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Title: Adam Hepburn's Vow - A Tale of Kirk and Covenant
Author: Swan, Annie S. (Annie Shepherd)
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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[Illustration: "Folding his withered hands, he said, in solemn and
trembling tones, ’Let us pray’" (_see page_ 121).]



                           Adam Hepburn’s Vow

                     *A TALE OF KIRK AND COVENANT*


                                   BY

                            *ANNIE S. SWAN*



                   WITH FOUR FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS



                         TWENTY-THIRD THOUSAND



                        CASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD
                LONDON, NEW YORK, TORONTO AND MELBOURNE
                                  1885



                                   TO
                               MY FRIEND

                                 C. M.

                AND TO THE DEAR ONES GATHERED ROUND HER
                           IN HER HAPPY HOME



                               *CONTENTS*


                               CHAPTER I.

THE TRAVELLERS

                              CHAPTER II.

A NATION’S TESTIMONY

                              CHAPTER III.

FOREBODINGS OF EVIL

                              CHAPTER IV.

THE MINISTER’S CHILDREN

                               CHAPTER V.

THE FIRST MARTYRS

                              CHAPTER VI.

A THORN IN THE FLESH

                              CHAPTER VII.

A LONG FAREWELL

                             CHAPTER VIII.

MR. DUNCAN MCLEAN

                              CHAPTER IX.

PREPARING FOR EMERGENCIES

                               CHAPTER X.

ADAM HEPBURN’S VOW

                              CHAPTER XI.

UP IN ARMS

                              CHAPTER XII.

RULLION GREEN

                             CHAPTER XIII.

THE NEW MAID

                              CHAPTER XIV.

BETRAYED

                              CHAPTER XV.

BRAVE TO THE LAST

                              CHAPTER XVI.

AT THE DAWNING

                             CHAPTER XVII.

A SHOCK OF CORN FULLY RIPE

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

AT HAUGHHEAD

                              CHAPTER XIX.

UNLOOKED-FOR NEWS

                              CHAPTER XX.

DRUMCLOG

                              CHAPTER XXI.

DISUNION

                             CHAPTER XXII.

BOTHWELL BRIDGE

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

IN CAPTIVITY

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

DELIVERED

                              CHAPTER XXV.

AIRSMOSS

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

REST



                        *LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.*


"Folding his withered hands, he said, in solemn and trembling tones,
’Let us pray’" . . . _Frontispiece_

"Uplifting his hand, he swore the solemn oath"

"Little Jeanie ... brought out a draught for the general"

"The wildest confusion seemed to prevail on the bridge"



                          *Adam Hepburn’s Vow*

                    _*A TALE OF KIRK AND COVENANT.*_



                              *CHAPTER I.*

                           *THE TRAVELLERS.*


Towards the close of a bleak grey February afternoon, in the year 1638,
a small party of travellers might have been seen approaching Edinburgh
by the high road from Glasgow.  It consisted of a sturdy brown pony,
whereon sat a fair-faced, sunny-haired little girl, whose age could not
have exceeded nine years; a bright-faced, bold-looking lad, walking at
the animal’s head, and having the bridle-rein hung loosely over his arm;
and a middle-aged gentleman, whose aspect and attire proclaimed him a
clergyman. He walked slowly, a little apart from the others, and his
hands were clasped before him, and his eyes bent thoughtfully on the
ground.  He was a man somewhat past his prime, of a noble and manly
bearing, with a fine open countenance, and a speaking eye, wherein dwelt
a singularly sweet and benevolent expression.

The shadows of evening were already beginning to gather over the
surrounding scene, making objects at a distance somewhat indistinct.

Yet, truly, there was little at that season of the year to refresh the
eye or gladden the heart.  The icy hand of winter had scarcely yet
relaxed its grasp on mother earth; there were no green buds on hedge or
tree; no blades of promise springing up by the wayside: all was
desolate, bleak, and cold.  Yet the newly upturned furrows smelt fresh
and sweet, and the purling brooks wandered cheerfully on their way;
singing their song of gladness, as if they knew that spring was close at
hand.  Presently the little party ascended a gentle eminence, and then
many lights were seen twinkling not far ahead.

"See, father, are yon the lights of Edinburgh?" exclaimed the lad, in
his eagerness letting go his hold on Roger’s rein.

The minister raised his head, and a light kindled in his eye as he
looked upon the clustering roof-trees and towering spires of the
beautiful city.

"Yes, my son, that is Edinburgh," he said in his full, mellow tones.
"Thanks be to the Lord who hath brought us thither in safety.  Would my
little Agnes like to walk now?  The evening dews are falling, and
methinks a little exercise would do you no harm. Very soon now you will
be warmed and cheered by the ruddy glow by Aunt Jean’s fireside."

As he spoke, the minister turned to Roger (who at a word from his master
stood perfectly still), and gently lifted his little daughter to the
ground.  It was then seen that her figure was very slight and fragile,
her face pale and refined-looking, her whole expression thoughtful and
even sad beyond her years.

"Are you wearied, David?" asked the kind father then; but the lad drew
himself up proudly, and shook his head.

"Wearied! no, no, father.  I could walk back to Inverburn, I believe,
without resting."

"Keep within the bounds, my boy," said the minister.  "See, lead Roger
down to yon little pool, and let him drink.  The poor animal is thirsty
and wayworn.  Then we will make what haste we can into the city, which
will of necessity be in somewhat of a turmoil to-night, owing to the
many strangers within her gates."

"Father, will there be a great crowd and a noise in Edinburgh?" asked
the little Agnes, somewhat timidly and holding yet more closely by her
father’s hand.

"There will be a crowd, my daughter, but no unseemly noise, I trust.
The occasion upon which the nation is assembled in her ancient capital
is too solemn for vain clamourings," said the minister, somewhat sadly;
and as his eyes once more roamed over the spreading roof-trees of the
city, they were filled with tears.  The little Agnes, too young to
understand the cause of his emotion, still more closely clasped his
hand, and looked with awe into his face.

"I wish it would not grow dark so soon, father," said David, now
returning from watering the pony. "We will see nothing of Edinburgh till
to-morrow."

"But to-morrow, please the Lord, there will be a sight seen in
Edinburgh, the like of which there has never been in Scotland," said the
minister with kindling eye.  "The voice of her people raised in a
national testimony against the injustice and oppression of an earthly
ruler.  May the Heavenly King look down in approval on the faithfulness
of the Kirk of Scotland, and give her strength to stand firm to her vow;
ay, to seal it if need be with her blood."

The minister spoke with solemnity and passionate earnestness, which
impressed his young listeners not a little.

"Father, will the soldiers be out on their horses?" David asked with
boyish eagerness; to him the great event to transpire on the morrow
meant a gay pageant to delight the eye and stir the pulse of youth.

"My son, I cannot tell; only I know that peer and peasant, soldier and
civilian, minister and ministered unto, will assemble to-morrow on equal
ground, animated by one grand purpose, and stirred by a common zeal.
May the God of Hosts look down upon and bless the assembled multitudes,"
replied the minister; and then a silence fell upon the little party
which remained unbroken till they entered the city. Even in the
outskirts there were not lacking signs of stir and unusual commotion.
The streets were thronged with vehicles and foot-passengers, and the
very air seemed full of murmurings, telling of a nation’s heart stirred
to its deepest depths.  The young lad and his sister looked about them
with lively interest; to them the city was a revelation indeed, in the
great contrast it presented to the unfrequented roads and quiet
solitudes of their native parish.  Darkness had fallen when the minister
guided Roger’s steps into the Grass-market, where stood the hospitable
dwelling which was to shelter them during their sojourn in Edinburgh.
It was the abode of the minister’s only sister, who was married to a
well-to-do merchant, by name Edward Kilgour.  Having been duly apprised
of his brother-in-law’s coming on that day, Edward Kilgour was waiting
at the close mouth, anxiously peering up the street, which was now
almost in total darkness, there being no appliances then for lighting
the thoroughfares and byeways of the city. Hearing the click of the
pony’s hoofs, he walked a few steps up the street, and then catching
sight of the little party, he called out in his cheery tones, "Andrew
Gray of Inverburn, and his little ones, if I mistake not!"

"Yes; thus far hath the Lord permitted us to travel in safety, Edward,"
said the minister.  "How is it with thee and thine?"

"All well; Jean a little impatient and fearful about you, as is the way
of womenkind," replied the merchant, heartily shaking his brother-in-law
by the hand.  "But what!  David, and little Agnes too! How did their
mother ever trust them so far?" he exclaimed, in surprise, at sight of
the children.

"She knew them safe with me, Edward, and I thought that the events of
to-morrow might, please God, make an impression on their young minds
which time would never efface.  And the Kirk, I am thinking, will need
both old and young to stand firm in her defence ere she be crowned and
blessed with liberty," said the minister, with a sigh.

"You speak the truth, Andrew," replied the merchant, soberly.  "Well, I
will take Roger to his stall and see that he is rubbed down and fed.  Do
you take the bairns upstairs: you know the way."

The minister nodded, and taking his boy and girl by the hand, led them
up the dark close and into a low doorway, which, unless he had been
familiar with the way, would have been difficult to find.

Aunt Jean heard their steps on the stair, and presently appeared on the
landing with a candle.

"Bless me!  Andrew Gray, is that the bairns all the way from the manse
of Inverburn?" she exclaimed, her motherly heart warming at sight of
them.

"Even so, Jean.  There will be room and welcome for them as well as for
their father under this roof-tree," answered the minister.  "Edward
tells me you are well; and, truly, you look it."

"Oh, ay, I am well in body!" she answered, blithely, and stooping she
lifted the little Agnes in her motherly arms, and affectionately kissed
her cheeks.  "Eh, Andrew, this bairn’s her mother’s living image.  How
is Ailie and Jane, and that stirring laddie, Andrew?  Why did you leave
him at home?"

"His master could not spare him, being busy preparing the ground for the
seed," replied the minister. "It was a sore disappointment to the lad.
He has a constant craving for something new."

By this time they had entered the wide and comfortable kitchen, where
the log-fire burned merrily, casting its ruddy glow on the hospitable
board spread for the expected guest.  A wooden cradle stood in the
warmest corner by the ingle-neuk, wherein slept peacefully the one child
of the household, a babe of eight months, and the first which had
blessed their hearth and home since their marriage, five years before.

The little Agnes looked very long and earnestly into her aunt’s face,
never remembering having seen her before.

Mrs. Kilgour had been married out of the manse of Inverburn, at which
time Agnes was only four years old, but she had never visited it since,
and had only once seen her brother’s wife, when she accompanied her
husband to Edinburgh on his being appointed to represent the Presbytery
of Lanark at the General Assembly.  Travelling in these days was very
slow and laborious, and not unaccompanied by dangers on the roads, owing
to the disturbed and unprotected state of the country.

"Ay, but she is like her mother, Andrew," repeated Mrs. Kilgour, as she
stooped to unfasten the child’s cloak.  "She has her very een; may the
spirt of the bairn be her mother’s likewise!  And this is David! He is
greatly grown.  I would hardly have known him again!  Dearie me, what
changes time works on bairns, as on other things!"

"You are right, Jean.  How has business been prospering with you
throughout the winter?"

"We cannot complain of the measure of prosperity the Lord has vouchsafed
to us," Andrew answered Mistress Kilgour.  "Edward has had to employ
another young lad to help him in his work and still is hard-pressed; but
here he comes himself to tell you all about it."

The merchant now entered the kitchen, and hung up his hat on the peg
behind the door.  Now that the light shone upon him, it revealed a short
and somewhat stout figure, clad in homely grey, a broad kindly face
adorned by a short brown beard, and made peculiarly expressive by the
twinkling of a pair of merry, blue eyes.

He was a Lanark man by birth, but had come to Edinburgh to try his
fortunes, and by steady well-doing and shrewd business capacity was
likely to succeed.

"And how are they all at Inverburn?  Come, tell me about every man,
woman, and child in the parish, Andrew," said the merchant.  "It’s like
a gliff of the heather-scented wind to look upon your faces, bairns, and
to think you were reared in the shade of the birks of Inverburn!"

The merchant spoke lightly, but a tear started in his honest eye, as he
lifted Agnes on his knee, and drew David to his side.

"’Deed they must have something to eat first, Edward, my man,"
interrupted Mistress Kilgour. "Come, bairns, to your milk and bread.
It’s no like the milk and home-made scones at the manse, but it’s the
best I have, an’ ye get it wi’ Auntie Jean’s kind, kind love."

They drew in their chairs to the table, and after the minister had asked
a fervent blessing on the board, they ate with a will, for their mode of
travelling had given them all appetites.

"You are never asking for _our_ bairn, Andrew," said the fond mother
slily, when presently the little one stirred slightly in its cradle.

"Truly I forgot, Jean," said the minister, with a smile; "and yet it was
among Ailie’s last messages--sympathy and love to you about the little
one.  God grant she may grow up a blessing to you both."

The little Agnes presently slipped from her chair, and, stealing over to
the cradle, looked in upon the smiling face of the infant.  Her own was
suffused with a glow of tender wondering pleasure, which made her aunt
look at her again.  And when, presently, Mistress Kilgour lifted the
child, Agnes kept close by her side, as if the babe were a magnet from
which she could not separate herself.

The conversation during supper turned chiefly upon topics connected with
the parish of Inverburn, in which both the merchant and his wife were
deeply and affectionately interested, for, though they had built up a
home in Edinburgh, their hearts were knit to their native glen in the
bonds of a deep, enduring love.

While she cleared the table, Mistress Kilgour entrusted the babe to
Agnes, who sat on a low stool holding the precious burden in her arms,
with a mixture of love, rapture, and pride glorifying her face. Shortly
thereafter, it being near eight of the clock, Mistress Kilgour made down
beds for the children in the adjoining room, and they retired to rest.
Then their elders drew up their chairs to the hearth, and began to speak
in low, troubled, anxious tones, telling that the topic was one of vital
interest, of terrible importance to them all.  Before they separated for
the night, the minister read a portion from Scripture, and then they
knelt to pour out their hearts’ desires before the Lord.  The tones of
Andrew Gray’s voice trembled sore as he prayed with passionate
earnestness that the arm of the Almighty would be about the tottering
Church of Scotland, and that strength might be given to her people to
stand up fearlessly in defence of her liberty and purity, ay, even
though they should be required to seal their faithfulness with their
blood.

"To-morrow will be a great day for Scotland," he said when he rose to
his feet.  "Either it will be the beginning of peace or the beginning of
many sorrows for God’s people.  It is in times like these we feel the
need of prayer, of constant and pious humbling of ourselves before
Jehovah.  There is that within me, my friends, which forewarns me that
we are about to be visited by fierce and terrible temptations and
dispensations.  Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
fall."

Awed by the prophetic earnestness with which their kinsman spoke, the
merchant and his wife spoke not, but silently bade him good night.
Andrew Gray retired to his own chamber, but not to sleep.  He sat long
by the uncurtained window, looking out upon the city slumbering
peacefully under the fitful February moonlight, as if all unconscious of
the issues of the coming day.

During the silent watches of the night the minister of Inverburn
wrestled in prayer for Scotland’s Church and people, that they might be
upheld and kept faithful in the tumults of the struggle to come.



                             *CHAPTER II.*

                        *A NATION’S TESTIMONY.*


Chill and grey broke the morning of that memorable day over the city of
Edinburgh.  The inmates of Edward Kilgour’s household were early astir,
and the elder folk partook of breakfast by candlelight.

"I suppose your place of business will be closed to-day?" said the
minister enquiringly to his brother-in-law.

"Yes; there will be little business done to-day, I fancy, except by the
taverns and other places of like resort, which must be open to supply
refreshments to the many strangers," replied Edward Kilgour. "There will
be a goodly number of Inverburn folks in this morning?"

"Yes, Adam Hepburn of Rowallan, and a party with him, were to start on
the evening of the day on which we left," replied the minister.  "They
would arrive a few hours’ later than us--their animals being swifter of
foot than our ’Roger.’"

"What is the Laird of Inverburn saying to the Covenant, Andrew?" asked
Mistress Kilgour, replenishing her brother’s cup with milk, which, with
some wheaten cakes, composed his frugal meal.

A slight shade of sadness stole over the minister’s fine face.

"Truly, Jean, Sir Thomas Hamilton proves himself a loyal subject and a
faithful servant of the king. They tell me he uses the Liturgy in his
household devotions, and he has never been in his pew in my church since
the proclamation concerning the new book of service.  I am told too, on
good authority, that my neighbour minister, John Methven of Lochlee,
uses it in the services of his church, in accordance with the express
desire of the laird who worships there every Sabbath Day."

"John Methven was ever a time-server and a worshipper of rank," said
Edward Kilgour, with curling lip.  "He would sell conscience and liberty
for the smile of a patron so high in station as the Laird of Inverburn."

"Let us not so hardly judge the man, Edward," said the minister, gently.
"His motives and his conscience are known only to himself and his God.
Yet I fear that when the times of trouble grow hotter in the land, the
Church will not find a supporter in the minister of Lochlee."

"What I fear, Andrew," said Mistress Kilgour, with a sigh, "is lest the
Laird of Inverburn, not finding you conforming to his desires, may do
you injury in the parish, may even turn the people against you."

The minister smiled.

"I am in the Lord’s hands, Jean.  Except He will, Sir Thomas Hamilton
cannot touch a hair of my head, nor even damage my interests in the
parish. And my people, thanks be to God, are faithful and honest, and I
think have some little love for their minister in their hearts."

"As well they may," said the merchant, fervently.

"The name of Gray has long been honoured in Inverburn, certainly," said
the mistress, musingly. "Our forbears have been so many generations in
the manse that I think the people would be sad to see a stranger under
its roof-tree, or ministering to them in the kirk on the Sabbath Day."

"We will not trouble ourselves with such things to-day, Jean, there
being graver issues at stake than the interests of Inverburn, which,
though very dear to us, is but a small corner of the Lord’s vineyard,"
said the minister, rising.  "While you dress the bairns, Edward and I
might walk a little way into the town, and see what is doing.  I see the
shadows of the night are wearing away from the castle heights, and day
breaking in the east!"

Accordingly the twain left the house together, and wended their way
through the streets.  Even thus early there were many people abroad,
some standing in little groups, earnestly discussing the one topic of
absorbing interest occupying the minds of citizens and strangers alike.
Arm in arm the minister and the merchant walked together in the shadow
of the grey turrets of the castle, until they came to the shores of the
North Loch, which was tossing uneasily under the grey and wintry sky.  A
keen east wind was sweeping up from the Frith, and it had a wailing in
its tone as if in warning of a coming storm.

The two pedestrians, alone at that hour by the solitudes of the loch,
talked low and earnestly together on the crisis to which affairs in
Scotland had now reached. The merchant was a keen Churchman, and a
devoted, pious Christian, with a heart ready to suffer and endure for
the cause of religion, and a brave, indomitable courage to fight for his
principles if required. Needless to say, the friendship between his
brother-in-law and himself was warm and sincere, because they had so
much in common.  Engrossed in conversation, the time passed unheeded,
until the solemn strokes of the Tolbooth bell proclaimed the hour of
nine.

Then they turned their steps towards the Grassmarket once more, which
was now considerably busier than it had been an hour ago.  Yet there was
no disorder or sign of tumult, nor was the aspect of the people wild or
excited.  There was an expression of calm yet fixed resolution,
especially upon the faces of the older among them, which indicated that
no giddy froth of passion, no excitement of a moment moved them.  Andrew
Gray remarked upon that to the merchant, and expressed his satisfaction
at the visible earnestness and quietness of spirit which seemed to be
abroad.

When they returned to the house they found the children up and dressed
and partaking of their morning meal, good Aunt Jean talking to them all
the while.

"Are you going forth to witness for the Covenant with us to-day, Jean?"
enquired the minister.

The mistress shook her head.

"I cannot well leave my house and my bairn, Andrew, but the Lord knows
that I can make my vow at home and keep it as faithfully as I would keep
a public testimony," she answered, with a smile and a tear.  "But are
you going to take both these young things with you to the vast assembly
gathered in and about the Greyfriars?"

"For that purpose I brought them on this journey, Jean.  As I said to
Edward, the proceedings of this day may make an impression on their
minds which will never be effaced, and--who knows?--the memory of it may
even serve to build them up yet more steadfastly in the faith in days to
come.  Well, I think we should be going now.  The proceedings, I learn,
are to begin early, and I would not that we should be at the outside
limits of the crowd."

Accordingly Aunt Jean prepared the children for going out of doors,
fastening the cloak of the little Agnes very closely about her neck, and
adding a scarf of her own to protect the throat against the biting wind
of March.  David wrapped his plaid about his shoulders in true Highland
fashion, put on his bonnet, and, taking in his hand the stout ash stick
he had cut in the woods of Inverburn, bravely announced that he was
ready.  So, followed by kind Aunt Jean’s blessing and prayer, the little
party left the house and emerged into the busy streets.

Although it was yet early, every thoroughfare was thronged with human
beings, some moving on towards the place of meeting, others standing
about in little knots discussing the solemn occasion upon which so many
were gathered together.  Our friends made their way leisurely up the
Bow, and were among the earliest to enter the churchyard, and thus were
enabled to take up a good position where everything could be seen and
heard.  The church doors were standing wide open, and it was evidently
intended that the chief service should be held within the walls of the
sacred edifice itself.  The minister of Inverburn, leaving his little
ones with their uncle, entered into the church, and met there many of
his colleagues in the ministry, as well as others with whom he had some
acquaintance.

As the stream of humanity surging towards the churchyard widened and
broadened, until it seemed as if there could be no room for even one
more, it was hastily decided that the proceedings should take place out
of doors, in order to prevent any undue crowding in the church, and to
enable as many as possible to hear and take part in the solemn service,
which was to precede the signing of the Covenant.

Accordingly a table was set in the middle of the church, and thereon was
laid the Bible used in the Greyfriars pulpit, and side by side with it
the gigantic sheet prepared to receive the signatures of a nation.
Everything being made ready, there gathered about the table the
venerable Earl of Loudon, the Earl of Sutherland, Sir Archibald
Johnston, the Reverend Alexander Henderson, with many other nobles and
ministers and prominent personages.

Beyond that circle was gathered a vast throng, comprising every rank,
age, and calling, upon whose faces, lit by a holy enthusiasm, the chill
March sunlight played fitfully as it escaped through the refts in the
cloudy sky.  It was a wondrous sight.  There was no noise, no unseemly
clamourings or vain babblings; the great concourse seemed to be hushed
into solemn expectancy, even the hot blood of the more passionate among
them being held in curb by the strange awe-inspiring nature of this
national gathering.

After a confession of national sin, an eloquent sermon was preached to
the assembled multitude by one of the most gifted ministers in the
Church.

Then amid a strange, deep silence Sir Archibald Johnston slowly and
distinctly read aloud to the people the contents of the document to
which every loyal Scot was asked to subscribe his name.  It was
beautifully and reverently compiled, and so simple and clear in its
phraseology, that even the youngest and most illiterate person present
could not fail to comprehend its meaning.  It was simply a protest
against all the corruptions and unholy innovations which the king sought
to introduce into the service of the Church, and in signing the bond the
subscribers pledged themselves solemnly before God to use every lawful
means to recover and preserve the early purity and simplicity of worship
in the Church of Scotland, and to resist every effort made by the king
to introduce an Episcopal form of worship into the land.

When the reading of the Covenant was concluded, the Earl of London
addressed the multitude in eloquent, heart-stirring tones, exhorting
them to consider well the solemn and binding nature of the oath about to
be taken, and impressing upon them the necessity of standing steadfast
by their testimony, for not otherwise could that liberty, civil and
religious, so dear to every Scottish heart, be restored and maintained
in the land.  One of the leading and most devoted ministers in the
Church then gave utterance to a prayer, which hushed the very breathing
of the assembly, and moved them as if by a mighty wind from Heaven.
Amid the solemn silence which ensued, the Earl of Sutherland stepped
forward, and uplifting his hand he swore the solemn oath, and then
affixed the first signature to the Covenant.  He was followed by nobles,
ministers, citizens, men, women, and children, who subscribed name after
name on the great sheet, until it could hold no more.  Some, more
enthusiastic than their fellows, opened veins in their arms, and wrote
their names in their blood.

[Illustration: "Uplifting his hand, he swore the solemn oath"]

It was a day such as Scotland had never witnessed before, and which she
will never witness again, since, thanks be to God, the need for a
national covenanting to protect civil and religious rights is swallowed
up in the glorious liberty of these present days.

The impressive proceedings over, the people departed peaceably to their
homes.

The minister of Inverburn, with his children, abode another night under
Edward Kilgour’s hospitable roof-tree, and early on the second morning
the little party set out upon their return journey to their home in the
pleasant vale of Inverburn.



                             *CHAPTER III.*

                         *FOREBODINGS OF EVIL.*


It was the month of April, and all Nature was sweetly rejoicing in the
wealth and beauty of a perfect spring. While spring is ever a pleasant
season in rural districts, it was especially so in that rich and
picturesque part of Lanarkshire which included the parish and village of
Inverburn.  It lay in a secluded and lovely valley, sheltered from the
north and east by heather-clad hills, while to the west it commanded a
magnificent and wide-stretching view of the Vale of Clyde, at the utmost
limit of which the smoke from the populous city of Glasgow obscured the
clear brightness of the horizon.  Although the parish of Inverburn was
by no means small, the village itself consisted only of a small main
street and a few straggling houses in the outskirts.  The only building
of any pretensions was the Hamilton Arms Inn, a substantial two-storey
block, with a wide, low doorway and a trellised porch set round with
benches, a favourite resort for the villagers on the long summer
evenings, when honest Mistress Lyall’s parlour became too close and warm
to be pleasant.  Upon a gentle eminence about a mile removed from the
village, the grey turrets of Inverburn, long time the seat of the
Hamiltons, peeped out from among its ancestral trees.  It was a fine,
proud old place, renowned for its beauty and its antiquity even in a
district where many a princely heritage reared its stately head.  The
graceful spire of the parish church intervened, however, between the
village and the mansion.  It also stood upon a gentle knoll, and was
beautifully shaded by the birch trees which were known far and near as
the "birks of Inverburn."  The manse was close by, a grey and rambling
house, just such a one to be hallowed by many precious memories of home
and loved ones. It was a common saying that there had been Grays in the
manse as long as there had been Hamiltons in Inverburn, so that the one
family could claim equal antiquity with its prouder neighbour.

There could be no sweeter spot to live and die in than that
old-fashioned country manse, standing so cosily amid its wealth of
greenery, the roses and honeysuckle and sweet woodbine clambering about
doors and windows with a loving clinging touch.  It looked fair indeed
that mild April evening, for lilac, laburnum, and hawthorn were in
flower in the shrubberies, and primrose and polyanthus blooming in the
old-fashioned plots before the door.  The air about it was sweet and
fragrant indeed; but it was more: it breathed something of the peace
which dwelt ever under its roof-tree.

By the open window of the family sitting-room sat a pleasant-faced,
sedate-looking young woman, busily engaged embroidering a white frock
for a child.  She was neatly though plainly dressed, and there was an
air of precision and daintiness about her which some women acquire as
they grow older, especially if they are unmarried.  It was a pleasant
face, as I said, yet there was a grave firmness about the mouth, a
dauntless gleam in the fine clear brown eye, which betokened that Jane
Gray was not without a will of her own.  She looked what she was, a
firm, prudent, self-reliant woman, who had known the cares as well as
the joys of life.  To her dying mother Jane Gray had solemnly pledged
herself not to quit the roof-tree of the manse so long as her father
needed her care.  Both the giver and receiver of that promise had felt
assured that it would not be long ere she was released from its
fulfilment, because the minister of Inverburn was at that time in a
precarious state of health.

But, to the joy of those who loved him, certain means prescribed by an
Edinburgh physician were blessed to his complete recovery, and he seemed
to receive a new lease of life.  That made no alteration, however, in
the resolution of the elder daughter of the manse.  Very faithfully year
by year she discharged her duties as mistress of her father’s household.
She was mother and sister in one to her brothers, and it was a question
which was dearer to her heart, the broad-shouldered, bluff-mannered
farmer Andrew, or gentle-voiced, scholarly, meek-minded David, minister
of the neighbouring parish of Broomhill.

She had watched them go forth to their own homes, with a blessing and a
tear, and she had dressed for her bridal her fair and delicate sister
Agnes, who had now been for two years the wife of Adam Hepburn of
Rowallan.  It must not be supposed that Jane Gray had no other
alternative but to remain under her father’s roof-tree.  Nay, it was far
otherwise. Many knew and appreciated her sterling worth, and more than
one had pleaded for her love.  But though there came one at last who
stirred her heart to its deepest depths, she shook her head.  She looked
at her father’s white head and drooping shoulders, thought of his
desolate old age, the empty, childless home she would leave behind, and,
crushing down the yearnings of her heart, she answered no.  Perhaps it
was that experience, undreamed of by those to whom she so unselfishly
ministered, which had lined her broad brow, and tinged her hair with
grey before its time.  Her face in its repose was apt to look sad, for
it was in the stillness of an evening such as this that Jane Gray’s
heart was often peculiarly stirred by memories of the past.  She laid
down her seam at length, and leaning her arm on the sill, looked out
into the flower-laden garden, which was sweet with all the lovely bloom
of spring.

Just then her reverie was disturbed by a short, sharp whistle, and a
light, hurried footfall coming round the approach which led down to the
gate, and thence to the public road.  And almost immediately a young lad
came bounding over to the open window, waving his cap in the air.  Jane
Gray looked at the young, eager face with a kindly smile, for the eldest
son of her brother Andrew was very dear to her heart. He had been
sojourning for some months at the manse, his grandfather taking much
pride and pleasure in forwarding him in his studies preparatory to his
entering the University of Edinburgh or Glasgow, as a student of
divinity.  It had been his father’s desire that he should follow his
vocation, and by-and-by succeed him as the farmer of Hartrigge, but the
lad had so early shown his distaste for outdoor labour, and his love for
books, that it was evident nature intended him for a scholar.

"What is it, Gavin?  You seem eager and excited," said his aunt,
resuming her work.

"There is a horse and rider coming up the road, Aunt Jane, and I am sure
it is the Reverend James Guthrie.  It is his horse, I am quite sure, by
the white foot and the white star on its forehead.  Is grandfather in?"

"Yes, he is in his study; nay, do not disturb him yet, until we make
sure you are right," she said, restraining the impetuous boy, as he was
about to run off in search of his grandfather.  "Stay, and I will walk
down with you to the road, and by that time the horse and his rider,
whoever he may be, will have reached the gate."

So saying, Jane Gray folded up her work, and in a minute had joined her
nephew out of doors.  "I cannot think that you can be right, Gavin," she
said thoughtfully, "for I remember that Mr. Guthrie intended to be
present at a special meeting in Edinburgh this week, and he has not yet
had time to return to Stirling and come on so far as this."

"Why, there he is alighting at the gate, Aunt Jane! it is _just_ Mr.
Guthrie!" exclaimed the lad, and darting forward, he was the first to
greet the much-beloved minister of Stirling, and to relieve him of his
horse’s bridle rein.

A glow of pleasure overspread the face of Jane Gray as she advanced to
meet her father’s revered friend, who was almost a brother to her, so
close and dear was the intimacy between the two families.

"Mr. Guthrie, it is no ordinary pleasure to see you so unexpectedly,"
she said, as they shook hands; nevertheless her eyes dwelt rather
anxiously upon his fine face, for in these troublous and foreboding
times the announcement of danger or alarm might come at any moment.

"To me also, Miss Gray; I trust I have arrived to find your honoured
father under his own roof-tree.

"Oh, yes; he is busy with his sermon.  It is not often a minister is far
from home on a Friday evening if he is to supply his own pulpit on the
Sabbath Day. We thought you had been in Edinburgh this week, Mr.
Guthrie."

"So I have been; and thanks to the Lord’s journeying mercies vouchsafed
to his unworthy servant, I have again been brought to my father’s house
in safety. The lad is out of hearing, I see," he added, glancing towards
Gavin, who was leading the hot and dusty steed away in the direction of
his grandfather’s stable, "so I may say that a strange apprehension of
evil came upon me in my bed last night, and so strong was the conviction
in my mind this morning that I should not long be at liberty, that I was
constrained to ride over here to be encouraged and comforted by your
father’s sweet counsel, and, if need be, bid your family circle, who are
as dear to me almost as my own kinsfolk at Guthrie, a last farewell."

The ruddy colour faded out of Jane Gray’s cheeks, and her startled eye
looked with alarm into the minister’s face.  She was astonished and
relieved at its sweet serenity; evidently his gloomy convictions had not
power to rob him of his tranquillity.

"The Lord forbid that a hand should be laid on you, one of His most
honoured and valued servants," she said involuntarily; "but pray tell
me, Mr. Guthrie, have you had any warnings that the evil men in power
are jealous of your influence for good?"

"In Edinburgh, yesterday, I was told that that good and noble lord,
Archibald, Marquis of Argyll, will be laid hands upon ere long.  If that
be so, I cannot hope to escape, for I am doubly guilty of the actions
which have doomed him.  If it be so, and the Lord call me to bear
witness for Him on the scaffold, He will give me strength to crucify the
passions and affections of the body, and to glory in suffering for His
sake."

The good man’s face was suffused with a holy peace and joy, but a
shudder ran through Jane Gray’s frame, for not yet had the scaffold
become so common, and in those brutal times so desirable a mode of exit
from this troublous life as it was destined to become ere long in poor
stricken Scotland.

"The prayers of God’s people can but be offered up on your behalf, Mr.
Guthrie.  Such as you can ill be spared from the vineyard in these
times," said Jane Gray, earnestly.  "But now, let us tarry no longer out
of doors; I am sure you stand in need of refreshment after your long
ride."

Ere he crossed the threshold, the minister, as was his wont, raised his
eyes to Heaven and reverently invoked a benediction in the words of the
apostle of old: "Peace be to this house."

Having shown her guest into the sitting-room, Jane Gray sent Betty the
maid to tap at the minister’s door and tell him the Reverend James
Guthrie, from Stirling, had arrived at the manse.  Betty, or Elizabeth
McBean, had served with the Grays since her girlhood, and her love for
the family was only exceeded by her intense love and devotion to the
Kirk of Scotland, and her intense hatred to every form of religion alien
to the sound Presbyterianism of her forefathers.

While Jane Gray with her own hands set about preparing some refreshment
for the guest, the minister, her father, left his study with joyful
haste, and entering the family room, very warmly greeted his friend and
brother-minister, whom he had known and loved these many years.  There
was a great change in the minister of Inverburn since that memorable
time three-and-twenty years before, when he had visited Edinburgh, and
witnessed with his brethren for the Covenant in the Kirk of the
Greyfriars.

His tall, spare figure was now much stooped, his face worn and wrinkled,
his eye, though still bright and clear, far sunken in his head, his long
hair and flowing beard as white as the driven snow.  He looked a
patriarch indeed, and the serene and heavenly expression on his face,
his kindly smile, and sweet fatherliness of manner and tone were
calculated to inspire the deepest reverence and love.

"Bless the Lord, I am again permitted to look upon your face, my
brother!" he said, as he warmly and fervently grasped Mr. Guthrie’s
hand.  "But I trust no untoward circumstances prompt your unlooked-for
visit.  In these troublous times we are all as watchers on the
house-top."

"I was but saying to your daughter, Mr. Gray, that it was a presentiment
of evil which brought me here to-night," replied the minister of
Stirling.  "I only returned from Edinburgh yesterday, and what I heard
there augured ill for the peace of Zion.  It is rumoured that the
Marquis of Argyll is no longer safe, so the king’s emissaries are not to
be satisfied with common prey."

"I can hardly credit the truth of such rumours, Mr. Guthrie," replied
the minister of Inverburn. "Gratitude for past invaluable services
should render his person sacred in the eyes of the king."

An expression of mild scorn passed over Mr. Guthrie’s face.

"Gratitude is a word not found in the vocabulary of the House of
Stuart," he said, quietly.  "The Marquis, I am told, leaves for London
on Monday, to offer his congratulations to the king on his restoration.
I fear me he takes the journey at his own great risk."

"If need be the Lord will hold His sheltering arm over him, Mr.
Guthrie," said the minister of Inverburn, cheerfully.  "No man, either
prince or peasant, shall die before the appointed time.  But here comes
Jane with your refreshment.  I hope it is not your intention to quit the
roof-tree of the manse before the dawning of another day."

"If convenient for Miss Jane I will very gladly stay," answered Mr.
Guthrie.  "As troubles thicken round us, opportunities for sweet counsel
together, though more sorely needed, will become more limited, I fear.
And now, are all your kinsfolk at Hartrigge and Rowallan well? and is
the kirk at Broomhill prospering under David’s ministrations?"

"Verily the Lord hath been pleased to greatly bless the lad in his
labours," said the minister of Inverburn, in tones of satisfaction.
"Here comes young Gavin Gray, in whose studies I take a deep interest.
Here Gavin, lad, come and speak to the Reverend Mr. Guthrie, and behold
in him the pattern of what I one day hope to see you become."

The bright, happy-faced boy came forward frankly, and was again
addressed cordially by the minister of Stirling.

"I have been thinking, father," said Jane Gray’s pleasant voice in the
doorway, "that Gavin might saddle Donald, and carry word of Mr.
Guthrie’s visitation both to his father’s house, and to his uncle and
aunt at Rowallan.  Andrew and Susan, I am sure, would be greatly
rejoiced to come over to the manse. They could drive round in their
little cart to Rowallan, and bring over Adam and Agnes with them."

"A very good suggestion, my daughter," said Mr. Gray. "You hear what
your aunt says, Gavin," he added to the lad.  "Run and get Donald
saddled and if you ride quickly they can all be here before the evening
is far spent."

Gavin, nothing loth, at once obeyed his grandfather’s behest, and was
soon scampering along the road towards Hartrigge.



                             *CHAPTER IV.*

                       *THE MINISTER’S CHILDREN.*


The farm of Hartrigge, where abode the minister’s eldest son, was one of
the largest holdings on the estate of Inverburn.  Andrew Gray had
entered it on his marriage, seventeen years before, and was therefore
drawing near the expiry of his lease.  Having been trained as a
practical farmer, he had converted the somewhat poverty-stricken acres
into rich and fertile soil.  He was a careful, prudent man himself, and,
having married Susan Baillie (the daughter of the farmer under whom he
had learned his business), one eminently fitted to be a true helpmeet to
him in every way, he was a prosperous, and might even be called a rich
man.

In disposition he was not nearly so lovable as his brother, the minister
of Broomhill.  He was by nature rather harsh and stern, and, though his
anger was not easily kindled, it was a slow and deadly fire which did
not quickly burn out.  Had his wife not been of a singularly sweet and
amiable temperament, Hartrigge would not have been such a happy,
peaceable household as it was.  And yet Andrew Gray was a sincerely good
man, rather austere in his religious views, perhaps, but ardently
attached to the Church of Scotland, and passionately jealous regarding
all her ancient privileges.  Four children had blessed Hartrigge with
the sunshine of their presence--Gavin, the eldest; then Jane, a quiet
douce maiden of fourteen; then merry, rattling Sandy; and sweet,
winsome, gentle-eyed little Agnes, whom they called Nannie, to
distinguish her from her namesake aunt at Rowallan.

Hartrigge was distant about two miles from the manse, the road leading
in a southerly direction through rich and beautiful scenery, exquisitely
varied by all the changing tints of spring.  Here the tender, delicate
green of the beech showed in sharp relief against some sombre fir; again
the silver buds on the chestnut gleamed side by side with the brighter
hue of the larch and the mountain ash.  Cowslip and daisy dotted every
grassy slope, and the hedgerows already were gleaming white with
hawthorn bloom--so early had the summer burst in fragrance on the earth.

About a mile beyond the massive stone gateway which gave entrance to the
grounds surrounding the mansion-house of Inverburn, a low white gate
shut out intruders from the private road leading to Hartrigge.  This
familiar barrier Donald took at a bound, and in five minutes afterwards
was galloping round the path which cut through the fir wood surrounding
the house.  It was a substantial dwelling, of plain and sober aspect,
befitting its inmates, and, though there was ample garden ground in
front, there were no flowers blooming sweetly as in the manse garden.
Everything was austerely neat, simple, and plain. Gavin rode the pony
round to the kitchen door, and, dismounting, tied the rein to a
projecting hook placed in the wall for that purpose.  Then he bounded
into the house,  It was milking-time, and the maids were in the byre
(cowhouse), and he knew that his mother would be upstairs putting the
younger ones to bed, for everything moved by clockwork in that most
methodical of houses.  The sound of voices in the ben-end (parlour)
proclaimed that his father was giving Jeanie her evening lesson, which
Gavin boldly interrupted.

