear at pleasure on the mainland or on
the islet.--It must be so," he repeated once more; "with him she holds a
close, secret, and intimate correspondence, altogether inconsistent with
the eye of favour which she has sometimes cast upon me, and destructive
to the hopes which she must have known these glances have necessarily
inspired." And yet (for love will hope where reason despairs) the
thought rushed on his mind, that it was possible she only encouraged
Douglas's passion so far as might serve her mistress's interest, and
that she was of too frank, noble, and candid a nature, to hold out
to himself hopes which she meant not to fulfil. Lost in these various
conjectures, he seated himself upon a bank of turf which commanded a
view of the lake on the one side, and on the other of that front of the
castle along which the Queen's apartments were situated.

The sun had now for some time set, and the twilight of May was rapidly
fading into a serene night. On the lake, the expanded water rose and
fell, with the slightest and softest influence of a southern breeze,
which scarcely dimpled the surface over which it passed. In the distance
was still seen the dim outline of the island of Saint Serf, once visited
by many a sandalled pilgrim, as the blessed spot trodden by a man of
God--now neglected or violated, as the refuge of lazy priests, who had
with justice been compelled to give place to the sheep and the heifers
of a Protestant baron.

As Roland gazed on the dark speck, amid the lighter blue of the waters
which surrounded it, the mazes of polemical discussion again stretched
themselves before the eye of the mind. Had these men justly suffered
their exile as licentious drones, the robbers, at once, and disgrace, of
the busy hive? or had the hand of avarice and rapine expelled from
the temple, not the ribalds who polluted, but the faithful priests who
served the shrine in honour and fidelity? The arguments of Henderson,
in this contemplative hour, rose with double force before him; and could
scarcely be parried by the appeal which the Abbot Ambrosius had made
from his understanding to his feelings,--an appeal which he had felt
more forcibly amid the bustle of stirring life, than now when his
reflections were more undisturbed. It required an effort to divert his
mind from this embarrassing topic; and he found that he best succeeded
by turning his eyes to the front of the tower, watching where a
twinkling light still streamed from the casement of Catherine Seyton's
apartment, obscured by times for a moment as the shadow of the fair
inhabitant passed betwixt the taper and the window. At length the light
was removed or extinguished, and that object of speculation was also
withdrawn from the eyes of the meditative lover. Dare I confess the
fact, without injuring his character for ever as a hero of romance?
These eyes gradually became heavy; speculative doubts on the subject of
religious controversy, and anxious conjectures concerning the state of
his mistress's affections, became confusedly blended together in
his musings; the fatigues of a busy day prevailed over the harassing
subjects of contemplation which occupied his mind, and he fell fast
asleep.

Sound were his slumbers, until they were suddenly dispelled by the iron
tongue of the castle-bell, which sent its deep and sullen sounds wide
over the bosom of the lake, and awakened the echoes of Bennarty, the
hill which descends steeply on its southern bank. Roland started up, for
this bell was always tolled at ten o'clock, as the signal for locking
the castle gates, and placing the keys under the charge of the
seneschal. He therefore hastened to the wicket by which the garden
communicated with the building, and had the mortification, just as he
reached it, to hear the bolt leave its sheath with a discordant crash,
and enter the stone groove of the door-lintel. "Hold, hold," cried the
page, "and let me in ere you lock the wicket." The voice of Dryfesdale
replied from within, in his usual tone of embittered sullenness,
"The hour is passed, fair master--you like not the inside of these
walls--even make it a complete holiday, and spend the night as well as
the day out of bounds."

"Open the door," exclaimed the indignant page, "or by Saint Giles I will
make thy gold chain smoke for it!"

"Make no alarm here," retorted the impenetrable Dryfesdale, "but keep
thy sinful oaths and silly threats for those that regard them--I do mine
office, and carry the keys to the seneschal.--Adieu, my young master!
the cool night air will advantage your hot blood."

The steward was right in what he said; for the cooling breeze was very
necessary to appease the feverish fit of anger which Roland experienced,
nor did the remedy succeed for some time. At length, after some hasty
turns made through the garden, exhausting his passion in vain vows of
vengeance, Roland Graeme began to be sensible that his situation ought
rather to be held as matter of laughter than of serious resentment. To
one bred a sportsman, a night spent in the open air had in it little of
hardship, and the poor malice of the steward seemed more worthy of his
contempt than his anger. "I would to God," he said, "that the grim old
man may always have contented himself with such sportive revenge. He
often looks as he were capable of doing us a darker turn." Returning,
therefore, to the turf-seat which he had formerly occupied, and which
was partially sheltered by a trim fence of green holly, he drew his
mantle around him, stretched himself at length on the verdant settle,
and endeavoured to resume that sleep which the castle bell had
interrupted to so little purpose.

Sleep, like other earthly blessings, is niggard of its favours when most
courted. The more Roland invoked her aid, the farther she fled from his
eyelids. He had been completely awakened, first, by the sounds of the
bell, and then by his own aroused vivacity of temper, and he found
it difficult again to compose himself to slumber. At length, when his
mind--was wearied out with a maze of unpleasing meditation, he succeeded
in coaxing himself into a broken slumber. This was again dispelled by
the voices of two persons who were walking in the garden, the sound of
whose conversation, after mingling for some time in the page's dreams,
at length succeeded in awaking him thoroughly. He raised himself from
his reclining posture in the utmost astonishment, which the circumstance
of hearing two persons at that late hour conversing on the outside of
the watchfully guarded Castle of Lochloven, was so well calculated to
excite. His first thought was of supernatural beings; his next, upon
some attempt on the part of Queen Mary's friends and followers; his last
was, that George of Douglas, possessed of the keys, and having the means
of ingress and egress at pleasure, was availing himself of his office
to hold a rendezvous with Catherine Seyton in the castle garden. He was
confirmed in this opinion by the tone of the voice, which asked in a low
whisper, "whether all was ready?"



Chapter the Thirtieth.


  In some breasts passion lies conceal'd and silent,
  Like war's swart powder in a castle vault,
  Until occasion, like the linstock, lights it:
  Then comes at once the lightning--and the thunder,
  And distant echoes tell that all is rent asunder.
                                 OLD PLAY.

Roland Graeme, availing himself of a breach in the holly screen, and
of the assistance of the full moon, which was now arisen, had a perfect
opportunity, himself unobserved, to reconnoitre the persons and the
motions of those by whom his rest had been thus unexpectedly disturbed;
and his observations confirmed his jealous apprehensions. They stood
together in close and earnest conversation within four yards of the
place of his retreat, and he could easily recognize the tall form and
deep voice of Douglas, and the no less remarkable dress and tone of the
page at the hostelry of Saint Michael's.

"I have been at the door of the page's apartment," said Douglas, "but he
is not there, or he will not answer. It is fast bolted on the inside, as
is the custom, and we cannot pass through it--and what his silence may
bode I know not."

"You have trusted him too far," said the other; "a feather-headed
cox-comb, upon whose changeable mind and hot brain there is no making an
abiding impression."

"It was not I who was willing to trust him," said Douglas, "but I was
assured he would prove friendly when called upon--for----" Here he
spoke so low that Roland lost the tenor of his words, which was the
more provoking, as he was fully aware that he was himself the subject of
their conversation.

"Nay," replied the stranger, more aloud, "I have on my side put him off
with fair words, which make fools vain--but now, if you distrust him at
the push, deal with him with your dagger, and so make open passage."

"That were too rash," said Douglas; "and besides, as I told you, the
door of his apartment is shut and bolted. I will essay again to waken
him."

Graeme instantly comprehended, that the ladies, having been somehow made
aware of his being in the garden, had secured the door of the outer room
in which he usually slept, as a sort of sentinel upon that only access
to the Queen's apartments. But then, how came Catherine Seyton to
be abroad, if the Queen and the other lady were still within their
chambers, and the access to them locked and bolted?--"I will be
instantly at the bottom of these mysteries," he said, "and then thank
Mistress Catherine, if this be really she, for the kind use which she
exhorted Douglas to make of his dagger--they seek me, as I comprehend,
and they shall not seek me in vain."

Douglas had by this time re-entered the castle by the wicket, which was
now open. The stranger stood alone in the garden walk, his arms folded
on his breast, and his eyes cast impatiently up to the moon, as if
accusing her of betraying him by the magnificence of her lustre. In
a moment Roland Graeme stood before him--"A goodly night," he said,
"Mistress Catherine, for a young lady to stray forth in disguise, and to
meet with men in an orchard!"

"Hush!" said the stranger page, "hush, thou foolish patch, and tell us
in a word if thou art friend or foe."

"How should I be friend to one who deceives me by fair words, and who
would have Douglas deal with me with his poniard?" replied Roland.

"The fiend receive George of Douglas and thee too, thou born madcap and
sworn marplot!" said the other; "we shall be discovered, and then death
is the word."

"Catherine," said the page, "you have dealt falsely and cruelly with
me, and the moment of explanation is now come--neither it nor you shall
escape me."

"Madman!" said the stranger, "I am neither Kate nor Catherine--the moon
shines bright enough surely to know the hart from the hind."

"That shift shall not serve you, fair mistress," said the page, laying
hold on the lap of the stranger's cloak; "this time, at least, I will
know with whom I deal."

"Unhand me," said she, endeavouring to extricate herself from his grasp;
and in a tone where anger seemed to contend with a desire to laugh, "use
you so little discretion towards a daughter of Seyton?"

But as Roland, encouraged perhaps by her risibility to suppose his
violence was not unpardonably offensive, kept hold on her mantle,
she said, in a sterner tone of unmixed resentment,--"Madman! let me
go!--there is life and death in this moment--I would not willingly hurt
thee, and yet beware!"

As she spoke she made a sudden effort to escape, and, in doing so, a
pistol, which she carried in her hand or about her person, went off.

This warlike sound instantly awakened the well-warded castle. The warder
blew his horn, and began to toll the castle bell, crying out at the same
time, "Fie, treason! treason! cry all! cry all!"

The apparition of Catherine Seyton, which the page had let loose in the
first moment of astonishment, vanished in darkness; but the plash of
oars was heard, and, in a second or two, five or six harquebuses and a
falconet were fired from the battlements of the castle successively,
as if levelled at some object on the water. Confounded with these
incidents, no way for Catherine's protection (supposing her to be in the
boat which he had heard put from the shore) occurred to Roland, save to
have recourse to George of Douglas. He hastened for this purpose
towards the apartment of the Queen, whence he heard loud voices and much
trampling of feet. When he entered, he found himself added to a confused
and astonished group, which, assembled in that apartment, stood gazing
upon each other. At the upper end of the room stood the Queen, equipped
as for a journey, and--attended not only by the Lady Fleming, but by the
omnipresent Catherine Seyton, dressed in the habit of her own sex, and
bearing in her hand the casket in which Mary kept such jewels as she had
been permitted to retain. At the other end of the hall was the Lady of
Lochleven, hastily dressed, as one startled from slumber by the sudden
alarm, and surrounded by domestics, some bearing torches, others holding
naked swords, partisans, pistols, or such other weapons as they had
caught up in the hurry of a night alarm. Betwixt these two parties stood
George of Douglas, his arms folded on his breast, his eyes bent on
the ground, like a criminal who knows not how to deny, yet continues
unwilling to avow, the guilt in which he has been detected.

"Speak, George of Douglas," said the Lady of Lochleven; "speak, and
clear the horrid suspicion which rests on thy name. Say, 'A Douglas was
never faithless to his trust, and I am a Douglas.' Say this, my dearest
son, and it is all I ask thee to say to clear thy name, even under, such
a foul charge. Say it was but the wile of these unhappy women, and this
false boy, which plotted an escape so fatal to Scotland--so destructive
to thy father's house."

"Madam," said old Dryfesdale the steward, "this much do I say for this
silly page, that he could not be accessary to unlocking the doors, since
I myself this night bolted him out of the castle. Whoever limned this
night-piece, the lad's share in it seems to have been small."

"Thou liest, Dryfesdale," said the Lady, "and wouldst throw the blame on
thy master's house, to save the worthless life of a gipsy boy."

"His death were more desirable to me than his life," answered the
steward, sullenly; "but the truth is the truth."

At these words Douglas raised his head, drew up his figure to its full
height, and spoke boldly and sedately, as one whose resolution was
taken. "Let no life be endangered for me. I alone----"

"Douglas," said the Queen, interrupting him, "art thou mad? Speak not, I
charge you."

"Madam," he replied, bowing with the deepest respect, "gladly would I
obey your commands, but they must have a victim, and let it be the true
one.--Yes, madam," he continued, addressing the Lady of Lochleven, "I
alone am guilty in this matter. If the word of a Douglas has yet any
weight with you, believe me that this boy is innocent; and on your
conscience I charge you, do him no wrong; nor let the Queen suffer
hardship for embracing the opportunity of freedom which sincere
loyalty--which a sentiment yet deeper--offered to her acceptance. Yes!
I had planned the escape of the most beautiful, the most persecuted of
women; and far from regretting that I, for a while, deceived the malice
of her enemies, I glory in it, and am most willing to yield up life
itself in her cause."

"Now may God have compassion on my age," said the Lady of Lochleven,
"and enable me to bear this load of affliction! O Princess, born in a
luckless hour, when will you cease to be the instrument of seduction and
of ruin to all who approach you? O ancient house of Lochleven, famed so
long for birth and honour, evil was the hour which brought the deceiver
under thy roof!"

"Say not so, madam," replied her grandson; "the old honours of the
Douglas line will be outshone, when one of its descendants dies for the
most injured of queens--for the most lovely of women."

"Douglas," said the Queen, "must I at this moment--ay, even at this
moment, when I may lose a faithful subject for ever, chide thee for
forgetting what is due to me as thy Queen?"

"Wretched boy," said the distracted Lady of Lochleven, "hast thou
fallen even thus far into the snare of this Moabitish woman?--hast thou
bartered thy name, thy allegiance, thy knightly oath, thy duty to thy
parents, thy country, and thy God, for a feigned tear, or a sickly
smile, from lips which flattered the infirm Francis--lured to death the
idiot Darnley--read luscious poetry with the minion Chastelar--mingled
in the lays of love which were sung by the beggar Rizzio--and which were
joined in rapture to those of the foul and licentious Bothwell?"

"Blaspheme not, madam!" said Douglas;--"nor you, fair Queen, and
virtuous as fair, chide at this moment the presumption of thy
vassal!--Think not that the mere devotion of a subject could have moved
me to the part I have been performing. Well you deserve that each of
your lieges should die for you; but I have done more--have done that to
which love alone could compel a Douglas--I have dissembled. Farewell,
then, Queen of all hearts, and Empress of that of Douglas!--When you are
freed from this vile bondage--as freed you shall be, if justice remains
in Heaven--and when you load with honours and titles the happy man
who shall deliver you, cast one thought on him whose heart would have
despised every reward for a kiss of your hand--cast one thought on his
fidelity, and drop one tear on his grave." And throwing himself at her
feet, he seized her hand, and pressed it to his lips.

"This before my face!" exclaimed the Lady of Lochleven--"wilt thou court
thy adulterous paramour before the eyes of a parent?--Tear them asunder,
and put him under strict ward! Seize him, upon your lives!" she added,
seeing that her attendants looked at each other with hesitation.

"They are doubtful," said Mary. "Save thyself, Douglas, I command thee!"

He started up from the floor, and only exclaiming, "My life or death are
yours, and at your disposal!"--drew his sword, and broke through those
who stood betwixt him and the door. The enthusiasm of his onset was too
sudden and too lively to have been opposed by any thing short of the
most decided opposition; and as he was both loved and feared by his
father's vassals, none of them would offer him actual injury.

The Lady of Lochleven stood astonished at his sudden escape--"Am I
surrounded," she said, "by traitors? Upon him, villains!--pursue, stab,
cut him down."

"He cannot leave the island, madam," said Dryfesdale, interfering; "I
have the key of the boat-chain."

But two or three voices of those who pursued from curiosity, or command
of their mistress, exclaimed from below, that he had cast himself into
the lake.

"Brave Douglas still!" exclaimed the Queen--"Oh, true and noble heart,
that prefers death to imprisonment!"

"Fire upon him!" said the Lady of Lochleven; "if there be here a true
servant of his father, let him shoot the runagate dead, and let the lake
cover our shame!"

The report of a gun or two was heard, but they were probably shot rather
to obey the Lady, than with any purpose of hitting the mark; and Randal
immediately entering, said that Master George had been taken up by a
boat from the castle, which lay at a little distance.

"Man a barge, and pursue them!" said the Lady.

"It were quite vain," said Randal; "by this time they are half way to
shore, and a cloud has come over the moon."

"And has the traitor then escaped?" said the Lady, pressing her hands
against her forehead with a gesture of despair; "the honour of our
house is for ever gone, and all will be deemed accomplices in this base
treachery."

"Lady of Lochleven," said Mary, advancing towards her, "you have this
night cut off my fairest hopes--You have turned my expected freedom
into bondage, and dashed away the cup of joy in the very instant I was
advancing it to my lips--and yet I feel for your sorrow the pity that
you deny to mine--Gladly would I comfort you if I might; but as I may
not, I would at least part from you in charity."

"Away, proud woman!" said the Lady; "who ever knew so well as thou
to deal the deepest wounds under the pretence of kindness and
courtesy?--Who, since the great traitor, could ever so betray with a
kiss?"

"Lady Douglas of Lochleven," said the Queen, "in this moment thou canst
not offend me--no, not even by thy coarse and unwomanly language, held
to me in the presence of menials and armed retainers. I have this night
owed so much to one member of the house of Lochleven, as to cancel
whatever its mistress can do or say in the wildness of her passion."

"We are bounden to you, Princess," said Lady Lochleven, putting a strong
constraint on herself, and passing from her tone of violence to that
of bitter irony; "our poor house hath been but seldom graced with royal
smiles, and will hardly, with my choice, exchange their rough honesty
for such court-honour as Mary of Scotland has now to bestow."

"They," replied Mary, "who knew so well how to _take_, may think
themselves excused from the obligation implied in receiving. And that
I have now little to offer, is the fault of the Douglasses and their
allies."

"Fear nothing, madam," replied the Lady of Lochleven, in the same bitter
tone, "you retain an exchequer which neither your own prodigality can
drain, nor your offended country deprive you of. While you have fair
words and delusive smiles at command, you need no other bribes to lure
youth to folly."

The Queen cast not an ungratified glance on a large mirror, which,
hanging on one side of the apartment, and illuminated by the
torch-light, reflected her beautiful face and person. "Our hostess grows
complaisant," she said, "my Fleming; we had not thought that grief and
captivity had left us so well stored with that sort of wealth which
ladies prize most dearly."

"Your Grace will drive this severe woman frantic," said Fleming, in
a low tone. "On my knees I implore you to remember she is already
dreadfully offended, and that we are in her power."

"I will not spare her, Fleming," answered the Queen; "it is against my
nature. She returned my honest sympathy with insult and abuse, and I
will gall her in return,--if her words are too blunt for answer, let her
use her poniard if she dare!"

"The Lady Lochleven," said the Lady Fleming aloud, "would surely do well
now to withdraw, and to leave her Grace to repose."

"Ay," replied the Lady, "or to leave her Grace, and her Grace's minions,
to think what silly fly they may next wrap their meshes about. My eldest
son is a widower--were he not more worthy the flattering hopes with
which you have seduced his brother?--True, the yoke of marriage has been
already thrice fitted on--but the church of Rome calls it a sacrament,
and its votaries may deem it one in which they cannot too often
participate."

"And the votaries of the church of Geneva," replied Mary, colouring with
indignation, "as they deem marriage _no_ sacrament, are said at times
to dispense with the holy ceremony."--Then, as if afraid of the
consequences of this home allusion to the errors of Lady Lochleven's
early life, the Queen added, "Come, my Fleming, we grace her too much
by this altercation; we will to our sleeping apartment. If she would
disturb us again to-night, she must cause the door to be forced." So
saying, she retired to her bed-room, followed by her two women.

Lady Lochleven, stunned as it were by this last sarcasm, and not the
less deeply incensed that she had drawn it upon herself, remained like
a statue on the spot which she had occupied when she received an
affront so flagrant. Dryfesdale and Randal endeavoured to rouse her to
recollection by questions.

"What is your honourable Ladyship's pleasure in the premises?"

"Shall we not double the sentinels, and place one upon the boats and
another in the garden?" said Randal.

"Would you that despatches were sent to Sir William at Edinburgh, to
acquaint him with what has happened?" demanded Dryfesdale; "and ought
not the place of Kinross to be alarmed, lest there be force upon the
shores of the lake?"

"Do all as thou wilt," said the Lady, collecting herself, and about
to depart. "Thou hast the name of a good soldier, Dryfesdale, take all
precautions.--Sacred Heaven! that I should be thus openly insulted!"

"Would it be your pleasure," said Dryfesdale, hesitating, "that this
person--this Lady--be more severely restrained?"

"No, vassal!" answered the Lady, indignantly, "my revenge stoops not to
so low a gratification. But I will have more worthy vengeance, or the
tomb of my ancestors shall cover my shame!"

"And you shall have it, madam," replied Dryfesdale--"ere two suns go
down, you shall term yourself amply revenged."

The Lady made no answer--perhaps did not hear his words, as she
presently left the apartment. By the command of Dryfesdale, the rest of
the attendants were dismissed, some to do the duty of guard, others to
their repose. The steward himself remained after they had all departed;
and Roland Graeme, who was alone in the apartment, was surprised to see
the old soldier advance towards him with an air of greater cordiality
than he had ever before assumed to him, but which sat ill on his
scowling features.

"Youth," he said, "I have done thee some wrong--it is thine own fault,
for thy behaviour hath seemed as light to me as the feather thou wearest
in thy hat; and surely thy fantastic apparel, and idle humour of mirth
and folly, have made me construe thee something harshly. But I saw this
night from my casement, (as I looked out to see how thou hadst disposed
of thyself in the garden,) I saw, I say, the true efforts which thou
didst make to detain the companion of the perfidy of him who is no
longer worthy to be called by his father's name, but must be cut off
from his house like a rotten branch. I was just about to come to thy
assistance when the pistol went off; and the warder (a false knave, whom
I suspect to be bribed for the nonce) saw himself forced to give the
alarm, which, perchance, till then he had wilfully withheld. To atone,
therefore, for my injustice towards you, I would willingly render you a
courtesy, if you would accept of it from my hands."

"May I first crave to know what it is?" replied the page.

"Simply to carry the news of this discovery to Holyrood, where thou
mayest do thyself much grace, as well with the Earl of Morton and the
Regent himself, as with Sir William Douglas, seeing thou hast seen the
matter from end to end, and borne faithful part therein. The making
thine own fortune will be thus lodged in thine own hand, when I trust
thou wilt estrange thyself from foolish vanities, and learn to walk in
this world as one who thinks upon the next."

"Sir Steward," said Roland Graeme, "I thank you for your courtesy, but I
may not do your errand. I pass that I am the Queen's sworn servant, and
may not be of counsel against her. But, setting this apart, methinks it
were a bad road to Sir William of Lochleven's favour, to be the first to
tell him of his son's defection--neither would the Regent be over well
pleased to hear the infidelity of his vassal, nor Morton to learn the
falsehood of his kinsman."

"Um!" said the steward, making that inarticulate sound which expresses
surprise mingled with displeasure. "Nay, then, even fly where ye list;
for, giddy-pated as ye may be, you know how to bear you in the world."

"I will show you my esteem is less selfish than ye think for," said
the page; "for I hold truth and mirth to be better than gravity and
cunning--ay, and in the end to be a match for them.--You never loved me
less, Sir Steward, than you do at this moment. I know you will give me
no real confidence, and I am resolved to accept no false protestations
as current coin. Resume your old course--suspect me as much and watch
me as closely as you will, I bid you defiance--you have met with your
match."

"By Heaven, young man," said the steward, with a look of bitter
malignity, "if thou darest to attempt any treachery towards the House of
Lochleven, thy head shall blacken in the sun from the warder's turret!"

"He cannot commit treachery who refuses trust," said the page; "and for
my head, it stands as securely on my shoulders, as on any turret that
ever mason built."

"Farewell, thou prating and speckled pie," said Dryfesdale, "that art
so vain of thine idle tongue and variegated coat! Beware trap and
lime-twig."

"And fare thee well, thou hoarse old raven," answered the page;
"thy solemn flight, sable hue, and deep croak, are no charms against
bird-bolt or hail-shot, and that thou mayst find--it is open war betwixt
us, each for the cause of our mistress, and God show the right!"

"Amen, and defend his own people!" said the steward. "I will let my
mistress know what addition thou hast made to this mess of traitors.
Good night, Monsieur Featherpate."

"Good-night, Seignior Sowersby," replied the page; and, when the old man
departed, he betook himself to rest.



Chapter the Thirty-First.


  Poison'd--ill fare!--dead, forsook, cast off!--
                                  KING JOHN.

However weary Roland Graeme might be of the Castle of Lochleven--however
much he might wish that the plan for Mary's escape had been perfected,
I question if he ever awoke with more pleasing feelings than on the
morning after George Douglas's plan for accomplishing her deliverance
had been frustrated. In the first place, he had the clearest conviction
that he had misunderstood the innuendo of the Abbot, and that the
affections of Douglas were fixed, not on Catherine Seyton, but on the
Queen; and in the second place, from the sort of explanation which had
taken place betwixt the steward and him, he felt himself at liberty,
without any breach of honour towards the family of Lochleven, to
contribute his best aid to any scheme which should in future be formed
for the Queen's escape; and, independently of the good-will which he
himself had to the enterprise, he knew he could find no surer road to
the favour of Catherine Seyton. He now sought but an opportunity to
inform her that he had dedicated himself to this task, and fortune was
propitious in affording him one which was unusually favourable.

At the ordinary hour of breakfast, it was introduced by the steward with
his usual forms, who, as soon as it was placed on the board in the inner
apartment, said to Roland Graeme, with a glance of sarcastic import, "I
leave you, my young sir, to do the office of sewer--it has been too long
rendered to the Lady Mary by one belonging to the house of Douglas."

"Were it the prime and principal who ever bore the name," said Roland,
"the office were an honour to him."

The steward departed without replying to this bravade, otherwise than
by a dark look of scorn. Graeme, thus left alone, busied himself as one
engaged in a labour of love, to imitate, as well as he could, the
grace and courtesy with which George of Douglas was wont to render his
ceremonial service at meals to the Queen of Scotland. There was more
than youthful vanity--there was a generous devotion in the feeling with
which he took up the task, as a brave soldier assumes the place of a
comrade who has fallen in the front of battle. "I am now," he said,
"their only champion: and, come weal, come wo, I will be, to the best
of my skill and power, as faithful, as trustworthy, as brave, as any
Douglas of them all could have been."

At this moment Catherine Seyton entered alone, contrary to her custom;
and not less contrary to her custom, she entered with her kerchief
at her eyes. Roland Graeme approached her with beating heart and with
down-cast eyes, and asked her, in a low and hesitating voice, whether
the Queen were well?

"Can you suppose it?" said Catherine. "Think you her heart and body are
framed of steel and iron, to endure the cruel disappointment of yester
even, and the infamous taunts of yonder puritanic hag?--Would to God
that I were a man, to aid her more effectually!"

