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Title: Gowrie: - or, the King's Plot.
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford)
Language: English
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        The Works of GPR James, Esq. Volume 17
        (University of California, Davis)



[Illustration: Frontispiece]



GOWRIE:

OR,

THE KING'S PLOT.


BY
G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.



LONDON:
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
MDCCCXLVIII.



THE WORKS
OF
G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.

REVISED AND CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR.

WITH AN INTRODUCTORY PREFACE.

"D'autres auteurs l'ont encore plus avili, (le roman,) en y mêlant les
tableaux dégoutant du vice; et tandis que le premier avantage des
fictions est de rassembler autour de l'homme tout ce qui, dans la
nature, peut lui servir de leçon ou de modèle, on a imaginé qu'on
tirerait une utilité quelconque des peintures odieuses de mauvaises
m[oe]urs; comme si elles pouvaient jamais; laisser le c[oe]ur qui les
repousse, dans une situation aussi pure que le c[oe]ur qui les aurait
toujours Ignorées. Mais un roman tel qu'on peut le concevoir, tel que
nous en avons quelques modèles, est une des plus belles productions de
l'esprit humain, une des plus influentes sur la morale des individus,
qui doit former ensuite les m[oe]urs publiques."--MADAME DE STAËL.
_Essai sur les Fictions_.

    "Poca favilla gran flamma seconda:
     Forse diretro a me, con miglior voci
     Si pregherà, perchè Cirra risonda."
                       DANTE. _Paradiso_, Canto I.



VOL. XVII.
GOWRIE.



LONDON:
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
MDCCCXLVIII.



NOTICE.

The Author is aware that the Frontispiece of this Work is very bad; but
in justice to the Engraver, he thinks it fair to state, that in
consequence of a necessary change in the publishing arrangements, a
space of time totally insufficient was all that could be allowed for
the device of a subject, and the execution of the plate. Another
illustration, for insertion in "Gowrie," will be given in the
succeeding volume of this edition.



TO
HER GRACE
THE DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND.


Madam,

Man's mind lives too much upon credit. We borrow our thoughts and
opinions, and too often trade with the intellectual property of
others, when it would be much better for every man to cultivate his
own little field, and bring its original produce to market, if he
would but be content with what God has given him.

In the pages which I here present to your Grace, I have plainly and
boldly stated my own opinion regarding one of the darkest transactions
in history; and after much and various reading upon the subject, I am
confirmed in the belief that this opinion is just, though I have
conveyed it in the form of fiction. Many, and indeed most, of our best
historians, have taken an opposite view of the case; but in putting
forth my own, I have not been moved by any ambition of originality,
and indeed can here lay claim to that quality, only in a limited
degree; for others in various ages have advanced the same opinions in
regard to the innocence of the Earl of Gowrie, and the guilt of the
king, which I have expressed in the present work. However that may be,
my own view was taken, and my judgment formed, before I was aware that
any others had entertained the same. I had only read, in short, the
accounts of the Gowrie Conspiracy which had been written by persons
who came to a different conclusion. It was from their own statements,
and more especially from that of King James himself, that I was led to
believe, at an early period, that of which I am convinced now. Nearly
four years ago, I found in the correspondence of Henry IV. of France a
letter from the King of Scotland, giving his own account of this
bloody transaction, and my note upon it at the time was to the
following effect:--"This is more than improbable. It is to suppose
that the earl, his brother, and the king, were all seized with sudden
madness; for nothing else could account for the conduct of either of
the three, if this story were true."

I have since read very nearly all that has been written upon the
subject, except other works of fiction, of which I have not seen one,
though I am told there are several; and every particle of historical
evidence which I have met with has tended to impress upon my mind the
firm belief that the last Earl of Gowrie was as amiable, as
enlightened, and as innocent of all offence against the king as any
man in Scotland. His name, his race, his position, and his opinions,
rendered him obnoxious to the king; and he died as in these pages I
have attempted to show. I find, on reading the letters and memoirs of
contemporaries, that very few persons believed him guilty, and that
King James had recourse to all the resources of persecution, in order
to silence the many voices which too loudly proclaimed him innocent.

It may seem strange that I introduce such topics into a dedication,
which is generally reserved for expressions of respect and esteem; but
an appeal to the understanding is, I believe, no bad testimony of
respect; and I am quite sure that your Grace will receive it as such;
for I know that in kindly permitting me to dedicate this work to your
name, you neither needed nor desired any public expression of the
respect, the esteem, and the gratitude, with which


             I have the honour to be,
                      Madam,
                         Your Grace's
                              Most humble servant,
                                      G. P. R. JAMES.


Willey House, near Farnham, Surrey,
         27th June, 1848.



ADVERTISEMENT.


In laying before the public in one volume a work of equal extent with
those which are usually produced in three volumes, and in placing in
the general collection of my romances an entirely new composition, I
may be expected to say something of the motives which have induced me
to follow such a course.

Some years ago, when a question was agitated amongst Ministers and in
Parliament, as to whether it was expedient or not to give British
authors increased facilities for maintaining their just rights against
foreigners who reprinted their works and used every unscrupulous means
to introduce their pirated editions into various parts of the British
dominions, Government was induced to decide in the affirmative, not
upon the one-sided and partial statement of authors and publishers,
but on a general and very extensive view of the subject, as affecting
the country at large. While the question was under consideration, many
long and important discussions took place, in which I bore a principal
share; and while I endeavoured to support, to the best of my
abilities, the just claims of British authors, the then President of
the Board of Trade, the Right Honourable W. E. Gladstone, with
consummate ability and great scope of view, maintained the general
interests of the public. Although the right of the British author was
never contested, some apprehension was expressed--I believe by Sir
Robert Peel--lest the granting of increased means of protecting that
right might have a tendency generally to increase the price of books.

When Mr. Gladstone informed me of this fact, I stated my own opinion
to be directly the reverse, and that by the extension and security of
the market, the price would be rather diminished than increased. I
need not here enter into all the arguments I used to show that such
must naturally be the case, but I stated, at the same time, my
readiness, upon certain acts being passed, to use every means in my
power to avert the evil which Government apprehended, by making an
effort to diminish the price of books. From various causes since that
period, the price has greatly diminished; but I do not mean to assert
that the diminution has been caused alone by the facilities that were
ultimately granted, although they have operated in that direction to a
considerable extent.

For my own part, even before all the measures were taken which had
been contemplated, I fulfilled my engagement to Government by
diminishing the price of my next work by one third. The result was
unfavourable, as, indeed, I had anticipated. The increased sale by no
means compensated for the diminution of price. I was a loser to a
considerable extent, and the publisher no gainer by the experiment.

I was afterwards told that the diminution was not sufficient to
produce any great effect; and I resolved to make another trial, though
anticipating but one result. Such is my motive for giving one entire
new work of fiction at about one fourth of the sum which is ordinarily
charged. My reason for placing it in this edition is, that the
collection having already some hold upon the public, and the sale
being considerable, the experiment has the better chance of success,
while the effect will be favourable rather than otherwise upon the
collection itself.

I need only farther say, that I have no doubt whatsoever of the
result--namely, that the increase of sale will be in no degree
commensurate with the reduction of price; and therefore I shall never
make the experiment again.



GOWRIE:

OR

THE KING'S PLOT.



CHAPTER I.


On the 15th of August, 1599, a young man was seen standing on one of
the little bridges in the town of Padua. He was plainly dressed in an
ordinary riding habit of that period, having a short black cloak over
his shoulders, a tawny suit of cloth below, and a high crowned hat
with a plume of feathers falling on one side. In most respects his
apparel indicated no higher station than that of a respectable
citizen, and indeed citizens of his age, for he could not be more than
two-and-twenty, very frequently displayed more gaudy feathers,
although the bird they covered might be of inferior race. There were,
however, one or two marks about him which seemed to point out a
superior station. Instead of a large fraise or ruff round his neck,
which was then still common, he wore a falling collar of the richest
and most delicate lace, tied in front of the throat by a silver cord
and tassel; and though the sheath of his long rapier was merely of
black leather, the hilt of the weapon, as well as that of the dagger
to his girdle, was of silver exquisitely wrought. His large buckskin
gloves, too, were edged with a silver fringe, and embroidered upon the
back. In person he was tall and finely formed, with a highly
intelligent and expressive countenance, somewhat stern and determined,
indeed, for one so young, but yet with a strange mingling of lofty
thoughtlessness and careless ease. He was perfectly alone, though on
that day the citizens of Padua were all in full holiday, the bells of
the churches ringing, and the cannon firing from the ramparts. Every
one seemed to have got a companion but himself; and all the streets in
the interior of that city of numberless arcades, were thronged with
groups celebrating the holiday, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,
while he stood alone on the little bridge, as I have said, near the
Ferara gate, which was left to comparative solitude by the populace,
who were flocking to the churches. He remained in the same spot for
more than a quarter of an hour, sometimes leaning his arms on the
parapet of the bridge, and gazing down into the shining water, or
watching the labours of a stout man, less devout than his neighbours,
who still continued his work in one of the boats, with his white
shirt and his bright blue breeches reflected in the painted mirror
below--sometimes looking up the street which led to the bridge,
amongst the arches of which, groups of men and women in gay attire
were seen, appearing and disappearing as they crossed from one side to
the other. The bright sunshine of Italy was pouring in oblique lines
through the openings of the street, and as it caught from time to time
upon the brilliant dresses of the passing inhabitants, the effect was
strange and pleasing; and a city, the narrow streets and dim arcades
of which generally rendered its aspect somewhat gloomy, was now all
life and gaiety. The young stranger did not seem to take part in the
general merriment: not that he looked sad or even grave, for when he
turned his eyes up the street, and caught sight of any of the moving
groups which it presented, a smile came upon his lip, somewhat
sarcastic it is true, as if he regarded with a certain portion of
contempt the rejoicings of the people or the occasion which called
them forth, but yet cheerful and free, as of a mind untroubled which
could afford to find amusement in the little follies of others.

When he had remained in that same spot for nearly a quarter of an
hour, the loiterer was joined by another, a much more gaily habited
cavalier. The latter was about the same age, or perhaps a year or two
older, not quite so tall as his companion, though still a tall man,
darker in complexion, and powerfully though lightly made. His step was
free, his look open and sparkling; and though his features were not
strikingly handsome, yet his countenance was exceedingly pleasing, and
not the less striking from some degree of irregularity.

"Ever exact to time and place, Signor Johannes," said the latter,
grasping the hand of him who had been waiting; "and now, I dare say,
you have been accusing my tardiness and want of punctuality; but, upon
my life, what between folly in the morning, study at mid-day, business
in the afternoon, and emotions in the evening, I have had my hands
full; so be not angry, good my lord."

"Heaven forbid," replied the other; "he that were angry with want of
punctuality in you, Hume, would quarrel with a lark for singing, or an
owl for hooting, and might spend his whole time in fretting his spirit
at the nature of his friend. Besides, you made no promise to be here.
I wrote, fixing my own hour, and taking my chance of its suiting you."

"But why all this mystery, and why this sober suit?" exclaimed the
other, taking hold of his cloak, with a gay laugh; "this smells
strongly of Geneva; and your brown jerkin is worthy of a true disciple
of Beza. In pity, John, do not let him affect the outward man. Be as
rigid as you will in resisting the powers of the Babylonian lady on
your heart and mind, but do not carry your religion into taffeta, or
suffer tenets to interfere with silk and satin. The religion that
kills one innocent joy, is not the religion of Him who more than once
told us to rejoice; and I cannot help thinking, that those who
prescribe particular clothing for particular ceremonies, and those who
proscribe it upon all occasions, are equally foolish and wrong."

"And so do I," answered his companion; "you will not find me altered
in the least in those things; but the cause of my homely suit, and the
mystery of my coming is the same, and very simple. I did not wish to
be recognised by any of our good teachers here in this learned
university, nor by any of our old companions but yourself. To show
you, however, that I am no fanatic, know that I am even now on my way
to Rome, to see the wonders of the eternal city and his holiness the
Pope, though I shall not certainly ask his blessing, from a very
strong doubt of its doing me any good."

"There I agree with you," replied his friend; "though the blessing of
a good man can never do one any harm, and there might be worse men
than Clement; but what have you done with your retinue? Where are all
the servants, where the famous tutor, Dominie Rhind?"

"Gone on to Monselice," replied the other, "there to wait for my
coming, if they can find room in the little inn, and if not, to travel
farther, to Rovigo. But you have my messenger with you, have you not?
I bade him wait my coming."

"Good sooth have I," answered the other, "and the mad knave has kept
the whole of Padua in an uproar for the last three days. What between
jeering the men, making love to the women, and playing with the
children, he has made friends and enemies enough to serve a man a
lifetime."

"He is incorrigible!" said his friend, with an air of vexation. "I was
forced to send him away from Geneva, for Beza would not tolerate him,
and I loved not to see the good old man distressed. But the fellow
promised amendment, and he is so attached and faithful, that his
virtues and his vices, like a Spanish olla, are blended into a very
savoury dish, though of the most opposite ingredients. I laid strict
injunctions upon him to be discreet, and above all, never to mention
my name."

"That last point of discretion he has most strictly maintained,"
replied the more gaily dressed cavalier; "for even to me he has never
pronounced the forbidden word, always expressing his meaning by some
periphrasis, such as 'the noble gentleman you wot of,' 'the worshipful
writer of the letter,' 'him who shall be nameless,' and so forth, ever
eking out the sense with a raised eyebrow and thumb jerked back over
his shoulder, as if he were speaking of the devil, and owned Beelzebub
for his master. But now let us to your inn, where supper and a small
room are provided for you according to your behest, and there you
shall tell me what has brought you back to this fair Italian land, and
I will relate what has occurred to me since last we met."

"My errand in Italy is soon told," said his comrade, with a smile. "I
come to buy some pictures to adorn my poor house at Perth. It were a
shame to have dwelt so long in Italy, and not to carry back something
of the Caracci's handiwork. I will see Annibale, and Ludovick too, and
Caravaggio. I have heard, too, of a young painter named Reni--Guido
Reni they call him, who is now making some noise at Bologna. One
picture said to be his I have seen, full of grace and beauty, and if
he so paint he will soon be famous in all the world--why do you
laugh?"

"Because I judge pictures alone brought you not to Padua," replied his
companion; "for in good sooth there are few worth seeing here, except
St. Anthony preaching to the fishes."

"A very unprofitable waste of good doctrine," said the other; "but let
us go--yet, we will choose the dull back streets which the students
love not, for I do not wish them to see their late Lord Rector coming
amongst them in masquerade."

"Come, then, under the walls," answered the other; and, leading the
way, he conducted his friend through several of the low and narrow
streets which abutted upon the defences, hardly meeting any one but a
labourer and an old woman or two in miserable rags, seeking amongst
the piles of rubbish, thrown out here and there in the open spaces
between the walls and the houses, for anything that poverty could make
valuable. At length they were obliged to turn into one of the larger
streets; but ten steps therein brought them to a narrow doorway under
one of the arcades, where they entered and mounted a long dirty stair.
At the first landing was a door on the left, through which they passed
into a little ante-room, where at a table was seated a young man
dressed as a servant, but without badge or cognizance, as was usual
with the domestics of great families at that period. If one might
judge from his face, which was ugly enough to be funny, and funny
enough to be beautiful--I do not love paradoxes, but I am driven into
one--he was not a personage very much given to grave contemplations.
Nevertheless, on the present occasion he was so seriously occupied
with the piece of work he had in hand, that for an instant he did not
observe the entrance of the two gentlemen we have mentioned. That
piece of work was indeed a very important and elaborate one, at least
in his opinion--namely, the cutting out, in small blocks of soft wood,
a variety of grotesque heads, in which his inventive genius displayed
itself by producing noses such as never were seen on any human
countenance, eyes of every degree of obliquity, and chins, some
retreating, as if afraid of the portentous nasal organ which
overshadowed them, and some immeasurably protruded, as if to domineer
over the mouth that yawned above. In truth he showed no small skill in
sculpture, although his genius had taken rather an eccentric turn; and
it was evident that he enjoyed his own performance very much, for his
first salutation to his master was a loud laugh, as he contemplated
the extraordinary physiognomy he had just carved. Then, awakening to
the more sober realities of life, he started up, laying down the knife
and wood upon the table, and saying, with a low bow, "Welcome to
Padua, noble sir; better late than never; nothing's lost that is not
at the bottom of the sea. It is a long lane that has never a turning.
A man cannot be too late who has time enough."

"Spare your proverbs, good Master Jute," replied his master, the
stranger who had been waiting on the bridge; "I find that,
notwithstanding all your promises of reformation and sobriety, you
have been setting the whole town in an uproar."

"Not so, indeed, my noble lord; with the best intentions I have not
had time to get through more than the French quarter. I hurried here
as fast as possible, both to do your will and my own, seeing that I
have been pent up like a brawn in a stye for the last three months;
but still I have not had time enough. As for promises, although, like
pie-crusts, they are made to be broken, and he who vows much performs
little, yet, from a silly fondness for a whole skin and clear
conscience, I never break mine; and I beseech your lordship to
recollect that I only promised to behave well by the shores of Lake
Leman."

"Well, well, we will talk more of that hereafter," replied his lord,
following the other gentleman towards the inner room. "I find you have
obeyed my injunction of not mentioning my name. See that you attend to
it still. And now go and order them to bring my supper up, for I have
ridden hard and fasted long."

The man made a low bow, and obeyed, while the two gentlemen proceeded
into the neighbouring chamber, and the traveller, casting himself into
a seat, said, with a sigh, the source of which might be difficult to
discover, "So, here I am, once more in Padua."



CHAPTER II.


The room was a little dingy room lined with black oak, carved into
panels, with some degree of taste and ornament, the house having
formerly belonged to higher personages than those who possessed it at
the time; for Padua, even then, like all persons, places, and things,
on the face of the earth, had seen its mutations; and Patavium had
undergone, since the days of Livy, a thousand different changes, which
had rendered fashionable parts of the city unfashionable, turned the
houses of nobles into the residences of boors, converted Pagan temples
into Christian churches, and, with greater propriety, had converted
amphitheatres into slaughter-houses. Amongst later alterations, the
house which had formerly been inhabited by one of the mercenary
followers of Angelo, had descended to the station of an inn, at first
well frequented and in high repute, but gradually sinking lower and
lower, till it had now become a sort of lodging-house in ordinary for
merchants who visited the town of Padua, and the poorer class of
students, on their first arrival. The chamber, however, was lofty; the
window which looked into the court, large, and opening all the way
down the centre, which was then rare; and the coolness so desirable at
that burning season was to be obtained there, which could not be found
in many a larger and finer apartment in the city. In this room, with
several flasks of fine wine before them, were seated, about half an
hour after sunset, John, Earl of Gowrie, and his friend Sir John Hume.
There were two wax tapers on the table, some plates of beautiful
fruit, perfuming the whole air, and some cakes of a sweet kind of
bread, for which Padua was then famous. The rays of the candles were
quickly lost in the dark wainscoting around, but they threw sufficient
light upon the table and its white cloth, and showed fully the
expressions of the two young men's countenances. Both were still gay,
and laugh and jest had gone on between them during the meal; but every
now and then a look of deep thoughtfulness, almost amounting to
melancholy, crossed the face of the earl, passing away again like the
shadow of a flying cloud cast momentarily on a fine landscape. They
had been speaking of many things while the servant of the earl and
some of the people of the inn had been coming and going. The period of
Lord Gowrie's sojourn at Padua as a scholar had been referred to, and
the high academic honour which had been conferred upon him somewhat
more than a year before, by his election to the office of rector, had
been commented upon by Hume, who laughingly said, "If I had puzzled my
dull brains for seven years, I never could have obtained or merited
such a distinction, John."

It was one of Lord Gowrie's graver moments when his friend made this
observation, and he replied gloomily, "Those who eat the fruit early,
Hume, are left with bare boughs in the autumn. I was elected Lord
Provost of Perth before I was fourteen; I fought in a lost battle at
fifteen; and I was rector of this university before I was twenty.
Blighted hopes, or early death, we often find the fate of those who
taste the bitter stream of life so soon."

"Nonsense," replied his friend; "have you studied the sublime art of
astrology to so little purpose? It is but that you are born under a
fortunate star, and will go on in honour and success until the end."

"Small success at the field of Down," replied the earl; "for a more
disastrous rout never befel brave men than there overtook Athol and
Montrose."

"But great success to you," answered Hume, laughing; "for you escaped
where many a brave man fell, and were pardoned without inquiry, when
many were mulcted of half their goods--Still, still your fortunate
star was on the ascendant; and the devil, the king, and the popish
lords could not get the better of its influence; and now what brings
you to Padua?"

"By and by," said the young earl--"we'll talk of that by and by. Tell
me, first, all that has happened to you, according to your promise."

"My life, good faith, has been dull enough," replied Sir John Hume,
"till within the last week, when I have had a little occupation for my
thoughts besides dull problems and hard studies. Do you remember an
old man with a gray beard, who used to wander about towards eventide,
in a long black gown and a velvet cap? Manucci is his name, a
Florentine, who has travelled much in different lands, speaks English
like an Englishman, and French like a Frenchman, and used to look like
Titian's portrait, only more meagre and somewhat less fresh and
lusty."

Lord Gowrie had twice nodded his head in token that he knew the person
spoken of; but Hume had still gone on describing, till at length the
young earl said, almost impatiently, "Yes, yes, I know him well. What
of him?"

"Poor man, he has been in sad trouble," replied his friend; "our
reputation for magic here has risen somewhat too high for our
security. We have had monitories from the holy office, warning our
learned professors against permitting forbidden studies, and enjoining
them strictly to seek out and deliver up to justice all those who
practise black and damnable arts. Arnesi only laughed, and said that
his was a black and white art, for that he dealt in pen and ink, but
that he hoped the white would save the black part of the business. A
number of the older signors, however, whose wits are rather on the
wane, and who still fancy that everything they do not understand
themselves is magic, took up the matter far more seriously, and laying
their wise heads together in small conclave, determined they would
seek out, and hand over to the tender mercies of those who roast the
body to save the soul, every poor creature to whom suspicion could
attach. Manucci had a long gray beard, a rusty black gown, but small
reverence for the learned professors, paid no fees, kept himself apart
in solitary studies, seldom spoke with anybody, and had a keen and
spirit-searching eye. Here seemed a sorcerer at once, quite ready to
their hand. Still such appearances, without proof, would not justify
violence; but they judged that the search for proof would; and as I
was passing the old man's door, near the Trevisogate, I saw the
college beadle and three or four more officers making their way in
against the resistance of the poor old woman who waits upon him, and
who was assuring them with tears that her master was dying in his
bed."

"Dying!" exclaimed Lord Gowrie, with a start.

"Well, I went in with them," continued Hume, not noticing his friend's
exclamation; "and a pitiful sight I soon beheld."

"In the name of Heaven, what?" demanded the Earl of Gowrie, with a
pale cheek and an eager eye; and then feeling how completely the whole
expression of his countenance must have changed, he added, "I was much
interested in that old man. I knew him well, loved him well, and was
going on a long promise to see him this very night."

"Indeed!" said Hume, before he proceeded to finish his story, musing,
as if some intricate problem was placed before him. "Ha! Well, as I
was saying, I went in, following the officers--a few steps behind I
might be, and then, when we came into the little back room, I saw a
bed with a crucifix at the foot, and the old man lying on it, the
image of death. His long beard was stretched upon the decently
composed bed-clothes, hard to say which was the whitest; his left hand
was folded quietly on his breast, and his right was stretched out over
the side of the bed, with tightly pressed upon it the lips of the most
beautiful girl I ever beheld in my life--with one sole exception," he
added.

Lord Gowrie was evidently very uneasy. He played with the hilt of his
rapier, clasping and unclasping his hands upon the sheath; he gazed
eagerly in his friend's face, as if he would fain have interrupted
him, but yet hesitated to do so.

"Well," continued Hume, "the officers at first seemed a little
touched, but they are folks not easily moved, and the waters of pity
soon subside with them, when agitated for a moment by the unwonted
wind. One of them took him by the shoulder, and said, 'Come, signor,
you must get up, and deliver all your papers. We are sent to examine
everything, by the council of the university, which has strong reason
to believe you guilty of magic and sorcery.'

"'My thoughts are there,' said the old man, meekly, pointing towards
heaven; but the young girl by his bedside started up, and gazed at the
officers with wild and frightened eyes. These men, now, were very
zealous Christians; but they thought it a point of piety to interrupt
a dying man's preparation to meet his Maker, and to hurry him away to
death--for nothing else could have followed--before that preparation
was complete."

The Earl of Gowrie bent his head upon his hands, covering his eyes
with his fingers; but his friend could see that he shook violently,
either with anger, apprehension, or some other strong emotion. He went
on, however, saying, "I thought it best now to interfere, John,
knowing that I am somewhat a favourite with the good officers of the
university, being too dull or too light to be taken for a conjuror,
and too free with my purse for a dealer in the things of darkness. I
therefore stepped quietly forward, and representing that the old
gentleman was evidently too ill to be moved, suggested that it would
be better to make a preliminary examination of the papers, in which I
offered to assist. I had some difficulty in prevailing; but at length
it was agreed that all suspicious documents should be carried at once
before the senate, and those that were plain and straightforward left,
while one officer remained in the house, to prevent a man from
escaping who could not stir a step. The search was somewhat curious,
and certainly there were sundry writings of which I understood not one
word; but I pressed the old man's hand, and told him in English to
make his mind easy, asking for one word of explanation in regard to
the strange tongues I had found there written. 'Some are Armenian,' he
answered, 'some Syriac, and some Gaelic, which you, at least, should
understand.' Happily I did, for one of the first papers examined was
an old song of our own Highlands, describing the hunting of a stag. I
could have laughed, had the matter not been serious, to see the
puzzled faces of the learned doctors. The Armenian and Syriac they
knew at least by the characters, and afraid of showing their brief
extent of knowledge, they pronounced them all very innocent; but the
Gaelic was in the high road to the Holy Inquisition, though written in
the Latin character, when I begged to see the paper, and read aloud
and laughed, and read and laughed, and read again, with as strong a
twang of the old Erse as I could bring my mouth to utter. A dozen
voices called for an explanation of the strange sounds I was pouring
forth. On which I assured them that the fancied magic was but a poem
in one of the languages of my own land, of which I would give a
translation if they would lend an ear. You know that some such songs
in the mountain tongue are not of the most cleanly. This was one which
soon set the reverend doctors grinning, and I returned in triumph with
messages of peace to the poor man's bedside."