"Grandfather sent me to bid mother and you come to the manse, father,"
he said, impetuously. "Mr. Guthrie from Stirling is here, and would like
to see you.  And I am to go to Rowallan and tell Uncle Adam and Aunt
Agnes to be ready to drive down with you when you come for them."

Andrew Gray closed his book and rose to his feet, with a gleam of
interest brightening his rugged face. He was a tall, broad-shouldered
man, whose physique was suggestive of giant strength, while his keen,
stern black eye and massive jaw indicated an indomitable will.  He was
plainly dressed in rough homespun, and looked what he was--a
substantial, well-to-do Clydesdale farmer.

"Mr. James Guthrie!  Surely his coming was not anticipated, Gavin," he
said in tones of surprise. "Was your grandfather very pressing?  It is
somewhat late to leave the house to-night."

"Yes; I believe it is something special, father, and I must away.  Well,
Jeanie, have you learned to milk Mysie yet?" he added, teasingly, to the
quiet-faced little maiden, who was being initiated into all the
household ways.

"Yes, I can milk her fine, Gavin, all but the strippings!" she answered,
proudly.  "Are you going away already?"

At that moment Mrs. Gray, having heard Gavin’s voice upstairs, entered
the room.  She was a comely, pleasant-faced woman, with shrewd, grey
eyes, in which shone a kindly, and at times very humorous gleam.  She
looked very young to be the mother of her tall son, for her figure was
well preserved, and even graceful, her cheeks red and bonnie, as they
had been in her girlhood.  She appeared much pleased to hear of the
invitation to the manse, and at once said they could go, for Sandy and
Nannie were asleep, and Margaret, the more responsible of the two maids,
could very well see to the house in their absence.  So after another
teasing word to Jeanie, a run upstairs to look at Sandy and Nannie
sleeping in their beds, Gavin mounted Donald again, and turned his head
into the field-path which led straight to Rowallan.

If Hartrigge was noted for its simplicity and absence of all outer
adornments, Rowallan was renowned for the exquisite beauty of its
natural situation and surroundings, as well as for the taste with which
the little garden was laid out and kept.

Hartrigge stood upon a somewhat bleak and barren hill.  Rowallan was
sheltered in a cosy hollow, protected on every side from every wind that
blew.  It also formed a part of the lands of Inverburn, but was
considerably smaller in extent than its neighbour.

And yet it had sufficed as a dwelling-place and livelihood for the
Hepburns for generations.  There had been an Adam Hepburn in Rowallan as
far back as the country folk could remember or tell, and an Adam Hepburn
of Rowallan had left his ploughshare at the call of patriotism, and had
met his death on the fateful field of Flodden; an Adam Hepburn had
signed the Covenant at Edinburgh, three-and-twenty years before, and
though he was now gathered to his fathers, there was an Adam Hepburn in
Rowallan still.  True friends and generous foes the Hepburns had ever
been, faithful to their plighted word, scorning the very name of
meanness or dishonour.  A wild, passionate impetuous temper was the
family failing, and yet for deeds done, or words spoken in the heat of
anger, they were ever ready to make amends.  Although Adam Hepburn was
married to Agnes Gray, her brother Andrew, at Hartrigge, had never taken
kindly to him. Both were good men, and yet there was a strange antipathy
between them, and it was better that they should not meet often.  There
was nothing of rigid solemn austerity about Adam Hepburn, and he often
indulged in good-humoured banter against his brother-in-law’s solemnity;
yet none could have a truer reverence for things divine than Adam
Hepburn.  Under the gay exterior there was a deeper, more earnest
current of feeling, which kept him in the paths of righteousness and
peace.  Both Uncle Adam and Aunt Agnes were almost worshipped by the
young folk at Hartrigge, and also by the little Hepburns, the children
of Adam’s brother, who was a well-to-do merchant in the town of Lanark.
Even manse Donald himself seemed to know and love the way to Rowallan,
for he fairly capered and whinnied with delight when he came in sight of
the cosy homestead at the foot of its sheltering hill.  It was indeed a
sweet spot.  The house was whitewashed, and built in a low, rambling
style, with many a quaint gable and window, about which crept green and
lovely creepers, as well as time-honoured honeysuckle and wild-rose.  A
little lawn in front sloped down to a broad swift-running stream, which
had its being in the hill to the east of the house, and which danced
merrily over its pebbly bed on its way to join the noble Clyde.  In the
stillness of the April evening its bosom was broken by many a circling
eddy, where the lusty trout leaped up to catch the buzzing insects which
hummed in the drowsy air.

Catching sight of his aunt standing in the doorway, Gavin waved his cap,
a salutation to which she replied by fluttering her white handkerchief
in the breeze.  And as if in response to a word from her, her husband
joined her outside, and they came slowly along the path to meet the
messenger.  They were a goodly pair.  Adam Hepburn stood six feet in his
stockings, and his tall figure was well-built and splendidly
proportioned, while his fine head, with its clustering, chestnut curls,
was set firmly on his shoulders, giving the idea of strength and
resolution as well as manly beauty.  His face was sunny, open, and
honest as the day; his keen, blue eye, with its humorous gleam, his firm
yet tender mouth, redeemed the face from any harshness which the
strongly-marked features might otherwise have given.  His wife had
fulfilled all the gentle promise of her girlhood.  She was a sweet, shy,
shrinking woman, such as makes the sunshine of home for one, but who is
lost sight of in the busier ways of life.  She was like the gentle
lily-of-the-vale, breathing forth in her quiet life an unseen but
exquisite perfume, which shed its influence on all around it. Of her
husband’s strong, deep, yearning love for her I cannot write; it was the
passion of his life, and she was indeed the very desire of his heart and
the apple of his eye.  And she loved him, if less demonstratively, as
truly and tenderly as such women do.

"Hullo, youngster, how have you and Donald managed to escape from the
manse so late?" queried Uncle Adam when the pony and its rider were
within a hundred yards or so of them, while Aunt Agnes gently hoped that
he brought no bad news.  Gavin delivered his message, which seemed to be
very acceptable to both, and they signified their willingness and
pleasure to prepare themselves against the arriving of the conveyance
from Hartrigge.  Then he turned Donald’s head once more, and trotted
rapidly back to the manse.  About eight of the clock the conveyance
arrived also, and all the minister’s family with the exception of David,
whose absence all deplored, were gathered under his roof-tree.  Mr.
Guthrie had not yet seen the husband whom Agnes Gray had married, and he
was greatly taken with his pleasant manner and fine open face.  Of the
daughters of the manse the younger had ever been his favourite, because
she reminded him of a dear sister of his own he had lost in early life.
After the usual greetings, the talk turned upon the one absorbing topic
of interest--the Church and her affairs, together with the evil doings
of the two men, Middleton and Sharp, who held in their hands the reins
of Scottish Government, and who seemed determined to exercise their
power to the suppression of both civil and religious liberty in the
land.

While the minister of Stirling fearlessly expressed his opinion
regarding these matters, for all under the roof-tree of the manse were
true as steel, it might have been observed with what deep and breathless
interest Andrew Gray of Hartrigge hung upon every word, and how, at some
revelation of tyranny and injustice hitherto unknown to him, he clenched
his hands, and the veins on his forehead stood out like knotted cords.
It was easy to see that when the approaching crisis came he would be
found in the hottest forefront of the battle.

"I am of opinion, my friends, that there should be a day set apart for
the nation to humble herself before the God of nations, lest it be
through any backsliding or lukewarmness of her own that these ominous
things are happening in her midst," said the minister, thoughtfully;
"there had need to be a reviving of the covenanting spirit among us.  In
these times how many are sitting at their ease in Zion, while her very
bulwarks are assailed by the sons of Belial."

"Could you not move such a resolution at the first meeting of your
Presbytery, Mr. Guthrie, an example which I also would follow upon the
eighteenth of May in my own Presbytery of Lanark?" suggested the
minister of Inverburn.

Mr. Guthrie remained for a few minutes silent, while his countenance
wore an expression of deep seriousness and settled conviction.

"If I be still in the body and at liberty, brother, I will indeed act
upon your suggestion," he said at length.

"Why, Mr. Guthrie, do you fear that you may be laid hands on?" quoth
Adam Hepburn, impetuously. "Surely the ill men in power would never
venture upon sic an offence."

"There is no offence too heinous to be committed by those who sell their
souls to Satan, young man," said the minister, mildly.  "Will you bring
the Book, Miss Jane, and we will comfort ourselves for a little season
with the precious Word of His grace.  It may be the last time we will
have so sweet a privilege together."

Nothing loth, Jane Gray lifted the Book from its honoured place and laid
it before the minister of Stirling.  He read an appropriate portion of
Scripture, and commented thereon in his own eloquent and persuasive
style.  Then the minister of Inverburn led the devotions of the little
gathering, and so devout and impressive were these exercises that all
felt that Jesus was indeed Himself in their midst.  The memory of that
night remained very sweet and precious in their hearts when Mr.
Guthrie’s prediction was fulfilled, and there were few opportunities for
Christian fellowship permitted to God’s people.  When they parted for
the night Mr. Guthrie bade them all a solemn farewell, knowing in his
inmost heart that they should meet no more on earth.



                              *CHAPTER V.*

                          *THE FIRST MARTYRS.*


As several weeks passed, and Mr. Guthrie was still left to peaceable
ministrations in his church and parish, his friends at Inverburn began
to hope that his direful prophesies regarding his own fate might, after
all, prove themselves to be but vain imaginings.  The most noble Marquis
of Argyll repaired to London according to arrangements, in response to
the urgent solicitations of the king that he should present himself at
Court, and for a space nothing was heard of him.

In the month of August a number of the ministers met in Edinburgh, by
special appointment, for the purpose of drawing up a petition to the
king.  The Reverend Mr. Gray of Inverburn had hoped and expected to be
present at that gathering, but was prevented by a severe chill caught
after a long walk in the heat of the day.  As it afterwards turned out,
it appeared as if the Lord had specially preserved him in safety at
home, for no sooner was the conference gathered together in Edinburgh
than they were all apprehended, with the exception of one who very
miraculously escaped.  They were first imprisoned in the Castle of
Edinburgh, but Mr. Guthrie was afterwards removed to Stirling Castle, as
if to be taunted with his confinement in the place where he had long
exercised so much liberty both of person and conscience.  And so
desolation and mourning fell upon the people of Stirling because of the
strange and grievous affliction which had befallen their minister.

A very bountiful harvest blessed Scotland that year; nevertheless it was
ingathered with a strange foreboding that ere long the dark cloud of
want and misery would overshadow the now plentiful and peaceful land.

One evening early in the bleak month of December, when the minister of
Inverburn was returning from visiting a sick parishioner, a shepherd
among the hills beyond Rowallan, he met the laird riding between the
manse gate and the entrance to Inverburn.  Sir Thomas Hamilton was a
fine, handsome-looking man, but, owing to his haughty and overbearing
manner and his well-known leanings towards the side of Prelacy, he was
not greatly beloved in the parish.  The minister gravely and courteously
saluted him, but, somewhat to his surprise, the laird drew rein, with
the intention of speaking to him.

"Good evening, Mr. Gray.  I have been to the manse seeking you," he said
in his quick, imperious way.  "Having missed you there, I am fortunate
in meeting you.  You were preaching in your own kirk on the Sabbath Day,
I am told?"

"I was, Sir Thomas," answered the minister, in tones of mild surprise.

"And they tell me you preached a very disloyal discourse, calculated to
stir up strife against the king and his honourable counsellors and
representatives in Scotland," said the laird, with a peculiar smile.

"Nay, Sir Thomas; whoever carried such a tale to you grievously and
wilfully misrepresented me," said the minister, quietly.  "I said that
these were woeful and troublous times for the Kirk and country, when
such good men as James Guthrie of Stirling were imprisoned for
fearlessly advocating the principles of civil and religious liberty, and
protesting against the many strange and heathenish innovations which the
king, through his representatives, is seeking to force into the worship
of the Kirk of Scotland."

"Heathenish!  By the powers, Andrew Gray, have a care, and keep a better
bridle on thy prating tongue, or it will get thee into mischief yet,"
said the laird, rudely.  "The time is coming when a man may get his
mouth closed for less."

"Nay, it now is," said the minister, mournfully. "Truly, I know not
whither this poor country is drifting nor what will become of her
Church, unless the God of the Covenant stretch out to her a helping
hand."

"See here, Andrew Gray," said the laird, leaning down from his saddle
and speaking in very significant tones; "you are a prating old fool.
Let me advise you, for your own safety and that of your household, to
take a leaf out of the book of your neighbour, the minister of Lochlee.
He is a wise man, now, who can seal his lips and obey the reasonable
desires of the king, without making so much ado."

"You speak truly, Sir Thomas.  John Methven is indeed a wise man for
this present life, but woe is me for the lustre of his crown in glory.
I fear me the fear of man is much more before his mind than the fear of
God."

"But tell me, Andrew Gray," said the laird, impatiently, "what harm can
there be in using the new prayer book in the service of the Church?  It
is a very holy and good book, and there is nothing in it even to offend
the most fastidious taste."

"It savours too strongly of the popish breviary, Sir Thomas, besides
being the thin end of the wedge which will drive the pure worship of God
from every Scottish pulpit.  As such I humbly pray it may be as
resolutely kept without the church doors as it has been hitherto,"
returned the minister, fearlessly.

"I tell you, Andrew Gray, it is useless to resist the will of the king,
who has might as well as right upon his side.  And think you that when
such men as Archibald of Argyll are not reckoned too high in influence
and station to be punished for treason, that the king will regard with
leniency lesser lights like you?"

The minister started.

"Then the spirit of prophecy which was vouchsafed to James Guthrie has
had its double fulfilment and His Grace is a fellow-captive with his
ministerial brethren?" he said sadly.

"Even so," replied the laird.  "I have had intelligence from London that
Argyll is confined in the Tower, awaiting trial for treason.  I tell you
this in confidence, to warn you, Andrew Gray, for, obstinate though you
be, I have no desire to see any harm befall your grey hairs.  And take
my word for it, Episcopacy must sooner or later be established in
Scotland, and it is simple madness to attempt to swim against the tide."

With these significant words the Laird of Inverburn gave his horse the
rein, and rode rapidly away, leaving the minister to pursue his solitary
way in sad meditation over the difficulties and dangers daily thickening
round the path of God’s people.

Turning a bend in the road, he beheld in the distance the figure of his
son David, the minister of Broomhill, advancing to meet him.  He was not
surprised, having been duly apprised of his intention to come with his
wife and child that day to spend a brief season at the manse.  David
Gray was now a tall and fine-looking man, although his figure was very
slim and slenderly built, and his face wore that thoughtful and even
careworn aspect common to the scholar and the earnest minister of the
Gospel. Although only in his thirty-fifth year, his black locks were
already tinged with grey, and there were not a few wrinkles on his high
and thoughtful brow.

A warm greeting passed between father and son, mutual inquiries for each
other’s health and welfare, and then both plunged into the subject which
was occupying the minds of all thinking people at that time.  They
walked slowly on to the manse, engaged in earnest discussion, and were
so deeply absorbed that they stood outside the door, heedless of the
chill and biting evening air, until Jane Gray, hearing voices, came and
peremptorily ordered them in.

In the family room David Gray’s wife was sitting by the hearth with her
baby on her knee.  She was a fair-faced, flaxen-haired young woman,
without much depth of character or soundness of understanding. She was
the only daughter of a little laird, in the parish of Broomhill, and had
been brought up to think of little except her own pretty face.  She was
not in any way fitted to be the wife of a minister, especially of such a
one as David Gray, and many had marvelled at his choice.  The Grays had
not much approved his marriage with her, but seeing his heart was set
upon the maiden, they had kept their thoughts to themselves, and hoped
that under his influence Lilian Burnet would become a better woman.

"And how is it with thee, my daughter?" queried the minister of
Inverburn in his fatherly manner, and at the same time laying his hand
in blessing on the fair head of the child sleeping on her knee.

"Oh I am very well, grandfather," she answered, flippantly; "and glad to
come here for a change. David has harped so long about coming to the
manse of Inverburn.  I wanted to go home to my father’s house at
Haughhead and let him come alone, but he would not listen to me."

The minister readily guessed the cause of his son’s desire to separate
his wife as much as possible from the influence of her own kinsfolk.
Although they followed an outward form of Presbyterianism they were at
heart attached to Episcopacy, solely because it was the form of religion
most favoured then by royalty and great folk, for whom the needy Burnets
had a great admiration.  In the presence of Mrs. David Gray there was
not much said anent the affairs of the Church; but as there were many
other matters relating to family and social life interesting to them,
the conversation did not flag.  Also, later in the evening, Adam Hepburn
and his wife walked over from Rowallan and joined the family circle at
the manse. And so the night sped on swift and pleasant wings.

Next day Betty McBean’s brother, a carrier by trade, and who had been at
Edinburgh on some errands for various people in the parish, brought word
to the manse that the Marquis of Argyll had been brought a close
prisoner by sea from London to Leith, and was confined in Edinburgh
Castle.  So the laird’s statement, which Mr. Gray had partly
disbelieved, was true after all.  It was with deep anxiety that Mr.
Gray, in common with all other God-fearing people throughout Scotland,
awaited the results which must follow upon these significant
proceedings.

On the 13th of February the Marquis of Argyll was arraigned before the
bar of the Parliament in Edinburgh, charged with high treason.  The
evidence against him was of a very slender character, and was chiefly
made up of a number of vile and baseless slanders gathered together for
his condemnation.  Upon the 20th of the same month the Reverend James
Guthrie was put upon his trial, charged with a similar offence.  But the
real cause of offence against these two great and good men was that they
were the two most influential Protestants in Scotland, and must
therefore be removed out of the way.

Therefore both, after a mockery of a trial, were put on their defence,
which not being satisfactory to their base accusers and unjust and
perjured judges, they were both condemned to die, Argyll on the 28th of
May, and Mr. Guthrie on the 1st of June.  When the grievous news was
brought to Inverburn, Mr. Gray at once rose and prepared himself for a
journey to Edinburgh, in order to be present with his beloved friend
during the last days of his life, to comfort him with the sweet counsel
of brotherly and Christian sympathy.  Jane Gray saw her aged father
depart with some forebodings of mind, and was indeed moved to tears, as
she bade him God-speed and farewell.

"Weep not for me, my daughter," said the minister, sadly, "but rather
for our harassed and persecuted land.  Know, Jane, that except it be of
the Lord’s good pleasure, wicked men shall not lay a hand upon me.  And
if his friends desert him in his hour of need, the soul of the Lord’s
servant may sink within him in his extremity."

Owing to his age and somewhat infirm health, the minister of Inverburn
found it impossible to make the journey in one day, and had therefore to
rest by the way at the house of a friend, about fifteen miles west from
Edinburgh.  And on the following morning he rode with speed into
Edinburgh, arriving about noon at the house of his brother-in-law, in
the Grass-market. His sister Jane was now dead, but her one child, grown
to womanhood, ministered with kind heart and capable hands to her
father’s wants.  The minister was warmly greeted by Ailie Kilgour and
her father and made heartily welcome under their roof-tree.  As was to
be expected, the merchant was able to furnish his brother-in-law with
all the particulars of the two trials, which had occasioned such
excitement and sorrowful indignation in the city.  He also assured him
that he would have no difficulty in obtaining access to Mr. Guthrie,
because he had been allowed to enjoy the fellowship of several friends,
as well as some of his kinsfolk from Guthrie.  So, before the day was
spent, Mr. Gray betook himself to the tolbooth, or gaol, and was without
ado admitted to the presence of his condemned friend.  As was natural,
the minister of Inverburn expected to find him somewhat cast down, for
he was not yet stricken in years, and had many sweet ties to bind him to
life; but he was agreeably surprised to find him not only composed and
cheerful, but encompassed with a holy joy, a blessed and wondrous
serenity, which seemed to have been specially vouchsafed to him from
above.

"Ah, friend Gray," he said, as he affectionately embraced him, "hast
thou come to see how our God can uphold His servants in the very
swelling of Jordan?  Wicked men can lay hands on and torment this poor
body indeed, for which I am not ungrateful, since they will do me a good
turn by giving me a quicker introduction to my Father’s house, where are
many mansions."

In that state of mind Mr. Guthrie continued up to his execution.  Nor
was the Marquis of Argyll less wonderfully upheld in his extremity.  He
died upon the Monday with triumphant courage, and it seemed as if the
Lord’s arm were veritably around him.

On the Friday following Mr. Guthrie followed his illustrious
fellow-sufferer into glory.  The minister of Inverburn was among those
who accompanied him to the scaffold, and who witnessed (not without a
passing feeling of envy, that he had reached the end of his troubles)
the holy and triumphant joy with which he met the King of Terrors.

His last words, "The Covenants will yet be Scotland’s reviving," were
destined to be gloriously fulfilled, but not until the blood of the
saints, of which his was but the earnest, was made to run like water on
the ground.



                             *CHAPTER VI.*

                        *A THORN IN THE FLESH.*


On a dreary October afternoon in the year 1662, David Gray, the minister
of Broomhill, was sitting in the study in his own manse, with his arms
leaning on the table, and his face wearing an expression of deep
perplexity and care.

That very day had been published the proclamation drawn up by the Privy
Council in Glasgow, commanding the ministers to own the power of the
newly-appointed bishops, and to accept anew presentations of their
livings at the hands of the prelates within four weeks, on pain of being
immediately, with their families, ejected from their manses, livings,
and parishes, beyond even the very bounds of their Presbyteries.

In a sore strait was the minister of Broomhill that day.  In his own
mind there was not the slightest hesitation as to the course to be
pursued; he had already refused to own the power of the Bishop of
Glasgow, in whose diocese was the parish of Broomhill. The trouble lay
not with his own conscience; it was connected with his wife and her
kinsfolk, who had already made his life miserable with their reproaches
concerning what they termed his obstinacy and bigoted Presbyterianism.
She was not yet aware of this new proclamation, and the minister
bethought himself that he might try to enlist her sympathies on his side
before she was influenced by her friends at Haughhead.  Accordingly he
rose from his chair, and went to the living-room in search of his wife.
Hearing his foot in the passage, his little daughter, now able to run
alone, came toddling to meet him, and stooping, the father raised her in
his arms and passionately clasped her to his heart.  Her little arms met
fondly round his neck, her rosy cheek was pressed lovingly to his; the
grave disturbed look on her father’s face could not awe or frighten the
little one, for he was her father still.  That sweet caress did the
heart of the minister good, and he entered the inner room with a lighter
step than that with which he had left his study.  Another child, a
little son, just three months old, lay in the wooden cradle which the
young mother was gently rocking with her foot, while over her sewing she
crooned a lullaby to hush the babe to rest.  She looked up at her
husband’s entrance, and slightly smiled in recognition.

"Is the child asleep? can we talk here, Lilian?" he asked in a whisper.

"Yes, he is very sound now, and will not awake for an hour," she
answered.  "What is it you have to say?"

For answer he drew from an inner pocket a copy of the proclamation and
handed it for her perusal. She carelessly glanced it over and laid it
aside, while a peculiar little smile touched her red lips.

"I am not surprised; my father has always said the Government would
resort to more extreme measures.  Well, would it not have been better to
have owned the bishop’s sway of your free will, without being hunted and
compelled to do it like this?" she asked.

The tone of her voice as well as her words went to her husband’s heart
like a knife.  He wearily passed his hand across his brow, and offered
up a silent prayer for guidance and strength to stand firm in the
struggle he knew was at hand.

"When I refused to own the bishop of my own free will, as you say,
Lilian, do you think it a likely thing that such an edict, compiled by a
few drunken and infamous men, will compel me to it?  Middleton and his
underlings have mistaken the men with whom they have to deal," he said,
quietly, yet with unmistakable firmness.

His wife lifted her light blue eyes to his face, with a look of
incredulous wonder on her own.

"Do you really mean that you would sooner bear the penalty than obey,
David Gray?" she asked.

"The penalty I would bear gladly if it did not involve breaking up our
home.  I doubt not the Lord will guide my feet in the right way.  If He
shows me that it is my duty to endure hardship for His sake, will my
wife not willingly endure with me? On such a vital question, Lilian, we
cannot, dare not be divided!" said the minister, hoarsely.

Lilian Gray shrugged her slender shoulders, and an expression of scorn
somewhat marred the childish beauty of her face.

"None but a madman, David, would give up a comfortable manse and a good
stipend for such a small thing; but doubtless though your folly should
render your wife and children homeless, it would not greatly exercise
your spirit.  But I am glad to think that my father’s house will not be
closed against me," she said, pettishly, and turned her face away from
her husband.

The minister groaned in the anguish of his spirit for his
shallow-hearted wife tried him to the utmost limit of endurance.  Before
he had time to frame an answer to her most unfeeling speech, there came
a loud knocking to the outer door, and presently he heard the voice of
his father-in-law, Gilbert Burnet of Haughhead, enquiring whether he was
within.  So he turned upon his heel, and, quitting the room, met his
father-in-law in the hall.  Opening the study door, he motioned him to
enter therein, for he saw well enough that it was the proclamation which
had brought him to the manse.  Burnet of Haughhead was a little burly
man, of very self-important and consequential demeanour, for, in truth,
he thought himself of no mean importance in the parish, and considered
that he had greatly honoured the minister of Broomhill in giving him his
daughter to wife.

"I see by your face, son-in-law, that you have already received
notification of the august decree concerning the bishops and the
ministers," he said, in a facetious voice.  "Ha! ha! they are to be
dealt with like refractory schoolboys now--mastered or expelled."

David Gray turned his head away with a swift gesture, for he was tempted
to speak somewhat unbecomingly to the father of his wife.  Such jesting
and mocking allusion to such a serious matter were more than painful to
him; nay, he could scarcely endure it in patience.

"Would it not have been a much more satisfactory state of things had you
quietly acquiesced in the desires of the king, without having to be
brought under this humiliating ban?" said Haughhead presently.  "You are
still a young man, and ought to have been guided by the counsels of your
elders."

"Mr. Burnet, do you think that, though still a young man, I have neither
opinions nor conscience of my own?" enquired David Gray, hotly, for his
quick temper was touched by the manner and words addressed to him.

"A conscience is a very good thing within certain bounds, young man,"
said Gilbert Burnet, drily.  "I suppose now you will be halting still
betwixt two alternatives.  Perhaps the wording of the Act is not yet
plain enough for your understanding."

"Sir, I know not why you should address such insulting and extraordinary
remarks to me.  I fear I must have fallen far short of my profession as
a minister of the Gospel that you should entertain for me so small a
measure of respect," said the minister of Broomhill, with quiet but
rebuking dignity.  "I am halting betwixt no two alternatives.  As I have
hitherto refused to acknowledge the bishop as the head of the Church, so
I refuse still, at any cost. Come what may, I humbly pray that I may be
accounted worthy to suffer for Him who is the true and only head of the
Church on earth."

A flush of anger overspread the face of Gilbert Burnet.

"So, sir, it was for this I gave my daughter to you," he said slowly.
"Know this, if you still persist in your mad and bigoted resolve, I will
remove her and her children to my own house of Haughhead, and you will
see them no more."

"You have no power to do that, sir, except Lilian go with you of her own
free will," said the minister, quietly.  "I cannot think that she would
consent to be entirely separated from me."

"We will see, we will see," fumed the irate Laird of Haughhead.  "I will
away home, and see what her mother says to it; no, I’ll not wait to see
Lilian, so good day to you, David Gray."

So saying, the Laird abruptly quitted the manse, and rode away in anger
to his own house of Haughhead. In his deep perplexity and sadness, the
heart of the minister turned with a strange, deep yearning to his own
kinsfolk at the manse of Inverburn.  So, as the day was not yet far
spent, he saddled his sturdy cob, and rode away by the wild hill paths,
in the bleak December weather, to his father’s house.  The way he took
was much shorter than the public high road, the distance not exceeding
five miles, so that he came within sight of the roofs of Inverburn
before darkness fell.  He carefully guided his steed down a very steep
mountain path, and from the valley into which he descended he had a good
view of his brother Andrew’s house of Hartrigge on the summit of the
opposite height.  He could either continue his course along the valley,
which would bring him by a somewhat roundabout way to the village, or
climb the hill to Hartrigge, and thence reach the high road, a little to
the south of the entrance to Inverburn.  He bethought him that he might
as well look in at Hartrigge, and enquire for the welfare of its
inmates; therefore he urged his horse to make the steep ascent, and in a
short space of time the animal’s hoofs made a clatter on the path
outside the house, and brought Andrew Gray to the door.

"David, is that indeed you in person?" he exclaimed in surprise, and
hastened to relieve him of his bridle rein.  "No ill news, I hope,
brings you so far from home this bleak night."

"No worse news than has come to many another household this day,
Andrew," replied the minister, with a sigh.  "I am on my way to the
manse, so you need not stable Charlie.  He will stand quiet enough if he
hears my voice, or if you could send one of your lads to hold him till I
step in and ask for Susan and the bairns, that will suffice."

"Gavin is in the house; he has been biding with us these three days; go
in and send him out," said Andrew Gray.  But there was no need, for
presently the lad Gavin appeared in person at the door, looking
surprised and pleased to see his uncle.

"Well, Gavin, lad?" said the minister, kindly, and after shaking him by
the hand passed into the house. Mrs Gray rose from her spinning-wheel to
greet her brother-in-law, her comely face smiling her hearty welcome.
"Come away in, David," she said in her own cheery fashion.  "Hoo’s a’
wi’ ye?  Is Lily and the bairns well?"

"All well, thank you, Susan," said the minister, bending to pat, first
Sandy’s woolly head, and then wee Nannie’s sunny curls; and he had a
kind word too for douce Jeanie, who was sitting demurely by the
spinning-wheel.  It was a picture of quiet family happiness and
contentment, soon, alas! to be looked for in vain throughout the length
and breadth of bonnie Scotland.

"Doubtless you have heard concerning the new proclamation?" said the
minister, turning enquiringly to his brother, who had followed him into
the room.

Hartrigge nodded, and a gleam shot through his fearless eye, telling
that it had roused and stirred his innermost being.

"Have you seen our father to-day?"

"Yes, and I was amazed at his serenity.  Jane feels it worse than him,
and Betty McBean is the worst of them all.  When I was in she was
audibly wishing she had her hands about Middleton’s neck, and her mouth
at Sharp’s ear.  I’ll warrant she wouldna spare them," said Andrew Gray,
with a grim smile.

"Eh, man, David, they’s awful times for folk tae live in," said Aunt
Susan, in a kind of wail.  "I declare it makes a body lie doon i’ their
bed at nicht wi’ fear an’ tremblin’, no kenin’ what strange and waefu’
thing may happen afore the daw’in’."

"You speak truly, Susan, and I fear the worse is not yet," said the
minister, gravely.  "My father, then, has quite made up his mind
concerning his course of action?" he added to his brother.

"Of course; there is but one way open to every single-hearted servant of
God," said Andrew Gray with heaving chest and flashing eye.  "I would
the day were here, and it is surely coming, when the people of Scotland,
roused to a sense of their own wrongs will take arms in defence of their
liberties."

"Wheesht, Andrew!  Wheesht, wheesht!" said his wife, looking round in
terror, as if expecting her husband would be laid hands on then and
there for such rebellious words.  "Dinna speak that way.  We maun bear
afore we fecht.  Peace is better than war."

"Spoken like a woman, Susan," said her husband, with his grim smile.
"But there is peace which means degradation and dishonour, as well as
war, which is honourable and richt.  Must you go already, David? I
wouldna mind yoking the beast and following ye to the manse."

"Let me go too, father," called out Gavin’s shrill eager tones from the
doorstep, where he had been a breathless listener to what was passing.
The lad, young as he was, had as deep and heartfelt an interest in
public affairs as his elders, and he was as intelligent in his interest
as any of them all.

His father did not say him nay, but directly the minister rode away,
sent him to get out their own horse and cart.

Betty McBean answered the minister’s knock at the manse door, and at
sight of the younger son of the manse, threw up her hands and burst into
a loud wail.

"Eh, Maister Dauvit, man, come awa’!  It’s a waefu’ hoose ye’re comin’
intil the nicht; it’ll be the last time ye’ll cross in safety the
doorstane o’ the manse," she exclaimed, incoherently.  "Eh, sir, they
bluidy and perjured monsters wha hae sold themsels tae Sautan for the
persecution o’ the servants o’ the Maist High.  Tae think they wad tak’
the very rooftree frae above focks’ heids, the very flure frae under
their feet, and cast them oot intae the howlin’ wilderness, because
they’ll no----"

The old woman’s incoherent ramblings were here interrupted by Jane Gray,
who, hearing the great commotion of Betty’s shrill tongue, came out to
see what was the matter, and at sight of her brother, her tears also
flowed afresh.  Her face was pale and anxious-looking, her eyes already
red with weeping.  The minister of Broomhill held her hand long in his
fervent grip, and said tremblingly,

"God go with and comfort you, my sister, as He had need to comfort us
all in this desolation."

Then the twain entered the study where their father sat, and at sight of
that aged face, so peaceful and benignant in its expression, David Gray
felt rebuked and ashamed.

"David, my son, my heart was much with you. You are very welcome to your
father’s house this night," said the old man, in significant tones.

For a moment David Gray was unable to speak, but sat him down by the
hearthstone in utter silence. It was broken at last by the reverent
tones of his father’s voice.

"If we must go forth from our heritage, David, it is the Lord’s will.
Let us see to it that, instead of vain grumbling and looking back, we
examine ourselves, and be glad that we are accounted worthy. They may
take from us our earthly habitations, but, blessed be His name, they
cannot rob us of that Heavenly City, whose builder and whose maker is
God.  How has the proclamation been received in the parish of
Broomhill?"

For answer David Gray gladly poured forth into his father’s sympathising
ears the substance of his father-in-law’s remarks, as well as the
disposition of his wife’s mind respecting the alternatives offered in
the Act.

"Verily, she is a thorn in the flesh, and Gilbert Burnet of Haughhead
showed his little discretion when he so harrowed up your soul, my son,"
said the old man, with sorrowful indignation.  "But be of good courage.
With God all things are possible, and your backsliding wife may yet be
the brightest jewel in your crown.  My son, I hope the arguments brought
to bear upon you will not turn your heart away from the Covenant which,
in boyish and trembling handwriting, you attested in the kirkyard of the
Greyfriars," he added, with anxious solicitude.

David Gray flung up his head, while his eyes beamed with a new and
unmistakable resolve.

"Nay, father; not so lightly have your precepts and example taken hold
upon my heart.  My wife and children are as dear to me as they are to
most men, but the God of the Covenant is dearer still. Therefore,
whatever may befall me or mine, I am in the Lord’s hands, only desirous
that I be accounted worthy to suffer for His sake."

"God grant that the like spirit may be abroad throughout the Lord’s
Zion, stimulating her ministers to the glory of self-sacrifice rather
than to dwell at ease at the expense of conscience," said the minister,
in tones of lively satisfaction.  "Fear not, my son; the God of Hosts
will not desert His covenanted people in their hour of need.  Therefore,
I say, be of good cheer."



                             *CHAPTER VII.*

                           *A LONG FAREWELL.*


A special meeting of the Presbytery was convened at Lanark during the
following week to consider what action the ministers were to take
individually and collectively.  It was a mere form, because they were
unanimous in their resolution to leave all for conscience sake.  In the
entire Presbytery there was only one exception to be found, viz., John
Methven, the minister of Lochlee.  He absented himself from the
conference of his brethren, an action which, coupled with his attitude
in the past, indicated that it was his intention to retain his living at
the Government price. The ejected ministers had three weeks wherein to
prepare for the sad change in their circumstances and position.  Many
were at their wits’ end, for, as the Act forbade that they should reside
within the bounds of their presbyteries, whither could they turn for
assistance or shelter?  For themselves they felt it not, but what would
become of the wives and little ones rendered homeless and destitute in
the very outset of a bleak Scottish winter?

Grey, calm, and still broke that November Sabbath morning, the last upon
which the ministers were to break the Bread of Life to the people of
their choice over the length and breadth of Scotland.  In the vale of
Inverburn the dawn was preceded by a thick, heavy mist, which hung low
over hill and moorland, giving a very dreary aspect to the already too
wintry face of Nature.  But long before the hour of service it had
cleared away, revealing a peaceful, grey sky, relieved by flecks of
brightness in the east.  Not a breath of air was stirring; a silence as
of the grave seemed to brood over the land.  Very early the worshippers
began to repair to the house of God.  They came from far and near that
day; the shepherd from his lonely shieling in the mountain solitude, as
well as the dweller in the village, was each found in his accustomed
place.  Long before the bell began to toll, the churchyard had its
groups of earnest, sad-faced worshippers discussing in low and fearful
tones the evil days which had come upon the land.  Very many were too
much overcome to be able to speak, for the thought that this was the
last Sabbath Day upon which they would hear the voice of their shepherd
in his accustomed place was more than they could bear.

Watty McBean, the carrier, and brother to Betty, the manse maid, was
bell-ringer and minister’s man in the parish.  He tolled the bell that
day in a slow, solemn, and painful manner, the echo of each stroke being
suffered to die away ere it was drowned by another.  It was the "burial"
bell Watty tolled that day, and surely nothing could be more fitting or
more in unison with the feelings of all who heard it.

At the usual hour Mr. Gray entered the church, but it seemed to those
who so mournfully and affectionately watched him ascend the pulpit
stair, that never had their minister looked so feeble and aged; never
had his face seemed so worn and ill.  As his sunken eye roamed over the
sea of faces gathered round him, his tears suddenly overflowed, and
departing from the usual routine of service, he folded his trembling
hands, and said in broken and feeble tones, "Let us pray!"

In the manse pew sat Jane Gray, who never since entering the church had
once uplifted her face from her hands, and by her side her nephew Gavin,
whose young face wore an expression of manly resolution, upon which many
remarked.

Adam Hepburn and his wile were also in their places, and there was none
absent from the Hartrigge pew, at the head whereof sat Andrew Gray,
erect and calm, with his arms folded across his breast, and a hard,
stern expression on his face.  And although his father’s prayer caused
many a bursting sob to echo through the church, he sat unmoved, save
when his lips convulsively twitched, telling of a storm of passion held
in curb.  The psalm was the eighty-fourth, the tune Dundee’s "wild
wailing measure," fitting words, fitting music to express the tumultuous
throbbings of the people’s heart.  The minister then read the
seventeenth chapter of John, slowly and with tremulous distinctness, and
without remark or comment of any kind.  Next they sang again a portion
of the ninety-fourth psalm, then the minister gave out his text.

"All these are the beginning of many sorrows."

That sermon was never forgotten by any who heard it.  It seemed as if
the aged servant of God had risen above the frailty and feebleness of
age, for as he proceeded his clear bell-like voice rang through the
building with all the eloquence which had made such a stir among the dry
bones in the earlier days of his ministry among them.  He spoke
passionately and prophetically of the sea of troubles upon which the
Lord’s Zion was now launched, he forewarned them that the time was at
hand when they would need to testify to their faithfulness with their
blood, yet he bade them be of good cheer, because it was through great
tribulation that the brightness of their eternal crown would be gained
in joy.

"And now my faithful and well beloved flock, the time has come for me to
bid you farewell," he added in conclusion.  "In the ordinary course of
nature I could not expect to minister to you for a much more lengthened
space.  As it is, the fiat has gone forth, not from the Eternal King,
but from the poor despicable worm who sits upon an earthly throne that
you and I, beloved, shall no more worship together within this place.
Looking upon its walls to-day for the last time I know how unspeakably
dear it is to me.  It is peopled with rich and hallowed memories of the
past. In this place I have baptised many of you as children, and here,
my own children, now worshipping with you, were all consecrated and
received into the Lord’s Church.  Beloved, from Sabbath to Sabbath these
many years I have broken the Bread of Life in your midst, and God be my
witness that I have expounded the Word to you in accordance with the
light vouchsafed to my own soul.  I have also had sweet counsel with you
in your own homes, in the ordinary course of pastoral visitation, and I
call you to witness that in these visitations I have never failed to be
faithful in my personal dealings, when I saw it to be for the glory of
God, and for the good of souls.  Beloved, all that has come to an end.
Next Sabbath day neither you nor I will worship within these walls. When
or how the doors will again be thrown open for public worship I cannot
say.  I tremble when I think upon our now desolate Kirk of Scotland,
cast out from her heritage, and bidden make her habitation in the
wilderness.  It is not for me now, and in this place, to say what will
be the reward of these sons of Belial, who have wrought this woe in our
midst. ’Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.’ Brethren,
farewell.  I would my tongue could utter what is in my heart this day.
It is with no common sorrow I repeat the words; Brethren, farewell."