"If those who carry pistols, and batons, and poniards," said the page,
"are not men, they are at least Amazons; and that is as formidable."

"You are welcome to the flash of your wit, sir," replied the damsel; "I
am neither in spirits to enjoy, nor to reply to it."

"Well, then," said the page, "list to me in all serious truth. And,
first, let me say, that the gear last night had been smoother, had you
taken me into your counsels."

"And so we meant; but who could have guessed that Master Page should
choose to pass all night in the garden, like some moon-stricken knight
in a Spanish romance--instead of being in his bed-room, when Douglas
came to hold communication with him on our project."

"And why," said the page, "defer to so late a moment so important a
confidence?"

"Because your communications with Henderson, and--with pardon--the
natural impetuosity and fickleness of your disposition, made us dread to
entrust you with a secret of such consequence, till the last moment."

"And why at the last moment?" said the page, offended at this frank
avowal; "why at that, or any other moment, since I had the misfortune to
incur so much suspicion?"

"Nay--now you are angry again," said Catherine; "and to serve you aright
I should break off this talk; but I will be magnanimous, and answer your
question. Know, then, our reason for trusting you was twofold. In the
first place, we could scarce avoid it, since you slept in the room
through which we had to pass. In the second place----"

"Nay," said the page, "you may dispense with a second reason, when the
first makes your confidence in me a case of necessity."

"Good now, hold thy peace," said Catherine. "In the second place, as
I said before, there is one foolish person among us, who believes that
Roland Graeme's heart is warm, though his head is giddy--that his blood
is pure, though it boils too hastily--and that his faith and honour
are true as the load-star, though his tongue sometimes is far less than
discreet."

This avowal Catherine repeated in a low tone, with her eye fixed on the
floor, as if she shunned the glance of Roland while she suffered it
to escape her lips--"And this single friend," exclaimed the youth in
rapture; "this only one who would do justice to the poor Roland Graeme,
and whose own generous heart taught her to distinguish between follies
of the brain and faults of the heart--Will you not tell me, dearest
Catherine, to whom I owe my most grateful, my most heartfelt thanks?"

"Nay," said Catherine, with her eyes still fixed on the ground, "if your
own heart tell you not----"

"Dearest Catherine!" said the page, seizing upon her hand, and kneeling
on one knee.

"If your own heart, I say, tell you not," said Catherine, gently
disengaging her hand, "it is very ungrateful; for since the maternal
kindness of the Lady Fleming----"

The page started on his feet. "By Heaven, Catherine, your tongue wears
as many disguises as your person! But you only mock me, cruel girl.
You know the Lady Fleming has no more regard for any one, than hath the
forlorn princess who is wrought into yonder piece of old figured court
tapestry."

"It may be so," said Catherine Seyton, "but you should not speak so
loud."

"Pshaw!" answered the page, but at the same time lowering his voice,
"she cares for no one but herself and the Queen. And you know, besides,
there is no one of you whose opinion I value, if I have not your own.
No--not that of Queen Mary herself."

"The more shame for you, if it be so," said Catherine, with great
composure.

"Nay, but, fair Catherine," said the page, "why will you thus damp my
ardour, when I am devoting myself, body and soul, to the cause of your
mistress?"

"It is because in doing so," said Catherine, "you debase a cause so
noble, by naming along with it any lower or more selfish motive. Believe
me," she said, with kindling eyes, and while the blood mantled on her
cheek, "they think vilely and falsely of women--I mean of those who
deserve the name--who deem that they love the gratification of their
vanity, or the mean purpose of engrossing a lover's admiration and
affection, better than they love the virtue and honour of the man they
may be brought to prefer. He that serves his religion, his prince, and
his country, with ardour and devotion, need not plead his cause with the
commonplace rant of romantic passion--the woman whom he honours with his
love becomes his debtor, and her corresponding affection is engaged to
repay his glorious toil."

"You hold a glorious prize for such toil," said the youth, bending his
eyes on her with enthusiasm.

"Only a heart which knows how to value it," said Catherine. "He that
should free this injured Princess from these dungeons, and set her at
liberty among her loyal and warlike nobles, whose hearts are burning
to welcome her--where is the maiden in Scotland whom the love of such a
hero would not honour, were she sprung from the blood royal of the land,
and he the offspring of the poorest cottager that ever held a plough?"

"I am determined," said Roland, "to take the adventure. Tell me first,
however, fair Catherine, and speak it as if you were confessing to the
priest--this poor Queen, I know she is unhappy--but, Catherine, do you
hold her innocent? She is accused of murder."

"Do I hold the lamb guilty, because it is assailed by the wolf?"
answered Catherine; "do I hold yonder sun polluted, because an
earth-damp sullies his beams?"

The page sighed and looked down. "Would my conviction were as deep
as thine! But one thing is clear, that in this captivity she hath
wrong--She rendered herself up, on a capitulation, and the terms have
been refused her--I will embrace her quarrel to the death!"

"Will you--will you, indeed?" said Catherine, taking his hand in her
turn. "Oh, be but firm in mind, as thou art bold in deed and quick in
resolution; keep but thy plighted faith, and after ages shall honour
thee as the saviour of Scotland!"

"But when I have toiled successfully to win that Leah, Honour, thou wilt
not, my Catherine," said the page, "condemn me to a new term of service
for that Rachel, Love?"

"Of that," said Catherine, again extricating her hand from his grasp,
"we shall have full time to speak; but Honour is the elder sister, and
must be won the first."

"I may not win her," answered the page; "but I will venture fairly for
her, and man can do no more. And know, fair Catherine,--for you shall
see the very secret thought of my heart,--that not Honour only--not
only that other and fairer sister, whom you frown on me for so much as
mentioning--but the stern commands of duty also, compel me to aid the
Queen's deliverance."

"Indeed!" said Catherine; "you were wont to have doubts on that matter."

"Ay, but her life was not then threatened," replied Roland.

"And is it now more endangered than heretofore?" asked Catherine Seyton,
in anxious terror.

"Be not alarmed," said the page; "but you heard the terms on which your
royal mistress parted with the Lady of Lochleven?"

"Too well--but too well," said Catherine; "alas! that she cannot rule
her princely resentment, and refrain from encounters like these!"

"That hath passed betwixt them," said Roland, "for which woman never
forgives woman. I saw the Lady's brow turn pale, and then black, when,
before all the menzie, and in her moment of power, the Queen humbled her
to the dust by taxing her with her shame. And I heard the oath of deadly
resentment and revenge which she muttered in the ear of one, who by his
answer will, I judge, be but too ready an executioner of her will."

"You terrify me," said Catherine.

"Do not so take it--call up the masculine part of your spirit--we will
counteract and defeat her plans, be they dangerous as they may. Why do
you look upon me thus, and weep?"

"Alas!" said Catherine, "because you stand there before me a living and
breathing man, in all the adventurous glow and enterprise of youth, yet
still possessing the frolic spirits of childhood--there you stand, full
alike of generous enterprise and childish recklessness; and if to-day,
or to-morrow, or some such brief space, you lie a mangled and lifeless
corpse upon the floor of these hateful dungeons, who but Catherine
Seyton will be the cause of your brave and gay career being broken short
as you start from the goal? Alas! she whom you have chosen to twine your
wreath, may too probably have to work your shroud!"

"And be it so, Catherine," said the page, in the full glow of youthful
enthusiasm; "and _do_ thou work my shroud! and if thou grace it with
such tears as fall now at the thought, it will honour my remains more
than an earl's mantle would my living body. But shame on this faintness
of heart! the time craves a firmer mood--Be a woman, Catherine, or
rather be a man--thou canst be a man if thou wilt."

Catherine dried her tears, and endeavoured to smile.

"You must not ask me," she said, "about that which so much disturbs
your mind; you shall know all in time--nay, you should know all now, but
that--Hush! here comes the Queen."

Mary entered from her apartment, paler than usual, and apparently
exhausted by a sleepless night, and by the painful thoughts which had
ill supplied the place of repose; yet the languor of her looks was
so far from impairing her beauty, that it only substituted the frail
delicacy of the lovely woman for the majestic grace of the Queen.
Contrary to her wont, her toilette had been very hastily despatched,
and her hair, which was usually dressed by Lady Fleming with great care,
escaping from beneath the headtire, which had been hastily adjusted,
fell in long and luxuriant tresses of Nature's own curling, over a neck
and bosom which were somewhat less carefully veiled than usual.

As she stepped over the threshold of her apartment, Catherine, hastily
drying her tears, ran to meet her royal mistress, and having first
kneeled at her feet, and kissed her hand, instantly rose, and placing
herself on the other side of the Queen, seemed anxious to divide with
the Lady Fleming the honour of supporting and assisting her. The page,
on his part, advanced and put in order the chair of state, which she
usually occupied, and having placed the cushion and footstool for her
accommodation, stepped back, and stood ready for service in the place
usually occupied by his predecessor, the young Seneschal. Mary's
eye rested an instant on him, and could not but remark the change of
persons. Hers was not the female heart which could refuse compassion, at
least, to a gallant youth who had suffered in her cause, although he
had been guided in his enterprise by a too presumptuous passion; and the
words "Poor Douglas!" escaped from her lips, perhaps unconsciously, as
she leant herself back in her chair, and put the kerchief to her eyes.

"Yes, gracious madam," said Catherine, assuming a cheerful manner,
in order to cheer her sovereign, "our gallant Knight is indeed
banished--the adventure was not reserved for him; but he has left behind
him a youthful Esquire, as much devoted to your Grace's service, and
who, by me, makes you tender of his hand and sword."

"If they may in aught avail your Grace," said Roland Graeme, bowing
profoundly.

"Alas!" said the Queen, "what needs this, Catherine?--why prepare new
victims to be involved in, and overwhelmed by, my cruel fortune?--were
we not better cease to struggle, and ourselves sink in the tide without
farther resistance, than thus drag into destruction with us every
generous heart which makes an effort in our favour?--I have had but too
much of plot and intrigue around me, since I was stretched an orphan
child in my very cradle, while contending nobles strove which should
rule in the name of the unconscious innocent. Surely time it were that
all this busy and most dangerous coil should end. Let me call my prison
a convent, and my seclusion a voluntary sequestration of myself from the
world and its ways."

"Speak not thus, madam, before your faithful servants," said Catherine,
"to discourage their zeal at once, and to break their hearts. Daughter
of Kings, be not in this hour so unkingly--Come, Roland, and let us, the
youngest of her followers, show ourselves worthy of her cause--let us
kneel before her footstool, and implore her to be her own magnanimous
self." And leading Roland Graeme to the Queen's seat, they both kneeled
down before her. Mary raised herself in her chair, and sat erect, while,
extending one hand to be kissed by the page, she arranged with the
other the clustering locks which shaded the bold yet lovely brow of the
high-spirited Catherine.

"Alas! _ma mignóne_," she said, for so in fondness she often called her
young attendant, "that you should thus desperately mix with my unhappy
fate the fortune of your young lives!--Are they not a lovely couple,
my Fleming? and is it not heart-rending to think that I must be their
ruin?"

"Not so," said Roland Graeme, "it is we, gracious Sovereign, who will be
your deliverers."

"_Ex oribus parvulorum!_" said the Queen, looking upward; "if it is by
the mouth of these children that Heaven calls me to resume the stately
thoughts which become my birth and my rights, thou wilt grant them thy
protection, and to me the power of rewarding their zeal!"--Then turning
to Fleming, she instantly added,--"Thou knowest, my friend, whether
to make those who have served me happy, was not ever Mary's favourite
pastime. When I have been rebuked by the stern preachers of the
Calvinistic heresy--when I have seen the fierce countenances of my
nobles averted from me, has it not been because I mixed in the harmless
pleasures of the young and gay, and rather for the sake of their
happiness than my own, have mingled in the masque, the song, or the
dance, with the youth of my household? Well, I repent not of it--though
Knox termed it sin, and Morton degradation--I was happy, because I
saw happiness around me; and woe betide the wretched jealousy that can
extract guilt out of the overflowings of an unguarded gaiety!--Fleming,
if we are restored to our throne, shall we not have one blithesome day
at a blithesome bridal, of which we must now name neither the bride
nor the bridegroom? but that bridegroom shall have the barony of
Blairgowrie, a fair gift even for a Queen to give, and that bride's
chaplet shall be twined with the fairest pearls that ever were found
in the depths of Lochlomond; and thou thyself, Mary Fleming, the best
dresser of tires that ever busked the tresses of a Queen, and who would
scorn to touch those of any woman of lower rank,--thou thyself shalt,
for my love, twine them into the bride's tresses.--Look, my Fleming,
suppose them such clustered locks as those of our Catherine, they would
not put shame upon thy skill."

So saying, she passed her hand fondly over the head of her youthful
favourite, while her more aged attendant replied despondently, "Alas!
madam, your thoughts stray far from home."

"They do, my Fleming," said the Queen; "but is it well or kind in you to
call them back?--God knows, they have kept the perch this night but too
closely--Come, I will recall the gay vision, were it but to punish them.
Yes, at that blithesome bridal, Mary herself shall forget the weight
of sorrows, and the toil of state, and herself once more lead a
measure.--At whose wedding was it that we last danced, my Fleming?
I think care has troubled my memory--yet something of it I should
remember--canst thou not aid me?--I know thou canst."

"Alas! madam," replied the lady----

"What!" said Mary, "wilt thou not help us so far? this is a peevish
adherence to thine own graver opinion, which holds our talk as folly.
But thou art court-bred, and wilt well understand me when I say,
the Queen _commands_ Lady Fleming to tell her where she led the last
_branle_."

With a face deadly pale, and a mien as if she were about to sink into
the earth, the court-bred dame, no longer daring to refuse obedience,
faltered out--"Gracious Lady--if my memory err not--it was at a masque
in Holyrood--at the marriage of Sebastian."

The unhappy Queen, who had hitherto listened with a melancholy smile,
provoked by the reluctance with which the Lady Fleming brought out her
story, at this ill-fated word interrupted her with a shriek so wild
and loud that the vaulted apartment rang, and both Roland and Catherine
sprang to their feet in the utmost terror and alarm. Meantime, Mary
seemed, by the train of horrible ideas thus suddenly excited, surprised
not only beyond self-command, but for the moment beyond the verge of
reason.

"Traitress!" she said to the Lady Fleming, "thou wouldst slay thy
sovereign--Call my French guards--_a moi! a moi! mes Français!_--I
am beset with traitors in mine own palace--they have murdered my
husband--Rescue! rescue for the Queen of Scotland!" She started up from
her chair--her features, late so exquisitely lovely in their paleness,
now inflamed with the fury of frenzy, and resembling those of a Bellona.
"We will take the field ourself," she said; "warn the city--warn Lothian
and Fife--saddle our Spanish barb, and bid French Paris see our petronel
be charged!--Better to die at the head of our brave Scotsmen, like our
grandfather at Flodden, than of a broken heart, like our ill-starred
father!"

"Be patient--be composed, dearest Sovereign," said Catherine: and then
addressing Lady Fleming angrily, she added, "How could you say aught
that reminded her of her husband?"

The word reached the ear of the unhappy Princess, who caught it up,
speaking with great rapidity. "Husband!--what husband?--Not his most
Christian Majesty--he is ill at ease--he cannot mount on horseback.--Not
him of the Lennox--but it was the Duke of Orkney thou wouldst say."

"For God's love, madam, be patient!" said the Lady Fleming.

But the Queen's excited imagination could by no entreaty be diverted
from its course. "Bid him come hither to our aid," she said, "and
bring with him his lambs, as he calls them--Bowton, Hay of Talla, Black
Ormiston, and his kinsman Hob--Fie! how swart they are, and how they
smell of sulphur! What! closeted with Morton? Nay, if the Douglas and
the Hepburn hatch the complot together, the bird, when it breaks the
shell, will scare Scotland. Will it not, my Fleming?"

"She grows wilder and wilder," said Fleming; "we have too many hearers
for these strange words."

"Roland," said Catherine, "in the name of God, begone! You cannot aid us
here--Leave us to deal with her alone--Away--away!"

She thrust him to the door of the anteroom; yet even when he had entered
that apartment, and shut the door, he could still hear the Queen talk in
a loud and determined tone, as if giving forth orders, until at length
the voice died away in a feeble and continued lamentation.

At this crisis Catherine entered the anteroom. "Be not too anxious," she
said, "the crisis is now over; but keep the door fast--let no one enter
until she is more composed."

"In the name of God, what does this mean?" said the page; "or what was
there in the Lady Fleming's words to excite so wild a transport?"

"Oh, the Lady Fleming, the Lady Fleming," said Catherine, repeating the
words impatiently; "the Lady Fleming is a fool--she loves her mistress,
yet knows so little how to express her love, that were the Queen to ask
her for very poison, she would deem it a point of duty not to resist
her commands. I could have torn her starched head-tire from her formal
head--The Queen should have as soon had the heart out of my body, as the
word Sebastian out of my lips--That that piece of weaved tapestry should
be a woman, and yet not have wit enough to tell a lie!"

"And what was this story of Sebastian?" said the page. "By Heaven,
Catherine, you are all riddles alike!"

"You are as great a fool as Fleming," returned the impatient maiden;
"know ye not, that on the night of Henry Darnley's murder, and at the
blowing up of the Kirk of Field, the Queen's absence was owing to her
attending on a masque at Holyrood, given by her to grace the marriage of
this same Sebastian, who, himself a favoured servant, married one of her
female attendants, who was near to her person?"

"By Saint Giles," said the page, "I wonder not at her passion, but only
marvel by what forgetfulness it was that she could urge the Lady Fleming
with such a question."

"I cannot account for it," said Catherine; "but it seems as if great
and violent grief and horror sometimes obscure the memory, and spread
a cloud like that of an exploding cannon, over the circumstances with
which they are accompanied. But I may not stay here, where I came not to
moralize with your wisdom, but simply to cool my resentment against that
unwise Lady Fleming, which I think hath now somewhat abated, so that I
shall endure her presence without any desire to damage either her curch
or vasquine. Meanwhile, keep fast that door--I would not for my life
that any of these heretics saw her in the unhappy state, which, brought
on her as it has been by the success of their own diabolical plottings,
they would not stick to call, in their snuffling cant, the judgment of
Providence."

She left the apartment just as the latch of the outward door was
raised from without. But the bolt which Roland had drawn on the inside,
resisted the efforts of the person desirous to enter. "Who is there?"
said Graeme aloud.

"It is I," replied the harsh and yet slow voice of the steward
Dryfesdale.

"You cannot enter now," returned the youth.

"And wherefore?" demanded Dryfesdale, "seeing I come but to do my duty,
and inquire what mean the shrieks from the apartment of the Moabitish
woman. Wherefore, I say, since such is mine errand, can I not enter?"

"Simply," replied the youth, "because the bolt is drawn, and I have no
fancy to undo it. I have the right side of the door to-day, as you had
last night."

"Thou art ill-advised, thou malapert boy," replied the steward, "to
speak to me in such fashion; but I shall inform my Lady of thine
insolence."

"The insolence," said the page, "is meant for thee only, in fair guerdon
of thy discourtesy to me. For thy Lady's information, I have answer more
courteous--you may say that the Queen is ill at ease, and desires to be
disturbed neither by visits nor messages."

"I conjure you, in the name of God," said the old man, with more
solemnity in his tone than he had hitherto used, "to let me know if her
malady really gains power on her!"

"She will have no aid at your hand, or at your Lady's--wherefore,
begone, and trouble us no more--we neither want, nor will accept of, aid
at your hands."

With this positive reply, the steward, grumbling and dissatisfied,
returned down stairs.



Chapter the Thirty-Second.


  It is the curse of kings to be attended
  By slaves, who take their humours for a warrant
  To break into the bloody house of life,
  And on the winking of authority
  To understand a law.
                          KING JOHN.

The Lady of Lochleven sat alone in her chamber, endeavouring with
sincere but imperfect zeal, to fix her eyes and her attention on
the black-lettered Bible which lay before her, bound in velvet and
embroidery, and adorned with massive silver clasps and knosps. But she
found her utmost efforts unable to withdraw her mind from the resentful
recollection of what had last night passed betwixt her and the Queen,
in which the latter had with such bitter taunt reminded her of her early
and long-repented transgression.

"Why," she said, "should I resent so deeply that another reproaches
me with that which I have never ceased to make matter of blushing
to myself? and yet, why should this woman, who reaps--at least, has
reaped--the fruits of my folly, and has jostled my son aside from the
throne, why should she, in the face of all my domestics, and of her own,
dare to upbraid me with my shame? Is she not in my power? Does she not
fear me? Ha! wily tempter, I will wrestle with thee strongly, and with
better suggestions than my own evil heart can supply!"

She again took up the sacred volume, and was endeavouring to fix her
attention on its contents, when she was disturbed by a tap at the
door of the room. It opened at her command, and the steward Dryfesdale
entered, and stood before her with a gloomy and perturbed expression on
his brow.

"What has chanced, Dryfesdale, that thou lookest thus?" said
his mistress--"Have there been evil tidings of my son, or of my
grandchildren?"

"No, Lady," replied Dryfesdale, "but you were deeply insulted last
night, and I fear me thou art as deeply avenged this morning--Where is
the chaplain?"

"What mean you by hints so dark, and a question so sudden? The chaplain,
as you well know, is absent at Perth upon an assembly of the brethren."

"I care not," answered the steward; "he is but a priest of Baal."

"Dryfesdale," said the Lady, sternly, "what meanest thou? I have ever
heard, that in the Low Countries thou didst herd with the Anabaptist
preachers, those boars which tear up the vintage--But the ministry which
suits me and my house must content my retainers."

"I would I had good ghostly counsel, though," replied the steward, not
attending to his mistress's rebuke, and seeming to speak to himself.
"This woman of Moab----"

"Speak of her with reverence," said the Lady; "she is a king's
daughter."

"Be it so," replied Dryfesdale; "she goes where there is little
difference betwixt her and a beggar's child--Mary of Scotland is dying."

"Dying, and in my castle!" said the Lady, starting up in alarm; "of what
disease, or by what accident?"

"Bear patience, Lady. The ministry was mine."

"Thine, villain and traitor!--how didst thou dare----"

"I heard you insulted, Lady--I heard you demand vengeance--I promised
you should have it, and I now bring tidings of it."

"Dryfesdale, I trust thou ravest?" said the Lady.

"I rave not," replied the steward. "That which was written of me a
million of years ere I saw the light, must be executed by me. She hath
that in her veins that, I fear me, will soon stop the springs of life."
"Cruel villain," exclaimed the Lady, "thou hast not poisoned her?" "And
if I had," said Dryfesdale, "what does it so greatly merit? Men bane
vermin--why not rid them of their enemies so? in Italy they will do it
for a cruizuedor."

"Cowardly ruffian, begone from my sight!"

"Think better of my zeal, Lady," said the steward, "and judge not
without looking around you. Lindesay, Ruthven, and your kinsman Morton,
poniarded Rizzio, and yet you now see no blood on their embroidery--the
Lord Semple stabbed the Lord of Sanquhar--does his bonnet sit a jot more
awry on his brow? What noble lives in Scotland who has not had a share,
for policy or revenge, in some such dealing?--and who imputes it to
them? Be not cheated with names--a dagger or a draught work to the
same end, and are little unlike--a glass phial imprisons the one, and a
leathern sheath the other--one deals with the brain, the other sluices
the blood--Yet, I say not I gave aught to this lady."

"What dost thou mean by thus dallying with me?" said the Lady; "as thou
wouldst save thy neck from the rope it merits, tell me the whole truth
of this story-thou hast long been known a dangerous man."

"Ay, in my master's service I can be cold and sharp as my sword. Be it
known to you, that when last on shore, I consulted with a woman of skill
and power, called Nicneven, of whom the country has rung for some brief
time past. Fools asked her for charms to make them beloved, misers for
means to increase their store; some demanded to know the future--an idle
wish, since it cannot be altered; others would have an explanation
of the past--idler still, since it cannot be recalled. I heard their
queries with scorn, and demanded the means of avenging myself of a
deadly enemy, for I grow old, and may trust no longer to Bilboa blade.
She gave me a packet--`Mix that,' said she, `with any liquid, and thy
vengeance is complete.'"

"Villain! and you mixed it with the food of this imprisoned Lady, to the
dishonour of thy master's house?"

"To redeem the insulted honour of my master's house, I mixed the
contents of the packet with the jar of succory-water: They seldom fail
to drain it, and the woman loves it over all."

"It was a work of hell," said the Lady Lochleven, "both the asking and
the granting.--Away, wretched man, let us see if aid be yet too late!"

"They will not admit us, madam, save we enter by force--I have been.
twice at the door, but can obtain no entrance."

"We will beat it level with the ground, if needful--And, hold--summon
Randal hither instantly.--Randal, here is a foul and evil chance
befallen--send off a boat instantly to Kinross, the Chamberlain Luke
Lundin is said to have skill--Fetch off, too, that foul witch Nicneven;
she shall first counteract her own spell, and then be burned to ashes
in the island of Saint Serf. Away, away--Tell them to hoist sail and ply
oar, as ever they would have good of the Douglas's hand!"

"Mother Nicneven will not be lightly found, or fetched hither on these
conditions," answered Dryfesdale.

"Then grant her full assurance of safety--Look to it, for thine own life
must answer for this lady's recovery."

"I might have guessed that," said Dryfesdale, sullenly; "but it is
my comfort I have avenged mine own cause, as well as yours. She hath
scoffed and scripped at me, and encouraged her saucy minion of a page to
ridicule my stiff gait and slow speech. I felt it borne in upon me that
I was to be avenged on them."

"Go to the western turret," said the Lady, "and remain there in
ward until we see how this gear will terminate. I know thy resolved
disposition--thou wilt not attempt escape."

"Not were the walls of the turret of egg-shells, and the lake sheeted
ice," said Dryfesdale. "I am well taught, and strong in belief, that man
does nought of himself; he is but the foam on the billow, which rises,
bubbles, and bursts, not by its own effort, but by the mightier impulse
of fate which urges him. Yet, Lady, if I may advise, amid this zeal for
the life of the Jezebel of Scotland, forget not what is due to thine own
honour, and keep the matter secret as you may."

So saying, the gloomy fatalist turned from her, and stalked off with
sullen composure to the place of confinement allotted to him.

His lady caught at his last hint, and only expressed her fear that the
prisoner had partaken of some unwholesome food, and was dangerously ill.
The castle was soon alarmed and in confusion. Randal was dispatched to
the shore to fetch off Lundin, with such remedies as could counteract
poison; and with farther instructions to bring mother Nicneven, if she
could be found, with full power to pledge the Lady of Lochleven's word
for her safety.

Meanwhile the Lady of Lochleven herself held parley at the door of the
Queen's apartment, and in vain urged the page to undo it.

"Foolish boy!" she said, "thine own life and thy Lady's are at
stake--Open, I say, or we will cause the door to be broken down."

"I may not open the door without my royal mistress's orders," answered
Roland; "she has been very ill, and now she slumbers--if you wake her by
using violence, let the consequence be on you and your followers."

"Was ever woman in a strait so fearful!" exclaimed the Lady of
Lochleven--"At least, thou rash boy, beware that no one tastes the food,
but especially the jar of succory-water."