"Did he die?" demanded the earl, in a tone subdued almost to a whisper
by his eagerness.

"Nay, he is better," replied Hume; "for having saved his life in one
way, I now bestirred myself to save it in another. I sat with him
through that livelong night; I tried to cheer and comfort him, and
finding from the beautiful creature who was the companion of my watch,
that of late he had denied himself almost necessary sustenance, what
with poverty, what with study, I sent for wine to my own house, and
forced it upon him, till the flame of life rose up bright once more
above the fresh-trimmed lamp."

A curious change had come over the young earl during the utterance of
the last few sentences. "Now I will warrant," he said, with a laugh,
strangely contrasting with the deep emotions he had lately displayed,
"that the inflammable heart of John Hume has taken fire at this fair
girl's bright eyes, and that they have led him every day to the small
house near the Treviso gate?"

Hume gazed at him for a moment with a grave look; and then, moving his
chair a little nearer, he laid his hand upon that of Gowrie. "I have
gone every day," he said, "but not for those bright, dark eyes, for I
have not forgotten a pair, blue as the twilight sky, that dwell at
Perth; but I have gone out of pity to the old man--pity for the young
girl--and affection for John Ruthven."

The earl gazed at him for a moment, then started up, and cast his arms
around him, saying, "You have my secret, Hume; but how you learned it
I know not; for until this hour it has rested in my own bosom, which I
ever fancied the only sure casket for the treasure of one's own
thoughts."

"Good faith, my noble lord," answered Hume, "there are other languages
than words. Looks and acts, for those who mark them, speak as plainly
as the best orator. Here, during the last year of your stay at Padua,
each night you stole away in private to visit the house of an old man,
learned, indeed, and doubtless full of mighty secrets in nature and
art, known for an astrologer, and suspected of practices with things
less full of light than the bright stars. Your devotion to knowledge
no one doubted, but such regular attendance at her shrine seemed more
than natural in a young man of twenty; and I sometimes doubted that
you were wooing a fairer and a warmer lady than cool Dame Science.
When you went away from this poor place, too, you were wondrous sad,
and with a sadness different from that with which we part from the
calm pleasures and dull tasks of youth to take part in the eager
strifes of manhood. 'Twas a passionate sadness, not a thoughtful one.
Well, when I saw her who must have been the companion of many of your
hours of study in the old man's house, I easily discovered that they
had not been cold ones; and as I knew that you proposed to return, for
a time at least, to Italy, I studied, for your sake, to show all
kindness to those whom you had loved. Nay, more, I ventured even to
seek a confirmation of my fancies; throwing out your name in
conversation, as we cast a gilded fly upon the water to see if the
shining salmon will spring up to catch it. I said that, to my belief,
it would not be long ere you returned to Italy."

"What did she say?--How did she look?" demanded Gowrie, eagerly.

"At the first mention of your name she sighed," replied Hume, "and her
cheek turned a shade paler than before; but when I talked of your
return, the retreating blood rallied back into her face with double
force, conquering the paleness in its turn, and dying the whole with
crimson."

"Indeed!" said Gowrie, thoughtfully. "It is strange! I knew not that
it was so!"

"Not know it! Not know what, Gowrie?" exclaimed his friend.

"That there was one feeling in her heart towards me," answered the
earl, "which would make her heart's pulse beat with a faster stroke,
or vary the colour in her cheek a shade. You are mistaken, Hume, in
thinking that she was the companion of the hours I spent at old
Manucci's house. I seldom saw her; but gradually there came a passion
into my heart, which made the chance of one of those rare, short
interviews, attraction strong enough to lead me, night after night, to
where they might be had. Not that I did not struggle against growing
love, restraining myself by prudent worldly thoughts; and I would have
quitted Padua sooner, but that my station as Lord Rector held me here.
You, who know me, can well judge, I think, that while thus debating
with my love in my own heart, I would not do that sweet girl such a
wrong as by word or look to seek her love in return."

"You could not hide your own, Gowrie," replied Hume; "yours is not a
nature that with a cold exterior can cover over the fiery heart
within. Your actions you may rule, and do so often with great power;
but your looks and tones refuse such rigid sway."

"It may be so--it may be so," said the earl; and he leaned his head
upon his hand, and thought. "And so the old man is better?" continued
the earl, after he had remained silent for a few minutes, during which
his friend had not ceased to gaze at him without speaking.

"Better, but not well," answered Hume; "what he chiefly needed was
strengthening food and wine; but he had a sore disease for which I
know no cure--old age, I mean--all other things but that we may fend
off or remedy; but that slow creeping sickness of old age may often be
hurried, but never delayed. In short, his last attack has shaken him
much. He sits up, however; and his appetite has returned. A
superstitious notion too has aided to his recovery so far, even when
at the worst. He told his grandchild that he was certain he should not
die before the morrow of the Assumption."

Lord Gowrie laid his hand upon Sir John Hume's arm, saying, in a
marked manner, "Because he expected to see me to-night; and I must go
to him, Hume; but before I go, tell me, truly and sincerely, has your
own heart remained firm against the beauties and the graces of this
fair being with whom you have been so much?"

"See what a thing is love!" said Hume; "you cannot fancy that any one
can escape the bow which has wounded you. Have I not said, Gowrie,
that I have not forgotten the deep blue eyes in Perth, and never shall
forget them? I am as constant as a fixed star."

"What, little Beatrice," exclaimed the earl, "of whom you brought me
such a glowing picture two years ago? but she is still a mere child."

"You think her so, because she was one when you left her," answered
Hume; "but let me tell you, Gowrie, when I saw her she was a woman,
and rich in all a woman's graces. Your mother thought that it would be
well to wait a year or two, but nothing now is wanting but your
consent. We have stood even the trial of absence, and are both still
of the same mind."

Lord Gowrie pressed his hand, replying at once, "My consent is yours,
Hume, whenever you choose to claim it. It is strange," he continued,
with a smile, "I can but think of Beatrice as the curly-headed child,
who, seven years ago, wiped the blood and dust from my brow when I
came back from the field of Downcastle. Hark! the clock is striking
nine, I must set out."

"I will go with you nearly to the door," replied his friend; "and you
had better have your man to wait for you. The streets of Padua have
proved somewhat dangerous since you were here; and on the night of a
high festival, the excellent Christians of this part of the world
think it no crime to put a dagger in a friend's back, if they have
saluted the blessed virgin as they passed the church."

"Well, call him in," replied Lord Gowrie; and having rung a small bell
that stood upon the table, they were joined immediately by the earl's
servant.

"Get your beaver and your cloak, Austin Jute," said the earl; "we are
going out into the streets, and you must follow. Take broadsword and
dagger too. I know you can use them well upon occasion. Have you them
at hand?"

"A good workman never wants tools, my lord," replied the man; "and as
to using them, Heaven send the opportunity, and I'll find the means. A
man that threads a needle, ought to be able to stitch; and I who have
hammered hot iron in my day, should be able to use it cold, though men
say practice makes perfect, and I have had but little in your
lordship's service. However, what is early learned is long retained;
and a hand that is well acquainted with a cudgel remembers its use as
well as the back that bears the beating."

The earl and his friend both laughed. "There, there," cried Sir John
Hume, "in pity's name, good Austin, content yourself with ready-made
proverbs, and do not eke them out with your own manufacture."

"All as old as the King of Spain's wine, worshipful sir," replied the
man; "though all old things are not bad, a new doublet is better than
a worn cloak, and proverbs, like lenten pie, may get musty by keeping.
I shall have my pinking iron on before your worships are down the
stairs; and God send you a safe journey to the bottom, as I shall not
be there to take care of you."



CHAPTER III.


When the Earl of Gowrie had parted from his friend at the door of
Hume's lodging, he walked on, followed by his servant, for some four
or five hundred yards farther, till the wider and more fashionable
street deviated into a number of narrow and somewhat intricate lanes,
each, however, having its arcades on either side, with the three or
four upper stories of the houses built over them, so that two people
might have shaken hands from window to window. At the last house of
one of these lanes, where the street terminated at a canal, with a
bridge over it leading to the Treviso gate, the young nobleman
stopped, and using a great bar of iron which hung upon the door,
knocked three times aloud. He had to wait some time, however, before
the door was opened, and was just about to knock again, when an old
woman, with a lamp in her hand dangling by a long chain, appeared to
give him entrance.

"How are you, Tita?" he said. "I am sorry to hear that Signor Manucci
has been so ill. Can he see me to-night?"

"Oh yes, sir; he expects you," replied the woman, "and will go into
his own private study to receive you, though the signora thinks it may
hurt him."

The young lord's countenance fell at her reply; for he might fancy
that the old man had determined upon receiving him alone, and to say
sooth, he had come to see another also. He followed the woman,
however, up the narrow stairs, telling his servant to wait below; and
he was well pleased to find that his guide turned at once to the
right; for he was acquainted with every step in the house, and knew
that she was conducting him first to a cool little room where Manucci
and his grand-daughter usually sat in the vehement heat of summer. He
was even more fortunate than he expected to be, for when the door
opened, the light within showed him that, for the time, the chamber
was tenanted by one person only, and that the one he most desired to
see. It is a strange passion, love, often agitating the strong in
frame and powerful in mind more than the weak and gentle. It were vain
to deny that the young lord was greatly moved as his eye fell again
upon the fair being whose society the ordinary principles of worldly
prudence had taught him to believe might be dangerous to his peace.
Nevertheless, he advanced straight towards her, holding out his hand
with eager agitated pleasure. Nor could she meet him without emotion,
too plainly visible, notwithstanding all that inherent self-command
which is one of the first qualities in a modest, well-regulated
woman's heart. The colour varied in her check. The finely chiselled
lip quivered in the vain effort to speak; and the dark bright eyes, as
if afraid of their own tale, veiled themselves beneath the long
lashes, avoiding the glance of tenderness of which she had caught a
momentary sight.

The instant he had entered the room, the wise old woman left him and
closed the door; and he stood for an instant silent, with the lady's
hand in his. A moment after, he slowly raised her hand, and pressed
his lips upon it. It was in those days but an act of ordinary
courtesy, implying nothing but friendly regard or reverence; but they
each felt that there was a fire in that kiss, and both were more
agitated than at first.

"Julia," said the young earl, at length--"Julia, you are much moved;
and so am I, indeed--we have been parted long----"

She sank slowly down into her seat again; but she felt that she must
speak to welcome him, or let silence confess all; and she answered, "I
have had much, very much to agitate me lately. It is not wonderful
that I am a good deal moved, in seeing an old friend after a long
absence."

"And is that all?" said the earl, almost sadly. "I had hoped it was
something more. May I not trust that the agitation of both has the
same source--that in absence we have learned to know our own hearts,
and to feel that our happiness depends upon each other?"

"Hush! hush!" she said, raising her eyes to his face, with an
expression which was answer enough. "I must not hear you. I must not
reply upon such subjects--at least not now."

"And why not now?" demanded the earl. "Who can say when the
opportunity may present itself again? Who can say what obstacles may
intervene between us, if we do not seize the moments which fate has
given?--Say, Julia, why not now?"

"Because I have duties to perform," she answered, "from which nothing
should estrange me. The time may come--nay," she added, sorrowfully,
"it must come, and that but too soon, when I shall have no one to
think of but myself, no one to ask or to consult with, in regard to
what I should do; but now I would not, if I could help it, take a
thought away from him who has bestowed for long years all his thoughts
upon me. I have even reproached myself, when I saw him suffering and
sinking before my eyes, for having but too often let those thoughts,
which should have been all his, wander away to other things."

"And did they seek me in their wanderings?" asked Gowrie, taking her
hand again, and gazing into her eyes.

She answered not, but averted her look, while the rose deepened in her
cheek; and as they thus sat, the door opened suddenly, and the old man
appeared. It made them both start; but Gowrie was strong in honesty of
heart and purpose; and advancing frankly, he took Manucci's hand in
his, saying, "I have longed much to see you, my old friend, and your
dear Julia too. We have been long parted; but my affection for neither
has decreased."

Manucci was very feeble; and perhaps with agitation, perhaps with
weakness, he tottered on his feet. Lord Gowrie held him firmly by the
hand, however, drew forward a chair, and supported him till he was
seated.

"I have many things to speak to you about," said the old man; "many
things which may agitate me and you. But let us not talk about them
just yet. I have been very ill; and the little strength I have left,
would soon be expended if I did not economise it carefully."

"I have grieved much to hear of your illness," replied the earl,
standing beside his chair and gazing down upon him. "My friend, Sir
John Hume, has told me how much you have suffered, and how you have
been persecuted."

"The latter is nothing," replied the old man. "Every man, not behind
his age in knowledge, and who from that point casts his view farther
forward than the rest, judging of the consequences of each fact by
experience of the past, corrected by a full acquaintance with the
present, will ever seem criminal in the eyes of the fools who
disbelieve, and of the knaves who believe and dread. Persecution was
to be expected when I held myself aloof from idlers who consumed their
time in mere amusement, and from learned busy-bodies, who wasted it in
vain and fruitless studies; but that illness was a sturdy, stern, and
less conquerable foe. He has battered down the outworks, and the
shattered fortress must soon surrender."

"Yet you look better than I expected," replied the earl. "Indeed, at
your age, which you have often told me is great, few men look better."

He might, indeed, well say so, for the old man's eye, as he sat there,
was clear and bright; and a hue, very like that of returning health,
was in his cheek. He was a tall man, and had once, apparently, been a
very powerful one. His frame, indeed, was a little bowed. His beard
and hair were snowy white; and the skin was wrinkled, except upon the
high forehead and the bald crown of the head. All the signs of age,
indeed, were there, except that the teeth were fine and apparently
undecayed, and that the hand--which, with the exception, perhaps, of
the ear, shows the advance of age more distinctly than any other part
of the frame--looked not so knotted and bony as it often appears at a
late period of life.

The conversation easily and gradually deviated into topics of a calm
and tranquil kind. The young earl spoke of many things which had
occurred to him since he left Padua. They might afford little matter
of amusement to the reader of the present day; but they were
interesting to the ears which heard him. The old man, too, had his
tale of the changes which had taken place in Padua; but he more
frequently referred to the results which had followed his own
researches in matters of science. Deeply read, for that period, in
natural philosophy--mingled as it was at the time, before the immortal
Bacon had established a juster system of investigation, with the
dreams of alchymy and judicial astrology--he discussed many subjects
familiar to the ears of Lord Gowrie, whose whole family had a strong
and unusual taste for inquiry into the secrets of nature. The old man
seemed to be revived by his young friend's presence; and he soon
recovered that cheerful gaiety which had greatly distinguished him in
earlier years. Still, however, the earl remarked, that from time to
time his eyelid would drop and his voice become low, as if with
fatigue, and at length he said, in a kindly tone, "You are tired, my
good old friend. It will be better for me to bid you good night now,
and come to talk of other matters with you to-morrow."

"No, no!" cried Manucci; "it must be to-night, or never. I have waited
for you, Earl Gowrie, for I told you if you would return on this
night, I would read you the scheme of your nativity--point out to you,
as clearly as man's voice can show, the course by which you may avoid
the perils and secure the advantages of life, and tell you what must
absolutely happen--what is still dependent upon courage and conduct.
For this I have studied, and pondered, and tried the indications of
the stars again and again; but the hour is not yet come, and you must
wait till the clock strikes twelve. Then I will speak; for to-morrow,
perchance, I shall not have strength to do so."

"Nay, I trust your strength will every day increase," replied the
earl; but the old man shook his head, and cast a grave and melancholy
glance upon the beautiful girl who sat near him.

"The things of this life are waning away," he said; "and in truth, it
is time that I should depart. Eighty years are a heavy load; and the
burden is still increasing. There were men, as you have heard, who
would fain have eased me of it; but as it contained a few things that
are valuable, I was unwilling at that moment to part with it, like all
other men, clinging to my treasure though it bent down the shoulders
that bore it."

"Methinks a life of study and the calm enjoyment of tranquil thought
may well lighten the burden of years," replied the earl; "and but for
the apprehension and annoyance caused by these foolish men, your
existence, my good friend, has been tranquil and peaceable enough."

The old man smiled sadly. "We always fail," he said, "when we judge of
the fate of others. Life is double, Gowrie, an internal and an
external life; the latter often open to the eyes of all, the former
only seen by the eye of God. Nor is it alone those material things
which we conceal from the eyes of others, which often make the
apparently splendid lot in reality a dark one, or that which seems sad
or solitary, cheerful and light within. Our characters, our spirits
operate upon all that fate or accident subjects to them. We transform
the events of life for our own uses, be those uses bitter or sweet;
and as a piece of gold loses its form and its solidity when dropped
into a certain acid, so the hard things of life are resolved by the
operations of our own minds into things the least resembling
themselves. True, a life of study and of thought may seem to most men
a calm and tranquil state of existence. Such pursuits gently excite,
and exercise softly and peacefully, the highest faculties of the
intellectual soul; but age brings with it indifference even to these
enjoyments--nay, it does more, it teaches us the vanity and emptiness
of all man's knowledge. We reach the bounds and barriers which God has
placed across our path in every branch of science, and we find, with
bitter disappointment, at life's extreme close, that when we know all,
we know nothing. This I have learned, my young friend, and it is all
that I have learned in eighty years, that the only knowledge really
worth pursuing is the knowledge of God in his word and his works--the
only practical application of that high science, to do good to all
God's creatures."

"Still study is not wasted," said the earl, "when it leads to such an
elevated result, when it teaches us in the creature to see the
Creator, and in the events of existence to behold his will, and surely
the fruit of such conclusions must be peaceful."

"Tend to peace they must," replied the old man; "for they must quiet
strong passions, moderate vehement desires, teach us to bear
afflictions with fortitude, and to temper our anxieties with hope; but
yet, noble lord, neither philosophy nor religion can alter the
constitution of our minds. We may know that God is good and merciful.
We may know that in the end all must be well; but we still see that on
this earth there is a world of sorrow, and we may shrink under the
anguish ourselves, or tremble at seeing it approach those we love."

"Fear not for me," said the beautiful girl who was seated beside him,
seeing his eyes turned with a sad look towards her; "oh, let not one
anxiety on my account add to the burden of years, and make your last
days cheerless. Though those may deny me who are bound to protect me,
thank God, I can render myself independent of them. The education you
have given, the arts you have taught, would always enable me with my
own hands to win my own bread----" and then she added, in a low tone,
catching a look almost reproachful on the earl's face, "should it be
needful."

"Which it shall never be," replied the earl at once, "so long as I
have a hand and heart to offer, and means----"

"Hush! hush!" exclaimed the old man, turning his eyes almost sternly
from the one to the other; "no such rash words. You know not what you
speak of. At all events wait till you know what fate maybe before you;
and then, with the deliberate forethought of a man, act as becomes a
man, and not as a rash boy."

The effect of his words upon Julia were not such as might have been
expected, perhaps; for whether the severer part had found an antidote
in what her lover had said before, or whether, from some secret source
in her own heart, the waters of hope swelled forth anew, she seemed
from that moment to cast away the deeper tone of thought and feeling
which had characterized her conversation and demeanour during the
evening, and to resume the light-hearted spirit of youth which had
spread such a charm around her in the first years of her acquaintance
with Lord Gowrie.

"Nay," she said, laying her hand upon the old man's arm, "all other
things apart, is it not true that I can win my own bread by my own
hands? Can I not paint well enough to gain the few scudi that are
needful for my little sustenance? Can I not compose music which brings
tears at least into your eyes? Can I not write as well as many a one
who lives by his pen? Can I not illuminate missals, or embroider, or
work baskets, if needs must be? Would I not long ago have done all
this for your support as well as mine, if you would but have let me?"

"You would indeed," he answered, "but that I could not have. Not that
I hold it degradation in any one, my child, by their own industry to
remedy the niggardliness of fortune; but I could not bear to see you
labour for me."

"Oh, man's pride!" exclaimed Julia; "what an obstacle it is to peace
and happiness. Here," she continued, turning to Lord Gowrie, with a
sparkling look--"here has he, for many a year, supported, instructed,
educated me; and now he will not let me repay a small portion of the
debt I owe him by labouring for him now, although he knows right well
that to do so would be my greatest joy, that the object would be
happiness and the means amusement. But you look tired," she said,
gazing affectionately in the old man's face; "let me go and bring you
some refreshment."

"Call Tita," replied the old man; "she will bring it; and now let us
speak of ordinary things."

A small tray was soon brought in, with some fruits, and bread, and
wine; and the conversation was renewed in a gayer spirit, Julia
striving by her light and happy tone to cheer the old man, and banish
the gloom which seemed to hang about him. The time thus passed
rapidly; and some few minutes before midnight the old man rose, saying
to the earl, "I go before for a moment. Follow me speedily. She will
show you the way, but remember, in the meantime, no rash words."

When he was gone, the earl and Julia stood for a moment gazing at each
other; and then Gowrie took her hand, saying, "Notwithstanding his
prohibition, thus far, at least, I must speak----"

But she laid her left hand on his shoulder, lifting her bright eyes
swimming in tears to his, and interrupted him. "Not now, Gowrie," she
said; "I am no dissembler, nor are you. My heart is open to you, and
yours to me. If we were to speak for years we could say no more, and
anything like promises are vain at this moment, for nothing shall ever
part me from him but death. Now come. His lamp is lighted by this
time; and I fear to trust myself with you here alone, not from doubt
of you, but of my own firmness; and a few more words would make me
weep. I see the dark day coming, Gowrie; and, as I said before, I
would not, for the joy of heaven, rob him of one thought or care, so
long as his life shall last."

As she spoke she led the way to the door without withdrawing her hand
from her lover; and thus, hand in hand, they went along the corridor
which led to the old man's study. There Julia left him, and the earl
went in.



CHAPTER IV.


The room which the Earl of Gowrie entered was a small one of an
octagonal shape, having tall lancet windows on every side but one. It
had probably, at some period long past, been the interior of one of
those small projecting turrets which we still occasionally see
ornamenting the angles of the ancient castellated houses of the
Italian nobility. The bridge leading towards the Treviso gate, and the
small canal were underneath; the city walls rose up black beyond; but
the turret was high above, and through the windows, on every side but
that next to the city, were seen twinkling the bright and
multitudinous stars of heaven. In the centre of the room was a large
oaken table bearing a lamp, the flame of which was peculiarly bright
and perfectly white in colour, and over the rest of the table were
cast in strange confusion a number of curious objects. There were
books--some closed, but some open, and displaying characters with
which the young earl was perfectly unacquainted. One page was covered
all over with cyphers alternately of red and blue; and one was traced
with many mathematical figures, which, although the earl was well
versed in that science, seemed to him strange and new. Another
manuscript lay near, which he saw at once was written in Hebrew, but
there were others in which the lines ran from corner to corner of the
page, with such a multitude of strokes and flourishes, that the
letters themselves could hardly be distinguished. Scientific
instruments were there too, tossed about amongst the papers, with the
uses of many of which the young lord was unacquainted. There were
triangular glasses filled with sand, and glass globes, connected
together by a tube of the same substance, half filled with mercury.
Squares and triangles of brass covered over with curious signs were
there likewise; and round about the room, beneath shelves loaded with
ponderous volumes, were several globes, and instruments of a rude
construction for observing the stars. In one corner stood a small
furnace, with crucibles and retorts, and various other implements of
chemical or alchemical science; and on a small pedestal of black
marble between two of the windows was raised a crucifix of ebony and
ivory, supported by two heads of cherubim, exquisitely sculptured in
white marble, the one looking up towards the cross with a bright
smile, the other with the eyes bent down, as if weeping, and the whole
expression sad. At the foot of the crucifix lay a human skull.

At the moment the earl entered, the old man, Manucci, was seated on
the side of the table opposite to the door, with a reading desk
bearing up a large vellum-covered book before him, and a paper covered
with a strange-looking diagram on the table. He had a pen in one hand,
and a pair of compasses in the other; and without noticing, even by a
look, the young earl's entrance, he turned his eyes from time to time
to the book and then to the paper again, and once or twice inscribed a
figure of a curious form at the side of the diagram. Twice he paused
and listened, as if in expectation of some sound, and then laying down
the pen, he leaned his head upon his hand, and remained in silent
meditation.

At length the large bell of the Franciscan church of St. Antony struck
the hour of midnight, and all the other clocks in the city proclaimed
that a day was ending and beginning.

"Now," said Manucci, addressing the earl, "come hither, and sit beside
me. Here is the scheme of your nativity, drawn out carefully according
to the dates that you have given me. Of the past I will not speak;
for, as you have often told me the events which have occurred to you
at various periods of your life, perhaps in drawing deductions from
the aspect of the stars, my judgment might be somewhat guided by the
knowledge I already possessed. It is sufficient, however, that to any
one who is acquainted, even superficially, with this science, it would
plainly appear, that the aspect of the stars in the month of October,
1593, menaced you with great danger, and that in '94, towards the end
of the year, you were clearly destined to quit your native land. Of
the future, however, I must speak more strongly; for times of great
trial to you are coming. Look at these menacing aspects, and judge for
yourself."