The minister ceased, and looked with eyes of unutterable love upon the
sobbing multitude.  There was no dry eye in the assembly, save that of
Andrew Gray the younger, and his seemed to burn with a strange and lurid
fire.  His hands beneath the book board were so firmly clenched together
that the nails were sunk into the flesh.  In the midst of these audible
tokens of grief, the minister raised his trembling hands, and in slow,
clear, solemn tones, breathed upon them his last benediction.  Then he
sank back in the pulpit, wholly overcome.

The scene I have just described was no solitary instance; in its main
features it was being enacted that day in almost every kirk and parish
in Scotland.

In the church of Broomhill that day David Gray also spoke his last
farewell to his flock.  His was not in any respect so united a
congregation as that of Inverburn.  There were many, who, for peace’
sake would have had their minister bow to Middleton’s decree, and make
an outward semblance of acknowledging the bishop.  David Gray entered
his church that day with a heavy heart, not because of the sacrifice he
was about to make--that occasioned him but little concern--but because
of his wife’s coldness and estrangement evinced towards him since he had
announced his fixed determination to abide by the dictates of his own
conscience.  Upon the plea that the younger child could not be left, she
absented herself from the church that Sabbath morning; and the minister
was not surprised to behold the Haughhead seat unoccupied likewise.  He
delivered an impressive and heart-stirring discourse from the words, "He
that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me,"
and when he concluded many were weeping.  They crowded round him as he
came out of the vestry, shaking him by the hand and assuring him of
their continued and unaltered love, and offering assistance in every
form.  It was with difficulty he escaped their loving detention, and,
making his way through the churchyard, entered his own garden by the
private door.  He reproached himself that he did not feel a lively
satisfaction in the thought that he had renounced so much for
conscience’ sake; he felt sore angered at himself for his miserable and
foreboding thoughts, which weighed him nigh to the very dust.  As he set
foot upon the threshold of the manse, he felt oppressed by the strange
stillness of the house. On ordinary occasions, the prattle of his
children’s voices was the first sound which greeted him at his own door.
As he stepped into the house, he heard a sound, like that of weeping,
proceeding from the direction of the kitchen.  Somewhat alarmed, he
immediately proceeded thither, and found Ellen Carmichael, the maid,
sitting apparently in the very abandonment of grief.

"Be quiet, Ellen Carmichael, and tell me the cause of this noise," he
said, with some sternness. "And what has become of your mistress and the
bairns?"

A fresh burst of tears was Ellen’s only answer; but at length she
managed to sob out some words which whitened her master’s face to the
very lips.

"They’re awa’, sir; a’ awa’ tae Haughheid.  The laird cam’ wi’ the coach
jist efter the kirk was in, an’ the mistress gaed awa’ in’t, wi’ the
bairns, an’ a’ her claes an’ the bairns’ claes, an’ she said she wasna’
comin’ back.  An’ I, sir, what cud I dae but sit doon an’ greet,
thinkin’ on you comin’ home tae this empty an’ desolate hoose?"

The minister turned about and walked with unsteady step back to the
pleasant family room, where, with his wife and little ones, he had spent
so many happy hours.  It had a desolate, deserted, dreary look, and the
very fire seemed to have died in despair in the grate.  He looked about
him in a dazed manner, and then sinking into a chair, these words
escaped his lips in a deep groan of anguish:

"If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."

Verily that was a day of sharp and bitter searching for the minister of
Broomhill; nevertheless, ere the hushed silence of the night fell, he
had found peace in his desolate home.



                            *CHAPTER VIII.*

                          *MR. DUNCAN MCLEAN.*


In the course of the ensuing week, the last of the honourable family who
had so long dwelt beneath the roof-tree of Inverburn manse, quitted its
shelter for ever.  Pen fails me to describe fitly that sad farewell.  It
was indeed a very rending of the heart-strings to the venerable minister
of Inverburn.  In spite of the wording of the Act, that every ejected
minister should remove without the bounds of his Presbytery, Mr. Gray
and his daughter went no farther than Adam Hepburn’s house at Rowallan,
where they were very warmly welcomed.  So long as was permitted, they
would remain among their own kith and kin.  The minister of Broomhill
found a shelter at Hartrigge, so that united and affectionate family
were not as yet separated one from the other.

On the next Sabbath day no kirk bell rang its sweet, familiar chimes
through the quiet Sabbath air. The gates of the churchyard remained
closed, and the only sign of life about the venerable pile was the
cawing of hoarse-throated rooks, which had assembled by scores on the
leafless boughs of the "birks of Inverburn," as if met in convocation
over this strange and sad Sabbath day.  Betty McBean had gone home to
her brother Watty’s house in the village; and blithe enough he was to
see her, being a bachelor, with no womenkind to make a bite for him or
to clean up his house.  On the Saturday word was carried through the
parish by Watty that the Word would be preached next day in the barn at
Rowallan by their beloved shepherd, and all whose soul thirsted for the
living water were invited to attend.  And, lo, at the hour of meeting,
so great was the press thronging in Adam Hepburn’s barn that it was
hastily decided to hold the meeting out of doors.  So a kitchen table
with a settle behind it was erected as a pulpit in the corn-yard, and
from this the minister of Inverburn preached to his flock.  Something in
the unusual nature of the proceedings seemed to stir all hearts and to
imbue them with a holy enthusiasm. Never had the psalm been sung with
such deep fervour; never had the attitude of the hearers been so rapt
and reverential.  There was something in the knowledge that it was
against the law that they assembled together which lent a strange,
sweet, yet fearful joy to their relish of that Sabbath day.  Hartrigge,
with all his family, was there, and the minister of Broomhill also took
part in the service.  When they separated, just before the twilight, all
felt that it had indeed been good for them to be there; and they said
one to another, that so long as they could get the Word by walking to
Rowallan for it, the king’s decree might not prove such a hardship as
had been anticipated.  But, alas for their vain hopes, their happy
congratulations! the day was near at hand when listening to, as well as
preaching, the Word was to become a crime worthy of death itself.

The Laird of Inverburn, with Lady Hamilton and the young heir, had
driven in their coach that day to Lochlee, to hear John Methven preach.
On their way home they passed so many dressed people on the roads,
especially as they neared Inverburn, that a suspicion of the truth began
to dawn upon the mind of the laird.

Just outside their lodge gates they overtook Watty McBean and his sister
Betty, leisurely wending their way homewards.  At a word from the laird
the coachman pulled up his horses.

"Here, McBean," said the laird, in his peremptory fashion, "tell me why
there are so many people on the road at this hour.  They look to me as
if they had been at kirk somewhere, though very sure am I that none of
them worshipped with me to-day at Lochlee."

"Did they no’, Sir Thomas? but how should I ken whaur a’ the folk hae
been wanderin’ tae?" asked Watty, innocently.  "Mebbe they’ve been awa’
seein’ their freens or takin’ a bit walk tae theirsels, like Betty an’
me."

Very red grew the face of Betty McBean, as she heard her brother utter
this deliberate falsehood, and she tugged vehemently at her cap strings,
to give some vent to her feelings.

"I believe you are telling me a lie, sirrah!" said the laird,
wrathfully, "and if you are it will be the worse for you.  Here, you
woman, you were the manse maid, I think," he added, directing his
remarks to Betty.  "Can you tell me whether it be true that your
minister is still in the parish, in fact that he is under the roof-tree
of Adam Hepburn, at Rowallan?"

"Oh, Sir Tammas, my lord, dinna mak me tell a lee," said Betty
piteously; "ye wudna hae me get my auld maister into trouble.  He----"

"Betty, if ye dinna haud yer tongue, and come on, it’ll be the waur for
ye," shouted Watty in her ear, and taking her by the arm, dragged her
right away from the coach, and past the gate of Inverburn, without so
much as making an apology to the laird.

Sir Thomas looked angry, but his wife sank back, laughing, in the coach,
not sorry that Betty had not committed herself.

Lady Hamilton’s sympathies were much with the Presbyterians, but she was
of too sweet and gentle a disposition to set up her own opinions in
opposition to those of her husband.

"Eh, Watty McBean, man, hoo cud ye tell sic a barefaced lee?" queried
Betty when her brother released his grip on her arm.  "Did the thocht o’
the fire and brimstane, which the Word says is the portion o’ leers, no
pit the fear o’ death on yer tongue?"

"Hoot ye silly crater, there’s lees _an’_ lees!" quoth Watty, with an
air of superior wisdom.  "Was I gaun to get the minister and the flock
into a peck o’ troubles wi’ my lang tongue?  I see I’ll need to keep an
e’e on you, Betty.  Auld though you be, ye hinna muckle gumption."

"Ye’re no feared either tae daur [defy] the laird," said Betty, with a
sigh.

"I’m no awn the laird naething, and he canna gar me speak against my
will," said Watty, calmly; and Betty, completely overcome by her
brother’s undaunted spirit, relapsed into silence.

For several weeks the parish kirk at Inverburn remained closed, and the
people worshipped with the ministers they loved either in barn or
outhouse, or, when weather permitted, under the canopy of heaven. Such a
state of affairs, which betokened such utter disregard and contempt for
the Prelacy, could not long be allowed to continue undisturbed.  The
next step taken by the bishops was to fill the places of the ejected
ministers with curates of their own, so that the parishioners might no
longer have the closed doors of the churches to point at as an excuse
for their behaviour.

Sir Thomas Hamilton, a staunch loyalist and an intimate friend of the
Bishop of Glasgow, offered his shelter and patronage to any gentleman
his lordship might elect to minister in the church at Inverburn.

It was on the third Saturday in January that a notice was posted up on
the church door intimating that public worship would be resumed next
Lord’s Day by Mr. Duncan McLean, at the hour of noon.

The bellman was also sent round, and the news well circulated throughout
the parish.  It occasioned no little excitement and talk; but the
people, with the exception of a few of the laird’s pensioners in the
village, had not the smallest intention of attending upon the curate’s
ministrations.  Service was to be held at three of the afternoon in the
sheltered glen behind the house of Hartrigge, and as Watty McBean
expressed it--

"When folk could lift Presbyterian wheat for the gaun [going], it wasna
likely they wad be content wi’ the curate’s puir chaff."

About eleven o’clock on the Sabbath morning, Betty McBean, watching from
the window, beheld the coach from Inverburn coming rapidly over the
manse brae, towards the village.

"The laird’s in’t, Watty, an’ a jimpy black body, wha’ll dootless be the
curate, and Peter Rintoull, the bailiff, ’s on the box aside the
coachman," she cried, excitedly.  "I’ll bet ye what ye like they’ll be
comin’ seekin’ you tae gang up by an’ ring the bell."

"Let them come, I’m ready for them," said Watty serenely.  "But gang you
intae the ben-end [parlour], or yer waggin’ tongue’ll play mischief."

Only too thankful to be relieved from the necessity of again meeting the
laird’s questioning gaze, Betty hastily retired into the ben-end just as
the coach drew up at the door.

"Watty, Watty McBean!" called out the coachman. "Coome oot; Sir Tammas
wants ye!"

Watty took his pipe from his cheek, and retired slowly out to the door,
a very uncouth looking figure in his rough homespun garb, and his
unwashed unshaven face surmounted by a dirty red night-cap!

"Why are you not more decently attired, McBean? It is time you were
getting ready for the service," said the laird sternly.  "This is the
new minister of the parish, Mr. Duncan McLean."

"Ay, so I was thinkin’.  I canna say I’m prood tae see Mr. Duncan
McLean," said Watty, in his canny way, and giving his somewhat loose
nether garments an expressive hitch.  "If he’s come tae a cauld pairt,
it’s no’ his blame, puir chield.  I’m thinkin’ he’ll no’ be lang afore
he gangs back tae them that sent him."

Mr. McLean looked much surprised, and not too well pleased at the man’s
freedom of address.

"The man is witless, Mr. McLean, a half crazy loon, whom nobody heeds,"
the laird explained, and then he turned his stern eye on Watty’s
unruffled countenance.  "Look here, McBean, go into the house and put on
your Sabbath garments as fast as you can; and see that you be up to ring
the kirk bell at the usual time."

"Eh, me? they telt me the Bishop wad send a bell-ringer an’ a minister’s
man wi’ the curate," said Watty, with well-feigned astonishment.  "Sir
Tammas, it’s perfectly unpossible that I could be ready at the time.
Just look at me; I’ve a week’s dirt tae scrape aff my skin, no’ tae
mention that my claes taks an hour tae aire afore I cud pit them on
without catchin’ my death."

The laird bit his lip.

"This is gross impertinence, McBean, for which, as I sit here, I swear
you shall not go unpunished. Once for all, will you or will you not be
ready to perform your usual duties in the bell tower and the session
house in half an hour?"

"That I winna, Sir Tammas; seein’ the lord bishop, or whatever be his
title, has made the kirk session of Inverburn null and void, he has made
the minister’s man null and void too; so Maister McLean maun e’en get a
man for hissel," answered Watty, with fearless resolution.  Then he
fixed his keen eye on the ill-favoured face of the curate, and addressed
a concluding remark to him.  "Ye hae taen muckle upon yersel’, young
man, tae step into the honoured shoon o’ the Reverend Maister Gray.  An’
if ye get but a cauldrife hearin’ this day ye may blame no’ the faithfu’
folks o’ Inverburn, but them that sent ye."

With which comforting assurance Watty turned about, and entering his own
house, shut the door.

"If this is the disposition of the parish, Sir Thomas," said the curate
sourly, "I fear stronger measures will be necessary ere long."

"If necessary, doubtless they will be taken, Mr. McLean," said the
laird.  "But do not be cast down by the insolent utterance of a
half-witted fellow like Watty McBean.  I cannot think the people of
Inverburn will so far forget their respect to me, as well as to those in
power, as to follow such an example."

One of the laird’s servants was procured to undertake Watty’s duties,
and the bell was duly rung at the appointed time.  But it appeared to
convey to the hearts of the people no welcome summons to the House of
God.  Only a few stragglers, and these persons of no note in the parish,
came dropping into the church, and when the hour struck there were not
more than thirty persons present, and these included the laird and his
retinue from Inverburn.  Nevertheless the service was proceeded with,
and conducted after the true Episcopal fashion; prayers being read from
the new book of service.  The curate was humiliated and ashamed, the
laird furious, and on their way home to Inverburn the two discussed
various plans whereby the people might be compelled to attend service in
the church.

The following morning Sir Thomas started on horseback to make a tour of
the tenantry on his estate, in order to see what they had to say in
defence of their absence from the church on the previous day. His first
place of call was Rowallan, but before he reached the house he met Adam
Hepburn leading one of his work-horses to the smithy.  Adam doffed his
cap to the laird, and stood still, not unprepared for what was coming.

"I have called to see for what reason you absented yourself from Divine
service yesterday, Hepburn?" the laird said briefly, and without
greeting of any kind.  "Do you know that in so absenting yourself you
were guilty of a civil offence?"

"I know not as to that, Sir Thomas; but if a man’s heart be not in the
service, he is better at home," replied Adam, quietly.  "And the king
has no power over a man’s own conscience."

"See here, Hepburn," said the laird; "is that old man, your
father-in-law, still under your roof-tree?"

"He is, Sir Thomas," answered Adam, in the same quiet tone.

"You know the wording of the Act which commands that the ejected
ministers shall remove themselves without the bounds of the Presbytery?
Rowallan is not without these bounds.  I have it in my power to have
your father-in-law punished, imprisoned if I like, by simply letting my
friend the bishop know how his commands are disobeyed."

A dark red flush rose to Adam Hepburn’s brow, and he bit his lip.  The
hot blood of his race sprang up at the laird’s threatening and mocking
words.

"And you would make betrayal of the old man the price of my
non-attendance at the curate’s preaching, Sir Thomas," he said with
curling lip.  "Such a threat is scarcely worthy of your name.  I fear
that such measures will not avail with the God-fearing people in the
parish."

"You defy me then, sirrah; then be prepared to take the consequences,"
said the laird furiously, and digging his spurs into his horse’s sides,
turned the animal’s head, and rode away full gallop to Hartrigge, only
to have his ire additionally kindled there by the cool defiance and
dogged determination of Andrew Gray.



                             *CHAPTER IX.*

                      *PREPARING FOR EMERGENCIES.*


When the laird rode away, Adam Hepburn turned and walked slowly back to
Rowallan.  He was somewhat disturbed by what he had heard, not on his
own account, but on that of the venerable father of his beloved Agnes.
When he entered the room where the minister sat with his daughter Jane,
Mrs. Hepburn being busy with her household work, both saw that he was
troubled about something.

"Have you heard aught about the preaching yesterday, Adam, that you look
so grave?" queried the minister.

"Yes; I met the laird down the road, and he seems sore displeased over
the thin attendance at Mr. McLean’s ministrations yesterday," replied
Adam, a little quickly.  "He threatened me, too, that unless I attended
the services he would get you into trouble, Mr. Gray."

"I said to you, Adam, my son, when you so nobly offered me the shelter
of your roof-tree, that it might get you and yours into trouble,
harbouring an ejected and rebellious minister," said the old man sadly.
"Better let me go forth ere that trouble comes upon your house."

"Go forth! and whither?  At your age, and in the dead of winter, to
wander in the open air as some are compelled to do would mean certain
death," said Adam Hepburn.  "No, no; though I am not such a red-hot
churchman as Hartrigge, still, whoever seeks to molest you, be he king’s
or bishop’s official, must first deal with me."

Tears started in Jane Gray’s eyes as she looked with pride and gratitude
at the erect figure and manly face of her brother-in-law.  At that
minute Agnes, hearing such serious voices, came in from the kitchen,
asking what was the matter.  Adam Hepburn turned his blue eyes fondly on
his wife’s sweet pale face, and smiled to reassure her.

"We are like to get into trouble, wife, by our dourness to attend the
curate’s preaching, that is all," he answered lightly.

A slightly troubled look stole into Agnes Hepburn’s gentle eyes.

"I know not why, but I have of late had many dark forebodings, Adam,"
she said.  "These are sad, sad days in which we live, and especially
trying for timorous women-folk like me."

"It is your poor health, dear one, that makes you fanciful.  No harm can
come upon Rowallan so long as my stout right arm retains its cunning,"
Adam answered, lightly still; but Agnes, shaking her head, stole back to
her duties with a heavy heart.

"I am concerned about Agnes, Jane," said Adam Hepburn, turning his
troubled eyes on his sister-in-law’s face.  "She is not well, and in her
sleep is restless and troubled, as if haunted by some strange dread; and
she is so thin and worn.  Looking on her face, at times I am afraid."

"When the spring time is past she will gather strength, please God,"
said Jane, cheerfully.  "Agnes never was strong in the spring time."

"No; and these exciting and troublous times are too severe a strain upon
her sensitive heart," said the minister.  "As Agnes herself says, they
are not for timorous women-folk to live in."

For some weeks they heard no more of the laird or of his threats,
although report had it that severe measures were about to be taken to
compel the people to respect the authority of the bishops and to attend
upon the ministrations of their curates.  Ere long these rumours became
terrible realities, and a troop of brutal and unprincipled dragoons,
under Sir James Turner, was let loose upon the western and southern
shires of Scotland, which they scoured in search of the ejected
ministers, and of their faithful flocks, who travelled miles to hear
them in the mountain solitudes, worshipping with them in temples not
made with hands, but which were consecrated to the Lord by the
faithfulness and fearless piety of these Christian people.  For a time
the parish of Inverburn, although very offensive in its treatment of the
curate, escaped the severity with which many other parishes, notably
those in the shires of Galloway and Dumfries, were visited.  It was at
length, however, publicly announced from the pulpit that all who failed
to attend Divine service on the following Sabbath day would be
apprehended and punished either by fine or other penalty, and that all
who gave aid to the ejected ministers or who attended upon their
services in the open air were liable to be dragged before the High
Commission Court, of which Sharp was the head, and there punished
according to the prelates’ good pleasure.

Adam Hepburn heard unmoved that report, as also did his brother-in-law
at Hartrigge, where David Gray, the minister of Broomhill, was still
sheltered, almost, however, at the peril of his life.  When the dragoons
at length came to Inverburn, he hid in the day-time in a
cunningly-concealed cave on the face of the hill upon which Hartrigge
stood, and the existence of which was known only to a very few.  It was
in a spot so difficult of access, and was, besides, so well hidden by
brambles and nettles and other brushwood, that for a time at least the
fugitive was perfectly safe.

When Sir James Turner and his troop arrived at Inverburn, he, with his
subordinate officers, was immediately offered shelter by the laird,
while the men were drafted upon various households in the village,
notably those who were known to be very zealous Presbyterians.  Watty
McBean’s house was taken possession of by four coarse, swearing, drunken
soldiers, who raised Watty’s ire to the utmost pitch and nearly
frightened Betty out of her wits, besides eating her out of house and
home.

At nightfall on the day of their arrival, Watty stole away through the
fields to Rowallan to give timely warning to its inmates to get the
minister removed out of the way before he should be taken prisoner.  He
crept up to the room window and gave a familiar tap on the lower pane,
lest a knocking at the door might alarm the household.  Adam Hepburn
himself came to the door, and, at a sign from Watty, stepped outside.

"I’ve jest come tae warn ye, Adam Hepburn, that Turner an’ the sodgers
came this nicht," he whispered. "An’ by what I hear the rascals, wha hae
taen my hoose frae me, sayin’ tae ane anither, it’s oor minister an’ the
minister o’ Broomhill they’re after.  Hae ye ony means o’ getten Maister
Gray outen the road?"

Adam Hepburn nodded.

"We knew the soldiers were on their way to Inverburn, and I’ll warrant
they’ll no lay hands on the minister, or they’ll be sharper than I think
them. Come in, Watty, and speak to Mr. Gray.  He’s still with us in the
house."

"Ye dinna mean to say so!" exclaimed Watty in consternation.  "Certy
ye’re no feared.  If ye take my advice ye’ll get him awa’ intae safe
hidin’ as sune as possible.  I was sayin’ tae Bettie I kent a bonnie
howdie hole on the Douglas Water doon the Sanquhar road a bit, that it
wad puzzle the sodgers tae find."

"Keep your secret for awhile, Watty.  It may be useful some day," said
Adam Hepburn, and beckoning to Watty, he ushered him into the warm
ingle-neuk, where sat the minister of Inverburn in undisturbed serenity,
with his daughters by his side.

"Good evening to you, Watty McBean, my faithful friend," said the
minister, rising to shake hands with Watty.  "What tidings have ye
brought?"

"No very braw [nice] for leddie’s ears.  The sodgers have come upon
Inverburn at last, an’ gin they bide lang ther’ll be neither bite nor
sup, nor an article o’ gear in the parish," answered Watty dolefully.
"The four villains quartered on us have already pocketed my watch an’ my
mither’s spunes, no’ tae speak o’ Betty’s brooch she got frae yer
lamented wife."

Agnes Hepburn’s pale cheek grew, if possible, a shade whiter, and
instinctively her husband moved to the back of her chair, and laid his
firm hand on her trembling shoulder as if to re-assure her.

"Adam, if this be so, my place is no longer here!" said the minister
rising.  "My son, I have already stayed too long, not only at the peril
of my own life, but it is imperilling yours likewise.  It will be better
for me to keep my hiding-place now, both night and day."

"You will lie down first, father, and snatch a few hours rest," said the
sweet voice of Adam Hepburn’s wife.  "At the cock-crowing Adam will
awake you, and you can hide until the nightfall."

"Oh, ye’r safe eneuch till the daw’in’, sir," Watty assured him.  "The
laird’s wine, an’ soft beds, an’ routh [abundance] o’ breakfast ’ll keep
Sir Jeems at the big hoose, I’se warrant, till the sun be up."

"Certainly you will do as Agnes says, Mr. Gray?" said Adam, in his
decided way.  "Now, Watty, if you’ll say good-night, and come with me,
I’ll show you a ’howdie hole’ which would match yours on the Douglas
Water."

"Guid nicht, then, Maister Gray, an’ may the Lord blind the e’en o’ the
sodgers, and keep you oot o’ their clutches," said Watty with fervour.
"Mistress Hepburn an’ Miss Jean, guid nicht wi’ ye baith; an’ should ye
need a strong arm and a willint heart at any time, to defend ye, mind
that Watty McBean’s ay ready!"

"Good night, my faithful Watty; and may the Lord give you patience to
bear the infliction of the soldiery on your abode.  Provoke them not to
anger, Watty, I entreat, for I am told that they are very swift to shed
blood," said the minister, earnestly.

"I’ll thole [bear] as long as I can, I never was a fechter," said the
good soul, with a comical smile, and pulling his forelock in token of
respect, he followed Adam Hepburn out of doors.

The moon had now risen, and its clear radiance struggled through the
rifts in the cloudy sky, and shone weirdly and fitfully on the wintry
landscape, making strange fantastic shadows too on the walls of the
outhouses grouped about the farmhouse.  Adam Hepburn stepped across the
courtyard, and opened the barn door.  He then motioned to Watty to
enter, and after carefully closing the door, lighted the lantern he had
brought with him from the house.  The barn at Rowallan was a large and
commodious place, with a steep ladder-like stair ascending to the
granary above.  In one corner a small door gave admittance to an inner
apartment, something resembling a closet in a house, and into which the
chaff was swept after it was separated from the wheat by the flail.  At
the present time it was, however, almost empty, there being only a
slight sprinkling on the wooden floor.  Into this place Adam Hepburn
threw the light of his lantern, and then looked enquiringly at Watty.

"What do you see there, Watty, anything by ordinar?" he asked.

"Naething but a common chaff-hole," answered Watty, "and no’ a very safe
hidin’-place, I wad think. The Douglas Water hole beats it yet."

"Come in, though, Watty, and I’ll show you something," said Adam, with a
smile, and Watty stepped into the place, in which he could scarcely
stand upright.  Adam then set down his lantern, and with his hands swept
aside the chaff, but still Watty saw nothing save a moth-eaten and
discoloured wooden floor. But when Adam inserted into some of the seams
the strong blade of his gully knife, and Watty saw a distinct movement
in the flooring, he began to have an inkling of what was coming.  After
some little exertion, Adam Hepburn raised a small trap-door, sufficient
to admit the body of a man, and Watty peering into the chasm, with
excited interest, saw a ladder which appeared to lead into the bowels of
the earth.

"Now creep down after me, Watty, and shut the door after you, and I’ll
show you something worth seeing," said Adam, and Watty made haste to
obey. The ladder was of considerable length, but at last Watty felt his
feet on the firm earth, and looking about, saw by the light that he was
in a subterranean passage, narrow certainly, but of sufficient height to
accommodate even Adam Hepburn’s tall figure.  Still following his guide,
Watty walked a little way along the passage, and then found himself in a
kind of cave, a wide open space, sufficient to hold about a dozen
people.  There was a rude couch composed of stones, built in one corner,
upon which now had been piled a substantial tick filled with chaff,
above which was spread plenty of blankets and thick coverings, which
would make a very comfortable resting place, even in winter.  A piece of
rough matting covered the floor in front of the bed, and there were some
benches which formed a table, or could be used for seats.  The floor of
the place was perfectly dry, and the atmosphere felt warm and free from
dampness.  Watty gazed round him in unmitigated astonishment and
admiration, and at lasted gasped out--

"This _is_ a howdie hole, an’ nae mistak’!  Whaur did it come frae, an’
wha made it?"

"It has always been here.  I believe my great-grandfather, who was
killed at Flodden, had something to do with it," replied Adam Hepburn.
"At any rate, not a living soul knows of its existence but our own
family and you, Watty.  But you don’t know half its advantages yet.
See, the underground passage continues right through here," he added,
shedding the light of his lantern into another dark recess; "and what do
you think? it runs right through the fields of Rowallan, and under the
bed of the Douglas Water, and comes out in the middle of all the
brushwood and tangle on the face of the Corbie’s Cliff.  Ye didna ken
there was a hole there, did ye, Watty?"

"No; although I hae speeled [climbed] the Corbie mony a time for nests
when I was a laddie," said Watty, solemnly.  "It seems as if the Lord
had made the place Hissel’."

"Mr. Gray can be made very comfortable here, Watty," continued Adam
Hepburn; "and, by the simple pulling of a string I have fastened up in
the chaff-hole, I can make a noise which will warn him to escape by the
Corbie should the soldiers discover the trap.  But I don’t think there
can be any fear of that."

"No’ likely, for I couldna see onything but the flure," said Watty, in
much glee; "an’ I’m no’ blind. Eh, weel, may be mair than the minister
’ll be glad o’ this grand shelter."

"It is likely the minister of Broomhill will come here under cover of
the night some of these days.  I would think he was not very safe much
longer at Hartrigge," said Adam Hepburn.  "Well, Watty, I think we’d
better get upstairs again, and you can tell Betty that we are ready for
the soldiers whenever they like to come."

"’Deed, Maister Hepburn, I’ll no’ tell her naething. Weemin folk are no’
to be trusted.  No’ that they mean tae dae mischief; it’s jist their
tongues, puir craters, fashed [troubled] wi’ a weakness, an’ they canna
help themselves," said Watty, so seriously that his companion could not
refrain from laughing.

After some little delay, they again mounted the ladder, and, pushing up
the trap-door, emerged into the chaff-hole, and thence out into the open
air, where, after a few more words concerning the shelter of the
ministers, they parted for the night.



                              *CHAPTER X.*

                         *ADAM HEPBURN’S VOW.*


The business of life seemed to be standing still in Inverburn.  Although
it was not the season of the year in which much outdoor labour could be
accomplished, the barren fields still lay waiting to be upturned by the
plough, and all interest in the ordinary routine of work seemed to be
absorbed in other things.  The morning after the quartering of the
soldiery on the householders there were many strange sights and sounds
witnessed and heard in the quiet hamlet of Inverburn.  Needless to say
that the inn was the chief rendezvous, and honest Mistress Lyall had to
pour out her ale and whisky, and even her small stock of wine and
brandy, without stint or payment.  The swearing horde took possession of
the bar, and, in the terror of her soul, poor Katie Lyall flew to a
neighbour’s house, and left them in undisturbed possession.  Having
drunk their fill, the ruffians made a raid on every house, lifting what
valuables they could lay hands upon, and insulting the women, and
bringing many a burning blush to the fair cheek of youth.  The unarmed
and defenceless men folk in the village were only deterred from open
resistance by the sight of the long gleaming swords and loaded pistols
of the troopers.  But curses, not loud but deep, filled the quiet air,
and many a manly hand was clenched, many a manly voice uttered a deep
and ominous vow of vengeance.

About half-past nine Sir James Turner and his subordinate officers rode
down the manse brae, and, drawing rein at the head of the village
street, sounded the _reveille_.  In a short time the regiment was in
marching order, and the horses’ heads were turned towards Rowallan.  And
then many a fervent prayer rose to Heaven that the God of Hosts would
throw the strong arm of His defence about Adam Hepburn’s house, and
shelter its dear inmates from the bloody men.  Early that morning Adam
Hepburn had walked across the fields to Hartrigge to warn David Gray of
his danger, and to bid the inmates of the house be prepared for a visit
from the soldiery. He arrived to find the minister of Broomhill quietly
seated at breakfast with the family, having just crept up from his
hiding-place.  It was at once hastily resolved that, as it was still
early, Adam Hepburn and David Gray should creep down into the valley
behind Hartrigge, and, keeping within shelter of the trees and
brushwood, follow the course of the Douglas Water until they reached the
Corbie’s Cliff; then, entering the mouth of the subterranean passage,
join the minister of Inverburn in his hiding at Rowallan.

The children at Hartrigge, all but Gavin, being too young to understand
the peril of the hour, wondered why uncle David bade them farewell so
solemnly and with tears in his eyes; and little Jeanie, listening to his
last words to her mother, pondered them long in her heart.

"Farewell, Susan, my sister.  The Lord requite thee for thy sisterly
kindness to me, who, now a wanderer on the face of the earth, can never
hope either to acknowledge or repay it.  And may the Lord also vouchsafe
the wings of His shelter to this house and its inmates, and shield them
in the day of trouble."

Mistress Gray wrung the minister’s hand, but was unable to speak.
Andrew Gray himself accompanied them to the door, but their parting
words were interrupted by the shrill echo of the trumpets sounding the
_reveille_ in the village along the vale.  Then Adam Hepburn and the
minister understanding that ominous sound, plunged into the thicket, and
scrambled down the steep into the richly wooded valley below. Meanwhile
the women folk at Rowallan busied themselves with their household tasks,
and Agnes at least longing for her husband’s return.  The nervous fear
had so grown upon her of late that she was never a moment at rest, save
when he was by her side.  As she stepped out into the courtyard with a
basin of warm food for the poultry, the clatter of hoofs fell upon her
ears, and turning her startled eyes in the direction of the road, she
saw what appeared to be a moving mass of steel, glittering in the chill
winter sunshine, and coming rapidly towards the house.

With a slight scream she dropped the basin with its contents, and fled
into the house.  Jane Gray, hearing the noise, came hurrying downstairs,
and caught her trembling sister in her arms.

"Agnes, my lamb, what is it?  What has so frightened you?" she asked,
anxiously.

"The soldiers, Jane! they are here!" exclaimed the terrified girl.  "Oh,
Jane, hide me from them!  I wish Adam had not gone away!"

Even Jane Gray’s brave heart quailed at the thought of their defenceless
state, but she tried to console and assure her sister.

"Don’t be afraid, my dearie, they will never harm two defenceless women,
and Adam must now be near home.  It is nigh two hours since he went
away."

Before she could say more the troops swept across the stack-yard, and
drew up with a great clatter before the door.  The pawing and snorting
of the horses, the rattling of their trappings, and the voices of the
men, made a strange and alarming din about the quiet house of Rowallan.

Jane Gray placed her sister in a chair, shut the sitting-room door, and
drawing herself up, as if with a sudden courage, went out boldly to the
door.  She was deadly pale, but her demeanour was outwardly perfectly
unmoved.

At sight of the woman, Sir James Turner, a coarse and forbidding-looking
man, rode his horse up to the very doorstep, and fixed his insolent eyes
on the fair, calm face.

"Well, mistress, this is the rebellious house of Rowallan, is it not?
Are you the wife of that notorious Whig, Adam Hepburn, who so
persistently disavows the king’s commands, and shelters the rebel
preachers?"

"This is Rowallan, sir," Jane Gray made answer in a clear, steadfast
voice.  "But I am not Adam Hepburn’s wife.  There is none within this
house but me and my sister, who is in delicate health. May I appeal to
your honour as a soldier and a gentleman not to needlessly distress or
alarm us?"

A coarse laugh fell from Turner’s lips, which was re-echoed by his
subordinates.

"A modest request, truly; I might grant it if I get a kiss from those
sweet lips for my payment.  But say, is that renegade old man, Andrew
Gray, the field preacher, not hidden in the house?"

"He is _not_," said Jane Gray, calmly, while a red spot began to burn
hotly on either cheek.

"I am sorry I cannot take your word for it, mistress," said Turner,
coolly.  "With your permission we will make a search of the house.
Here, Dawson and McTavish," he added, turning to a corporal and a
sergeant, "dismount, and search the house, and you, Captain Blane, and
young Drew, with the others make a thorough inspection of the outhouses.
Now, ma’am, let me have a glass of ale or wine to cool my thirst, and
show you a loyal subject of the king."

For peace’ sake, as well as on the account of her sister, Jane Gray
crushed back the indignant refusal burning for utterance, and, holding
the door open, briefly bade him enter.  She led the way direct to the
room where Agnes sat, judging it better that she should be present with
her, before the soldiers in their search reached the sitting-room.  At
sight of the spurred and booted soldier, with his fierce aspect and
forbidding eye, Agnes Hepburn again uttered a slight scream, but Jane
hastily laid her hand on her lips.

"Hush, hush, Agnes; Sir James Turner will not harm you.  He has but come
in for some slight refreshment," she said, hurriedly.

"Is this Adam Hepburn’s wife, then?" asked Sir James, with insolent
curiosity.  "Do not tremble so, my sweet mistress.  Unless compelled by
duty, I would not lay a finger on you.  But come, tell me where your
brave husband, and the old man, your father, are in hiding, and we will
go away and leave the house in peace."

"I do not know; my husband has not been at home for--for--long," Agnes
faltered back, and breathing an inward and passionate prayer that the
Lord might detain him on the way until the dragoons had left the place.

"How glibly these pretty lips can utter a falsehood!" said Turner,
mockingly.  But just then he was somewhat mollified by the sight of a
cup of rich Burgundy, which Jane Gray had brought from the cupboard to
appease his wrath.

"By the powers, I never tasted the like in a Whig house before!" he
said, smacking his lips.  "For your courtesy to me, mistress, I will not
insist upon your revealing the rebel hiding-place.  I know your kind,
and how obstinate they can be when they choose; yet I swear that, if
Adam Hepburn or the minister be about Rowallan, they shall not escape
this day."

The two men who had been searching the house now appeared in the
doorway, saying they had met with no success, and that there was no
possible corner within the four walls where a fugitive could be hid.

Turner then rose and left the house to superintend the search outside.

With agonised eyes the two women watched from the window, trembling at
the long delay the searchers made in the barn.

But at length, to their unspeakable relief, those who had entered it
again emerged into the open air, and it was quite evident from their
faces that their search had been unsuccessful.

After some little delay and consultation, Turner gave the word of
command, and the dragoons sprang to horse once more, and stood ready in
the courtyard to depart.  Then Turner again approached the door, where
the sisters now stood, for they could not rest within.

"Though we have been unsuccessful to-day, mistresses," he said, in an
angry tone, "we will yet lay hands upon the renegades.  I know not what
keeps me from compelling you to divulge the secret of their
hiding-place; but, hark!  I will not be so lenient when I come back.
It’s not the first time I have had to make a wench confess at the point
of the sword."

At that moment, to the dismay and horror of the women, Wyllie, Adam’s
collie, came running round from the stack-yard barking furiously.
Knowing he had accompanied his master to Hartrigge, they stood in
intense and silent agony, momentarily expecting to see Adam stride round
the corner, and then----. Jane’s lip quivered, Agnes covered her face
with her hands, and a low moan escaped her lips.

Turner, thinking his threat had frightened them sufficiently, turned his
horse’s head, and gave the order to march.  The dog, now in a perfect
fury, and seeming to have taken a special dislike to the commander, ran
barking and snapping at the horse’s heels.

"Some of you put a bullet through that yelping cur!" he said, with a
great oath.  Almost as if understanding the brutal order, Wyllie turned
tail and ran to his mistress’s side, crouching in at her skirts.
Turner’s order was obeyed, and two pistols were recklessly fired towards
the door, heedless of the danger to the women.  They missed their aim,
but found a mark in Agnes Hepburn’s side.  Without a sound she fell at
her sister’s feet.  For a moment Turner looked dumbfounded and as if
uncertain what to do; then, with another great oath, he repeated the
word of command, and the whole troop rode off towards Hartrigge.  Before
they were well out of sight Adam Hepburn, just arrived in the
underground shelter with David Gray, pushed up the trap-door, and
stepped out into his own barn-yard.  From the great confusion and marks
of hoofs, he at once saw that the dragoons had visited Rowallan in his
absence, and, with sinking heart, lest any harm should have befallen his
darling, he hurried into the house.

At the door Wyllie met him, and looked up into his face with a piteous
moan.  The dread stillness in the house almost made the man’s heart
stand still.  He strode through the kitchen, and when he stood upon the
threshold of the sitting-room door, what a sight met his view!  Upon the
couch lay the prostrate form of his wife, and Jane kneeling by her side,
apparently laving something with water.  But stay; what was that
staining the whiteness of the handkerchief? Was it blood?

"My God, Jane, what is this?" he asked, hoarsely, and, with one step,
was at the side of the couch.

Then he saw the wound in his wife’s side, from which her life blood was
slowly ebbing.

"They have been here!  That is their work, Adam!" Jane Gray answered, in
a voiceless whisper. "The bullet intended for poor Wyllie pierced her
side! Oh, my poor sister!"

Adam Hepburn knelt down by the couch, and, folding his strong arms about
the unconscious figure, called his wife by every endearing name to look
up to tell him she was not dead.  The tones of that well-beloved voice
seemed to recall for a brief space the ebbing breath of life.

The long lashes stirred on the white cheek; after a tremor of the lids
they were lifted, and the sweet eyes met his in a look of unutterable
love.  It was the last effort of the feeble strength.  In the moment of
agony which followed, the breath gently left the lips, the beat of the
heart was stilled for ever, and Agnes Hepburn was safe from the trouble
to come.

In the deep and awful silence which ensued a strange and terrible change
was wrought upon the face of Adam Hepburn.  The pleasant lines and
curves, which had but added to its beauty, were deepened into the
furrows of a desperate resolution. Gently he laid his dead wife back
upon the pillow, and, walking over to the hearth, took down his father’s
sword from its accustomed place on the wall, and returned with it to the
side of the couch.