She then hastened to the turret, where Dryfesdale had composedly
resigned himself to imprisonment. She found him reading, and demanded of
him, "Was thy fell potion of speedy operation?"

"Slow," answered the steward. "The hag asked me which I chose--I
told her I loved a slow and sure revenge. 'Revenge,' said I, 'is the
highest-flavoured draught which man tastes upon earth, and he should sip
it by little and little--not drain it up greedily at once."

"Against whom, unhappy man, couldst thou nourish so fell a revenge?"

"I had many objects, but the chief was that insolent page."

"The boy!--thou inhuman man!" exclaimed the lady; "what could he do to
deserve thy malice?"

"He rose in your favour, and you graced him with your commissions--that
was one thing. He rose in that of George Douglas's also--that was
another. He was the favourite of the Calvinistic Henderson, who hated
me because my spirit disowns a separated priesthood. The Moabitish Queen
held him dear--winds from each opposing point blew in his favour--the
old servitor of your house was held lightly among ye--above all, from
the first time I saw his face, I longed to destroy him."

"What fiend have I nurtured in my house!" replied the Lady. "May God
forgive me the sin of having given thee food and raiment!"

"You might not choose, Lady," answered the steward. "Long ere this
castle was builded--ay, long ere the islet which sustains it reared its
head above the blue water, I was destined to be your faithful slave, and
you to be my ungrateful mistress. Remember you not when I plunged amid
the victorious French, in the time of this lady's mother, and brought
off your husband, when those who had hung at the same breasts with him
dared not attempt the rescue?--Remember how I plunged into the lake when
your grandson's skiff was overtaken by the tempest, boarded, and steered
her safe to the land. Lady--the servant of a Scottish baron is he who
regards not his own life, or that of any other, save his master. And,
for the death of the woman, I had tried the potion on her sooner,
had not Master George been her taster. Her death--would it not be the
happiest news that Scotland ever heard? Is she not of the bloody Guisian
stock, whose sword was so often red with the blood of God's saints? Is
she not the daughter of the wretched tyrant James, whom Heaven cast
down from his kingdom, and his pride, even as the king of Babylon was
smitten?"

"Peace, villain!" said the Lady--a thousand varied recollections
thronging on her mind at the mention of her royal lover's name; "Peace,
and disturb not the ashes of the dead--of the royal, of the unhappy
dead. Read thy Bible; and may God grant thee to avail thyself better of
its contents than thou hast yet done!" She departed hastily, and as she
reached the next apartment, the tears rose in her eyes so hastily, that
she was compelled to stop and use her kerchief to dry them. "I expected
not this," she said, "no more than to have drawn water from the dry
flint, or sap from a withered tree. I saw with a dry eye the apostacy
and shame of George Douglas, the hope of my son's house--the child of my
love; and yet I now weep for him who has so long lain in his grave--for
him to whom I owe it that his daughter can make a scoffing and a jest of
my name! But she is _his_ daughter--my heart, hardened against her
for so many causes, relents when a glance of her eye places her father
unexpectedly before me--and as often her likeness to that true daughter
of the house of Guise, her detested mother, has again confirmed my
resolution. But she must not--must not die in my house, and by so foul
a practice. Thank God, the operation of the potion is slow, and may be
counteracted. I will to her apartment once more. But oh! that hardened
villain, whose fidelity we held in such esteem, and had such high proof
of! What miracle can unite so much wickedness and so much truth in one
bosom!"

The Lady of Lochleven was not aware how far minds of a certain gloomy
and determined cast by nature, may be warped by a keen sense of petty
injuries and insults, combining with the love of gain, and sense of
self-interest, and amalgamated with the crude, wild, and indigested
fanatical opinions which this man had gathered among the crazy sectaries
of Germany; or how far the doctrines of fatalism, which he had embraced
so decidedly, sear the human conscience, by representing our actions as
the result of inevitable necessity.

During her visit to the prisoner, Roland had communicated to Catherine
the tenor of the conversation he had had with her at the door of the
apartment. The quick intelligence of that lively maiden instantly
comprehended the outline of what was believed to have happened, but her
prejudices hurried her beyond the truth.

"They meant to have poisoned us," she exclaimed in horror, "and there
stands the fatal liquor which should have done the deed!--Ay, as soon
as Douglas ceased to be our taster, our food was likely to be fatally
seasoned. Thou, Roland, who shouldst have made the essay, wert readily
doomed to die with us. Oh, dearest Lady Fleming, pardon, pardon, for the
injuries I said to you in my anger--your words were prompted by Heaven
to save our lives, and especially that of the injured Queen. But what
have we now to do? that old crocodile of the lake will be presently back
to shed her hypocritical tears over our dying agonies.--Lady Fleming,
what shall we do?"

"Our Lady help us in our need!" she replied; "how should I
tell?--unless we were to make our plaint to the Regent."

"Make our plaint to the devil," said Catherine impatiently, "and accuse
his dam at the foot of his burning throne!--The Queen still sleeps--we
must gain time. The poisoning hag must not know her scheme has
miscarried; the old envenomed spider has but too many ways of mending
her broken web. The jar of succory-water," said she--"Roland, if
thou be'st a man, help me--empty the jar on the chimney or from the
window--make such waste among the viands as if we had made our usual
meal, and leave the fragments on cup and porringer, but taste nothing
as thou lovest thy life. I will sit by the Queen, and tell her at her
waking, in what a fearful pass we stand. Her sharp wit and ready spirit
will teach us what is best to be done. Meanwhile, till farther notice,
observe, Roland, that the Queen is in a state of torpor--that Lady
Fleming is indisposed--that character" (speaking in a lower tone) "will
suit her best, and save her wits some labour in vain. I am not so much
indisposed, thou understandest."

"And I?" said the page--

"You?" replied Catherine, "you are quite well--who thinks it worth while
to poison puppy-dogs or pages?"

"Does this levity become the time?" asked the page.

"It does, it does," answered Catherine Seyton; "if the Queen approves, I
see plainly how this disconcerted attempt may do us good service."

She went to work while she spoke, eagerly assisted by Roland. The
breakfast table soon displayed the appearance as if the meal had been
eaten as usual; and the ladies retired as softly as possible into the
Queen's sleeping apartment. At a new summons of the Lady Lochleven,
the page undid the door, and admitted her into the anteroom, asking her
pardon for having withstood her, alleging in excuse, that the Queen had
fallen into a heavy slumber since she had broken her fast.

"She has eaten and drunken, then?" said the Lady of Lochleven.

"Surely," replied the page, "according to her Grace's ordinary custom,
unless upon the fasts of the church."

"The jar," she said, hastily examining it, "it is empty--drank the Lady
Mary the whole of this water?"

"A large part, madam; and I heard the Lady Catherine Seyton jestingly
upbraid the Lady Mary Fleming with having taken more than a just share
of what remained, so that but little fell to her own lot."

"And are they well in health?" said the Lady of Lochleven.

"Lady Fleming," said the page, "complains of lethargy, and looks duller
than usual; and the Lady Catherine of Seyton feels her head somewhat
more giddy than is her wont."

He raised his voice a little as he said these words, to apprise the
ladies of the part assigned to each of them, and not, perhaps, without
the wish of conveying to the ears of Catherine the page-like jest which
lurked in the allotment.

"I will enter the Queen's bedchamber," said the Lady of Lochleven; "my
business is express."

As she advanced to the door, the voice of Catherine Seyton was heard
from within--"No one can enter here--the Queen sleeps."

"I will not be controlled, young lady," replied the Lady of Lochleven;
"there is, I wot, no inner bar, and I will enter in your despite."

"There is, indeed, no inner bar," answered Catherine, firmly, "but there
are the staples where that bar should be; and into those staples have I
thrust mine arm, like an ancestress of your own, when, better employed
than the Douglasses of our days, she thus defended the bedchamber of
her sovereign against murderers. Try your force, then, and see whether a
Seyton cannot rival in courage a maiden of the house of Douglas."

"I dare not attempt the pass at such risk," said the Lady of Lochleven:
"Strange, that this Princess, with all that justly attaches to her
as blameworthy, should preserve such empire over the minds of her
attendants.--Damsel, I give thee my honour that I come for the Queen's
safety and advantage. Awaken her, if thou lovest her, and pray her leave
that I may enter--I will retire from the door the whilst."

"Thou wilt not awaken the Queen?" said the Lady Fleming.

"What choice have we?" said the ready-witted maiden, "unless you deem
it better to wait till the Lady Lochleven herself plays lady of the
bedchamber. Her fit of patience will not last long, and the Queen must
be prepared to meet her."

"But thou wilt bring back her Grace's fit by thus disturbing her."

"Heaven forbid!" replied Catherine; "but if so, it must pass for an
effect of the poison. I hope better things, and that the Queen will be
able when she wakes to form her own judgment in this terrible crisis.
Meanwhile, do thou, dear Lady Fleming, practise to look as dull and
heavy as the alertness of thy spirit will permit."

Catherine kneeled by the side of the Queen's bed, and, kissing her hand
repeatedly, succeeded at last in awakening without alarming her. She
seemed surprised to find that she was ready dressed, but sate up in her
bed, and appeared so perfectly composed, that Catherine Seyton, without
farther preamble, judged it safe to inform her of the predicament in
which they were placed. Mary turned pale, and crossed herself again and
again, when she heard the imminent danger in which she had stood. But,
like the Ulysses of Homer,

  --Hardly waking yet,
  Sprung in her mind the momentary wit,

and she at once understood her situation, with the dangers and
advantages that attended it.

"We cannot do better," she said, after her hasty conference with
Catherine, pressing her at the same time to her bosom, and kissing her
forehead; "we cannot do better than to follow the scheme so happily
devised by thy quick wit and bold affection. Undo the door to the Lady
Lochleven--She shall meet her match in art, though not in perfidy.
Fleming, draw close the curtain, and get thee behind it--thou art a
better tire-woman than an actress; do but breathe heavily, and, if thou
wilt, groan slightly, and it will top thy part. Hark! they come. Now,
Catherine of Medicis, may thy spirit inspire me, for a cold northern
brain is too blunt for this scene!"

Ushered by Catherine Seyton, and stepping as light as she could, the
Lady Lochleven was shown into the twilight apartment, and conducted to
the side of the couch, where Mary, pallid and exhausted from a sleepless
night, and the subsequent agitation of the morning, lay extended so
listlessly as might well confirm the worst fears of her hostess.

"Now, God forgive us our sins!" said the Lady of Lochleven, forgetting
her pride, and throwing herself on her knees by the side of the bed; "It
is too true--she is murdered!"

"Who is in the chamber?" said Mary, as if awaking from a heavy
sleep. "Seyton, Fleming, where are you? I heard a strange voice. Who
waits?--Call Courcelles."

"Alas! her memory is at Holyrood, though her body is at
Lochleven.--Forgive, madam," continued the Lady, "if I call your
attention to me--I am Margaret Erskine, of the house of Mar, by marriage
Lady Douglas of Lochleven."

"Oh, our gentle hostess," answered the Queen, "who hath such care of our
lodgings and of our diet--We cumber you too much and too long, good Lady
of Lochleven; but we now trust your task of hospitality is well-nigh
ended."

"Her words go like a knife through my heart," said the Lady of
Lochleven--"With a breaking heart, I pray your Grace to tell me what is
your ailment, that aid may be had, if there be yet time."

"Nay, my ailment," replied the Queen, "is nothing worth telling, or
worth a leech's notice--my limbs feel heavy--my heart feels cold--a
prisoner's limbs and heart are rarely otherwise--fresh air, methinks,
and freedom, would soon revive me; but as the Estates have ordered it,
death alone can break my prison-doors."

"Were it possible, madam," said the Lady, "that your liberty could
restore your perfect health, I would myself encounter the resentment of
the Regent--of my son, Sir William--of my whole friends, rather than you
should meet your fate in this castle."

"Alas! madam," said the Lady Fleming, who conceived the time propitious
to show that her own address had been held too lightly of; "it is but
trying what good freedom may work upon us; for myself, I think a free
walk on the greensward would do me much good at heart."

The Lady of Lochleven rose from the bedside, and darted a penetrating
look at the elder valetudinary. "Are you so evil-disposed, Lady
Fleming?"

"Evil-disposed indeed, madam," replied the court dame, "and more
especially since breakfast."

"Help! help!" exclaimed Catherine, anxious to break off a conversation
which boded her schemes no good; "help! I say, help! the Queen is about
to pass away. Aid her, Lady Lochleven, if you be a woman!"

The Lady hastened to support the Queen's head, who, turning her eyes
towards her with an air of great languor, exclaimed, "Thanks, my dearest
Lady of Lochleven--notwithstanding some passages of late, I have never
misconstrued or misdoubted your affection to our house. It was proved,
as I have heard, before I was born."

The Lady Lochleven sprung from the floor, on which she had again knelt,
and, having paced the apartment in great disorder, flung open the
lattice, as if to get air.

"Now, Our Lady forgive me!" said Catherine to herself. "How deep must
the love of sarcasm, be implanted in the breasts of us women, since the
Queen, with all her sense, will risk ruin rather than rein in her wit!"
She then adventured, stooping over the Queen's person, to press her
arm with her hand, saying, at the same time, "For God's sake, madam,
restrain yourself!"

"Thou art too forward, maiden," said the Queen; but immediately added,
in a low whisper, "Forgive me, Catherine; but when I felt the hag's
murderous hands busy about my head and neck, I felt such disgust and
hatred, that I must have said something, or died. But I will be schooled
to better behaviour--only see that thou let her not touch me."

"Now, God be praised!" said the Lady Lochleven, withdrawing her head
from the window, "the boat comes as fast as sail and oar can send wood
through water. It brings the leech and a female--certainly, from the
appearance, the very person I was in quest of. Were she but well out of
this castle, with our honour safe, I would that she were on the top of
the wildest mountain in Norway; or I would I had been there myself, ere
I had undertaken this trust."

While she thus expressed herself, standing apart at one window, Roland
Graeme, from the other, watched the boat bursting through the waters
of the lake, which glided from its side in ripple and in foam. He, too,
became sensible, that at the stern was seated the medical Chamberlain,
clad in his black velvet cloak; and that his own relative, Magdalen
Graeme, in her assumed character of Mother Nieneven, stood in the bow,
her hands clasped together, and pointed towards the castle, and her
attitude, even at that distance, expressing enthusiastic eagerness to
arrive at the landing-place. They arrived there accordingly, and while
the supposed witch was detained in a room beneath, the physician
was ushered to the Queen's apartment, which he entered with all due
professional solemnity. Catherine had, in the meanwhile, fallen back
from the Queen's bed, and taken an opportunity to whisper to Roland,
"Methinks, from the information of the threadbare velvet cloak and the
solemn beard, there would be little trouble in haltering yonder ass. But
thy grandmother, Roland--thy grandmother's zeal will ruin us, if she get
not a hint to dissemble."

Roland, without reply, glided towards the door of the apartment, crossed
the parlour, and safely entered the antechamber; but when he attempted
to pass farther, the word "Back! Back!" echoed from one to the other, by
two men armed with carabines, convinced him that the Lady of Lochleven's
suspicions had not, even in the midst of her alarms, been so far lulled
to sleep as to omit the precaution of stationing sentinels on her
prisoners. He was compelled, therefore, to return to the parlour, or
audience-chamber, in which he found the Lady of the castle in conference
with her learned leech.

"A truce with your cant phrase and your solemn foppery, Lundin," in such
terms she accosted the man of art, "and let me know instantly, if thou
canst tell, whether this lady hath swallowed aught that is less than
wholesome?"

"Nay, but, good lady--honoured patroness--to whom I am alike bonds-man
in my medical and official capacity, deal reasonably with me. If this,
mine illustrious patient, will not answer a question, saving with sighs
and moans--if that other honourable lady will do nought but yawn in
my face when I inquire after the diagnostics--and if that other young
damsel, who I profess is a comely maiden--"

"Talk not to me of comeliness or of damsels," said the Lady of
Lochleven, "I say, are they evil-disposed?--In one word, man, have they
taken poison, ay or no?"

"Poisons, madam," said the learned leech, "are of various sorts. There
is your animal poison, as the lepus marinus, as mentioned by Dioscorides
and Galen--there are mineral and semi-mineral poisons, as those
compounded of sublimate regulus of antimony, vitriol, and the arsenical
salts--there are your poisons from herbs and vegetables, as the aqua
cymbalariae, opium, aconitum, cantharides, and the like--there are
also--"

"Now, out upon thee for a learned fool! and I myself am no better for
expecting an oracle from such a log," said the Lady.

"Nay, but if your ladyship will have patience--if I knew what food they
have partaken of, or could see but the remnants of what they have last
eaten--for as to the external and internal symptoms, I can discover
nought like; for, as Galen saith in his second book _de Antidotis_--"

"Away, fool!" said the Lady; "send me that hag hither; she shall
avouch what it was that she hath given to the wretch Dryfesdale, or the
pilniewinks and thumbikins shall wrench it out of her finger joints!"

"Art hath no enemy unless the ignorant," said the mortified Doctor;
veiling, however, his remark under the Latin version, and stepping apart
into a corner to watch the result.

In a minute or two Magdalen Graeme entered the apartment, dressed as we
have described her at the revel, but with her muffler thrown back, and
all affectation of disguise. She was attended by two guards, of whose
presence she did not seem even to be conscious, and who followed her
with an air of embarrassment and timidity, which was probably owing to
their belief in her supernatural power, coupled with the effect
produced by her bold and undaunted demeanour. She confronted the Lady of
Lochleven, who seemed to endure with high disdain the confidence of her
air and manner.

"Wretched woman!" said the Lady, after essaying for a moment to bear
her down, before she addressed her, by the stately severity of her look,
"what was that powder which thou didst give to a servant of this house,
by name Jasper Dryfesdale, that he might work out with it some slow and
secret vengeance?--Confess its nature and properties, or, by the honour
of Douglas, I give thee to fire and stake before the sun is lower!"

"Alas!" said Magdalen Graeme in reply, "and when became a Douglas or a
Douglas's man so unfurnished in his revenge, that he should seek them
at the hands of a poor and solitary woman? The towers in which your
captives pine away into unpitied graves, yet stand fast on their
foundation--the crimes wrought in them have not yet burst their
vaults asunder--your men have still their cross-bows, pistolets, and
daggers--why need you seek to herbs or charms for the execution of your
revenges?"

"Hear me, foul hag," said the Lady Lochleven,--"but what avails speaking
to thee?--Bring Dryfesdale hither, and let them be confronted together."

"You may spare your retainers the labour," replied Magdalen Graeme.
"I came not here to be confronted with a base groom, nor to answer the
interrogatories of James's heretical leman--I came to speak with the
Queen of Scotland--Give place there!"

And while the Lady Lochleven stood confounded at her boldness, and at
the reproach she had cast upon her, Magdalen Graeme strode past her
into the bedchamber of the Queen, and, kneeling on the floor, made a
salutation as if, in the Oriental fashion, she meant to touch the earth
with her forehead.

"Hail, Princess!" she said, "hail, daughter of many a King, but
graced above them all in that thou art called to suffer for the true
faith--hail to thee, the pure gold of whose crown has been tried in the
seven-times heated furnace of affliction--hear the comfort which God
and Our Lady send thee by the mouth of thy unworthy servant.--But
first"--and stooping her head she crossed herself repeatedly, and,
still upon her knees, appeared to be rapidly reciting some formula of
devotion.

"Seize her, and drag her to the massy-more!--to the deepest dungeon with
the sorceress, whose master, the Devil, could alone have inspired her
with boldness enough to insult the mother of Douglas in his own castle!"

Thus spoke the incensed Lady of Lochleven, but the physician presumed to
interpose.

"I pray of you, honoured madam, she be permitted to take her course
without interruption. Peradventure we shall learn something concerning
the nostrum she hath ventured, contrary to law and the rules of art, to
adhibit to these ladies, through the medium of the steward Dryfesdale."

"For a fool," replied the Lady of Lochleven, "thou hast counselled
wisely--I will bridle my resentment till their conference be over."

"God forbid, honoured Lady," said Doctor Lundin, "that you should
suppress it longer--nothing may more endanger the frame of your honoured
body; and truly, if there be witchcraft in this matter, it is held by
the vulgar, and even by solid authors on Demonology, that three scruples
of the ashes of the witch, when she hath been well and carefully burned
at a stake, is a grand Catholicon in such matter, even as they prescribe
_crinis canis rabidi_, a hair of the dog that bit the patient, in cases
of hydrophobia. I warrant neither treatment, being out of the regular
practice of the schools; but, in the present case, there can be
little harm in trying the conclusion upon this old necromancer and
quacksalver-_fiat experimentum_ (as we say) _in corpore vili_."

"Peace, fool!" said the Lady, "she is about to speak."

At that moment Magdalen Graeme arose from her knees, and turned her
countenance on the Queen, at the same time advancing her foot, extending
her arm, and assuming the mien and attitude of a Sibyl in frenzy. As her
gray hair floated back from beneath her coif, and her eye gleamed fire
from under its shaggy eyebrow, the effect of her expressive though
emaciated features, was heightened by an enthusiasm approaching to
insanity, and her appearance struck with awe all who were present. Her
eyes for a time glanced wildly around as if seeking for something to aid
her in collecting her powers of expression, and her lips had a nervous
and quivering motion, as those of one who would fain speak, yet rejects
as inadequate the words which present themselves. Mary herself caught
the infection as if by a sort of magnetic influence, and raising herself
from her bed, without being able to withdraw her eyes from those of
Magdalen, waited as if for the oracle of a Pythoness. She waited not
long, for no sooner had the enthusiast collected herself, than her gaze
became instantly steady, her features assumed a determined energy,
and when she began to speak, the words flowed from her with a profuse
fluency, which might have passed for inspiration, and which, perhaps,
she herself mistook for such.

"Arise," she said, "Queen of France and of England! Arise, Lioness
of Scotland, and be not dismayed though the nets of the hunters have
encircled thee! Stoop not to feign with the false ones, whom thou shall
soon meet in the field. The issue of battle is with the God of armies,
but by battle thy cause shall be tried. Lay aside, then, the arts of
lower mortals, and assume those which become a Queen! True defender of
the only true faith, the armoury of heaven is open to thee! Faithful
daughter of the Church, take the keys of St. Peter, to bind and to
loose!--Royal Princess of the land, take the sword of St. Paul, to
smite and to shear! There is darkness in thy destiny;--but not in these
towers, not under the rule of their haughty mistress, shall that destiny
be closed--In other lands the lioness may crouch to the power of the
tigress, but not in her own--not in Scotland shall the Queen of Scotland
long remain captive--nor is the fate of the royal Stuart in the hands
of the traitor Douglas. Let the Lady of Lochleven double her bolts and
deepen her dungeons, they shall not retain thee--each element shall give
thee its assistance ere thou shalt continue captive--the land shall lend
its earthquakes, the water its waves, the air its tempests, the fire its
devouring flames, to desolate this house, rather than it shall continue
the place of thy captivity.--Hear this, and tremble, all ye who fight
against the light, for she says it, to whom it hath been assured!"

She was silent, and the astonished physician said, "If there was ever
an _Energumene,_ or possessed demoniac, in our days, there is a devil
speaking with that woman's tongue!"

"Practice," said the Lady of Lochleven, recovering her surprise; "here
is all practice and imposture--To the dungeon with her!"

"Lady of Lochleven," said Mary, arising from her bed, and coming
forward with her wonted dignity, "ere you make arrest on any one in our
presence, hear me but one word. I have done you some wrong--I believed
you privy to the murderous purpose of your vassal, and I deceived you in
suffering you to believe it had taken effect. I did you wrong, Lady of
Lochleven, for I perceive your purpose to aid me was sincere. We tasted
not of the liquid, nor are we now sick, save that we languish for our
freedom."

"It is avowed like Mary of Scotland," said Magdalen Graeme; "and know,
besides, that had the Queen drained the drought to the dregs, it was
harmless as the water from a sainted spring. Trow ye, proud woman," she
added, addressing herself to the Lady of Lochleven, "that I--I--would
have been the wretch to put poison into the hands of a servant or vassal
of the house of Lochleven, knowing whom that house contained? as soon
would I have furnished drug to slay my own daughter!"

"Am I thus bearded in mine own castle?" said the Lady; "to the dungeon
with her!--she shall abye what is due to the vender of poisons and
practiser of witchcraft."

"Yet hear me for an instant, Lady of Lochleven," said Mary; "and do
you," to Magdalen, "be silent at my command.--Your steward, lady, has by
confession attempted my life, and those of my household, and this
woman hath done her best to save them, by furnishing him with what was
harmless, in place of the fatal drugs which he expected. Methinks I
propose to you but a fair exchange when I say I forgive your vassal with
all my heart, and leave vengeance to God, and to his conscience, so that
you also forgive the boldness of this woman in your presence; for we
trust you do not hold it as a crime, that she substituted an innocent
beverage for the mortal poison which was to have drenched our cup."

"Heaven forfend, madam," said the Lady, "that I should account that a
crime which saved the house of Douglas from a foul breach of honour and
hospitality! We have written to our son touching our vassal's delict,
and he must abide his doom, which will most likely be death. Touching
this woman, her trade is damnable by Scripture, and is mortally punished
by the wise laws of our ancestry--she also must abide her doom."

"And have I then," said the Queen, "no claim on the house of Lochleven
for the wrong I have so nearly suffered within their walls? I ask but in
requital, the life of a frail and aged woman, whose brain, as yourself
may judge, seems somewhat affected by years and suffering."

"If the Lady Mary," replied the inflexible Lady of Lochleven, "hath been
menaced with wrong in the house of Douglas, it may be regarded as some
compensation, that her complots have cost that house the exile of a
valued son."

"Plead no more for me, my gracious Sovereign," said Magdalen Graeme,
"nor abase yourself to ask so much as a gray hair of my head at her
hands. I knew the risk at which I served my Church and my Queen, and was
ever prompt to pay my poor life as the ransom. It is a comfort to think,
that in slaying me, or in restraining my freedom, or even in injuring
that single gray hair, the house, whose honour she boasts so highly,
will have filled up the measure of their shame by the breach of their
solemn written assurance of safety."--And taking from her bosom a paper,
she handed it to the Queen.

"It is a solemn assurance of safety in life and limb," said Queen Mary,
"with space to come and go, under the hand and seal of the Chamberlain
of Kinross, granted to Magdalen Graeme, commonly called Mother Nicneven,
in consideration of her consenting to put herself, for the space of
twenty-four hours, if required, within the iron gate of the Castle of
Lochleven."

"Knave!" said the Lady, turning to the Chamberlain, "how dared you grant
her such a protection?"

"It was by your Ladyship's orders, transmitted by Randal, as he can
bear witness," replied Doctor Lundin; "nay, I am only like the
pharmacopolist, who compounds the drugs after the order of the
mediciner."

"I remember--I remember," answered the Lady; "but I meant the assurance
only to be used in case, by residing in another jurisdiction, she could
not have been apprehended under our warrant."

"Nevertheless," said the Queen, "the Lady of Lochleven is bound by the
action of her deputy in granting the assurance."