"I know so little of the science," replied the earl, "that I cannot
pretend to form a just opinion; but it seems to me, from the little I
do know, that here," and he laid his finger on a part of the diagram,
"is the promise of much happiness, honour, and peace, and love."

"Ay," said Manucci, "but look farther. Here is honour, and peace, and
love, but hardly has the sun of next year touched his extreme point
north, when see what menacing aspects appear. Almost every planet is
in opposition in your house. Do you not see?"

"I do, indeed," answered the earl; "but yet it is nearly
unintelligible to me. I beseech you read it, according to your skill."

"It is dark and yet clear," said the old man. "This, however, I can
tell with certainty, that the greatest point of peril in your whole
life, lies between the end of June next year and the anniversary of
this day. The danger shall come upon you in the midst of peace and
tranquillity, when all things seem to promise fair. If you escape that
period, the rest of existence shall be bright and happy, your life
shall be long and prosperous, and fortune shall smile upon you to the
end; but there is great peril there."

"But how shall I avoid it?" asked the earl. "Can you give me no
indication for my guidance? Can you not tell me what is the nature of
the peril, from whom or whence it comes?"

Manucci mused. "It is not war," he said, "for Mars is low down. I
should say that policy had to do with it, that the danger is more of
conspiracy than of war."

The young earl smiled; but Manucci went on, in the same sort of musing
way. "Love, too," he said, "has a share in the evil, though indirect;
but conspiracy assuredly, from the menacing aspect of Saturn. Avoid, I
beseech you, avoid all meddling with the politics of your native land;
scrupulously and carefully eschew treason, or anything that may be so
construed; listen not even to the words of conspirators, take no part
in their counsels, drive them forth from your presence if they seek to
tempt you, and so I trust you may escape the peril; but if not, you
will certainly fall, for the anger of a king evidently threatens you;
and the cause of danger is conspiracy, goaded on by love."

"Safely and surely can I promise," answered the earl, "for I have long
made up my mind to avoid all plots, and to take no share of any kind
in aught but the ordinary business of the day. My family have suffered
too much already from their dealings with that foul fiend, Policy,
which ever proves the ruin of those who give themselves up to her, who
soothes them with hopes but to deceive them, and raises them up but to
dash them down. Neither have I ever seen or heard of one benefit
procured for the country by the blood of all the patriots who have
fallen in defending their fellow citizens' rights, still less by that
of those who have suffered base personal ambition to lead them into
schemes of treason and disloyalty under the pretence of redressing
grievances. There comes a pitch of tyranny sometimes, it is true, when
it is necessary to dare all and to risk all for security, liberty, and
repose; but it very, very seldom happens, in the ordinary course of
events, that anything can be gained by revolt, which can compensate
even for a few days of turbulence, anarchy, or civil war. Nothing of
the kind exists at present, or is likely to exist, to justify anything
like conspiracy or rebellion. Make your mind easy then, as far as I am
concerned; for I can safely promise to avoid everything which can
afford even a reasonable cause of suspicion."

"Thank God that it is so," answered Manucci, solemnly; "but ever keep
in mind what I have said. Think of it every day. Remember it on every
occasion; for I have told you that the peril will come suddenly, and
probably, therefore, the temptation also. If you attend to my warning,
and thus escape the danger, you will have to thank me for long years
afterwards. Therefore now sit down here in my seat, and copy
accurately that which is there written. Keep it constantly about you,
refer to it often, and thus will you ever be upon your guard."

"If your warning prove effectual," replied Lord Gowrie, "I shall owe
you, my dear friend, much indeed; and I only wish you would tell me
how I can repay the service."

"Perhaps I may--perhaps I may," said the old man; "but copy that
quickly, then we will talk more."

Lord Gowrie sat down to copy the paper; but it occupied him during a
longer time than he had imagined, and in the meantime, a little scene
had taken place in the kitchen of the house, which ultimately took a
direction towards the same subjects which closed his conference with
Manucci.

Left alone in the dark, worthy Austin Jute waited with exemplary
patience till the old woman who had opened the door, returned with a
lamp, and invited him to come and take some supper with her in the
kitchen.

"One cannot have too much of a good thing," said the Englishman, for
such he was, in his own tongue; "but then again, another proverb says,
'Enough is as good as a feast;' and to speak the truth, I have supped;
but 'a full bag is better than an empty sack;' and, for that matter,
no one knows when he has had enough, and therefore I cannot be
supposed to be a judge in a case of conscience."

This reasoning was addressed to himself rather than to the old lady
who stood by his side, listening to all he had to say with an air of
the most perfect unconsciousness, waiting for the time when it should
be his pleasure to explain himself in Italian.

"Well, ma'am, I will come," he replied, in the latter language, which,
by the way, he spoke remarkably well. "My stomach says it would not
object to any reasonable quantity of good food, and still less to a
cup or two of good wine. I will follow you, and if----"

But the servant, accustomed to see many strange people, and to hear
many foreign languages, seemed to comprehend his meaning as much by
his looks as his words, and beckoning him to come on before he had
ended his sentence, she led the way towards her refectory. The fare
she spread before him was not very abundant nor very rich, but it was
refreshing, for fruit was ever cheap at Padua, and of such consisted
the principal part of their meal. Austin Jute was a man to make
himself easily at home wherever he came, and though, to say truth, he
might have been well pleased if his companion had been younger and
prettier, nevertheless he was soon in full talk with the old woman;
and when a little bell rang above for refreshments there, he helped
her to arrange the dishes and place the glasses with their long
stalks, as willingly and cheerily as if she had been sixteen.

"There now, Tita," he said, as she lifted the tray, "put the other
side with the bottles next to you. Always, in life and on a tray,
place the load where it is easiest borne. Two hands are enough when we
know how to use them, but four are better when work is plenty: so I'll
go and open the doors for you, for there seem many in your house."

As may well be supposed, Master Austin was now in high favour with the
good dame; for age receives as a boon what youth exacts as a tribute;
and when she rejoined him after carrying in the supper, she said, in a
low voice, "Well, your lord is certainly one of the handsomest,
noblest-looking cavaliers I ever saw; and so frank and friendly in his
way. He always speaks to me as if I were an old friend, and not a poor
servant."

"Like master, like man, my dear," replied Austin Jute; "birds of a
feather flock together. Like sticks to like. That is the reason my
master and I are so fond of each other; but I hope there is somebody
else fond of him too, for I saw, as you came out, such a beautiful
pair of eyes outshining the lamp, that I now understand very well why
my lord came back to Padua, and why he used to come hither almost
every night when he was here before, with that dull-looking fellow,
Martini, after him, like an ill-conditioned cur running at the heels
of a fine horse."

"I never liked that man," said the old woman, seating herself on her
stool in the kitchen. "I am glad your lord has not brought him
to-night."

"He could not bring him if he had wished it," replied Austin; "he
would have tumbled to pieces by the way. He was hanged two months ago
at Geneva, for robbing a gentleman who was in the same inn with us. My
master would never believe he was a rogue till he saw him hanging,
though, when he fell out of the ferry-boat into the Po, and floated
like a bad egg, I told the noble earl, that he who is born to be
hanged will never be drowned. They hanged him at last, however, and
made the proverb good."

"I dare say they were quite right," said the old woman, in a
moralizing mood; "though people who are set to do justice, often do
great injustice. Do you know, they came and wanted to drag my good old
master away, who is as honest a man and as good a Christian as any in
Padua; and they would have done it, too, and most likely put him to
the rack, if it had not been for the courage and kindness of one of
your countrymen, a student here, called Hume, and the wit and
lightness of the Signora Julia."

"Yes, I heard of all that Signor Hume did," replied Jute, "for he told
my master while I was sitting in the ante-room, with nothing but a
thin door between; for you know, Tita, though everything is made for
one purpose, most of them will serve two. But what did the young lady
do?"

"The moment she heard the noise," replied the old woman, "she ran and
shut the door across the passage which leads to the study. So they
found nothing but some scraps of old papers that were in the room
where my poor master was ill in bed; for that door shuts so close that
no one can tell it from the wainscot, and having no keyhole, but a
spring lock, they thought the passage ended there. If they had got
into the study there would have been fine to do, for there are all
manner of strange things there, which are as innocent and as holy as
the _bambino_, I will vow; but nobody understands them but my master,
and everything people don't understand they think wicked."

This sage and just observation did not lead Austin Jute from the track
he was following; for, to say sooth, curiosity was one of his
failings, and the sight of so beautiful a face as he had seen in the
room above, had stimulated that very ticklish quality till he could
not resist it. "Ah, she is a charming creature, I am sure," he said;
"it is true, all is not gold that glitters; and handsome is who
handsome does. The devil will take an angel's form at times. The frock
does not make the monk; but still she looked so sweet and sad, I am
sure she is very amiable. Many a one, Donna Tita, looks gay and
cheerful, and many a one looks pleasant and merry, and is but a sour
devil after all; but it is a good heart that looks sad for other
people's sorrows. Besides, my master would not be so fond of her if
she were not an angel. But who is she? Is she the old signor's
daughter?"

"And is your master so fond of her, then?" said the old woman, without
answering his question. "Are you sure he has never been straying after
other women, all this long time while he has been away?"

"Not once, upon my word," replied Austin, with a solemn air, laying
his hand upon his left breast. "Lord bless you, since he knew the
signora, he has become as discreet as a bell-wether. Why, he sent me
out of Genoa for six weeks, just for pinching the cheek of Ninette
Bar, the daughter of the innkeeper, and putting my lips too near those
of Rosalie, the smith's niece. It is true that I had to break the head
of Jerome, and whack Rosalie's lover in self-defence; for it came to
crabstick. But as for my lord, he passed all his time at the house of
an old gentleman called Beza, where fewer women got in than get into a
monkery--though he used to have as gay a heart as the gayest once on a
time."

"Then why did he go away, and stay away so long, if he is so fond of
her?" asked the old lady, who had her own share of curiosity as well
as Austin Jute.

"Nay! gads my life! you must ask that of the earl himself," replied
the man, "for I am not his father confessor. Perhaps the lady was
cold, for you women will have your whimsies. Dear creatures, you would
not be half so charming without."

The compliment oblique is almost always sure to go deeper than the
direct; and good Tita, though she had long lost any external claims to
the title of a charming creature, included herself comfortably in the
general category, and felt her heart open towards her companion. "No,
no," she answered, "she is not cold--to him, at least; and how should
she be, when she scarcely ever saw a young man before? He is not so
bad looking either, and a kind heart too; and as for whimsies, dear
child, she has none, and never had. She lay in my arms when she was
two years old, and that is sixteen years since."

"Upon my life, the old gentleman must have taken to matrimony late in
life, to have a daughter of eighteen, when he is eighty," said Austin
Jute, laughing.

The shot took effect.

"His daughter, you foolish knave!" cried the old lady, "she is not his
daughter!--His daughter's daughter, if you will."

"Well, there would be no great harm in it, if she were his daughter,"
answered Jute; "so you need not look so angry, my dear; many a man
marries at sixty for the consolation of life, or at least of the
little bit of life that remains. Better late than never, men say. I
would rather come in at the end of the dinner than see no dinner at
all. It is never too dark to see one's way, if one has but a lantern;
and if we have gone on wrong from the beginning, why should we not try
to get right at the end?--And so the young lady's name is not Manucci,
after all?"

"Her mother's was," answered Tita. "Poor thing, I remember her well.
When she gave the child into my hands," she said, "Take care of her,
Tita, for she will soon have no mother to do so, and no father has she
ever known."

"Oh, ho!" said Austin Jute, with a peculiar expression of countenance;
but the old woman's black eyes flashed fire. "Out, knave!" she said,
without allowing him to finish the sentence; "would you slander a
saint in heaven?"

The next moment, however, her face resumed its ordinary expression,
and she said, "I spoke foolishly. I should have told you, the babe's
father died on the day that she was born. The mother never held her
head up after; and she kept her word with me too truly; for scarcely
four months were gone by, ere we laid her in Campo Santo."

"Poor thing!" said Austin Jute, in so natural a tone of pity, that all
remains of anger were banished from Tita's heart. "How did the lady's
husband die? Was it in battle or of disease?"

"By the axe, young man--by the axe," replied Tita, sharply; "a
plaything with which people in your country sport even more than we do
here in Italy--at least I have heard so; for I know nothing of any
other land but my own; but I have heard the Signor say that there has
been sufficient innocent blood shed upon the scaffold in England and
Scotland to bring down a curse upon the country."

"Upon my life, he said true," replied Austin Jute; "for I have seen a
few heads roll in my own day, and have always thought it a pity that
people cannot find some other means of putting those out of the way
who stand in their light, but by cutting them on the back of the neck.
Were men's heads no better than turnips, we could not treat them more
carelessly than we do in our little island. Poor child, her
misfortunes came early; and I hope and trust that she got over them
all at once. People must eat black bread, they say, at one time of
their life; and it is better to swallow it before we have tasted any
other, than to eat the white bread first, and then have the other
after."

"God send that it be so with her," said the old woman, "for a dearer,
sweeter girl never lived."

"And, after all, what is her name?" said Austin Jute, in that quiet
sort of easy tone which so often leads on confidence; but good old
Tita answered quietly, with a shrewd glance of the eye, "Julia, to be
sure--the Lady Julia. That has been enough for me all my life; and it
should be enough for you too, I think."

"Enough is as good as a feast," answered Austin Jute; but as he saw he
could gain no more information he dropped the subject, and began to
wonder at the length of his lord's visit.



CHAPTER V.


"It is done," said the earl, "and, I think, accurately."

The old man bent over the paper, and examined every line. "Saturn is
wanting in the third house," he replied; "and you have left out the
sextile there."

Lord Gowrie corrected the error, then folded the paper carefully, and
put it in his bosom. When he had done so, he turned his eyes to
Manucci's face, and saw that the old man was very pale, while a
dropping heaviness of the eyelid and a quivering of the lip seemed to
the young lord to indicate great weariness.

"I wish much to speak to you, my good old friend," he said, "upon
matters of great moment; but I see that you are weary, and I must not
begin now, for our conversation might be long."

"We must begin now and end now, Gowrie," said the old man, looking at
him gravely; "for who shall say what a day will bring forth? I have
learned this in eighty years, if nothing else, that the present only
is ours, the past is gone beyond our recall, the future is in the hand
of God. Then let no man think that he can command to-morrow, for
health or sickness, strength or weakness, fortune or adversity, are
all as unstable as the wind, changing how and why we know not. I have
much to say to you too, and on the same subject, I believe. You would
speak of Julia, is it not so?"

"It is," answered Lord Gowrie.

"And you love her. I have seen it before this night. I have caught
your eyes watching her anxiously, as if you loved, yet hesitated; as
if the thoughts of the world's opinion, and friends' advice, and
courtly favour, and ambitious dreams perchance, came like dull vapours
from the earth, clouding the star of love. You went away; and I let
you go, without one word to stay you; for no man can be worthy of her,
so long as one such doubt remains in his bosom. Are they all gone
now?"

"All that I have ever entertained," replied Lord Gowrie, in a tone of
some mortification; "but you have done me some wrong, my good friend,
in your own fancies. Very few of such considerations as those you
imagined have had influence with me. I loved, but I saw no surety of
being loved in return. I knew not how strong my love was till I went
away; and I judged that it was but right to her to make myself
sure--before I strove to win her affection--that my own was durable
and true. I had often heard of boyish passion soon forgot, of love
that waxes and wanes in a few short months, and if I have learned no
other point of philosophy, I have learned to doubt the human heart
till it is tried. As for worldly considerations, you do me wrong. No
thoughts of court favour, of ambition, of avarice, ever crossed my
mind. I am wealthy enough, powerful enough, high enough in station to
set such things at nought: nor did the world's opinion influence me;
but I thought it might be wiser and better too, if, ere I acted
decidedly in any way, I opened my heart to my own dear mother, one of
royal race, but who has withal a royal heart, and knows that the true
wealth is the wealth of the mind, the highest nobility that of the
spirit. Such were the only worldly feelings I bore with me when I went
away; but I will not deny that long before that, when I found passion
rising in my heart towards her, I did struggle against my growing
love, though I struggled in vain. I am candid with you, my old
friend--I tell you all; but now that I have the hope of being loved in
return, every other consideration is cast away."

"Every other?" asked the old man, gazing at him thoughtfully.

"All, all!" replied the earl. "This is no time to ponder or to pause,
no time to seek either consent or counsel. You have been very ill,
nearly at the gates of death, were threatened with persecution, might
have been torn from her in a moment, and she left desolate,
friendless, defenceless. What should I have thought of myself--how
should I have felt, if, when I returned, I had found you dead or in
prison, and this dear girl cast upon the world? This must never be
again, my old friend--if she will give me her heart, share my station
and my fortune, and trust to this arm for her defence."

"Spoken nobly, and like yourself," replied the old man. "That she
loves you, I doubt not; for, though unconsciously, perhaps, yet you
did seek her love. That you love her well and truly, I am very sure;
otherwise you would not be here to-night, Gowrie, for you came not
alone to learn your fate from me. But yet I must think both for you
and for her; and I will place the greatest trust in you that ever was
placed in man, because I know you to be full of honour, and that she
is firm in honesty and purity of heart. Yet I will exact some promises
from you both--promises which, solemnly given, you will not dare to
break."

"I never yet broke one knowingly," replied Lord Gowrie; "and I never
will. Where her fate is concerned, believe me, my good friend, a
promise given would be but the more sacred."

"And you are then resolved to marry her?" said Manucci.

"If she can give me her whole heart," replied the earl.

"Do you ask no question as to her birth, her station, her family?"
said the old man.

"None," replied the earl. "Love, they say, my good friend, is blind;
but mine has not been so. Before my feelings towards her deserved that
name, I had many opportunities of observing; and my eyes were then, at
least, open. Small traits, which might have escaped many, told me
great secrets of her heart and character. Her love and her devotion to
yourself, seeming to merge all feelings in her duty towards you; her
prompt obedience to your lightest wish, flying before command, and
seeming to divine your unspoken thoughts; her tenderness towards all,
even towards the wicked and the cruel, censure losing itself in pity
for those who are not happy enough to be good; that true modesty which
is without vain affectation, and, ignorant of evil, places no watchful
guard against false appearances. All these, and many more things of
the kind, I marked, and often thought, these are the qualities which
will only have greater scope and shed brighter lustre in a wife; and
when to these was added, each day, the perception of some new grace of
person or of mind, was it possible not to love, Manucci?"

"You have, indeed, watched closely, and judged well," replied the old
man; "and, with one who can so justly estimate, I have no fear of my
dear child's happiness. Now listen; and, though weary, I will tell you
sufficient to show you that, even according to the world's usual
judgment, you have not chosen so far amiss. By the side both of father
and of mother, she is your equal in rank. Though an exile from my
native city, I am of a race which can count its generations back
almost to the days of ancient Rome. That she is the child of my only
daughter you know, for you have often heard me say so; and, by the
father's side, she is descended from a race, if not royal, as you have
said of your mother, often more powerful than the kings they served.
They, too, are of your own land; and their blood has mingled with that
of your own ancestors. Your family and hers have fought, and plotted,
and achieved, and sat together on many a field, in many a cabinet, at
many a council board. Her father, indeed, she never knew, for he died
by the hand of the executioner on the day when she was born; his lands
were confiscated and given to another; and I fled from Scotland with
her mother and herself, trusting that, at some future time, and by a
more wise and just sovereign, that portion which was secretly settled
on my poor child, as her dowry, and which no confiscation could touch
by law, might be restored to its true owner. These papers, which I
will give to you, will tell the rest and prove the whole; and now
listen to me, Lord Gowrie--you must soon return to your own land----"

"Not to leave her here," replied the earl, interrupting him; "that I
cannot do, my friend."

"Peace, peace," said the old man; "you must hear before you can
understand. She shall go with you--but not as your wife, impatient
boy--under the charge of your honour, and under your solemn promise to
me, not even to seek to wed her till one of two things has come to
pass. You shall endeavour, to the utmost of your power, to restore to
her the estates which were reft from her and from her mother by the
hand of oppression. The papers I am about to give you will prove her
title, and all that she demands is justice. If you succeed, then in
God's name, if you so will, make her your wife; but if not, you shall
wait patiently till after the last day of September in the next year.
Then the danger will be over."

"But what will become of you, my good friend?" demanded the earl. "I
should never desire Julia to make such a sacrifice as that: nor would
she, I am sure, accede, even if I were to demand it."

"Before that time," replied the old man, "my head will rest upon an
earthy pillow. The blood is freezing in these wintry veins, and it
will soon cease to flow. You said you were going farther on--to Rome,
to Bologna, to Florence. Go on; and by the time you return, she may
need protection and support. I know that I shall die within these two
months; and although the precise period I know not, yet depend upon
it, you will be still in Italy when that event happens. Then take her
away at once from scenes which must have their bitterness, place her
in honourable ward with your mother, who, if I know her right--and I
remember her well--will be zealous in the cause of the orphan daughter
of her husband's friend; and when her rights are established, or the
day of danger for yourself is passed, then be to her as fond and true
a husband as your noble father was to Dorothea Stuart. Will you
promise me all I demand?"

"I will," answered the earl. "I do most solemnly; but as yet, my good
friend--" and a slight shade of doubt came upon his face, "I am not
sure that she herself will consent. I think--I trust she will; but
there is no promise between us, no assurance upon her part, that she
can love me as I love her. I must see her, I must ask her, before my
heart is fully at ease. I will come to-morrow, for doubtless she has
retired to rest ere now."

"See her at once," said the old man, with a smile. "Her answer will
soon be given, or I know her not. Nor will she seek her pillow while I
am waking. See her now. It were better, I think, that you proceeded on
your journey to-morrow, so that when the hour comes, you may be ready
to act at once."

"My journey can be postponed, or given up altogether," replied the
earl. "It would be one full of care and anxiety, if I thought that she
might be left here suddenly, without friends or support. I speak
plainly, because, my noble friend, I know that you fear not death, and
are prepared for its coming. Were I to follow out the plan I had
proposed, she might be left here for weeks without comfort or
assistance."

"No, no," answered Manucci, "I will not have it said, that your love
for this dear child made you linger on here when you had other objects
before you. As to her fate, fear not for that. I see what you dread;
but there you are misled. I am very poor, it is true; but I have made
myself poorer than I am, in order that she may be richer when the
moment comes. In that cabinet are two thousand golden ducats, saved
from my small means by the utmost parsimony. That will be sufficient,
and more than sufficient, till she is under the protection of your
mother. She must not go back to her native land altogether as a
beggar; and she must hire one or more maidens to attend upon her by
the way. Neither must she, my good lord, be dependent upon you; for
that might give occasion for busy tongues to bruit about rash
suspicions. Let her pay her own servants; let her defray her own
expenses; there will be still enough and to spare. Now go and speak
with her. I will wait you here."

The young earl rose with a faint smile, and moved towards the door;
but ere he reached it he turned, and approaching the old man, grasped
his hand, saying, "Many, very many thanks for all your confidence; but
yet there is one more boon which I must ask, and I shall not be
satisfied unless you grant it. My friend, Sir John Hume, whom you
already know well, the affianced husband of my young sister Beatrice,
will remain here for a fortnight longer. Should need be, Julia must
trust in him, till I can reach her. He is the soul of honour, and
kindly and gentle in feeling. But I must also leave a servant here,
who shall attend every day at your house, and if events should require
it, will either stay to assist his master's promised bride or seek and
find me, with wit and diligence such as few can show. His character is
a very mixed one, with faults and virtues in excess; but he has proved
his devotion to me many a time, and of his honesty I am well assured.
Say you agree to this! Then I shall go in peace."

"Well, so be it," answered the old man.

And leaving him for the time, the young earl hurried away towards the
room whither he had been first conducted. His first steps along the
passage were eager and impetuous. It seemed as if he could not too
soon hear the words which were to decide his fate; but as he
approached the door, his feet relaxed their speed; and he paused
thoughtfully, with his hand lifted towards the lock. What was it that
made him hesitate? Let his own words answer. "No, no, studied speech
is vain," he said at length. "I will pour my heart into hers, and if
the feelings within it but find voice, no eloquence can match them."

Thus saying, or rather thinking, he opened the door and went in. Julia
was seated at the table with a book before her, on which her eyes
rested not, with the lamp casting its pale light on the fair white
forehead, the jetty hair, the long fringed eyelids, and the sweeping
arch of the mouth. Her eyes were turned away, gazing on vacancy; but
the first step of her lover in the room roused her from her reverie,
and with a start, sudden but graceful, she rose, exclaiming, "Where is
he?--Is he ill?"

"No, dearest Julia," replied the earl; "but I have come from him to
you, to speak a few words, which, with your answer, must decide our
fate for life."

As he spoke he took her hand, and led her back towards the chair from
which she had risen; but she shook her head mournfully, without
resuming her seat, and said, "Have I not answered already? I have told
you that I cannot, that I must not speak now."

"Nay, listen to me," said the earl, "for I seek not to take you from
him, nor even to bind you to quit him; but he and I have now spoken of
all; and we have made promises to each other, which it remains but for
you to ratify; for upon you depends the execution of his plans, as
well as the fulfilment of my hopes."