"I call you to witness, Jane Gray, that I swear here, by the body of my
murdered wife, that this sword shall never again be allowed to dry in
its sheath until it has been wetted with the life blood of as many
dragoons as there were years upon my darling’s head," he said, in slow,
deep, measured tones, and with eyes gleaming with a fierce resolve.
"And God do so to me, and more also, if I fail to stand to the very
letter of my vow!"



                             *CHAPTER XI.*

                             *UP IN ARMS.*


Twelve o’clock was the usual dinner hour at Hartrigge.  In spite of the
stirring excitement of that morning, the table was spread punctually at
noon, and the family gathered about the board.  Before, however, Andrew
Gray had finished asking a blessing on the food, the dragoons swept up
with a great noise to the front door.  Catching sight of a gleaming
sword out of the window Jeanie screamed in affright, and her mother’s
face visibly paled.  But little Sandy, in all a child’s delight over a
gay pageant, scrambled up on the window seat, and fairly jumped with
glee at sight of so many prancing steeds.  With grave, resolute,
undisturbed face, Hartrigge rose from his chair, and turned his eyes
upon his trembling wife.

"If I lose my life this day, Susan," he said, quietly, "promise me you
will rear the bairns in the true religion, and teach them to love and
reverence the Church of Scotland and the faith of their forefathers."

Mistress Gray had no opportunity to reply, for at that moment the door
was rudely thrown open, and Turner, with a corporal and sergeant, strode
into the room.

"Andrew Gray of Hartrigge?" he said, briefly and imperiously.

"I am Andrew Gray," answered Hartrigge, with corresponding brevity.

"A vile Whig and a bigoted Presbyterian, a rebel against the king, and a
harbourer of field preachers and like vermin," continued Turner, in his
coarse fashion.  "I have just come from Rowallan, but the puling
womenfolk there have lost their tongues, and could tell us nothing of
those we seek.  In the king’s name, Andrew Gray, I command you to
instantly tell me where your canting old father, and your brother, the
minister of Broomhill, are to be found.  Remember you stand at peril of
your life."

Andrew Gray folded his arms across his chest, and looked his questioner
in the face with undaunted eye.

"Very well do I know that I stand at peril of my life," he made answer,
calmly.  "But I can tell you nothing of those you seek."

"You will not, you mean," cried Turner, passionately.  "By heavens, the
name of Gray seems inseparable from dogged obstinacy, as well as from
rebellion and treason.  If I tie up your eyes and point a pistol at your
mouth it may refresh your memory."

Hartrigge spoke never a word; his wife sank weeping helplessly into a
chair, while the children, all but Gavin, who had left the room,
crouched beside her in terror.

"Woman, bid your husband obey orders, unless you want me to leave him to
you to bury!" said Turner.  "I have already wasted too much precious
time among your kind."

But never a word spoke Mistress Gray.  Then Turner looked towards his
subordinates--

"Bind the obstinate pig-headed Whig," he said, briefly.  "If I cannot
make him speak, we will take him to those who will."

Susan Gray uttered a loud shriek, and sprang to her husband’s side; but
she was rudely cast aside, while the officers pinioned Hartrigge’s arms.

"Stop that howling, woman, or I will give you something to yelp about!
I’ve a mind to burn your house about your confounded ears, but it would
take too much time to-day.  Let the prisoner to horse, and let us be
off.  We have other game to bag before sunset to-day."

As Andrew Gray was about to leave the room he stepped to his wife’s
side, and hastily bade her be of good cheer, for his time had not come
yet; then, looking upon the children with a strange softening in his
stern eyes, he waved them an affectionate farewell.

With the little ones clinging to her skirts, Mistress Gray followed the
oppressors to the door, and stood watching while they bound her husband
on a steed. He again turned his face towards her, and exhorted her to be
of good cheer, and keep a firm hold upon her faith in God, until they
should meet again.  His words were brought to a sudden close by a blow
upon the mouth, administered by the corporal, who was fastening him
securely to the back of the horse.  At sight of the blood, Susan Gray
covered her face with her hands, and was afraid to look again.  Ere he
mounted his horse, Turner peremptorily ordered Mrs. Gray to bring him a
tankard of ale, or a cup of wine, a command of which she was too much
agitated to take notice.  Little Jeanie, however, fearing a new
exhibition of the terrible man’s wrath, with womanly thoughtfulness ran
into the house, and brought out a draught for the general.  He smiled
grimly as he took it from the slim hands of the little maiden, and
having quaffed it, bade her not follow the example of her renegade
father; and, mounting his horse, gave the order to march, and the
troops, with their prisoner in the midst, rode away from Hartrigge.
Just then the lad Gavin came through the kitchen with a flushed eager
face, and bearing in his hands an old fowling-piece, chiefly used for
scaring rooks and other vermin off the crops.

[Illustration: "Little Jeanie ... brought out a draught for the
general"]

"Why, Gavin, laddie, what did ye think to do?" asked his mother, with a
mournful smile.

"Are they away, mother?  If they had killed my father I would have shot
Turner with this.  I have been down at the tool house, loading it with
some lead I got in my uncle Peter’s shop, at Lanark, when I was there
with Uncle Adam," replied the lad, fearlessly.

"Then they would have surely killed you, too, my son," replied the
mother, shaking her head; though inwardly admiring the spirit of the
boy.  "Well, well, Gavin, you will need to take care o’ us all now that
your poor father is away."

"Mother, what do you think they’ll do to him?"

"My son, how can I tell?  But I dinna feel as if any great harm would
come to him, for he says his time is not come yet," replied Mistress
Gray.  "I think the Lord in His mercy will restore him ere long to his
wife and bairns.  But now, Gavin, get away by the fields to Rowallan,
and see whether all be well there."

Just at that moment, however, a messenger on horseback appeared at the
door, conveying the terrible tidings from Rowallan, and bidding
Hartrigge and his wife come over at once.  Susan Gray, dumb with horror,
sat helplessly down, and wrung her hands in despair.  Not having heard
the right way of the story, her hopes concerning her husband’s
comparative safety swiftly ebbed away, for since they spared not a
defenceless and delicate woman, how could they allow such as Andrew Gray
to escape unhurt?  So desolation and woe fell upon the houses of
Rowallan and Hartrigge, and it appeared as if the Lord had deserted
them, and removed the light of His countenance from His servants.

Meanwhile the regiment had halted on the public road, and after a brief
consultation, a portion, under command of Captain Blane, was sent back
to Inverburn, where they were to remain for several days, keeping a
sharp look-out for the fugitives.  They were also empowered to compel
all upon whom they could lay hands to attend upon the ministrations of
the curate the following Sabbath day.  The main body of the troops, with
Sir James at their head, then turned southwards, to scour the hill
country betwixt Douglasdale and Nithsdale, Turner being anxious to reach
his home in Dumfries, from which he had been absent for a considerable
space.

In due course they arrived at Dumfries, where Andrew Gray was kept a
close prisoner, prior to being sent or taken by Turner before the
Commissioner at Edinburgh.

It would have been a swifter and surer plan to have conveyed the
prisoner direct to Edinburgh from Inverburn, but Turner expected to lay
hands upon some other marked offenders in the southern districts, and to
send them in a body under guard to the Commissioners.  However, he was
unsuccessful, and arrived in Dumfries with his one prisoner, whose only
offence was in harbouring field preachers and attending the open-air
services.

While Turner rested himself at home, his dragoons were not allowed to be
idle, but were despatched in detachments to the various villages and
hamlets, to keep the inhabitants faithful in their attendance on the
curates, and to extract fines from those who refused, the latter being a
very congenial task to the greedy and brutal soldiery.

One cold, bleak morning, when a party of soldiers were maltreating an
old man in the village of Dairy, in Kirkcudbrightshire, four of these
very wanderers, whom Turner had been seeking, arrived in desperation,
seeking shelter and food, and being indignant at the dragoons’ behaviour
they set upon them, and compelled them to release the old man and give
up their arms. Encouraged by their success, they were joined by several
villagers, and surprised and overcame another party of dragoons, engaged
extracting fines by violence, some little distance away.  Further
emboldened they marched into Dumfries, took Turner prisoner in his own
house, set Andrew Gray at liberty, and constituted themselves into a
small army.  Thus took place the first rising against the Government,
for which Andrew Gray, and many like him, had so ardently longed.  With
their unwilling prisoner they proceeded northwards, and were joined on
the way by others, both on horse and foot.  Captain Wallace was chosen
as their leader, and by his side rode Andrew Gray, for he was certainly
one of the boldest and most resolute among them.  Travelling the same
route as Turner had come, they entered Inverburn on a Sabbath morning
just as service was about to begin. Entering the church, they ejected
the curate, but did not take him prisoner, he being beneath their
contempt; then they shut the church doors, tore up the book of service
in the churchyard, the gates of which they then locked, and proceeded to
the village, singing a psalm as they went.  At Mistress Lyall’s a halt
was made for rest and refreshment, and then Andrew Gray rode off rapidly
to Hartrigge, to assure his wife of his safety, and tell her their
resolve, which was to proceed to Edinburgh, expecting to increase in
numbers as they went.

Space will not allow me to dwell long upon the happy meeting at
Hartrigge, when the husband and father was so unexpectedly restored to
his home.  But upon hearing that he was again going forth, Mistress Gray
ominously shook her head.

"I’m for peace, Andrew," she said, in a low voice, "an’ what’s a handful
of country folk against the soldiers of the king?  Ye’ll be slain in
cauld blood. Better, far better, bide at hame."

Hartrigge only smiled in a lofty and superior manner at the weakness of
the woman, and then inquired concerning the fugitives as well as the
folk at Rowallan.

"Grandfather and David are safe enough, but waes me for Rowallan and
it’s bonnie sweet mistress!" said Susan Gray, with fast filling eyes.
"Of course ye canna have heard that Agnes is awa’ frae a’ the terrors o’
these troublous times, and that Adam Hepburn sits a widower by his
desolate hearth."

Andrew Gray gave a violent start.  It was indeed news to him.  Then,
with many tears, his wife related the sad story to him, which he heard
in absolute silence.

"An’ yet ye would still say, Peace, peace!  Oh! Susan, woman, I fear ye
are a coward at heart!" he said, sternly.  "I will to Rowallan; surely
Adam Hepburn will be determined to avenge his wife’s death."

"Sure enough.  He has made his vow, a terrible vow before God, Jane
tells me," said his wife.  "And when will ye be back to your home again,
think you, Andrew?"

"Ah, that I cannot tell.  Be of good cheer, Susan, and look well after
the house and the bairns.  The God of Hosts will preserve me, so long as
He sees it to be His good pleasure.  So again farewell."

So saying, Hartrigge again bade farewell to his own home, and turned his
horse’s head towards Rowallan.

Near to the place he saw a figure in the distance, somewhat resembling
his brother-in-law, and yet the face seemed greatly changed.  When he
came nearer, and the figure, recognising him, advanced to meet him, he
almost started at the terrible change upon his sister’s widowed husband.
He had not shaved nor trimmed his beard since his wife’s death, and his
whole aspect was that of a man whose interest in life was dead.  His
face was haggard and worn, his eye restless and yearning as if looking
ever in vain for some beloved object, his appearance sad and miserable
in the extreme.

"You have managed to escape, Andrew," he said, quite quietly, and
without evincing either surprise or pleasure.

"Yes, and the Presbyterians are in arms at last; I have travelled with
the company from Dumfries, increasing as we came, and there is now an
army of nineteen hundred under Captain Wallace’s command, lying in the
village of Inverburn," responded Hartrigge, slowly.  "Our destination is
Edinburgh.  If you still wish to avenge the murder of your angel wife,
now is your time, Adam Hepburn."

Adam Hepburn drew himself up, and the light of a passion terrible to see
sprang into his glittering eye. He clenched his right hand, and raised
it to heaven.

"Now, O Almighty God, for the fulfilling of my vow," he said, solemnly;
then, turning to Hartrigge, briefly announced his willingness and
immediate readiness to accompany him.  They returned first to inform
Jane Gray of their intention; bade her either go to Hartrigge or get
young Gavin to abide with her awhile, and not having time to seek the
ministers in their shelter, they returned hastily to Inverburn. But Jane
Gray immediately proceeded to the hiding-place, and informed her father
and brother of the rising of the Covenanters.  Then David Gray’s eye
kindled, and the whole expression of his countenance indicated his
desire to go forth with his brethren in defence of the Covenant.  Seeing
that, the old man blessed him, and bade him go.  So David Gray stole by
the field paths to the village, and joined the army just as it was
setting forth upon its adventurous march.



                             *CHAPTER XII.*

                            *RULLION GREEN.*


Late on the Sabbath evening the Covenanters reached Lanark, where they
were well received by the sympathising inhabitants, who made haste to
give them food, and offer them shelter for the night.  Early on the
following day the army assembled in the High Street, preparatory to
setting out on their march to Edinburgh.  At request of the leaders, the
minister of Broomhill ascended the stairs of the Tolbooth, and conducted
a religious service, in which the army and the townsfolk took part.
After sermon, the Covenant was read, and also a declaration to the
effect that it was simply in defence of their liberties that the
Presbyterians had taken arms.  Then, amid much enthusiasm, and many
fervent God-speeds, the little army turned their faces towards the
Lothians.  It was now the dead of winter, and the weather was dreary and
bitterly cold, being alternated by heavy rain storms and blasts of snow.
The roads were in a wretched condition, and as the army endeavoured to
march straight as the crow flies, they were led through many deep
morasses, and had to cross many a swollen and turbid stream, as well as
over bleak and exposed hills, where they received the full force of the
blast.

To their disappointment and sorrow, they found the folk in the east not
so enthusiastic and sympathising as their more impulsive neighbours in
the west. In some villages they were received very coldly, and candidly
told they were silly fanatics, and as they approached Edinburgh it
seemed as if the influences of the Privy Council had extended far beyond
the city boundaries, for the people looked yet more askance at the
draggled and wayworn Covenanters, and even refused in some instances to
relieve their wants.  It was to be expected that such receptions would
considerably damp the ardour of many, and as they marched, their number
visibly decreased.  Some stole away under cover of the night, to make
what haste they could back to the comparative safety of their homes, and
others less cowardly openly avowed their discontent and disappointment,
and deserted their brethren in the broad light of day.  But the
dauntless and resolute spirit of such as Wallace, their leader, Gray of
Hartrigge, and the minister of Broomhill, seemed to be only further
strengthened and deepened by these reverses, and cheering the little
company on, they bravely continued their march until they came within a
few miles of Edinburgh. A halt was then made, and two horsemen
despatched to ascertain the disposition of the citizens towards them.

It was yet early in the day when these horsemen returned, with grave
countenances and downcast air, telling that they had met with but little
cheer. Wallace and Hartrigge hastily rode forward to meet them, and were
informed that the city was hostile towards them, the gates being closed,
and guns mounted on the walls to resist their entrance.

In some doubt as to the next step to be taken, they rode back to the
camp, and a grave consultation was held.

"I am for going on, and forcing an entrance into the city," said
Hartrigge, dauntlessly.  "It is like playing at warfare to retreat
before closed gates and a few guns."

But others, whose discretion was not blinded by zeal, shook their heads,
and said it were best to return quietly, and with as much speed as
possible, to their homes.

Adam Hepburn took no part in the discussion, but it was easy to see that
his soul yearned to shed blood.  A look of deep disappointment came upon
his haggard face when the majority decided in favour of retreat.

Not being in the slightest degree apprehensive of pursuit by the
Government troops, they proceeded leisurely round the eastern slopes of
the Pentland hills to the southern side, to begin their march homewards.
The day was now closing in; the feeble wintry sun had sunk behind a bank
of ominous cloud on the western horizon, and the grey bleak shadows of
the night were darkening down.  The north wind swept mournfully round
the desolate mountain sides, sometimes raising its voice to a wail, as
some sharp peak or projecting rock impeded its course.

But suddenly another sound much more ominous than the moaning wind broke
upon the startled ears of the faithful band, and to their astonishment
they saw what appeared to be a great army pressing rapidly on their
rear.  Hurriedly the Covenanters set themselves in the order of battle.
It was what many among them longed for, and yet unless the God of
battles held over them the banner of His defence, and aided them to
discomfit their foes, what chance had they, weary, wayworn, with
strength far spent by exposure and lack of food, against the dragoons,
fresh from the drill and comfortable training of the barracks?

The minister of Broomhill led in fervent prayer, craving victory for the
Covenant from the King of Heaven.  Then they stood erect, calm, and
steadfast, waiting the onslaught of the enemy.  The face of Andrew Gray
of Hartrigge glowed with the deep enthusiasm of religious zeal, but that
of his brother-in-law, Adam Hepburn, was dark with the furious passion
of revenge.  His eye glittered, his hand trembled as it grasped his
father’s sword, and in that breathless instant his vow was repeated that
the blade should not return to its sheath until it had sucked the
life-blood of more than one dragoon.

Like the rush of a mighty wind Dalziel’s cavalry came sweeping down upon
the right wing of the insurgents’ army, which was protected by a party
of horse.  They were manfully received, and after a vigorous struggle,
completely repulsed.  The general was amazed at the fighting power of
the rebels, whom he had contemptuously imagined to be a gathering of raw
country folk, who would turn tail at the first attack of practised
soldiery.  He hastily organised and led a second attack, which was met
and repulsed as before, with considerable loss.  Had the insurgents
possessed a reserve of cavalry, victory had assuredly been theirs, in
spite of the odds against them, but these repeated attacks had slain
many of their horse, and those on foot were unequal to a lengthened
struggle.

Wildly the din of battle roared in the mountain solitudes, and swiftly,
as if in pity, the shadows of the night crept over the bleak hill tops,
and up the sombre valleys, until it wrapped conquerors and conquered in
its kindly folds.  The Covenanters were completely routed, and had the
night not speedily fallen, they must have been totally cut to pieces.
As it was, fifty of their number lay dead upon the field, besides many
wounded, whom they had to leave to their fate.  There were also more
than a hundred taken prisoners, who envied the untroubled sleep of those
who had fallen in the fray.  Adam Hepburn, although fighting in the very
hottest forefront of the battle, marvellously escaped unhurt.

Dalziel had kept an eye upon him, for he was the most desperate fighter,
as well as the surest marksman among the insurgents.  He never missed
his aim.  Twice Dalziel ordered a subordinate to engage him in single
combat, or shoot him down from a distance; but the man seemed to bear a
charmed life.  When the fray was over, Dalziel examined the faces of the
prisoners minutely, hoping to find Hepburn among them, but was
disappointed.  Fleeing among the very last of his brethren from the
field, Adam Hepburn came up with his brother-in-law, the minister of
Broomhill, whom he recognised in the darkness by his ministerial garb.

"Is that you, David, safe and sound?" he asked, breathlessly.

"Yes! how is it with you, Adam Hepburn?" asked the minister, anxiously.

"All well; I have found my first taste of warfare very sweet this day,
David Gray."

"You fought valiantly, Adam, so much so that I was amazed.  How did you
escape, being ever, as you were, in the thickest of the fray?"

"I know not; I had no thought of anything but cutting down the enemy and
of avenging the blood of my murdered Agnes," said Adam Hepburn, his eyes
gleaming in the darkness.

The minister sighed.  The blessing of God could not rest upon warfare
conducted under such a revengeful spirit, and yet he could scarcely
blame the man for the bitterness of his wrath.

"I would much rather that you fought for the Covenant than for revenge,
Adam," he said, sadly. "Will it restore to you your beloved?  Nay; think
for a moment, is the spirit you are cherishing one which her gentle
heart would have blessed and approved?"

"You speak as a minister, not as a man, David," said Adam Hepburn,
fiercely.  "Had your wife been murdered in cold blood, as mine was,
think you your soul would not thirst for revenge?"

"Your wife died loving you; you have the comforting assurance that her
heart was knit to yours in the bonds of no ordinary affection, and that
you will meet in glory," said the minister.  "My case is sadder than
yours, for my wife, while yet alive, has proved herself dead to me."

Adam Hepburn, though silenced, was not convinced.

"Have you seen Andrew?" he asked, abruptly changing the subject.

"No; I have been anxiously looking out for him, for I saw him wounded in
the shoulder.  I trust he has not fallen into the hands of the enemy."

"I think not.  His horse was spared, and I fancied I saw him ride off
the field.  Well, our first battle is not such as to encourage our
hearts, David," said Adam, with a grim smile.

"No; there will be weeping and desolation in many a home over Rullion
Green," the minister answered, sadly.  "I saw brave John Neilson of
Corsac laid hands upon by the enemy and taken prisoner."

"Ay, and many others, whom God defend and deliver, since no human being
can," said Adam. "But hark! what is that?"

The rapid sound of hoofs warned them of the approach either of some
flying fugitive or a pursuing enemy, and they hastily crept in among
some whin bushes, and held their breath until they should be past.  To
their great joy, however, it proved to be a couple of their brethren,
who had been the last to leave the field of battle.  Mutual
congratulations were exchanged, and then one of the horsemen, a stout
yeoman from the upper part of Nithsdale, urged the minister of Broomhill
to take his steed, since his slender frame and not too robust
constitution rendered him less fit for a long and toilsome march by
foot.  David Gray yielded to these entreaties and thankfully mounted the
animal, for his strength was already far spent.  They then separated,
the two horsemen riding forward, as before, and Adam Hepburn and the
Nithsdale yeoman, by name Matthew Riddell, following more slowly on
foot.  It was not safe for more than two to be together, on account of
the pursuing and watching dragoons, whom they would be certain to
encounter on the way.  Thus the broken up and scattered army, who but a
few days before had set out from Lanark with high hope beating in their
breasts, returned to their homes.

Arrived in the parish of Inverburn, David Gray left his horse at the
house of a friendly farmer outside of the village, and lest the dragoons
should lay hands upon him, he crept up the valley to Hartrigge, and was
the first to carry tidings of Rullion Green to Andrew Gray’s wife.  He
found her about her usual tasks, for though her heart was heavy with
foreboding fears, Susan Gray continued mindful of her husband’s last
words, to look well to her household, and put her trust in God.  At
sight of the minister, who was wofully weather-beaten and wayworn, she
at once guessed that some evil had befallen the little army, of which
her husband had been one of the chief supporters.

"Oh, David!  I like not the way in which you have come back!" she said,
in sad and anxious tones. "But have you not brought Andrew with you?"

The minister shook his head.

"Dalziel with his army fell upon us in the Pentland hills, Susan, and
swept away our little band like chaff before the wind.  Many lie dead
upon the field of Rullion Green; Adam Hepburn and I escaped unhurt.
Andrew was slightly wounded, but Adam assured me he saw him ride safely
off the field.  I doubt not the Lord will bring him in safety to his
home.  But he will need to travel slowly, and with extreme caution, for
the entire route between Edinburgh and Lanark is infested with
dragoons."

Susan Gray sank into a chair and burst into tears.

"I warned Andrew that peace was aye better than war, and said that an
army like yours could have no chance before the king’s soldiers," she
said mournfully. "I wonder at you, David, a minister of the Gospel,
encouraging them to shed blood."

"I believed that the time had come when resistance was demanded of us by
the God of the Covenant, else I had not gone forth with them, Susan,"
answered the minister.  "But now I must away to my hiding, for it is as
much as my life is worth to be seen here in the light of day.  How is it
with my father, and poor Jane, left desolate in the house of Rowallan?"

"Your father is keeping well, and is safe in his hiding yet.  Gavin is
with his aunt, they were both here yester’een," answered Mistress Gray.
"The maids have all run away in terror from Rowallan, and Jane came to
tell me she had hired one who came seeking a place two days ago.  She
has been in the service of the laird, but was dismissed for some
offence.  Gavin says he likes not her appearance, but Jane seems pleased
with her, for she is a good worker, and a prudent person, who is never
heard about the place."

"Ah, well, the master himself, I hope and trust, will be home to his own
house in a day or two, and yet, he will need to keep himself in hiding,
for very sure am I, Susan, that after the valiant front he showed at
Rullion Green, and the many dragoons he caused to lick the dust, Adam
Hepburn will be a marked man henceforth."

Susan Gray very mournfully shook her head.

"Had ye all bidden peaceably at home, there had been none of this," she
said, regretfully.  "But men folk maun aye have their way."

The minister smiled; then bidding her and the little ones farewell, he
stole away down the glen, and along the bank of the stream, to the hole
in the Corbie’s Cliff.

Looking carefully round to see that none was in sight, he scrambled up
the rocky steep, brushed aside the overhanging branches, and plunged
into the darkness of the subterraneous passage.  Being now very familiar
with the way, he had no difficulty in following the many peculiar
windings of the passage, and at length he caught sight of the dim
reflection of a lighted lamp in the distance, which warned him that he
was nearing his father’s shelter.

Lest his sudden appearance in the cave should alarm the old man, he
called out "Father!" several times, as he quickly approached, and at the
sound of the familiar voice, the old man sprang hastily to his feet, and
ran to the mouth of the passage.

"My son, David! praise the Lord!" he exclaimed, while tears of joy
coursed down his withered cheeks.

After the first glad greetings were over, David Gray sat down, and
briefly rehearsed all that had befallen him since he set out with the
Covenanting army for Edinburgh.  As was natural, the recital greatly
saddened the heart of his aged father, for he had solaced himself in his
solitary captivity with glowing visions of the success which would
attend his brethren in arms, and of the happy results which might accrue
from their vigorous upstanding for the truth.

"It is the Lord’s will.  Unless of His good pleasure, such things could
not be," he said.  "The Church requires yet further refining in the fire
ere she can be purged from all her iniquities, and can stand with clean
hands before her God.  But now, my son, you are weary, and stand in much
need of rest and refreshment. Both are here."

The cave was indeed now a very comfortable place of abode.  By degrees
Jane Gray had conveyed many little comforts to her father, among the
greatest of which was the lamp, and a store of books.  Provisions in
plenty were also at hand, and the minister of Broomhill partook of his
repast with a keen relish, for he had not broken his fast for many
hours.  Immediately thereafter he stretched himself on the bed, and soon
all his troubles were forgotten in the heavy, dreamless sleep of utter
exhaustion.



                            *CHAPTER XIII.*

                            *THE NEW MAID.*


"What are you doing in the barn at this hour of the day, Martha Miller?
Putting off your time loitering about, and all the milk pans standing in
the dairy wanting to be scalded.  Get about your work without more ado!"

It was Jane Gray who spoke, and her voice and manner were both unusually
sharp.  Ordinarily, even when reproving, she spoke in a tone of habitual
gentleness, holding it unbecoming for a gentlewoman to exhibit any
violence of temper.  It was not that she was particularly annoyed at the
woman putting off her time, for indeed there was nothing pushing in the
house of Rowallan now, but this was the second time she had caught her
in the barn, when she had no call to be there, and her suspicions were
roused lest she should be trying to discover, or had already discovered,
the secret of the chaff hole.

Martha Miller was the new maid, and in appearance a comely,
pleasant-looking person, about whom there was nothing suggestive of
treachery or double-dealing.  She looked straight into the face of her
mistress, and dropped an apologetic curtsey.

"I beg pardon, Miss Gray; I was seeking a bite for the hens.  I canna
get peace about the doors for them," she answered, glibly, and at the
same time pointing to the feathered flock, gathered expectantly round
the barn door.

"That is just nonsense, Martha Miller.  If you run for a bite to them
every time they gather at your heels, you’ll have your work," retorted
Miss Gray, still sharply.  "And, you know, I feed them myself every
morning; and that they need, and get no more till bedtime."

"I didna’ ken, bein’ a hoose-servant, ma’am," answered Martha, with
apparent humility.  "I’ll no’ dae it again."

Afraid lest, in her turn, she should arouse the suspicions of the maid,
Jane Gray did not then enter the barn, but returned to her household
duties.  In the afternoon, however, when she went for the customary feed
of com for the poultry, she hastily looked into the chaff-hole to see if
there were any signs of it having been disturbed.  But no; the chaff was
scattered over the floor, there was no mark of either hand or foot, and
the trap-door had evidently not been disturbed.

Considerably relieved, and somewhat blaming herself for her suspicions
of the maid, Jane Gray went back to the house; and yet a vague,
inexplicable distrust of Martha Miller continued to oppress her soul She
knew her perfectly well.  She was the daughter of one of the foresters
on the estate of Inverburn, and, before the persecutions, had regularly
attended the church with her parents.  Jane had not attached any weight
to the fact that she had served for two years in the family of the
laird, not imagining that Sir Thomas was so bigoted an Episcopalian as
to seek to influence his dependents.

She was sitting by her lonely hearth pondering these things in her mind,
when there came a low tap at the window.  Hastily rising, she peered
out, and, with great joy, beheld the face of her brother-in-law, Adam
Hepburn.

"Is all safe?  Can I come in?"

"All is safe.  Inverburn has been quiet for days, and there is not a
soldier in the district," she whispered back.  "Better go round and
enter boldly by the kitchen door, as a master should; it will better
impress Martha Miller, the new maid, whom I would not should think we
had anything to hide."

Adam Hepburn nodded, walked round about to the barn-yard, where he was
joyfully greeted by his faithful collie, and, opening the kitchen door,
stalked in.  Martha Miller was knitting a stocking by the kitchen
hearth, and looked round in no little amazement at sight of the master
of Rowallan, whom she knew very well by sight.

"Well, Martha, so you have come to serve at Rowallan," he said,
pleasantly.  "I heard of it in my absence.  I hope we will get on as
master and servant.  Is your father well?"

"Yes, sir, thank ye," answered Martha, considerably confused by Adam
Hepburn’s easy manner, and his evident familiarity with all that had
transpired during his absence.

"Get on the pot and make me a basin of milk porridge, Martha.  I have
had a long journey, and am very hungry," he said, quietly, and then
joined his sister-in-law in the adjoining room, the door of which he
carefully closed.

As Jane Gray was already fully acquainted with the details of Rullion
Green, it was not necessary for Adam Hepburn to say anything concerning
it, but he had to tell her the story of his own journey home, which had
been marked by many perilous vicissitudes and marvellous escapes out of
the hands of the enemy.  Matthew Riddell, the yeoman, with whom he had
travelled, had been laid hands on near Biggar, his own incautiousness
and haste to get home having induced him to continue his journey by day,
instead of hiding till the friendly darkness fell.

"Is Hartrigge home yet?" Adam asked, suddenly breaking in upon his own
narrative.

"No; we were in hopes that you would come together.  Susan, poor soul,
is in a very anxious frame of mind," answered Jane.

Adam Hepburn looked grave indeed.

"Then I fear he has either been captured or succumbed to his wound.  In
no other way can I account for his protracted absence.  It may be,
however, that he is sheltering, for his health’s sake, in some friendly
household.  We will hope so.  But tell me, Jane, have you been
sojourning in this lonely house alone since my departure?"

"No; Gavin is with me at night.  He went home to-day to see his mother,
and, knowing I have no fear, may possibly remain till morning.  Adam, do
you think it will be safe for you to remain quite publicly at your own
house?  David seemed to think you would be marked."

"Marked or not, I shall not go into hiding, Jane," he said, quietly.  "I
have but to slay a few more of these miscreants, and then what is life
worth to me?"

"Hush!  Adam; the Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away.  Save of His
will, Agnes could not have died," she said, gently.  "The thought that
she is safe in our Father’s house should be a great comfort to you, as
it is to me, for, amid the terrors and anxieties of these days, she
suffered a perpetual martyrdom."

Adam Hepburn rose and restlessly paced to and fro the room, his face
betraying the many conflicting emotions which surged in his soul.  His
cruel and ruthless bereavement had shaken his faith to the very
foundations, and he could well-nigh have exclaimed with the fool, "There
is no God."  "Other men have fathers, and mothers, and children, Jane,"
he said, in quick rebellious tones.  "I had only her, and the Almighty
knew how dear, how necessary she was to my existence.  Wherein had I so
grievously sinned that I required such a terrible punishment?  Willingly
would I have given up houses and lands, cattle and oxen, all, _all_ I
have in the world, if only _she_ had been spared."

"Dear Adam, we may not question the ways of the Lord," said Jane Gray in
a low voice.  "I think sometimes it is the things we most set our hearts
upon in this evil world that are not good for us to have.  There is such
a thing as making an idol of a human being, my brother, and you know the
command is, ’Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’"

Adam Hepburn remained silent, but was not convinced.

Jane Gray looked sorrowfully into his face, deploring the change this
blow had wrought, not only upon the outward man, but upon the inner
spirit, sweeping away all the sunny-heartedness, the blithe and kindly
charity which had ever characterised him, making him so lovable in every
way.  She could but pray that God, to whom all things are possible,
would temper the wind, and show to the stricken and rebellious heart the
sweet bow of promise behind the bitter cloud.

"And how is the curate performing his pastoral duties now?" enquired
Adam presently, in a somewhat mocking tone.  "Has his eloquence,
combined with the more rugged persuasions of the dragoons, induced many
more to attend upon his ministrations?"

"Watty McBean was here the other night, and he told me there was a
goodly attendance in the kirk last Sabbath Day, chiefly of those timid
and not very steadfast folks, whom fear has moved against their wills,"
Jane made answer.  "I wonder now that Watty did not join with the army;
he is a very staunch upholder of the Covenant."

"Ay, but he never was a fechter [fighter], as he says," replied Adam,
with a slight smile.  "Watty is a sly dog.  He’ll keep himself out of
mischief, yet follow the dictates of his own conscience."

At that moment Martha Miller knocked at the door, and entered bearing a
small server, on which stood her master’s evening meal, a steaming basin
of milk porridge, and a bowl of new milk beside it.

At her entrance Adam Hepburn looked keenly into the woman’s face, and
when she was gone, he turned to his sister-in-law, and said briefly, "I
mistrust the countenance of that woman, Jane.  Under what circumstances
was she dismissed from the services of the laird?"

"I did not pursue the subject with her, Adam. She said she could not
agree with her neighbours in the kitchen, and that her ladyship had
blamed her for the disturbances there," replied Jane Gray.  "Knowing her
to be a capable worker, I engaged her gladly; for though she might be of
a quarrelsome temper, she could not well fall out with herself, and I am
not one to bandy words with a serving woman."

"Keep an eye on her, Jane, and be careful of your words in her hearing.
I misdoubt me very much if she be not a spy sent hither by Sir Thomas
Hamilton, who in the zeal of his loyalty to the king will not be slow to
forget his honour as a gentleman," said Adam slowly.  "I lost faith in
the laird from that day he threatened me with danger to your father, if
I did not turn out to McLean’s preaching."

Jane Gray sighed.  If foes were to be found in the very household, among
those who broke and ate bread at the table, on whom could trust be
stayed? Her brother-in-law’s words were simply a re-echo of her own
doubts and fears, which, however, she kept as yet to herself.

After some further conversation they separated for the night, but Adam
Hepburn did not close an eye, for, under his own roof-tree, his heart
was torn anew by the violence of his sorrow, and ached with intolerable
yearning for the "touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice
that was still!"

On the morrow he went about his duties as usual, superintending the work
on the farm, it having been almost at a standstill for many weeks.  It
was more to keep himself in occupation than out of any interest in the
thing, for even the ordinary business of getting and spending had ceased
to occupy the minds of men.

That afternoon, when Jane Gray went out as usual to feed her poultry,
she had occasion to step round to the corn-yard in search of some young
chickens which had deserted their usual roost, and which she feared
might become the prey of the foxes that frequently paid a visit to
Rowallan, and which that very spring had made off with some of the
lambs.  Her soft shoes made no noise on the turf, therefore she did not
alarm two people sheltering behind a stack of straw, and busily
engrossed in conversation.  She came upon them quite suddenly, and to
her astonishment, who should it be but Martha Miller, the maid, and the
curate of Inverburn!  Both looked considerably confused, and Martha
threw her apron over her head, and turned to go.

"I shall have a word to say to you for this wasting of my time, Martha,"
her mistress said, pointing towards the house; then turning to the
curate, she added, with quiet, yet courteous dignity, "Sir, is it
consistent with the gospel you are supposed to preach, to wile a
servant-maid away from her household duties almost in the middle of the
day, to confer with you in secret like this?"

The curate’s sallow face flushed under the scathing rebuke which fell so
quietly from those calm, proud lips.

"When I am not permitted to visit members of my flock at their masters’
houses, I must perforce see them outside," he answered, with rude
boldness, and yet his eyes instinctively sought the ground.

"Sir, I am not aware that the master of Rowallan has ever forbidden you
his house," said Jane Gray, still calmly.  "The members of the flock
surely are ashamed of their shepherd, for Martha Miller has never ceased
to disclaim all connection with your ministrations, and I am made aware
to-day, for the first time, that she is on speaking terms with you."

"Madam, know you to whom you speak so disrespectfully?" quoth Mr. McLean
in wrathful tones. "Know you that it is chiefly owing to my long
forbearance with you and yours that the name and the house of Gray have
not been totally extinguished?"

A slight smile curved for a moment Jane Gray’s resolute lips, and the
mild scorn it implied made the spirit of the curate chafe within him.

"Truly grateful are we for your forbearance towards us, Mr. McLean," she
answered courteously. "I bid you good afternoon."

So saying, Jane Gray turned about and returned to the house.  Upon
second thoughts, she took no further notice of the occurrence to Martha
Miller, deeming it more prudent to let her imagine it of no importance
in the eyes of her mistress.  Nevertheless, she redoubled her
watchfulness, and took care that there was nothing in her actions to
arouse the maid’s suspicions.  Hitherto, when conveying provisions to
the dear ones in hiding, Jane Gray had simply been content to lock the
barn door from the inside, and shut herself into the chaff-hole, so that
none could possibly be witness to her descent into the cave.  But now,
after conference with her brother-in-law, they agreed that the safest
plan would be for him to rise in the middle of the night and take down
the food himself.

These precautions, however, were taken too late; for already the cunning
eyes of Martha Miller had penetrated the secret of the chaff-hole.



                             *CHAPTER XIV.*

                              *BETRAYED.*


The soft and beautiful radiance of a mild September morning lay upon the
vale of Inverburn.  The sky, though not so cloudlessly blue as in the
summer time, was bright and clear, and masses of soft, dove-coloured
clouds were piled up on the horizon, foretelling the approach of a
gentle rain.  The rich hues of autumn were now upon the trees.  Beech
and hazel-nuts were already falling ripely to the ground, the rowans
hung rich and red among their graceful leaves, blackberry and wild
raspberry were plentiful and luscious, and in very sheltered early nooks
the bramble was black upon the bough.  Yes, the fruits which Dame Nature
provides with such free and generous hands were not lacking, but what of
the more substantial harvest, what of the yellow corn, which in
September was wont either to be stacked upon the fields, or standing in
rich and golden fulness, awaiting the sickle of the reaper. Ah! what
indeed?  Had some terrible dearth come upon the land, had a woeful
drought withered and parched the fertile Clydesdale acres, and hushed
the reapers song into the stillness of despair?

I said in a former chapter that the business of life seemed to be at a
standstill in Inverburn.  So it was still, and not in Inverburn alone,
but throughout the length and breadth of Clydesdale, Liddesdale, and
Nithsdale.  For miles and miles the fields lay bleak and desolate, their
only harvest being a wealth of weeds and thistles, which gave to the
once fertile lands the appearance of a wilderness.  What devastating
breath had passed over the smiling land, what evil scourge had wrought
this woeful desolation?  The reason was not far to seek.

The emissaries of the Government, into whose hands full power over
Scotland had been given, had swept the southern and western counties
with a devastating host, who burned, killed, and plundered as they went,
and left nothing but a trail of blood behind. And the tillers of the
soil, left destitute in many instances of the barest necessaries of
life, could only bow their heads over the desolation which had come upon
them, and be thankful if they escaped with their lives.

And yet, in those days it came to be a question not easily answered,
whether life could be called a boon.

It was a Sabbath morning, and that deep, solemn stillness peculiar to
the Sabbath seemed to hallow the very air.  The birds had hushed their
songs of gladness as if in reverence for the holy day, the very voice of
the river, rippling on its way, seemed to be subdued into a tender and
melancholy cadence, instead of brawling noisily in its rocky bed, and
the brown and yellow leaves upon the trees scarcely stirred to the
response of the whispering breeze.

While it was yet early, long before the long rays of the noontide sun
fell aslant the hills, there might have been seen in various by-paths
and unfrequented ways, straggling little groups of two or three
individuals all moving in the same direction.  Following them, we come
at length to a sweet and sheltered glade, by the side of the clear,
swift-running Douglas Water.  This sylvan retreat, which might have been
a fairy’s dressing-room, so rich was it in fresh green beauty, was
warmly and safely protected by high hills, rising abruptly on either
side, but was open at either end, a narrow path going westward to
Inverburn, and another eastward, until it converged into what was called
the Sanquhar road.