"Madam," replied the Lady, "the house of Douglas have never broken
their safe-conduct, and never will--too deeply did they suffer by such
a breach of trust, exercised on themselves, when your Grace's ancestor,
the second James, in defiance of the rights of hospitality, and of his
own written assurance of safety, poniarded the brave Earl of Douglas
with his own hand, and within two yards of the social board, at which he
had just before sat the King of Scotland's honoured guest."

"Methinks," said the Queen, carelessly, "in consideration of so very
recent and enormous a tragedy, which I think only chanced some six-score
years agone, the Douglasses should have shown themselves less tenacious
of the company of their sovereigns, than you, Lady of Lochleven, seem to
be of mine."

"Let Randal," said the Lady, "take the hag back to Kinross, and set her
at full liberty, discharging her from our bounds in future, on peril of
her head.--And let your wisdom," to the Chamberlain, "keep her company.
And fear not for your character, though I send you in such company; for,
granting her to be a witch, it would be a waste of fagots to burn you
for a wizard."

The crest-fallen Chamberlain was preparing to depart; but Magdalen
Graeme, collecting herself, was about to reply, when the Queen
interposed, saying, "Good mother, we heartily thank you for your
unfeigned zeal towards our person, and pray you, as our liege-woman,
that you abstain from whatever may lead you into personal danger; and,
farther, it is our will that you depart without a word of farther parley
with any one in this castle. For thy present guerdon, take this small
reliquary--it was given to us by our uncle the Cardinal, and hath had
the benediction of the Holy Father himself;--and now depart in peace and
in silence.--For you, learned sir," continued the Queen, advancing to
the Doctor, who made his reverence in a manner doubly embarrassed by the
awe of the Queen's presence, which made him fear to do too little, and
by the apprehension of his lady's displeasure, in case he should chance
to do too much--"for you, learned sir, as it was not your fault, though
surely our own good fortune, that we did not need your skill at this
time, it would not become us, however circumstanced, to suffer our leech
to leave us without such guerdon as we can offer."

With these words, and with the grace which never forsook her, though,
in the present case, there might lurk under it a little gentle ridicule,
she offered a small embroidered purse to the Chamberlain, who, with
extended hand and arched back, his learned face stooping until a
physiognomist might have practised the metoposcopical science upon it,
as seen from behind betwixt his gambadoes, was about to accept of the
professional recompense offered by so fair as well as illustrious a
hand. But the Lady interposed, and, regarding the Chamberlain, said
aloud, "No servant of our house, without instantly relinquishing that
character, and incurring withal our highest displeasure, shall dare
receive any gratuity at the hand of the Lady Mary."

Sadly and slowly the Chamberlain raised his depressed stature into the
perpendicular attitude, and left the apartment dejectedly, followed by
Magdalen Graeme, after, with mute but expressive gesture, she had kissed
the reliquary with which the Queen had presented her, and, raising her
clasped hands and uplifted eyes towards Heaven, had seemed to entreat
a benediction upon the royal dame. As she left the castle, and
went towards the quay where the boat lay, Roland Graeme, anxious to
communicate with her if possible, threw himself in her way, and might
have succeeded in exchanging a few words with her, as she was guarded
only by the dejected Chamberlain and his halberdiers, but she seemed to
have taken, in its most strict and literal acceptation, the command to
be silent which she had received from the Queen; for, to the repeated
signs of her grandson, she only replied by laying her finger on her lip.
Dr. Lundin was not so reserved. Regret for the handsome gratuity, and
for the compulsory task of self-denial imposed on him, had grieved the
spirit of that worthy officer and learned mediciner--"Even thus, my
friend," said he, squeezing the page's hand as he bade him farewell, "is
merit rewarded. I came to cure this unhappy Lady--and I profess she well
deserves the trouble, for, say what they will of her, she hath a most
winning manner, a sweet voice, a gracious smile, and a most majestic
wave of her hand. If she was not poisoned, say, my dear Master Roland,
was that fault of mine, I being ready to cure her if she had?--and now I
am denied the permission to accept my well-earned honorarium--O Galen! O
Hippocrates! is the graduate's cap and doctor's scarlet brought to this
pass! _Frustra fatigamus remediis aegros!_"

He wiped his eyes, stepped on the gunwale, and the boat pushed off from
the shore, and went merrily across the lake, which was dimpled by the
summer wind. [Footnote: A romancer, to use a Scottish phrase, wants but
a hair to make a tether of. The whole detail of the steward's supposed
conspiracy against the life of Mary, is grounded upon an expression in
one of her letters, which affirms, that Jasper Dryfesdale, one of the
Laird of Lochleven's servants, had threatened to murder William Douglas,
(for his share in the Queen's escape,) and averred that he would plant a
dagger in Mary's own heart.--CHALMER'S _Life of Queen Mary_, vol. i. p.
278.]



Chapter the Thirty-Third.


  Death distant?--No, alas! he's ever with us,
  And shakes the dart at us in all our actings:
  He lurks within our cup, while we're in health;
  Sits by our sick-bed, mocks our medicines;
  We cannot walk, or sit, or ride, or travel,
  But Death is by to seize us when he lists.
                         THE SPANISH FATHER.

From the agitating scene in the Queen's presence-chamber, the Lady of
Lochleven retreated to her own apartment, and ordered the steward to be
called before her.

"Have they not disarmed thee, Dryfesdale?" she said, on seeing him
enter, accoutred, as usual, with sword and dagger.

"No!" replied the old man; "how should they?--Your ladyship, when you
commanded me to ward, said nought of laying down my arms; and, I think
none of your menials, without your order, or your son's, dare approach
Jasper Dryfesdale for such a purpose.--Shall I now give up my sword to
you?--it is worth little now, for it has fought for your house till it
is worn down to old iron, like the pantler's old chipping knife."

"You have attempted a deadly crime--poison under trust."

"Under trust?--hem!--I know not what your ladyship thinks of it, but the
world without thinks the trust was given you even for that very end; and
you would have been well off had it been so ended as I proposed, and you
neither the worse nor the wiser."

"Wretch!" exclaimed the lady, "and fool as well as villain, who could
not even execute the crime he had planned!"

"I bid as fair for it as man could," replied Dryfesdale; "I went to a
woman--a witch and a Papist--If I found not poison, it was because it
was otherwise predestined. I tried fair for it; but the half-done job
may be clouted, if you will."

"Villain! I am even now about to send off an express messenger to my
son, to take order how thou shouldst be disposed of. Prepare thyself for
death, if thou canst."

"He that looks on death, Lady," answered Dryfesdale, "as that which
he may not shun, and which has its own fixed and certain hour, is ever
prepared for it. He that is hanged in May will eat no flaunes
[footnote: Pancakes] in midsummer--so there is the moan made for the old
serving-man. But whom, pray I, send you on so fair an errand?"

"There will be no lack of messengers," answered his mistress.

"By my hand, but there will," replied the old man; "your castle is but
poorly manned, considering the watches that you must keep, having this
charge--There is the warder, and two others, whom you discarded for
tampering with Master George; then for the warder's tower, the bailie,
the donjon--five men mount each guard, and the rest must sleep for the
most part in their clothes. To send away another man, were to harass
the sentinels to death--unthrifty misuse for a household. To take in new
soldiers were dangerous, the charge requiring tried men. I see but one
thing for it--I will do your errand to Sir William Douglas myself."

"That were indeed a resource!--And on what day within twenty years would
it be done?" said the Lady.

"Even with the speed of man and horse," said Dryfesdale; "for though I
care not much about the latter days of an old serving-man's life, yet I
would like to know as soon as may be, whether my neck is mine own or the
hangman's."

"Holdest thou thy own life so lightly?" said the Lady.

"Else I had reckoned more of that of others," said the
predestinarian--"What is death?--it is but ceasing to live--And what
is living?--a weary return of light and darkness, sleeping and waking,
being hungered and eating. Your dead man needs neither candle nor can,
neither fire nor feather-bed; and the joiner's chest serves him for an
eternal frieze-jerkin."

"Wretched man! believest thou not that after death comes the judgment?"

"Lady," answered Dryfesdale, "as my mistress, I may not dispute your
words; but, as spiritually speaking, you are still but a burner of
bricks in Egypt, ignorant of the freedom of the saints; for, as was well
shown to me by that gifted man, Nicolaus Schoefferbach, who was martyred
by the bloody Bishop of Munster, he cannot sin who doth but execute that
which is predestined, since--"

"Silence!" said the Lady, interrupting him,--"Answer me not with thy
bold and presumptuous blasphemy, but hear me. Thou hast been long the
servant of our house--"

"The born servant of the Douglas--they have had the best of me--I served
them since I left Lockerbie: I was then ten years old, and you may soon
add the threescore to it."

"Thy foul attempt has miscarried, so thou art guilty only in intention.
It were a deserved deed to hang thee on the warder's tower; and yet
in thy present mind, it were but giving a soul to Satan. I take thine
offer, then--Go hence--here is my packet--I will add to it but a line,
to desire him to send me a faithful servant or two to complete the
garrison. Let my son deal with you as he will. If thou art wise, thou
wilt make for Lockerbie so soon as thy foot touches dry land, and let
the packet find another bearer; at all rates, look it miscarries not."

"Nay, madam," replied he--"I was born, as I said, the Douglas's servant,
and I will be no corbie-messenger in mine old age--your message to your
son shall be done as truly by me as if it concerned another man's neck.
I take my leave of your honour."

The Lady issued her commands, and the old man was ferried over to the
shore, to proceed on his extraordinary pilgrimage. It is necessary
the reader should accompany him on his journey, which Providence had
determined should not be of long duration.

On arriving at the village, the steward, although his disgrace had
transpired, was readily accommodated with a horse, by the Chamberlain's
authority; and the roads being by no means esteemed safe, he associated
himself with Auchtermuchty, the common carrier, in order to travel in
his company to Edinburgh.

The worthy waggoner, according to the established customs of all
carriers, stage-coachmen, and other persons in public authority, from
the earliest days to the present, never wanted good reasons for stopping
upon the road, as often as he would; and the place which had most
captivation for him as a resting-place was a change-house, as it was
termed, not very distant from a romantic dell, well known by the name
of Keirie Craigs. Attractions of a kind very different from those
which arrested the progress of John Auchtermuchty and his wains, still
continue to hover round this romantic spot, and none has visited its
vicinity without a desire to remain long and to return soon.

Arrived near his favourite _howss_, not all the authority of Dryfesdale
(much diminished indeed by the rumours of his disgrace) could prevail on
the carrier, obstinate as the brutes which he drove, to pass on without
his accustomed halt, for which the distance he had travelled furnished
little or no pretence. Old Keltie, the landlord, who had bestowed his
name on a bridge in the neighbourhood of his quondam dwelling, received
the carrier with his usual festive cordiality, and adjourned with him
into the house, under pretence of important business, which, I believe,
consisted in their emptying together a mutchkin stoup of usquebaugh.
While the worthy host and his guest were thus employed, the discarded
steward, with a double portion of moroseness in his gesture and look,
walked discontentedly into the kitchen of the place, which was occupied
but by one guest. The stranger was a slight figure, scarce above the age
of boyhood, and in the dress of a page, but bearing an air of haughty
aristocratic boldness and even insolence in his look and manner, that
might have made Dryfesdale conclude he had pretensions to superior
rank, had not his experience taught him how frequently these airs of
superiority were assumed by the domestics and military retainers of the
Scottish nobility.--"The pilgrim's morning to you, old sir," said the
youth; "you come, as I think, from Lochleven Castle--What news of our
bonny Queen?--a fairer dove was never pent up in so wretched a dovecot."

"They that speak of Lochleven, and of those whom its walls contain,"
answered Dryfesdale, "speak of what concerns the Douglas; and they who
speak of what concerns the Douglas, do it at their peril."

"Do you speak from fear of them, old man, or would you make a quarrel
for them?--I should have deemed your age might have cooled your blood."

"Never, while there are empty-pated coxcombs at each corner to keep it
warm."

"The sight of thy gray hairs keeps mine cold," said the boy, who had
risen up and now sat down again.

"It is well for thee, or I had cooled it with this holly-rod," replied
the steward. "I think thou be'st one of those swash-bucklers, who brawl
in alehouses and taverns; and who, if words were pikes, and oaths were
Andrew Ferraras, would soon place the religion of Babylon in the land
once more, and the woman of Moab upon the throne."

"Now, by Saint Bennet of Seyton," said the youth, "I will strike thee on
the face, thou foul-mouthed old railing heretic!"

"Saint Bennet of Seyton," echoed the steward; "a proper warrant is Saint
Bennet's, and for a proper nest of wolf-birds like the Seytons!--I will
arrest thee as a traitor to King James and the good Regent.--Ho! John
Auchtermuchty, raise aid against the King's traitor!"

So saying, he laid his hand on the youth's collar, and drew his sword.
John Auchtermuchty looked in, but, seeing the naked weapon, ran faster
out than he entered. Keltie, the landlord, stood by and helped neither
party, only exclaiming, "Gentlemen! gentlemen! for the love of Heaven!"
and so forth. A struggle ensued, in which the young man, chafed at
Dryfesdale's boldness, and unable, with the ease he expected, to
extricate himself from the old man's determined grasp, drew his dagger,
and with the speed of light, dealt him three wounds in the breast and
body, the least of which was mortal. The old man sunk on the ground with
a deep groan, and the host set up a piteous exclamation of surprise.

"Peace, ye brawling hound!" said the wounded steward; "are dagger-stabs
and dying men such rarities in Scotland, that you should cry as if the
house were falling?--Youth, I do not forgive thee, for there is nought
betwixt us to forgive. Thou hast done what I have done to more than
one--And I suffer what I have seen them suffer--it was all ordained to
be thus and not otherwise. But if thou wouldst do me right, thou wilt
send this packet safely to the hands of Sir William Douglas; and see
that my memory suffer not, as if I would have loitered on mine errand
for fear of my life."

The youth, whose passion had subsided the instant he had done the deed,
listened with sympathy and attention, when another person, muffled in
his cloak, entered the apartment, and exclaimed--"Good God! Dryfesdale,
and expiring!"

"Ay, and Dryfesdale would that he had been dead," answered the wounded
man, "rather than that his ears had heard the words of the only Douglas
that ever was false--but yet it is better as it is. Good my murderer,
and the rest of you, stand back a little, and let me speak with this
unhappy apostate.--Kneel down by me, Master George--You have heard that
I failed in my attempt to take away that Moabitish stumbling-block and
her retinue--I gave them that which I thought would have removed the
temptation out of thy path--and this, though I had other reasons to show
to thy mother and others, I did chiefly purpose for love of thee."

"For the love of me, base poisoner!" answered Douglas, "wouldst thou
have committed so horrible, so unprovoked a murder, and mentioned my
name with it?"

"And wherefore not, George of Douglas?" answered Dryfesdale. "Breath
is now scarce with me, but I would spend my last gasp on this argument.
Hast thou not, despite the honour thou owest to thy parents, the faith
that is due to thy religion, the truth that is due to thy king, been
so carried away by the charms of this beautiful sorceress, that thou
wouldst have helped her to escape from her prison-house, and lent her
thine arm again to ascend the throne, which she had made a place of
abomination?--Nay, stir not from me--my hand, though fast stiffening,
has yet force enough to hold thee--What dost thou aim at?--to wed this
witch of Scotland?--I warrant thee, thou mayest succeed--her heart and
hand have been oft won at a cheaper rate, than thou, fool that thou art,
would think thyself happy to pay. But, should a servant of thy father's
house have seen thee embrace the fate of the idiot Darnley, or of
the villain Bothwell--the fate of the murdered fool, or of the living
pirate--while an ounce of ratsbane would have saved thee?"

"Think on God, Dryfesdale," said George Douglas, "and leave the
utterance of those horrors--Repent, if thou canst--if not, at least
be silent.--Seyton, aid me to support this dying wretch, that he may
compose himself to better thoughts, if it be possible."

"Seyton!" answered the dying man; "Seyton! Is it by a Seyton's hand that
I fall at last?--There is something of retribution in that--since the
house had nigh lost a sister by my deed." Fixing his fading eyes on the
youth, he added, "He hath her very features and presence!--Stoop down,
youth, and let me see thee closer--I would know thee when we meet in
yonder world, for homicides will herd together there, and I have been
one." He pulled Seyton's face, in spite of some resistance, closer to
his own, looked at him fixedly, and added, "Thou hast begun young--thy
career will be the briefer--ay, thou wilt be met with, and that anon--a
young plant never throve that was watered with an old man's blood.--Yet
why blame I thee? Strange turns of fate," he muttered, ceasing to
address Seyton; "I designed what I could not do, and he has done what
he did not perchance design.--Wondrous, that our will should ever oppose
itself to the strong and uncontrollable tide of destiny--that we should
strive with the stream when we might drift with the current! My brain
will serve me to question it no farther--I would Schoefferbach were
here--yet why?--I am on a course which the vessel can hold without a
pilot.--Farewell, George of Douglas--I die true to thy father's house."
He fell into convulsions at these words, and shortly after expired.

Seyton and Douglas stood looking on the dying man, and when the scene
was closed, the former was the first to speak. "As I live, Douglas, I
meant not this, and am sorry; but he laid hands on me, and compelled me
to defend my freedom, as I best might, with my dagger. If he were ten
times thy friend and follower, I can but say that I am sorry."

"I blame thee not, Seyton," said Douglas, "though I lament the chance.
There is an overruling destiny above us, though not in the sense in
which it was viewed by that wretched man, who, beguiled by some foreign
mystagogue, used the awful word as the ready apology for whatever he
chose to do--we must examine the packet."

They withdrew into an inner room, and remained deep in consultation,
until they were disturbed by the entrance of Keltie, who, with an
embarrassed countenance, asked Master George Douglas's pleasure
respecting the disposal of the body. "Your honour knows," he added,
"that I make my bread by living men, not by dead corpses; and old Mr.
Dryfesdale, who was but a sorry customer while he was alive, occupies
my public room now that he is deceased, and can neither call for ale nor
brandy."

"Tie a stone round his neck," said Seyton, "and when the sun is down,
have him to the Loch of Ore, heave him in, and let him alone for finding
out the bottom."

"Under your favour, sir," said George Douglas, "it shall not be
so.--Keltie, thou art a true fellow to me, and thy having been so shall
advantage thee. Send or take the body to the chapel at Scotland's wall,
or to the church of Ballanry, and tell what tale thou wilt of his having
fallen in a brawl with some unruly guests of thine. Auchtermuchty knows
nought else, nor are the times so peaceful as to admit close-looking
into such accounts."

"Nay, let him tell the truth," said Seyton, "so far as it harms not our
scheme.--Say that Henry Seyton met with him, my good fellow;--I care not
a brass bodle for the feud."

"A feud with the Douglas was ever to be feared, however," said George,
displeasure mingling with his natural deep gravity of manner.

"Not when the best of the name is on my side," replied Seyton.

"Alas! Henry, if thou meanest me, I am but half a Douglas in this
emprize--half head, half heart, and half hand.--But I will think on
one who can never be forgotten, and be all, or more, than any of my
ancestors was ever.--Keltie, say it was Henry Seyton did the deed; but
beware, not a word of me!--Let Auchtermuchty carry this packet" (which
he had resealed with his own signet) "to my father at Edinburgh; and
here is to pay for the funeral expenses, and thy loss of custom."

"And the washing of the floor," said the landlord, "which will be an
extraordinary job; for blood they say, will scarcely ever cleanse out."

"But as for your plan," said George of Douglas, addressing Seyton, as if
in continuation of what they had been before treating of, "it has a good
face; but, under your favour, you are yourself too hot and too young,
besides other reasons which are much against your playing the part you
propose."

"We will consult the Father Abbot upon it," said the youth. "Do you ride
to Kinross to-night?"

"Ay--so I purpose," answered Douglas; "the night will be dark, and suits
a muffled man. [Footnote: Generally, a disguised man; originally one who
wears the cloak or mantle muffled round the lower part of the face
to conceal his countenance. I have on an ancient, piece of iron the
representation of a robber thus accoutred, endeavouring to make his way
into a house, and opposed by a mastiff, to whom he in vain offers food.
The motto is _spernit dona fides_. It is part of a fire-grate said to
have belonged to Archbishop Sharpe.]--Keltie, I forgot, there should
be a stone laid on that man's grave, recording his name, and his only
merit, which was being a faithful servant to the Douglas."

"What religion was the man of?" said Seyton; "he used words, which make
me fear I have sent Satan a subject before his time."

"I can tell you little of that," said George Douglas; "he was noted for
disliking both Rome and Geneva, and spoke of lights he had learned among
the fierce sectaries of Lower Germany--an evil doctrine it was, if we
judge by the fruits. God keep us from presumptuously judging of Heaven's
secrets!"

"Amen!" said the young Seyton, "and from meeting any encounter this
evening."

"It is not thy wont to pray so," said George Douglas.

"No! I leave that to you," replied the youth, "when you are seized with
scruples of engaging with your father's vassals. But I would fain have
this old man's blood off these hands of mine ere I shed more--I will
confess to the Abbot to-night, and I trust to have light penance for
ridding the earth of such a miscreant. All I sorrow for is, that he was
not a score of years younger--He drew steel first, however, that is one
comfort."



Chapter the Thirty-Fourth.


  Ay, Pedro,--Come you here with mask and lantern.
  Ladder of ropes and other moonshine tools--
  Why, youngster, thou mayst cheat the old Duenna,
  Flatter the waiting-woman, bribe the valet;
  But know, that I her father play the Gryphon,
  Tameless and sleepless, proof to fraud or bribe,
  And guard the hidden, treasure of her beauty.
                             THE SPANISH FATHER.

The tenor of our tale carries us back to the Castle of Lochleven, where
we take up the order of events on the same remarkable day on which
Dryfesdale had been dismissed from the castle. It was past noon, the
usual hour of dinner, yet no preparations seemed made for the Queen's
entertainment. Mary herself had retired into her own apartment, where
she was closely engaged in writing. Her attendants were together in the
presence-chamber, and much disposed to speculate on the delay of
the dinner; for it may be recollected that their breakfast had been
interrupted. "I believe in my conscience," said the page, "that having
found the poisoning scheme miscarry, by having gone to the wrong
merchant for their deadly wares, they are now about to try how famine
will work upon us."

Lady Fleming was somewhat alarmed at this surmise, but comforted herself
by observing that the chimney of the kitchen had reeked that whole
day in a manner which contradicted the supposition.--Catherine Seyton
presently exclaimed, "They were bearing the dishes across the court,
marshalled by the Lady Lochleven herself, dressed out in her highest
and stiffest ruff, with her partlet and sleeves of cyprus, and her huge
old-fashioned farthingale of crimson velvet."

"I believe on my word," said the page, approaching the window also, "it
was in that very farthingale that she captivated the heart of gentle
King Jamie, which procured our poor Queen her precious bargain of a
brother."

"That may hardly be, Master Roland," answered the Lady Fleming, who was
a great recorder of the changes of fashion, "since the farthingales came
first in when the Queen Regent went to Saint Andrews, after the battle
of Pinkie, and were then called _Vertugardins_--"

She would have proceeded farther in this important discussion, but was
interrupted by the entrance of the Lady of Lochleven, who preceded the
servants bearing the dishes, and formally discharged the duty of tasting
each of them. Lady Fleming regretted, in courtly phrase, "that the Lady
of Lochleven should have undertaken so troublesome an office."

"After the strange incident of this day, madam," said the Lady, "it is
necessary for my honour and that of my son, that I partake whatever is
offered to my involuntary guest. Please to inform the Lady Mary that I
attend her commands."

"Her Majesty," replied Lady Fleming, with due emphasis on the word,
"shall be informed that the Lady Lochleven waits."

Mary appeared instantly, and addressed her hostess with courtesy, which
even approached to something more cordial. "This is nobly done, Lady
Lochleven," she said; "for though we ourselves apprehend no danger under
your roof, our ladies have been much alarmed by this morning's chance,
and our meal will be the more cheerful for your presence and assurance.
Please you to sit down."

The Lady Lochleven obeyed the Queen's commands, and Roland performed the
office of carver and attendant as usual. But, notwithstanding what the
Queen had said, the meal was silent and unsocial; and every effort which
Mary made to excite some conversation, died away under the solemn and
chill replies of the Lady of Lochleven. At length it became plain that
the Queen, who had considered these advances as a condescension on her
part, and who piqued herself justly on her powers of pleasing, became
offended at the repulsive conduct of her hostess. After looking with a
significant glance at Lady Fleming and Catherine, she slightly shrugged
her shoulders, and remained silent. A pause ensued, at the end of which
the Lady Douglas spoke:--"I perceive, madam, I am a check on the mirth
of this fair company. I pray you to excuse me--I am a widow--alone here
in a most perilous charge---deserted by my grandson--betrayed by my
servant--I am little worthy of the grace you do me in offering me a
seat at your table, where I am aware that wit and pastime are usually
expected from the guests."

"If the Lady Lochleven is serious," said the Queen, "we wonder by what
simplicity she expects our present meals to be seasoned with mirth. If
she is a widow, she lives honoured and uncontrolled, at the head of her
late husband's household. But I know at least of one widowed woman in
the world, before whom the words desertion and betrayal ought never to
be mentioned, since no one has been made so bitterly acquainted with
their import."

"I meant not, madam, to remind you of your misfortunes, by the mention
of mine," answered the Lady Lochleven, and there was again a deep
silence.

Mary at length addressed Lady Fleming. "We can commit no deadly sins
here, _ma bonne_, where we are so well warded and looked to; but if we
could, this Carthusian silence might be useful as a kind of penance.
If thou hast adjusted my wimple amiss, my Fleming, or if Catherine hath
made a wry stitch in her broidery, when she was thinking of something
else than her work, or if Roland Graeme hath missed a wild-duck on the
wing, and broke a quarrel-pane [Footnote: Diamond-shaped; literally,
formed like the head of a _quarrel_, or arrow for the crossbow.] of
glass in the turret window, as chanced to him a week since, now is the
time to think on your sins and to repent of them."

"Madam, I speak with all reverence," said the Lady Lochleven; "but I am
old, and claim the privilege of age. Methinks your followers might find
fitter subjects for repentance than the trifles you mention, and so
mention--once more, I crave your pardon--as if you jested with sin and
repentance both."

"You have been our taster, Lady Lochleven," said the Queen, "I perceive
you would eke out your duty with that of our Father Confessor--and since
you choose that our conversation should be serious, may I ask you why
the Regent's promise--since your son so styles himself--has not been
kept to me in that respect? From time to time this promise has been
renewed, and as constantly broken. Methinks those who pretend themselves
to so much gravity and sanctity, should not debar from others the
religious succours which their consciences require."

"Madam, the Earl of Murray was indeed weak enough," said the Lady
Lochleven, "to give so far way to your unhappy prejudices, and a
religioner of the Pope presented himself on his part at our town of
Kinross. But the Douglass is Lord of his own castle, and will not permit
his threshold to be darkened, no not for a single moment, by an emissary
belonging to the Bishop of Rome."

"Methinks it were well, then," said Mary, "that my Lord Regent would
send me where there is less scruple and more charity."