She bowed her head in silence and with tearful eyes, looking like
a flower bent down with heavy dew, and the earl gazed at her
tenderly--almost sadly, for a moment. "I am about to leave you again,
dear Julia," he said, at length; "but I go this time with very
different feelings from those which I experienced when last we parted.
I then knew not all that was in my own heart; I knew nothing of yours.
I felt love without being aware how powerful it was, and without even
hoping it was returned. But now I comprehend all the strength of my
own attachment; and I do entertain hopes which it is for you to
confirm or to destroy. Painful as it is, I must mingle sad images even
with the expression of my brightest hopes. A time must come, Julia,
and you yourself see that it is coming fast, when you will be left
alone, bereft of kindred support. I have offered, I have promised, to
supply to you the place of him whom death may soon, and must
eventually, take away. Nothing that you can now say can make that
promise void. It shall be executed fully, sincerely, with my whole
heart and my whole energies; but it is you who must decide how it is
to be executed by me--whether as the promised husband, plighted to you
till death, with mournful happiness soothing your sorrows, sharing
your grief, and with a right indefeasible to protect and comfort you,
till your lot is blended by the marriage vow with his----"

The colour had come warmly up into her cheek as he spoke; and Gowrie
paused an instant, doubting what were the emotions in which the blush
had its source; "Or--" he added, "or as the true and sincere friend,
fulfilling towards you the promise made to one loved, esteemed, and
mourned by both; but, with deep and bitter disappointment in his
heart, pouring shadow and darkness over his whole afterlife."

Julia started, gazed at him for an instant, and then exclaimed, "Oh
no, Gowrie, no!--Can you have doubted?--Can you really have painted
such a picture to your own fancy?--Can you think me so ungrateful--so
base?" And she let her forehead fall upon his shoulder, while his arm
stole round her waist.

"Thanks, dearest girl, thanks!" he said; "but tell me--tell me, Julia,
is it with your whole heart?"

She looked up, with her cheek burning, and replied, in a voice hardly
audible, "Do not doubt it! When he is gone, there will be none to
share with you;" and Gowrie pressed her tenderly to his bosom.

"Enough, enough," he said; "now I shall be quite happy."

Oh, vain words! Oh, rash anticipations! What mortal has ever had the
right to infer that he shall be happy, even for an hour? Any man may
learn, how much stronger hope is than fear in the human heart, by
examining whether his expectations of joy, or his apprehensions of
sorrow, have been most frequently disappointed.



CHAPTER VI.


It was a dull and heavy day in the month of September. The sky had
been covered each evening, for the last week, with dark flocculent
clouds, high up in air, but still leaden and lowering, and now the
rain descended in the city of the ten colleges in a perfect deluge.
The country round Padua rejoiced, for the summer had been very dry and
hot, and the land yearned for the dew of heaven; but the streets of
the town were almost impassable, except under the arcades on the west
side--where any street was fortunate enough to have a west side--for
there was a strong wind blowing, which drifted the large drops under
the arches to the east, and a torrent flowed down the middle of each
street, increased every two or three yards by a gushing spout
projecting from the house top.

There was, however, sunshine in one of the dwellings of the town, for
Julia's heart was happier than she almost liked to own. She sat with a
letter before her from Gowrie, announcing that he would be speedily
back in Padua; and she herself was writing to him, telling him part of
the feelings which arose in her own bosom--for she had not yet taken
courage to tell him all--and conveying to him the glad tidings that
her aged relation had entirely recovered from his late serious
illness, and was looking better than she had seen him for many a
month.

Manucci himself was sitting beside her, busy with some abstruse
problem, and from time to time raising his eyes to watch her write, or
to mark the varied expressions which passed over her beautiful face,
with that calm and heavenly satisfaction which spreads through the
breast of age--when the mind is well regulated and the heart
generous--at witnessing the hopes of youth and the joys which no
longer can be shared.

Julia wrote on. The old man bent his head over the papers; and a few
minutes after Tita entered to tell her master that a man with sea-fish
was at the door, and to ask if he would purchase any. She spoke to
him, but he did not answer; and Julia suddenly turned round and gazed
at him. He was very pale, and his head rested upon one of the great
wings of the chair. Starting up with a low cry of fear, his grandchild
ran round, and raised his head. The eyes were closed, but he still
breathed hard and noisily. His limbs, however, were motionless, and he
was evidently insensible. Assistance was called, and he was removed to
his room and laid upon his bed. Tita ran away at once, first for a
physician and then a priest; and both came nearly at the same time.
The man of art applied the remedies usual in those days, while the
good priest watched narrowly to take advantage of the first return of
consciousness to perform his functions likewise. Extreme unction was
given while he was still insensible; and about two hours after the
attack Manucci opened his eyes for a moment, and the priest eagerly
advanced the crucifix towards him. Whether the motion was voluntary or
involuntary who can tell? but old Manucci raised his hand, and it fell
upon the cross. It was the last effort of expiring life. The next
moment a sharp shudder passed over his frame, and he was a corpse.

"He has died like a good Catholic," said the priest, who was a man of
a kindly and a liberal heart.

Julia wept, but replied not; and the old man, coming round to the side
of the bed where she stood, tried to comfort her to the utmost of his
power. She pressed his hand gratefully, but still remained in silent
tears; and the priest, drawing the physician apart, they conferred
together for several minutes in a low tone.

"The sooner the better," said the physician, "lest the suspicions that
have been abroad should make them stop it."

"You're a witness he died as a good Catholic, with his hand upon the
cross," rejoined the priest.

"I am," answered the physician; "but it will be better to say as
little, either of his death or anything else, as possible, till the
funeral is over, otherwise we shall have a scandal, and perhaps a
disturbance."

"You are right, you are right," said the priest. "My dear child," he
continued aloud, turning towards Julia, who was kneeling by the dead
man's bedside, while Tita stood weeping at the foot, "you had better
come with me into another room. There is nothing here but the clay.
The spirit which you loved has departed in peace to our Father which
is in heaven. There are sad duties to be performed; but trouble not
yourself with them. I and your friend here, Signor Anelli, together
with good Tita, will care for all that;" and approaching her side, he
took her hand and gently led her away.

The funeral was performed as secretly as possible and as speedily; and
it is always speedy in Italy; and Julia sat alone in the little room,
where she had been writing when the old man was struck by the hand of
death. The two letters were still open upon the table; and, as her eye
fell upon the very last sentence she had been writing, in which she
spoke of Manucci's recovered health, the tears flowed fast and long.

"I must write him another tale now," she said, tearing the letter; and
then rising, she inquired whether Austin Jute, whom Gowrie had left to
assist her in case of need, was in the house, for Hume had by this
time left Padua.

The man was in her presence in a moment, and Julia told him that she
wished him to set out immediately to seek his lord at Bologna, and
tell him what had occurred.

"Disobedience is a great sin, dear lady," replied Austin Jute; "but I
must either disobey you or my lord. He told me to leave you on no
account whatever; and to say sooth, I believe, as things go, I can be
of better service here than at Bologna, for Sir John Hume has gone to
join my master, and there is no one but me to take care of you. If you
will write a few lines, however, dear lady, I will see that it goes by
a sure messenger."

Nor was Austin Jute wrong in his conclusions, though at that moment he
did not choose to tell the lady all he had heard. Rumour had been busy
in Padua, and of course from the moment it was generally known that
old Signor Manucci was dead, some one of her hundred tongues was
busied in manufacturing a new falsehood every instant. Citizens and
shopkeepers talked. Tutors and professors laid their heads together.
The heads of the colleges met and consulted, and thought fit to call
in the advice of a commissary of the holy office. They had made such a
bustle about it, however, before that secret and discreet functionary
had anything to do with the matter, that a report of what was going on
had spread far and wide. Austin Jute had his ears and his eyes open;
and, as he knew many of the servants of the colleges, he soon learned
much that was taking place, and determined to watch all the more
eagerly over her who had been committed, in some degree, to his
charge. Such were the motives of his answer to Julia; and ere evening
he had cause to rejoice that he had not undertaken her mission, for
one oversight, or rather act of neglect, on the part of the
inquisitor, afforded him an opportunity of turning his stay in Padua
to the greatest advantage. Some one suggested, in the meeting of the
heads of colleges, that it would be expedient, before proceeding
further, to examine the priest who had attended Manucci on his death
bed. The commissary of the holy office was either tired, hungry, or
busy; and he left the worthy doctors of the university to make that
investigation themselves. Had the good father been examined by the
inquisitor, he would have dared as soon chop off his right hand as
give any intimation of what was likely to take place. For the mere
scholastic dignitaries he had no such fear or reverence; and the
moment he quitted them, he hastened to the house near the Treviso
gate. The first person he saw was Tita, but immediately behind her
stood Austin Jute; and a short conference was held by the three, so
brief, indeed, that the old servant did not catch half of the good
priest's meaning, for he was too much alarmed to remain more than a
few moments.

As soon as he was gone, Austin laid his hand upon the old woman's arm,
saying, "Not an instant is to be lost. We must take Time by the
forelock. We shall never catch him if he once gets on. I must go and
prepare means. You go and bring the young lady down into the garden,
and by the steps to the gate. Tell her to take whatever money she has,
gold, or jewels, or anything else, and as few clothes as possible,
packed in a small space. Lock and bar the door of the house as soon as
I am gone, but keep the garden gate upon the latch, and mind you do
not open the front door, whatever knocking or hammering you may hear."

"But what is it, what is it?" exclaimed Tita. "I did not understand
what the good father meant."

"That your sweet lady will be handed over to the inquisition within
half an hour, if you do not do as I tell you, and quickly," replied
Austin. "Remember, a minute lost is never regained. Time and tide wait
for no man.--Haste, haste, Tita. But stay! It were well if the lady
had some disguise. Where could one get a novice's gown and veil?"

"Not nearer than at the stall by St. Antony's," replied the old woman;
"but I've got my festa gown and a large black hood, that would cover
her head and shoulders. The gown is too big, but no matter for that,
it'll go on the easier."

"Away, then. Dress her in it, and bring her down. But mind, lock and
bar the door, and open to no one." Thus saying, he set out at full
speed.

With trembling hands Tita fulfilled his directions in regard to
securing the front entrance of the house. As soon as that was
accomplished she hastened to her young mistress, whom she found
writing a few sad lines to Gowrie. The agitation and terror in the
woman's face at once caught Julia's attention; and she started up,
exclaiming, "What is it now? What new misfortune has happened?"

"Oh, dear lady, you must fly!" said Tita. "Austin Jute, my young
lord's man, says there is not a moment to be lost; and he understands
what the good father said better than I do. I only heard him say they
were coming here immediately to search; but Austin says you must get
all the money you have, and everything that is valuable, and put on
some disguise, and come down as fast as possible to the garden gate,
where he will join us; they will put you in the inquisition else."

The beautiful girl seemed to comprehend her danger at once; and the
thought of being deprived of liberty, and cut off from all power of
communicating with the only being on earth whom she now sincerely
loved, brought a look of terror into her face.

"A disguise!" she exclaimed. "Where shall I find a disguise? I have
none but my ordinary clothes."

"Never mind that. I will bring that in a minute," replied Tita; "only
you get ready without delay. Get the money and the jewels, and all
that is worth carrying, and don't open the door on any account till I
come down, however they may knock."

Thus saying, she ran away to her own room, and soon descended with her
gala dress, which was that of a Lombard peasant. By this time her
naturally sharp wits had recovered from the first effect of fear and
agitation, and now she was all promptness and decision. Throwing the
dress she had brought over her young mistress, she fastened the bodice
as tight as she could, and gathered together the large folds of the
petticoat. But before she covered her head with the black hood, which
she had likewise brought, she could not forbear gazing at her for an
instant, and kissing her cheek, saying, "Bless thee, my child. Thou
art as beautiful a little peasant as any in all the Veronese." The
rest of the preparations were soon made. Some few articles of dress
were packed in a small bundle; the money taken from the drawer in
which it had been placed; and a heart cut in red cornelian, and set
round with large diamonds--the only trinket which Julia possessed,
with the exception of the gold pins for her hair, and a brooch to
clasp her mantle--was taken from a casket and placed in her fair
bosom. All this being arranged, they hurried down the stairs towards a
door leading into the garden, their steps being accelerated by a
considerable noise in the usually quiet street. In the passage of the
house, however, Tita stopped, saying, "I had better take the key," and
approaching the door, she drew the key forth quietly, and hastened
after her mistress, who was by this time at the small door leading
into the garden.

I should, perhaps, have mentioned before, some particulars respecting
the situation of the house, in explanation of the directions which
Austin Jute had given. It was, as I have said before, the last house
in the street, and close to the bridge which led over the little
canal, towards the Place d'armes within the Treviso gate. As that gate
had been one of much importance in former times, a good deal of pains
had been taken to strengthen it against an enemy, and at the side of
the canal, a work of earth, faced with masonry, with a regular
platform and parapet, had been formed, commanding the bridge on one
side, and the Place d'armes on the other. As quieter times had come,
this work, abutting upon the house of Signor Manucci, had been
neglected; and the space within, had been cultivated by him as a
little garden. The whole level was considerably higher than that of
the water, and a short flight of steps arched over, descended from the
garden to a small sally port in the wall, which led to a narrow path
not more than two feet wide, by the side of the canal, at a spot
distant some sixty or seventy yards from the bridge. The house itself
was, in fact, included in the fortification; and the turret, in which
the poor old man's study had been placed, overlooked the wall and the
country round, and had probably, in former times, served the purpose
of a watch tower. The little garden, however, except at one point, was
only visible from the turret when a person stretched his head far out
of the windows in the massy walls; neither could the steps be seen
which led to the sally port.

With all these particulars Austin Jute, whose disposition was
naturally inquisitive, had made himself thoroughly acquainted; but he
had forgotten to warn the fugitives not to cross that one part of the
garden which was visible from the windows above; and Julia, as soon as
she had passed the door, was running straight across, when Tita
stopped her, calling, "Under the wall, my dear--under the wall, and
behind the fig tree and the mulberries.--I will lock this door
though.--Heaven! we are not a minute too soon. They are knocking in
the street there, as if they would have the door down. Well, let them
try. It will take them some time, I warrant, for it is good strong
oak, clasped with iron."

With this reflection she followed her young mistress, and keeping
amongst the shrubs as much as possible, they reached the top of the
steps, and descended to the sally port. That was soon unlocked, and
there they remained for nearly a quarter of an hour in a sort of
semi-darkness, hearing faint and dull the sound of heavy blows
proceeding from the street, as the officers of the university and the
holy office, when they found that no gentler means were effectual in
obtaining admission, had recourse to sledge-hammers to effect an
entrance. At the end of that time a loud crash was heard, and Tita
whispered, "They've got in now."

Julia trembled very much, but a comparative silence succeeded, which
lasted some five minutes more, and Tita tried to cheer her, saying,
"Perhaps, after all, they wont find their way to the study this time
either. I pulled to the door in the passage as I came along, and the
spring's not easily seen."

Hardly had the words been pronounced, however, when the sound of
voices coming through the windows above showed that her hope was
fallacious; and Julia said, in a low tone, "Had we not better go out
to the bank of the canal?"

"No, no," replied Tita; "we shall hear them if they come into the
garden, for they must knock that door down, too, or force the lock."

A moment after the latch of the sally port was lifted, and the door
opened. "Come out! come out!" said the voice of Austin Jute; and, like
lightning, Julia darted through the door, and stood beside her lover's
servant on the bank of the canal.

"I'll lock this door, too," said Tita, taking out the key and placing
it on the other side.

"Safe bind, safe find," said Austin; "but the proverb is not true at
the other side of the house, for they've dashed the door in, and the
whole street is filled with a mob. So much the better for us. There
will be fewer people in the other places."

"But which way shall we take?" asked Tita; "if we go to the bridge, we
must cross the end of the street; and all the neighbours know me right
well."

"That would never do," replied Austin. "Take the other way to the
bridge higher up. Then we can cross there, and come back to the gate
from the other side. It's longer; but it cannot be helped. The
farthest about is sometimes the nearest way home. I have bought three
asses, and they have just gone through the gates, to wait for us at
the little wine-shop half a mile on."

Tita took a few steps in the direction which he indicated, leading the
way, for the path was not wide enough to admit of two abreast; but
then she stopped suddenly, saying, "I think two asses would do, Signor
Austin."

"How do you mean?" asked the man.

"Why, I mean that it will be much better for me not to go away from
the city," said Tita; "if they find us all gone, and should afterwards
catch the Signorina, they will be sure to say that she ran away
because she knew she was guilty of something. Now, a plan is come into
my head, and as soon as I've seen you out of the gates, I'll just go
round by the market, buy a basketful of things, and go back with the
key, as if I knew nothing that has happened."

"But, Tita, they may shut you up in prison," cried Julia.

"No, my dear, they wont," replied the old woman, calmly; "they'd only
have to feed me there if they did, so they'll know better. I can tell
them, with a safe conscience, that you were gone before they ever came
to the house; and if they ask where, I'll say you took the Treviso
way. The truth is, my child, I am not fit now for running anywhere in
a hurry; and if I were to go with you, I should only delay you, and
perhaps lead to your being found out, for many people all round know
old Tita, and there is scarcely any one in the town has ever seen you.
I know you will think of me when you are away; and when you are safe
and happy again, perhaps you may send for the old woman who nursed you
in your youth."

"That I will, Tita," replied Julia; "but I am terrified to leave you
with these people."

"No fear, no fear, my child," answered the old woman. "They can say
nothing against me, for I went to confession every week. But you would
never go, you know, my child, because neither you nor the signor
thought it did any good; and, indeed, I don't think you had anything
to confess. They can't hurt me; and they wont, I'm sure, for I'm
neither too wise for them nor too good for them, and have always done
what the priest told me; said my prayers, and counted my beads; and if
that is not being a good catholic, I don't know what is."

"But you must have some of this money, at least," said Julia, as Tita
was walking on again.

"Give me two ducats," said the old woman; "that'll keep me a long
while."

But Julia insisted on her taking much more; and when that was settled,
they proceeded on their way, without difficulty or obstruction. It was
not without some tears that Julia parted with her faithful old
servant, nor without much emotion that she went forward on an untried
path of life, protected by a man whom she had known only a few weeks;
but there seemed no other course before her, and she strove not to
show any doubt or dread. The asses were found ready at the spot where
they had been appointed, and telling the man who brought them, that
"the other girl" would not come, Austin Jute placed his fair companion
on the pad with which one of them was furnished, bestrode the other
himself, and led the way for about a mile farther on the Treviso road.
Then, however, he turned to the left, and, circling round the city,
endeavoured to regain the highway to Bologna.

In the meantime good Tita re-entered the town by one of the other
gates, bought herself a new basket as she went along, and leisurely
took her way to the market, where she stopped at several of the
stalls, and, as the following day was a fast-day, bought herself a
portion of fish and vegetables sufficient for the frugal meal of one
person, and no more. She laid the key between the articles of food and
the side of the basket, and was, with the same calm, deliberate step,
proceeding homeward, when a man, who was passing through, exclaimed,
with looks of wonder and surprise, "Ha, Tita, you take matters
wonderfully quietly! Do you not know that they have broken into your
house, upon a charge of sorcery against your old master, and are now
seeking for proofs amongst his papers, I understand. Orders have been
given, they say, to apprehend your young lady, for all men admit that
she never came to confession or absolution, and some would have one
believe that she is but, after all, a familiar spirit, which your
master consented to have dealings with, in order to get at unheard-of
treasures."

"I had her in my arms when she was two years old," said Tita,
sturdily; "and she was more like flesh than spirit, and good Christian
flesh, too."

This answer seemed irrefragable to the good townsman, who replied,
"Well, you know best; I never saw her."

And Tita replied, with a toss of the head and a scornful air,
"Unheard-of treasures, forsooth, when the poor old man died as poor as
a rat! Sorcery must be a poor trade I trow, and the devil be very
uncivil to his friends and acquaintances."

With this answer, she walked quickly homeward, as if she had heard,
for the first time, of what had occurred. When she reached the door of
the house, she found the whole passage filled with people, many of
whom were anxious to get up the stairs, and see the inside of a
sorcerer's dwelling, in good company; but the officers of the
inquisition, the beadles and servants of the university, and some
half-dozen of the company of soldiers to which the garrison of Padua
was now reduced, kept back the people with brandished partizans and
staves, till at length a shout was raised by some one who knew her, of
"Here is old Tita! here is old Tita! A fagot and a tar-barrel for the
old witch!"

Now Tita had sufficient experience in the ways of the world to know
that the attacking party always has a certain advantage; and,
consequently, making her way through the crowd as best she could, she
assailed the officers, high and low, with great volubility. Could they
not wait for her coming back, she said, when she had only gone out for
half an hour? What was the need of breaking down the door, when they
had only to wait a minute or two, and it would have been opened for
them? But they must needs be making work for the smith and the
carpenter.

She insisted, as if it was a right she demanded, instead of a fate
that was certain to befall her, to be carried immediately before the
illustrissimi up stairs; and even when in their presence, she assumed
all the airs of towering passion, and poured forth, upon the
commissary of the inquisition himself, such a torrent of vituperation,
that for a moment or two he was utterly confounded. As he recovered
himself, however, he reprehended her with dignity, and demanded how
they could tell she would ever come back at all. To which Tita
adroitly rejoined, "What right had you to suppose I would not? Had not
I got the key with me?" and she instantly produced it from the basket
which she carried on her arm.

Whether logic was not in its most palmy state in Padua at the time, or
whether the functionaries of the holy office were not accustomed to
deal in the most logical manner with questions brought before them, I
know not; but assuredly, the commissary regarded the anger, the
apostrophe, and the key, as very convincing proofs of Tita's ignorance
and innocence. He nevertheless proceeded to question her in regard to
the departure of the Signora Julia, who, he informed her, was gravely
suspected of having aided her late grandfather in unlawful studies, of
which pursuits, on his part, they had discovered irrefragable proofs.

"Lord bless you, illustrious signor," replied the old woman, with a
very skilful sort of double dealing, not exactly falsifying the matter
of fact, but giving it a colour altogether different from that which
it naturally bore, "my young lady went out before I did. Why, she set
off on the road to Treviso some time ago; and she is gone to see a
gentleman to whom she is to be married, I understand; but I don't know
much about the matter, for she does not talk to me greatly about such
things; and all I know is, that a better young lady or a better
Christian does not live. As to my poor master's dealing in magic, I
don't believe a word of it; for I never saw a ghost or a spirit about
the house, and I am sure it would have frightened me out of my wits if
I had. I'll tell everything I know, and show every cranny about the
house for that matter, for I've swept it every bit from end to end
many a time, and I never saw anything about the place except what I've
heard gentlemen call philosophy, which I thought was something they
taught at the university, God forgive me!"

This reply produced an unwilling smile, and the great readiness which
Tita expressed to tell all she knew perhaps saved her from many after
questions, for but a few more were asked; and then the commissary and
those who were joined with him departed, sweeping away all the papers,
and many of the instruments of poor Manucci, Tita following them to
the very street, and teazing them vociferously to have the door
mended.



CHAPTER VII.


It was a sultry autumnal day--one of those days of early autumn when
the summer seems to return and make a fierce struggle to resume its
reign, when the leaves are yet green, or just tinted with the yellow
hue of decay, when the grape is still ruddy on the bough, and the fig
looks purple amongst its broad green leaves. The air had seemed
languid and loaded all the day, as if a sirocco had been blowing,
though the wind was in the west, and a hazy whiteness spread over the
wide plains through which wander the Po, the Mincio, and the Adige.
The silver gray cattle strayed lazily through the fields, sometimes
lifting their heads, and bellowing as if for fresh cool air, sometimes
plunging amongst the sedges, or actually swimming in the streams. Not
a bird was seen winging its way through the air, the very beccaficos
were still amongst the vines, and the horses of a large party of
travellers who were approaching the banks of the Po, hung their heads,
and wearily wended on, oppressed more by the languid heat of the day
than by the length of the way they had travelled.

The travellers themselves, however, seemed gay and full of high
spirits: the three gentlemen who rode in front jesting lightly with
each other, though one was an elderly man of a staid, though somewhat
feeble looking countenance: and the servants behind chattering in
various languages with no very reverent lowness of tone.

"Do you remember, Hume," said one of the former, as they rode on, "our
first journey by night through these plains?"

"Yes," replied the other, "and your plunging your horse into the
Mincio, vowing we had all got off the high road."

"Because we had nothing but fire-flies to light us," replied Gowrie,
"and Mr. Rhind took the first we saw for falling stars."

"Though there were no stars in the sky to fall," cried Hume; "or if
they had fallen, they would have been caught in the thick blanket of
cloud, and tossed up again."

"Well, my young friend," said meek Mr. Rhind, "they were the first I
ever saw, you know, and every man may make a mistake."

"I wonder you did not take them for the burning bush," said Hume, a
little irreverently; "for, my dear Rhind, you had had the Old
Testament in your mouth from the moment we left Mantua, and you had
paid our bill to the Moabitish woman who cheated us so fearfully. You
called her by every gentile name you could muster, simply because she
would have twenty _scudi_ more than her due."

"Well, I own I loved her not," replied Mr. Rhind.

"But she did not want you to love her!" retorted Hume; "she wanted
Gowrie to love her, and he would not; so she charged the twenty scudi
for the disappointment; and all she wanted _with you_ was to pay the
money."

"Which I certainly would not have done, if I could have helped it,"
replied Mr. Rhind.

"But you could not, my dear sir," said Lord Gowrie; "depend upon it,
Rhind, there is no striving against woman, circumstances, or an
innkeeper's bill; and it is only waste of words and time to contest a
point with either."

"I am sorry you find it so, my dear lord," replied Mr. Rhind, somewhat
tartly, for he had been rather hardly pressed by his young companions'
gay humour during the morning. Lord Gowrie only laughed, however, for
his heart was very light. He was returning to her he loved; he had
known few sorrows since his very early years, and each step of his
horse's foot seemed, to hope and fancy, to bring him nearer to
happiness. He could have jested at that moment good-humouredly with a
fiend; and certainly Mr. Rhind did not deserve that name. The young
earl, however, saw clearly that his former preceptor was somewhat
annoyed, and he consequently changed the subject, stretching out his
hand, and saying, "Behold the mighty Po. I know not how it is, but
this river, about the part where we are now, though less in course and
in volume than either the Rhine, the Rhone, or the Danube, always
gives me more the idea of a great river than they do. Perhaps it may
be even from the lack of beautiful scenery. With the others we lose
the grandeur of the river in the grandeur of its banks. Here the broad
stream comes upon us in the dead flat plain, without anything to
distract the attention or engage the eye. I am inclined to believe
that a river, as a river, is always more striking when there is no
other great object to be seen."