Upon the sloping banks at the base of the hill, and also seated on the
greensward and the boulders nearer the edge of the stream, were gathered
a goodly company of men, women, and children, of almost every rank, age,
and calling.  There were shepherds in their tartan plaids, uncouth
figures in the homely garb of the outdoor labourer, well-dressed
farmers, and a sprinkling of stalwart soldiers, who had escaped the
slaughter at Rullion Green.  There were also present Graham of Pitoy,
with his wife and daughter, and Baxter of Thornilee, both gentlemen of
considerable estate in the neighbourhood.  Foremost amongst those seated
on the hill might have been observed the red head of Watty McBean, which
showed in full contrast against the spotless hue of Betty’s white cap.

Several horses, which had brought people from a distance, were quietly
enjoying a dainty bite at the fresh grass, which grew in luxuriance by
the stream, and upon the heights there were some mounted horsemen
apparently keeping watch, in order to give timely alarm if any marauders
likely to molest the company should appear in sight.

There might have been about five hundred people gathered together, when
there appeared round one of the windings of the stream the familiar
figure of the minister of Inverburn, leaning upon the arm of his son
David.  They had just emerged from their hiding in the Corbie’s Cliff in
order to conduct the service in the glen.  Many eyes filled with tears
at sight of their beloved minister, and they shook their heads
mournfully at the visible change wrought in his appearance by the long
months of anxiety and solitary confinement.  The minister of Broomhill
also looked worn and thin, and his hair was now as white as snow.

When the ministers reached the centre of the little throng, a few
minutes were spent in mutual greetings, and then Mr. Gray the elder
stepped to the front of the huge boulder which served as a pulpit, and
upon which a white cloth was spread, with the Bible above it.  Folding
his withered hands, he said, in solemn and trembling tones, "Let us
pray."  It seemed as if Nature hushed her many sounds in unison with the
stillness which fell upon the assembled worshippers as the long-loved
voice of their minister, in choice and appropriate language, gave
utterance to a fervent and expressive prayer to the God of Heaven.  A
portion of the seventy-ninth psalm was then read, and sung to the sweet
and mournful strain of "Martyrs."  The words:

    "Against us mind not former sins.
      Thy tender mercies show;
    Let them prevent us speedily,
      For we’re brought very low."

were sung with an intense and passionate fervour which told that it was
indeed the cry of every heart present, and that it was not mere lip
service which had brought them thither, almost at the very peril of
their lives.

Turning to the prophetic pages of Isaiah, the minister chose for his
text these comforting and appropriate words, "O thou afflicted, tossed
with tempest, and not comforted; beloved, I will lay thy stones with
fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires....  In
righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from
oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not
come near thee."

In his own earnest and persuasive manner the venerable servant of God
endeavoured to comfort his flock, assuring them that though they were
now passing through the bitter waters of affliction, the Lord would not
utterly forget his ancient Zion, but would yet restore her to liberty
and peace.  As he earnestly exhorted them to continue steadfast in the
faith, and to bear manfully their light affliction, which was but for a
moment, and would work out its own exceeding weight of glory, his eyes
glowed and shone, and his face was transfigured by the light of a holy
enthusiasm which shed a warm and cheerful influence upon the hearts of
his hearers, and restored their fainting courage, until they felt indeed
able to do and dare without faltering for the sake of Him who trod
before them the weary vale of persecution and shame.

It was a moving sight to look upon the eloquent face of the preacher,
which bespoke the inmost feelings of his soul, and to see his thin white
locks fluttering in the breeze, while his wasted hands were alternately
folded or upraised to enforce his earnest words. The multitude, hushed
into rapt and breathless stillness, were unconscious of a figure
stealing swiftly up the glen, until a slight scream fell from the lips
of a woman, and Susan Gray of Hartrigge interrupted the sermon by
hastily running to meet what appeared to be a wayfaring man, whose
ragged garb and miserable appearance proclaimed that he had been long on
the road and had suffered many privations.  The minister paused, and
turned his eyes towards the wanderer, in whose changed countenance he
recognised the features of his first-born son.

The unexpected arrival of Hartrigge broke up the conventicle, and his
relations, who were all present, flocked round him, while his friends
and neighbours pressed closely behind, eager to hear the story of his
adventures.  But he seemed breathless, and unable to speak for a moment,
and then his words were of ominous import.

"It is surely madness to be holding a meeting here, and the dragoons so
near!  They have pursued me since daybreak, and I have only escaped
through being familiar with every by-path on the way. Scatter yourselves
quickly, for they will be upon us in a moment.  Father and David, let us
make haste together to our usual hiding.  I have longed for the Corbie’s
Cliff all day."

Just then a watcher on the western height blew a warning note on the
trumpet, and in a few moments the assemblage melted away like mist in
the noonday sun.

Jane Gray entreated her brother-in-law, Adam Hepburn, to flee with the
ministers and Hartrigge to the friendly shelter of the Corbie’s Cliff,
but he stoutly refused, saying that the soldiers would not be likely to
trouble Rowallan again, seeing they had met with so little success on
their previous visit.  But Jane herself was not at all sanguine, and as
they stole homewards by the most unfrequented field paths, her mind was
filled with strange misgivings regarding Martha Miller, the maid, who
had gone home to spend the Sabbath day with her parents at the North
Lodge, on Inverburn.  She was walking a little in advance of Adam, and
was the first to ascend the little hill, from which a glimpse of
Rowallan could be had. She stood still there, for in the distance she
saw the gleam of steel, and a party of horsemen riding rapidly up the
road to the farm.

"See yonder, Adam!" she said, in a trembling whisper; "you must flee at
once, either to the cave at Hartrigge, or into the Corbie’s Hole, if you
can reach it unseen."

"What! and allow you, a defenceless woman, to go down alone among these
brutal fellows?" inquired Adam, incredulously.  "You hardly know what
you say, Jane."

"Yes, yes!  I know very well; I am not afraid. They will not harm me.  I
have still some of the Burgundy which wrought the charm on Turner," she
answered, hurriedly.  "Oh, Adam! do make haste and flee, in case they
catch sight of us."

Involuntarily Adam Hepburn grasped his sword, as his eyes turned towards
the dragoons.  Yet he hesitated; for when there were fifty to one, what
would be his chance?  Nay, certain death awaited him if he ventured in
their midst.

"Run, run, Adam.  I entreat you!" exclaimed Jane, in tones of keen
distress.  "You know there is a price upon your head; and I would not
that I should witness a second deed of violence at Rowallan. Run, my
brother; we cannot yet spare you from our midst."

"But you, Jane?  It is selfish, cowardly, to leave you like this."

"No, no!  I repeat, I am not afraid.  I can easily frame an excuse for
my absence from the place, should they question me.  You can safely
leave Rowallan in my hands.  God gives a deep and peculiar courage even
to frail women in these times, and I believe I could influence these
men, bad as they are.  Only go, for every moment you stay is an agony."

"Well, I will; and God forgive me if I am in the wrong, and may He
protect you, my sister," said Adam, hoarsely.  Then, with a fervent grip
of the hand, they parted; Adam to steal with caution and speed to some
safe hiding, and Jane to make her way down to Rowallan.  She was a
singularly brave and fearless woman, and yet her heart quailed a little
as she made haste to get in by the back premises, hoping to reach the
house and throw off her cloak before she was observed by the dragoons.
She was greatly favoured in that respect, for the soldiers made a halt
for some reason or other on the road, and she had slipped unobserved
into the house before they rode into the farmyard.  She threw off her
cloak, tied an apron about her, and busied herself in the kitchen, just
as if continuing her usual morning work.  But when she heard them ride
into the yard, with a great din and clatter, she took such a violent
trembling that she was obliged to sit down in order to recover herself.
However, when she heard a foot on the step, and a hand on the latch of
the door, she regained calmness, and rose to her feet.  She had
purposely unbarred the kitchen door; therefore, somewhat to his own
astonishment, he having been otherwise informed, the captain of the
detachment found nothing to impede his entrance.  He was still further
amazed, on entering the kitchen, to behold a woman there, who turned her
fair, calm face to him, as if in questioning surprise.

Captain McNab, though unflinching and uncompromising in the performance
of duty, however painful or harsh it might be, was a gentleman, and did
not address Jane Gray with that insolent familiarity which had
characterised Sir James Turner’s questioning.

"Sorry to disturb you, mistress," he said courteously enough.  "I am
astonished to find you here; we were credibly informed that all the
inmates of the house had gone to a field-preaching about a mile distant,
and that we should find the coast clear."

"Your informer might be more zealous than trustworthy, sir," Jane Gray
made answer quickly, though her heart grew sick with apprehension.
Doubtless Martha Miller had been the informant, and how many other
secrets had she discovered and divulged?

"It was a wench, one of the serving-maids here, I believe," answered the
Captain candidly.  "We are in search of four desperate Whigs, two
ministers and two farmers; but I think we will lay hands upon them here.
Come, tell me, my sweet dame, how can so comely a gentlewoman as you
countenance such disreputable rebellion?"

"What you term rebellion, sir, may convey another meaning to my mind,"
answered Jane Gray.  "Pray, would you call it rebellion to desire to
exercise liberty in matters pertaining to conscience?"

"Faith, you put it glibly," retorted the Captain, with a smile.  "Many
of my fellow officers would give but a rough denial to such rebellious
words, but I would scorn to make war on women.  Well, have you anything
to drink in the house?  I intended to force an entrance and ransack the
cupboards, but it would have a sweeter relish if poured out by those
fair hands."

"If you will be good enough to step into the inner room, sir, I will set
what I have before you," answered Jane courteously.

"Thanks.  I will step out first and see what speed they are making with
their search.  We have been well guided to the cunning corner which has
sheltered the renegades so long, and the parson himself is with us to
assist us in our work," said the Captain carelessly.  "Faith, madam, I
do not wonder that the folk get sick of his snivelling ministrations.
He is a mean, despicable dog, whom it would do me good to thrash."

So saying, the Captain sauntered out to the yard again, and Jane Gray,
stepping into a little closet, which had a window to the back, saw him
enter the barn.  Folding her hands, her white lips moved in an agony of
prayer, for without a doubt the secret of the chaff hole was a secret no
longer, and unless warned by the noise overhead, the fugitives could not
possibly escape.

Several minutes passed, and at length Jane saw McLean, the curate,
emerge from the barn with a very disgusted and chagrined expression on
his ill-favoured face.  He was followed shortly by Captain McNab, who,
with his lieutenant, came slowly towards the house.

"They have found the nest, but the birds have flown," he said, in tones
of annoyance, as he entered the kitchen.  "With your permission,
mistress, we will now taste your fare, while my men make a further
investigation of the secret passage, which is indeed a cunningly devised
hiding.  Little wonder it has remained undiscovered so long."

Jane Gray drew a breath of relief, and a silent thanksgiving for
deliverance vouchsafed arose to heaven from her grateful heart.  She
knew at once that the unusual stir and clamouring about the quiet
homestead had penetrated the ears of the fugitives in their hiding, and
given them timely warning to flee. Once out of the subterranean passage,
they were comparatively safe, for there was many a cave and snug corner
by the banks of the Douglas Water, where they could shelter till the
kindly darkness fell.  In about three-quarters of an hour, those who had
followed the subterranean passage to its outlet returned to Rowallan,
reporting that there was neither sight nor sound of the fugitives to be
seen or heard.

Captain McNab, though considerably chagrined, for it would have been
greatly to his credit and advantage to have laid hands on so many marked
rebels, hid his feelings much better than the curate, who, forgetting
his holy office, swore roundly in his disappointment; and vowed
increased vengeance on the name and house of Gray.  Serene and matchless
was the contempt with which Jane Gray regarded him: she never allowed
her eyes to rest on his countenance, and never betrayed, by look or
gesture, that she heard the rude remarks he addressed to her.

Captain McNab bade Miss Gray a polite farewell, and even apologised for
so disturbing her on a Sabbath morning, a courtesy which she gratefully
acknowledged with an expressive glance from her fine eyes and a low bow.

Mounting his horse at the door, Captain McNab gave the word of command,
and the troop rapidly rode away.

Then Jane Gray, unable to bear the unspeakable relief following upon the
great strain upon her nerves, sank down on her knees and burst into
tears.



                             *CHAPTER XV.*

                          *BRAVE TO THE LAST.*


Meanwhile Adam Hepburn had stolen across the fields to the glen with the
intention of entering the hole in the Corbie’s Cliff.  He was making his
way down the hill-side, keeping cautiously in shelter of the whins and
bracken, for the dragoons were in sight, when, to his no small
amazement, he saw the two ministers and Andrew Gray of Hartrigge emerge
from the mouth of the subterranean passage with a haste which proclaimed
that they were pursued.  And now truly the poor fugitives were betwixt
two fires, for there were dragoons scattered all over the surrounding
hills, and some were so near that it was a marvel they were not at once
discovered.  They had to thank the luxuriance of the brushwood and
tangle for affording them a shelter, and, if they could but remain
unobserved till nightfall, they could then seek a safer hiding.  Adam
Hepburn crawled upon his hands and knees down through the thicket, and
came up with the others, as they were creeping slowly along, hoping to
reach the steep hill behind Hartrigge, where the cave was still
undiscovered.

"We were betrayed in our hiding, and were only warned in time to flee by
the noise overhead," whispered Andrew Gray.  "See yonder!"

Lifting their heads the fugitives saw three dragoons emerge from the
mouth of the Corbie’s Cliff and look all round them, as if expecting to
see those for whom they sought.  In mortal terror the miserable
Covenanters laid themselves flat down on their faces and pulled the
friendly bracken over them, and waited breathlessly, thinking the
dragoons would be certain to scour the entire glen.

"If they come I think I could silence the three," said Adam Hepburn,
grimly; "only they might, by their cries, bring some of their mounted
comrades upon us.  They are not far distant, I trow, for I can hear the
neighing of their horses even here."

After a few minutes’ suspense, the anxious fugitives saw the dragoons
re-enter the mouth of the cave; then they slowly crept yet a little
farther along the glen, for every moment spent in this comparatively
exposed place was not only precious, but laden with deadly peril.  At
length they arrived unmolested at the base of the steep hill behind
Hartrigge, and, as it was crowned with a thick belt of fir trees, there
was no fear of them being seen from above.

The minister of Inverburn, whose feeble strength was now utterly spent
through excitement and suspense, had to be half carried up the rocky
ascent, but at length all landed safely in the cave.  It was but a small
place, and very damp; a great contrast in every way to the comfortable
hiding at Rowallan.  After having recovered a little from his fatigue,
the minister of Inverburn folded his hands and returned thanks for their
deliverance; but Adam Hepburn sat gloomily in a corner, his hands
grasping his sword, for it was foreign to his nature to flee before the
enemy, and he felt as if he had sullied his manhood by deserting
Rowallan, and leaving Jane Gray to encounter the dragoons alone.  And
yet there are times when even the bravest soldier is forced to admit
that discretion is the better part of valour.

Meanwhile the body of dragoons, under command of Captain Ingram, who had
ridden up to the glen to disperse the conventicle, baulked of their
prey, had proceeded to Hartrigge, it being the only house in view.
Captain Ingram was a very different man from his brother officer, who
had so peaceably performed his duty at Rowallan.  He was of a short,
burly figure, with a countenance much swollen and disfigured by his
drunken excesses, and his fiery eye gave some expression to the fierce
and choleric nature of his temper. He was utterly void of one kindly
feeling or generous impulse, and his troops were famous for their brutal
and disgraceful behaviour, it being said of them that they showed no
mercy to man, woman, or child.

Mistress Gray, who with her son, Gavin, had been present at the
conventicle, had been in the house some little time before the dragoons
surrounded Hartrigge.

The little ones, who had remained at home under charge of Jeanie, who
was growing more sensible and womanly every day, began to cry at sight
of the soldiers, remembering the occasion of their former visit, and how
their father had been carried off as a prisoner.  Gavin, however,
exhibited his usual fearless spirit, and ran to the kitchen cupboard for
the old fowling-piece; yet, poor lad, what could he do with it, against
the powerful arms of a company of dragoons?  Captain Ingram did not
trouble to alight, but thundered at the door of the house with the
butt-end of his musket, a summons which brought Mistress Gray
tremblingly to the threshold.

"Hey, mistress! is this not the house of that vile renegade, Andrew
Gray, son of the notorious field-preacher, the minister of Inverburn?"
he asked, fiercely.

"It is the house of Andrew Gray," she made answer, sadly.  "And I would
that he were within its walls. They have not sheltered him these many
weary days."

"Are you his wife? and are these his brats?" asked the Captain, pointing
to the little ones clinging to her skirts.

She bowed her head, but made no verbal reply.

"Come, tell me, mistress, were you at the field preaching down in the
glen yonder, listening to the snivelling of that old renegade, your
husband’s father?"

"I was there, sir," Susan Gray made answer, firmly, for she saw that it
would be useless to deny it.

"Good! we have come upon one Whig dame at last who can speak the truth,"
said the Captain, in tones of satisfaction.  "Come, oblige me still
further, mistress, and give me the names of those who were present
besides yourself."

"I went to listen to the preaching of the Word, sir, and not to count
those who were present," answered Susan Gray, with fearless firmness.

"Well, if you will not tell me that, let me know the secret hiding of
those who conducted the service. Come, now, mistress, you are completely
in my power, and if you do not speak of your own free will, I may take
measures to make you," said the Captain, significantly.

"I cannot tell whither they have fled, sir.  I was too much taken up
making my own escape, to look to them," she answered quietly.

"Just so.  With your permission, mistress, we will have a look through
the house, and if any of the renegades be found within, by the powers, I
will punish them for your obstinacy," said the Captain, with an oath,
and dismounting, he flung his reins to a dragoon, ordered some of them
to follow him into the house, and others to make a complete search of
the out-houses.  Entering the kitchen, the Captain beheld young Gavin
standing with the old fowling-piece in his hand, which sight caused him
to burst into a loud laugh.

"So, my young friend, you are going to show fight.  You are Andrew
Gray’s son, I take it.  Here, Dawson, bind the young chip; we may have
to screw the truth out of him by-and-by."

Gavin presented his gun, and drew the trigger, but it was dashed out of
his hand, and he was bound hand and foot, and laid on the floor.  Then
the ruffians continued their search through the house, lifting many
valuables as they went, but found no traces of the fugitives, nor any
corner where they could possibly be hid.  Those searching outside were
equally unsuccessful, and Captain Ingram got into a great rage, and
swore some dreadful oaths, which made Susan Gray tremble, and marvel
that judgment did not overtake him at once.

Stepping out to the door, he again addressed Mistress Gray, and brutally
demanded that she should at once divulge all she knew concerning the
movements and probable hiding of her husband and his kindred.  But Susan
Gray resolutely shook her head, and maintained that she knew not whither
they had fled.

"Here, Dawson, bring out that young branch of the rebel tree, and we
will try to refresh his memory," said the captain, peremptorily, and
young Gavin was presently brought out, and set up against the beech tree
in front of the house.

At sight of her first-born son, the dearest of all her children to her
heart, Susan Gray grew as pale as death, and leaned against the lintel
of the door for support.

Captain Ingram then stepped forward, and pointing his sword at the young
lad, swore at him, and bade him at once reveal his father’s hiding, or
suffer the consequences.

"Think you I would betray my father to save myself, sir?" asked the
young Gavin, in a clear and steadfast voice, and his fine eye fearlessly
looked into the face of his cruel questioner.  "Not though I had twenty
lives.  I would lose them all rather than be guilty of such black
treachery and cowardice."

In her boundless admiration of the courage of the boy, Susan Gray half
forgot the agonising fear which rent her motherly heart.

"Sure, we have an out-and-out Covenanter here, boys!" said the Captain,
looking round upon his dragoons.  "Faith, I have shot many a man for
less! but on account of his tender years we will give him another chance
for his life."

At these ominous words Susan Gray gave a loud scream, and rushed forward
as if to protect her son, but she was rudely pushed back, and sank down
on her knees on the ground, uttering broken prayers to God, and almost
beside herself in her agony.

"Now, my blithe young rebel," said Captain Ingram, fixing his mocking
eyes on Gavin’s pale yet steadfast face, "I give you twenty seconds to
make up your mind.  Reveal your father’s hiding, or bear the penalty of
your contempt for an officer of the King.  Dawson, Baird, and Luttrell,
have your muskets charged."

The lad winced slightly at the last words, but only for a moment; then
he drew himself up as well as his bonds would allow.

"Life would be no boon at the price you ask," he then made answer, in a
low yet firm voice.  "You can only kill the body, and my blood will be
on your head."

"You hear, mistress?" said Ingram, turning then to the kneeling figure
of the mother.  "Ten seconds of the twenty are gone.  If you will yield
the required information his life will be spared."

Susan Gray hesitated a moment.  It was an awful moment for her, to be
called upon to choose, as it were, betwixt husband and child.

"Mother, mother, don’t be tempted!" cried Gavin. "What is my life
compared with that of my father and grandfather, and uncle David?  Let
them shoot.  I am not afraid to die.  I remember Mr. Guthrie’s
fearlessness on the scaffold.  I understand it now, for God is with me
here, close beside me, and I will go straight to glory."

The sublimity of the lad’s courage, the pathetic and beautiful faith
with which he spoke, moved more than one of these hardened hearts to
pity, but it only further enraged their brutal Captain.

"Get into the house, mistress, and shut the door," he said, curtly;
"unless you want to see the young rebel receive his baptism of fire."

Susan Gray spoke not, but remained kneeling, with her face hidden in her
hands; all feeling seemed to be frozen in her broken heart.

There was a moment’s dread silence; then the sharp report of three
musket shots, simultaneously fired, rang through the quiet Sabbath air.
Then the order was given to march, and the dragoons, having finished
their deadly work, turned their horses’ heads away from Hartrigge.  As
they did so, a volume of smoke began slowly to arise from behind the
house; they had finished their work of destruction by setting fire to
the barn and granary ere they left.  Little knew the brave men in hiding
what was being enacted at so little a distance from them.  The cave was
too far away to admit of the sound of voices, or even the trampling of
the horses to penetrate their ears, but they heard quite distinctly the
report of musketry, and involuntarily all started to their feet.

"That sound comes from the house," said Hartrigge. "I must go and see
what is being done there. I cannot sit here while these miscreants
murder my wife and children in cold blood."

Adam Hepburn, only too ready to accompany his brother-in-law, grasped
his sword, and the two stole cautiously up the hill in the friendly
shelter of the trees.  The two ministers, who were unarmed, followed at
a little distance, so that, in case of alarm, they might yet make good
their escape.  The hearts of all four were filled with foreboding and
anxious fears, for too well they knew the meaning of that portentous
report. Arrived at the summit of the hill, Hartrigge stole a little in
advance of Adam Hepburn, and thence could see the road, at the far end
of which he caught a glimpse of the rear of the dragoons ere they
emerged out upon the public highway.  Satisfied that there was nothing
to apprehend from them, he went boldly forward, and, emerging from the
shadow of the trees, saw a sight which almost made his heart stand
still. There on the greensward lay the prostrate form of his firstborn
son, with his mother kneeling motionless by his side; the two little
bairns were holding each other close and weeping bitterly; and Jeanie,
with white face and dry eyes, was bathing a ghastly wound in her
brother’s left temple.

A moment more and those following more slowly up the hill were startled
by the sound of a hoarse and bitter cry.  Andrew Gray’s iron composure,
his absolute self-control were swept away, and, darting forward, he
knelt by his murdered boy, calling him by every loving name, in accents
of anguish and entreaty. It was in vain: life was gone!

Then there arose upon the wings of the soft September wind the echo of
that desolate and anguished cry with which David of old bewailed his
firstborn: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would to God I had
died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"



                             *CHAPTER XVI.*

                           *AT THE DAWNING.*


Shortly after midnight upon the Monday following that sad Sabbath day,
Watty McBean rose up out of his bed, so quietly as not to disturb Betty
asleep in the ben-end, and, hastily putting on his clothes, stole out of
doors.  The harvest moon was at its full, and a light almost as clear as
day lay upon the silent earth.  The moonlight was very favourable for
Watty’s purpose, and his face wore a well-pleased expression as he
entered the stable where his faithful nag was peacefully asleep.  She
looked round whinnying at her master’s step, but he paid no heed to her.
Striking a light, he took from an empty stall which he used as a
tool-house a pick and shovel.  These he hoisted on his shoulder, and,
leaving the stable, stole swiftly up the village street.  As he passed
Mistress Lyall’s he shook his doubled fist at the darkened windows, for
in that house several of the dragoons were stationed, under command not
to leave the place until they had captured the notorious rebels, who
were known to be in hiding in the neighbourhood; also certain words fell
from his lips which were scarcely in keeping with his profession as a
Christian, or with his old occupation of bell-ringer and minister’s man
in the parish.  Once clear of the village, Watty somewhat slackened his
pace, and leisurely ascended the manse brae to the churchyard.  On this
gentle eminence the air was scarcely so still, for a light breeze
stirred the yellow leaves on the birks of Inverburn, and sighed with a
mournful cadence through the long grasses waving above the last
resting-place of the dead.  Passing the manse gate Watty again shook his
fist and applied a very expressive epithet to its unconscious inmate,
which would have roused the ire of the Reverend Duncan McLean had he
heard it.  But he was enjoying his well-earned repose, for he had been
very zealous for several days in assisting to ferret out rebellious
insurgents.

Watty entered the churchyard and stepped lightly over the turf to the
green enclosure where slept so many of those who had first seen the
light in the manse of Inverburn.  Laying down his implements, Watty
paused a moment by the double head-stone and wiped his eyes, as he read
the name of Gray, so oft repeated--husband and wife, parent and child,
one after the other--until certain newly-chiselled words recorded that
here also slept--


                          "AGNES GUTHRIE GRAY,

              THE DEAR WIFE OF ADAM HEPBURN, OF ROWALLAN,
                  WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE UNTIMEOUSLY,
                       IN THE FLOWER OF HER AGE,
                BEING SHOT BY DRAGOONS AT HER OWN DOOR,
                       ON THE NINTH DAY OF MARCH,
                    SIXTEEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE,
            LEAVING HER SORROWING HUSBAND DESOLATE UPON THE
                          FACE OF THE EARTH."


As he slowly spelled out these pathetic words, for Watty was no great
scholar, tears chased each other down his rugged face, and the heaving
of his broad chest told how deep was his emotion.  But suddenly
recovering himself, and as if ashamed of his weakness, he dashed the
tears aside, and stepping back for his pick, began his work--that of
digging a grave.  It was a strange and weird occupation for that
mysterious hour following upon midnight, and Watty might have been
excused had he felt a little nervous over his task.  But no such foolish
fears disturbed him as he quickly and deftly shovelled out the earth;
his mind was filled with sad regretful thoughts of the past, mingled
with foreboding and anxious previsions of the future.  And thus busily
occupied, he made great speed with his work.  The bell in the tower rang
one, and then two, and still Watty did not halt, but ere the solemn
hands moved round to three his work was done, for his spade had struck
with a dull sound on Agnes Hepburn’s coffin lid.  Then he jumped out of
the new-made grave, put on his coat again, and walked down to the
churchyard gate.  Just then he heard the first cock-crowing from the
curate’s hen-roost, and its echo was taken up by chanticleer on a
neighbouring farm, announcing to whomsoever might be awake to hear, the
dawning of another day.  Stepping out of the gate, Watty looked
anxiously up the road, and as anxiously down towards the village,
fearing lest the marauders under Mistress Lyall’s roof-tree should have
obtained a scent of this morning’s work.  For about fifteen minutes
Watty endured an agony of impatience and suspense.  However, to his
unspeakable relief, he beheld something moving at a considerable
distance up the road.  He at once advanced to meet it, and as he drew
nearer he could distinguish four figures walking two abreast, and
carrying something between them.  They also breathed a sigh of relief at
sight of Watty, for in these times, though appointments were made, none
could predict what might transpire to prevent their being kept.

"All ready, Watty?" inquired the voice of Andrew Gray, of Hartrigge, the
moment they were within speaking distance.

"A’ ready," Watty whispered back, and walking to the rear of the little
party, he relieved the minister of Inverburn at the end of the coffin.
Then slowly, and with measured tread, they moved on to the churchyard
gate, up the broad walk, and across the turf to the new-made grave.  The
coffin was then laid gently down on the grass, and Watty, bending
forward, read the name on the plate,

"GAVIN GRAY, AGED 17."

Meanwhile, Adam Hepburn had moved over to the open grave, and was gazing
down upon the coffin, which contained the remains of his beloved, with a
strange far-off expression on his face.  They saw that he had forgotten
himself and them, and after waiting a moment, David Gray stepped forward
and lightly touched his arm.

"We wait for you, Adam," he said gently.  "Will you take the cord at the
feet with me?"

Adam Hepburn started violently, and then stepping forward, took the cord
held out to him; the minister of Inverburn and Hartrigge himself being
at the head.  Then very gently they lowered it into the grave, and when
it grated upon the other, Adam Hepburn let go his hold, and turned aside
with a deep groan.  The minister of Inverburn took up a handful of
earth, and let it fall loosely on the coffin lid. "Earth to earth, dust
to dust, he has changed the corruptible for the incorruptible, and what
is our loss is the lad’s great gain," he murmured half dreamily. Then he
laid his hand on the arm of the bereaved father, over whose rugged face
a tremor had passed, like the first wave of a great sea, adding, with
gentle force, "My son, come, let us go hence."

"Not yet; I will wait and help Watty," said Andrew Gray, in a hoarse
whisper; but already Watty, with strong and willing arm, was rapidly
filling up the grave.

"I wonder whose murdered body will next lie here," said Hartrigge, with
strange, deep bitterness. "Truly, I think, father, we had need soon to
extend our burial space."

"Do not speak so bitterly, my son.  Let us be thankful that we have been
permitted to give the dear lad honourable and Christian burial, with his
forbears," said the old man gently.  "If the Lord will, may I be the
next to be laid here in peace."

"We’d better get out o’ this unless we be tired o’ life," said Watty,
grimly, pointing with his forefinger to the first streak of dawn on the
eastern horizon.  "If we dinna get clear off afore the daw’in’, some o’
the manse folk will be sure to see us."

Mindful of Watty’s warning, they prepared to leave the churchyard, and
yet they were fain to linger, for many hallowed memories bound them to
the place. Ere he turned to go, Andrew Gray took up the spade and gently
beat down the turf on the grave, and his last look at his son’s loved
resting place was blinded by unwonted tears.

"Watty," said Adam Hepburn, as they walked out to the road, "you had
better come with us now, and let us see that boasted hiding of yours on
the Douglas Water.  If we are to remain in this district it will take a
securer shelter than the cave at Hartrigge to hold us."

"I’m willint eneuch to let ye see’t; but what if I be catched comin’
hame?" queried Watty, cautiously.

"You can gather some grass on the roadside, and say you were seeking a
bite for old Kirsty, if they question you," said Adam.  "But you can
easily be home by half six at the latest, unless indeed the place be all
the farther up the water."

"Na, na, it’s no’ that faur.  Weel, I’ll just hide my pick and shovel in
the hedge, and gang," answered Watty; so the little party once more
turned their faces to Hartrigge, where the bereaved mother sat in her
desolate house, like Rachel, weeping for her children, and refusing to
be comforted.

They spoke but little as they walked, for the burden of his thoughts was
sufficient for each.  The air was now raw and chill, and the light
struggling over hill and dale dispelled the tender radiance of the moon
and gave an aspect almost wintry to the face of nature. The minister of
Inverburn several times shivered and his hacking cough and attenuated
appearance indicated that exposure was beginning to tell upon his aged
frame.  Looking at him, Watty more than once ominously shook his head,
and whispered within himself that the minister was not long for this
world. Thinking they might with safety venture into the house of
Hartrigge for some warm breakfast, Andrew Gray, with his father and
brother, turned up the road to the farm, while Adam Hepburn and Watty
took their way by a near cut to the glen, which formed the bed of the
Douglas Water.  Relieved from the slight restraint of the minister’s
presence, Watty found his tongue, and launched forth into a very
vehement tirade against the oppressors of the land, using terms and
expressions which in happier times would not have failed to amuse his
companion, but which now he passed unheeded.  It was seldom indeed that
a smile was seen on the face of Adam Hepburn, and since his wife’s death
no man or woman had ever heard him laugh.  The keen and pleasant sense
of humour which had given such a relish to his company and speech in
days gone by, had deserted him now, and he was in every respect an
altered man.  None was more mournfully conscious of this change than
Watty, who had been wont to have many a bantering jest with the farmer
of Rowallan, for whom he had a great liking and respect.

In the glen the sleepy birds were beginning to stir among the boughs,
and already the air was full of twitterings, and of the hum of insects
early on the wing. A heavy dew had fallen in the night, and hung
sparkling like diamonds in the hedgerows and on every blade of grass,
making the footing very wet, especially where it grew long and rank,
close to the water’s edge.

As they passed the mouth of the Corbie’s Cliff Watty McBean looked
mournfully at the now visible entrance, for the dragoons with their
swords had shorn away all the branches and the clinging tangles which
had so securely hidden it before.  So that no man could possibly hide
there now and expect to be undisturbed.

"Eh, that limmer Martha Miller, if I had her I’d pay her out for her
treachery!" muttered Watty.  "It’s just as weel she gaed awa’ to her
sister in Glesca.  She wadna hae been safe muckle longer in the place.
It was gettin’ ower hot for her."

"Ay, she’ll never prosper, Watty.  She may grow rich for a time on the
spoiling of the neighbours she betrayed, but her punishment will come
by-and-by," said Adam, quietly.

"I’m sure I hope sae," returned Watty, fervently. "Weel, here we are.
Are ye sure there’s naebody in sicht?"

"Scarcely here, before five in the morning, Watty," said Adam, with a
faint smile.  "It is a dark and gloomy retreat this."

He spoke the truth.  They had now reached a very deep and narrow part of
the glen, the sides of which rose precipitously from the edges of the
stream. These abrupt heights were so densely covered with trees, chiefly
those dark and gloomy firs common to the mountainous portions of
Scotland, that they looked like a solid and impenetrable mass.  The
water, though narrow, was very deep, and made a hoarse and hollow
roaring as it rushed among its rough boulders, which looked as if they
had become detached from the rocky heights above and rolled into the bed
of the stream. The light admitted from the narrow space between the
heights was very insufficient, and only seemed to add to the gloom.
Even in summer the sunshine never penetrated the dark retreat,
consequently the common wild flowers did not bloom, although ferns and
mosses of rich and varied hues and rare and delicate form grew in
beautiful luxuriance.

"D’ye see ony place whaur a body micht hide?" queried Watty, with a
twinkle in his eye.

"Faith, Watty, I believe anybody might be safe enough where we are
standing at this moment.  No mounted pursuer, at least, could reach this
spot," answered Adam Hepburn.

"Weel, follow me as best ye can, for there’s nae road, no’ even a
sheep-track, to guide ye," said Watty and, immediately plunging into the
thicket on the left, he began to scramble up the face of the steep.

It was with some difficulty that his companion followed, but, by
swinging himself up by the strong undergrowth, he managed to keep Watty
in sight. At length Watty altogether and mysteriously disappeared, and,
though he called out to guide his companion to his whereabouts, Adam
could not discover him.  It was intensely dark, and there was scarcely
room to stand upright, so densely did the trees grow together.
Presently Watty appeared again, and then Adam saw that he stood in front
of an overhanging bank almost concealed by long grass and bracken.

"Crawl in efter me," cried Watty, and, getting down on his hands and
knees, he crept under the bank and disappeared.  Adam followed his
example, and, as Watty immediately struck a light, he saw, to his
astonishment, that he was in a roomy cavern, where he could stand
upright with the greatest ease.

"Well, Watty, this is a splendid place, and will doubtless be invaluable
to us," he exclaimed.  "It is well-nigh impossible that any one should
discover this.  But tell me, how many in Inverburn could point it out?"

"No’ a leevin’ soul but mysel’.  I’ll tell ye wha shewed it to me, auld
Robbie Harden, mony a year afore he deed, an’ I never telt a cratur,"
Watty assured him, solemnly.

"Ah, that is good!  Well, Watty, I am certainly obliged to you for
bringing me here," said Adam. "The thing is, I hope I can make my way to
it again by myself."

"Oh, that’s easy enough.  If ye come down noo I’ll let ye see the clue,"
said Watty, and, accordingly, they again scrambled through the thicket
to the edge of the stream.

"Ye see that muckle black rock jist like a table," said Watty, pointing
to a huge mass lying in the bed of the water.  "It’s jist directly
opposite that.  If ye keep straicht up ye canna’ miss it."

"All right; I’ll remember," said Adam, and the twain then left the
ravine and rapidly retraced their steps towards the haunts of men.

It was now about half-past five, so Watty, in alarm lest he should be
stopped and questioned, left Adam Hepburn just behind Hartrigge, and
taking to his heels, fled with the utmost speed back to the village.



                             *CHAPTER XVII*

                     *A SHOCK OF CORN FULLY RIPE.*


The body of dragoons stationed in the village of Inverburn were so
constantly upon the alert, and swept so wide a range of the surrounding
district, that it was well-nigh impossible for the fugitives to leave
their hiding either by night or day.  They had removed to the safer
hiding of Watty’s hole in the Witches’ Cleugh [glen or ravine], and
thither Jane Gray, courageous as usual, carried their provisions, either
in the very early morning, or after the moon was up at night.  They had
made the place as comfortable as it was possible under the
circumstances, having formed themselves couches of dried leaves over
which were spread the substantial coverings which Jane had carried to
them by degrees.  She was now abiding constantly at Hartrigge, where all
Adam Hepburn’s most valuable goods had been removed, and Rowallan shut
up.  As for the stock, the soldiers had relieved him of any anxiety
regarding it by removing it all for their own use and profit.  So
Rowallan was now a deserted and desolate homestead, about which the owls
screeched mournfully at night, and the bats flapped their weird wings
unheeded and undisturbed against the shuttered windows.

The people of the village were now driven to church at the point of the
sword, consequently the curate’s services were no longer disgraced by
meagre attendances.  As the people listened to the mockery of worship he
conducted within the now desecrated walls, they bowed their heads in
sorrow and shame, knowing very well that directly the services were over
he would be away drinking with the officers of the regiment.  His
excesses, which were not confined to week-days, had now become a public
scandal, so much so, that Sir Thomas Hamilton in disgust had ceased to
attend the church of Inverburn, and had returned to the ministrations of
John Methven, at Lochlee.

The dragoons, being under command not to quit the place until they had
laid hands on the four obstinate and cunning insurgents, who were
lurking in the neighbourhood, growing tired of their quarters, began a
more vigorous raid on the outlying farmhouses and homesteads, as well as
a more thorough exploration of the woods and hills.  But though they
rode along the very heights above the hiding place of the wanderers they
sought, and, dismounting, even made an attempt to explore the very
thicket sheltering the cave, their search was unsuccessful.

Being quite aware of the very strict search going on, the fugitives were
compelled to abide yet more closely in their shelter.  It was now the
end of the year, and though as yet little snow had fallen, there had
been heavy rain storms accompanied by wild and bitter winds which almost
froze the marrow in their bones. It being considered unsafe to make a
fire, the fugitives suffered much from the cold, and from the dampness
of their hiding-place.  The minister of Inverburn, especially, suffered
from its effects, and grew so weak that he was scarcely able to stand
upright.  He also complained of great pain and uneasiness of the chest,
which indicated that the long exposure had wrought very evil effects
upon his aged and delicate frame.

Towards midnight, one evening early in January, a slight snow being on
the ground, and the roads rendered easy footing by a touch of frost,
Mistress Gray of Hartrigge, accompanied by Jane, set out to carry
provisions to the fugitives.  Since her son’s death, Susan Gray’s
feelings concerning the Covenanters and their persecutions had undergone
a change.  In times gone she had not been a very zealous Churchwoman,
and had often remonstrated with her husband concerning what she
considered his bigoted and unwise zeal; but now her hatred against the
oppressors equalled, if not excelled, that of Andrew.  Yet his was the
outcome of true religious zeal, while hers was the result of outraged
human feelings.  And I fear that very many of those who followed the
fortunes of the Covenanters were actuated by like feelings with Mistress
Gray.