"In this, madam," answered the Lady Lochleven, "you mistake the nature
both of charity and of religion. Charity giveth to those who are in
delirium the medicaments which may avail their health, but refuses those
enticing cates and liquors which please the palate, but augment the
disease."

"This your charity, Lady Lochleven, is pure cruelty, under the
hypocritical disguise of friendly care. I am oppressed amongst you as if
you meant the destruction both of my body and soul; but Heaven will not
endure such iniquity for ever, and they who are the most active agents
in it may speedily expect their reward."

At this moment Randal entered the apartment, with a look so much
perturbed, that the Lady Fleming uttered a faint scream, the Queen was
obviously startled, and the Lady of Lochleven, though too bold and proud
to evince any marked signs of alarm, asked hastily what was the matter?

"Dryfesdale has been slain, madam," was the reply; "murdered as soon as
he gained the dry land by young Master Henry Seyton."

It was now Catherine's turn to start and grow pale--"Has the murderer of
the Douglas's vassal escaped?" was the Lady's hasty question.

"There was none to challenge him but old Keltie, and the carrier
Auchtermuchty," replied Randal; "unlikely men to stay one of the
frackest [Footnote: Boldest--most forward.] youths in Scotland of
his years, and who was sure to have friends and partakers at no great
distance."

"Was the deed completed?" said the Lady.

"Done, and done thoroughly," said Randal; "a Seyton seldom strikes
twice--But the body was not despoiled, and your honour's packet goes
forward to Edinburgh by Auchtermuchty, who leaves Keltie-Bridge early
to-morrow--marry, he has drunk two bottles of aquavitae to put the
fright out of his head, and now sleeps them off beside his cart-avers."
[Footnote: Cart-horses.]

There was a pause when this fatal tale was told. The Queen and Lady
Douglas looked on each other, as if each thought how she could best
turn the incident to her own advantage in the controversy, which was
continually kept alive betwixt them--Catherine Seyton kept her kerchief
at her eyes and wept.

"You see, madam, the bloody maxims and practice of the deluded Papists,"
said Lady Lochleven.

"Nay, madam," replied the Queen, "say rather you see the deserved
judgment of Heaven upon a Calvinistical poisoner."

"Dryfesdale was not of the Church of Geneva, or of Scotland," said the
Lady of Lochleven, hastily.

"He was a heretic, however," replied Mary; "there is but one true and
unerring guide; the others lead alike into error."

"Well, madam, I trust it will reconcile you to your retreat, that
this deed shows the temper of those who might wish you at liberty.
Blood-thirsty tyrants, and cruel men-quellers are they all, from
the Clan-Ranald and Clan-Tosach in the north, to the Ferniherst and
Buccleuch in the south--the murdering Seytons in the east, and--"

"Methinks, madam, you forget that I am a Seyton?" said Catherine,
withdrawing her kerchief from her face, which was now coloured with
indignation.

"If I had forgot it, fair mistress, your forward bearing would have
reminded me," said Lady Lochleven.

"If my brother has slain the villain that would have poisoned his
Sovereign, and his sister," said Catherine, "I am only so far sorry that
he should have spared the hangman his proper task. For aught farther,
had it been the best Douglas in the land, he would have been honoured in
falling by the Seyton's sword."

"Farewell, gay mistress," said the Lady of Lochleven, rising to
withdraw; "it is such maidens as you, who make giddy-fashioned revellers
and deadly brawlers. Boys must needs rise, forsooth, in the grace of
some sprightly damsel, who thinks to dance through life as through a
French galliard." She then made her reverence to the Queen, and added,
"Do you also, madam, fare you well, till curfew time, when I will
make, perchance, more bold than welcome in attending upon your supper
board.--Come with me, Randal, and tell me more of this cruel fact."

"'Tis an extraordinary chance," said the Queen, when she had departed;
"and, villain as he was, I would this man had been spared time for
repentance. We will cause something to be done for his soul, if we
ever attain our liberty, and the Church will permit such grace to a
heretic.--But, tell me, Catherine, _ma mignóne_--this brother of thine,
who is so _frack_, as the fellow called him, bears he the same wonderful
likeness to thee as formerly?"

"If your Grace means in temper, you know whether I am so _frack_ as the
serving-man spoke him."

"Nay, thou art prompt enough in all reasonable conscience," replied the
Queen; "but thou art my own darling notwithstanding--But I meant, is
this thy twin-brother as like thee in form and features as formerly? I
remember thy dear mother alleged it as a reason for destining thee to
the veil, that, were ye both to go at large, thou wouldst surely get the
credit of some of thy brother's mad pranks."

"I believe, madam," said Catherine, "there are some unusually simple
people even yet, who can hardly distinguish betwixt us, especially when,
for diversion's sake, my brother hath taken a female dress,"--and as
she spoke, she gave a quick glance at Roland Graeme, to whom this
conversation conveyed a ray of light, welcome as ever streamed into the
dungeon of a captive through the door which opened to give him freedom.

"He must be a handsome cavalier this brother of thine, if he be so like
you," replied Mary. "He was in France, I think, for these late years, so
that I saw him not at Holyrood."

"His looks, madam, have never been much found fault with," answered
Catherine Seyton; "but I would he had less of that angry and heady
spirit which evil times have encouraged amongst our young nobles. God
knows, I grudge not his life in your Grace's quarrel; and love him for
the willingness with which he labours for your rescue. But wherefore
should he brawl with an old ruffianly serving-man, and stain at once
his name with such a broil, and his hands with the blood of an old and
ignoble wretch?"

"Nay, be patient, Catherine; I will not have thee traduce my gallant
young knight. With Henry for my knight, and Roland Graeme for my trusty
squire, methinks I am like a princess of romance, who may shortly set at
defiance the dungeons and the weapons of all wicked sorcerers.--But
my head aches with the agitation of the day. Take me _La Mer Des
Histoires_, and resume where we left off on Wednesday.--Our Lady help
thy head, girl, or rather may she help thy heart!--I asked thee for the
Sea of Histories, and thou hast brought _La Cronique d'Amour_."

Once embarked upon the Sea of Histories, the Queen continued her
labours with her needle, while Lady Fleming and Catherine read to her
alternately for two hours.

As to Roland Graeme, it is probable that he continued in secret intent
upon the Chronicle of Love, notwithstanding the censure which the Queen
seemed to pass upon that branch of study. He now remembered a thousand
circumstances of voice and manner, which, had his own prepossession been
less, must surely have discriminated the brother from the sister; and
he felt ashamed, that, having as it were by heart every particular of
Catherine's gestures, words, and manners, he should have thought her,
notwithstanding her spirits and levity, capable of assuming the bold
step, loud tones, and forward assurance, which accorded well enough with
her brother's hasty and masculine character. He endeavoured repeatedly
to catch a glance of Catherine's eye, that he might judge how she was
disposed to look upon him since he had made the discovery, but he was
unsuccessful; for Catherine, when she was not reading herself, seemed
to take so much interest in the exploits of the Teutonic knights against
the Heathens of Esthonia and Livonia, that he could not surprise her eye
even for a second. But when, closing the book, the Queen commanded their
attendance in the garden, Mary, perhaps of set purpose, (for Roland's
anxiety could not escape so practised an observer,) afforded him a
favourable opportunity of accosting his mistress. The Queen commanded
them to a little distance, while she engaged Lady Fleming in a
particular and private conversation; the subject whereof we learn, from
another authority, to have been the comparative excellence of the high
standing ruff and the falling band. Roland must have been duller, and
more sheepish than ever was youthful lover, if he had not endeavoured to
avail himself of this opportunity.

"I have been longing this whole evening to ask of you, fair Catherine,"
said the page, "how foolish and unapprehensive you must have thought me,
in being capable to mistake betwixt your brother and you?"

"The circumstance does indeed little honour to my rustic manners," said
Catherine, "since those of a wild young man were so readily mistaken for
mine. But I shall grow wiser in time; and with that view I am determined
not to think of your follies, but to correct my own."

"It will be the lighter subject of meditation of the two," said Roland.

"I know not that," said Catherine, very gravely; "I fear we have been
both unpardonably foolish."

"I have been mad," said Roland, "unpardonably mad. But you, lovely
Catherine--"

"I," said Catherine, in the same tone of unusual gravity, "have too long
suffered you to use such expressions towards me--I fear I can permit it
no longer, and I blame myself for the pain it may give you."

"And what can have happened so suddenly to change our relation to each
other, or alter, with such sudden cruelty, your whole deportment to me?"

"I can hardly tell," replied Catherine, "unless it is that the events
of the day have impressed on my mind the necessity of our observing more
distance to each other. A chance similar to that which betrayed to you
the existence of my brother, may make known to Henry the terms you have
used to me; and, alas! his whole conduct, as well as his deed, this day,
makes me too justly apprehensive of the consequences."

"Fear nothing for that, fair Catherine," answered the page; "I am well
able to protect myself against risks of that nature."

"That is to say," replied she, "that you would fight with my
twin-brother to show your regard for his sister? I have heard the
Queen say, in her sad hours, that men are, in love or in hate, the most
selfish animals of creation; and your carelessness in this matter looks
very like it. But be not so much abashed--you are no worse than others."

"You do me injustice, Catherine," replied the page, "I thought but of
being threatened with a sword, and did not remember in whose hand your
fancy had placed it. If your brother stood before me, with his drawn
weapon in his hand, so like as he is to you in word, person, and favour,
he might shed my life's blood ere I could find in my heart to resist him
to his injury."

"Alas!" said she, "it is not my brother alone. But you remember only the
singular circumstances in which we have met in equality, and I may say
in intimacy. You think not, that whenever I re-enter my father's house,
there is a gulf between us you may not pass, but with peril of your
life.--Your only known relative is of wild and singular habits, of a
hostile and broken clan [Footnote: A broken clan was one who had no
chief able to find security for their good behaviour--a clan of outlaws;
And the Graemes of the Debateable Land were in that condition.]--the
rest of your lineage unknown--forgive me that I speak what is the
undeniable truth."

"Love, my beautiful Catherine, despises genealogies," answered Roland
Graeme.

"Love may, but so will not the Lord Seyton," rejoined the damsel.

"The Queen, thy mistress and mine, she will intercede. Oh! drive me not
from you at the moment I thought myself most happy!--and if I shall
aid her deliverance, said not yourself that you and she would become my
debtors?"

"All Scotland will become your debtors," said Catherine; "but for the
active effects you might hope from our gratitude, you must remember I am
wholly subjected to my father; and the poor Queen is, for a long time,
more likely to be dependant on the pleasure of the nobles of her party,
than possessed of power to control them."

"Be it so," replied Roland; "my deeds shall control prejudice itself--it
is a bustling world, and I will have my share. The Knight of Avenel,
high as he now stands, rose from as obscure an origin as mine."

"Ay!" said Catherine, "there spoke the doughty knight of romance, that
will cut his way to the imprisoned princess, through fiends and fiery
dragons!"

"But if I can set the princess at large, and procure her the freedom
of her own choice," said the page, "where, dearest Catherine, will that
choice alight?"

"Release the princess from duresse, and she will tell you," said the
damsel; and breaking off the conversation abruptly, she joined the Queen
so suddenly, that Mary exclaimed, half aloud--

"No more tidings of evil import--no dissension, I trust, in my limited
household?"--Then looking on Catherine's blushing cheek, and Roland's
expanded brow and glancing eye--"No--no," she said, "I see all is
well--_Ma petite mignone_, go to my apartment and fetch me down--let me
see--ay, fetch my pomander box."

And having thus disposed of her attendant in the manner best qualified
to hide her confusion, the Queen added, speaking apart to Roland, "I
should at least have two grateful subjects of Catherine and you; for
what sovereign but Mary would aid true love so willingly?--Ay, you lay
your hand on your sword--your _petite flamberge à rien_ there--Well,
short time will show if all the good be true that is protested to us--I
hear them toll curfew from Kinross. To our chamber--this old dame hath
promised to be with us again at our evening meal. Were it not for the
hope of speedy deliverance, her presence would drive me distracted. But
I will be patient."

"I profess," said Catherine, who just then entered, "I would I could be
Henry, with all a man's privileges, for one moment--I long to throw my
plate at that confect of pride and formality, and ill-nature."

The Lady Fleming reprimanded her young companion for this explosion of
impatience; the Queen laughed, and they went to the presence-chamber,
where almost immediately entered supper, and the Lady of the castle.
The Queen, strong in her prudent resolutions, endured her presence with
great fortitude and equanimity, until her patience was disturbed by
a new form, which had hitherto made no part of the ceremonial of the
castle. When the other attendant had retired, Randal entered, bearing
the keys of the castle fastened upon a chain, and, announcing that
the watch was set, and the gates locked, delivered the keys with all
reverence to the Lady of Lochleven.

The Queen and her ladies exchanged with each other a look of
disappointment, anger, and vexation; and Mary said aloud, "We cannot
regret the smallness of our court, when we see our hostess discharge in
person so many of its offices. In addition to her charges of principal
steward of our household and grand almoner, she has to-night done duty
as captain of our guard."

"And will continue to do so in future, madam," answered the Lady
Lochleven, with much gravity; "the history of Scotland may teach me how
ill the duty is performed, which is done by an accredited deputy--We
have heard, madam, of favourites of later date, and as little merit,
as Oliver Sinclair." [Footnote: A favourite, and said to be an unworthy
one, of James V.]

"Oh, madam," replied the Queen, "my father had his female as well as
his male favourites--there were the Ladies Sandilands and Olifaunt,
[Footnote: The names of these ladies, and a third frail favourite of
James, are preserved in an epigram too _gaillard_ for quotation.] and
some others, methinks; but their names cannot survive in the memory of
so grave a person as you."

The Lady Lochleven looked as if she could have slain the Queen on the
spot, but commanded her temper and retired from the apartment, bearing
in her hand the ponderous bunch of keys.

"Now God be praised for that woman's youthful frailty!" said the Queen.
"Had she not that weak point in her character, I might waste my words on
her in vain--But that stain is the very reverse of what is said of
the witch's mark--I can make her feel there, though she is otherwise
insensible all over.--But how say you, girls--here is a new
difficulty--How are these keys to be come by?--there is no deceiving or
bribing this dragon, I trow."

"May I crave to know," said Roland, "whether, if your Grace were beyond
the walls of the castle, you could find means of conveyance to the firm
land, and protection when you are there?"

"Trust us for that, Roland," said the Queen; "for to that point our
scheme is indifferent well laid."

"Then if your Grace will permit me to speak my mind, I think I could be
of some use in this matter."

"As how, my good youth?--speak on," said the Queen, "and fearlessly."

"My patron the Knight of Avenel used to compel the youth educated in his
household to learn the use of axe and hammer, and working in wood and
iron--he used to speak of old northern champions, who forged their own
weapons, and of the Highland Captain, Donald nan Ord, or Donald of the
Hammer, whom he himself knew, and who used to work at the anvil with a
sledge-hammer in each hand. Some said he praised this art, because he
was himself of churl's blood. However, I gained some practice in it,
as the Lady Catherine Seyton partly knows; for since we were here, I
wrought her a silver brooch."

"Ay," replied Catharine, "but you should tell her Grace that your
workmanship was so indifferent that it broke to pieces next day, and I
flung it away."

"Believe her not, Roland," said the Queen; "she wept when it was broken,
and put the fragments into her bosom. But for your scheme--could your
skill avail to forge a second set of keys?"

"No, madam, because I know not the wards. But I am convinced I could
make a set so like that hateful bunch which the Lady bore off even now,
that could they be exchanged against them by any means, she would never
dream she was possessed of the wrong."

"And the good dame, thank Heaven, is somewhat blind," said the Queen;
"but then for a forge, my boy, and the means of labouring unobserved?"

"The armourer's forge, at which I used sometimes to work with him, is
the round vault at the bottom of the turret--he was dismissed with
the warder for being supposed too much attached to George Douglas. The
people are accustomed to see me work there, and I warrant I shall find
some excuse that will pass current with them for putting bellows and
anvil to work."

"The scheme has a promising face," said the Queen; "about it, my lad,
with all speed, and beware the nature of your work is not discovered."

"Nay, I will take the liberty to draw the bolt against chance visitors,
so that I will have time to put away what I am working upon, before I
undo the door."

"Will not that of itself attract suspicion, in a place where it is so
current already?" said Catherine.

"Not a whit," replied Roland; "Gregory the armourer, and every good
hammerman, locks himself in when he is about some master piece of craft.
Besides, something must be risked."

"Part we then to-night," said the Queen, "and God bless you my
children!--If Mary's head ever rises above water, you shall all rise
along with her."



Chapter the Thirty-Fifth.


  It is a time of danger, not of revel,
  When churchmen turn to masquers.
                     SPANISH FATHER.

The enterprise of Roland Graeme appeared to prosper. A trinket or two,
of which the work did not surpass the substance, (for the materials were
silver, supplied by the Queen,) were judiciously presented to those most
likely to be inquisitive into the labours of the forge and anvil, which
they thus were induced to reckon profitable to others and harmless
in itself. Openly, the page was seen working about such trifles. In
private, he forged a number of keys resembling so nearly in weight and
in form those which were presented every evening to the Lady Lochleven,
that, on a slight inspection, it would have been difficult to perceive
the difference. He brought them to the dark rusty colour by the use of
salt and water; and, in the triumph of his art, presented them at length
to Queen Mary in her presence-chamber, about an hour before the tolling
of the curfew. She looked at them with pleasure, but at the same time
with doubt.--"I allow," she said, "that the Lady Lochleven's eyes, which
are not of the clearest, may be well deceived, could we pass those keys
on her in place of the real implements of her tyranny. But how is this
to be done, and which of my little court dare attempt this _tour de
jongleur_ with any chance of success? Could we but engage her in some
earnest matter of argument--but those which I hold with her, always have
been of a kind which make her grasp her keys the faster, as if she
said to herself--Here I hold what sets me above your taunts and
reproaches--And even for her liberty, Mary Stuart could not stoop to
speak the proud heretic fair.--What shall we do? Shall Lady Fleming try
her eloquence in describing the last new head-tire from Paris?--alas!
the good dame has not changed the fashion of her head-gear since
Pinkie-field for aught that I know. Shall my _mignóne_ Catherine sing to
her one of those touching airs, which draw the very souls out of me and
Roland Graeme?--Alas! Dame Margaret Douglas would rather hear a Huguenot
psalm of Clement Marrot, sung to the tune of _Reveillez vous, belle
endormie._--Cousins and liege counsellors, what is to be done, for our
wits are really astray in this matter?--Must our man-at-arms and the
champion of our body, Roland Graeme, manfully assault the old lady, and
take the keys from her _par voie du fait?_"

"Nay! with your Grace's permission." said Roland, "I do not doubt being
able to manage the matter with more discretion; for though, in your
Grace's service, I do not fear--"

"A host of old women," interrupted Catherine, "each armed with rock and
spindle, yet he has no fancy for pikes and partisans, which might rise
at the cry of _Help! a Douglas, a Douglas!_"

"They that do not fear fair ladies' tongues," continued the page, "need
dread nothing else.--But, gracious Liege, I am well-nigh satisfied that
I could pass the exchange of these keys on the Lady Lochleven; but I
dread the sentinel who is now planted nightly in the garden, which, by
necessity, we must traverse."

"Our last advices from our friends on the shore have promised us
assistance in that matter," replied the Queen.

"And is your Grace well assured of the fidelity and watchfulness of
those without?"

"For their fidelity, I will answer with my life, and for their
vigilance, I will answer with my life--I will give thee instant proof,
my faithful Roland, that they are ingenuous and trusty as thyself. Come
hither--Nay, Catherine, attend us; we carry not so deft a page into our
private chamber alone. Make fast the door of the parlour, Fleming,
and warn us if you hear the least step--or stay, go thou to the
door, Catherine," (in a whisper, "thy ears and thy wits are both
sharper.)--Good Fleming, attend us thyself"--(and again she whispered,
"her reverend presence will be as safe a watch on Roland as thine
can--so be not jealous, _mignone_.")

Thus speaking, they were lighted by the Lady Fleming into the Queen's
bedroom, a small apartment enlightened by a projecting window.

"Look from that window, Roland," she said; "see you amongst the several
lights which begin to kindle, and to glimmer palely through the gray of
the evening from the village of Kinross-seest thou, I say, one solitary
spark apart from the others, and nearer it seems to the verge of the
water?--It is no brighter at this distance than the torch of the poor
glowworm, and yet, my good youth, that light is more dear to Mary
Stuart, than every star that twinkles in the blue vault of heaven.
By that signal, I know that more than one true heart is plotting my
deliverance; and without that consciousness, and the hope of freedom
it gives me, I had long since stooped to my fate, and died of a broken
heart. Plan after plan has been formed and abandoned, but still the
light glimmers; and while it glimmers, my hope lives.--Oh! how many
evenings have I sat musing in despair over our ruined schemes, and
scarce hoping that I should again see that blessed signal; when it
has suddenly kindled, and, like the lights of Saint Elmo in a tempest,
brought hope and consolation, where there, was only dejection and
despair!"

"If I mistake not," answered Roland, "the candle shines from the house
of Blinkhoolie, the mail-gardener."

"Thou hast a good eye," said the Queen; "it is there where my trusty
lieges--God and the saints pour blessings on them!--hold consultation
for my deliverance. The voice of a wretched captive would die on these
blue waters, long ere it could mingle in their councils; and yet I can
hold communication--I will confide the whole to thee--I am about to
ask those faithful friends if the moment for the great attempt is
nigh.--Place the lamp in the window, Fleming."

She obeyed, and immediately withdrew it. No sooner had she done so, than
the light in the cottage of the gardener disappeared.

"Now count," said Queen Mary, "for my heart beats so thick that I cannot
count myself."

The Lady Fleming began deliberately to count one, two, three, and when
she had arrived at ten, the light on the shore showed its pale twinkle.

"Now, our Lady be praised!" said the Queen; "it was but two nights
since, that the absence of the light remained while I could tell thirty.
The hour of deliverance approaches. May God bless those who labour in it
with such truth to me!--alas! with such hazard to themselves--and bless
you, too, my children!--Come, we must to the audience-chamber again. Our
absence might excite suspicion, should they serve supper."

They returned to the presence-chamber, and the evening concluded as
usual.

The next morning, at dinner-time, an unusual incident occurred. While
Lady Douglas of Lochleven performed her daily duty of assistant and
taster at the Queen's table, she was told a man-at-arms had arrived,
recommended by her son, but without any letter or other token than what
he brought by word of mouth.

"Hath he given you that token?" demanded the Lady.

"He reserved it, as I think, for your Ladyship's ear," replied Randal.

"He doth well," said the Lady; "tell him to wait in the hall--But
no--with your permission, madam," (to the Queen) "let him attend me
here."

"Since you are pleased to receive your domestics in my presence," said
the Queen, "I cannot choose--"

"My infirmities must plead my excuse, madam," replied the Lady; "the
life I must lead here ill suits with the years which have passed over my
head, and compels me to waive ceremonial."

"Oh, my good Lady," replied the Queen, "I would there were nought in
this your castle more strongly compulsive than the cobweb chains of
ceremony; but bolts and bars are harder matters to contend with."

As she spoke, the person announced by Randal entered the room, and
Roland Graeme at once recognized in him the Abbot Ambrosius.

"What is your name, good fellow?" said the Lady.

"Edward Glendinning," answered the Abbot, with a suitable reverence.

"Art thou of the blood of the Knight of Avenel?" said the Lady of
Lochleven.

"Ay, madam, and that nearly," replied the pretended soldier.

"It is likely enough," said the Lady, "for the Knight is the son of his
own good works, and has risen from obscure lineage to his present high
rank in the Estate--But he is of sure truth and approved worth, and his
kinsman is welcome to us. You hold, unquestionably, the true faith?"

"Do not doubt of it, madam," said the disguised churchman.

"Hast thou a token to me from Sir William Douglas?" said the Lady.

"I have, madam," replied he; "but it must be said in private."

"Thou art right," said the Lady, moving towards the recess of a window;
"say in what does it consist?"

"In the words of an old bard," replied the Abbot.

"Repeat them," answered the Lady; and he uttered, in a low tone, the
lines from an old poem, called The Howlet,--

  "O Douglas! Douglas!
  Tender and true."

"Trusty Sir John Holland!" [Footnote: Sir John Holland's poem of the
Howlet is known to collectors by the beautiful edition presented to
the Bannatyne Club, by Mr. David Laing.] said the Lady Douglas,
apostrophizing the poet, "a kinder heart never inspired a rhyme, and the
Douglas's honour was ever on thy heart-string! We receive you among our
followers, Glendinning--But, Randal, see that he keep the outer ward
only, till we shall hear more touching him from our son.--Thou fearest
not the night air. Glendinning?"

"In the cause of the Lady before whom I stand, I fear nothing, madam,"
answered the disguised Abbot.

"Our garrison, then, is stronger by one trustworthy soldier," said the
matron--"Go to the buttery, and let them make much of thee."

When the Lady Lochleven had retired, the Queen said to Roland Graeme,
who was now almost constantly in her company, "I spy comfort in that
stranger's countenance; I know not why it should be so, but I am well
persuaded he is a friend."

"Your Grace's penetration does not deceive you," answered the page; and
he informed her that the Abbot of St. Mary's himself played the part of
the newly arrived soldier.

The Queen crossed herself and looked upwards. "Unworthy sinner that I
am," she said, "that for my sake a man so holy, and so high in spiritual
office, should wear the garb of a base sworder, and run the risk of
dying the death of a traitor!"

"Heaven will protect its own servant, madam," said Catherine Seyton;
"his aid would bring a blessing on our undertaking, were it not already
blest for its own sake."

"What I admire in my spiritual father," said Roland, "was the steady
front with which he looked on me, without giving the least sign of
former acquaintance. I did not think the like was possible, since I have
ceased to believe that Henry was the same person with Catherine."

"But marked you not how astuciously the good father," said the Queen,
"eluded the questions of the woman Lochleven, telling her the very
truth, which yet she received not as such?"

Roland thought in his heart, that when the truth was spoken for the
purpose of deceiving, it was little better than a lie in disguise. But
it was no time to agitate such questions of conscience.

"And now for the signal from the shore," exclaimed Catherine; "my bosom
tells me we shall see this night two lights instead of one gleam from
that garden of Eden--And then, Roland, do you play your part manfully,
and we will dance on the greensward like midnight fairies!"

Catherine's conjecture misgave not, nor deceived her. In the evening
two beams twinkled from the cottage, instead of one; and the page heard,
with beating heart, that the new retainer was ordered to stand sentinel
on the outside of the castle. When he intimated this news to the Queen,
she held her hand out to him--he knelt, and when he raised it to his
lips in all dutiful homage, he found it was damp and cold as marble.
"For God's sake, madam, droop not now,--sink not now!"

"Call upon our Lady, my Liege," said the Lady Fleming--"call upon your
tutelar saint."

"Call the spirits of the hundred kings you are descended from,"
exclaimed the page; "in this hour of need, the resolution of a monarch
were worth the aid of a hundred saints."

"Oh! Roland Graeme," said Mary, in a tone of deep despondency, "be true
to me--many have been false to me. Alas! I have not always been true to
myself. My mind misgives me that I shall die in bondage, and that this
bold attempt will cost all our lives. It was foretold me by a soothsayer
in France, that I should die in prison, and by a violent death, and here
comes the hour--Oh, would to God it found me prepared!"