"And yet to me," said Hume, "the ocean itself, simply as the ocean,
without storms to lash it into magnificent fury, or rocky shores to
hem it in, like a defending and attacking army, but seen from a plain
sandy shore upon a calm day, is not half so sublime a sight as poets
and enthusiasts would have us believe. There is a great deal of
quackery in poetry, don't you think so, Gowrie? Poets bolster
themselves and one another up with associations and images, till they
believe things to be very sublime, which abstractedly are very
insignificant. I remember once standing upon a low beach, and putting
the whole sea out, by holding up a kerchief at arm's length. I have
never since been able to think it sublime except during a storm."

"Take care how you try other things by such standards," said Gowrie;
"I am afraid, my dear Hume, that the same kerchief would have equally
reduced the finest, the noblest, and the best of all the things of
earth. It is he who extends his vision, not he who contracts it, that
learns to judge things most finely, and also, I believe, most really."

As these words were passing, they were slowly approaching the banks of
the great river, which at that spot is broader perhaps than at any
other point of its course. The land on either side was bare and dusty,
and the heat became more and more intense from the want of verdure
around. At length a proposal was made that instead of crossing at once
in the ferry boat, and pursuing their journey on horseback from the
other side, they should hire a boat and drop down to Occhiobello,
leaving the horses and grooms to rest for an hour or two at Massa, and
then follow down the stream in the course of the evening, when the
weather would be less sultry. The proposal came from Mr. Rhind, who
was evidently a good deal fatigued; and the Earl of Gowrie, ever
anxious to contribute as much as possible to his old tutor's comfort,
acceded at once, although the plan might cause a few hours' delay, and
he was anxious to hasten on as fast as possible, impelled by love and
the expectation of speedily meeting her for whom his affection seemed
but to increase by absence. There was some difficulty, indeed, in
procuring a boat; for although the large ferry-boat, which, like
Charon's, had carried over many a generation, was lying at its
accustomed mooring place, yet no small boats were near, and they had
to ride slowly down the bank of the stream for more than a mile before
they came to a village where they could procure what they wanted.
There, however, they engaged a small skiff of a rude kind, then
commonly used by the peasantry; the three gentlemen embarked without
any of their attendants; and the boatmen, after a little consultation
amongst themselves, put off from the shore.

"What were you talking about just now while you were looking at the
sky every minute?" asked Lord Gowrie, in Italian, addressing the
master of the boat.

"We were saying that we should not get back without a storm, signor,"
replied the man. "I should not wonder if we had to stay at Occhiobello
to-night, for when the Po is angry she is a thorough lion."

"I hope the storm will not come before we land," said Mr. Rhind, who
was of a timid and unadventurous nature.

His two young companions only laughed, teazing him a little with
regard to his fears, for they were at that age when a portion of
danger is the sauce of life, giving a higher flavour to enjoyment. The
boatmen assured the old gentleman that the storm would not come till
evening; and away they went down the full quick stream, having for the
first half hour the same hot and glaring sun above them, shining with
undiminished force through the thin haze which lay upon the landscape.
If they expected to find fresher air upon the water they were
mistaken, for not a breath of wind rippled the current of the stream,
and the reflection of the light from its broad glassy current rendered
the heat more intense and scorching than on the land. Sir John Hume
amused himself by taking Mr. Rhind to task for the bad success of his
plan; but Lord Gowrie good-humouredly remarked, that at all events
they were saved the trouble of riding. The boat dropped down the
stream more rapidly than usual, for there was a large body of water in
the river at the time, and the current was exceedingly fierce; but at
the end of about a quarter of an hour the wind suddenly changed to the
southeast, and blowing directly against the course of the eager
waters, tossed them into waves as if on the sea. The change was so
sudden--from almost a perfect calm, with the bright smooth glassy
river hastening on unrippled towards the Adriatic, to a gale of wind
and a wild fierce turbulent torrent--that good Mr. Rhind was nearly
thrown off his seat, and showed manifest symptoms of apprehension. The
boatmen showed no alarm, however, and Lord Gowrie and Sir John Hume
contented themselves with looking up towards the sky, which in the
zenith was becoming mottled with gray and white, while to windward
some heavy black masses of cloud were seen rising rapidly in strange
fantastic shapes. The air was as sultry as before, however, and after
blowing for about a quarter of an hour sufficiently hard to retard the
progress of the travellers very much, the wind suddenly fell
altogether, and a perfect calm succeeded. The waters of the river
still remained as much agitated as ever, and Lord Gowrie called the
attention of Hume to a very peculiar appearance in the sky to the
south.

"Do you see that mass of leaden gray cloud, Hume?" he said, "lying
upon the black expanse behind. See how strangely it twists itself into
different forms, as if torn with some mortal agony."

"Agony enough," answered Sir John Hume, "for the poor cloud looks as
if it had the cholic; but I have remarked that it always is so when
the wind is in the southeast. We shall see presently if there be
thunder or anything else, for it is nothing strange to witness a
conflict of the elements at this season of the year, especially in
this dry and arid country, where the sun seems to reign supreme,
without one green blade of grass to refresh the eye, or one cheering
sound to raise a heart not utterly deprived of feeling for its fellow
creatures."

The young gentleman spoke in English; but the elder boatman, a man who
had numbered many years, and who with his three sons was now still
following the profession in which he had been bred in his early youth,
seemed to remark the direction of his eyes, and to divine the subject
of his thoughts and conversation. "Ah, sir," he said, "I should not
wonder if there were an earthquake before night. You are staring at
that queer-looking cloud; and I have rarely seen such a fellow as
that, working away as if it were twisting itself into all sorts of
shapes rather than begin the devastation, without its ending in
something very sharp."

The two young men, who comprehended every word, though spoken in the
broad Mantuan dialect, looked at each other in silence; but Mr. Rhind,
who, notwithstanding his long residence in Italy, had with difficulty
mastered the common terms of the language, remained silent, merely
observing, "Well, it is pleasant that the wind has gone down, although
the river is still tossing about in a strange way; I am half-inclined
to be sick as if I were at sea."

Half an hour passed without the prognostication of the fisherman being
fulfilled. The same lull in the air, the same agitation of the water
continued; Occhiobello was in sight, and the sun was sinking far away
over the Piedmontese hills, surrounded by a leaden purple colour, in
which it was difficult to say whether the dull stormy gray or the
crimson glow of evening predominated. In the south, the same heavy
clouds were seen, somewhat higher than when the wind fell, cutting
hard upon the blue sky overhead; and the large mass of vapour, the
peculiar appearance of which I have already mentioned, lay contorting
itself into a thousand different forms every moment. On the right
bank, not far behind them, when they looked back, the travellers could
see their horses and servants coming at an easy pace down the course
of the stream, the slow progress of the boat having given an advantage
to the party on land; and in front, a little more than half way
between them and Occhiobello, a row boat was perceived crossing the
broad river from the left bank to the right, apparently with great
difficulty, and heavily laden.

"That is Mantini's boat," said one of the boatmen to the other.

"Ay, he'll get himself into a scrape some day," said the old man. "You
see he's got horses in it now!"

"How is that likely to get him into a scrape?" asked Lord Gowrie. "Is
the boat not fitted for horses?"

"Oh yes, signor," replied the man; "but it is not that I spoke of. The
law says, no boat shall carry horses, oxen, or asses, except the
regular ferry boats."

"Few would get across, then, by any other conveyance," said Sir John
Hume; "for this infernal tossing is beginning to make me think that
none but asses, would go in a small boat when they could get a big
one. Come, row on, row on, my men; for if you lose time grinning at my
joke, I shall not take it as a compliment."

The men put their strength to the oar, and the boat flew on a good
deal more rapidly; for a gay good-humoured manner will always do more
with an Italian than either promises or commands. The boat before them
was rather more than half way across the river, while they, in the
mid-stream, were rapidly approaching it, when suddenly the old
boatman, starting up, pushed his way to the stern between the earl and
Mr. Rhind, and thrust his oar deep in the water, somewhat in the
fashion of a rudder, exclaiming, "It is coming, by St. Antony! keep
her head on, boys--keep her head on!" and looking out along the course
of the stream, Lord Gowrie saw a wave rushing up against the current,
not unlike that which, under the name of the Mascaré, proves so
frequently fatal to boats in Dordogne. Towards the middle of the
river, the height of this watery wall, as it seemed to be, was not
less than seven or eight feet, though near the banks it was much less,
and all along the top was an overhanging crest of foam, snow-white,
like an edge of curling plumes. A loud roar accompanied it; and the
fierce hurricane, which was probably the cause of the phenomenon,
seemed to precede the billow it had raised by some forty or fifty
yards; for the heavy-laden boat which they had seen, and which, having
approached much nearer the bank, was much less exposed to the force of
the rushing wave than their own, was in an instant capsized by the
violence of the blast, and every one it contained cast into the
rushing water.

Horses and men were seen struggling in the stream; and with horror the
earl beheld a woman's garments also. "Towards the bank!--towards the
bank!" he cried, "to give them help;" but the boatmen paid not the
least attention, and scarcely had the words quitted his mouth when the
wind struck their boat also. One of the young men, who had been
standing up, was cast headlong into the bottom of the bark; those who
were seated could hardly resist the fury of the gale; and the next
instant the wall of water struck them with such force, that instead of
rising over it, as the old boatman had hoped, the skiff filled in a
moment, and went down.

For an instant the Earl of Gowrie saw nothing but the green flashing
light of the wave, and heard nothing but the roaring of the water in
his ears; but accustomed from his infancy to breast the dangerous
billows of the Firth of Tay, he struck boldly out, rising to the
surface, with very little alarm for himself or for his companion Hume,
whom he knew to be a practised swimmer also. His first thought was for
his good old preceptor; but he soon saw that Mr. Rhind was even in a
better condition than himself, having somehow got possession of an
oar, over which he had cast his arms, so as both to hold it fast, and
to keep his head and shoulders out of water. The old boatman and his
two sons were seen at some little distance striking away towards the
shore; and Hume, never losing his merriment even in the moment of the
greatest peril, shouted loudly, "Get to land, Gowrie--get to land! I
will pilot Rhind to the bank, if he will but keep his helm down, and
his prow as near the wind as possible."

As Hume was much nearer to the worthy tutor, Lord Gowrie followed his
advice; but the first two strokes which he took towards the land,
drifting, as he did so, part of the way down the stream, showed him at
a few yards' distance a scene of even greater interest than that which
actually surrounded him. It was that of the boat which had been
capsized by the first rush of the hurricane. It had not sunk at once
as his own smaller craft had done, and one or two men were clinging to
a part of it which appeared above the water. Close by, a horse's head
and neck protruded above the stream; and the hoofs were seen beating
the water furiously, in the poor animal's violent efforts to reach the
land. Considerably nearer to the earl was a group of three persons,
two men and a woman. One of the men, only a few feet distant from the
others, and apparently but little practised in the art of swimming,
was struggling furiously, with energetic efforts, to reach a better
swimmer, who was not only making his own way towards the shore, but
supporting coolly and steadily with his left hand the head and
shoulders of the girl beside him. She herself was dressed in the garb
of a peasant; but a feeling of terror indescribable seized upon the
earl, when in the face of the man who supported her he recognised the
features of his own servant, Austin Jute. He saw in an instant that if
the drowning man once caught hold of them, all three must inevitably
perish; and swimming towards them as fast as possible, he shouted, "To
the shore, Austin--to the shore! Don't let him reach you, or you're
lost!"

"Here, take her, my lord," cried Austin Jute--"take her, and leave me
to settle with him. Drowning men catch at a straw; and he has got hold
of one of the tags of my jerkin--in God's name take her quick, or
he'll have us all down!"

As he spoke the earl reached his side. He asked no questions, for one
look at the girl's face before him was enough. The dark eyes were
closed. The long black hair floated in ringlets on the water, and the
face was very pale, but the small fair hands were clasped together on
the breast, as if with a strong effort to resist an almost
overpowering inclination to grasp at the objects near.

"She lives," thought the earl, cheered by that sign; and placing his
hand under her shoulders he bade the servant let go his hold. Then,
with no more exertion than was needful to support himself and her in
the water, and to guide them in an oblique line towards the shore, he
suffered the stream to bear them on. The only peril that remained was
to be encountered in passing the boat, where the horse was still
struggling furiously; but that was safely avoided, and then, confident
in his own strength and skill, the earl made more directly for the
bank, and reached it just as the sun was disappearing in the west. For
one so young, Lord Gowrie had known in life both very bitter sorrow
and very intense joy; but nothing that he had ever felt was at all to
be compared with his sensations at the moment when, after staggering
up the bank with Julia in his arms, he placed her on the dry turf at
the foot of a mulberry tree, and gazed upon her fair face as she lay
with the eyes still closed.

"Julia," he said, "Julia;" and then everything gave way to joy as she
faintly opened her eyes and unclasped her hands. The bright purple
light of evening was streaming around them, and glancing through the
vine leaves which garlanded the trees. There was no one there but
themselves; and with warm and passionate joy he kissed her fair cheek
again and again, and wrung the water from her hair, and bound the long
tresses round her ivory brow, while, with wild words of tenderness and
love, he poured forth the mingled expression of joy and apprehension
and thankfulness. For a moment or two she did not speak. I know not
indeed whether it was terror, or exhaustion, or the overpowering
emotions of the moment that kept her silent; but even when she could
find words they were at first but two, "Oh, Gowrie!"

A moment after they were joined by Sir John Hume and Mr. Rhind, and,
looking up the stream, Gowrie saw a group of several persons on the
bank, busy apparently in helping sufferers out of the water.

"Did you see my man Austin, Hume?" asked the earl, after some other
words had passed, of that quick and whirling kind by which moments of
much agitation are followed.

"Oh yes, he is safe," answered Hume. "Indeed, you need not have asked
the question, he'll not drown easily, though another fellow near him
did his best to prevent him keeping his head above water."

"It was that which alarmed me for him," replied the earl; "and I owe
him too much this day, Hume, not to feel anxious for his safety. Are
you sure he reached the shore?"

"Quite sure," replied his friend, "and I trust that there are not many
lost from amongst us. Fair lady," he continued, taking Julia's hand,
"I rejoice indeed to see you safe, and if Gowrie will take my advice,
and you can find strength to walk, he will lead you at once to the
little town down there, where you can dry your wet garments and obtain
some refreshment and repose."

As the young knight spoke, Mr. Rhind turned an inquiring glance to
Lord Gowrie's face, as if he would fain have asked who the beautiful
creature before him was, and what was her connexion with his former
pupil. The earl did not remark the expression, however; but Julia
called his attention away by touching his hand and making a sign to
him to bend down his head. He did so at once, and after listening to a
few whispered but eager words, he said aloud, "No, we will not go to
Occhiobello. There is a village up there; it will do well enough. Have
you strength to go, Julia? If not, we will either get or make a litter
for you."

She rose, feebly, however, and though feeling faint and giddy,
declared that she was quite capable of walking. "Let us see first,"
she added, "if all the people are saved. It would darken the joy of
our own escape if any of the rest were lost."

"Here comes your man Jute," said Sir John Hume, addressing the earl.
"He will tell us how the others have fared."

They walked on a little way to meet the man who was approaching; and
as soon as he was within ear shot the earl called to him, inquiring if
all were safe.

"Two have gone to the bottom, my good lord," replied Austin; "the
master of our own boat for one, and the same fellow who tried so hard
to drag me down with him. For the former I am sorry enough; for he
seemed a good cheerful-minded man; but for the latter I don't care a
rush; and, to say truth, I believe he may be as well where he is. He
followed us down to the boat, my lord," continued Jute, in a whisper
to the earl, "and jumped in, willy nilly, just as we were putting off.
I've a great notion he had no good will to my young lady, for he kept
his eyes fixed upon us the whole time, as if ready to make a spring at
us as soon as we got out of the boat."

"You must tell me more by and by," said the earl. "Now let us
forward."

Thus saying, with Julia's arm drawn through his own, he walked slowly
on towards the group which was standing on the bank, while Hume
followed, conversing with Mr. Rhind, whom he seemed to be teazing by
exciting his curiosity in regard to Julia, without satisfying him by a
single word. Such broken sentences as, "Oh, very beautiful indeed.
Don't you think so?--Quite a mystery altogether--I can tell you
nothing about it, for I know nothing--Gowrie has known her a long
time--Her name? Lord bless you! my dear sir, I don't know her name, I
hardly know my own sometimes--" reached Gowrie's ear from time to
time, and brought a serious smile upon his lip. At length, however,
they approached the group upon the bank, and found the whole of the
Italians much more taken up with grief for the various losses they had
sustained than with joy at their own escape from a watery grave. The
brother of the man Mantini, who had been drowned, was sitting upon the
sand, pouring forth a mixture of strange lamentations, sometimes for
the boat, sometimes for his brother. The other old fisherman and his
two sons were wringing their hands, and bemoaning the ruinous accident
which had befallen them. The old man could not be comforted; and his
sons seemed to increase the paroxysms of his grief from time to time
by recapitulating the various perfections of their little craft, and
the sums of money which had been expended upon her. Lord Gowrie,
however, contrived very speedily to tranquillize their somewhat
clamorous grief by saying, "Do not wring your hands so, my good man;
you lost your boat in my service, and the best you can buy or build to
replace it, you shall have at my cost. Show us now the way to that
village, for I see no path towards it; and come and see whether you
can procure some lodging for us there during the night. I dare say you
know most of the good people there, and can tell us where we can find
rest and provisions."

The old man declared that the best of everything was to be found at
the village, though there was a better inn, he said, at Occhiobello,
which was not above three quarters of a mile farther.

"That makes all the difference to the lady," replied the earl; "and we
shall do very well at the village for the night."

He then approached the younger Mantini, and attempted to comfort him
as he had done the other boatman, by promising to pay the amount of
his loss.

"That wont buy back my brother," said the man, sadly. "I should not
have cared a straw about the old boat if it had not been for that."

"That is God's doing, not man's," replied the earl; "and man cannot
undo it. This should be some comfort, for he deals better for us than
we could deal for ourselves; but think of what I have said, and let me
know the expense of a new boat, this night at the village there. Can
you tell who was the other unfortunate man who has been drowned?"

"His name I don't know," answered the boatman; "but when I wanted to
keep him out of the boat, which was too heavy laden as it was, he
whispered that he was a messenger of the holy office, and told me to
refuse him a passage at my peril. He brought a curse into our boat, I
trow, or we should not have had such a storm; but there is no use of
my sitting here and watching the water. Two horses and two men have
gone down beside the boat, and no one will ever rise again till the
last trumpet calls them out of the grave. I may as well go with you to
the village as sit here watching the water that rolls over them all;"
and getting up, he followed the rest of the party with his hands
behind his back, in dull and silent grief.



CHAPTER VIII.


Do you know well, dear reader, any of those large villages which are
scattered over what may be called the Mantuan plain? They deserve not,
indeed, the name of towns, though they often approach them in size. I
mean such places as San Felice, Gonzaga, Bozzolo, Sanguinetto, and
others of that class, which now present a number of small scattered
stone houses, with gardens generally around them, and a road running
through the midst; and here and there a much larger house falling
rapidly to decay, with no windows to keep out the storm or the
tempest, and very often the roof completely off, while the tall square
tower, which is certain to be found stuck somewhere about the
building, rises one, if not two stories above the rest. The church is
generally placed upon any little rising ground, sometimes at one
extreme of the village, sometimes in the middle, with the priest's
cottage close by; but in any of these at the present day, you might as
well look for an inn as for the shop of a diamond merchant, unless you
chose to call by that name the little hovel, surrounded by a garden,
where, on festival days, the peasantry go to drink their glass of
Rosolio and water, wine, lemonade, or, since the Austrians have
bestrid the land, vermouth.

In the days I speak of, however, when journeys were almost always
performed on horseback, and cross-roads shared more liberally with
highways in the patronage of travellers, those larger houses which I
have mentioned were all inhabited by wealthy contadini, who often
combined with their ordinary occupation of farmers the more lucrative
calling of inn-keeping. The large farms which they held furnished
abundance of provisions for any accidental guests, and the upper parts
of the house, though scantily decorated, were kept ready for the
reception of travellers, in case the blessing of heaven, the plague in
a neighbouring town, or the bad reputation of the high road, brought
the wayfarers to villages in preference to cities. Very different,
indeed, were the customs and habits of such inns at that time, from
those which have prevailed within the last century, or, perhaps, even
more; for though not more than two hundred and fifty years have
passed, yet from the end of the sixteenth to the beginning of the
seventeenth century, were times of great change in the habits and
manners of all the nations of Europe; and at the small village inn in
Italy, instead of seeing waiters, tapsters, or drawers, or even
barmaids and chambermaids, all running eagerly to receive the
unexpected guest, the landlord would rise up from under his fig tree
or his olive, with a courteous salutation, and his sons and daughters
would be called upon to attend his guests.

Such was the reception of the Earl of Gowrie and his companions, at
the little inn in the village which I have described upon the banks of
the Po. One of the first houses they met with was a large building,
such as I have described, with its tall square tower of five stories
at one corner, the whole situated at the distance of a hundred yards
from the road, with a farm-yard in front. On the left of that
farm-yard was a vineyard, rich with grapes; and from a pole leaning
over the wall, hung suspended a garland, as indication sufficient that
hospitable entertainment was to be found within. The host himself was
seated under a tree in the vineyard, _pigliar la fresca_, as he called
it himself; but no sooner did he see the party enter the court-yard,
than up he started, notwithstanding his age and his fat, both of which
were considerable, and hurrying forward to do the honours to his
guests, called loudly for Bianca and Maria, and Pietronillo, to assist
in making the visitors comfortable. The whole house was bustle and
confusion in a moment; and although it could not afford accommodation
to all, yet the Earl of Gowrie and his own immediate companions found
every thing they could desire. Austin Jute was immediately sent back
to bring his fellow-servants, who were coming down the river with the
horses; and the boatmen were lodged in the neighbouring houses, to
fill the pitying ears of the villagers with moving tales of disasters
undergone.

Such details were not wanting to excite the interest, and in some
degree the wonder of the host, his daughters, and his son. There was
something in the air, the countenance, and even in the dress of the
gentlemen who made the house their temporary residence, which seemed
to show that they were foreigners; yet two of them spoke the language
with the most perfect purity even of accent, and not the slightest
tone of their fair companion indicated that she was not a native of
the country. But then, in her case, her dress was that of a mere
Paduan peasant on a gala day, while her language, her manners, and her
whole appearance, denoted a much higher station, and from time to time
she spoke to her companions in another tongue, without the slightest
appearance of difficulty or hesitation. The pretty country girl, too,
who aided her to change her wet garments for others which she kindly
and willingly supplied, brought down the report that every part of her
dress but the mere gown and bodice, were of the very finest materials,
and that she had taken from her bosom a trinket shaped like a heart,
surrounded with what seemed to her, jewels of inestimable value.

The rooms which were assigned to the travellers were somewhat
difficult to allot, for each, as was and is still very common in
Italian houses, opened into the other; and the young earl had
determined that thenceforth Julia should be guarded by himself. When
he pointed out, therefore, as they passed through them, the end
chamber of the whole suite as that which was best suited to her, and
took possession of the next for himself, good Mr. Rhind's severe
notions seemed a little shocked, and though he did not venture to make
any observation, he looked exceedingly grave.

Lord Gowrie took no notice, though he did not fail to remark the
change of expression, for from the few private words which had passed
between himself and Julia, he felt that the time had come when it
would be necessary very speedily to give whatever explanation he
thought needful. It could not, indeed, be afforded at the moment, but
a few minutes after, stopping one of the daughters of the host, he
said, "Stay a moment, Bianchina. The signora may be alarmed at
sleeping in a strange house alone. You must kindly take the other bed
in her chamber."

"With much pleasure, sir," replied the girl, and tripped away. This
being arranged to the satisfaction of Lord Gowrie, and even to that of
Mr. Rhind, there remained another feat to be accomplished, which was,
to obtain a quiet unwatched private conversation with Julia, in which
he might learn all that had befallen her. The few words which she had
spoken on the bank of the river had given him a general knowledge of
the greater misfortunes which had happened, but to a heart that loved
as his did, the smallest particular, the most minute detail was
interesting. He longed to hear her tell all, to comfort her for all,
and his imagination, which was quick and eager, painted all that she
had endured--the sorrow, the terror, the agitation. He grieved
bitterly that he had not been present to protect and to console her at
the time when such evils had over-shadowed and such difficulties
obstructed her path of life, and he thirsted to pour the balm of
sympathy and affection into the gentle heart so bruised.

Many an obstacle presented itself, however, during the next hour, to
any private communication. The whole house was in a bustle; beds were
to be made, rooms arranged, supper prepared. Julia had to change her
dripping garments and to obtain others; the earl to give various
orders, and to bestow the promised compensation upon the boatmen; the
host, his son, his daughters, and a maid were running from room to
room, and chattering with everybody; the servants who had been left to
follow with the horses arrived to increase the numbers and the
confusion, and some time after Austin Jute made his appearance,
bearing the little packet which Julia had carried with her from Padua.

"Nothing is lost," he observed, "but what is at the bottom of the sea.
Search saves seeking. All deep things have a bottom."