No thought of fear troubled these two women as they traversed their
lonely way through the wilds to the Witches’ Cleugh.  They spoke but
little as they went, for the time had now come when talking over
troubles only made them seem worse to bear.  They found it better to
shut them up in their own hearts, and make no moan to the world.  The
bright light of the moon made the surrounding landscape indescribably
beautiful, yet what eye had these two for what in happier times would
have afforded them pleasure and delight?  To them the beauty of Nature
was obscured by the pall of bitter personal sorrow.  When they reached
the cleugh, Jane Gray put a whistle to her mouth and blew the signal,
which those in hiding had learned to know and welcome.  Andrew Gray
hastened through the thicket to guide them up to the cave; and Jane
walked on a little in front, guessing that her brother would have many
things to say to his wife, whom he had not seen for some weeks. When
they together entered the cavern, which was dimly lighted, quiet but
expressive greetings passed between them, but somewhat to Jane’s
surprise and alarm, her father did not offer to rise and speak to them.
She advanced to the side of the low bed, and holding the flickering
light above it, saw such a deep and significant change in the dear
features, that she could not repress a cry of anguish.

"My father seems very ill.  How long has he been thus?" she exclaimed,
turning to her brothers.  The tones of her familiar and much-loved voice
seemed to awaken the old man to struggling consciousness, for he
presently stirred, and opened his eyes.

"Is that my daughter’s voice?" he asked anxiously.

"Yes, father, I am here," answered Jane, and dropping on her knees, she
took the wasted hands in her firm gentle clasp.  "Tell me, do you feel
much distressed?  Do you suffer much pain?"

"Not much pain, only great uneasiness and oppression, my daughter," he
answered.  "If it be the precursor of my summons home, how gladly do I
bear it all, if only my Lord sees fit to call me speedily from these
troubles, which I fear I bear with but a poor measure of cheerfulness
and patience.  But being old and stricken in years, I have not the same
endurance with these young men, your brethren."

Jane Gray’s eyes filled with bitter tears, and for a space sobs
prevented her from speaking.  Susan Gray now moved over to the bed, and
after looking steadfastly at the old man’s face for a brief space, she
said decidedly, "Grandfather is very ill.  What say you to having him
moved to a comfortable bed at Hartrigge?"

For a moment they looked somewhat surprised at her proposal, which
involved considerable risk, but she hastened to reassure them.

"The dragoons have grown weary of searching through Hartrigge, and,
indeed, I hear, that having become convinced that you are not in the
district, they are about to shift their quarters.  So I think we needna’
fear for them.  You could carry him home this very nicht between you,
and be back safe in hiding afore the first peep o’ day."

"God bless you for your suggestion, Susan," said Jane Gray, gratefully.
"It is kind of you to risk your own safety, and that of your bairns and
house, for our sakes."

After a brief hesitation it was resolved to act upon Mistress Gray’s
plan.

The old man being too weak to understand what they were talking about,
lay perfectly still, only keeping his eyes fixed upon his daughter’s
face, as if they loved to dwell there.  He seemed surprised when
presently they began to roll the coverings round him, but did not ask
any questions, nor did they tell him what was about to be done.  He was
so thin and attenuated that his light weight was as nothing to Andrew
Gray, who carried him in his arms as easily as if he had been a child.
After a little Adam relieved him, and thus that strange and mournful
procession wended its way to the house of Hartrigge.  The women-folk
hurried on in front, and reaching the house considerably before the
others, Jane made haste to get something hot prepared for them, while
the mistress hung sheets and blankets at the cheerful kitchen fire, and
carried up a shovelful of blazing peats to a little garret room, which
was situated in the most remote and the safest part of the house.  The
bed was ready when the wanderers arrived, and the old man was at once
undressed, and having had warm, dry, comfortable underclothing put on,
was laid in the clean and cosy bed, where he stretched his limbs gladly,
and wearily laid his head on the soft pillow, too thankful to ask where
he was, so sweet and grateful was the unwonted comfort to his exhausted
and pain-racked frame.  His daughter held a warm drink to his lips,
which when he had taken, he lay down and fell asleep.  Meanwhile, in the
chamber below the others were partaking of a hasty repast, wondering
much at their own temerity in venturing within the house of Hartrigge,
which, in spite of its familiarity, had a strange look, so long was it
since their eyes had dwelt upon the interior of a dwelling made with
hands. Leaving his food unfinished, Andrew Gray stole up to the chamber
where he knew he should find his little ones asleep.  As he looked upon
the sweet, chubby faces of the two younger ones, and then on Jeanie’s
paler and more womanly features, his eyes grew strangely dim, and
stooping he kissed them one after the other, so lightly that they did
not even stir in their sleep.  His wife presently joined him, and moving
to his side, she leaned her head on his shoulder and he put his arm
about her, and they stood for a brief space in utter silence.

The thoughts of each were too deep for words or tears.

"God will take care of you, wife, and keep our bairns," he said at
length.  "Fain would I tarry, but it is time we were going hence."

She nodded, and leaving the room, they rejoined David Gray and Adam,
waiting with some impatience below.  Then after many fervent farewells,
and many injunctions to send word if any danger were likely to come near
Hartrigge, so that, if possible, they might again remove the old man,
the wanderers left the cheerful warmth and comfort of Hartrigge, and
betook themselves to their bleak hiding in the dens and caves of the
earth.

Next morning mistress Gray took little Jeanie aside, and told her that
her grandfather was in the garret, and said she had trusted her with the
secret, lest she should discover it, and unthinkingly speak of it
outside.

Jeanie looked up into her mother’s face with a wise, womanly expression,
almost sad to see in so young a child.

"Oh, mother, you needna fear for me," she said quietly.  "Though you
hadna told me, I would have known very well not to tell any one of
grandfather being here.  But, mother, did he come in the middle of the
night, and was father with him?  I dreamed that father was standing by
my bed last night, and that he kissed me, and was crying when he did
it."

"It was nae dream, lassie," said her mother, through her tears; "your
poor father was indeed here last night, and kissed and blessed you, and
Sandy, and Nannie too."

For several days it seemed as if the minister of Inverburn were likely
to recover, under the kind nursing of his daughter at Hartrigge.  But
the pain in the chest did not abate its severity, and though they did
the utmost for him within their knowledge and skill, there was no
visible improvement in his condition. They dared not send for a doctor,
but had just to use their own means, and pray for a blessing.

In the course of a week, however, it became quite evident to the anxious
watchers that death was not far off.

The day came at last when the old man, conscious himself of his
approaching end, desired that his children might be gathered about his
bed.  Jane Gray ran in haste to the Witches’ Cleugh, and in the
darkening those in hiding stole up to Hartrigge.

When the dying servant of God saw all the faces beloved best on earth
gathered round him, a well-pleased expression stole into his face.
Looking at his first-born son, he desired him to raise him a little in
the bed, in order that he might better utter his words of blessing and
farewell.  Then fixing his eyes on Andrew’s face, he said, in low and
solemn tones:--

"You have ever been a faithful and dutiful son to me, Andrew, for which
the Lord will reward you.  I have but one word of warning to give
regarding the part you will take in the struggle which will shortly rage
with hotter violence than it has hitherto done in the land.  See to it
that you fight for the Covenant with singleness of heart and purpose,
out of pure love for its sweet and simple doctrines, and do not allow
any personal spleen to mingle with your nobler aim, lest the blessing of
the Most High be withheld.  To you, David, my son, I have also a word to
say.  I bid you be of good courage, and fail not to strengthen and
encourage your brethren in arms with the ministrations of your holy
office whenever time and opportunity permit.  And fear not those who can
kill the body, for it is written, ’Whosoever shall lose his life for My
sake shall find it.’  To you, Adam Hepburn, the widowed spouse of my
sweet Agnes, and dear to me as my own sons, my words will also be brief.
I would seek to remind you that vengeance belongs only to the Lord, and
that from high Heaven alone cometh sure retribution for deeds of blood.
Therefore I would warn you that you strive to overcome your evil and
revengeful passion, reminding you that it is not a spirit which the
ransomed soul of your beloved could approve.  It is written that he that
slayeth with the sword shall perish by the sword.  To you, my sweet and
well-beloved daughter, Jane, who have indeed followed closely in your
mother’s footsteps, since the mournful day when that dear saint left
this world for a better, I have simply to leave my gratitude and
fatherly blessing.  Your reward for many deeds and words of love will
come by-and-by.  And, last of all, Susan, my daughter, I would but call
to your remembrance that our God can bind up the broken heart, and that
your tears are treasured up against that day when He cometh to judge the
quick and the dead.  And the parting is but for a little while.
Farewell, my children; save for your sakes I am not sorry to quit this
earthy tabernacle, and enter upon the inheritance which my sweet Lord
has kept for me since before the foundation of the world."

With these words the minister sank back exhausted among his pillows.  It
must not be supposed that he was able to utter the foregoing sentences
as connectedly as they are written.  Nay, they were spoken with much
difficulty, and many long pauses, and his parched lips had to be
continually moistened with the stimulant Jane kept ready at hand.  He
lay so still after the last words passed his lips that they almost
feared he was gone.  But at length his eyelids quivered slightly, and
then they saw a seraphic smile dawning upon his face, as if some lovely
vision had appeared to his soul.  His lips moved slightly, and Jane,
hastily bending down, caught the faintly whispered words:--

"Coming, O my sweet Lord Jesus!"

So, quietly and painlessly, he fell asleep.

"It is all over," said Hartrigge, huskily.

"For this present life only, Andrew," quietly answered the minister of
Broomhill.  "And, thanks be to His name, He has spared the green, and
taken the ripe."



                            *CHAPTER XVIII.*

                            *AT HAUGHHEAD.*


In the grey twilight of a sweet spring evening, a figure, wearing the
garb of a minister, entered the policies surrounding Haughhead, and
keeping well within the shadow of the trees, stole across the park to
the mansion house.  The face of the wanderer was not that of an old man,
and yet his hair was as white as snow.  He looked worn and delicate, and
walked slowly and with a somewhat lingering step, as if he had travelled
far, and was very weary.

The house of Haughhead was a building of considerable pretension, and
was beautifully situated on a richly wooded slope, directly facing the
picturesque village of Broomhill.  The grounds were ample and well kept,
and looked their best that spring evening, for the trees were bursting
into leaf, and the early spring flowers were blooming in the trim
borders and among the smooth-grown turf.  The wanderer looked about him
with a sad and tender interest, for his surroundings were peculiarly
familiar, and recalled to his mind many memories of the past.  To this
place, in the early days of his settlement in Broomhill, he had often
come, lured by the sunny gleam in the blue eyes of Lilian Burnet.
Through these very green and bosky glades he had wandered, with her
light hand clinging to his arm, in the happy, careless days of their
courtship; across that very threshold he had led his fair bride,
accounting himself that day the happiest man in broad Scotland.
Recalling these happy days, and contrasting them with the desolation
which was his to-day, he could have fancied them but the vagaries of his
own imagination.  Although it was not yet dark outside, lights gleamed
in the lower windows of the house, and all the shutters were closed,
telling that the inmates had settled themselves within for the night.
The minister hesitated for a moment at the base of the broad flight of
steps which led up to the door, wavering in his purpose to seek
admittance. Finally he stepped aside to one of the lower windows, at
which the shutters had not been carefully closed, there being a broad
chink left, through which a very good view of the interior of the room
might be had. It was a large, pleasant, well-lighted chamber, with a log
fire burning cheerfully on the hearth, and giving one the idea of
comfort and homeliness.  There were several persons in the room.
Sitting in her high-backed chair was the prim-looking mistress of
Haughhead, busy upon some embroidery.  Opposite her, on the hearth, sat
Burnet of Haughhead himself, with a small table drawn up before him, and
a ponderous volume lying thereon, in whose pages he seemed engrossed.
It was not upon these two, however, that the yearning eyes of the
minister dwelt On the hearthrug two little children were busy at their
play: two lovely children, a boy and girl, the former, having been very
delicate in infancy, only able to toddle on his little legs, and his
baby tongue only yet learning the mysterious language of words. A little
apart, also busy with her sewing, sat their mother, a lovely creature,
to all appearance scarcely yet out of her girlhood, with a round sweet
innocent face, as delicate in hue as the tint of the lily and the rose
combined, and clear liquid blue eyes, which had evidently never yet been
dimmed by bitter tears.  She was a picture of serene and happy repose,
not a shadow crossed her fair face, and her low humming of a familiar
melody seemed to indicate a heart at rest.

Familiar though he was with the shallowness of his wife’s nature, David
Gray, looking on her face, was amazed.  He had expected to see her a
little changed; he thought that a small measure of anxiety, a shadow of
regret concerning him, might have left its impress on her face.  But no,
she looked younger, fairer, more free from care than he had ever seen
her before.  If there had been any lingering hope in his mind that the
wife whom he still loved, thought of, or longed for him in her
separation, it was dispelled at once and for ever.  But for the two
little ones playing at her feet, the years of her wifehood might have
seemed only the shadow of a dream, so unchanged was she from the light
and giddy girl who had ruled the house of Haughhead since her babyhood.
Pleasant and suggestive as was the picture in that family room, it
caused a deep, deep shadow to come upon the sad face of the minister of
Broomhill.  He felt himself utterly forgotten by those bound to him by
the nearest and dearest of ties.  They had put him away out of their
hearts and lives as one undeserving of their love.  Presently his
painful thoughts were interrupted by the gruff voice of Gilbert Burnet,
and every word was distinctly audible.

"Give your song words, Lily," he said; "this is just the time of night
for music.  Is the harp there?"

"Yes, father," the sweet, careless tones made answer, blithely, and
David Gray saw her throw aside her work, and approach the corner of the
room where the harp stood.  Then she sat down, ran her white fingers
lightly over the strings, tossed back her sunny ringlets in the
coquettish fashion he remembered so well, and then began the sweet,
stirring strains of an old ballad, which had ever been a favourite in
days gone by.  Listening to these sweet strains, the minister of
Broomhill seemed to forget himself and his surroundings, until the
abrupt cessation of the music, and a loud clapping of hands, caused him
to start, and cast another look into the room.  The children had now
risen from their play, and were clapping their baby hands in glee over
the music.

Looking upon their winsome faces, the faces of his own children, given
to him by God, taken from him by man, a great wave of anguish, of
unutterable yearning, swept over his soul.  But he crushed it down, and
turning about, stole away from the house by the way he had come.  They
had forgotten him, they had no need of him; henceforth he was without
wife, or children, or home, a wanderer on the face of the earth.  They
were safe and sheltered under that roof-tree, because its heads had not
identified themselves with rebellion and treason, while he was hunted,
pursued, and tracked to the dens and caves of the earth, with a price
set upon his head.  And yet what of that? what though perils by sea and
land, perils by persecution, encompassed him, when he possessed the
sweet approval of his own conscience, and the ever-present consciousness
of the presence and blessing of the Most High?  To be accounted worthy
had been his earnest cry ere these desolations had fallen upon him, and
now was he one to shrink and stand back from the bearing of his cross,
however heavy it might be?  Nay, but a sweet peace stole into his heart,
as these precious words of promise were whispered to him: "And every one
that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sister, or father, or mother,
or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an
hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."

Henceforth God and the Covenant were all he had to live and suffer for,
all he could call his own indeed upon the earth.  Therefore he would go
forth gladly with his brethren on the morrow to join the Covenanting
army assembling in the south.

Not many days after that, the women folk at Hartrigge were busy about
their usual tasks, when a horse and rider came up to the front door, the
latter loudly demanding admittance.  Jane Gray went out at once, and
great was her astonishment to behold Gilbert Burnet, the laird of
Haughhead.

"Well, Jane Gray, ’tis a long time since we met," he said, grimly.

"It is, indeed, Mr. Burnet," answered Jane, quietly.

"And many ups and downs have taken place since then, eh?" he asked, more
grimly still.

"You speak the truth," said Jane, coldly, not liking very well the
manner in which he spoke. "Will you be pleased to alight from your
horse, and step in?  In my brother’s name I can bid you welcome to his
house, and his wife will speak to you within.  She has been in poor
health these few weeks, and is confined to her own chamber."

"I’ll not come in to-day," said Haughhead, bluntly. "My business can be
done here well enough.  It will not take up much of your time."

"My time is at your disposal, Mr. Burnet.  We are not hard pressed in
these times," she said, with a faint smile.

"No, there is a mighty difference in Hartrigge since I saw it last.  A
great fool Andrew Gray was to leave his substantial holding and
comfortable life for his present precarious existence," said Haughhead.
"I suppose he is not about the place."

"No; nor has been for many, many months," answered Jane, briefly.

"Ah, I thought not.  It was you I expected to see.  Well, I suppose you
have heard of the most gracious indulgence granted by the king to the
outed and rebellious ministers?"

"Yes; we heard of it some days ago," answered Jane Gray, in a calm and
unreadable voice.

"You know the generous terms it offers?" said Burnet, inquiringly.  "If
they will acknowledge the bishops, they are to be forgiven for past
rebellion and inducted into the full enjoyment of their former
benefices. If not, they are still to be allowed to preach in the kirks,
and can come back to their manses and glebes."

"Yes; we heard that such were the king’s terms, Mr. Burnet," said Jane
Gray, but did not offer the information he was anxious to obtain.

"What, what are your brothers saying to it? What--in fact, hang it,
woman!--will your brother David come back peaceably to Broomhill?  You
know very well what I want to be at!" said Haughhead, losing his temper
and raising his voice.

Jane Gray looked him straight in the face with clear, calm, steadfast
eyes.

"I fear not; in fact, Mr. Burnet, I know that the indulgence will make
no difference whatsoever to my brother David.  On no account will he now
accept a living from the hands of a king who has proved himself so
utterly unworthy of trust or loyal service.  My brother, in common with
many other thoughtful men, regards the new proclamation simply as a trap
set to ensure the complete downfall of Presbyterianism in Scotland."

It was curious to watch the varying expressions on Gilbert Burnet’s face
as he listened to Jane Gray’s fearless and unmistakable words.

"Gad, Jane Gray! you are not afraid!  I should not wonder to see your
proud head roll in the dust yet," he said, sarcastically.  "Then your
brothers will still keep themselves rebels at large, liable to be shot
or hanged any day?"

"Until God sees fit to restore to the Church of Scotland a glorious
liberty, crowned and sanctioned by His own blessing and approval, my
brothers are content to undertake the risks involved by their firm
upstanding for the Covenant," answered Jane Gray, with quiet but
striking eloquence.

"Then you brothers are arrant fools, and deserve whatever fate may
befall them!" fumed Haughhead. "Is David Gray in the neighbourhood?
Could I see him?  Although I am no bigoted zealot, I can pass my word of
honour and keep it, as a gentleman should.  He will come by no harm
through me.  I only desire to speak with him for a little space."

"It is impossible, Mr. Burnet.  My brothers, and also my brother-in-law,
Adam Hepburn, have left this district, and I know not where they may now
be."

"I see you speak the truth.  I had a message from my daughter, his
wife," said Haughhead, carelessly.  "I can deliver it to you.  Possibly
you may have some opportunity of communicating with him at no very
distant date."

"I shall be very pleased to receive your message, Mr. Burnet, and to
deliver it to David when opportunity offers."

"Well, it is just this, that if he will accept the king’s generous
indulgence and return to the manse of Broomhill, she will come back to
him with her children, thus showing herself willing to overlook his long
desertion."

Jane Gray drew herself up, and a slight colour rose in her cheek.

"Truly, Mr. Burnet, I think Lilian Gray cannot be a changed woman when
she sent such a message to my brother," she said, proudly.  "She should
rather have couched her message in terms of humility, seeing she so
wrongly and unkindly quitted him in the hour of his need."

"That is _your_ way of looking at it.  We hold that, by his folly, David
Gray forfeited all claim on his wife’s consideration," retorted
Haughhead, angrily. "But it is no use arguing with a Gray, so I will be
off, Jane Gray, wishing you a very good day."

"Stay, Mr. Burnet; will you tell me, please, how it is with the little
ones, my brother’s bairns?" said Jane, laying a pleading hand on his
bridle rein.  "I have a great yearning to see or hear something of
them."

"Oh, they are well, and as bonnie bairns as eyes could wish to see--true
Burnets both of them," answered Haughhead, stretching a point just to
vex the heart of the woman before him.  "Tell David that, and tell him
that they’ll soon forget they have a father at all."

With which parting shot, which brought an unbidden tear to Jane Gray’s
eye, the Laird of Haughhead gave his horse the rein and rode rapidly
away.



                             *CHAPTER XIX.*

                          *UNLOOKED-FOR NEWS.*


In spite of the many stringent measures taken by the Government to
suppress the field preachings and break the spirit of the Covenanters,
the persecuted people continued to meet for worship in the mountain
solitudes or in the moorland wilds, thus strengthening each others’
hearts and hands, and renewing the bond of their precious Covenant, for
which these hardships were endured.

Now no conventicle was held unless protected by an armed band ready to
give the alarm and fight, if need be, the soldiers who might seek to
disturb or disperse them.  Consequently skirmishes were of very frequent
occurrence, sometimes resulting in victory for the Presbyterians,
sometimes in their utter defeat.  In these encounters many lost their
lives. Often were the heather and the mountain streams dyed with their
blood, and yet the army never seemed to diminish in numbers, for there
were ever some ready to fill the vacant places of those who had fallen.

The curates still continued to conduct Episcopal services in the kirks,
but the supremacy of the bishops seemed no nearer being established in
the last, because, with some exceptions, those who attended the
ministrations were people of little note or reputation, with perhaps a
few whom terror compelled to take their unwilling places in the kirks.

The struggles betwixt the Government and the Scottish Presbyterians had
now extended over several years, and seemed yet no nearer a satisfactory
termination.  The Covenanters, with their intimate knowledge of their
native hills and dales, had the advantage over the troopers sent to hunt
and destroy them, and some of their mountain fastnesses were more
impregnable than a fortified city.  In open warfare they might easily
have been cut to pieces, but time went on, and except the few skirmishes
already referred to, the opponents had never met in battle.  Such a
state of affairs could not be satisfactory to the King of England, much
less so to Lauderdale and the Archbishop of St. Andrews, who were his
executors in Scotland.

When every troop of marauding dragoons was empowered to take captive,
torture, or kill any man, woman, or child whom they even suspected of
being a Covenanter, or of attending the Conventicles; when the property
of unoffending individuals was confiscated and distributed among the
spoilers; when the dwellings of peaceable country folk were robbed, and
often burned to the ground without explanation or excuse; when those who
were supposed to have afforded shelter or refreshment to the fugitives
were fined and imprisoned without mercy, it might have been thought that
there were no severer measures left in the Government repertoire, and
that they might have abandoned the persecutions in despair of ever
rooting Presbyterian principles out of Scotland.  But as yet the
Government had no such intention.  Those in power met to discuss, and
finally issued orders for the infliction of yet more stringent and cruel
treatment upon the rebels.  Every forgotten and long-abhorred torture
was revived, and used as punishments by the unholy Courts, which made a
mockery of administering justice in the land.

Well might the endurance of God’s people quail beneath the yoke of the
oppressor; well might their hearts be uplifted to Heaven in that
despairing cry, "O Lord, how long!"

One evening about the middle of May, in the year 1679, several men were
gathered together in a lonely farmhouse among the wilds of Lanarkshire.
Among them we recognise Andrew Gray of Hartrigge, and his brother,
David, the minister of Broomhill, also other two familiar faces, those
of Adam Hepburn of Rowallan, and Watty McBean, the carrier of Inverburn.
Having had his houses burned about his ears, his faithful nag and all
his valuables stolen, Watty had become, instead of a man of peace, a man
of war, and had joined the army lying in the Vale of Avondale. Betty had
retired to Hartrigge, which was now entirely left to the women-folk, and
was at the utter mercy of the soldiery.  But as yet the homestead
remained untouched, though fair Rowallan was razed to the ground.

From the appearance of the company gathered in the room, as well as from
their remarks, it could be gathered that they were (with the exception
of Watty, who would on no account let Adam Hepburn out of his sight)
leaders among the insurgents.  They were discussing the next steps to be
taken by the army, and Sir Robert Hamilton, brother to the Laird of
Inverburn, and a staunch, though moderate Presbyterian, was counselling
cautious measures, to which Andrew Gray, Adam Hepburn, and some other
fiery spirits listened with but a small show of patience, when there
came a loud and peremptory knocking at the door. Involuntarily all
sprang to their feet, and grasped their swords.  If they were
discovered, and the soldiers were without, there were twenty valiant and
desperate men of them, who would fight dearly for their lives.

Adam Hepburn, sword in hand, fearlessly went to the outer door, and
threw it open.  In the faint and uncertain beams of the young May moon
he saw only a solitary horseman, whose steed was panting and covered
with foam, as if it had galloped many miles that day.

"Is this Windyedge, the house of Gideon Dickson?" the horseman asked in
a thick whisper.

"Is it friend or foe?" queried Adam, briefly.

"Friend," replied the horseman, as briefly.  "Is Sir Robert Hamilton
within?"

"He is; but be good enough first to give me your name as a guerdon of
your honour," said Adam.

"Tush! man," said the horseman impatiently; "well, John Balfour of
Kinloch, synonymous with liberty at any price, is it not?"

Those within, hearing the whispered conference, now came crowding out to
the door, and Sir Robert Hamilton, at sight of the figure on the horse,
uttered an exclamation of surprise, and at once stepped across the
threshold.

"John Balfour!  What on earth brings you from Fife to this remote place?
No paltry reason, I could swear."

"You speak the truth," returned Balfour grimly. "Is there any fellow who
can put up my steed, who is in a sorry plight, poor wretch, as well he
may, after his desperate ride.  And is there any refreshment to be had
within, for I am fainting with hunger and fatigue."

Gideon Dickson, the farmer of Windyedge, came out himself, and taking
the exhausted animal’s bridle-rein, led him away towards the stable.
Then Balfour was conducted into the house, and refreshment immediately
set before him.  While he partook of his repast he spoke not, and those
in the room who had hitherto only known him by hearsay as a fearless
soldier, who would fight under the most desperate circumstances, now
looked, not without astonishment, upon his person.  In figure he was
considerably under the middle height, but his frame was powerfully knit,
and evidently possessed of great strength.  His countenance was by no
means prepossessing, being dark and forbidding, while a cast in his eye
gave him a peculiarly fierce and unpleasant aspect.  When he had
finished his repast he looked round upon the assembled company, and then
fixing his eyes on the face of Sir Robert Hamilton, briefly asked the
question:--

"Are these present to be trusted?"

"Ay, truly," answered Sir Robert.  "They are the picked men of our
forces; therefore you may fearlessly open your mouth in their midst,
John."

"And there are no traitors or spies within hearing?" further queried
Kinloch, looking suspiciously round him.

"None; we are gathered here for consultation," replied Sir Robert.  "Our
forces are lying about a mile distant, under cover of the Loudon hill."

"That is well.  But, tell me, have you had no news, of a very
comfortable and pleasant nature, conveyed hither from Fife?" queried
Balfour grimly.

Sir Robert shook his head and made answer that they had received no
communication whatsoever from the shire of Fife.

"Nothing relating to that arch-fiend, James Sharp, of St. Andrews?"

"Nothing.  Come, John, do not keep us in suspense. Can it be that the
Lord has permitted judgment to fall on him at last?"

"Even so," said Balfour.  "Know, then, that certain faithful servants of
the Covenant, meeting the archbishop’s carriage on Magus muir, on the
third day of this present month, sent the perjured traitor to his just
and righteous doom."

Sir Robert Hamilton was struck dumb in the intensity of his surprise and
horror, for in a moment the consequences of that rash and indefensible
act were made clear to his well-balanced mind.  One or two others,
notably the minister of Broomhill, also exhibited dismay, but the
majority of those present received the news with a lively satisfaction,
and even with a species of fierce joy which told that in their zeal they
thirsted for blood.

"Who authorised, or led them to such a rash and unwise attack?" queried
Sir Robert Hamilton.  "They must have been blind and blood-thirsty
zealots, surely, who killed a man in cold blood, without giving him a
chance to defend himself."

An expression of fierce and bitter scorn crossed the dark face of
Balfour as he made answer contemptuously.

"What of the many thousands who have been murdered in cold blood at
Sharp’s instigation and with his approval?  The like mercy he showed to
others was meted out to him.  For my part, I would that he had ten other
lives, to be taken from him in the same summary fashion."

"I am of your opinion, Mr. Balfour," said the deep voice of Adam Hepburn
of Rowallan, and Kinloch immediately turned his deep-set eyes with
approval on the speaker.  Something in the dogged and resolute
expression on his fine face, and in the gleam of his keen blue eye,
riveted Balfour’s attention and caused him to mentally resolve that they
should become better acquainted with each other.

"And I, also," chimed in Andrew Gray in his quiet but weighty manner.
"There could be no fate too harsh for such a traitor.  Verily he has
been a Judas in the Kirk of Scotland all his days, and his hands are
dyed with the blood of hundreds of innocents whom he has betrayed."

Still Sir Robert Hamilton shook his head, and a troubled and anxious
expression continued to dwell on his face.

"Come, tell me, John, who were the perpetrators of this deed of
violence?" he asked.  "Are any of them personally known to you?"

A grim smile stole into Kinloch’s face as he made answer--

"Faith, they were all as well known to me as my own brothers, seeing I
was in their midst, as also was my brother-in-law, David Hackstoun of
Rathillet."

"David Hackstoun of Rathillet!" ejaculated Sir Robert in tones of utter
amazement.  "Very sure am I that so sweet and kindly a soul would not
lay a hand even on the archbishop."

"Well, like Saul, he looked on, consenting unto his death," said
Balfour.  "I myself gave the traitor a sword thrust, just to wipe off
old scores, but it was not these hands that finished him.  Nevertheless,
the crime is wholly charged upon my brother-in-law and myself, and I
take it there will be a heavy ransom set upon our precious heads.  After
the deed was done we separated, David Hackstoun and I agreeing to join
the forces here; but he would go home to see his wife first, else he had
been here with me.  It may be that his silly dallying may cost him his
life."

"You are right in saying there will be a heavy price set on your heads,"
said Sir Robert Hamilton; "and, what is more, we will all need to gird
about our swords and see to our armour, for now there will be no quarter
for any professing Covenanting principles.  I prophesy that the king
will take steps to terribly avenge his primate’s death."

"What of that?" queried Balfour, carelessly. "What ingenuity or revenge
could suggest more terrible and bloody oppression than has been pressed
on Scotland these past ten years?"

"Well, well, what’s done can’t be undone," said Sir Robert, with a
somewhat mournful smile.  "Now, lads, we had better to our discussions
again.  We were but planning a great field meeting for Sabbath week, at
which a Communion Service might be held, and we were somewhat divided as
to a suitable place of meeting."

"Are there many soldiers in the district?" asked Balfour.

"Ah, that we cannot tell.  They rise mysteriously, as it were out of the
bowels of the earth, when least expected," replied Sir Robert.  "But I
heard on good authority that that miscreant--for I can call him nothing
else--John Graham of Claverhouse is in the west."

"Right well would I like to measure swords with him," said Balfour, with
feverish eagerness.  "Such a man is not fit to live."

"It’s no’ very easy gettin’ at him," piped the shrill voice of Watty
McBean.  "I’m tell he rides a muckle black horse the deevil sent him,
an’ that nae man can owertak’ him."

Balfour immediately turned his piercing eyes on Watty’s face with a
glance which covered him with confusion, for he had been surprised into
speech without thinking.

"Be quiet, Watty," said Adam Hepburn promptly, which rebuke caused Watty
to slink behind the door, chiefly to escape the gaze of Balfour, whom he
had regarded with terror ever since his entrance.

"Those who are best acquainted with the district should be the fittest
to choose a place of meeting," said Balfour.  "What numbers have you at
Loudon Hill?"

"About three hundred, and at a short notice we could speedily double or
treble the number.  There having been no fighting of late, very many
have returned to their homes.  Indeed, those with us are chiefly men
whose goods have been confiscated and their dwellings pillaged and
burned."

"I see no better spot than where our army now lies," said Adam Hepburn.
"It is a sheltered and suitable place, and from the top of the hill our
watchers could readily descry the enemy approaching from one side, while
upon the other that wide and dreary morass is a bulwark in our defence."

"I agree with you," said Sir Robert.  "Then we can fix upon the place
and day, and send word through the surrounding district."

"Have you forgotten that the anniversary of the king’s restoration is to
be celebrated throughout Scotland on the 29th of this present month?"
asked Balfour.

"No: we have had that under discussion likewise, John," replied Sir
Robert, "and we intend to celebrate it in our own fashion.  But of that
more anon.  And now we must separate for the night.  My quarters in the
meantime are here, John.  You had better remain with me in case
Rathillet should come hither seeking you.  He should be here by the
latest to-morrow."

Balfour acquiesced, and, being much fatigued, gladly retired to rest,
while the others separated to the various places where they were to
obtain shelter for the night.



                             *CHAPTER XX.*

                              *DRUMCLOG.*


All the following day, David Hackstoun of Rathillet was anxiously
expected by his brethren in arms, in the vale of Avondale.  And when
night closed, and there were yet no signs of him, they began to tremble
lest some evil had befallen him.  Early upon the second morning,
however, when that good man and faithful supporter of the Covenanters,
Gideon Dickson, the farmer of Windyedge, was leading out his horses as
usual to water, he beheld a horseman coming, but slowly and dejectedly,
up the road.  He at once ran into the house, awakened his distinguished
guests, who speedily dressed and got out of doors, just as the horseman
rode into the yard.

"David Hackstoun! verily, glad am I to behold your face," said Balfour,
advancing to meet him. "We feared, and not without cause, that your
unwise delay had cost you dear."

"It was like to be my end," answered Rathillet, with a faint smile, and
he was so weary that they had to assist him to alight; then he very
cordially greeted Sir Robert Hamilton, with whom he had some slight and
very agreeable acquaintance.

"I had a desperate ride, especially betwixt Stirling and Avondale," he
said, in answer to their inquiries. "There is a price of 10,000 marks
upon my head, and you can readily imagine that there are many greedy
vultures on my track.  But, truly, I think that as yet the direction of
my flight is not known."

"Is there no price upon my head also?" queried Balfour.

"Yes, we are accounted equal prey, but the proclamation is so worded
that the rewards fall to whoever shall lay hands on any one of those who
were present at or took part in Sharp’s assassination," returned
Rathillet.  "But, come, tell me how is it you are abiding in such
apparent ease here?  I thought it would have been unsafe to shelter
under any man’s roof-tree."

"So it is, but this is a very remote place, and difficult of access, and
there are many ways of escape from it," returned Sir Robert Hamilton.
"And our brethren in arms are not far distant."

"Ah well, very gladly will I rest awhile with you, for I am as sore
spent as ever man was," said Hackstoun.  "And never did I expect to
reach this place alive.  The last place I ventured to ask concerning you
was a little moorland shieling, where a woman was dwelling alone.  She
told me her husband was with the army, and that she was making
preparations to retire to her kinsfolk in Hamilton, being in daily
terror of a visit from the dragoons, who had shot her sister not many
weeks ago, when she was returning from a preaching."

At that moment the mistress of the house, a kindly and hospitable dame,
appeared, and bade them come in, as breakfast was prepared on the table.
She looked compassionately at the worn and weather-beaten appearance of
the new comer, and hastened to get him some cool water from the spring,
in which to lave his dusty face and hands.  Very grateful were all these
comforts to the weary fugitive, and, after heartily partaking of the
good dame’s fare, he lay down to snatch a few hours’ much-needed rest.
Later in the day Sir Robert Hamilton and he, after long and earnest
discussion, set themselves to compile a declaration, which it was their
intention to publish on the day of the king’s restoration.  On the 28th
of May, the day before the celebration, eighty men were chosen from
among the ranks of the Covenanters, and with Sir Robert Hamilton at
their head marched westwards to Glasgow.  Andrew Gray and Adam Hepburn
were of the number, and the expedition was much to their liking, but the
minister of Broomhill remained behind with the forces, as did Balfour
and David Hackstoun, for great risk attended their appearance, seeing so
high a price was on their heads. About noon, on the 29th, Sir Robert
Hamilton’s band rode into the burgh of Rutherglen, where a great
semblance of rejoicing was going on over the anniversary of the king’s
restoration.  Many of the people merely took part in the proceedings
through fear of the consequence, if they refused, but when the
Presbyterians rode so boldly into the town, they took heart, and at once
revealed their true principles, by heartily approving and taking part in
their proceedings.  The little company gathered about the ancient cross,
and after burning in the very bonfire which had been kindled in honour
of the king, all the Acts he had issued against the Covenanters, Sir
Robert Hamilton published to all those gathered together, the
declaration which Rathillet and he had drawn up against the Government.
They then proceeded to extinguish the bonfires, and sweep away all
outward tokens of rejoicing with a fearless boldness, which surprised
the trembling burghers of Rutherglen not a little.

They then rode away by the route they had come, but the day now being
far spent, several of them proposed to remain over night in Hamilton,
calculating that next day, being Saturday, they would have ample time to
return to Loudon hill in time for the Conventicle on the Sabbath.  They
were divided, however and the more prudent among them judging that the
troops would speedily follow up to avenge the insult to the king,
elected not to halt until they rejoined the army.  Fifteen of the bolder
spirits held on to Hamilton, and sought quarters there, but at day-break
they were hastily roused, and informed that Claverhouse, with his troop
in pursuit of them, was close upon the town, and was in a great rage,
swearing that not a man of them would escape with his life.

By the time they were accoutred and ready to march, the pursuers had
entered the town, but the fugitives escaped by another road, and so
obtained a little advantage.

In Hamilton Claverhouse learned of the field meeting to be held the
following day at Loudon hill, whereat he chuckled with delight, for the
dispersion of a conventicle was work after his own heart.

Fair, calm, and sweet broke that summer Sabbath morning over the
beautiful vale of Avondale.  The watchers stationed on the hill tops
since daybreak could see no sign of the approaching foe, and it was with
untroubled and reverently thankful hearts that the faithful people came
flocking to hear the preaching of that precious Word, for which all
these dangers and anxieties were cheerfully endured.  It was a strange,
striking, and very pathetic scene, to look upon that gathering of simple
country folk, denied the privilege of hearing the pure Gospel preached
in its simplicity within the walls of their own kirks, reverently
assembled to worship the God of their fathers in a tabernacle of which
men could not rob them, even the green slopes of their dear native
hills.

The inner circle was composed of women and children, and those among the
older men not so well able to defend themselves.  Below that was a ring
of stout country men, armed with halberds, forks, and other weapons,
which they had hitherto used in more peaceable pursuits; while beyond
these again was a band of sturdy, well-armed foot-soldiers, finally
encompassed by a party of horse.  Sir Robert Hamilton, calm, dignified,
and self-possessed, sat erect upon his steed, ready at a moment’s notice
to take command of the little army, while near to him sat David
Hackstoun, his fine face wearing an expression of deep and heavenly
serenity, which told how passing sweet to his soul was this hour of
communing with his God. Side by side, on a rocky ledge, sat Balfour of
Kinloch, and Adam Hepburn of Rowallan, and, I fear me, their hearts were
occupied by far other thoughts than the reverent worship of the God of
the Covenant.  Yet their outward demeanour was decorous enough.  There
were also several ministers present.

After the singing of a psalm David Gray led the devotions of the
assembly, and as his beautiful and appropriate petitions, the deep
breathing of his own pure and reverent soul, fell from his lips, tears
rolled down the faces of many present, and more than one voice fervently
re-echoed his amen.

The reverend Mr. Douglas, who was to preach the sermon, gave out his
text, and had but newly addressed himself to his subject, when a
carabine shot was fired from the hill-top, a warning salute which had
been agreed upon before the service commenced.

They were speedily informed that Claverhouse, with a considerable body
of dragoons, was rapidly approaching.  Without the faintest sign of
confusion, or any exhibition of terror, the little army prepared
themselves for battle.

Sir Robert Hamilton took the command, and was assisted by Balfour and
Rathillet, as also by some other gentlemen of rank, present on the
field.

To their joy they beheld the enemy advancing towards the morass, which
would prove a very considerable barrier in their way.  Had Claverhouse
been familiarly acquainted with the nature of a Scottish morass, or bog,
as the country folk term it, he would without doubt have rather taken a
more circuitous route to avoid it.  The Covenanters stood perfectly
still until the dragoons were well into the moss, then singing the
favourite seventy-sixth psalm, to the familiar strains of "Martyrs,"
they steadfastly advanced to engage the foe in conflict.  Those left
behind prostrated themselves in prayer to the God of Heaven,
supplicating victory for the blue banner of the Covenant, waving in the
light summer breeze, its white letters, "For Christ’s Cause and
Covenant," made resplendent by the brilliance of the summer sun.  The
first volley fired by the Covenanters emptied many a saddle in
Claverhouse’s ranks, and without giving them time to rally, the brave
little band plunged into the morass, and then began a terrible
hand-to-hand conflict, which must ensure either complete victory or
total defeat.