"Madam," said Catherine Seyton, "remember you are a Queen. Better we all
died in bravely attempting to gain our freedom, than remained here to be
poisoned, as men rid them of the noxious vermin that haunt old houses."

"You are right, Catherine," said the Queen; "and Mary will bear her
like herself. But alas! your young and buoyant spirit can ill spell the
causes which have broken mine. Forgive me, my children, and farewell for
a while--I will prepare both mind and body for this awful venture."

They separated, till again called together by the tolling of the curfew.
The Queen appeared grave, but firm and resolved; the Lady Fleming, with
the art of an experienced courtier, knew perfectly how to disguise her
inward tremors; Catherine's eye was fired, as if with the boldness of
the project, and the half smile which dwelt upon her beautiful mouth
seemed to contemn all the risk and all the consequences of discovery;
Roland, who felt how much success depended on his own address and
boldness, summoned together his whole presence of mind, and if he found
his spirits flag for a moment, cast his eye upon Catherine, whom he
thought he had never seen look so beautiful.--"I may be foiled," he
thought, "but with this reward in prospect, they must bring the devil to
aid them ere they cross me." Thus resolved, he stood like a greyhound
in the slips, with hand, heart, and eye intent upon making and seizing
opportunity for the execution of their project.

The keys had, with the wonted ceremonial, been presented to the Lady
Lochleven. She stood with her back to the casement, which, like that
of the Queen's apartment, commanded a view of Kinross, with the church,
which stands at some distance from the town, and nearer to the lake,
then connected with the town by straggling cottages. With her back to
this casement, then, and her face to the table, on which the keys lay
for an instant while she tasted the various dishes which were placed
there, stood the Lady of Lochleven, more provokingly intent than
usual--so at least it seemed to her prisoners--upon the huge and heavy
bunch of iron, the implements of their restraint. Just when, having
finished her ceremony as taster of the Queen's table, she was about to
take up the keys, the page, who stood beside her, and had handed her the
dishes in succession, looked sideways to the churchyard, and exclaimed
he saw corpse-candles in the churchyard. The Lady of Lochleven was not
without a touch, though a slight one, of the superstitions of the time;
the fate of her sons made her alive to omens, and a corpse-light, as it
was called, in the family burial-place boded death. She turned her head
towards the casement--saw a distant glimmering--forgot her charge for
one second, and in that second were lost the whole fruits of her former
vigilance. The page held the forged keys under his cloak, and with great
dexterity exchanged them for the real ones. His utmost address could not
prevent a slight clash as he took up the latter bunch. "Who touches the
keys?" said the Lady; and while the page answered that the sleeve of his
cloak had stirred them, she looked round, possessed herself of the bunch
which now occupied the place of the genuine keys, and again turned to
gaze on the supposed corpse-candles.

"I hold these gleams," she said, after a moment's consideration, "to
come, not from the churchyard, but from the hut of the old gardener
Blinkhoolie. I wonder what thrift that churl drives, that of late he
hath ever had light in his house till the night grew deep. I thought him
an industrious, peaceful man--If he turns resetter of idle companions
and night-walkers, the place must be rid of him."

"He may work his baskets perchance," said the page, desirous to stop the
train of her suspicion.

"Or nets, may he not?" answered the Lady.

"Ay, madam," said Roland, "for trout and salmon."

"Or for fools and knaves," replied the Lady: "but this shall be
looked after to-morrow.--I wish your Grace and your company a good
evening.--Randal, attend us." And Randal, who waited in the antechamber
after having surrendered his bunch of keys, gave his escort to his
mistress as usual, while, leaving the Queen's apartments, she retired to
her own [End of paragraph missing in original]

"To-morrow" said the page, rubbing his hands with glee as he repeated
the Lady's last words, "fools look to-morrow, and wise folk use
to-night.--May I pray you, my gracious Liege, to retire for one half
hour, until all the castle is composed to rest? I must go and rub with
oil these blessed implements of our freedom. Courage and constancy, and
all will go well, provided our friends on the shore fail not to send the
boat you spoke of."

"Fear them not," said Catherine, "they are true as steel--if our dear
mistress do but maintain her noble and royal courage."

[Footnote: In the dangerous expedition to Aberdeenshire, Randolph, the
English Ambassador, gives Cecil the following account of Queen Mary's
demeanour:--

"In all those garbulles, I assure your honour, I never saw the Queen
merrier, never dismayed; nor never thought I that stomache to be in her
that I find. She repented nothing but, when the Lords and others, at
Inverness, came in the morning from the watches, that she was not a man,
to know what life it was to lye all night in the fields, or to walk
upon the causeway with a jack and a knaps-cap, a Glasgow buckler, and a
broadsword."--RANDOLPH _to_ CECIL, _September_ 18, 1562.

The writer of the above letter seems to have felt the same impression
which Catherine Seyton, in the text, considered as proper to the Queen's
presence among her armed subjects.

"Though we neither thought nor looked for other than on that day to have
fought or never-what desperate blows would not have been given, when
every man should have fought in the sight of so noble a Queen, and so
many fair ladies, our enemies to have taken them from us, and we to
save our honours, not to be reft of them, your honour can easily
judge."--_The same to the same, September_ 24, 1562. ]

"Doubt not me, Catherine," replied the Queen; "a while since I was
overborne, but I have recalled the spirit of my earlier and more
sprightly days, when I used to accompany my armed nobles, and wish to
be myself a man, to know what life it was to be in the fields with sword
and buckler, jack, and knapscap."

"Oh, the lark lives not a gayer life, nor sings a lighter and gayer song
than the merry soldier," answered Catherine. "Your Grace shall be in
the midst of them soon, and the look of such a liege Sovereign will make
each of your host worth three in the hour of need:--but I must to my
task."

"We have but brief time," said Queen Mary; "one of the two lights in the
cottage is extinguished--that shows the boat is put off."

"They will row very slow," said the page, "or kent where depth permits,
to avoid noise.--To our several tasks--I will communicate with the good
Father."

At the dead hour of midnight, when all was silent in the castle, the
page put the key into the lock of the wicket which opened into the
garden, and which was at the bottom of a staircase which descended from
the Queen's apartment. "Now, turn smooth and softly, thou good bolt,"
said he, "if ever oil softened rust!" and his precautions had been so
effectual, that the bolt revolved with little or no sound of resistance.
He ventured not to cross the threshold, but exchanging a word with the
disguised Abbot, asked if the boat were ready?

"This half hour," said the sentinel. "She lies beneath the wall, too
close under the islet to be seen by the warder, but I fear she will
hardly escape his notice in putting off again."

"The darkness," said the page, "and our profound silence, may take her
off unobserved, as she came in. Hildebrand has the watch on the tower--a
heavy-headed knave, who holds a can of ale to be the best headpiece upon
a night-watch. He sleeps, for a wager."

"Then bring the Queen," said the Abbot, "and I will call Henry Seyton to
assist them to the boat."

On tiptoe, with noiseless step and suppressed breath, trembling at every
rustle of their own apparel, one after another the fair prisoners glided
down the winding stair, under the guidance of Roland Graeme, and were
received at the wicket-gate by Henry Seyton and the churchman. The
former seemed instantly to take upon himself the whole direction of the
enterprise. "My Lord Abbot," he said, "give my sister your arm--I will
conduct the Queen--and that youth will have the honour to guide Lady
Fleming."

This was no time to dispute the arrangement, although it was not that
which Roland Graeme would have chosen. Catherine Seyton, who well knew
the garden path, tripped on before like a sylph, rather leading the
Abbot than receiving assistance--the Queen, her native spirit prevailing
over female fear, and a thousand painful reflections, moved steadily
forward, by the assistance of Henry Seyton--while the Lady Fleming,
encumbered with her fears and her helplessness Roland Graeme, who
followed in the rear, and who bore under the other arm a packet of
necessaries belonging to the Queen. The door of the garden, which
communicated with the shore of the islet, yielded to one of the keys
of which Roland had possessed himself, although not until he had tried
several,--a moment of anxious terror and expectation. The ladies were
then partly led, partly carried, to the side of the lake, where a boat
with six rowers attended them, the men couched along the bottom to
secure them from observation. Henry Seyton placed the Queen in the
stern; the Abbot offered to assist Catherine, but she was seated by
the Queen's side before he could utter his proffer of help; and Roland
Graeme was just lifting Lady Fleming over the boat-side, when a thought
suddenly occurred to him, and exclaiming, "Forgotten, forgotten! wait
for me but one half-minute," he replaced on the shore the helpless Lady
of the bed-chamber, threw the Queen's packet into the boat, and sped
back through the garden with the noiseless speed of a bird on the wing.

"By Heaven, he is false at last!" said Seyton; "I ever feared it!"

"He is as true," said Catherine, "as Heaven itself, and that I will
maintain."

"Be silent, minion," said her brother, "for shame, if not for
fear--Fellows, put off, and row for your lives!"

"Help me, help me on board!" said the deserted Lady Fleming, and that
louder than prudence warranted.

"Put off--put off!" cried Henry Seyton; "leave all behind, so the Queen
is safe."

"Will you permit this, madam?" said Catherine, imploringly; "you leave
your deliverer to death."

"I will not," said the Queen.--"Seyton I command you to stay at every
risk."

"Pardon me, madam, if I disobey," said the intractable young man; and
with one hand lifting in Lady Fleming, he began himself to push off the
boat.

She was two fathoms' length from the shore, and the rowers were getting
her head round, when Roland Graeme, arriving, bounded from the beach,
and attained the boat, overturning Seyton, on whom he lighted. The youth
swore a deep but suppressed oath, and stopping Graeme as he stepped
towards the stern, said, "Your place is not with high-born dames--keep
at the head and trim the vessel--Now give way--give way--Row, for God
and the Queen!"

The rowers obeyed, and began to pull vigorously.

"Why did ye not muffle the oars?" said Roland Graeme; "the dash must
awaken the sentinel--Row, lads, and get out of reach of shot; for
had not old Hildebrand, the warder, supped upon poppy-porridge, this
whispering must have waked him."

"It was all thine own delay," said Seyton; "thou shalt reckon, with me
hereafter for that and other matters."

But Roland's apprehension was verified too instantly to permit him to
reply. The sentinel, whose slumbering had withstood the whispering, was
alarmed by the dash of the oars. His challenge was instantly heard. "A
boat---a boat!--bring to, or I shoot!" And, as they continued to ply
their oars, he called aloud, "Treason! treason!" rung the bell of the
castle, and discharged his harquebuss at the boat. The ladies crowded
on each other like startled wild foul, at the flash and report of the
piece, while the men urged the rowers to the utmost speed. They heard
more than one ball whiz along the surface of the lake, at no great
distance from their little bark; and from the lights, which glanced
like meteors from window to window, it was evident the whole castle was
alarmed, and their escape discovered.

"Pull!" again exclaimed Seyton; "stretch to your oars, or I will spur
you to the task with my dagger--they will launch a boat immediately."

"That is cared for," said Roland; "I locked gate and wicket on them when
I went back, and no boat will stir from the island this night, if doors
of good oak and bolts of iron can keep men within stone-walls.--And
now I resign my office of porter of Lochleven, and give the keys to the
Kelpie's keeping."

As the heavy keys plunged in the lake, the Abbot,--who till then had
been repeating his prayers, exclaimed, "Now, bless thee, my son! for thy
ready prudence puts shame on us all."

[Footnote: It is well known that the escape of Queen Mary from Lochleven
was effected by George Douglas, the youngest brother of Sir William
Douglas, the lord of the castle; but the minute circumstances of the
event have been a good deal confused, owing to two agents having been
concerned in it who bore the same name. It has been always supposed that
George Douglas was induced to abet Mary's escape by the ambitions hope
that, by such service, he might merit her hand. But his purpose was
discovered by his brother Sir William, and he was expelled from the
castle. He continued, notwithstanding, to hover in the neighbourhood,
and maintain a correspondence with the royal prisoner and others in the
fortress.

If we believe the English ambassador Drury, the Queen was grateful to
George Douglas, and even proposed a marriage with him; a scheme which
could hardly be serious, since she was still the wife of Bothwell, but
which, if suggested at all, might be with a purpose of gratifying the
Regent Murray's ambition, and propitiating his favour; since he was, it
must be remembered, the brother uterine of George Douglas, for whom such
high honour was said to be designed.

The proposal, if seriously made, was treated as inadmissible, and Mary
again resumed her purpose of escape. Her failure in her first attempt
has some picturesque particulars, which might have been advantageously
introduced in fictitious narrative. Drury sends Cecil the following
account of the matter:--

"But after, upon the 25th of the last, (April 1567,) she interprised
an escape, and was the rather near effect, through her accustomed long
lying in bed all the morning. The manner of it was thus: there cometh in
to her the laundress early as other times before she was wanted, and the
Queen according to such a secret practice putteth on her the hood of the
laundress, and so with the fardel of clothes and the muffler upon her
face, passeth, out and entereth the boat to pass the Loch; which, after
some space, one of them that rowed said merrily, 'Let us see what manner
of dame this is,' and therewith offered to pull down her muffler, which
to defend, she put up her hands, which they spied to be very fair and
white; wherewith they entered into suspicion whom she was, beginning to
wonder at her enterprise. Whereat she was little dismayed, but charged
them, upon danger of their lives, to row her over to the shore, which
they nothing regarded, but eftsoons rowed her back again, promising her
it should be secreted, and especially from the lord of the house, under
whose guard she lyeth. It seemeth she knew her refuge, and--where to
have found it if she had once landed; for there did, and yet do linger,
at a little village called Kinross, hard at the Loch side, the same
George Douglas, one Sempel and one Beton, the which two were sometime
her trusty servants, and, as yet appeareth, they mind her no less
affection."--_Bishop Keith's History of the Affairs of Church and State
in Scotland_, p. 490.

Notwithstanding this disappointment, little spoke of by historians, Mary
renewed her attempts to escape. There was in the Castle of Lochleven
a lad, named William Douglas, some relation probably of the baron,
and about eighteen years old. This youth proved as accessible to Queen
Mary's prayers and promises, as was the brother of his patron, George
Douglas, from whom this William must be carefully kept distinct. It was
young William who played the part commonly assigned to his superior,
George, stealing the keys of the castle from the table on which they
lay, while his lord was at supper. He let the Queen and a waiting woman
out of the apartment where they were secured, and out of the tower
itself, embarked with them in a small skiff, and rowed them to the
shore. To prevent instant pursuit, he, for precaution's sake, locked the
iron grated door of the tower, and threw the keys into the lake. They
found George Douglas and the Queen's servant, Beton, waiting for them,
and Lord Seyton and James Hamilton of Orbeiston in attendance, at the
head of a party of faithful followers, with whom they fled to Niddrie
Castle, and from thence to Hamilton.

In narrating this romantic story, both history and tradition confuse the
two Douglasses together, and confer on George the successful execution
of the escape from the castle, the merit of which belongs, in reality,
to the boy called William, or, more frequently, the Little Douglas,
either from his youth or his slight stature. The reader will observe,
that in the romance, the part of the Little Douglas has been assigned
to Roland Graeme. In another case, it would be tedious to point out in a
work of amusement such minute points of historical fact; but the
general interest taken in the fate of Queen Mary, renders every thing of
consequence which connects itself with her misfortunes. ]

"I knew," said Mary, drawing her breath more freely, as they were now
out of reach of the musketry--"I knew my squire's truth, promptitude,
and sagacity.--I must have him my dear friends--with my no less true
knights, Douglas and Seyton--but where, then, is Douglas?"

"Here, madam," answered the deep and melancholy voice of the boatman who
sat next her, and who acted as steersman.

"Alas! was it you who stretched your body before me," said the Queen,
"when the balls were raining around us?"

"Believe you," said he, in a low tone, "that Douglas would have resigned
to any one the chance of protecting his Queen's life with his own?"

The dialogue was here interrupted by a shot or two from one of those
small pieces of artillery called falconets, then used in defending
castles. The shot was too vague to have any effect, but the broader
flash, the deeper sound, the louder return which was made by the
midnight echoes of Bennarty, terrified and imposed silence on the
liberated prisoners. The boat was alongside of a rude quay or landing
place, running out from a garden of considerable extent, ere any of
them again attempted to speak. They landed, and while the Abbot returned
thanks aloud to Heaven,--which had thus far favoured their enterprise,
Douglas enjoyed the best reward of his desperate undertaking, in
conducting the Queen to the house of the gardener.

Yet, not unmindful of Roland Graeme even in that moment of terror and
exhaustion, Mary expressly commanded Seyton to give his assistance to
Fleming, while Catherine voluntarily, and without bidding, took the arm
of the page. Seyton presently resigned Lady Fleming to the care of the
Abbot, alleging, he must look after their horses; and his attendants,
disencumbering themselves of their boat-cloaks, hastened to assist him.

While Mary spent in the gardener's cottage the few minutes which were
necessary to prepare the steeds for their departure, she perceived, in
a corner, the old man to whom the garden belonged, and called him to
approach. He came as it were with reluctance.

"How, brother," said the Abbot, "so slow to welcome thy royal Queen and
mistress to liberty and to her kingdom!"

The old man, thus admonished, came forward, and, in good terms of
speech, gave her Grace joy of her deliverance. The Queen returned him
thanks in the most gracious manner, and added, "It will remain to us
to offer some immediate reward for your fidelity, for we wot well your
house has been long the refuge in which our trusty servants have met
to concert measures for our freedom." So saying, she offered gold, and
added, "We will consider your services more fully hereafter."

"Kneel, brother," said the Abbot, "kneel instantly, and thank her
Grace's kindness."

"Good brother, that wert once a few steps under me, and art still
many years younger," replied the gardener, pettishly, "let me do mine
acknowledgments in my own way. Queens have knelt to me ere now, and in
truth my knees are too old and stiff to bend even to this lovely-faced
lady. May it please your Grace, if your Grace's servants have occupied
my house, so that I could not call it mine own--if they have trodden
down my flowers in the zeal of their midnight comings and goings, and
destroyed the hope of the fruit season, by bringing their war-horses
into my garden, I do but crave of your Grace in requital, that you will
choose your residence as far from me as possible. I am an old man
who would willingly creep to my grave as easily as I can, in peace,
good-will, and quiet labour."

"I promise you fairly, good man," said the Queen, "I will not make
yonder castle my residence again, if I can help it. But let me press on
you this money--it will make some amends for the havoc we have made in
your little garden and orchard."

"I thank your Grace, but it will make me not the least amends," said the
old man. "The ruined labours of a whole year are not so easily replaced
to him who has perchance but that one year to live; and besides, they
tell me I must leave this place and become a wanderer in mine old age--I
that have nothing on earth saving these fruit-trees, and a few old
parchments and family secrets not worth knowing. As for gold, if I had
loved it, I might have remained Lord Abbot of St. Mary's--and yet, I
wot not--for, if Abbot Boniface be but the poor peasant Blinkhoolie, his
successor, the Abbot Ambrosius, is still transmuted for the worse into
the guise of a sword-and-buckler-man."

"Is this indeed the Abbot Boniface of whom I have heard?" said the
Queen. "It is indeed I who should have bent the knee for your blessing,
good Father."

"Bend no knee to me, Lady! The blessing of an old man, who is no longer
an Abbot, go with you over dale and down--I hear the trampling of your
horses."

"Farewell, Father," said the Queen. "When we are once more seated at
Holyrood, we will neither forget thee nor thine injured garden."

"Forget us both," said the Ex-Abbot Boniface, "and may God be with you!"

As they hurried out of the house, they heard the old man talking and
muttering to himself, as he hastily drew bolt and bar behind them.

"The revenge of the Douglasses will reach the poor old man," said the
Queen. "God help me, I ruin every one whom I approach!"

"His safety is cared for," said Seyton; "he must not remain here, but
will be privately conducted to a place of greater security. But I would
your Grace were in the saddle.--To horse! to horse!"

The party of Seyton and of Douglas were increased to about ten by those
attendants who had remained with the horses. The Queen and her ladies,
with all the rest who came from the boat, were instantly mounted; and
holding aloof from the village, which was already alarmed by the firing
from the castle, with Douglas acting as their guide, they soon reached
the open ground and began to ride as fast as was consistent with keeping
together in good order.



Chapter the Thirty-Sixth.


  He mounted himself on a coal-black steed,
   And her on a freckled gray,
  With a bugelet horn hung down from his side,
   And roundly they rode away.
                               OLD BALLAD.

The influence of the free air, the rushing of the horses over high and
low, the ringing of the bridles, the excitation at once arising from a
sense of freedom and of rapid motion, gradually dispelled the confused
and dejected sort of stupefaction by which Queen Mary was at first
overwhelmed. She could not at last conceal the change of her feelings to
the person who rode at her rein, and who she doubted not was the Father
Ambrosius; for Seyton, with all the heady impetuosity of a youth, proud,
and justly so, of his first successful adventure, assumed all the bustle
and importance of commander of the little party, which escorted, in the
language of the time, the Fortune of Scotland. He now led the van,
now checked his bounding steed till the rear had come up, exhorted the
leaders to keep a steady, though rapid pace, and commanded those who
were hindmost of the party to use their spurs, and allow no interval to
take place in their line of march; and anon he was beside the Queen, or
her ladies, inquiring how they brooked the hasty journey, and whether
they had any commands for him. But while Seyton thus busied himself in
the general cause with some advantage to the regular order of the march,
and a good deal of personal ostentation, the horseman who rode beside
the Queen gave her his full and undivided attention, as if he had
been waiting upon some superior being. When the road was rugged and
dangerous, he abandoned almost entirely the care of his own horse, and
kept his hand constantly upon the Queen's bridle; if a river or larger
brook traversed their course, his left arm retained her in the saddle,
while his right held her palfrey's rein.

"I had not thought, reverend Father," said the Queen, when they reached
the other bank, "that the convent bred such good horsemen."--The person
she addressed sighed, but made no other answer.--"I know not how it is,"
said Queen Mary, "but either the sense of freedom, or the pleasure of
my favourite exercise, from which I have been so long debarred, or both
combined, seem to have given wings to me--no fish ever shot through the
water, no bird through the air, with the hurried feeling of liberty
and rapture with which I sweep through, this night-wind, and over these
wolds. Nay, such is the magic of feeling myself once more in the
saddle, that I could almost swear I am at this moment mounted on my own
favourite Rosabelle, who was never matched in Scotland for swiftness,
for ease of motion, and for sureness of foot."

"And if the horse which bears so dear a burden could speak," answered
the deep voice of the melancholy George of Douglas, "would she not
reply, who but Rosabelle ought at such an emergence as this to serve her
beloved mistress, or who but Douglas ought to hold her bridle-rein?"

Queen Mary started; she foresaw at once all the evils like to arise to
herself and him from the deep enthusiastic passion of this youth; but
her feelings as a woman, grateful at once and compassionate, prevented
her assuming the dignity of a Queen, and she endeavoured to continue the
conversation in an indifferent tone.

"Methought," she said, "I heard that, at the division of my spoils,
Rosabelle had become the property of Lord Morton's paramour and
ladye-love Alice."

"The noble palfrey had indeed been destined to so base a lot," answered
Douglas; "she was kept under four keys, and under the charge of a
numerous crew of grooms and domestics--but Queen Mary needed Rosabelle,
and Rosabelle is here."

"And was it well, Douglas," said Queen Mary, "when such fearful risks of
various kinds must needs be encountered, that you should augment their
perils to yourself for a subject of so little moment as a palfrey?"

"Do you call that of little moment," answered Douglas, "which has
afforded you a moment's pleasure?--Did you not start with joy when I
first said you were mounted on Rosabelle?--And to purchase you that
pleasure, though it were to last no longer than the flash of lightning
doth, would not Douglas have risked his life a thousand times?"

"Oh, peace, Douglas, peace," said the Queen, "this is unfitting
language; and, besides, I would speak," said she, recollecting herself,
"with the Abbot of Saint Mary's--Nay, Douglas, I will not let you quit
my rein in displeasure."

"Displeasure, lady!" answered Douglas: "alas! sorrow is all that I can
feel for your well-warranted contempt--I should be as soon displeased
with Heaven for refusing the wildest wish which mortal can form."

"Abide by my rein, however," said Mary, "there is room for my Lord Abbot
on the other side; and, besides, I doubt if his assistance would be
so useful to Rosabelle and me as yours has been, should the road again
require it."

The Abbot came up on the other side, and she immediately opened a
conversation with him on the topic of the state of parties, and the
plan fittest for her to pursue inconsequence of her deliverance. In
this conversation Douglas took little share, and never but when directly
applied to by the Queen, while, as before, his attention seemed entirely
engrossed by the care of Mary's personal safety. She learned, however,
she had a new obligation to him, since, by his contrivance, the Abbot,
whom he had furnished with the family pass-word, was introduced into the
castle as one of the garrison.

Long before daybreak they ended their hasty and perilous journey before
the gates of Niddrie, a castle in West Lothian, belonging to Lord
Seyton. When the Queen was about to alight, Henry Seyton, preventing
Douglas, received her in his arms, and, kneeling down, prayed her
Majesty to enter the house of his father, her faithful servant.

"Your Grace," he added, "may repose yourself here in perfect safety--it
is already garrisoned with good men for your protection; and I have sent
a post to my father, whose instant arrival, at the head of five hundred
men, may be looked for. Do not dismay yourself, therefore, should your
sleep be broken by the trampling of horse; but only think that here are
some scores more of the saucy Seytons come to attend you."

"And by better friends than the Saucy Seytons, a Scottish Queen cannot
be guarded," replied Mary. "Rosabelle went fleet as the summer breeze,
and well-nigh as easy; but it is long since I have been a traveller, and
I feel that repose will be welcome.--Catherine, _ma mignone_, you
must sleep in my apartment to-night, and bid me welcome to your noble
father's castle.--Thanks, thanks to all my kind deliverers--thanks, and
a good night is all I can now offer; but if I climb once more to the
upper side of Fortune's wheel, I will not have her bandage. Mary Stewart
will keep her eyes open, and distinguish her friends.--Seyton, I need
scarcely recommend the venerable Abbot, the Douglas, and my page, to
your honour able care and hospitality."

Henry Seyton bowed, and Catherine and Lady Fleming attended the Queen to
her apartment; where, acknowledging to them that she should have found
it difficult in that moment to keep her promise of holding her eyes
open, she resigned herself to repose, and awakened not till the morning
was advanced.

Mary's first feeling when she awoke, was the doubt of her freedom; and
the impulse prompted her to start from bed, and hastily throwing her
mantle over her shoulders, to look out at the casement of her apartment.
Oh, sight of joy! instead of the crystal sheet of Lochleven, unaltered
save by the influence of the wind, a landscape of wood and moorland lay
before her, and the park around the castle was occupied by the troops of
her most faithful and most favourite nobles.

"Rise, rise, Catherine," cried the enraptured Princess; "arise and come
hither!--here are swords and spears in true hands, and glittering armour
on loyal breasts. Here are banners, my girl, floating in the wind, as
lightly as summer clouds--Great God! what pleasure to my weary eyes
to trace their devices--thine own brave father's--the princely
Hamilton's--the faithful Fleming's--See--see--they have caught a glimpse
of me, and throng towards the window!"