It was easier to obtain speech of him than of Julia at that moment,
and the earl soon learned all that Austin himself knew--the death of
good old Manucci, the wild and absurd rumours which had spread after
his decease, and the risk which the beautiful girl herself had run of
being committed to prison upon the charge of taking part in the old
man's supposed unlawful arts, and being imbued with heretical notions.
The means taken to effect her escape were then detailed, and Austin
Jute went on to say, "We got on very well that night, my lord, and
reached a little country inn which I remembered well, at Battaglia,
where, although the accommodation was poor enough, I thought we should
be in safety. I was forced to tell many a lie, it is true, and say
that the young lady was my sister, which the people believed, because
we spoke nothing but English to each other, although the family
likeness is not very great, and she was dressed like an Italian girl.
The next morning, however, I found that there were people out in
pursuit of us. One of the sparrow-hawks had stopped at the inn in the
night to refresh his horse and himself; and refreshing himself
somewhat too much, he chattered about his errand, for when the wine is
in, the wit is out, my lord. The people of the place were all agog
about it, for they had not had a bit of sorcery and heresy for a long
time; and from their talk I found that he was going towards Rovigo to
give orders at the ferries and the bridges for apprehending us. That
forced us to turn out of our way, and cross the Adige higher up; but I
made up for lost time by selling the two asses, and buying two good
horses, and we crossed the country between the Adige and the Po quick
enough. The difficulty was how to get over this great river, for I did
not doubt that our picture had been painted at every passage house;
and besides, I had seen, two or three times, a man who seemed to me
watching us. I went along the bank, therefore, till I found the boat
in which we did try to cross just ready to start with some of the
peasants. For a high bribe the man agreed to take us and our horses,
though it's against the law; but just as we were putting off, down
came the black looking fellow whom I had seen several times following,
jumped off his horse, tied the beast to the boat post, and forced his
way into the boat. All the rest you know, my lord, and all I can say
is, if he was upon a bad errand, the fellow has gone to answer for it.
He tried hard to drown me, but I would not let him."

Such was Austin Jute's brief tale; and in a few minutes after, the
boatman, Mantini, came in to receive what had been promised him. His
calculation regarding the value of the boat which had been lost seemed
to be just and even moderate; and after having paid him his demand,
the earl added ten Venetian ducats more.

"I cannot recall your brother to life, my good friend," said Gowrie,
"nor can I compensate for his loss to you and others; but if he has
left any children, distribute that small sum amongst them, on the part
of a foreign gentleman who sincerely commiserates their misfortune."

The rough boatman, with the quick emotions of the south, caught his
hand and kissed it, saying, "God bless you, sir!" He then turned away
towards the door, but paused before he reached it, and coming back, he
said in a low voice, "I hear you know the signora who was in our boat;
and I think, from the way you looked at her, that you love her. If so,
start to-morrow morning at daybreak, avoid Ferara and all this side of
Italy, and get into the Parmesan, or some place where they will not
look for you."

The earl gazed at him for a moment in silence, and then replied, "This
is indeed a valuable hint, my good friend, if you have just cause for
suspecting any evil intended against us. So far I will acknowledge you
are right: the young lady is well known to me, and her safety is
dearer to me than my own."

"I _have_ just cause, signor," replied the man. "The river has
delivered the signora from one of those who were pursuing her, but
there are others watching for her at Ferara, and all along the course
of the stream. The man who came into our boat just as we were putting
off--he who was drowned, I mean--told me, in a whisper, that he was a
messenger of the holy office, and bade me run to Occhiobello at once,
to ask the podesta for assistance to apprehend the lady and the man
who was with her, as soon as we landed from the boat. It was that made
me say he brought a curse with him, for he seemed to rejoice as much
at the thought of catching a poor young thing like that, as others
would at making her happy. I heard all about the plans they had laid
for taking her; and he said it was the duty of every one to give
instant information. I shall give none, and you are safe for me; but
there are other people here who will be chattering, and the noise of
the loss of the two boats, and the drowning of two men, will bring
plenty of inquiries to-morrow morning. If I can put them on a wrong
scent, however, I will."

The earl thanked him warmly for his information, and then held a
hurried consultation with Hume, to which, at the end of a few minutes,
Austin Jute was called. It was evident, no time was to be lost in
preparing for a very early departure on the following morning. Horses
had to be purchased, to supply the place of those which had been
drowned; and it seemed also needful to procure a different dress for
Julia, as it was now clear that the persons in pursuit of her had
obtained information of the costume in which she had left Padua; and
moreover, her travelling in the garments of a peasant girl, with three
gentlemen in a high station in society, would assuredly attract
attention at every inn where they stopped. Where or how this change of
apparel was to be obtained, proved a very puzzling question; for
although the use of ready-made garments was in that day much more
common than at present, yet it was not to be expected that the village
could supply such, nor that even Occhiobello possessed a shop where
anything of the kind could be obtained.

"I will go and talk to one of the girls of the house about it," said
Hume. "There is supper being served, I see. You go in, Gowrie, and
partake, while I seize upon Bianchina or her sister, and try to
discover what is to be done."

He was more fortunate than might have been anticipated, for he found
the two daughters of the innkeeper together, and quite willing to
enter into conversation or gossip upon any subject he chose.
Nevertheless, it was not very easy to explain to them what he wanted,
without explaining, at the same time, Julia's dangerous and painful
situation; but when he had at length accomplished the task, well or
ill, the younger girl looked at her sister with an expression of
intelligence.

"So," she said, "the lady wants a dress, does she? and that is all.
Well, I think that can be easily procured for her. Don't you remember,
Bianca, the Venetian lady who was here last year, and left a coffre
behind her?"

"Well," replied the other sister, looking shrewdly at Sir John Hume,
"I thought, when first I set eyes on her, that the signora was not
peasant born. Now, I'll warrant me, she has stolen away in disguise
from home, some dark night, to meet her lover here; and the wild river
had well nigh given them a mournful bridal bed--'tis very strange that
all the elements seem to make war against love. I never yet heard of
any of these stolen matches going forward without being crossed for a
while by storms and accidents."

Sir John Hume thought it might be no bad policy to suffer the turn
which the light-hearted girl had given to the fair Julia's flight and
disguise, to remain uncontradicted; and he replied, laughing, "Well,
thou art a little divineress. Don't you think I'm a proper man for any
fair lady to run away from home to mate with?"

"No, no," answered the girl, with a shrewd glance; "it is not you she
came to mate with; it is your friend; and you stand by, like the dog
by his master's chair, watching the good things provided for him, and
only taking what scraps he gives you--Ha! ha! gay signor, have I
touched you?"

"By my faith you have, and hit hard," replied Sir John Hume; "but I
will have a kiss for that, Bianchina, before we part."

"It must be in the dark, then," cried the girl, laughing, "for fear I
should see your face and not like it."

"But about this Venetian lady's goods and chattels, my two pretty
maids," said the young knight, recurring to the subject. "We cannot
break her coffre open and steal her apparel."

"Trouble not your brain with that, gay signor," answered the girl
Maria. "We will not make you take part in robbery."

"Unless you steal my heart, and I lose it willingly," replied the
knight.

"No fear of that; it is not worth stealing," replied the girl. "If it
has been bestowed on every country girl you meet, it must be well nigh
worn out by this time. As to the apparel, it belongs to us, now. That
sweet lady's case was much of the same sort as this one's. She fled
from a hard father at Venice, and came hither to meet her lover, and
fly with him to Bergamo; but, by some mischance, it was nine whole
days before he found her, and all that time we hid her close, though
the pursuers tracked her almost to our door. We used to sit with her,
too, and comfort her, and talk of love, and how fortune often favoured
it at last, after having crossed it long. At the end of the nine days,
the young marquis came and found her; but as they were obliged to fly
for their lives on horseback, the coffre was left behind; and when she
got home and was married, she wrote to bid us keep it for her love,
and divide the contents between us. They are not garments fit for such
as we are; long black robes, which would cover our feet and ankles,
and trail upon the ground, mantles and hoods, and veils of Venice
lace. We cut up one velvet cloak, to make us bodices for holidays, but
that is all we have taken yet; and we can well spare the lady garments
enough for her journey, and more becoming her than those which now she
wears."

This was very satisfactory news to the young Earl of Gowrie, when his
friend joined him at supper, after parting from the two gay girls
above, with an adieu better suited to the manners of that day than to
our notions in the present times. As soon as supper was over, he
hastened with his friend and Julia to conclude the bargain for the
contents of the Venetian lady's coffre; and, to say truth, though
good-humoured, lively, and kind-hearted, the innkeeper's two daughters
showed a full appreciation of that with which they were parting, and
did not suffer it to go below its value. To make up, however, for this
little trait of interestedness, Maria and Bianchina set instantly to
work with needles and thread and scissors, to make the garments fit
their new owner; and leaving Julia with them, after a whispered
petition that she would join him soon in the gardens, the earl went
down again to the eating room, purposing at once to enter in
explanation with Mr. Rhind, in order to save grave looks or
admonitions for the future.

He found his former tutor, however, sound asleep, worn out with the
fatigues and anxieties of the day, and soothed to slumber by a hearty
supper and a stoup of as good wine as the village could afford.

"Faith, Gowrie," said Sir John Hume, "I could well nigh follow old
Rhind's example; but I may as well stroll through the village first,
and see what is going on. There is nothing like keeping watch and
ward. Will you come?"

The earl, however, declined, and strolled out into the gardens, which
extended to the banks of that little river which, taking its rise
somewhat above Nonantola, joins the Po not much higher up than
Occhiobello.



CHAPTER IX.


The moon was clear in the heaven, the skies in which she shone were of
that deep intense blue which no European land but Italy or Spain can
display; there was an effulgence in her light, which mingled the rays
with the deep blue woof of the night heavens so strongly, that the
stars themselves seemed vanquished in the strife for the empire of the
sky, and looked out but faint and feeble.

In a small arbour covered with vines, on the bank of the stream, sat
the lady Julia and her lover. The bright rays of the orb of night
floated lightly on the water, changing the dark flowing mass into
liquid silver, while a hazy light poured through the olive, the fig,
and the vine, giving a faint mysterious aspect to the innumerable
trees, and enlivening various spots upon the dull, cold, gray earth,
with the yellow radiance of the queen of night.

I believe it is as fruitless as difficult to try to analyse the
feelings of the human heart, when that heart is strongly moved by the
impulses implanted in it by nature, called into activity by accidental
and concurring circumstances. That nature has laid down a rule, and
that the heart always acts upon it with more or less energy, according
to its original powers, I do strongly believe; but it seems to me
fruitless, or at all events but little beneficial, to investigate why
certain bosoms, especially those of southern climates, are moved by
more warm and eager feelings than others. The operation of man's mind
and of his heart are as yet mysteries; and no one who has ever written
upon the subject has done more than take the facts as they found them,
without at all approaching the causes. We talk of eager love; we speak
of the warm blood of the south; we name certain classes of our
fellow-beings, excitable, and others, phlegmatic; but we ourselves
little understand what we mean when we apply such terms, and never try
to dive into the sources of the qualities or the emotions we indicate.
We ask not how much is due to education, how much to nature; and never
think of the immense sum of co-operating causes which go to form that
which is in reality education. Is man or woman merely educated by the
lessons of a master, or the instructions and exhortations of a parent?
Are not the acts we witness, the words we hear, the scenes with which
we are familiar, parts of our education? Is not the Swiss or the
Highlander of every land educated in part by his mountains, his
valleys, his lakes, his torrents? Is not the inhabitant of cities
subjected to certain permanent impressions by the constant presence of
crowds and the everlasting pressure of his fellow-men? Does not the
burning sun, the arid desert, the hot blast, teach lessons never
forgotten, and which become part of nature to one class of men; and
frozen plains, and lengthened winters, and long nights, other lessons
to the natives of a different region? Give man what instruction you
will, by spoken words or written signs, there is another education
going on for ever, not only for individuals, but for nations, in the
works of God around them, and in the circumstances with which his will
has encompassed their destiny.

Perhaps no two people upon earth had ever been educated more
differently than the two who sat together in that garden, and yet,
strange to say, in the character of each had been produced traits
which, while they left a strong distinction, disposed to the most
perfect harmony. Gowrie, born amidst rich and wild scenery, had passed
his earliest days in troublous and perilous events. Constant activity,
manly exercises, dangerous sports, and wild adventures, had been
alternated with calm study; and acting on a mind of an inquiring and
philosophic turn, and a frame naturally robust, had increased and
early matured the powers of each. Thus had passed his days to the age
of seventeen, and then a perfect change had taken place in his course
of life. Removed to Padua, he had devoted himself for some years
solely to the cultivation of his understanding; and had followed
eagerly, and with extraordinary success, inquiries not alone into the
lore of ancient days, but into those physical sciences which were then
known but to a few, and often perilous to the possessor. Love had come
at length to complete the education of the heart, just when the
education of body and mind was accomplished.

Julia, on the contrary, had been snatched, at a period beyond her
memory, from the dangers and difficulties which had surrounded her
infancy. She had passed the whole period of early youth in calm and
quiet studies, directed to unite every grace and accomplishment with
strength of mind and firmness of principle. No tender, no gentle
affection had been crushed; her spirit had been embittered by no
harshness; her heart had been injured by no disappointment; no
rankling memory of any kind was in her bosom, and her affections had
been cultivated as well as her understanding. Bright and cheerful,
deep-feeling, and true by nature, a sense of duty had been given her
as a guide and not a tyrant; and her attachments and her enjoyments,
limited to a very small sphere, had gained intensity from their
concentration upon few objects.

And there they now sat, side by side, with her hand locked in his,
telling and hearing the tale of the first great griefs which she had
ever known. Youth forms but a faint idea of mortality till the dark
proofs are placed tangibly before its eyes. We know that those we love
must die; but hope still removes the period, and draws a veil over the
terrors of death. She had sometimes sat and thought of it--especially
when her old relation had pointed out that the great enemy of the
mortal frame was approaching more and more closely to himself--but she
had never been able to realize the grim features as they appeared to
her now, when she had seen them near; and now, when she spoke of the
loss of him in whom, for so many years, all her feelings and her
thoughts had centered, she leaned her head upon Gowrie's shoulder, and
the tears flowed fast.

It was natural--it was very natural that she should cling with but the
stronger affection to him who now sat beside her. The first strong
love of woman's heart had been given to him, and that is intense and
absorbing enough; but he was now the only one; there was no partition
of affection with any other being in the world; neither brothers nor
sisters, nor parents nor friends, shared her thoughts or divided her
attachment. The cup of love was full to the brim. Not one drop had
been spilt; and it was all his own.

Nor were his feelings less intense towards her, though different; for
man's part is ever different in the great moving passion of youth. To
protect, to defend, to befriend, is his allotted portion of the
compact between man and woman; and to feel that he was all in all to
her, that she had none to look to but him, that then and for ever her
fate rested on his power and his will, that his arm must be her stay,
his spirit her guide, his love her consolation, rendered the deep
passion which her beauty, her grace, her gentleness first kindled, but
the more warm and ardent. It was pure, and high, and noble, too. He
forgot not at that moment the promises which Manucci had exacted from
him. He proposed not to himself or her to break them. He told her all
that had passed; and though he expressed regret that such delay must
interpose before he could call her his own, and showed how much
easier, safer, and happier their course would be, if she could at once
give him her hand at the altar, yet he expressed no desire at that
time to deviate from the conduct pointed out. Pledged to follow it, it
seemed to him but as a road traced on a map, which, though circuitous,
would lead in the end to happiness, and from which they could not turn
aside without losing their way entirely. It was only how they could
best tread that path that they considered; and there, indeed, much was
to be thought of and provided for. The first object was to place the
fair girl in safety; for although a sad smile came upon her
countenance at the absurdity of the accusation, when she spoke of the
suspicions entertained against her, yet those were days when innocence
was no safeguard, and the unreasonableness of a charge was no
security. The only course to be followed seemed that which had been
pointed out by the boatman, Mantini--namely, to ascend the river as
rapidly as possible, without venturing into the Venetian territory,
and then to pass straight through Piedmont and France, to England.

"We shall have time enough, as we go, dear girl," said the young earl,
"to examine the papers which your grandfather gave me, and to judge
what our course must be when we reach Scotland. The first thing to be
thought of, however, is security, and therefore we had better set out
by daybreak. Doubtless, my good man Austin can procure a couple of
horses before that time, and if not, two of those which bear the
baggage must carry a saddle, and the packages follow by some other
conveyance."

"I will be ready when you bid me," replied Julia, "and do what you bid
me, Gowrie; but there was one injunction which he whom I have lost,
laid upon me, when he told me to accompany you to Scotland. He bade me
engage some women to go with me as servants, saying that it might seem
strange if I journeyed with you all alone.--I know not why it should
seem strange," she continued, raising her eyes to his face; "for whom
have I to trust in but you? and who, but you, has any right to protect
and guide me?"

Gowrie smiled, and kissed the fair small hand he held in his; but he
answered at once, "He was very right, dear Julia. It _would_ seem
strange; and men might make comments more painful even to me than to
you. The harsh, hard world neither sees, nor tries to see, men's
hearts; but wherever there is the opportunity of evil, supposes that
evil exists. Our poor friend was right; maids you shall have to go
with you; but it is impossible to engage them here: nor, indeed, would
it be prudent to attempt it. At Mantua, or Piacenza, we shall be more
free to act; and in the meantime I will tell good old Mr. Rhind of the
exact situation in which we are placed, to prevent him from coming to
any wrong conclusions--I mean the gentleman who sat next Sir John Hume
at supper; he was formerly my tutor, and will return with us to
England."

"Oh, yes; tell him--tell him," replied the lady, eagerly. "He gazed at
me often during the meal, and I felt the colour coming to my cheek, I
knew not why. It seemed as if he doubted me, and did not like my
presence with you."

"Nay, it is not exactly so," replied her lover. "He is a good and
gentle-minded man, only somewhat too much a slave to the world's
opinion. As soon, however, as he knows all, he will be quite
satisfied, and aid us to the best of his power. And now, dear Julia,
seek your rest; for you will have but little time to repose; and we
must make quick journeys and long ones till danger is left behind."

The earl did not calculate altogether rightly upon Mr. Rhind's ready
acquiescence. Whether it was that he had been suddenly awakened in the
midst of his sleep by the landlord lighting the tapers in the eating
hall, or whether it was that the portion of wine he had taken, though
not sufficient to affect his intellect, had been enough to affect his
temper, I cannot tell; but certain it is, that he assumed a tone with
his former pupil which roused some feelings of anger.

"I wish to speak with you, my lord," he said, as soon as Lord Gowrie
entered the room alone.

"And I with you, my dear sir," answered the young earl. "What is it
you desire to say?"

"Why, there is something very strange here, my lord," said the other,
while Gowrie seated himself. "You are suddenly and unexpectedly, as it
seems, joined by a young woman of very great beauty, with whom you are
evidently very well and intimately acquainted, but whom I have never
seen or heard of before. Now, my dear lord, neither my character nor
my principles will permit me----"

"Stop one moment," said the earl, interrupting him. "I wish to guard
against your saying anything that may be offensive to me, and which
you would yourself regret hereafter. Already you have used the term
'young woman,' when you should have said 'young lady,' for her
manners, as well as her appearance, should have taught you what her
station is. However, as I came here to explain to you my own position
and hers, I may as well go on, and save you needless questions. She is
a lady of birth equal to my own, with whom, as you say, I am well
acquainted, and have been so long. She is plighted to me to be my
bride; and but for the loss of her nearest, and indeed only kinsman in
this country, I should have gone on to find and claim her at Padua,
and would there have introduced you to her under more favourable
circumstances."

He paused in thought for a moment, doubtful as to whether he should
tell Mr. Rhind the absurd suspicions under which her whom he loved had
fallen; for he knew his good tutor well, and did not believe that
those suspicions would appear so ridiculous in the eyes of his
companion as they were in his own.

Mr. Rhind, however, instantly took advantage of his silence to reply.
"What you tell me, my lord, alarms me more than ever. What will your
lady mother--what will all your friends and relations think of your
marrying a strange Italian--a runaway, as it seems, from her home and
her family, a follower, of course, of Popish superstitions and
idolatries, a worshipper of the beast, a disciple of the antiChrist of
Rome? I must desire and insist----"

"You will insist upon nothing with me, Mr. Rhind," replied Gowrie, in
a low, but somewhat stern tone. "Pray do not forget yourself; but
remember that your authority over my actions has long ceased to
exist--had, indeed, ceased before I made this lady's acquaintance. Old
friendship, respect for your virtues, and personal affection, may
induce me to condescend so far as to give you explanations of my
conduct and my purposes; but it must be upon the condition that you
lay aside that tone altogether."

Mr. Rhind found that he had gone a little too far; but yet he did not
choose altogether to abandon his purpose, and he replied, "Well, my
lord, my part can very soon be taken. It is true, as you say, that you
are your own master; but still I have a duty to you and to your family
to perform, which I must and will fulfil, and, having done so, we can
then part upon our several ways if you think fit. That duty is to
represent to you the consequences of a course----"

"Of which you know nothing," answered the earl, "being utterly and
entirely ignorant of the whole facts, and assuming a number of
positions, every one of which is false. Your logic and your prudence
have both failed you, my good sir; and as you still speak in a tone I
dislike, I think it will be much better to drop a discussion which
seems only likely to end in a diminution of both my respect and my
friendship."

"You are very hard upon me, my lord," replied Mr. Rhind. "I am not
conscious of having deserved such treatment, and all I can say is, if
I have done so, I am ready to make any atonement in my power, as soon
as you show me that such is the case."

"That I can show you instantly," answered Lord Gowrie; "for I am sorry
to say that you have undoubtedly erred in every one of your
conclusions, and should have known me better than to suppose that I
would act in a manner derogatory to my character, to my station, and
to the faith in which I have been brought up."

"The passions of young men," said Mr. Rhind, gravely, "will often lead
them to act contrary even to their own judgment."

"I might reply to that observation somewhat severely," said the earl,
conquering a strong inclination to retaliate; "but I will not do so,
and will merely show you, how you have suffered prejudice to warp your
own judgment. You have said the lady is an Italian. On the contrary,
she is my own countrywoman, the daughter of a house as noble as my
own. You have said that she is a papist, a worshipper of the beast, a
follower of the antichrist of Rome. These are harsh words, sir; and
they are all false. She is a protestant. Her father was a protestant,
her mother, her grandfather. As to the latter, by whom she was
educated, he was driven from his native country on account of his
testimony against the superstitious vanities of that very church of
Rome--do not interrupt me.--You have said that she is a runaway from
her family and friends. There you are as much in error as in all the
rest. She has fled to me, on the death of her only surviving relation
in this country, to escape persecution; and one of the principal
charges upon which that persecution is founded, is that she could
never be brought to attend upon the superstitious observance of
confession, or ask absolution at the hands of a mortal like herself.
And now, my good sir, having heard the facts, let me tell you my
intentions. I have undertaken to escort this young lady back to her
native country of Scotland; to claim for her, and if possible to
restore to her the estates of which she has been unjustly deprived;
and I have promised to make her my wife at the end of about twelve
months from this time. All this I will perform to the letter. Nay
more, I should conceive it a duty, in the situation in which she is
placed, to urge her at once to give me her hand, had I not bound
myself solemnly to refrain till the period I have mentioned is past.
This promise I will also keep, though in keeping it I render the rest
of the task I have undertaken more delicate and difficult; but of
course I shall consider it a duty to take every means in my power, by
all tokens of outward reverence and respect, to shield her, not only
from reproach but from suspicion, while travelling under my protection
to her native land. You may aid me to do so if you will, and in so
doing, I believe you will be performing a Christian act; but still, if
after what I have said you entertain any hesitation, I do not press
you to do so, and leave you to act perfectly as you think fit."

Mr. Rhind had bent down his head, feeling, with a good deal of
bitterness, that he had placed himself greatly in the wrong; and that
although he might still entertain great objections to the course which
the young earl was determined to pursue, and be anxious to urge upon
him considerations to which he attached great importance, his
arguments would seem weak and without force, after the injustice of
his first conclusions had been so completely proved. There was a
little struggle in his breast between mortified vanity and the
consciousness of having shown himself rash and prejudiced; but various
prudential considerations arrayed themselves on the side of humility,
and he answered, in a low and deprecatory tone, "I grieve most
sincerely that I have done the young lady wrong; and I rejoice most
sincerely, my lord, to find that whatever other objections may exist,
your affections have been fixed upon one so sincerely attached to the
protestant faith. My only apprehension now is, as to what your lady
mother may think of such an engagement entered into without her
knowledge and consent."

"Leave me to deal with my mother, my dear sir," replied the earl; "I
know her better than you do, and entertain no fear of the result. She
is far too wise a woman to assume authority where she possesses none,
but that which affection and reverence give her. Nay, more, she is too
kind and too noble not to approve of what I have done and what I
intend to do, when she finds that no reasonable objection stands in
the way of my affection, and that the object of my love is in herself
worthy of it. Do I understand you right that it is your purpose to
bear me company as heretofore, and to assist me in escorting this
young lady to her own land with decency and propriety?"

"Most assuredly, my dear lord," replied Mr. Rhind, "if you will accept
my services; and I do hope and trust that you will not mention to the
young lady the prejudices I somewhat rashly entertained, for it might
lose me her favour, and make her look upon me as an enemy instead of a
friend."

Lord Gowrie smiled, and gave him his hand, saying, "Make your mind
quite easy on that score. I will make no mischief, my dear sir. And
now we had better all perhaps seek repose, as it will be needful for
us to set off by daylight to-morrow, and to alter our whole course,
taking the way towards Piacenza, as I dare not cross any part of the
Venetian territory, lest my beautiful Julia should fall into the hands
of the hateful Inquisition."

"God forbid!" exclaimed Mr. Rhind, to whom the Inquisition was an
object of the utmost terror and abhorrence. "If she run such risks for
conscience sake, well may the dear lady merit the love and reverence
of all good men."