Sir Robert Hamilton kept to his horse, encouraging his men with his
calm, cheerful demeanour, as well as by his steadfast words.  As was to
be expected, Adam Hepburn fought with desperate valour, and caused
Balfour to regard him anew with a peculiar interest.  After a brief, but
terrible struggle, Claverhouse, seeing the field was utterly lost,
hastily retreated with the exhausted remnant of his troops, narrowly
escaping with his own life.

Many dead and wounded lay in the morass, but the Covenanters
miraculously lost only one man, while five were wounded.

With thankful and triumphant hearts they prepared to return to the base
of the hill.

Balfour of Kinloch, finding himself near Adam Hepburn, as they turned to
go, touched his arm and said, in his brief fashion, "What is it in you,
Adam Hepburn, which makes you fight like Lucifer himself? Where did you
get that desperate courage?"

Adam Hepburn stooped to wipe his reeking sword upon the already
blood-stained heather, and after a brief pause made answer, grimly:

"Thirteen years ago, Mr. Balfour, I had a wife, who was to me the very
apple of my eye.  She was my one ewe lamb, all I had upon the earth, and
in my absence they murdered her, shot her down in cold blood upon the
threshold of the home whose light she was.  I came home to find her
dying, and I swore over her dead body that this sword should not be
suffered to return to its sheath until it had sucked the life blood of
as many dragoons as there were years upon her head."

Balfour, though void of any touch of sentiment, stranger as he was to
the finer feelings of human nature, felt himself deeply moved as he
listened to these hoarse, low-spoken words, and saw the terrible gleam
in the flashing eye of Adam Hepburn.  "Ay, how old was she?" he asked,
curtly.

"Eight-and-twenty years had passed over her head; for the fifth part of
that time she had blessed my life," returned Adam Hepburn, drawing his
hand across his brow, which was wet with the sweat of the conflict.
"Yes, eight-and-twenty years!  Seven miscreants did this right arm send
to their account not twelve months after, on the field of Rullion Green.
Other four have I encountered in single combat, surprising them when I
was in hiding in the vale of Inverburn, and always escaping miraculously
with my life."

"And to-day?" queried Balfour, curiously, much struck by his companion’s
words.

"Nine fell before me in the fight this day," said Adam, with fierce
exultation.  "Ay, my good and trusty blade, eight times yet hast thou to
penetrate the breast of the foe, and then, perchance, thy last
resting-place shall be found in the heart of thy poor master himself."

"She must have been a woman above the average, Adam Hepburn, that you
should thus dedicate your life to the shrine of her revenge," said
Balfour, musingly.

"She was--but there, what need is there for me to say more; was she not
my _wife_?" said Adam Hepburn.  Then, as if tired of the conversation,
he abruptly turned away, and fell to the rear of the army.

They now returned to the base of the hill, where they were warmly
welcomed by those who had so anxiously watched the fray from afar,
alternately hoping and fearing, and never ceasing in their prayers.

A devout and reverent thanksgiving service was then held, and those who
had attended the Conventicle afterwards returned to their homes, with
their faith strengthened, and their hearts much encouraged by the
favourable events of the day.



                             *CHAPTER XXI.*

                              *DISUNION.*


A conference of the leaders of the victorious Covenanting army was held
that same day, to decide the next steps to be taken.  Balfour of
Kinloch, and others of his fiery temperament, so strongly advocated an
immediate march to Glasgow that they set aside the more prudent counsels
of their moderate brethren, and accordingly next morning Sir Robert
Hamilton led the army towards Glasgow.  They were joined on the way by
many others, encouraged by the news of the victory at Drumclog, and they
entered the town early in the day.  Claverhouse, however, had already
warned out the garrison, who were ready to receive them, and after a
sharp tussle, in which seven or eight of the Covenanters were killed,
they hastily beat a retreat, and fled to the town of Hamilton, where
they pitched a camp.

The report of their success at Drumclog having already been largely
published abroad, considerable numbers of those who had held aloof from
the struggling handful who had defied the Government against fearful
odds, now came flocking to join them.  The blue standard of the Covenant
was boldly unfurled on the banks of the noble Clyde, and for a time
waved proudly in the summer breeze.

Some of the ministers of the district, who, for the sake of their
families and desolate parishes had accepted the indulgence, feeling
their hearts stirred by the old enthusiasm, rose up with one accord, and
quitting their homes, voluntarily joined their brethren in arms.  These
were accompanied by numbers of their parishioners, who had previously
followed the example of their ministers with regard to the indulgence.
While the less narrow-minded among the Presbyterians rejoiced
unfeignedly at the augmentation of their numbers, and gladly welcomed
these brethren to the camp, there was another party who bitterly
protested against the admission of the renegades, as they termed them,
to the ranks.  Thus the days succeeding Drumclog were spent in useless
wrangling, while the Government was hastily organising the forces
intended to sweep the rebels off the face of the earth.

One evening, a few weeks after the battle of Drumclog, a number of the
officers and other leading men among the Presbyterians, were gathered
together for conference in the house of William Wylie, a well-known
gentleman, and honourable townsman in Hamilton.  Among those present
were Sir Robert Hamilton, John Balfour, David Hackstoun, William
Carmichael, Adam Hepburn, and Andrew Gray of Hartrigge; the last two
mentioned being recognised as leaders among the Covenanters on account
of their faithfulness and undaunted valour, proved on many occasions
since the first rising in Kirkcudbrightshire.

There were also present a goodly number of that protesting party who had
accepted the indulgence, and who were desirous that this struggle should
be based solely upon the questions affecting religious liberty, and
that, therefore, the king’s authority in matters temporal should be
acknowledged.

"I hold," said Sir Robert Hamilton, in his clear and decisive way, "that
the king has forfeited all claim upon our consideration.  I therefore
emphatically declare that he has no right nor interest to be
acknowledged in our councils and actions.  He is at war with the people
of Scotland, whom we represent, and therefore we cannot acknowledge his
authority in any matter whatsoever."

"Then you would that we should utterly and entirely condemn the
indulgence of 1669?" asked Mr. Welch.

"Undoubtedly," replied Sir Robert, without a moment’s hesitation.

"Then by doing so, a slur is cast upon those brethren who have lately
joined us," said Mr. Welch. "Yet they were good and true men, who acted
upon the promptings of their own conscience, deeming it better to accept
the king’s offer than to allow the deplorable desolation to continue in
their parishes."

"Mr. Welch, we are not met together to discuss the indulgence, and those
who partook of its humiliating benefits," said Andrew Gray rising, and
speaking with gloomy energy.  "This is a council of war, and the sooner
we make arrangements whereby our forces can be fairly united, the better
it will be for us in the day of battle, now rapidly approaching."

"But it is incumbent upon us first to publish to the world some
declaration, showing our reasons for continuing in arms," protested Mr.
Welch.  "And I hold that we are bound by the spirit and letter of our
Covenants, as expressed in the third article thereof, to expressly own
the authority of the king."

"It seems to me that we are wasting time in vain talking, sirs," said
David Hackstoun of Rathillet, in his mild, sweet manner.  "The brethren
who are so anxious that we should declare for the king must remember
that we have never yet publicly disowned him, although we have publicly
disowned the edicts issued at his instigation.  Though we may not
approve of a man’s actions, brethren, we do not necessarily altogether
repudiate the man himself."

"Mr. Hackstoun expresses himself very sweetly and kindly," said Mr.
Welch.  "But in these times we must use words and perform actions so
clear that they cannot possibly be misconstrued.  And I make bold to
hold still that it is incumbent upon us, according to the wording of our
solemn league and Covenant, to acknowledge our loyalty to the king in
matters temporal, although we protest against the form of Church
government and public worship he would forcibly thrust upon us."

"To my mind the temporal and spiritual interests of a people are
inseparable one from the other," said Sir Robert Hamilton, and his face
betrayed his weariness of the unprofitable discussion.  "And I make bold
to hold and to move, that the king having set himself in grave
opposition to our Lord Christ, and His Church, and having organised and
carried on fearful persecution against those people of God in his
Scottish dominions, and having further crowned these many grave offences
against his kingly prerogative by publicly declaring war against us, we
cannot declare ourselves in his favour.  Gentlemen, we would be a
world’s wonder were we first to own his supremacy and then to fight in
battle against him."

"With these finely turned phrases Sir Robert Hamilton may satisfy his
own conscience," said Mr. Welch, sourly, "but the arguments he advances,
if held to, will, I prophesy, occasion many divisions in our ranks."

"It seems to me, gentlemen," said Adam Hepburn, jumping to his feet, and
speaking with passionate eagerness, "it seems to me that we resemble a
council of madmen rather than grave and sober folk gathered together to
discuss the issues of war.  With the king’s forces almost within sight
of us, were it not a fitter thing that we should be either practising in
the field or encouraging each other’s hands for the immediate struggle,
rather than sitting yelping at each other over trifles?"

"Well said, Adam Hepburn!" exclaimed Balfour, whose dark countenance had
worn an expression of open disgust and impatience during the discussion.
"I was just marvelling in my own mind how much longer this drivelling
was to continue.  Let us end this idiotic and off-putting discussion,
and go forth as one man to the field; else I warn you that woeful will
be the retribution which will follow upon the heels of our folly."

"Mr. Adam Hepburn and the Laird of Kinloch have expressed themselves
with a force and clearness which must commend their words to the
brethren," said Sir Robert Hamilton.  "I would therefore move that this
discussion be laid aside, and that, burying all differences, which have
somewhat marred the harmony of our relationships one with the other, we
go forth as one man, having only before us the spirit of these brave
words engraven on our standard--’For Christ’s cause and Covenant.’"

"There is wide dissatisfaction in the ranks because of the manner in
which the chief posts in the army are distributed," said Mr. Welch,
persistently. "I would therefore move that all these posts be declared
vacant and new officers harmoniously chosen, in order that when the day
of battle comes we may not be split up by jealousies and divisions."

A dead silence followed upon this suggestion.  It was broken at length
by the tones of Sir Robert Hamilton’s voice, which betrayed some
sharpness and annoyance.

"I, with those present of my mind, am quite willing to agree to Mr.
Welch’s proposal upon condition that the origin and nature of our
disputes and the cause of the changes be fairly and justly stated, in
order that the blame of them may rest upon the heads of those who have
kindled the quarrel."

"It is not meet that all those worthy men who, as was said before, for
conscience’ sake accepted the indulgence should be utterly kept in the
background," said Mr. David Hume, who had not yet spoken.  "I agree with
Mr. Welch."

"By the powers, I will listen to no more drivel about the indulgence!"
cried Sir Robert Hamilton, starting to his feet.  "Gentlemen, I wish you
good day, and an amicable settlement and arrangement of these weighty
affairs.  I will take no further part in such unseemly and unprofitable
discussion."

So saying he stalked out of the place, followed by many of his way of
thinking, so that the indulgence party had it all to themselves.  The
trusty leader, feeling himself unjustly and ungenerously set aside,
retired somewhat sorrowfully with his immediate friends to the camp on
Hamilton Muir.  They heard there that the king’s forces under the Duke
of Monmouth, who had come expressly from London to command the
suppression of the rebellion, were close upon the town of Bothwell.

A warning messenger was at once sent to those who had remained in
council in the house of William Wylie, and, after some discussion, it
was agreed to send a deputation to wait upon the Duke, in order that
their grievances might be laid before him.

Early on the Sabbath morning this deputation, which had been promised
safe and patient hearing, crossed the bridge over the Clyde at Bothwell
and entered the royal camp.  The deputation consisted of Mr. David Hume,
Mr. Welch, and the Laird of Kaitloch, and when they were shown into the
presence of the duke they were much struck by his noble and princely
bearing, and by the mild, benevolent expression on his countenance.

He listened courteously to their supplications, which prayed not only
for freedom to meet both in general assembly and to worship as they
willed in the churches, but also craved indemnity for all who were now
or had been in arms against the king.

The duke gave them courteous hearing, but refused them an answer until
they should lay down their arms and submit to the king’s mercy.

"My Lord Duke," said Mr. Welch, "we cannot give up our liberty so
easily, nor so readily own ourselves in the wrong.  If your Grace would
but give a little heed to the nature of these our supplications, I am
sure your Grace would be speedily convinced of their justice and
moderation."

"It is impossible for me to give you the promise of satisfaction, save
upon the condition that you at once lay down your arms," replied the
duke, calmly. "I am sent hither to stamp out this foolish rebellion, and
while quite willing to give you every chance to submit ere it be too
late, still I cannot delay the performance of the unpleasant but binding
duty imposed upon me by my liege, the king.  Therefore go back to your
friends, and lay my conditions before them. If an answer be not returned
to me within half an hour from now I shall take up the gauntlet of
defiance you have thrown down, and order my battalions to advance."

As the duke spoke, he looked, not without compassion, upon the little
army lying on the moor upon the opposite bank of the river, close to the
bridge, which was the sole barrier betwixt it and the overwhelming
forces of the king.

The deputation thanked the duke, and withdrew with haste to their own
camp, before which they laid his conditions.

The half-hour of grace was speedily frittered away in a renewal of the
bitter and unfruitful debates which had already so weakened their unity,
and these were continuing when the alarm was given that the enemy was
making preparations for immediate battle by planting their cannon on
Bothwell bridge.



                             *CHAPTER XXII*

                           *BOTHWELL BRIDGE.*


The long, yellow rays of the June sunshine fell upon a strange, unwonted
scene that Sabbath morning, on the banks of the flowing Clyde.  Upon the
Bothwell side the king’s forces, to the number of 15,000, were
marshalled in proud and glittering array.  Well might the leaders of the
Covenanters look upon them with sinking heart and foreboding eye, for
their own little army, poorly armed, badly trained, and split up by many
internal divisions, would, in all probability, be swept away as chaff
before the wind.  Their position was their chief, nay, almost their only
strength.  It was assailable only by the narrow bridge, which surely
could be held by the bravest among them long enough to give the enemy a
serious check.  The Covenanters were hastily called to form to resist
the attack, but there seemed a strange coldness, an indifference and
lukewarmness in the ranks which contrasted sharply with the enthusiastic
valour on the day of Drumclog.  A number of those who were least
untainted by the spirit of jealous dissension voluntarily placed
themselves under the leadership of brave Kathillet, and advanced to
defend the bridge.  It was a terrible and heart-breaking sight to see
that dauntless little band, true to the last, marching on to meet the
foe, while the great body of their brethren, with sullen faces and
indifferent mien, hung back and stood about listlessly, as if quite
prepared to see them cut to pieces.

"Is it not enough, Adam Hepburn, to cause a judgment to fall from
Heaven, to see yon white-livered and obstinate crew?" exclaimed Andrew
Gray, as they were advancing to meet the enemy. "We can expect nothing
but defeat to-day.  How can God’s blessing go with us?"

Adam Hepburn answered not, but the more firmly grasped his trusty blade,
and gave a look to his pistols.  It was sufficient for him that
opportunity was again given to measure swords with the foe, and that
to-day he might fulfil his vow to the very letter.

But to Andrew Gray this bitter disunion among the followers of the
Covenant was almost like a death-blow, for never once since he first
cast in his lot with its fortunes had he swerved from his allegiance to
the blue banner, or allowed personal feeling for one moment to interfere
with his adherence to the common cause.  Bigoted, narrow, prejudiced
Presbyterian he might be, but he was at least single-hearted in his love
for the Church of his fathers, and true as steel in his upholding of her
principles and doctrine.

"I know not why, Adam, but the prevision is strong within me that my
hour is come, and that I shall fall this day," he said, in a grave but
calm voice. "If it be so you will convey my last messages to Susan and
the bairns."

"Surely; but why are you filled with such gloomy forebodings to-day?"
asked Adam.  "You and I have fought together before now, and save for
that scratch you got at Rullion Green, have escaped unhurt."

"Yes, because the time was not yet come," responded Hartrigge.  "You
will say to Susan, that in the hour of battle I was not unmindful of
her, and that through these many weary months of separation she and the
bairns have been ever in my thoughts and prayers.  She knows my wishes
about the upbringing of the bairns.  Tell you them that their father
died bravely fighting for Christ’s cause and Covenant, and that he
thought the sacrifice of his life as nothing compared with that sweet
cause for which he gave it."

"Here they come!" exclaimed Adam Hepburn, setting his teeth; then the
order was given to fire upon the advancing foe, already making a bold
effort to cross the bridge.  The volley was fired, but there was no time
to repeat it, for the enemy came pouring across the narrow defile, and
now it was only hand to hand combat, which could keep them back.  Brave
David Hackstoun, supported by Balfour and Adam Hepburn, were in the very
fore front, and many a soldier fell before the dauntless three.  Nor was
Andrew Gray idle.  At the very outset of the fray he received a wound
thrust In the left thigh, but continued to fight, although nearly
fainting with the pain and loss of blood.  It was a fearful sight; the
wildest confusion seemed to prevail on the bridge, which speedily began
to be rendered almost impassable by the bodies of the fallen.  The
snorting and pawing of horses, the clashing of swords, the boom of
cannon, and the sharp report of musketry, the hoarse wild cries of those
maddened with the excitement, mingling with the moans and shrieks of the
wounded and dying, filled the air with a din of sound quite
indescribable.  The clear summer air was obscured by the smoke of the
cannon, and at times those sullenly watching the fray from the moor
could scarcely discern how went the battle, but they _could_ see that
the Clyde ran red with blood.

[Illustration: "The wildest confusion seemed to prevail on the bridge"]

Seeing his brother-in-law engaged with a dragoon, and that he was like
to fall, Adam Hepburn stepped aside, and thrust the trooper through the
heart, just as Hartrigge fell.

"Mortal?" he inquired briefly, bending down over him, thus doubly
risking his own life by a moment’s swerving from his post.

"Yes, to-night I shall sup with my Lord Jesus, and see my son.  Tell his
mother," Andrew Gray gasped; then Adam had to see to himself, for he was
nearly surrounded.  Step by step that brave band was driven from their
post, one by one they fell, until but a remnant remained.  These at last
were finally driven from the last foot of the bridge, and Monmouth
ordered his entire battalion to mount the cannon and pass over.  The
remnant turned to flee, but only those who were on horseback had a
chance to escape. Rathillet and Balfour, seeing all was lost, gave spur
to their steeds and rode rapidly off the field.  Adam Hepburn, with
faithful Watty McBean, who was wounded in the shoulder, fled on foot,
but being pursued by a party of the Duke’s army, were taken prisoners,
with hundreds of their brethren fleeing across Hamilton Muir.  The
soldiery disarmed every man among their prisoners, divested them of half
their clothing, and ordered them to lie flat down on the ground, warning
them that any movement would be followed by instant death.

"I say, Adam Hepburn, whaur will the minister o’ Broomhill be, think
ye?" queried Watty, who was lying beside Adam, and groaning grievously
with the pain of his wound.

"I have not set eyes on him since before we went into action," said
Adam.  "Oh, for a horse, Watty, to get clean off this fatal field!"

"Ye may say it.  I dinna believe this is mysel’," replied Watty.  "I was
aye a peaceable man, an’ to think I should come to this beats a’.  I
maun just ease mysel’ up a wee an’ look roond for the minister."

"Watty, if you do, it will be your death," Adam warned him; but Watty
was not to be repressed, and accordingly raised his head.  No sooner had
he done so, than a bullet came whizzing past his ears, and then another,
which did not miss its mark.  A deep groan escaped Watty’s lips, and he
rolled over on his side.  In a few minutes all was over, and poor Watty
had gone where he would inherit that peace which had been so dear to his
soul on earth.  Adam Hepburn groaned also, in the bitterness of his
soul.  Of all his kindred and friends was he alone left upon the face of
the earth, a desolate outcast, for whom the prison tortures were in
reserve?  With his own hand he had cut down seven troopers on Bothwell
Bridge; only one more well-aimed stroke, and he had been released from
his vow!

Oh, if he had but shot or stabbed the trooper who had disarmed him,
instead of tamely submitting, although his own life would have been
instantly forfeited, it would have but been an end of all his troubles!
But Adam Hepburn had still a desire to live.  Although he had no craven
fear of death the thought of it was not so pleasant as it was to many of
the suffering remnant, whose daily prayer had been that they might be
taken from these weary troubles into the rest prepared for those who
endure for the Master’s sake.

The captain commanding the battalion which made all these captive was
about to give orders for a general slaughter, when an aide-de-camp from
the Duke brought the command that as many prisoners as possible should
be spared alive.  But there was a body of cavalry pursuing the fugitives
who had escaped on foot, and all they overtook were instantly cut down.

The thirst for blood and vengeance being awakened in the breasts of many
of the royal officers and men, the most horrible suggestions were made,
such as that all the country, including the towns in the west, should be
burned, and a general slaughter made of the people; but the Duke of
Monmouth very firmly and indignantly set all these infamous proposals
aside, and gave peremptory orders for the exercise of due mercy towards
the defeated rebels.  He thus showed himself a generous and
noble-hearted man, and gave evidence in his actions that it had been
against his own desire that he had been compelled to suppress the
Covenanters in such a summary fashion.  But he could not altogether
influence those under him, neither could he see everything with his own
eye, and the poor prisoners, at the hands of his subordinate officers,
met with but little mercy.

It was decided that the prisoners be conveyed to Edinburgh.  They were
accordingly tied two and two together, and driven before the soldiery,
who treated them with the greatest barbarity.

Adam Hepburn had for his companion the godly Mr. John Kid, one of the
most devoted sufferers for the cause.

"This is a grievous day for the name and cause of our sweet Lord,
friend," said Mr. Kid, when, after the march was begun, he could get a
word spoken.

"It has been a bloody day, indeed!" answered Adam Hepburn.  "It had been
otherwise had there been fewer vile wranglings in our midst.  Saw you
not how many stood aloof, and left a handful to defend the bridge?"

"Aye, truly my heart was riven by these sad dissensions among the
brethren," said Mr. Kid.  "You were not, then, of that protesting party
which stood back because certain brethren who had accepted the
indulgence were in the ranks?"

"No, truly," replied Adam Hepburn, with a slightly bitter smile.  "It
was all one to me, who or what fought beside me, so long as I got in
grips with the enemy."

"Is it so sweet to you to shed blood, my brother?" inquired Mr. Kid, in
a mild tone of surprise.  But just then a dragoon rode past, and
observing that they talked, gave Mr. Kid a blow across the cheek with
the flag of his sword, which caused the blood to flow from his nostrils
in a copious stream.  Being in bonds, he could not endeavour to staunch
it, and was therefore in a pitiable plight, seeing which the soldier,
with a loud and brutal laugh, bade him hold his blasphemous tongue,
unless he desired another blow to keep it company.

"Oh, that I had my good blade!" exclaimed Adam Hepburn under his breath,
and at the same time flashing a glance of intense hatred after the
trooper.

"Let him be, poor man.  He is like those Jews of old that buffeted our
dear Lord, who compassionately prayed, ’Father, forgive them; they know
not what they do,’" said Mr. Kid, in a quiet voice.  "Shall this poor
worm, professing to be His servant, not strive to follow that sweet
example?"

Adam Hepburn was silent, for what was there in his stormy and rebellious
soul in unison with his companion’s sweet forgiveness and merciful
compassion?

"Know this, friend, that not many days from now I shall be beyond the
reach or power of those who can hurt or kill the body," whispered Mr.
Kid, after a brief interval.  "In a dream my Lord bade me be of good
cheer, for these sufferings should not long continue, but should
presently have an ending in His Paradise.  Oh, to be there even now!
But I would not that my Lord should call me until I have fulfilled my
testimony, and borne whatsoever may be required of me for His cause and
kingdom here."

Adam Hepburn spoke no word, and his companion, thinking him too much
occupied with his own thoughts to be disturbed, presently desisted from
his remarks, but comforted himself on the weary way by repeating in a
low voice many sweet and precious passages of Scripture calculated to
encourage the heart in these present trying circumstances.

Although night fell, the prisoners were not allowed to halt in their
march, but were mercilessly kept on foot and driven before the cavalry
towards Edinburgh.

In the grey dawning of the sweet summer morning they came within sight
of the grey towers and turrets of the city.



                            *CHAPTER XXIII.*

                            *IN CAPTIVITY.*


The prisons in Edinburgh were so full that they could hold no more.
What, then, was to be done with the twelve hundred victims brought from
the slaughter at Bothwell Bridge?

The Government ordered that they should be shut into the churchyard of
the Greyfriars, and there kept unceasing watch over day and night.  So
the old burying-ground, made memorable and sacred by another great
gathering which had assembled within its boundaries forty years before,
was now converted into an open gaol, the horrors of which pen could
never describe.

In the Grass-market there abode still Edward Kilgour, the merchant,
brother-in-law to the late minister of Inverburn.  Although a zealous
and worthy Presbyterian, he had never joined with his brethren in arms,
but had followed the dictates of his conscience and religion more
quietly at home, attending to his business and the affairs of his
household, and had thus escaped molestation.  He was a man now stricken
in years, but was still able to perform the duties of his calling, and
attend personally in his place of business.  His daughter Ailie, now a
middle-aged woman, had remained unmarried for her father’s sake, and
kept his house.

When they heard of the arrival of the prisoners from Bothwell, they were
both much exercised in their minds as to whether any of their Inverburn
kinsfolk should be among them.

"I’ll go up, Ailie," said the old man, "I’ll go up to the kirkyard, and,
if permitted to approach the gates, see whether I can discern any of the
faces of our dear ones among that pitiful throng.  Very sure am I that,
unless your cousins Andrew and David and Adam Hepburn were slain on the
field, they will be there, for they would never turn their backs upon
the foe."

"Do not needlessly expose yourself, father," said his daughter,
anxiously.  "Though you find any of my cousins there, what profit will
it be but only to vex us, seeing we cannot help them?"

"You may be right, but I cannot sit still at home till I learn whether
any of them be there," said the old man, quietly, and, getting his plaid
about his shoulders, went out upon his quest.

Ailie Kilgour busied herself about the house, but as the time passed she
began to grow extremely anxious for her father’s return.  He had been
more than two hours gone, when, to her great relief, she at length heard
his foot on the stair.  When he entered the house she at once saw that
he was greatly troubled, for seldom had she seen him look so grave and
yet so agitated.

"Well, father?" she said, inquiringly.

"Let me sit down, my daughter, for I am exhausted with sorrow over what
I have seen this day.  That the Almighty does not at once interpose in
the might of His omnipotent arm is, to my mind, evidence that the Church
has required all these fearful sufferings to purify her from her
iniquity, and that not yet is she refined enough in the fire to be a
meet vessel for her Master’s glory."

"Tell me what you saw, father," said Ailie, anxiously.

"Saw, lassie!  Ask me rather what I did not see! Hundreds of my
fellow-countrymen penned up among the tombs like beasts, without any of
the comforts which the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air are
allowed to seek for themselves.  And, more, they are at the ribald mercy
of their vile and brutal sentinels, who never cease to taunt them,
asking them what has become of their God, that He does not interpose in
their behalf," said the old man, with heaving chest and flashing eye,
which told how his whole being was stirred.

"Did they allow you to go near the gates?"

"No; I had to stand a good distance away.  No man is allowed to approach
the gates, though I saw some pious and kind-hearted women enduring
patiently the jibes and insults of the soldiers, thankful that they were
allowed to pass some little comforts to the prisoners through the iron
bars.  It seems that they receive no food save what is grudgingly
allowed to be given in this way."

"How terrible!" said Ailie, and her ruddy cheek blanched as the picture
of the wretched state of the captives was thus vividly presented to her
mind. "But tell me, did you see any one you know there?"

"Yes, I saw the face of your cousin, David Gray, the minister of
Broomhill, and he also recognised me. I saw, too, a figure I could swear
belongs to Adam Hepburn, though the face was so changed that I would not
have known it," returned the old man, sorrowfully.

Ailie Kilgour reflected a moment in silence, and then spoke in quiet but
decided tones.

"Since they allow women to carry necessaries to the prisoners, I will go
at once and take some food to my cousins.  I am not afraid of the
insults of the soldiers, for I can bear much, and make no sign."

"My daughter, I knew your kind heart would be moved to do this thing,"
said the old man, gladly. "Make haste, then, Ailie, for if ever hunger
and want set their mark on human faces I saw it to-day on the wretched
countenances of your cousins."

Accordingly, Ailie got some food prepared, and immediately set out for
the Greyfriars.  As was to be expected, there were many people about,
for the unwonted spectacle to be seen in the churchyard drew many to the
place, some out of idle curiosity, others out of sorrow and anxiety,
lest perchance any relative or friend might be among that miserable
throng.  The chief entrance to the churchyard was guarded by
half-a-dozen soldiers, who alternately amused themselves with the
prisoners within and those compassionate people who sought to minister
to them from without.  The captives, gaunt, hungry-eyed, and
eager-looking, were flocking near the entrance, watching with painful
intensity the meagre dole of provisions allowed to be passed within the
bars.

Ailie Kilgour stood a little back, scanning the faces in the hope that
her eyes would presently fall upon that of her cousin, David Gray.  Adam
Hepburn she did not think she could recognise again, having only seen
him on the occasion of his marriage with her cousin Agnes, thirty years
before.  Seeing an old, worn-looking man, with a thin, haggard face, and
flowing white hair, very earnestly regarding her, she looked more
particularly at him, and then gave a violent start, for a look of
undisguised recognition of her was on his face.  Could that old, old
man, with the bent head and tottering frame, be her cousin David, whom
she had last seen in all the pride and glory of his manhood, not ten
years before?  The recognition was so marked, and there was something so
strangely familiar in the glance of the eye, that she felt she could not
be mistaken.  She therefore made a sign to him, and advanced towards the
gate.  Her basket was then rudely snatched from her by a soldier, and
emptied of its contents.  The tastiest morsels he reserved for his own
eating; then, pointing to what lay on the ground, he bade her, with an
oath and a coarse laugh, feed the dogs with the crumbs which fell from
the master’s table.

A sharp retort was on Ailie’s lips, for her temper was easily roused,
but she resolutely forced it back, and, meekly stooping, picked up the
despised articles he had cast down, and passed them through the bars. A
sentinel stood close by her side to see that no word was exchanged
betwixt her and the prisoners, but he could not prevent them exchanging
glances with each other.  The plain loaves which the pampered soldier
had so contemptuously cast aside were greedily devoured by the starving
prisoners.  David Gray distributed a portion among those about him and
retired with the remainder to a tombstone, whereon sat Adam Hepburn, a
picture of utter dejection and despair.  As she walked home, Ailie
Kilgour’s mind was filled with certain plans and thoughts, which as yet
she would not even communicate to her father. She was a shrewd, clever
woman, and a prudent one as well, who never got herself into any trouble
whatsoever through her tongue; therefore she kept all her thoughts that
day to herself.

In the course of the week she went down to Leith, ostensibly to visit a
kinswoman who dwelt in that town.  But instead of directing her steps to
the suburbs, where the maiden lady dwelt, she took her way directly
towards that busier portion of the town which clustered about the
harbour.  Arrived there, she sought out the house of an old school
companion, who had married the captain of a trading vessel, and who
lived on shore during her husband’s voyaging betwixt Denmark and Leith.
This woman, Mrs. Barclay by name, was strongly attached to Ailie
Kilgour, because she had shown her much real kindness in a time of
distress, having herself come from Edinburgh to nurse her through a
serious illness. Mrs. Barclay was unfeignedly glad to see her, and bade
her a warm welcome.  After the usual greetings, the talk turned, as was
natural, upon the grievous condition of affairs, and the woeful
sufferings of the Presbyterians, and especially of those lately taken on
the field of Bothwell.  In the course of their talk, Ailie informed Mrs.
Barclay that her two cousins were among those imprisoned in the
Greyfriars, and then asked when Captain Barclay was expected in port.

"On Sabbath morning, if the wind favour him," responded Mrs. Barclay.
"And he will be at home for a few days before leaving to fill a cargo at
Queensferry for Copenhagen."

"You can guess my interest in enquiring about your husband, Effie," said
Ailie Kilgour, with a slight smile.  "You have often said you wished you
could repay what I did for you.  It is in your power now, not only to
repay me, but to place me for ever in your debt, if you will persuade
your husband to assist my cousins to escape from the country, that is,
if they can by any means get out of their present wretched prison."

"It is a great risk to attempt such a thing, and is accounted a grave
offence," said Mrs. Barclay. "Nevertheless, I will very gladly do my
utmost.  I do not think William will be very difficult to persuade, for
he is a real Covenanter at heart."

"Then if I come down again, say upon the Sabbath night, I will see
Captain Barclay himself, and get his advice," said Ailie.  Then warmly
thanking her friend, she went away home.  That same day she again
prepared a basket of food for the prisoners, and about the sunset
proceeded with it to the Greyfriars. Being now known to the sentinels,
they did not seek much to molest her, and she was allowed to pass the
food through the bars, though one kept guard as formerly, lest any words
should pass betwixt them. As Ailie took one small loaf out of the
basket, she lifted her eyes to her cousin’s face, with a look of such
deep and peculiar meaning, that he at once understood he was to keep it
to himself, there being something of special importance about it.
Having, as was his wont, distributed a portion among a few of his less
favoured fellow-sufferers, David Gray rejoined his brother-in-law, who
occupied his usual position of listless despairing dejection on one of
the tombs.  So utterly impossible was it to arouse for a moment his
extreme apathy, that David Gray sometimes feared lest Adam’s mind had
become unhinged by too long dwelling upon one morbid idea.  Looking
round, to see that none was particularly watching him, David Gray broke
in two halves the loaf to which Ailie had directed his attention, and
found in the inside a small slip of paper, whereon were some written
words, which he immediately perused with feverish eagerness. They ran
thus:--

"There are steps being taken for your flight from the country, in the
vessel of a friend now lying at Leith.  If you can make good your
escape, and come here, we will assist you."

"See, here, Adam Hepburn, say, did ever such a thought occur to you?"
queried David Gray, furtively slipping the paper into his
brother-in-law’s hand.

"Yes, the thought of my escape has never once left my mind since we came
here," said Adam.  "I have gotten the plan matured now, and if you will
join me, I think it could be done."

"I am willing and ready," said the minister, eagerly.  "What is your
plan?"

"I have two, either to boldly scale the wall yonder under cover of the
night, and trust to our speed to make good our escape," said Adam, "or
else by stratagem creep down to the little gate at the north side, where
they consider two guards sufficient. Surely, David, you and I yet could
silence a man apiece."

"Desperation lends a new courage to a man when he is in straits," said
the minister, thoughtfully.  "I would be for trying the north gate in
the darkness, but we will wait till Ailie comes again."

On the Sabbath evening, Ailie Kilgour again journeyed to Leith, and
found Captain Barclay at home.  She also found him sympathetic, and
willing to assist, although quite conscious of the risk he incurred in
aiding and abetting the escape of Government prisoners.  There was one
thing in his favour, however, that he was first to convey a cargo from
Leith to Hamburg, the Queensferry commission being set aside, so that
his passage would be direct from one port to the other.

The harbour and other officials in the employment of the Government were
strictly enjoined to rigorously inspect every outward bound vessel, in
quest of fugitives, but Captain Barclay did not despair of being able to
steal a march upon them in some way or other.  He was a bold man, and
loved a spice of adventure by sea or land, so Ailie Kilgour knew the
matter was safe in his hands.

She was to carry another message to the prisoners next day warning them
to try and make good their escape the following night, as Captain
Barclay expected to be ready to sail at daybreak on Tuesday morning, and
unless they were at hand, could not possibly delay voyaging on their
account.  Late on the Sabbath evening, Ailie Kilgour and her father were
sitting by the kitchen fire, discussing the probability of the
prisoners’ escape, when they heard a great scuffling on the stair, and a
low knocking at the door.

Both started to their feet in alarm, and Ailie, recovering herself
first, at once went and undid the bolts.  What was her unutterable
amazement to behold upon the threshold David Gray and Adam Hepburn!

"Are you pursued?" she asked, in a breathless whisper, and at the same
time holding the door wide open.

"Not here; they have lost the scent, and are following us out the Lanark
road," they responded. "Except God had veritably helped us this night,
by sending down a thick mist when we leaped the wall, we had been both
dead men," added David Gray, reverently; then suddenly, in the painful
intensity of his feelings, he bent his head on his hands and burst into
tears.  Looking upon his emaciated frame, guessing the weakness which
encompassed him, they marvelled not at his lack of self-control.

The old man now came forward, and being assured that they were indeed
there in the body, and not pursued, he bade them, with tears of joy,
welcome to his house.

The night was spent in earnest discussion, as to the next step to be
taken on the morrow.  Adam Hepburn expressed his readiness to go aboard,
since it mattered not what became of him, but David Gray shook his head.

"The Almighty, who covered us this night with the wings of His mist,
must have some other work for me here," he said.  "My soul does not bid
me leave Scotland, and my heart cleaves to mine own kindred, upon whose
faces I have not looked for many weary days.  Therefore I will travel
westward as opportunity offers, knowing that except of my Lord’s will
the enemy shall not again lay hands on me."

On the morrow Ailie Kilgour produced a seaman’s dress, which Captain
Barclay had given her for a disguise to one of the prisoners, and when
Adam Hepburn had shorn off his beard, and attired himself in this garb,
his nearest kindred could not have recognised him.  It was then agreed,
that instead of stealing to the port in the darkness, he should walk
boldly down in the broad light of day, and present himself at the abode
of Captain Barclay, who might then take him on board publicly as one of
his crew.

So Adam Hepburn bade farewell to his friends in the Grass-market, walked
without molestation over to Leith, and was duly taken on board the
_Bittern_. The vessel was rigorously inspected before she sailed, but no
suspicion being attached to the crew, she was allowed to quit the
harbour, and in the dawning of Tuesday morning was out in the open sea.



                            *CHAPTER XXIV.*

                              *DELIVERED.*


As it was by no means safe for David Gray to sojourn with his kinsfolk
in Edinburgh, he was anxious to get away as soon as possible.  Ailie
Kilgour, with a true woman’s ingenuity, had decided upon a plan whereby
he might make the journey by easy stages, and without molestation, to
Inverburn.  Nevertheless, she was somewhat afraid to lay it before her
cousin, lest he might laugh at her for her pains.  After Adam Hepburn’s
departure, her father and cousin were sitting discussing ways and means
by the kitchen fire, when she came in, bearing in her hand an old
linsey-woolsey gown and a faded tartan plaid, which had belonged to her
mother.

"All these plans you speak of are too dangerous to be undertaken, Cousin
David," she said.  "What do you say to disguising yourself as a female
hawker, and thus pursue your journey, not only with safety, but with
profit?"

In spite of the gravity of his position, David Gray burst into a hearty
laugh, such as had not passed his lips for many a day.

"Oh, Cousin Ailie, give me a woman for ingenuity!" he exclaimed.  "But
what would I make of my beard and my white hair?"

"Follow Adam’s example and shave your face smooth and clean," said
Ailie.  "As for your hair, after it is fastened up under a white cap, it
will the better help your disguise."

"Are you in earnest, Ailie, woman?" queried her father, in no little
amusement.

"Father, I am in dead earnest," she said, soberly. "I have everything to
dress him with, and when I run out for needles and cotton, and buttons
and other sundries to plenish his basket with, the disguise will be
complete."

David Gray had for a moment fancied his cousin merely joking, but seeing
she was in earnest, the feasibility and even the wisdom and cleverness
of her suggestion appeared to him quite plainly.

"Cousin Ailie, I believe I will try your plan," he said, suddenly.  "I
will at least put on the disguise and see what manner of a woman I
present."

Much pleased, Ailie ran to the adjoining room for the other articles of
attire, and brought also her father’s shaving things, in order that her
cousin might remove his beard.  She then retired, and after about
half-an-hour they called to her to come and see the disguise.  When she
looked upon the complete and wonderful transformation it had made, she
nearly clapped her hands with delight.  The minister was certainly a
tall woman, but in every other respect he was the exact picture of what
he wished to represent.

Ailie took her little tartan neckerchief from her shoulders, tied it
above the white cap, and then retired back to admire the effect.

"Cousin David, that is just the finishing touch!" she exclaimed, in no
small glee.  "Your appearance would deceive the cleverest person in the
world, I am sure.  You look exactly like an aged dame who has weathered
a good many storms on the road. If you don’t reach Inverburn in safety
in my mother’s old gown, my name isn’t Ailie Kilgour."

"What say you, Uncle Edward?" asked David Gray, turning to the old man.

"Truly, lad, the deception is most wonderful," he replied.  "Of course
it is hardly a fitting thing for a minister of the kirk to tramp the
country in an old wife’s gown, but desperate ills need desperate
remedies.  So I would say, take the lassie’s advice, and God go with
you."

"Well, I will," said David Gray, "for in my own person and garb I am
convinced I should never reach Inverburn alive, nor, indeed, get beyond
the environs of Edinburgh."