She flung the casement open, and with her bare head, from which the
tresses flew back loose and dishevelled, her fair arm slenderly veiled
by her mantle, returned by motion and sign the exulting shouts of the
warriors, which echoed for many a furlong around. When the first burst
of ecstatic joy was over, she recollected how lightly she was dressed,
and, putting her hands to her face, which was covered with blushes at
the recollection, withdrew abruptly from the window. The cause of her
retreat was easily conjectured, and increased the general enthusiasm for
a Princess, who had forgotten her rank in her haste to acknowledge the
services of her subjects. The unadorned beauties of the lovely woman,
too, moved the military spectators more than the highest display of her
regal state might; and what might have seemed too free in her mode of
appearing before them, was more than atoned for by the enthusiasm of the
moment and by the delicacy evinced in her hasty retreat. Often as the
shouts died away, as often were they renewed, till wood and hill rung
again; and many a deep path was made that morning on the cross of the
sword, that the hand should not part with the weapon, till Mary Stewart
was restored to her rights. But what are promises, what the hopes of
mortals? In ten days, these gallant and devoted votaries were slain,
were captives, or had fled.

Mary flung herself into the nearest seat, and still blushing, yet half
smiling, exclaimed, "_Ma mignone_, what will they think of me?--to show
myself to them with my bare feet hastily thrust into the slippers--only
this loose mantle about me--my hair loose on my shoulders--my arms and
neck so bare--Oh, the best they can suppose is, that her abode in yonder
dungeon has turned their Queen's brain! But my rebel subjects saw me
exposed when I was in the depth of affliction, why should I hold colder
ceremony with these faithful and loyal men?--Call Fleming, however--I
trust she has not forgotten the little mail with my apparel--We must be
as brave as we can, _mignóne_."

"Nay, madam, our good Lady Fleming was in no case to remember any
thing."

"You jest, Catherine," said the Queen, somewhat offended; "it is not in
her nature surely, to forget her duty so far as to leave us without a
change of apparel?"

"Roland Graeme, madam, took care of that," answered Catherine; "for he
threw the mail, with your highness's clothes and jewels, into the boat,
ere he ran back to lock the gate--I never saw so awkward a page as that
youth--the packet well-nigh fell on my head."

"He shall make thy heart amends, my girl," said Queen Mary, laughing,
"for that and all other offences given. But call Fleming, and let us put
ourselves into apparel to meet our faithful lords."

Such had been the preparations, and such was the skill of Lady Fleming,
that the Queen appeared before her assembled nobles in such attire as
became, though it could not enhance, her natural dignity. With the most
winning courtesy, she expressed to each individual her grateful thanks,
and dignified not only every noble, but many of the lesser barons by her
particular attention.

"And whither now, my lords?" she said; "what way do your counsels
determine for us?"

"To Draphane Castle," replied Lord Arbroath, "if your Majesty is so
pleased; and thence to Dunbarton, to place your Grace's person in
safety, after which we long to prove if these traitors will abide us in
the field."

"And when do we journey?"

"We propose," said Lord Seyton, "if your Grace's fatigue will permit, to
take horse after the morning's meal."

"Your pleasure, my Lords, is mine," replied the Queen; "we will rule our
journey by your wisdom now, and hope hereafter to have the advantage of
governing by it our kingdom.--You will permit my ladies and me, my
good lords, to break our fasts along with you--We must be half soldiers
ourselves, and set state apart."

Low bowed many a helmeted head at this gracious proffer, when the Queen,
glancing her eyes through the assembled leaders, missed both Douglas and
Roland Graeme, and inquired for them in a whisper to Catherine Seyton.

"They are in yonder oratory, madam, sad enough," replied Catherine; and
the Queen observed that her favourite's eyes were red with weeping.

"This must not be," said the Queen. "Keep the company amused--I will
seek them, and introduce them myself."

She went into the oratory, where the first she met was George Douglas,
standing, or rather reclining, in the recess of a window, his back
rested against the wall, and his arms folded on his breast. At the sight
of the Queen he started, and his countenance showed, for an instant,
an expression of intense delight, which was instantly exchanged for his
usual deep melancholy.

"What means this?" she said; "Douglas, why does the first deviser and
bold executor of the happy scheme for our freedom, shun the company of
his fellow-nobles, and of the Sovereign whom he has obliged?"

"Madam," replied Douglas, "those whom you grace with your presence bring
followers to aid your cause, wealth to support your state,--can offer
you halls in which to feast, and impregnable castles for your defence.
I am a houseless and landless man--disinherited by my mother, and
laid under her malediction--disowned by my name and kindred--who bring
nothing to your standard but a single sword, and the poor life of its
owner."

"Do you mean to upbraid me, Douglas," replied the Queen, "by showing
what you have lost for my sake?"

"God forbid, madam!" interrupted the young man, eagerly; "were it to do
again, and had I ten times as much rank and wealth, and twenty times as
many friends to lose, my losses would be overpaid by the first step you
made, as a free princess, upon the soil of your native kingdom."

"And what then ails you, that you will not rejoice with those who
rejoice upon the same joyful occasion?" said the Queen.

"Madam," replied the youth," though exheridated and disowned, I am yet
a Douglas: with most of yonder nobles my family have been in feud for
ages--a cold reception amongst them, were an insult, and a kind one yet
more humiliating."

"For shame, Douglas," replied the Queen, "shake off this unmanly
gloom!--I can make thee match for the best of them in title and fortune,
and, believe me, I will.--Go then amongst them, I command you."

"That word," said Douglas, "is enough--I go. This only let me say, that
not for wealth or title would I have done that which I have done--Mary
Stewart will not, and the Queen cannot, reward me."

So saying, he left the oratory, mingled with the nobles, and placed
himself at the bottom of the table. The Queen looked after him, and put
her kerchief to her eyes.

"Now, Our Lady pity me," she said, "for no sooner are my prison cares
ended, than those which beset me as a woman and a Queen again thicken
around me.--Happy Elizabeth! to whom political interest is every thing,
and whose heart never betrays thy head.--And now must I seek this
other boy, if I would prevent daggers-drawing betwixt him and the young
Seyton."

Roland Graeme was in the same oratory, but at such a distance from
Douglas, that he could not overhear what passed betwixt the Queen and
him. He also was moody and thoughtful, but cleared his brow at the
Queen's question, "How now, Roland? you are negligent in your attendance
this morning. Are you so much overcome with your night's ride?"

"Not so, gracious madam," answered Graeme; "but I am told the page of
Lochleven is not the page of Niddrie Castle; and so Master Henry Seyton
hath in a manner been pleased to supersede my attendance."

"Now, Heaven forgive me," said the Queen, "how soon these cock-chickens
begin to spar!--with children and boys, at least, I may be a queen.--I
will have you friends.--Some one send me Henry Seyton hither." As she
spoke the last words aloud, the youth whom she had named entered the
apartment. "Come hither," she said, "Henry Seyton--I will have you give
your hand to this youth, who so well aided in the plan of my escape."

"Willingly, madam," answered Seyton, "so that the youth will grant me,
as a boon, that he touch not the hand of another Seyton whom he knows
of. My hand has passed current for hers with him before now--and to win
my friendship, he must give up thoughts of my sister's love."

"Henry Seyton," said the Queen, "does it become you to add any condition
to my command?"

"Madam," said Henry, "I am the servant of your Grace's throne, son to
the most loyal man in Scotland. Our goods, our castles, our blood, are
yours: Our honour is in our own keeping. I could say more, but--"

"Nay, speak on, rude boy," said the Queen; "what avails it that I am
released from Lochleven, if I am thus enthralled under the yoke of my
pretended deliverers, and prevented from doing justice to one who has
deserved as well of me as yourself?"

"Be not in this distemperature for me, sovereign Lady," said Roland;
"this young gentleman, being the faithful servant of your Grace, and the
brother of Catherine Seyton, bears that about him which will charm down
my passion at the hottest."

"I warn thee once more," said Henry Seyton, haughtily, "that you make no
speech which may infer that the daughter of Lord Seyton can be aught to
thee beyond what she is to every churl's blood in Scotland."

The Queen was again about to interfere, for Roland's complexion rose,
and it became somewhat questionable how long his love for Catherine
would suppress the natural fire of his temper. But the interposition of
another person, hitherto unseen, prevented Mary's interference, There
was in the oratory a separate shrine, enclosed with a high screen
of pierced oak, within which was placed an image of Saint Bennet, of
peculiar sanctity. From this recess, in which she had been probably
engaged in her devotions, issued suddenly Magdalen Graeme, and addressed
Henry Seyton, in reply to his last offensive expressions,--"And of
what clay, then, are they moulded these Seytons, that the blood of the
Graemes may not aspire to mingle with theirs? Know, proud boy, that when
I call this youth my daughter's child, I affirm his descent from Malise
Earl of Strathern, called Malise with the Bright Brand; and I trow the
blood of your house springs from no higher source."

"Good mother," said Seyton, "methinks your sanctity should make you
superior to these worldly vanities; and indeed it seems to have rendered
you somewhat oblivious touching them, since, to be of gentle descent,
the father's name and lineage must be as well qualified as the
mother's."

"And if I say he comes of the blood of Avenel by the father's side,"
replied Magdalen Graeme, "name I not blood as richly coloured as thine
own?"

"Of Avenel?" said the Queen; "is my page descended of Avenel?"

"Ay, gracious Princess, and the last male heir of that ancient
house--Julian Avenel was his father, who fell in battle against the
Southron."

"I have heard the tale of sorrow," said the Queen; "it was thy daughter,
then, who followed that unfortunate baron to the field, and died on his
body? Alas! how many ways does woman's affection find to work out her
own misery! The tale has oft been told and sung in hall and bower--And
thou, Roland, art that child of misfortune, who was left among the dead
and dying? Henry Seyton, he is thine equal in blood and birth."

"Scarcely so," said Henry Seyton, "even were he legitimate; but if the
tale be told and sung aright, Julian Avenel was a false knight, and his
leman a frail and credulous maiden."

"Now, by Heaven, thou liest!" said Roland Graeme, and laid his hand on
his sword. The entrance of Lord Seyton, however, prevented violence.

"Save me, my lord," said the Queen, "and separate these wild and untamed
spirits."

"How, Henry," said the Baron, "are my castle, and the Queen's presence,
no checks on thine insolence and impetuosity?--And with whom art thou
brawling?--unless my eyes spell that token false, it is with the very
youth who aided me so gallantly in the skirmish with the Leslies--Let me
look, fair youth, at the medal which thou wearest in thy cap. By Saint
Bennet, it is the same!--Henry, I command thee to forbear him, as thou
lovest my blessing----"

"And as you honour my command," said the Queen; "good service hath he
done me."

"Ay, madam," replied young Seyton, "as when he carried the billet
enclosed in the sword-sheath to Lochleven--marry, the good youth knew no
more than a pack-horse what he was carrying."

"But I who dedicated him to this great work," said Magdalen Graeme--"I,
by whose advice and agency this just heir hath been unloosed from her
thraldom--I, who spared not the last remaining hope of a falling house
in this great action--I, at least, knew and counselled; and what merit
may be mine, let the reward, most gracious Queen, descend upon this
youth. My ministry here is ended; you are free--a sovereign Princess,
at the head of a gallant army, surrounded by valiant barons--My service
could avail you no farther, but might well prejudice you; your fortune
now rests upon men's hearts and men's swords. May they prove as trusty
as the faith of women!"

"You will not leave us, mother," said the Queen--"you whose practices in
our favour were so powerful, who dared so many dangers, and wore so many
disguises, to blind our enemies and to confirm our friends--you will not
leave us in the dawn of our reviving fortunes, ere we have time to know
and to thank you?"

"You cannot know her," answered Magdalen Graeme, "who knows not
herself--there are times, when, in this woman's frame of mine, there is
the strength of him of Gath--in this overtoiled brain, the wisdom of the
most sage counsellor--and again the mist is on me, and my strength
is weakness, my wisdom folly. I have spoken before princes and
cardinals--ay, noble Princess, even before the princes of thine own
house of Lorraine; and I know not whence the words of persuasion came
which flowed from my lips, and were drunk in by their ears.--And now,
even when I most need words of persuasion, there is something which
chokes my voice, and robs me of utterance."

"If there be aught in my power to do thee pleasure," said the Queen,
"the barely naming it shall avail as well as all thine eloquence."

"Sovereign Lady," replied the enthusiast, "it shames me that at this
high moment something of human frailty should cling to one, whose vows
the saints have heard, whose labours in the rightful cause Heaven has
prospered. But it will be thus while the living spirit is shrined in the
clay of mortality--I will yield to the folly," she said, weeping as she
spoke, "and it shall be the last." Then seizing Roland's hand, she led
him to the Queen's feet, kneeling herself upon one knee, and causing him
to kneel on both. "Mighty Princess," she said, "look on this flower--it
was found by a kindly stranger on a bloody field of battle, and long it
was ere my anxious eyes saw, and my arms pressed, all that was left of
my only daughter. For your sake, and for that of the holy faith we
both profess, I could leave this plant, while it was yet tender, to
the nurture of strangers--ay, of enemies, by whom, perchance, his blood
would have been poured forth as wine, had the heretic Glendinning known
that he had in his house the heir of Julian Avenel. Since then I have
seen him only in a few hours of doubt and dread, and now I part with the
child of my love--for ever--for ever!--Oh, for every weary step I
have made in your rightful cause, in this and in foreign lands, give
protection to the child whom I must no more call mine!"

"I swear to you, mother," said the Queen, deeply affected, "that, for
your sake and his own, his happiness and fortunes shall be our charge!"

"I thank you, daughter of princes," said Magdalen, and pressed her lips,
first to the Queen's hand, then to the brow of her grandson. "And now,"
she said, drying her tears, and rising with dignity, "Earth has had
its own, and Heaven claims the rest.--Lioness of Scotland, go forth and
conquer! and if the prayers of a devoted votaress can avail thee, they
will rise in many a land, and from many a distant shrine. I will glide
like a ghost from land to land, from temple to temple; and where the
very name of my country is unknown, the priests shall ask who is the
Queen of that distant northern land, for whom the aged pilgrim was so
fervent in prayer. Farewell! Honour be thine, and earthly prosperity, if
it be the will of God--if not, may the penance thou shalt do here ensure
thee happiness hereafter!--Let no one speak or follow me--my resolution
is taken--my vow cannot be cancelled."

She glided from their presence as she spoke, and her last look was upon
her beloved grandchild. He would have risen and followed, but the Queen
and Lord Seyton interfered.

"Press not on her now," said Lord Seyton, "if you would not lose her for
ever. Many a time have we seen the sainted mother, and often at the most
needful moment; but to press on her privacy, or to thwart her purpose,
is a crime which she cannot pardon. I trust we shall yet see her at her
need--a holy woman she is for certain, and dedicated wholly to prayer
and penance; and hence the heretics hold her as one distracted, while
true Catholics deem her a saint."

"Let me then hope," said the Queen, "that you, my lord, will aid me in
the execution of her last request."

"What! in the protection of my young second?--cheerfully--that is, in
all that your majesty can think it fitting to ask of me.--Henry, give
thy hand upon the instant to Roland Avenel, for so I presume he must now
be called."

"And shall be Lord of the Barony," said the Queen, "if God prosper our
rightful arms."

"It can only be to restore it to my kind protectress, who now holds it,"
said young Avenel. "I would rather be landless, all my life, than she
lost a rood of ground by me."

"Nay," said the Queen, looking to Lord Seyton, "his mind matches his
birth--Henry, thou hast not yet given thy hand."

"It is his," said Henry, giving it with some appearance of courtesy,
but whispering Roland at the same time,--"For all this, thou hast not my
sister's."

"May it please your Grace," said Lord Seyton, "now that these passages
are over, to honour our poor meal. Time it were that our banners were
reflected in the Clyde. We must to horse with as little delay as may
be."



Chapter the Thirty-Seventh.


  Ay, sir--our ancient crown, in these wild times,
  Oft stood upon a cast--the gamester's ducat,
  So often staked, and lost, and then regain'd,
  Scarce knew so many hazards.
                          THE SPANISH FATHER.

It is not our object to enter into the historical part of the reign of
the ill-fated Mary, or to recount how, during the week which succeeded
her flight from Lochleven, her partisans mustered around her with their
followers, forming a gallant army, amounting to six thousand men. So
much light has been lately thrown on the most minute details of the
period, by Mr. Chalmers, in his valuable history of Queen Mary, that the
reader may be safely referred to it for the fullest information
which ancient records afford concerning that interesting time. It is
sufficient for our purpose to say, that while Mary's head-quarters
were at Hamilton, the Regent and his adherents had, in the King's name,
assembled a host at Glasgow, inferior indeed to that of the Queen in
numbers, but formidable from the military talents of Murray, Morton, the
Laird of Grange, and others, who had been trained from their youth in
foreign and domestic wars.

In these circumstances, it was the obvious policy of Queen Mary to avoid
a conflict, secure that were her person once in safety, the number of
her adherents must daily increase; whereas, the forces of those opposed
to her must, as had frequently happened in the previous history of her
reign, have diminished, and their spirits become broken. And so evident
was this to her counsellors, that they resolved their first step should
be to place the Queen in the strong castle of Dunbarton, there to await
the course of events, the arrival of succours from France, and the
levies which were made by her adherents in every province of Scotland.
Accordingly, orders were given, that all men should be on horseback or
on foot, apparelled in their armour, and ready to follow the Queen's
standard in array of battle, the avowed determination being to escort
her to the Castle of Dunbarton in defiance of her enemies.

The muster was made upon Hamilton-Moor, and the march commenced in all
the pomp of feudal times. Military music sounded, banners and pennons
waved, armour glittered far and wide, and spears glanced and twinkled
like stars in a frosty sky. The gallant spectacle of warlike parade was
on this occasion dignified by the presence of the Queen herself, who,
with a fair retinue of ladies and household attendants, and a
special guard of gentlemen, amongst whom young Seyton and Roland were
distinguished, gave grace at once and confidence to the army, which
spread its ample files before, around, and behind her. Many churchmen
also joined the cavalcade, most of whom did not scruple to assume arms,
and declare their intention of wielding them in defence of Mary and the
Catholic faith. Not so the Abbot of Saint Mary's. Roland had not seen
this prelate since the night of their escape from Lochleven, and he now
beheld him, robed in the dress of his order, assume his station near the
Queen's person. Roland hastened to pull off his basnet, and beseech the
Abbot's blessing.

"Thou hast it, my son!" said the priest; "I see thee now under thy true
name, and in thy rightful garb. The helmet with the holly branch befits
your brows well--I have long waited for the hour thou shouldst assume
it."

"Then you knew of my descent, my good father?" said Roland.

"I did so, but it was under seal of confession from thy grandmother;
nor was I at liberty to tell the secret, till she herself should make it
known."

"Her reason for such secrecy, my father?" said Roland Avenel.

"Fear, perchance of my brother--a mistaken fear, for Halbert would not,
to ensure himself a kingdom, have offered wrong to an orphan; besides
that, your title, in quiet times, even had your father done your mother
that justice which I well hope he did, could not have competed with that
of my brother's wife, the child of Julian's elder brother."

"They need fear no competition from me," said Avenel. "Scotland is
wide enough, and there are many manors to win, without plundering my
benefactor. But prove to me, my reverend father, that my father was just
to my mother--show me that I may call myself a legitimate Avenel, and
make me your bounden slave for ever."

"Ay," replied the Abbot, "I hear the Seytons hold thee cheap for that
stain on thy shield. Something, however, I have learnt from the late
Abbot Boniface, which, if it prove sooth, may redeem that reproach."

"Tell me that blessed news," said Roland, "and the future service of my
life--"

"Rash boy!" said the Abbot, "I should but madden thine impatient temper,
by exciting hopes that may never be fulfilled--and is this a time for
them? Think on what perilous march we are bound, and if thou hast a sin
unconfessed, neglect not the only leisure which Heaven may perchance
afford thee for confession and absolution."

"There will be time enough for both, I trust, when we reach Dunbarton,"
answered the page.

"Ay," said the Abbot, "thou crowest as loudly as the rest--but we are
not yet at Dunbarton, and there is a lion in the path."

"Mean you Murray, Morton, and the other rebels at Glasgow, my reverend
father? Tush! they dare not look on the royal banner."

"Even so," replied the Abbot, "speak many of those who are older, and
should be wiser, than thou.--I have returned from the southern shires,
where I left many a chief of name arming in the Queen's interest--I
left the lords here wise and considerate men--I find them madmen on my
return--they are willing, for mere pride and vain-glory, to brave the
enemy, and to carry the Queen, as it were in triumph, past the walls of
Glasgow, and under the beards of the adverse army.--Seldom does Heaven
smile on such mistimed confidence. We shall be encountered, and that to
the purpose."

"And so much the better," replied Roland; "the field of battle was my
cradle."

"Beware it be not thy dying bed," said the Abbot. "But what avails it
whispering to young wolves the dangers of the chase? You will know,
perchance, ere this day is out, what yonder men are, whom you hold in
rash contempt."

"Why, what are they?" said Henry Seyton, who now joined them: "have
they sinews of wire, and flesh of iron?--Will lead pierce and steel cut
them?--If so, reverend father, we have little to fear."

"They are evil men," said the Abbot, "but the trade of war demands
no saints.--Murray and Morton are known to be the best generals in
Scotland. No one ever saw Lindesay's or Ruthven's back--Kirkaldy of
Grange was named by the Constable Montmorency the first soldier in
Europe--My brother, too good a name for such a cause, has been far and
wide known for a soldier."

"The better, the better!" said Seyton, triumphantly; "we shall have all
these traitors of rank and name in a fair field before us. Our cause
is the best, our numbers are the strongest, our hearts and limbs match
theirs--Saint Bennet, and set on!"

The Abbot made no reply, but seemed lost in reflection; and his anxiety
in some measure communicated itself to Roland Avenel, who ever, as their
line of march led over a ridge or an eminence, cast an anxious look
towards the towers of Glasgow, as if he expected to see symptoms of the
enemy issuing forth. It was not that he feared the fight, but the issue
was of such deep import to his country, and to himself, that the natural
fire of his spirit burned with a less lively, though with a more intense
glow. Love, honour, fame, fortune, all seemed to depend on the issue of
one field, rashly hazarded perhaps, but now likely to become unavoidable
and decisive.

When, at length, their march came to be nearly parallel with the city of
Glasgow, Roland became sensible that the high grounds before them were
already in part occupied by a force, showing, like their own, the royal
banner of Scotland, and on the point of being supported by columns of
infantry and squadrons of horse, which the city gates had poured forth,
and which hastily advanced to sustain those troops who already possessed
the ground in front of the Queen's forces. Horseman after horseman
galloped in from the advanced guard, with tidings that Murray had taken
the field with his whole army; that his object was to intercept the
Queen's march, and his purpose unquestionable to hazard a battle. It
was now that the tempers of men were subjected to a sudden and a severe
trial; and that those who had too presumptuously concluded that they
would pass without combat, were something disconcerted, when, at once,
and with little time to deliberate, they found themselves placed in
front of a resolute enemy.--Their chiefs immediately assembled around
the Queen, and held a hasty council of war. Mary's quivering lip
confessed the fear which she endeavoured to conceal under a bold
and dignified demeanour. But her efforts were overcome by painful
recollections of the disastrous issue of her last appearance in arms at
Carberry-hill; and when she meant to have asked them their advice for
ordering the battle, she involuntarily inquired whether there were no
means of escaping without an engagement?

"Escaping?" answered the Lord Seyton; "when I stand as one to ten of
your Highness's enemies, I may think of escape--but never while I stand
with three to two!"

"Battle! battle!" exclaimed the assembled lords; "we will drive the
rebels from their vantage ground, as the hound turns the hare on the
hill side."

"Methinks, my noble lords," said the Abbot, "it were as well to prevent
his gaining that advantage.--Our road lies through yonder hamlet on the
brow, and whichever party hath the luck to possess it, with its little
gardens and enclosures, will attain a post of great defence."

"The reverend father is right," said the Queen. "Oh, haste thee, Seyton,
haste, and get thither before them--they are marching like the wind."

Seyton bowed low, and turned his horse's head.--"Your Highness honours
me," he said; "I will instantly press forward, and seize the pass."

"Not before me, my lord, whose charge is the command of the vanguard,"
said the Lord of Arbroath.

"Before you, or any Hamilton in Scotland," said the Seyton, "having the
Queen's command--Follow me, gentlemen, my vassals and kinsmen--Saint
Bennet, and set on!"

"And follow me," said Arbroath, "my noble kinsmen, and brave
men-tenants, we will see which will first reach the post of danger. For
God and Queen Mary!"

"Ill-omened haste, and most unhappy strife," said the Abbot, who saw
them and their followers rush hastily and emulously to ascend the
height without waiting till their men were placed in order.--"And you,
gentlemen," he continued, addressing Roland and Seyton, who were each
about to follow those who hastened thus disorderly to the conflict,
"will you leave the Queen's person unguarded?"

"Oh, leave me not, gentlemen!" said the Queen--"Roland and Seyton,
do not leave me--there are enough of arms to strike in this fell
combat--withdraw not those to whom I trust for my safety."

"We may not leave her Grace," said Roland, looking at Seyton, and
turning his horse.

"I ever looked when thou wouldst find out that," rejoined the fiery
youth.

Roland made no answer, but bit his lip till the blood came, and spurring
his horse up to the side of Catherine Seyton's palfrey, he whispered
in a low voice, "I never thought to have done aught to deserve you;
but this day I have heard myself upbraided with cowardice, and my sword
remained still sheathed, and all for the love of you."

"There is madness among us all," said the damsel; "my father, my
brother, and you, are all alike bereft of reason. Ye should think
only of this poor Queen, and you are all inspired by your own absurd
jealousies--The monk is the only soldier and man of sense amongst you
all.--My lord Abbot," she cried aloud, "were it not better we should
draw to the westward, and wait the event that God shall send us, instead
of remaining here in the highway, endangering the Queen's person, and
cumbering the troops in their advance?"

"You say well, my daughter," replied the Abbot; "had we but one to guide
us where the Queen's person may be in safety--Our nobles hurry to the
conflict, without casting a thought on the very cause of the war."

"Follow me," said a knight, or man-at-arms, well mounted, and attired
completely in black armour, but having the visor of his helmet closed,
and bearing no crest on his helmet, or device upon his shield.

"We will follow no stranger," said the Abbot, "without some warrant of
his truth."

"I am a stranger and in your hands," said the horseman; "if you wish to
know more of me, the Queen herself will be your warrant."

The Queen had remained fixed to the spot, as if disabled by fear, yet
mechanically smiling, bowing, and waving her hand, as banners were
lowered and spears depressed before her, while, emulating the strife
betwixt Seyton and Arbroath, band on band pressed forward their march
towards the enemy. Scarce, however, had the black rider whispered
something in her ear, than she assented to what he said; and when he
spoke aloud, and with an air of command, "Gentlemen, it is the Queen's
pleasure that you should follow me," Mary uttered, with something like
eagerness, the word "Yes."