The treaty of peace thus concluded, the earl and his former tutor
parted for the night; and Gowrie proceeded to inquire what had become
of Hume, and to ascertain the result of Austin Jute's efforts to
procure horses for their journey of the following day.



CHAPTER X.


On one of the spurs of the Apennines, where that large chain, which
forms as it were the spine of Southern Italy, approaches most closely
to the Mediterranean at its northern extremity, just about half way
between the fair town of Piacenza and the frontiers of Piedmont, there
stood in those days, and there stands still, an inn, to which the
inhabitants of the neighbouring city frequently resort in the summer
months, to enjoy the cool upland air and the beautiful scenery. It is
situated a little higher up than Borgonovo, and then bore the name of
La Festa Galante. The scenery round is wild and uncultivated, but full
of picturesque beauty, with myrtle-covered hills sloping down gently
to the wide plains of Lombardy, which lie stretching out to an immense
extent till sight is lost in the blue distance. Ten days after the
events which I have related in the last chapter, the Earl of Gowrie
and his fair companion were seated on the slope of the hill, at about
a quarter of a mile from the inn, gazing down with delight on the
splendid landscape beneath them, while the setting sun poured his last
rays over the mountains and the plain, and gilded the steeples and the
towers of Piacenza, making the city look much nearer than it really
was. The distance might be some seventeen or eighteen miles, and the
period of the year had passed when the inhabitants of the town were
accustomed to come thither to escape the heated streets and crowded
thoroughfares. There were no other guests in the house but the earl
and his party; and a more quiet and secluded spot could not well have
been chosen for fugitives to rest after a long flight, or lovers to
pass a few days of happy repose. The proximity of another state, too,
by crossing the frontier of which security could soon be obtained,
might be one reason why the earl had selected that spot as a place of
temporary sojourn after the fatigues and anxieties which Julia had
lately endured, for Voghera was not farther distant than Piacenza, and
the actual boundary was within two miles of the inn.

All was calm and still around them. Mr. Rhind sat reading a little
farther down the hill. A servant girl, who, with a sort of adventurous
spirit which often characterizes the peasantry of that part of the
country, had agreed to quit her home at Borgonovo, and accompany the
strangers into distant lands, was plying the busy needle within call.
The sleepy evening sunshine and the blue shadow crept in longer and
longer lines over the short turf and the scattered myrtle bushes, and
overhead, stretched out like a canopy, the broad dark branches of four
or five gigantic pines, while, at a little distance along the face of
the hill, was seen peeping out a Palladian villa, with large chesnut
trees, serving rather to break the hard straight lines than to conceal
that a house stood there. The villa indeed was uninhabited, for its
owner had retired into the city for the cooler and more rainy months
of winter; but still it gave to a scene unusually wild that air of
habitation and society which, under most circumstances, is pleasant
from the associations produced.

Their conversation was not gay, but it was cheerful--far more cheerful
than it had been since last they met; for memory of the dead had
darkened the horizon behind them, and frequent apprehension had spread
clouds over the prospect before. At several places where they had
stopped by the way, causes of alarm had occurred; and even at Piacenza
they had found reason to doubt their security. A man, who had known
Mr. Rhind in Padua, had met him in the streets, and told him a
distorted tale of poor Manucci's death and Julia's flight, declaring
boldly that the old man had been addicted to unlawful arts, and that
it was suspected his granddaughter had aided him in their pursuit. He
added, however--what neutralized in the mind of his hearer the effect
of his tale, as far as poor Julia was concerned--that she was clearly
guilty, because she had never been known to come to confession or seek
absolution of the priest. Now, however, both Gowrie and her he loved
felt in security, for he had taken measures to guard against surprise;
and the memory of the loss she had lately sustained had been somewhat
softened by time and the rapid passing of many stirring events. Gowrie
strove to cheer her, to remove apprehension, to efface the traces of
the first deep sorrow she had known; and though gaiety would have
jarred with her feelings, yet a cheerful tone mingled with deep
thought, will often find its way to a heart which would reject direct
consolation and fly from painful merriment.

On the preceding day she and Gowrie had read together the papers which
had been intrusted to him by Manucci, and the perusal had been sad;
for there she found the tale of all that her parents had suffered, and
though she could not but rejoice to feel that no disparity between her
own rank and that of her husband could make his friends look cold upon
her, yet the impression--at least the first impression--was
melancholy.

He had marked it at the time, and would not recur to the subject now,
but spoke of other things of a lighter nature, but which had more or
less connexion with deeper and stronger feelings.

"It is indeed a fair spot of earth, this pleasant land of Italy," he
said, as they gazed over the scene before their eyes; "and yet, my
loved Julia, there is always something sad in it to my sight. The
memories of the glorious past contrast so strongly with the painful
realities of the present, that I can never enjoy these bright scenes
without wishing that a happier lot had been assigned to those who
inhabit them."

"But there are bright things here still," replied Julia; "if the glory
of arms is gone, the glory of arts still survives."

"And policy has succeeded liberty," said Gowrie, with a faint smile;
"but let us not, love, dwell upon regrets. How gloriously the rays of
the setting sun are painting, almost with ethereal splendour, that
high _campanile_ and the old castle by its side, while the purple
shadow, resting upon the village below, marks it out upon the
illuminated bosom of the hill. There may be more peace, perhaps, under
that obscurity, than in the sun-lighted towers above. I am resolved,
dear girl, to seek no glories. See!--even now the splendour is passing
away, and the gorgeous fabric is almost lost to sight. No, no! content
and happiness are jewels better worth the seeking than all that
ambition can offer or power can give."

"Thank Heaven you feel so," answered Julia; "but tell me, Gowrie,
something of your own land--of my land too--of our land. I fear me,
from the way in which you admire the scenes we pass through here, that
it wants that beauty which charms you so much."

"Oh, no!" answered Gowrie; "it has beauties of its own, far different,
but not less great. Its skies are often full of clouds, and its air of
mists; rugged and stern are many of its features, and its winds are
cold and strong. But those clouds give infinite variety to all they
pass over; and if it be not a land of sunshine, it is at least a land
of gleams. The shadow and the light wreath themselves in airy dance
over the prospect, and the purple heath and yellow broom supply to us
the myrtle and the gentia, hardly less fragrant, and in nought less
beautiful. Then, the grey mists--let them not scare you--for when they
rise in the morning rays from out the valleys, winding themselves
round the tall hills, they look like a grey cloak trimmed with gold
wrapping the limbs of the giant genius of the land. Then, though the
features of the landscape are, as I have said, bold and rude, they
attain in the sublime what they lose in the beautiful, and striking
the imagination elevate the mind.--Yet there are many beauties too,
soft and gentle and pleasant to look upon; for it is not all the deep
dim lake, the rocky mountains, the roaring cataract; but there are
scenes as sweet and placid as any even in this bright land; and where
you find them, they seem like a smile upon a warrior's face in a
moment of peace and repose."

"I shall love it, I am sure," replied Julia; "for though I have seen
but little of this wide world, yet I have often gazed at beautiful
pictures with feelings that I can hardly describe--a love and a
longing to penetrate into the deep glades, to roam amongst the rocky
hills, to trace the glistening river through the woods, to see how the
lake ends amongst the mountains, to solve all the mysteries which the
painter has left to be the sport of fancy. But I have ever, though
pleased with both, loved those pictures best which show me grand and
striking scenes. They seem to lift up my heart more directly unto God.
The rocks and mountains seem the steps of his temple, his altar on the
summit of the hills. But what like is your own place at Perth?"

"Our place," said Gowrie, pressing the small hand that lay in his;
"'tis a large old house in one of the most beautiful cities in the
land, with wide chambers and long galleries.--But look, my Julia,
there is a horseman coming along the road from Borgonovo, and spurring
hither at great speed. It must be my good fellow Austin, who is
watching there; and lo! there are two others following at a somewhat
slower pace. Hola, Catharina, call out the men! We need not fear the
coming of two men, if there be no more behind. I think that second
figure looks like Hume. He does not ride in the Italian fashion. But
still he could hardly have reached Padua, and followed us hither so
soon. The first is certainly Austin, and he spares not the spur."

They stood and watched him, while some three or four servants, well
armed, as was the custom of that day, came out and ranged themselves
near their lord. In the meantime, the first horseman was lost to their
sight, plunging in amid some brown woods which lay at the bottom of
the slope. Then, re-appearing, he rode more slowly up the steep hill,
while the other two who followed were in turn concealed by the wood.

In a few minutes, Austin Jute sprang to the ground by his lord's side,
saying, "Sir John Hume, my lord, is coming up; and I rode forward to
warn you."

"You should not have left the village, Austin," said the earl; "I bade
you stay, unless you saw cause for apprehension."

"True, my lord," answered the man; "but I have other tidings too. Bad
tidings make the messenger ugly, so I told the good first. I fear you
will have to move in the cool of the evening, for there is a fat
dominican, a slink official, and two servitors, down there below, who,
I wot, seek no good to the signora. I talked with them easily, and
made myself as simple as a dove for their benefit. But there need be
no hurry and no fear, lady," he continued, seeing Julia's cheek turn
somewhat pale, with that sick-hearted feeling which comes upon us
amidst the anxieties of the world, when we have known a brief period
of repose, and the fiend of apprehension appears at our side again.
"Cheer up, cheer up! there are only four of them, and we more than
double their number. They wont get much help from the podesta, who is
an atheist, thank Heaven! Besides, full barrels roll slow, and they
are now filling themselves with both meat and drink. It was their
first call, and I bestowed on each of them a bottle of a wine which I
knew to be heady on an empty stomach."

"Here comes Hume," said the earl. "Keep watch on that point of rock,
Austin. In half an hour it will be dark; and methinks they will not
travel after sun-down."

"If they do," answered Austin Jute, "I will undertake to rob them of
their breviaries, and make them think a single man a whole troop of
banditti; for, being cruel, they must be cowards--at least I never saw
those two bad things apart."

"Nothing of the kind, if you please, Jute," replied the earl, who had
little doubt, from long knowledge of his servant's character, that he
was very likely to execute in frolic what he proposed in jest. "Go
where I have told you, and watch the road well till night falls, or
till I tell you to return."

"I suppose, if I see them trotting up, I may ride down to bid God
speed them, my lord?" said Jute, taking two or three steps away. "I
heard one of the learned professors at Padua say, 'Always meet a
coming evil;' and he added some Latin, which I don't recollect."

The earl did not reply, but turned to greet his friend Hume, who, as
gay and light-hearted as ever, shook his hand with a jest, saying,
"Here is a letter for you, Gowrie; may it bring good news, though it
came last from an evil place. Dear lady, you may well look lovely, for
you have turned the heads of all the doctors of Padua, only it
unluckily happens that the effect of beauty, like that of the sun, is
changed by what it shines upon, bringing forth fruits and flowers in
the garden and the field, and hatching viper's eggs upon a dunghill.
They all declare you are an enchantress; and though Gowrie and a great
many more may think the same thing, it is in a very different sense."

"They do me great wrong," answered Julia, sadly; "and they did wrong
to him who is gone, for his whole mind was turned to doing good to his
fellow-men, and certainly never dreamed of evil. If all people were as
innocent of guile as he was, we should have a more peaceable world."

"They are not very peaceable in Padua," replied Hume, "for there has
been a riot, and many broken heads. I have to thank it, perhaps, for
being here, however, for the worthy council of asses had well nigh
made up their minds to cause my arrest for having pronounced Gaelic,
Gaelic; and I do believe, if they did not understand Italian, they
would pronounce it magic also. Well, what news, Gowrie? If your
epistle be as placable as mine from the same hand, your affairs will
go smoothly, and happiness have a green turf to canter over. For my
part, I shall go through the rest of Europe like a shot out of a
culverin, till I stop rolling, at dear Beatrice's pretty little feet."

While he had been speaking, Lord Gowrie had been examining the
contents of the letter which his friend had given him; and although
his eye had been straining eagerly on the page with a look almost
approaching to anxiety, as is the case with most men of strong
feelings, when they receive written tidings from distant friends,
there was a smile upon his lip which showed that the contents were not
unsatisfactory. We may as well look over his shoulder, however, while
he stands there with the letter in his hand, and read the words that
it contains for ourselves. Thus, then, the epistle ran:--


"To the Earl of Gowrie, our dear Son, with love and affectionate
greeting:

"SON,--Your letter of the 16th of August, by the hands of a trusty
messenger, reached us with speed; and seeing that there are therein
contained things of weight, anent which your mind is disquieted till
you shall hear from us, I write at once to let you know the mind of
your granduncle and myself. Having proved yourself on all occasions
wise and prudent, even beyond your years, you do well to write freely
of your purposes to those who have your love and interest much at
heart, notwithstanding that you are now of an age both to judge and
act for yourself without control. We doubt not, my dear son, that you
show your discretion in the choice you have made, and that the lady
Julia, of whom you write, is worthy of all commendation. We might have
wished you in such a matter to choose one known to us all, and with
whose friends we might have dealt in the ordinary way; but, as you
have made your choice, and love beareth hardly contradiction, we are
glad to find that she is one of your own countrywomen, of suitable
rank, and well nurtured, and also that she hath resisted stoutly all
lures to defection in a land of idolatry and well nigh heathenism. It
is comfortable, too, to find that you are not so hurried on by rash
and intemperate affections as to propose to wed this lady at once, but
inclined rather to wait till she has been brought amongst your own
friends, and has sought, if not recovered, the lands which you say are
her due: not that we need heed much whether she come to you, my son,
with a rich dowry or not, so that the other qualities be suitable; but
we are glad to find that both you and she are inclined to act with
discretion rather than hasty passion. Thus you will understand that I
have conceived a good opinion both of her heart and her understanding,
not only by what you write, which might be warped by the love of a
young man, but by her own acts, which speak in her praise. You may,
therefore, kiss her for me, as her dear mother, and tell her that she
shall have under my roof the care and kindness which is shown to her
other children by your fond parent,

     "DOROTHEA GOWRIE."

"_Post Scriptum_.--I trust that your coming will be speedy, for it is
now many years since mine eyes beheld my son. Sir John Hume marries
your sister Beatrice, who is now in attendance upon the Queen's
Majesty. I have written to tell him he hath my consent, and put this
letter within his in one packet, not knowing where you may be when the
messenger reaches Padua."


Without answering Sir John Hume, Gowrie gently took Julia in his arms,
and kissed her lips, saying, "I am commissioned, dear love, to give
you this kiss for one who is ready and well pleased to receive you as
a daughter."

"I wish dear Beatrice were here, with all my heart," said Sir John
Hume, "then such tokens might become the fashion.--In Heaven's name
what are you staring at, dearly beloved Rhind? Did you never hear of a
kiss being sent in a letter before? and if the Countess of Gowrie
chooses to do such duty to her fair future daughter-in-law by deputy,
not being able to perform it herself at a thousand miles' distance,
who could she choose better for the office than her own son?--But
come, Gowrie, your mad-pated fellow has told you doubtless that you
have black neighbours near; and you have now to choose whether you
will set out to-night or wait till morning. Look, there is a star
beginning to glimmer up there. The evening is warm and fair, and we
can reach Voghera before the gates close. What say you, fair lady?"

"Oh, let us go," answered Julia. "I shall not feel in safety till I
have left this land behind me."

"Come, then, let us to horse at once," said Gowrie. "We can go on with
some of the men; and the rest can follow with the baggage after.
Methinks they wont subject doublets and cloaks to the holy office, so
that we can leave them in safety."

The plan was no sooner proposed than executed. The host's bill was
paid, the horses saddled, and the three gentlemen of the party, with
Julia and the girl who had been hired to accompany her, set out just
as the sun had sunk below the horizon. The stars looked out clear and
bright upon their path, and with a glad heart Julia passed an old
tower, even then deserted, which marked the boundary of the
territories of Piacenza and Voghera, then, as now, under distinct and
separate rule. Her spirits rose; and though she had been somewhat
silent during the first few miles of the ride, she now questioned Sir
John Hume, who was on her right hand, regarding all he had seen at
Padua. He answered gaily and lightly, evading her questions, for he
did not like to tell her that the house which had been so long her
home had been completely pillaged on the day that she fled from Padua.
She soon saw that he was unwilling to satisfy her; and fancy filled up
but too truly the mere vague outline that he gave. With regard to her
poor old servant Tita, however, she was determined to hear more; and
there the young gentleman had less scruple in affording her every
information.

"Oh, as to dearly beloved Tita," he said, "she has done exceedingly
well. She fairly and boldly encountered and defeated all the old women
in black gowns that the university could send against her. She bullied
the professors, rated the inquisitor, and nearly scratched the eyes
out of the faces of the officers. She told old Martinelli to his
beard, that if people had not suspected him of unlawful studies he
never would have tried to cast the imputation upon others; and as to
her old lord and young lady, they had much less to do with evil
spirits than others she could mention, who, people said, kept books
written with blood, and used to raise up the image of a child out of a
pot of boiling water. The old fool got frightened out of his wits, and
made his exit from the house as fast as possible, not knowing what she
would charge him with next, and fearing that part of the storm which
he had helped to raise might fall upon himself. Every one after was
afraid to meddle with bold Tita, and she remained mistress of the
field. She is now very comfortably established in a small house by the
market-place, and is looked upon with great reverence as one of the
heroes of Padua."

"It is really strange how men can be so mad and foolish," said the
earl. "Spirits must be very weak and powerless to submit themselves to
the sway of feeble old men, or half-crazed old women."

"Or have a very strange taste in female beauty," rejoined Hume, "to
fall in love with wrinkles, gray hair, and more beard than is becoming
on a lady's chin; but these events promise to raise a grand scholastic
dispute in Padua, for already the parties are arraying themselves for
and against the existence of magic at all. Antonelli has announced a
lecture on the non-existence of magic, and when one of the doctors
hinted that such an opinion was heretical, he turned the tables upon
the persecutors, by giving the two parties the names of magicians and
anti-magicians, so that Martinelli and his faction are now universally
known by the title of the magicians, much to their horror and
confusion."

"But we have the warrant of Scripture," said Mr. Rhind, gravely, "for
asserting that magic has really existed. Balaam, the son of Balak,
when he was called to curse the children of Israel, distinctly spoke
of it as an art which he himself practised."

"Are you sure it was not Balaam's ass?" asked Sir John Hume, laughing;
"I am sure no one would practise it in the present day but an ass. I
don't know what they did then."

Mr. Rhind, however, though silenced, was not satisfied. He had
listened to the whole conversation with great attention; and combining
what he then heard with words which had at times dropped from both the
earl and Julia, he perceived the nature of the charge against her, and
felt sadly oppressed in mind thereby. It is true he had seen nothing
in her but beauty, sweetness, and rational devotion; he had discovered
that she always carried with her a Bible in the English tongue; but
still fully impressed, as most men were in his day, with a belief that
such a thing as magic really existed, he felt grieved and uneasy on
account of his pupil's long intimacy with Manucci, who, he now found,
had been accused of practising unlawful arts. He tried on the
following morning, by what he thought skilful questions, to extract
more information from Sir John Hume; but he was, by nature, so simple,
that Hume foiled him at every turn by a repartee, and the same night,
eager to hurry on towards Scotland by longer and more rapid journeys
than Julia could undertake, the young knight left his companions to
follow, and hastened on towards France, leaving Mr. Rhind to brood
over his own conclusions with bitterness and apprehension.



CHAPTER XI.


It may seem perhaps a paradox to say that expectation is enjoyment.
Nevertheless it is so on this earth. Fruition is for heaven. With the
accomplishment of every desire, there is so much of disappointment
mingled, that it cannot be really called enjoyment, for fancy always
exercises itself upon the future; and when we obtain the hard reality
for which we wished, the charms with which imagination decorated it
are gone. Did we but state the case to ourselves as it truly is,
whenever we conceive any of the manifold desires which lead us on from
step to step through life, the proposition would be totally different
from that which man for ever puts before his own mind, and we should
take one step towards undeceiving ourselves. We continually say, "if I
could attain such an object, I should be _quite contented_." But what
man ought to say to himself is, "I believe this or that acquisition
would give me happiness." He would soon find that it did not do so;
and the never ceasing recurrence of the lesson might, in the end,
teach him to ask what was the source of his disappointment?--Was it
that other circumstances in his own fate were so altered, even while
he pursued the path of endeavour, as to render attainment no longer
satisfactory?--was it that the object sought was intrinsically
different when attained from that which he had reasonably believed it
to be while pursuing it?--or was it that his fancy had gilded it with
charms not its own, and that he had voluntarily and blindly persuaded
himself that it was brighter and more excellent than it was? Perhaps
the answer, yes, might be returned to all these questions; but yet I
fear the chief burden of deceit would rest with imagination, and that
man would ever find he had judged of the future without sufficient
grounds, and had suffered desire to stimulate hope, and hope to cheat
expectation. Yet, perhaps, if he would but turn back and look behind,
when disappointment and success had been obtained together, he would
find that the pleasures tasted in the pursuit, especially at the time
when fruition was drawing nearer and nearer, would, in the sum, make
up the amount of enjoyment which he had anticipated in possession. I
will go to a certain town, says man, and there I will spend this sum
in my purse, in buying things which are necessary to my comfort and
satisfaction. He travels on the road. He spends his money here, he
spends his money there; and when he arrives, he finds that he has not
sufficient to purchase one-half of what he proposed to buy. Yet he
enjoyed himself by the way, and has no cause to complain.

If we thus decorate, as I have stated a few sentences ago, the object
of desire with charms not its own, we may well say that we enjoy in
anticipation even while the pursuit continues, and more especially do
so where success seems to us certain, though remote. In the case of
Lord Gowrie it was truly so. He looked to his union with Julia as a
consummation of happiness; and he longed for the passing of the time
till she should be his own for ever; but yet the days were very bright
which he passed beside her in the interval. Hope went on before them
and they followed; but they gathered many a flower by the way. Bound
by his promise, he knew that a certain interval must elapse before
their fate could be inseparably united. There was no use in hastening
their movements. There was no object in hurrying on towards his native
land. He felt inclined to linger amongst fair scenes, and in a climate
where winter comes slowly and departs soon, by the side of her he
loved, with little restraint but what his own feeling of right imposed
upon him, with a sense of deep happiness in the present, and
expectation to brighten the hereafter.

In Piedmont and Savoy, all danger was at an end; for while the
southern and eastern parts of Italy were still under that system of
tyranny and superstition which strove to control the thoughts as well
as the actions of men, the states bordering on France had cast off the
bondage in a considerable degree, and the power of the most cruel and
arbitrary tribunal that ever was founded by man was no longer
recognised.

Still there was something due to opinion, especially to the opinion of
those he reverenced and loved. Doubts might naturally arise if he
halted without any reasonable motive by the way; if he detained her
who was to be his bride before she was his bride, in any lengthened
sojourn, almost alone with him, in distant lands. They went slowly,
therefore; but they still proceeded. They stopped sometimes during a
whole day for rest; and for that purpose they chose the most beautiful
scenes they could find--scenes which harmonised with the feelings of
their own hearts. It would have been too much to expect that two
beings, loving as they loved, should ride post through the most
beautiful parts of Europe. Their journeys, too, were slow and short.
They sought to enjoy everything worth enjoying that presented itself.
They loved to see, and to comment, and to delight--to pour into each
other's bosoms every thought as it arose, and to blend, as it were,
their minds together as their hearts were already blended. For the
deeds that were enacted round them--and there were many at that time
of surpassing interest--they cared very little. What was to them what
princes or potentates said or did? What was to them the shifting
scenes of policy or war? They had a world apart within themselves, in
which every feeling and every thought was centred. As they approached
the mountains of Savoy, however, they heard some rumours of military
movements, which caused alarm in the mind of Mr. Rhind. He was a very
peaceable man, and somewhat timid; but Lord Gowrie treated the matter
lightly, and Julia seemed hardly to comprehend that there was any
danger to unwarlike persons in the strife of monarchs. Their progress,
however, was rendered even slower than before, by other circumstances.
Mountains to climb presented themselves at every step; roads were bad
and dangerous, towns became few, and accommodation difficult to be
procured. The art of the engineer had not at that time triumphed over
the barriers which nature had placed between land and land, and the
first fall of snow, though scanty, had added to the difficulties of
the way.

The modern reader would derive little amusement or instruction from a
detailed account of the passage of the Alps, in the reign of
Elizabeth. Suffice it, that after a long and fatiguing day's journey,
the party of Lord Gowrie arrived, towards sunset, at the small town of
Barraux. Julia was weary and exhausted, Mr. Rhind was hungry and
low-spirited, and nothing was to be obtained at the inn, in the way of
food, but some brown bread and some small fish out of the Isere.
Nevertheless, youth and hope and love made a great difference between
the two younger and the elder of the travellers. The tendency, I fear,
of all the experience of age, is selfish; and it is strange that the
nearer we approach towards the period of quitting earth, the more we
prize its comforts. True, indeed, there are some who preserve the
finer things of the unworn fresh heart even unto the end; but, of all
the many trials to which man's soul is subject in this state of
probation, I cannot but think that a tendency to that apathy for what
is great and fine, and to that concentration of the mind upon the body
which are incident to old age and long experience of life, is amongst
the greatest. Mr. Rhind could not enjoy at all, though the scene
around him, as the reader who may have wandered that way will know,
was full of objects both to soothe and to elevate. He consoled himself
with the wine, which was very good, while Julia and Gowrie wandered up
to the base of the old castle on the hill, to get one last look of the
beautiful soft valley through which the Isere wanders on, with gentle
cultivated hills hemming it round, and blue gigantic mountains
towering up beyond, while the sun, set to them, still tipped the peaks
with purple and with gold.