"You said the pursuers went by the Lanark road," said Ailie.  "Your plan
will be to go to Stirling, and then across the moors.  I daresay you
will find the way."

"Easily," responded David Gray, cheerfully. "You are a clever,
far-seeing woman, cousin; the thought of such a disguise would never
have entered my head."

"It will be a great joy to me, Cousin David, if I am rewarded by saving
your life," she said, with a smile and a tear, and so the matter was
settled.

All that day David Gray remained in hiding in his uncle’s abode, and
early on the following morning he bade them both a warm farewell, and
set out upon his journey back to his native place.  As Ailie watched the
gaunt, uncouth-looking figure with the basket and the big cotton
umbrella stalking down the street, the very picture of a practised
peddling woman, she scarcely knew whether to laugh or cry.  So a woman’s
ingenuity twice outwitted the sharpness of the Government.

We have been long absent from the vale of Inverburn, yet truly nothing
of note was happening there, only a dreary and despairing waiting for
the dawning of a brighter day, occasionally deepened and intensified by
some deed of violence or brutal pillage executed by the dragoons, who
infested the entire west of Scotland.  Since the fateful day of Bothwell
severities had been increased, greater licence given to the soldiery,
and less mercy extended to the suffering country folk, whether there
were anything against them or not.  Along the entire course of the Clyde
the country presented a most dismal aspect.  In place of smiling
homesteads and rich and fertile fields, there was nothing to be seen but
smouldering ruins and tract upon tract of desolate wastes, which had not
been upturned by the plough for many a year.  The population, though now
sadly thinned, was in a state bordering upon starvation, everything they
had formerly possessed having been stolen from them, and every means of
subsistence removed.  Yet still it seemed as if the words of Scripture
must needs be literally fulfilled, since from him that had not was taken
even that which he had.  Hundreds had no shelter in the wide earth save
that afforded by glens and caves and mountain fastnesses, and even there
they were not safe.

The farm of Hartrigge had not escaped these later desolations, for now
all that remained of that once substantial and even imposing homestead
was one cot-house, which had escaped the flames on account of it being
detached from the main buildings, and having thus been overlooked by the
ruffians, who, after pillaging the entire place, had set it on fire.

In this humble abode dwelt the widow of Andrew Gray, his sister Jane,
and a young lad with his sister, the Sandy and wee Nannie, who had been
so dear to their father’s heart.  Jeanie was now safe with her father
and Gavin in that land where eternal peace abides.  The bairn’s heart
seemed to be weighed down by the things happening around her, and she
just faded away.

Strange as it may seem, the few yet remaining who loved her on earth saw
her depart with gladness, for it had come to that pass in poor stricken
Scotland that he who lay down to die was accounted much more to be
envied than he who was preserved alive.

One beautiful evening towards the end of July, Susan Gray and her
sister-in-law, Jane, were sitting together on the bench outside their
cottage door, with their hands lying idle on their laps, a thing they
would have accounted a sin in the days of the happy past.  But now there
was nothing for hands to do, and life was at times a very weariness.
These troublous years had wrought a woeful change upon both those women,
and had aged them long before their time.  Also upon the face of Susan
Gray there appeared at times a vague, wandering kind of expression,
which seemed to indicate a weakness of the mind, and verily it was not
greatly to be wondered at that the nerves of women-folk should be unable
to bear the awful strain upon them.

They were not conversing together, for such sorrows as theirs will not
bear to be spoken of by the lips; there was a hopeless, purposeless look
about them, which was painful in the contrast it presented to their
busy, cheerful energy of long ago.

"See Jane!" said Susan Gray, presently.  "Is not that a figure on the
road?  Is it Sandy or the bairn Nannie?  They should be on their way
home from the village now."

"No; it is a taller figure than either of the bairns," replied Jane.
"It is a woman, and she has a basket on her arm."

"Is she like a gangerel [tramp], Jane?  She need hardly come here
seeking now," said Susan, listlessly.

"Yes, she looks like that.  There are not many of her kind on the roads
now," said Jane.  Then they relapsed into silence, and so sat until the
woman with the basket appeared on the path in front of the cottage door.
Susan Gray only gave her a careless look, and then went into the
cottage, leaving Jane to deal with her.

"My woman, ye need hardly have come this length with your basket," said
Jane Gray, kindly, and looking compassionately at the evidences of
fatigue on her face.  "The wherewithal is much lacking here now.  But
sit down on the bench here and rest a while, till I bring you a piece of
bread, which, thanks be to God, we can still offer to those in greater
need than ourselves."

So saying, she pointed to the bench, and retired into the house.  The
woman set down her basket, and dropping on the seat, covered her face
with her hands, and uttered a low but passionate prayer of thankfulness.
In this attitude Jane Gray found her when she again stepped out of
doors.  She laid her hand on the bent shoulders, and said kindly, "You
seem quite overcome.  Have you travelled many miles this day?"

Slowly the stranger’s head was raised, and a pair of eyes fixed
themselves on the kind, womanly face with a glance which stirred her
very soul; and, without knowing why, she began to tremble from head to
foot.

"Sister Jane, do you not know me?" said the voice of one she had mourned
as dead.  "Then indeed my disguise is as complete as Ailie Kilgour
assured me.  I am your brother David!"

Jane Gray uttered a low cry, which brought Susan hurrying out to the
door.  The moment, however, that her eyes rested keenly and sharply on
the stranger’s face, they penetrated the disguise, and she exclaimed--

"David Gray, as I am a living woman!"

"Even so; thus far the Almighty has brought me through many perils to my
native parish," said the minister of Broomhill, fervently.

Jane, having now recovered her first shock of surprise, embraced her
brother with great joy, the tears chasing each other down her cheeks in
her emotion. So the name of Gray was not entirely swept off the face of
the earth, as they had bitterly imagined, and there was hope for the old
house yet.  They hastened to take him in, and set refreshment before
him, after partaking of which he related to them all that which had
befallen him and his brethren since they had last met.

Greatly rejoiced were they to learn of Adam Hepburn’s escape, but they
shed many tears over their hardships in the prison yard at Edinburgh.
As David in low and earnest tones delivered his brother’s last message
to his widow, the tears flowed from her eyes, but in a gentle rain which
brought healing with it.  It was for these precious words her widowed
heart had long and sorely hungered.  It was decided that so long as it
was considered safe, he should abide under his disguise with them,
though a few trusty brethren in hiding in the district would be duly
informed of his safety.

So a little sunshine penetrated the dark cloud, and shed a measure of
brightness on the hearth of the poor little cottage at Hartrigge.



                             *CHAPTER XXV.*

                              *AIRSMOSS.*


Poor Watty McBean’s hole in the Witches’ Cleugh had indeed been of great
benefit to many fugitives, and it had never been empty since the fleeing
after the slaughter at Bothwell.  During the next day the minister of
Broomhill repaired in his disguise to that safe hiding, in order to see
the brethren there, and so commune with them regarding their present
state, and the future fate or welfare of them and such as them. As he
pursued his way leisurely along the sequestered and lonely paths which
led to the cleugh, he mused much on the wonderful way in which the Lord
had led him hitherto.  He also marvelled within himself that he had been
so long spared, and in his heart there was a petition that he might be
made willing and glad to continue his suffering and weary way through
life, until the Lord should see fit to call him to Himself. These
profitable and godly communings were interrupted somewhat summarily by
the abrupt appearance of two dragoons, who came rapidly riding up from
the direction of the cleugh, and who immediately drew rein at the sight
of the woman, as they imagined the wayfarer to be.

"Hulloa, mistress! do you know anything of that confounded lair where so
many Whigs sleep in safety?" queried one, fixing his piercing eye on the
face of David Gray.

"Truly the Whigs have had many hiding places in this district," he
answered, mildly.  "To what one do you specially refer?"

"Faith, I hardly know; it is somewhere about these hills or in the
valley between," said the dragoon, pointing backward to the cleugh.  "We
are creditably informed that several very noted rebels were concealed
there, and me and my mate swore an oath that we should find the place,
which has baffled the king’s soldiers so long.  We have made a thorough
search, but can find no clue."

"I never heard of any place of concealment among those hills," said
David Gray.  "Those who are so eager to inform sometimes overreach
themselves, and----"

"Leave the hag in peace, Munro!" interrupted the younger man,
impatiently.  "I believe she is right enough, and we were told lies to
beguile us.  I for one will get away out of this confounded district
with what speed I can.  My horse is dead lame, see, stumbling through
that accursed ravine."

Marvelling much at the very easy manner in which he had escaped
questioning, David Gray watched the two ride away, but did not then
pursue his way to the cleugh, lest he should unwittingly betray his
brethren. But his soul, long separated from such as had suffered like
persecutions with him, was yearning for the sweet fellowship of
brotherly counsel, both for the strengthening of his own hands and
heart, and also to learn, if possible, whether any of the more noted
saints were still alive.  He felt himself deeply and peculiarly blessed
in the communion he was privileged to obtain with that poor remnant of
his kinsfolk still dwelling in the parish of Inverburn, and during the
evening of that day the women and the young folk at Hartrigge were much
edified with his conversation and with his exposition of the Word.  It
was long, indeed, since such a joy had been vouchsafed to them.  Owing
to the somewhat limited accommodation of the humble dwelling which now
sheltered the Grays, the lad, Sandy, went down to Inverburn to sleep in
the house of an old woman, who gladly gave him shelter for his father’s
sake.  Nannie, with her aunts, abode in the kitchen, and the best end
was given up to the minister.  They retired early to rest, and in spite
of the troubles and anxieties which encompassed them, very soon all
beneath the roof-tree of the cottage were asleep.  The atmosphere had
been dull and heavy all day, and the night was dark and starless; the
low-hanging, sullen presaging rain, of which the parched earth stood in
sore need.  About midnight Susan Gray, who slept lightly, was awakened
by a sound she had heard so often during these past weary years, that
she could not mistake it now.  It was the tramp of hoofs, and in a
moment a wild fear that even already the minister was betrayed took
possession of her soul.  Hastily awaking Jane, both strang up, threw on
their outer garments, and stealing over to the casement, which was a
little ajar to admit the fresh air, they peered fearfully out.  The
night was utterly, intensely dark, and they could see nothing, but they
could hear now both the trampling and the snorting of horses, and also
at a little distance the low, eager voices of men. Through the still,
soundless air their strained ears caught these words:--

"He shall not escape us this time, I swear! Egad! it was a clever
disguise!--a wench’s idea, without doubt.  To think that old hag we met
peddling her wares in Walston was that veritable heretic David Gray, and
we knew it not!  It is enough to make a man ashamed of himself!"

Swiftly and silently Jane Gray stole across the narrow passage to the
inner room, and awakened her brother, who was enjoying a very sound and
refreshing repose.  By the time she had made him aware of the danger at
hand, the troop had quite surrounded the house, and a great noise broke
the stillness of the summer night.

David Gray sprang from his bed to the floor, thinking his hour was come.
And yet, was it but to be slain in cold blood like this that the Lord
had let him get clear away both from the slaughter at Bothwell and the
wearisome captivity of the Greyfriars?

In that moment of agonising suspense and apprehension, when he was
striving to prepare for death, even with a soul yearning for life, his
eye, as if guided by some unseen power, fell upon the wide,
old-fashioned chimney, and in a moment his resolution was taken.  Even
when the foot of the enemy was on the very threshold of the outer door,
the fugitive wrapped a plaid about his white night-clothes, and,
committing himself to the God who had so often delivered him, he hastily
scrambled up the chimney and out on to the roof.  Jane Gray did not see
him perform this extraordinary action, she having gone to accost, and,
if possible, conciliate and delay, the officer at the outer door.

Without hesitating a moment, knowing he would speedily be observed on
the roof, David Gray lay himself flat down, and, sliding down to the
eaves, dropped to the ground in front of a mounted dragoon.  The
apparition in waving white garments terrified the horse, and caused him
to rear and plunge wildly, so that his rider was almost unseated.  In
the momentary confusion that ensued the fugitive took to his heels, and
in a brief space was out of sight and beyond pursuit.  Meanwhile, quite
unconscious of this miraculous escape, Jane Gray was endeavouring to
parley with the officer at the door.

"Sorry to disturb your repose, sweet mistress," he said.  "If you will
but deliver up that renegade, David Gray, who is sheltering here, we
will go away and leave you in peace."

"David Gray!" ejaculated Jane Gray, faintly; "what men-folk have we
under this roof-tree, sir? The only stranger here is a relative, who has
travelled a great distance on foot to sojourn awhile with us, if that be
a fault in your eyes."

"Does the stranger wear a linsey-woolsey gown, a tartan plaid, and a
white cap, and peddle ribbons and laces to the country lasses, eh?"
queried the captain, with grim humour.  "To show you that we do not
doubt your word, bring out the old lady, so that we may pay our respects
to her.  Methinks we have met before."

At her wits’ end, Jane Gray turned about and went into the room, which,
to her astonishment, seemed to be empty.  The captain followed her, and,
not finding the fugitive there, strode into the kitchen.  Susan Gray and
Nannie were there, and it needed but one glance at their faces to tell
him that neither was the person he sought.

"Your kinswoman has hidden herself, I perceive," he said, grimly.  "You
had better bid her come forth, or I will give orders to set the place on
fire.  I have no time to dally here; it is time all honest folk were in
bed."

"We are guiltless of hiding him you seek, sir," said Jane Gray, no
longer attempting to deny that her brother had been sheltering with
them.  "And, truly, where in this small abode could he hide?  It is a
mystery to me where he has gone, unless, indeed, the Lord hath
miraculously aided his escape."

At that moment one of the dragoons came hurrying in to say that the
prisoner had without doubt made his escape from the roof, and was
already beyond pursuit.  Then the captain fell into a great rage, and
cursed and swore in a manner which made the women-folk tremble.  And
truly it was a sore disappointment to the man to have had so valuable
and notable a Covenanter within his very reach, and yet to be baulked so
simply.  In his fury he was like to have taken the lives of the
fugitive’s kinswomen, but was persuaded by a more merciful subordinate
to let them be in peace.  Nevertheless, he caused lighted brands to be
held to the thatched roof of the cottage, and, being dry as tinder, it
immediately took fire.

In a short space of time the darkness of the night was illumined by the
flames of the burning cottage, and the three defenceless women, now
rendered indeed utterly homeless, hastily gathered such small but
valuable things as they could carry, and, withdrawing themselves a
little, watched the rapid destruction of the only shelter they could
call their own on the face of the earth.  Yet they could not feel
utterly cast down, since God had so marvellously delivered the dear
fugitive out of the hands of the pursuer once more.  The captain and his
troop immediately rode away down to the village, to inflict themselves
on such of the inhabitants as could yet give them bite and sup and
shelter for the night. Meanwhile David Gray fled, under the grateful
cover of the darkness, by the familiar field-paths to poor Watty’s
famous hiding, where he knew he should find both shelter and comforting
welcome from his brethren.  His long residence in the cleugh had made
him so familiar with it, that even in the darkness he had no difficulty
whatever in finding the thicket which hid the cave.  And yet he had to
creep slowly and with caution, for the nettles and brambles and
brushwood proved very formidable to his uncovered limbs, and his feet
were already bleeding from coming into contact with the stones as he
made his rapid flight from the cottage.  As he came up nearly to the
mouth of the cave, he gave a long, low whistle, which Jane had told him
was a signal understood by those in hiding. In a few minutes it was
answered by a similar sound, and the brushwood was carefully swept aside
from the mouth of the cave, and he saw the figure of a man.

"Who comes?" a voice said, in an anxious whisper.

"A brother in sore straits, whom the Lord, of His good pleasure, hath
this night marvellously delivered," answered David Gray, and at that the
man standing at the mouth of the cave stretched out his hand and drew
the new-comer into the dimly-lighted recess beyond.  In this place there
were no fewer than seven persons, both old, young, and middle-aged,
whose faces were thin and worn, as if they had suffered much privation.
They looked with no little astonishment upon the strangely-attired
figure which appeared so suddenly in their midst, and one, an elderly
man, of very grave and reverent aspect, after looking intently on his
face, jumped up and grasped him by the hand.

"David Gray, an I mistake not, whom I last saw in grips with the enemy
at Bothwell Brig!" he exclaimed.

"And whom the Lord hath marvellously preserved from that woeful day to
this," supplemented David Gray.  "Little did I think last time we met,
Mr. Donald Cargill, that we should look upon each other’s faces again,
and in this place of all places."

"Verily, strange are the vicissitudes of the scattered remnant of the
Lord’s Zion," said Mr. Cargill.  "I have been obliged to keep in hiding
these few days, being sore pursued by a troop of dragoons for preaching
at Lanark and at various other places in Clydesdale; but come, tell us
what hath befallen thee of late, and by what means thou art come hither
in this strange attire."

Nothing loth, David Gray entered upon the recital of his exciting
experiences during the last two months, and when he had finished, Mr.
Cargill had his story to tell, and in this pathetic and mournfully
interesting talk the night speedily wore away.  Although Mr. Cargill had
been obliged to flee for his life to the shelter of the cleugh, it was
impossible for one of his ardent and restless spirit to remain long
inactive.  As soon as they heard from a trusty reporter, who carried
them both provisions and news from Inverburn, that the hot pursuit was
slackened in the neighbourhood, he announced his intention of going
forth once more to the preaching of the Word.

Fired by the eloquence and zeal of the old man, and feeling himself much
persuaded to testify in public once more, David Gray petitioned that he
might be allowed to go forth in company with him.  So the twain quitted
their hiding, and travelled eastwards towards Edinburgh, preaching as
they went, and meeting with many perils, out of which they had many
marvellous deliverances, which would occupy too long a space to recount.
In the spring of 1680, new life was infused into the scattered and
sometimes fainting remnant, by the return to Scotland of that eloquent
preacher and godly man, Richard Cameron, who had been persuaded to
retire to Holland for a time previous to the Battle of Bothwell.

In his exile his heart had never ceased to yearn over his suffering
native land, and the desire to cast in his lot with his persecuted
brethren became so strong at length, that it could not be set aside.  It
was with great joy that the few earnest souls still left welcomed him
back to their midst, and Donald Cargill and David Gray immediately
joined themselves to him, and the three went about continually preaching
and exhorting the people to hold fast to their faith, for the cause for
which they suffered was just and righteous, and must in the end prevail.

It was not long ere these faithful and undaunted men became specially
observed of those in high places, and they were vigorously and
relentlessly pursued from place to place, but managed to elude the
vigilance of those following so continuously in their track. Among
Cameron’s most close and faithful adherents was brave Hackstoun of
Rathillet, who, since Bothwell, had been a wanderer on the face of the
earth, having given up all for Christ’s sake.

One summer’s day a small party of horsemen rode into the little town of
Sanquhar, and startled the good folk both by their wayworn and haggard
appearance and by their proceedings.

They drew rein at the market cross, and Richard Cameron, their leader,
dismounted and slowly read a declaration denying the right of Charles to
the throne of Scotland, stigmatising him as a tyrant and perjurer, and
solemnly declaring war against him for all time coming.

That done, they rode away as rapidly and mysteriously as they had come,
and did not halt till they reached a lonely spot among the hills, where
they ventured to rest awhile.

"After what we have done this day," said Mr. Cameron, wiping the
midsummer heat from his brow, "I fear it will no longer be safe for us
to continue together; and besides, I cannot but think that were we to
separate away in different directions we could the better break the
bread of life to our starving brethren. What say you, Mr. Cargill?  Were
it not better that each man of us should go his own way, preaching and
exhorting wherever the Lord giveth time and opportunity?"

"Truly, brother, your suggestion savours of wisdom and prudence," said
Mr. Cargill, with approval.  "But ere we separate we had better agree as
to a time when we can again meet together to compare our experiences and
strengthen each other’s hands for renewed conflict."

"I fear me, brethren, that the end is nigh at hand for more than one of
us," said the sweet voice of David Hackstoun.  "I, at least, have been
visited of late with very precious presentiments of a speedy release
from these troubles.  Therefore I would say it matters little whether we
be together or separate, seeing that, save it be the Lord’s time, no
evil can befall us."

"Strange that Mr. Hackstoun’s presentiments should have visited me
likewise," said Richard Cameron.  "I am convinced that my race is nearly
run; therefore, during what little space is still vouchsafed to me on
this earth, I would continue my Lord’s work with renewed vigilance, lest
when He cometh He should find his unworthy servant asleep."

"As regards Mr. Cargill’s proposal that we should make an agreement to
meet, I fear that would be useless," said David Gray.  "I think we
should but wish each other God speed, and leave our future meeting in
God’s hands.  Doubtless, if it be His good pleasure, He will bring us
together again in due season, if not here, in His own kingdom, whither
we are all hastening with more or less speed."

This latter suggestion was approved, and, after holding a solemn
farewell service together, they parted, not knowing whether they should
look upon each other’s faces again.  Mr. Cameron travelled westward to
New Monkland, preaching boldly as he went, to the no little comfort of
the few to whom the pure Word was yet precious.  Hackstoun and David
Gray, with a few others, kept together in the south; but hearing, not
many days after, that a heavy price was set on Cameron’s head, and that
he was being vigilantly pursued, they conferred together and decided to
retire to the west and band themselves about him, so that, in the event
of the enemy falling upon him, there might be some to defend him and
render him deliverance out of their hands.  Accordingly, a guard under
Rathillet travelled across the familiar, and now sacred, ground in the
south-western district, and came up with Cameron in Avondale, near the
memorable field of Drumclog.  To their joy, they found Mr. Cargill with
him, and on the Sabbath day a solemn service was held, in which all the
ministers took part.  Mr. Cameron preached the sermon from the words,
"Be still, and know that I am God," and as the eloquent and stirring
words fell from his lips, it was noted that his countenance seemed
lighted with a radiance not of earth.  After the service Mr. Cargill
went his way farther west, after agreeing that he should meet Cameron
and the rest at Dermeid Muir on the following Sabbath day.  During the
next few days Cameron’s conversation was that of a man who was not long
for this world, and he never ceased to exhort those with him to continue
steadfast yet a while, for Scotland’s deliverance was at hand.  He
prophesied that the reign of bloodshed and terror would speedily be
over, and that the Lord’s Zion would ere long be rebuilt upon the ruins
of her past and present desolation.  On the Wednesday of that week he
was sojourning in the house of a godly man at Meadowhead, on the Water
of Ayr, and to him and the folk with him in the house he expressed his
conviction that the Lord would, in a few hours’ time, require him to
seal his testimony with his blood. Hearing some report of a troop under
Bruce of Earlshall making vigilant search for him and his party, Cameron
and his friends agreed to retire to the wild moorland which stretched
for many miles between Cumnock and Muirkirk.  It was a vast and dreary
wilderness, covered with heather and bracken, unrelieved by a green tree
or a nodding floweret even in the midsummer time, when all Nature was
rejoicing in her wealth and beauty.  Towards the east end of this moor
Cameron and his friends, being sore fatigued with a long march in the
burning heat of the day, lay themselves down awhile to rest.  In this
solitude they were surprised by the enemy--a large number of soldiers
under Earlshall--who came sweeping across the moor with a fury and speed
which made it quite impossible for the faithful little band to escape.
There was nothing for it but to fight, which the brave remnant
immediately decided to do, and quietly but resolutely looked to their
arms, and set themselves in order for the fray.  It was a pitiable sight
upon which the summer sun beat that July afternoon--that handful of
God’s people dauntlessly facing a goodly regiment of dragoons, all fresh
and eager for the fight.  Ere the enemy was quite upon them, Cameron led
the devotions of his brethren, and in his prayer said, with great
fervour, "Lord, spare the green and take the ripe."

Then they exchanged a hand clasp and a solemn farewell, pledging each
other to meet in glory.

It was a desperate fight.

The Covenanters fought with conspicuous gallantry, and, even after brave
Cameron fell, they continued the conflict over his dead body.

Seeing that there was no hope of victory, and that Rathillet and some
others were already taken captive, David Gray, in a last extremity,
leaped upon the back of a horse whose rider had been slain, and, rapidly
galloping off the field, made his escape.  Only one or two others were
equally fortunate, and so once again the Covenanters were swept away
before the oppressors like chaff on a windy day.

Richard Cameron’s remains were carried to Edinburgh, and his head was
fixed on the Netherbow port, where it was left to moulder and blacken in
the sun. Rathillet, after the usual mockery of a trial, was subjected to
terrible and searching tortures, which he bore with a firmness which
astonished those who had seen evidence of his sweet yielding nature.
His troubles were finally ended on the scaffold, and he went to receive
his exceeding great reward.  Thus it seemed as if this most precious
blood of the Covenant, yea, every drop of it, must be spilled upon the
ground, ere the hour of Scotland’s deliverance had come.

By slow degrees, and through many strange perils, David Gray wandered
wearily back to his native parish.  There were times when the weight of
his many sorrows was like to overwhelm him, and when he could have cried
out for the inheritance in heaven, to which so many of his brethren had
already been admitted.

Lurking in the wild solitudes of the mountains, depending for his
sustenance upon a few ears of corn, or some of the wild fruits of the
earth, it was little wonder if at times his soul fainted within him, and
he felt impelled to question the wherefore of these tribulations.  In
his weakness he was also frequently tempted fiercely by Satan to abjure
the cause for which he suffered, and to purchase life and immunity from
persecution at the Government price.  But by God’s grace he was enabled
to pass unscathed through these fiery trials, and when at last he crept,
a worn and wasted shadow, up his native vale, and sought the shelter of
the witches’ cleugh, his heart was once more at rest, and abiding
steadfastly on the Lord Christ. There were yet some fugitives in Watty’s
hiding-place, and out of her undying love for the cause, Jane Gray
still, when opportunity offered, and when she possessed the wherewithal,
stole thither with some relief. Great was her astonishment and joy to
behold there her brother David, whom they had of late quite given up as
dead.  The sight of a familiar and loved face restored anew David Gray’s
courage and confidence, and he prayed earnestly to be forgiven his
temptations to backsliding, with which he had been so sore beset in his
desolation.

In spite of the increased vigilance of the oppressors, meetings were
still held on the hill-sides and in sheltered nooks, for there yet
remained some who would do and dare anything to hear the faithful
preaching of the Word.

Very often David Gray led these services, and at last it got noised
abroad that he was at large in the district of Inverburn, which, coming
to Claverhouse’s ears, made him swear a great oath that he should have
his head.  But although on several separate occasions he had him almost
in his clutches, the Lord interposed, and in many marvellous ways
vouchsafed deliverance to His faithful servant.  About that time it
became almost an impossibility to hold a conventicle, for it was certain
to become a massacre, so largely were the country districts infested
with dragoons, yet there was indeed very little of the old leaven of the
Covenant now left in the flesh, for the new generation which had arisen
since the first glorious upstanding for the cause was lukewarm and
indifferent, and too much taken up with the things of the world to
concern themselves much with religious matters.

Within two years after Bothwell a great grief fell upon the few yet
remaining faithful to the old cause.

When James II. ascended the throne, after the death of Charles, he
published an Act of Toleration, on the conditions of which many
persecuted wanderers were induced to return to their homes, and even
some ministers to their parishes.  It was as deep a snare in its way as
the indulgence of Charles had been, its ultimate object being to
establish Papacy in Scotland.  Into this net many fell, and it indeed
seemed as if the martyrdom of the saints were to have no good harvest in
the land.  But it being now the darkest hour, the dawning was at hand.

Grown somewhat weary of life in their native land, and being sore
exercised and perplexed by the condition of religious affairs therein,
David Gray, with some others, made it a matter of prayerful
consideration whether they should not retire to the Continent for a
space, and labour for the Master there.  The conventicles, which could
only now be held at long intervals, and under strict secrecy, were
thinly attended, and not productive of any wide-spreading good, also the
end of the struggle seemed at hand, in the utter extermination of the
scattered remnant still faithful to the old doctrines and principles, so
that it indeed appeared as if there were no more work left for them to
do in Scotland.

After due deliberation, therefore, David Gray resolved to escape out of
the country.  Attiring himself in his former disguise, with which his
sister Jane provided him, he travelled on foot without molestation to
Newcastle-on-Tyne, where, after some little delay, he obtained shipment
in a trading vessel to Rotterdam, and there we lose sight of him for a
while.



                             *CHAPTER XXVI*

                                *REST.*


The golden radiance of a summer sunset lay upon the vale of Inverburn.
The year was in its prime, and everywhere the wealth of her beauty was
scattered with no stinted hand.  The harvest was ripe for the sickle in
the fertile lowlands, and even on the bleaker uplands there was a lovely
yellow tinge on the standing corn, which promised an early reaping.
Yes, there were peace and plenty in the smiling land once more, for the
long reign of bloodshed and terror was over, the house of Stuart had
fallen to rise no more, buried in the ruins of its own iniquity, and a
wise, just and upright ruler now wielded the sceptre on the throne of
England.

There were not altogether lacking evidences of the dark days which had
been.  Here and there, on some sunny slope or in some sheltered valley,
a black and mouldering ruin indicated where the spoiler had waved his
destroying brand, and there yet remained many a broad acre left
untilled, because those whose inheritance it was had been destroyed,
root and branch, old and young, until not a living representative was
left.

But in the main, Scotland had returned to her old-time peace and
prosperity; again the voice of the husbandman was heard in the fields,
again the women folk went about their daily tasks without fear or
trembling, and last, and best of all, the kirks were open on the Sabbath
Day once more, for the free and pure worship of the Most High.

The village of Inverburn that summer evening presented much the same
appearance as it did when first we made acquaintance with it.  The
pleasant voices of the children at their play filled the summer air, on
the cottage doorsteps or in the trellised porches the women sat at their
knitting or spinning, while the broad benches in the doorway of the
hostelry had each their complement of sturdy yeomen discussing, over
their foaming tankards, the events of the day or the graver memories of
the past.  About the hour of sundown there was observed, coming slowly
along the wide and pleasant road from Lanark, two pedestrians, for whose
coming the villagers waited with that keen curiosity so characteristic
of country folk.  They walked very slowly, as I said, and though one
appeared to be of tall and erect figure, the other was much bent, and
walked leaning heavily on his companion’s arm. Just as they entered upon
the village street, and speculation began to run higher regarding them,
the attention of the idlers was distracted for a little space by the
clatter of hoofs in the opposite direction, and presently a horse and
rider came rapidly down the slope and drew rein in front of the inn.
The horseman was a young man of goodly stature and fine appearance, with
a boyish, open countenance, and a winning, fearless eye.

"Guid e’en, Sandy Gray!" cried one or two with familiarity which was
pardonable, seeing they had known the lad from his infancy, and some of
them his godly forbears before him.

"Guid e’en!" he answered back frankly.  "Here, Willie, my man," he added
to a curly-headed urchin playing on the step, "run in and tell your
mother I want to see her about ale for the reapers."

"Ay, man, is the hairst [harvest] ready on Hartrigge?" queried one of
the older men.  "Mony a day I bound a stent [sheaf] behind your faither
on the rigs o’ Hartrigge."

"Ay, Robin, ye’d better come up and bind a stent after me, then, just
for auld lang syne," said the young man and a slight shade crossed his
sunny face.

At that moment the two pedestrians came directly opposite the inn door
and there stopped.  Sandy Gray wheeled round his horse, and regarded
them with a curiosity almost as great as that exhibited by his
neighbours.  Their attire was such as these simple villagers had never
before seen, being distinctly foreign in its fashion, a thing sufficient
in itself to invest the strangers with extraordinary interest.  Sandy
Gray courteously saluted them, and then one spoke, and it seemed to the
young man that the first word awakened some chord in his heart which had
long been asleep.

"Pray, can you tell me, young sir, if there be any of the name of Gray
still to the fore in this parish?"

The young man gave a violent start, and a wild hope sprang up in his
heart.

"Yes, I am a Gray; I am Alexander Gray of Hartrigge, son of that Andrew
Gray who fell at Bothwell, and whose forbears were so long ministers of
this parish," he said, with trembling eagerness. "And you! you!  I am
not mistaken now that I see your faces.  I remember you quite
well--Uncle David and Uncle Adam, thank God!"

"Can it be possible that I look upon the face of my brother’s son?  Now
the Lord be praised!" exclaimed the more aged and infirm of the two,
and, advancing, he held out two trembling hands to his nephew, which the
young man, alighting from his horse, warmly grasped, while the tears
rained down his cheeks.  Then he turned to Adam Hepburn, whose face
betrayed his deep satisfaction, though his joy did not find such ready
expression.

The villagers, who had watched this scene with consuming interest, now
rose with one accord, and with a cheer came flocking about the returned
wanderers, for those who had not been personally acquainted with these
two sufferers knew their names as household words.

"And now tell me, lad," said the aged minister, when he could free
himself from these friendly welcomes and again speak with his nephew,
"you spoke of Hartrigge.  Can it be that I have returned to find a Gray
in Hartrigge still?"

"Yes, yes; I live there, Uncle David; and my mother and dear Aunt Jane
also are in the place," he answered, and the minister did not notice
that he did not say they dwelt in the house.  "Nannie is married now,
and, Uncle Adam, she is living at Rowallan, of which her husband, Walter
Fleming, is the farmer."

"And there is an Agnes Gray at Rowallan as well as a Gray in Hartrigge!"
said the minister.  "You hear that, Adam? the old stock is not dead yet,
but has developed once more into a goodly tree, for which, O my God, I
thank Thee."

"An Agnes Gray at Rowallan yet, did you say?" asked Adam Hepburn,
dreamily.  "But there was no Rowallan when I left, only the blackened
ruins of the homestead.  What changes are these?"

"The old laird is dead, and that dear, blessed saint, Lady Hamilton, has
rebuilt Hartrigge and Rowallan and would not let a foot but ours upon
their thresholds," said the young man.  "But come; we cannot stand here
all night.  Come away home.  Oh, what a night this will be beneath the
roof-tree of Hartrigge!  Here, Uncle David, get on Jess’s back, and
Uncle Adam and I will walk beside you, and so we will soon be home."

The minister accordingly gladly mounted the animal, and Sandy took the
bridle rein over his arm, and the little party moved off up the manse
brae, followed by the cheers of the delighted villagers.

As they passed the manse and the kirk they involuntarily stood still,
and the minister took his hat from his waving white locks and bent his
head a moment on his breast, while Adam Hepburn fixed his eyes on one
green spot under a spreading yew tree, as if they would fain dwell there
for ever.  Then they went on again, and the minister told his nephew in
a few brief words how they had been blessed to meet in Holland, and had
been vouchsafed a measure of prosperity and usefulness there, but how
their hearts had ever yearned for their native land, until the time came
they could return to it without fear.

This talk occupied all the way to the farm, at which young Sandy was not
sorry, for he did not desire as yet to be more closely questioned
regarding his own household at Hartrigge.

The farm at Hartrigge now presented a very fine and striking appearance,
the new steading [farm buildings] and commodious dwelling-house,
standing so imposingly on the brow of the hill, being thrown into strong
relief by the brilliant green of the summer foliage and the bright
golden hue of the ripening grain.

At the foot of the little hill, sheltering cosily under the fir-wood,
there stood a neat cottage with a garden-plot in front, which was gay
with summer bloom.  Just as the little party came in sight on the
private road a woman’s figure came to the door, and shading her eyes
with her hand, looked long and intently at it, greatly wondering what it
meant.  She was a sweet and comely-looking person, though long past her
prime, and her fair, calm face bore the impress of many sorrows, yet
peace dwelt abidingly upon it now.

She presently turned about, called to some one within, and another
figure, much older and feebler looking, and wearing a widow’s garb,
joined her on the step.  And thus they were standing when the party came
up.

"Susan!  Susan! it is the answer to our many prayers!" said Jane Gray,
tremblingly.  "If these be not David and Adam, our exiled wanderers, my
eyes strangely deceive me."

Then she sat down on the bench at the door and burst into tears.

Why should I linger over that sacred meeting? Could any human pen do it
justice?  I think not.

After a little Sandy touched the arm of his Uncle David, and begged him
to come away up with him to the house, and the others would follow.  He
gave the old man his arm, and they ascended the hill, walked slowly (too
slowly for Sandy’s impatient feet) through the fir-wood, and round to
the front of the house.  Then, with trembling hand, Sandy opened the
door and led his uncle in.  In the pleasant family room in the ruddy
evening glow there was a sweet and restful picture.  On the hearth there
stood a cradle, and in a low chair near to it the figure of a woman--a
young woman--too young almost, one might have thought, to be a wife and
mother.

"Is that you, Sandy?  Don’t make a noise, dearie, for baby has been so
troublesome, and is just asleep."

It was a voice of winning and exquisite softness, and when presently the
speaker rose, the old man saw a sweet and lovely young creature, with a
fair, rose-tinted face, and deep, tender blue eyes, which reminded him
of those blue eyes which had charmed him long ago.

"Is this your wife, my lad?  You kept this pleasant surprise to the
last," said he, with a sweet smile, and advanced with extended hands.

"Yes, my wife, Uncle David, but something, nay a great deal more," said
the young man, hardly knowing what he said.  "Oh, uncle, uncle! it is
your own daughter Lilian who is my wife, and our little son yonder is
named David Gray, out of our love for you. Lily, my dear, my love, this
is your father, come home from exile, as we have so long hoped and
prayed he would."

For a moment father and daughter stood still, and then these words fell
from the old man’s lips, in accents of trembling joy--

"It is enough.  Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace!"

                     *      *      *      *      *

I cannot linger over these happy moments, so fraught with deepest joy,
and yet so shadowed by undying memories and unutterable yearnings for
those who were not!  Before many minutes were passed they missed Adam
Hepburn from their midst, and looking from their southern window they
saw him wending his solitary way towards Rowallan. And they let him go
in peace, knowing the unutterable yearnings of his soul.

                     *      *      *      *      *

So gleams of sunset joy were vouchsafed to these beaten pilgrims, whose
way through life had been so long under shadow of the cloud.  And there
were Grays again in Hartrigge and Rowallan, and it was hoped that there
would be a Gray again in the manse and kirk of Inverburn, when the
little David, destined from his birth for the ministry, should be grown
to manhood.  The family of Burnet of Haughhead was now extinct, save for
Sandy Gray’s wife.  The spoiled daughter of the house had not long
survived the death of her boy, who succumbed to his constitutional
weaknesses at the age of fifteen.  Gilbert Burnet and his wife were dead
also, and Haughhead in the hands of a distant connection, who was proved
to be the nearest male heir.  While any of her Burnet kindred lived,
Lilian Gray would never have been permitted to follow her mother’s
example, and marry a Gray.  Her happy home was a haven of peace and rest
to her father, who grew young again in heart in her blithe
companionship.  How dear each was to the other, or what unutterable
thanksgiving dwelt continually in their hearts, I cannot tell you.  Adam
Hepburn spent his time betwixt Hartrigge and Rowallan, but as was
natural, was oftenest at the latter place.  He was a quiet, gentle,
unobtrusive old man, who seemed to live much in the past.  He appeared
like one who had no hold upon this present life, but who was simply
sojourning at a wayside inn, waiting and waiting for a summons to come
farther on.  But is it not so with us all?  The old fiery spirit seemed
to be utterly quenched, but no man or woman ever heard him allude to the
stormy or terrible past, and when the events of these stirring times
were made the subject of conversation, or even distantly alluded to, he
never failed to at once separate himself from the rest. He spent much of
the time in the churchyard, and would sit for hours upon his wife’s
grave, with his well-worn Bible for a companion, an object of strange
compassion to all who saw him there, and who knew the story of his
life-long faithfulness to the memory of one woman.

One sweet summer evening they missed him from among the happy circle at
Hartrigge, and knowing he was not at Rowallan, they grew alarmed at last
at his long absence, and went in search of him.  As was natural, they
turned their steps first to the "auld kirk-yaird."  He was sitting
there, in a down-bent posture, his head almost touching his knees, and
his face hidden on the pages of the open Book.  David Gray stepped to
his side, and touching his arm, said very gently--

"Adam, my brother, it is growing late; come away home."

There was no motion in the silent figure, which sat so still as to alarm
them.  Then David Gray slipped his hand beneath the bent head, and
lightly laid it on the breast, but there was no motion there.

"He has passed away from us," said the minister, tremblingly, "and this
night has looked once more upon the face of his beloved, after these
forty weary years.  It was the hour and the place he longed for. I have
often heard him say it.  Let us give thanks to our God for His abundant
lovingkindness vouchsafed to our weary brother this night."

Ended now the storm of life, ended the long desolation, the bitter
yearnings, which had these many years riven that lonely heart.  Ended,
too, his brief lingering in the sunset at the wayside inn; and for Adam
Hepburn now came the eternal enjoyment of that sweet rest which
remaineth for the people of God.



                                THE END



                 PRINTED BY CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED,
                     LA BELLE SAUVAGE, LONDON, E.C.





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