All were in motion in an instant; for the black horseman, throwing off a
sort of apathy of manner, which his first appearance indicated, spurred
his horse to and fro, making him take such active bounds and short
turns, as showed the rider master of the animal; and getting the Queen's
little retinue in some order for marching, he led them to the left,
directing his course towards a castle, which, crowning a gentle yet
commanding eminence, presented an extensive view over the country
beneath, and in particular, commanded a view of those heights which both
armies hastened to occupy, and which it was now apparent must almost
instantly be the scene of struggle and dispute.

"Yonder towers," said the Abbot, questioning the sable horseman, "to
whom do they belong?--and are they in the hands of friends?"

"They are untenanted," replied the stranger, "or, at least, they have
no hostile inmates.--But urge these youths. Sir Abbot, to make more
haste--this is but an evil time to satisfy their idle curiosity, by
peering out upon the battle in which they are to take no share."

"The worse luck mine," said Henry Seyton, who overheard him--"I
would rather be under my father's banner at this moment than be made
Chamberlain of Holyrood, for this my present duty of peaceful ward well
and patiently discharged."

"Your place under your father's banner will shortly be right dangerous,"
said Roland Avenel, who, pressing his horse towards the westward,
had still his look reverted to the armies; "for I see yonder body of
cavalry, which presses from the eastward, will reach the village ere
Lord Seyton can gain it."

"They are but cavalry," said Seyton, looking attentively; "they cannot
hold the village without shot of harquebuss."

"Look more closely," said Roland; "you will see that each of these
horseman who advance so rapidly from Glasgow, carries a footman behind
him."

"Now, by Heaven, he speaks well!" said the black cavalier; "one of you
two must go carry the news to Lord Seyton and Lord Arbroath, that
they hasten not their horsemen on before the foot, but advance more
regularly."

"Be that my errand," said Roland, "for I first marked the stratagem of
the enemy."

"But, by your leave," said Seyton, "yonder is my father's banner
engaged, and it best becomes me to go to the rescue."

"I will stand by the Queen's decision," said Roland Avenel.

"What new appeal?--what new quarrel?" said Queen Mary--"Are there not
in yonder dark host enemies enough to Mary Stewart, but must her very
friends turn enemies to each other?"

"Nay, madam," said Roland, "the young master of Seyton and I did but
dispute who should leave your person to do a most needful message to the
host. He thought his rank entitled him, and I deemed that the person of
least consequence, being myself, were better perilled--"

"Not so," said the Queen; "if one must leave me, be it Seyton."

Henry Seyton bowed till the white plumes on his helmet mixed with the
flowing mane of his gallant war-horse, then placed himself firm in the
saddle, shook his lance aloft with an air of triumph and determination,
and striking his horse with the spurs, made towards his father's banner,
which was still advancing up the hill, and dashed his steed over every
obstacle that occurred in his headlong path.

"My brother! my father!" exclaimed Catherine, with an expression
of agonized apprehension--"they are in the midst of peril, and I in
safety!"

"Would to God," said Roland, "that I were with them, and could ransom
every drop of their blood by two of mine!"

"Do I not know thou dost wish it?" said Catherine--"Can a woman say to
a man what I have well-nigh said to thee, and yet think that he could
harbour fear or faintness of heart?--There is that in yon distant sound
of approaching battle that pleases me even while it affrights me. I
would I were a man, that I might feel that stern delight, without the
mixture of terror!"

"Ride up, ride up, Lady Catherine Seyton," cried the Abbot, as they
still swept on at a rapid pace, and were now close beneath the walls
of the castle--"ride up, and aid Lady Fleming to support the Queen--she
gives way more and more."

They halted and lifted Mary from the saddle, and were about to
support her towards the castle, when she said faintly, "Not there--not
there--these walls will I never enter more!"

"Be a Queen, madam," said the Abbot, "and forget that you are a woman."

"Oh, I must forget much, much more," answered the unfortunate Mary,
in an under tone, "ere I can look with steady eyes on these well-known
scenes!--I must forget the days which I spent here as the bride of the
lost--the murdered----"

"This is the Castle of Crookstone," said the Lady Fleming, "in which the
Queen held her first court after she was married to Darnley."

"Heaven," said the Abbot, "thy hand is upon us!--Bear yet up,
madam--your foes are the foes of Holy Church, and God will this day
decide whether Scotland shall be Catholic or heretic."

A heavy and continued fire of cannon and musketry, bore a tremendous
burden to his words, and seemed far more than they to recall the spirits
of the Queen.

"To yonder tree," she said, pointing to a yew-tree which grew on a small
mount close to the castle; "I know it well--from thence you may see a
prospect wide as from the peaks of Schehallion."

And freeing herself from her assistants, she walked with a determined,
yet somewhat wild step, up to the stem of the noble yew. The Abbot,
Catherine, and Roland Avenel followed her, while Lady Fleming kept back
the inferior persons of her train. The black horseman also followed the
Queen, waiting on her as closely as the shadow upon the light, but ever
remaining at the distance of two or three yards---he folded his arms on
his bosom, turned his back to the battle, and seemed solely occupied by
gazing on Mary, through the bars of his closed visor. The Queen regarded
him not, but fixed her eyes upon the spreading yew."

"Ay, fair and stately tree," she said, as if at the sight of it she had
been rapt away from the present scene, and had overcome the horror
which had oppressed her at the first approach to Crookstone, "there thou
standest, gay and goodly as ever, though thou hearest the sounds of war,
instead of the vows of love. All is gone since I last greeted thee--love
and lover--vows and vower--king and kingdom.--How goes the field, my
Lord Abbot?--with us, I trust--yet what but evil can Mary's eyes witness
from this spot?"

Her attendants eagerly bent their eyes on the field of battle, but could
discover nothing more than that it was obstinately contested. The small
enclosures and cottage gardens in the village, of which they had a full
and commanding view, and which shortly before lay, with their lines of
sycamore and ash-trees, so still and quiet in the mild light of a May
sun, were now each converted into a line of fire, canopied by smoke; and
the sustained and constant report of the musketry and cannon, mingled
with the shouts of meeting combatants, showed that as yet neither party
had given ground.

"Many a soul finds its final departure to heaven or hell, in these awful
thunders," said the Abbot; "let those that believe in the Holy Church,
join me in orisons for victory in this dreadful combat."

"Not here--not here," said the unfortunate Queen; "pray not here,
father, or pray in silence--my mind is too much torn between the past
and the present, to dare to approach the heavenly throne--Or, if we
will pray, be it for one whose fondest affections have been her greatest
crimes, and who has ceased to be a queen, only because she was a
deceived and a tender-hearted woman."

"Were it not well," said Roland, "that I rode somewhat nearer the hosts,
and saw the fate of the day?"

"Do so, in the name of God," said the Abbot; "for if our friends are
scattered, our flight must be hasty--but beware thou approach not too
nigh the conflict; there is more than thine own life depends on thy safe
return."

"Oh, go not too nigh," said Catherine; "but fail not to see how the
Seytons fight, and how they bear themselves."

"Fear nothing, I will be on my guard," said Roland Avenel; and without
waiting farther answer, rode towards the scene of conflict, keeping, as
he rode, the higher and unenclosed ground, and ever looking cautiously
around him, for fear of involving himself in some hostile party. As he
approached, the shots rung sharp and more sharply on his ear, the shouts
came wilder and wilder, and he felt that thick beating of the heart,
that mixture of natural apprehension, intense curiosity, and anxiety for
the dubious event, which even the bravest experience when they approach
alone to a scene of interest and of danger.

At length he drew so close, that from a bank, screened by bushes and
underwood, he could distinctly see where the struggle was most keenly
maintained. This was in a hollow way, leading to the village, up
which the Queen's vanguard had marched, with more hasty courage than
well-advised conduct, for the purpose of possessing themselves of that
post of advantage. They found their scheme anticipated, and the hedges
and enclosures already occupied by the enemy, led by the celebrated
Kirkaldy of Grange and the Earl of Morton; and not small was the loss
which they sustained while struggling forward to come to close with
the men-at-arms on the other side. But, as the Queen's followers were
chiefly noblemen and barons, with their kinsmen and followers, they had
pressed onward, contemning obstacles and danger, and had, when Roland
arrived on the ground, met hand to hand at the gorge of the pass with
the Regent's vanguard, and endeavoured to bear them out of the village
at the spear-point; while their foes, equally determined to keep the
advantage which they had attained, struggled with the like obstinacy
to drive back the assailants. Both parties were on foot, and armed in
proof; so that, when the long lances of the front ranks were fixed in
each other's shields, corslets, and breastplates, the struggle resembled
that of two bulls, who fixing their frontlets hard against each other,
remain in that posture for hours, until the superior strength or
obstinacy of the one compels the other to take to flight, or bears him
down to the earth. Thus locked together in the deadly struggle, which
swayed slowly to and fro, as one or other party gained the advantage,
those who fell were trampled on alike by friends and foes; those whose
weapons were broken, retired from the front rank, and had their place
supplied by others; while the rearward ranks, unable otherwise to share
in the combat, fired their pistols, and hurled their daggers, and the
points and truncheons of the broken weapons, like javelins against the
enemy.

"God and the Queen!" resounded from the one party; "God and the King!"
thundered from the other; while, in the name of their sovereign,
fellow-subjects on both sides shed each other's blood, and, in the name
of their Creator, defaced his image. Amid the tumult was often heard the
voices of the captains, shouting their commands; of leaders and chiefs,
crying their gathering words; of groans and shrieks from the falling and
the dying.

The strife had lasted nearly an hour. The strength of both parties
seemed exhausted; but their rage was unabated, and their obstinacy
unsubdued, when Roland, who turned eye and ear to all around him, saw
a column of infantry, headed by a few horsemen, wheel round the base
of the bank where he had stationed himself, and, levelling their long
lances, attack the Queen's vanguard, closely engaged as they were in
conflict on their front. The very first glance showed him that the
leader who directed this movement was the Knight of Avenel, his ancient
master; and the next convinced him, that its effects would be decisive.
The result of the attack of fresh and unbroken forces upon the flank of
those already wearied with a long and obstinate struggle, was, indeed,
instantaneous.

The column of the assailants, which had hitherto shown one dark, dense,
and united line of helmets, surmounted with plumage, was at once
broken and hurled in confusion down the hill, which they had so long
endeavoured to gain. In vain were the leaders heard calling upon their
followers to stand to the combat, and seen personally resisting when all
resistance was evidently vain. They were slain, or felled to the earth,
or hurried backwards by the mingled tide of flight and pursuit. What
were Roland's feelings on beholding the rout, and feeling that all that
remained for him was to turn bridle, and endeavour to ensure the safety
of the Queen's person! Yet, keen as his grief and shame might be,
they were both forgotten, when, almost close beneath the bank which
he occupied, he saw Henry Seyton forced away from his own party in the
tumult, covered with dust and blood, and defending himself desperately
against several of the enemy who had gathered around him, attracted by
his gay armour. Roland paused not a moment, but pushing his steed down
the bank, leaped him amongst the hostile party, dealt three or four
blows amongst them, which struck down two, and made the rest stand
aloof; then reaching Seyton his hand, he exhorted him to seize fast on
his horse's mane.

"We live or die together this day," said he; "keep but fast hold till we
are out of the press, and then my horse is yours."

Seyton heard and exerted his remaining strength, and, by their joint
efforts, Roland brought him out of danger, and behind the spot from
whence he had witnessed the disastrous conclusion of the fight. But
no sooner were they under shelter of the trees, than Seyton let go his
hold, and, in spite of Roland's efforts to support him, fell at length
on the turf. "Trouble yourself no more with me," he said; "this is my
first and my last battle--and I have already seen too much to wish
to see the close. Hasten to save the Queen--and commend me to
Catherine--she will never more be mistaken for me nor I for her--the
last sword-stroke has made an eternal distinction."

"Let me aid you to mount my horse," said Roland, eagerly, "and you may
yet be saved--I can find my own way on foot--turn but my horse's head
westward, and he will carry you fleet and easy as the wind."

"I will never mount steed more," said the youth; "farewell--I love thee
better dying, than ever I thought to have done while in life--I would
that old man's blood were not on my hand!--_Sancte Benedicte, ora pro
me_--Stand not to look on a dying man, but haste to save the Queen!"

These words were spoken with the last effort of his voice, and scarce
were they uttered ere the speaker was no more. They recalled Roland to
a sense of the duty which he had well-nigh forgotten, but they did not
reach his ears only.

"The Queen--where is the Queen?" said Halbert Glendinning, who, followed
by two or three horsemen, appeared at this instant. Roland made no
answer, but, turning his horse, and confiding in his speed, gave him at
once rein and spur, and rode over height and hollow towards the Castle
of Crookstone. More heavily armed, and mounted upon a horse of less
speed, Sir Halbert Glendinning followed with couched lance, calling out
as he rode, "Sir, with the holly-branch, halt, and show your right to
bear that badge--fly not thus cowardly, nor dishonour the cognizance
thou deservest not to wear!--Halt, sir coward, or by Heaven, I will
strike thee with my lance on the back, and slay thee like a dastard--I
am the Knight of Avenel--I am Halbert Glendinning."

But Roland, who had no purpose of encountering his old master, and who,
besides, knew the Queen's safety depended on his making the best speed
he could, answered not a word to the defiances and reproaches which Sir
Halbert continued to throw out against him; but making the best use of
his spurs, rode yet harder than before, and had gained about a hundred
yards upon his pursuer, when, coming near to the yew-tree where he had
left the Queen, he saw them already getting to horse, and cried out
as loud as he could, "Foes! foes!--Ride for it, fair ladies--Brave
gentlemen, do your devoir to protect them!"

So saying, he wheeled his horse, and avoiding the shock of Sir Halbert
Glendinning, charged one of that Knight's followers, who was nearly on
a line with him, so rudely with his lance, that he overthrew horse and
man. He then drew his sword and attacked the second, while the black
man-at-arms, throwing himself in the way of Glendinning, they rushed on
each other so fiercely, that both horses were overthrown, and the riders
lay rolling on the plain. Neither was able to arise, for the black
horseman was pierced through with Glendinning's lance, and the Knight
of Avenel, oppressed with the weight of his own horse and sorely bruised
besides, seemed in little better plight than he whom he had mortally
wounded.

"Yield thee, Sir Knight of Avenel, rescue or no rescue," said Roland,
who had put a second antagonist out of condition to combat, and hastened
to prevent Glendinning from renewing the conflict.

"I may not choose but yield," said Sir Halbert, "since I can no longer
fight; but it shames me to speak such a word to a coward like thee!"

"Call me not coward," said Roland, lifting his visor, and helping his
prisoner to rise, "since but for old kindness at thy hands, and yet more
at thy lady's, I had met thee as a brave man should."

"The favourite page of my wife!" said Sir Halbert, astonished; "Ah!
wretched boy, I have heard of thy treason at Lochleven."

"Reproach him not, my brother," said the Abbot, "he was but an agent in
the hands of Heaven."

"To horse, to horse!" said Catherine Seyton; "mount and begone, or we
are all lost. I see our gallant army flying for many a league--To horse,
my Lord Abbot--To horse, Roland--my gracious Liege, to horse! Ere this,
we should have ridden many a mile."

"Look on these features," said Mary, pointing to the dying knight, who
had been unhelmed by some compassionate hand; "look there, and tell me
if she who ruins all who love her, ought to fly a foot farther to save
her wretched life!"

The reader must have long anticipated the discovery which the Queen's
feelings had made before her eyes confirmed it. It was the features of
the unhappy George Douglas, on which death was stamping his mark.

"Look--look at him well," said the Queen, "thus has it been with all who
loved Mary Stewart!--The royalty of Francis, the wit of Chastelar, the
power and gallantry of the gay Gordon, the melody of Rizzio, the portly
form and youthful grace of Darnley, the bold address and courtly
manners of Bothwell--and now the deep-devoted passion of the noble
Douglas--nought could save them!--they looked on the wretched Mary, and
to have loved her was crime enough to deserve early death! No sooner had
the victim formed a kind thought of me, than the poisoned cup, the axe
and block, the dagger, the mine, were ready to punish them for casting
away affection on such a wretch as I am!--Importune me not--I will fly
no farther--I can die but once, and I will die here."

While she spoke, her tears fell fast on the face of the dying man, who
continued to fix his eyes on her with an eagerness of passion, which
death itself could hardly subdue.--"Mourn not for me," he said faintly,
"but care for your own safety--I die in mine armour as a Douglas should,
and I die pitied by Mary Stewart!"

He expired with these words, and without withdrawing his eyes from her
face; and the Queen, whose heart was of that soft and gentle mould,
which in domestic life, and with a more suitable partner than Darnley,
might have made her happy, remained weeping by the dead man, until
recalled to herself by the Abbot, who found it necessary to use a style
of unusual remonstrance. "We also, madam," he said, "we, your Grace's
devoted followers, have friends and relatives to weep for. I leave
a brother in imminent jeopardy--the husband of the Lady Fleming--the
father and brothers of the Lady Catherine, are all in yonder bloody
field, slain, it is to be feared, or prisoners. We forget the fate
of our nearest and dearest, to wait on our Queen, and she is too much
occupied with her own sorrows to give one thought to ours."

"I deserve not your reproach, father," said the Queen, checking her
tears; "but I am docile to it--where must we go--what must we do?"

"We must fly, and that instantly," said the Abbot; "whither is not so
easily answered, but we may dispute it upon the road--Lift her to her
saddle, and set forward."

[Footnote: I am informed in the most polite manner, by D. MacVean, Esq.
of Glasgow, that I have been incorrect in my locality, in giving an
account of the battle of Langside. Crookstone Castle, he observes, lies
four miles west from the field of battle, and rather in the rear of
Murray's army. The real place from which Mary saw the rout of her last
army, was Cathcart Castle, which, being a mile and a half east from
Langside, was, situated in the rear of the Queen's own army. I was led
astray in the present case, by the authority of my deceased friend,
James Grahame the excellent and amiable author of the Sabbath, in his
drama on the subject of Queen Mary; and by a traditionary report of Mary
having seen the battle from the Castle of Crookstone, which seemed so
much to increase the interest of the scene, that I have been unwilling
to make, in this particular instance, the fiction give way to the fact,
which last is undoubtedly in favour of Mr. MacVean's system.

It is singular how tradition, which is sometimes a sure guide to truth,
is, in other cases, prone to mislead us. In the celebrated field of
battle at Killiecrankie, the traveller is struck with one of those
rugged pillars of rough stone, which indicate the scenes of ancient
conflict. A friend of the author, well acquainted with the circumstances
of the battle, was standing near this large stone, and looking on the
scene around, when a highland shepherd hurried down from the hill to
offer his services as cicerone, and proceeded to inform him, that Dundee
was slain at that stone, which was raised to his memory. "Fie, Donald."
answered my friend, "how can you tell such a story to a stranger? I
am sure you know well enough that Dundee was killed at a considerable
distance from this place, near the house of Fascally, and that this
stone was here long before the battle, in 1688."--"Oich! oich!" said
Donald, no way abashed, "and your honour's in the right, and I see you
ken a' about it. And he wasna killed on the spot neither, but lived till
the next morning; but a' the Saxon gentlemen like best to hear he was
killed at the great stane." It is on the same principle of pleasing my
readers, that I retain Crookstone Castle instead of Cathcart.

If, however, the author has taken a liberty in removing the actual field
of battle somewhat to the eastward, he has been tolerably strict in
adhering to the incidents of the engagement, as will appear from it
comparison of events in the novel, with the following account from an
old writer.

"The Regent was out on foot and all his company, except the Laird of
Grange, Alexander Hume of Manderston, and some borderers to the number
of two hundred. The Laird of Grange had already viewed the ground, and
with all imaginable diligence caused every horseman to take behind him
a footman of the Regent's, to guard behind them, and rode with speed
to the head of Langside-hill, and set down the footmen with their
culverings at the head of a straight lane, where there were some cottage
houses and yards of great advantage. Which soldiers with their continual
shot killed divers of the vaunt guard, led by the Hamiltons, who,
courageously and fiercely ascending up the hill, were already out of
breath, when the Regent's vaunt guard joined with them. Where the
worthy Lord Hume fought on foot with his pike in his hand very manfully,
assisted by the Laird of Cessford, his brother-in-law, who helped him up
again when he was strucken to the ground by many strokes upon his face,
through the throwing pistols at him after they had been discharged. He
was also wounded with staves, and had many strokes of spears through his
legs; for he and Grange, at the joining, cried to let their adversaries
first lay down their spears, to bear up theirs; which spears were so
thick fixed in the others' jacks, that some of the pistols and great
staves that were thrown by them which were behind, might be seen lying
upon the spears.

"Upon the Queen's side the Earl of Argyle commanded the battle, and the
Lord of Arbroth the vaunt guard. But the Regent committed to the Laird
of Grange the special care, as being an experimented captain, to oversee
every danger, and to ride to every wing, to encourage and make help
where greatest need was. He perceived, at the first joining, the right
wing of the Regent's vaunt guard put back and like to fly, whereof the
greatest part were commons of the barony of Renfrew; whereupon he rode
to them, and told them that their enemy was already turning their backs,
requesting them to stay and debate till he should bring them fresh men
forth of the battle. Whither at full speed he did ride alone, and told
the Regent that the enemy were shaken and flying away behind the little
village, and desired a few number of fresh men to go with him. Where he
found enough willing, as the Lord Lindesay, the Laird of Lochleven,
Sir James Balfour, and all the Regent's servants, who followed him with
diligence, and reinforced that wing which was beginning to fly; which
fresh men with their loose weapons struck the enemies in their flank and
faces, which forced them incontinent to give place and turn back after
long fighting and pushing others to and fro with their spears. There
were not many horsemen to pursue after them, and the Regent cried to
save and not to kill, and Grange was never cruel, so that there were few
slain and taken. And the only slaughter was at the first rencounter
by the shot of the soldiers, which Grange had planted at the lane head
behind some dikes."

It is remarkable that, while passing through the small town of Renfrew,
some partisans, adherents of the House of Lennox, attempting to arrest
Queen Mary and her attendants, were obliged to make way for her not
without slaughter.]

They set off accordingly--Roland lingered a moment to command the
attendants of the Knight of Avenel to convey their master to the Castle
of Crookstone, and to say that he demanded from him no other condition
of liberty, than his word, that he and his followers would keep secret
the direction in which the Queen fled. As he turned his rein to
depart, the honest countenance of Adam Woodcock stared upon him with an
expression of surprise, which, at another time, would have excited his
hearty mirth. He had been one of the followers who had experienced the
weight of Roland's arm, and they now knew each other, Roland having put
up his visor, and the good yeoman having thrown away his barret-cap,
with the iron bars in front, that he might the more readily assist his
master. Into this barret-cap, as it lay on the ground, Roland forgot not
to drop a few gold pieces, (fruits of the Queen's liberality,) and with
a signal of kind recollection and enduring friendship, he departed at
full gallop to overtake the Queen, the dust raised by her train being
already far down the hill.

"It is not fairy-money," said honest Adam, weighing and handling the
gold--"And it was Master Roland himself, that is a certain thing--the
same open hand, and, by our Lady!" (shrugging his shoulders)--"the same
ready fist!--My Lady will hear of this gladly, for she mourns for him as
if he were her son. And to see how gay he is! But these light lads
are as sure to be uppermost as the froth to be on the top of the
quart-pot--Your man of solid parts remains ever a falconer." So saying,
he went to aid his comrades, who had now come up in greater numbers, to
carry his master into the Castle of Crookstone.



Chapter the Thirty-Eighth.


  My native land, good night!
                            BYRON.

Many a bitter tear was shed, during the hasty flight of Queen Mary, over
fallen hopes, future prospects, and slaughtered friends. The deaths of
the brave Douglas, and of the fiery but gallant young Seyton, seemed to
affect the Queen as much as the fall from the throne, on which she had
so nearly been again seated. Catherine Seyton devoured in secret her own
grief, anxious to support the broken spirits of her mistress; and the
Abbot, bending his troubled thoughts upon futurity, endeavoured in
vain to form some plan which had a shadow of hope. The spirit of young
Roland--for he also mingled in the hasty debates held by the companions
of the Queen's flight--continued unchecked and unbroken.

"Your Majesty," he said, "has lost a battle--Your ancestor, Bruce, lost
seven successively, ere he sat triumphant on the Scottish throne, and
proclaimed with the voice of a victor, in the field of Bannockburn, the
independence of his country. Are not these heaths, which we may traverse
at will, better than the locked, guarded, and lake-moated Castle of
Lochleven?--We are free--in that one word there is comfort for all our
losses."

He struck a bold note, but the heart of Mary made no response.

"Better," she said, "I had still been in Lochleven, than seen the
slaughter made by rebels among the subjects who offered themselves to
death for my sake. Speak not to me of farther efforts--they would only
cost the lives of you, the friends who recommend them! I would not again
undergo what I felt, when I saw from yonder mount the swords of the fell
horsemen of Morton raging among the faithful Seytons and Hamiltons, for
their loyalty to their Queen--I would not again feel what I felt when
Douglas's life-blood stained my mantle for his love to Mary Stewart--not
to be empress of all that Britain's seas enclose. Find for me some place
where I can hide my unhappy head, which brings destruction on all
who love it--it is the last favour that Mary asks of her faithful
followers."

In this dejected mood, but still pursuing her flight with unabated
rapidity, the unfortunate Mary, after having been joined by Lord Herries
and a few followers, at length halted, for the first time, at the Abbey
of Dundrennan, nearly sixty miles distant from the field of battle. In
this remote quarter of Galloway, the Reformation not having yet been
strictly enforced against the monks, a few still lingered in their
cells unmolested; and the Prior, with tears and reverence, received the
fugitive Queen at the gate of his convent.

"I bring you ruin, my good father," said the Queen, as she was lifted
from her palfrey.

"It is welcome," said the Prior, "if it comes in the train of duty."

Placed on the ground, and supported by her ladies, the Queen looked for
an instant at her palfrey, which, jaded and drooping its head, seemed as
if it mourned the distresses of its mistress.

"Good Roland," said the Queen, whispering, "let Rosabelle be cared
for--ask thy heart, and it will tell thee why I make this trifling
request even in this awful hour."

She was conducted to her apartment, and in the hurried consultation
of her attendants, the fatal resolution of the retreat to England was
finally adopted. In the morning it received her approbation, and
a messenger was despatched to the English warden, to pray him for
safe-conduct and hospitality, on the part of the Queen of Scotland. On
the next day the Abbot Ambrose walked in the garden of the Abbey with
Roland, to whom he expressed his disapprobation of the course pursued.
"It is madness and ruin," he said; "better commit herself to the savage
Highlanders or wild Bordermen, than to the faith of Elizabeth. A woman
to a rival woman--a presumptive successor to the keeping of a jealous
and childless Queen!--Roland, Herries is true and loyal, but his counsel
has ruined his mistress."

"Ay, ruin follows us every where," said an old man, with a spade in
his hand, and dressed like a lay-brother, of whose presence, in the
vehemence of his exclamation, the Abbot had not been aware--"Gaze not on
me with such wonder!--I am he who was the Abbot Boniface at Kennaquhair,
who was the gardener Blinkhoolie at Lochleven, hunted round to the
place in which I served