They returned slowly to their light supper, which was preparing during
their absence, and shortly after, Julia retired to rest. Mr. Rhind was
not long ere he left the room also; but it was a large old rambling
house, which had formerly been a priory of the suppressed order of the
Temple, standing near the centre of the little bourg--I think the
reader can see it still--and Mr. Rhind could not find his room. He
came back, and disturbed the earl in a reverie, to ask which it was;
and the landlord had to be summoned to show him. If Gowrie was sleepy
before, the inclination to slumber had now passed away; and he sat for
some time longer in meditation. The landlord looked in at length; and
remembering that he was keeping up a race of people devoted to early
hours, he rose, got a taper, and retired to his own chamber. Then
setting down the light, he looked around, and again fell into a fit of
thought.

There are times when--we know not why--the spirit of the mind, if I
may use a strange term, seems completely to triumph over the mere
corporal part of our nature, to conquer its sensations, to make light
of its necessities, to overcome its habitual resistance almost without
an effort--times when soul seems to possess the whole, when every
faculty is subdued to thought. Vain is it to struggle against it--vain
to say I will read, I will sport, I will sleep. Thought replies, no;
and for the time we are her slave. Such was the case with Gowrie that
night; and though he gazed round the chamber as I have said, what it
contained made merely an impression upon the eye, which reached not
the mind within.

It was a large, wide, old-fashioned chamber, the walls of which had no
hangings, although two wide pieces of a tapestry, with which the whole
room had probably formerly been decorated, were drawn across the
windows. On one side of the room was a large bed, almost lost in the
extent of the floor, and having curtains of a dingy green hue, and of
a silk stuff, the manufacture of which had even then long passed away,
formerly called cendal. There was a small round table in the middle of
the room, a mirror in a black oak frame standing forth from the wall,
supported by two iron bars, a washing-table in the corner, and two or
three chairs. That was all that it contained; and, as I have said, it
was very large and very gloomy. Nevertheless, although the year was
approaching winter, there was something close and oppressive in the
atmosphere. It felt as if the windows had not been opened for many a
year. Gowrie did not remark it, but sat down at the table and fell
into thought again. He remained thus for more than an hour. I have
called it thought, but yet it was of that trance-like character
wherein all things seem more like impressions than ideas, when dead
affections rise up from the tomb of memory in the shape of living
existences, and from the future the shadows of unborn events, clad in
the forms of actual realities, present themselves for warning or
encouragement. There is no continuity, there is no arrangement, there
is no operation of the intellect. Mind sits as a spectator while
the pageant passes, called up before our eyes by some unnamed
power.--What?

Who can say? There are things within us and without us that we know
not of--that the hardest handed metaphysician has never been able to
grasp.

In the midst of such fits the body will sometimes renew the struggle,
and strive to regain its power, especially if anything affects it
strongly. The earl seemed to feel the oppressive closeness of the
room. He rose, went to the window near the bed, pulled down the
tapestry, and threw open the rattling small-paned casement. It looked
to the east; and the bright moon, within a few days of the full,
peeped in from above the Alps, pouring a long line of splendour over
the floor. He knew not, indeed, that he had moved. The external eye
might see the casement and the moon, and the faint line of mountains
flooded with silver light; but the mind saw not. It had other visions;
and leaning his arms upon the bar on which played the part of the
casement that opened, he remained buried in the same reverie. Its tone
was melancholy--not exactly sad, but of that high grave stern cast
which seems to rob the things of earth of all their unreal brightness,
stripping off the gilding and the gauds, and leaving the hard leaden
forms alone, while another light than that of the world's day spreads
around, as if streaming from a higher sphere, and showing all the
emptiness and the nakedness of the illusions of the earth.

How long he had remained thus I know not, and he himself did not know,
but something--what he could never tell--made him suddenly turn round.

How shall I tell what followed? Was it an illusion of the fancy? Was
it a dream? Was it a reality?--Who shall say? But there before him was
a face and form well known, though never seen in life. It was that of
a tall dark pale man, with traces of sickness on his face, a bloody
dagger in his hand, and marks of gore upon his arm. His portrait hung
in the earl's palace at Perth, though with a more glowing cheek, and
in unspotted robes. But there he stood before him now, as if the grave
had given up its dead, his father's father, the slayer of the hapless
Rizzio. There was the same haggard look, the same ashy cheek, the same
rolling eye with which he had sunk into a seat in the presence of his
queen when the dreadful deed was done, and the full horror of the act
was poured upon his conscience. There the same gasping movement of the
lips with which he called for water to allay the burning thirst which
was never to be quenched but by the cold cup of death. A pale hazy
light spread around him, and he seemed to raise his hand with a
menacing gesture. He spoke, or Gowrie thought he spoke, in tones low
and stern, "Shall the blood of Douglas and of Ruthven mingle once
more?" he said. "Shall the child of him who denied all participation
in the act he prompted, and left his betrayed friend to perish in a
distant land, unite her fate to the heir of him who was destroyed!
Beware, boy, beware! Upon the children's children the blood of the
slain shall call for vengeance; and the unborn of the dark hour shall
seek a fatal retribution!"

As he spoke, the earl's head seemed to become giddy with awe and
surprise, the figure vanished, all that the room contained became
indistinct; and when Lord Gowrie again opened his eyes, he found
himself lying across the bed with his clothes on, and with the morning
light streaming brightly through the casement.



CHAPTER XII.


The landlord of the inn at Barraux had been up before any of his
guests; and anxious to show that his larder was not always so ill
provided as it had been the night before, he had contrived to procure
materials for a very substantial breakfast, to strengthen the
travellers for their day's journey. It was well dressed, too, after
the fashions of that day, and good Mr. Rhind did ample justice to its
merits both by eating and lauding it, gaily declaring that the morning
made up for the evening, and that, according to the popish
superstition, the landlord might claim the merit of some works of
supererogation over and above those necessary to atone for the sins of
the night before.

Gowrie himself was in no very jesting mood. He made, it is true, every
effort to shake off the impression produced upon his mind by the
strange events lately passed. It was a dream, he thought--an idle
dream, or else a hallucination. He had been very much fatigued, had
obtained but small refreshment, and yet he had sat up thinking,
wasting time which would have been better employed in repose. Over
fatigued, he had dropped asleep without knowing it, had fallen upon
the bed, and imagination, set free from all restraint, had conjured up
appearances strangely connected with the previous subject of his
thoughts. He strove to eat, to talk, to jest playfully as usual, but
he was not very successful in the attempt, and the demeanour of his
fair Julia soon put a stop to the effort. She was exceedingly
thoughtful, grave, almost sad. She eat little, spoke less, and when
the horses were brought round to the door, mounted with a deep sigh.

After they had ridden some little way, the earl asked, in a low tone,
if anything had disturbed her.

"Nothing of importance," she answered, glancing her eye towards Mr.
Rhind, who was riding near; "but I will tell you more very soon."

She spoke so low that their worthy companion did not hear what she
said; but even if he had heard, it is probable that he would not have
altered his position in the cavalcade, for Mr. Rhind was a very slow
man at taking a hint, and seemed to have no conception that his former
pupil might sometimes find the society of her he loved pleasanter
without ear-witnesses. A favourable hill, however, afforded, about
half an hour afterwards, as they rode on towards Chamberry, the
opportunity that the lovers desired. Mr. Rhind was not fond of riding
fast, either up hill or down. He had conscientious scruples as to
spurring his horse, and never used a whip when he could help it. Thus,
when the cavalcade began the ascent, he suffered his beast to drop
slowly behind, and in the end took out a little vellum-covered volume
from his pocket, and began to read.

"Now, dearest Julia, let us quicken our pace," whispered Gowrie. "We
shall be at the top of the hill very soon, and Rhind will rejoin us
some half league after we have reached the bottom of the descent." The
lady shook her rein. The horses sprang on. The servants, more discreet
than Mr. Rhind, followed at an easy trot, and by the time that Gowrie
and Julia had reached a spot about one third of the whole distance
from the top of the hill, they found themselves some two or three
hundred yards before any of their attendants.

"Now tell me, dearest," said the young earl, "what is it has made you
so grave and sad this morning? There is no one within ear-shot."

"It is nothing, really nothing," replied Julia. "You will think it
very ridiculous, I fear, when I say that the only cause of my being
grave, if I have been so, was an idle dream; but I love to tell you
all, Gowrie, to have no thought hidden from you."

"Ever, ever do so," replied the earl, warmly; "but what was this
dream, love? I fear it must have disturbed your rest, and you much
needed repose."

"I must have been asleep some time," she answered; "but indeed,
Gowrie, it was a thing of no moment--merely a dream--and yet if I tell
you, it may make you grave and sad too."

"Nay, now you excite my curiosity the more," replied her lover. "Pray
tell me all, dear girl."

"Well," she answered, with a faint smile, "I was very tired, and glad
to lie down to rest. The little maid we hired at Borgonovo, who slept
in the same room, was very weary too, so that her fingers would hardly
do their office in unlacing my bodice. How soon she was asleep I do
not know, for the moment my head rested on the pillow my eyes were
closed in slumber. I cannot tell how long I slept quietly and
undisturbed; but then I seemed to wake. The room was the same. The
aspect of all things round me was unchanged; but there was a light in
the chamber, and at the distance of about a pace from my bedside I saw
a standing figure of a man, distinct and clear, but yet so thin and
shadowy, that it seemed as if every part were penetrated with the
light in the midst of which he stood--a coloured shadow resting on the
pale blue glare."

"What was he like? Who was he?" demanded Lord Gowrie, eagerly.

"He was very pale," answered Julia, "with a face that seemed to
express suffering and sorrow more than strong passions. His hair, cut
short in the front, was jetty black, mingled here and there with gray,
and falling in dark masses of large curls behind. He was tall, about
your own height, Gowrie, and seemingly powerful in form, but with the
shoulders a little bowed, as if worn by sickness. He was dressed in
armour, but the head was bare; and a cloak was cast over his arm,
concealing his right hand. His eyes were bright and flashing; and the
face and upper part of the body seemed more real and corporeal than
the lower limbs, which I could hardly see. There was a small scar upon
his face, between the mouth and the cheek, as if----"

"The same," murmured Lord Gowrie, "the same! Did he not speak?"

"Oh, yes," answered Julia, "he seemed to speak, or I dreamed it. He
stood gazing at me long indeed in silence, while I lay trembling with
fear. I tried to ask him what he did there--what he wanted. I tried to
rouse the house--to wake the maid who was sleeping near me; but my
tongue seemed tied, no sounds proceeded from my lips, and I strove in
vain to rise in bed. In the meantime he stood silent, gazing at me;
and at last he said twice, 'Poor thing! poor thing! Do you not know,'
he asked, 'that the blood of Morton and the blood of Ruthven can never
be mingled together till the gore that the one shed and the other
falsely denied is fully avenged?--Beware! beware! Hurry not on your
own fate. Pause! Refrain till the blow has fallen, let it fall where
it will----.' Do not look so gloomy, Gowrie--it was but a dream, for
the agony of mind I suffered broke the spell, and with a low scream I
started up. The maid woke instantly, and as I looked round I found
that all was darkness. The poor girl asked what was the matter, and I
told her then, as I have just said to you, that it was only a dream. I
asked her, however, if she had seen the doors closely locked. She
assured me that she had, and got out of bed to see, when she found
that it was so, and all was fast and safe. My rest had been disturbed,
however, and I did not sleep again for some time, which is perhaps
what made me somewhat dull and heavy; but still it was but a dream."

"A very strange one," answered Lord Gowrie, and fell into a fit of
thought. His meditations, however, were less of Julia's dream than of
what his own conduct ought to be. He felt unwilling to alarm her, or
to create any doubts or suspicions in her bosom as to the course
before them; but yet her frank confidence required return; and he felt
that after she had told him all, he ought to withhold from her
nothing.

In the meantime she rode on by his side, with the tresses of her
glossy hair somewhat shaken by the exercise, falling here and there on
her beautiful face. The dark eyes were bent down with the long
eyelashes resting on her cheek, as if she would not interrupt his
meditations by a look; but at length the earl said, "This is a strange
dream, indeed, dear Julia; and the occurrence is the more strange,
inasmuch as something very similar happened to me last night also."

Julia started, and looked up. "Oh, what?" she exclaimed.

"The selfsame person appeared to me likewise," replied her lover. "I
know him well by your description, too accurate to be mistaken; but
that which is perhaps the most strange of all is, that to me he
appeared as I have never seen him represented, but as I have heard him
described, and to you, who have neither seen him nor his picture,
exactly as his portrait stands in my gallery at Perth."

"But what did he say to you? What was the import of your dream?" asked
Julia.

"I am not so certain it was a dream," replied Lord Gowrie; "would that
I were; but his warning to me was very similar to that addressed to
yourself. You have told me all, dear Julia, and I must not withhold
anything from you; but still, while speaking with perfect confidence
to each other, we must not let anything like superstitious fears
affect our conduct or turn us from our course. Your heart and mine,
dear girl, are inseparably linked for weal and woe. God grant, for thy
sake, that the happiness may predominate; but I feel that neither
could know what happiness is were we ever to part."

"Oh, no, no!" murmured Julia, in a low tone, letting the reins fall
upon her horse's neck, and clasping her hands together, while her head
bowed down as if something oppressed her almost to fainting--"Oh, no,
no! That hour were death."

Gowrie soothed her by assurances of eternal love, and then proceeded
to tell her all that had occurred to him during the preceding night.
He spoke of it, too, as of a delusion of the imagination; but Julia
fell into thought which lasted several minutes after he had done. At
length she looked up with a brighter glance. "If you remember," she
said, "the night before last we were looking over together those
papers concerning my birth, and we spoke much of my father and your
ancestor who slew the unhappy Rizzio. The subject rested long in my
mind; and perhaps on you also it had no slight effect. Do you not
think, Gowrie, that in passing through the scenes we have lately
traversed, with things exciting the imagination at every step, weary
and exhausted too, fancy was likely to reproduce for us, in sleepy or
drowsy hours, the phantoms which had haunted us throughout the day?"

"Perhaps so," answered her lover, glad to catch at any solution of a
mystery so dark and painful--"perhaps so, my Julia; and yet these
dreams are very like realities sometimes. The people in my land--in
our land--are given much to superstition, and I would far rather
imagine that I had yielded to those impressions implanted in us during
youth, than believe that such a warning should in our case be
requisite or given."

"But do you believe, Gowrie, that such a thing is now permitted as
that the spirits of the dead should revisit earth in the forms which
they bore while living?" Julia asked, gravely, and then added, "he who
was my instructor from my earliest years had no faith in such events."

"Much has been said, much ever will be said," answered Gowrie, "upon
that, in regard to which little can ever be known on this side of the
grave. Philosophy, my Julia, says one thing, and something in man's
own breast ever says another. Our knowledge tells us that we can never
see that which has no substance, that we cannot hear that which has no
voice. The spirit within says, 'There are means of communication
between me and my unimprisoned brethren. The eye is my servant in my
communication with earthly things, the ear is but the portico of the
audience chamber of the mind, where the voices of earth are heard; but
for things not of earth there is another sight, another hearing. The
sovereign mind communicates with them direct, and not through her
ministers.'"

He spoke gravely, for the subject was one of those in regard to which
we are inclined to apply the aids of philosophy to confirm opinions
formed already without their help. Few persons in the world, and very
few, indeed, in Scotland, at that time, were without faith in dreams
and apparitions; and what is, indeed, very strange, those who were the
most sceptical of the truths of revealed religion, were often the most
credulous of the tales of superstition.

Julia, however, saw that he was sad, and she made every effort to
conquer the gloom which her strange dream had cast upon her own mind;
for there can be no doubt that it had made its impression--not,
indeed, that she received it as a real warning from another world, for
her mind had been differently tutored in early years; but still it had
filled her thoughts with gloomy images, and she had given way to them
more than was customary with her. Now, however, she strove to resume
her natural cheerfulness, and quietly, easily, with that simple art
which nature teaches to a kind heart, led the conversation away,
without any abrupt transition, from the subject which seemed to give
pain to him she loved.

They were now at the bottom of the hill; and although they had ridden
more rapidly down than was perhaps very prudent, they drew in their
horses' reins when they reached the level ground, in order to let Mr.
Rhind rejoin them. He was riding slowly along, still reading; but a
sound, which startled the whole party, and their horses also, soon
caused him to quicken his pace, in order to get to Lord Gowrie's side
again. 'Tis a strange power which strong minds have over weak ones. By
circumstances, power and authority may be placed in the hands of the
weak, and they may exercise them till the exercise becomes habitual;
but in every moment of difficulty or danger, the strong mind assumes
the sway, and the weaker one takes refuge under its shelter. Mr. Rhind
had known Lord Gowrie from his infancy, had received rule over him
when he was a boy, had been placed with him to guide him when he was a
youth. He hardly looked upon him as more even now; he hardly
comprehended that his tutorship was finished; but the instant that a
peril presented itself, or an embarrassment occurred, instead of
protecting and guiding, he sought protection and guidance from his
former pupil.

I left the reader waiting for a sound, or at least for some
description of that sound which startled the whole party. It was that
of a cannon-shot, not very far distant either; and before Mr. Rhind
could reach the young earl's side, or any one could ask any questions,
another and another succeeded, till the number reached to
four-and-twenty.

"Good gracious, my dear lord, we have got into the midst of the
hostile armies," exclaimed Mr. Rhind.

"The king must have made more rapid progress than I expected," replied
Lord Gowrie, in a calm, quiet tone. "Those guns must be from
Montmeillant or Chamberry."

"From Montmeillant, my lord," said Austin Jute, who had ridden up.
"The sounds come from the east."

"But the wind blows down the valley," answered the earl. "What shall
we do, dear Julia? Are you afraid?"

"What is the choice?" she asked.

"To go on by Chamberry and the Pont Beauvoisin to Lyons, or retread
our steps towards Grenoble, and take the longer way. It is evident
that a part of the King of France's army is before us; but we cannot
tell what is taking place on the Grenoble road."

"May I go on and reconnoitre, my lord?" said Austin Jute. "I can bring
you back information, and perhaps a pass. They say it is better to be
at the end of a feast than at the beginning of a fray, and perhaps it
may be so; but I like a little bit of the fray, too, provided it last
not too long."

"That may be the best plan," said his master. "Tie something white
round your arm, and prick on; we will follow slowly."

Before this scheme could be executed, however, a party of some eight
or ten horsemen came dashing round the rocky turn of the road, and
cantered down into the meadow which lay on the bank of the stream,
before they saw the party of the young earl. They were all in arms
except two, and evidently belonged to one or other of the contending
forces. The next moment, however, the eyes of one of those who bore no
defensive armour rested on the group under the hill; and turning his
rein suddenly thither, followed by all his companions, he was soon in
front of the party of travellers, and shouting in a loud, but gay and
jesting tone, "Stand, give the word!"



CHAPTER XIII.


The system of warfare carried on in Scotland, at the time we speak of,
was not of the most civilized character--generally a war of partisans,
which is always a bloody war. Mr. Rhind had known no other; and,
consequently, he was in a state of most exceeding alarm. Julia was
much less so, for the tranquil air of the young earl showed her at
once that nothing was to be feared. The earl's servants, too, who,
with their master, had seen a good deal of the world, seemed perfectly
quiet and at their ease; and Austin Jute whispered in a low tone to
one of the men, "By my fay, that is a splendid horse the fellow is
riding, somewhat heavy about the shoulder and the legs, but a noble
beast in a charge, I'll be bound."

"Remain quietly here," said the earl, addressing those who surrounded
him. "I will go forward and speak with this gentleman. Stay here, dear
Julia; there is not the slightest danger."

The person whom he approached, and who had reined in his horse, after
calling to the strangers to stand and give the word, was a man of the
middle age, or perhaps a little more, for he had certainly, by ten
years at least, passed that important division where the allotted life
of man separates itself into two halves. Oh, thirty-five, thirty-five,
thou art an important epoch, and well might be, to every man who
thinks, a moment of warning and apprehension. Up to that period, in
the ordinary course of events, everything has been acquisition and the
development of different powers. Thenceforward all is decay--slow,
gradual, imperceptible, perhaps, at first, but sure, stealthy, and
increasing with frightful rapidity. The stranger might be forty-six or
forty-seven years of age, but he looked a good deal older. His beard
and moustachios were very gray, especially on the left side; his face
was wrinkled a good deal at the corners of the eyes; and his very
handsome forehead--the only truly handsome part of his face--was
wrinkled also, with an expression rather of quiet and dignified
gravity than with age. His other features were by no means good; the
mouth sensual, though good-humoured; the nose aquiline, and somewhat
depressed at the point; and the eyes twinkling and keen, with an
expression of somewhat reckless merriment. There was a very peculiar
satyr-like turn of the eyebrow, too, which was gray and bushy, with a
thick tuft about the centre, where it ran up into a peak from the
nose. The dress of this officer--for officer he certainly appeared to
be--was of very plain materials, consisting of a brown cloth suit,
with no ornament whatever, except a gold chain round his neck. Above
his pourpoint he wore a sort of sleeveless coat, or rather small
mantle with arm-holes, trimmed with sable fur; and the fraise round
his neck was of plain linen, and so small as to be quite out of the
fashion of the times. His leather gloves extended to his elbow, and
his large coarse heavy boots came in front higher than the knee. There
were pistol holders at his saddle-bow, a long heavy sword by his side,
and the whole figure was surmounted by a broad-brimmed hat, with a
tall white plume of feathers, which kept waving about in the wind.

"Who are you, sir?" he said, in French, as the earl approached him,
"and whither are you going? Are you aware that you are within the
limits of the camp besieging Montmeillant?"

"I was not, indeed," replied the earl; "but being peaceably disposed,
and having no connexion with either party in the hostilities which I
understand are going on, I suppose there will not be any difficulty in
passing by the Pont Beauvoisin into France?"

"Upon my life, I cannot tell that," replied the other. "It will much
depend upon what is your country, what is your business, and whence
you came from last."

"I have come from Italy," replied the young earl, "passing quietly
through Piedmont; and my business----"

"Stay, stay," said the stranger. "You have come through Piedmont, have
you? Now that is not the country, of all others, from which France
courts visitors just now. Have you seen the Duke of Savoy lately?"

"I never saw him in my life," replied the earl, "unless I see him
now."

"Oh, no," said the stranger, "that you certainly do not. By your
speech I should take you for an Englishman. Is it so? If it be, pass,
in God's name, for if I tried to stop you, I should have my good
sister Elizabeth coming over to chastise me with her large fan. Ventre
Saint Gris! it does not do to enrage the island lioness."

"No, sire," replied the earl, "I am not one of her majesty's subjects,
being a native of a neighbouring country called Scotland."

"Ha, ha!" cried the other, laughing. "What, one of the flock of my
dearly beloved cousin, King James? Heaven bless his most sagacious
majesty. How went it with him when last you heard?"

"Right well, sire," replied the earl; "but it is some time since I
heard any news except referring to my own private affairs."

"May I crave your name and business, good sir?" said the King of
France, who, while he had been speaking with Gowrie, had been eyeing
the young nobleman's little troop. "'Tis somewhat late to travel for
mere pleasure, especially with ladies in one's company."

"Business I have, unfortunately, none," answered the young earl,
gravely, "except to make my way back as fast as possible to my own
land, with my fair cousin, who takes advantage of my escort even at
this late season, seeing that she otherwise might not meet with an
opportunity for some time. My name, sire, is John Ruthven, Earl of
Gowrie."

"Ha! noble lord," said Henry, with a less constrained air. "I have
heard of you before,--an intimate of my old friend Beza's, if I
mistake not. You passed through France some five or six years ago on
your way to Padua, at least some one of your name did so."

"The same, sire," answered the earl; "I trust it will be your gracious
pleasure to afford me a pass and safe conduct."

"Assuredly," answered the king, with a gay and laughing air; "but you
must come and dine with me, cousin, if it be but for the service that
your name will do me."

"I know not how it can benefit your majesty," said Gowrie, anxious to
proceed as rapidly as possible.

"As a terror to favourites," replied Henry, with a meaning look. "The
name of Ruthven, methinks, should keep them in great awe. But I will
take no refusal. You and your fair cousin too, and any gentleman who
may be of your party, must come and partake of a soldier's dinner in
his tent. I left the king behind at Lyons; and, on my life, I like the
old trade better than the new. Ay, and even found more peace of mind,
cousin, when I had daily to fight for my breakfast, than when I sit
down in a palace, surrounded by men, some hungry for my treasures, and
some thirsty for my blood."

"As the season is drawing towards a close," replied Lord Gowrie,
without actually venturing to decline the king's invitation, "I am
anxious, sire, to proceed as rapidly as possible towards England."

"Fie, man!" exclaimed the king; "have I not said I will take no
refusal? Why, if I let you pass without some sign of hospitality, your
cousin and mine, worthy King James, the northern Solomon--though his
descent from David might be less honourable than clear--would think
that I had some ill-will to his high wisdom. And now I will ride back
with you. You, Monsieur de Chales, ride on to Rosni. Tell him I will
come to-morrow, unless he has taken the place in order to prevent me.
He is as jealous of his king as a spoilt woman. Come, my Lord Gowrie,
introduce me to this fair cousin of yours. We have wanted gallantry to
keep her waiting so long."

Thus saying, he spurred on, accompanied by the young earl, who,
obliged to give way, resolved to assume something of the king's own
humour, and said at once, as they rode up, "Sire, allow me to present
to you my cousin, the Lady Julia Douglas. Julia, this is that great
king of whom you have heard; who not only conquered his own throne,
but the affection of his own people; the one by the sword of war, the
other by the sword of justice."

"I kiss your hand, fair lady," said the king. "The Lady Julia Douglas!
What, one of the bleeding hearts? I trust, my lord count, that her
heart is safe in your keeping."

"In which case your majesty will not try to steal it from me,"
answered the young earl, to whom Henry's character for somewhat
vehement gallantry was not unknown.

"No, no; honour amongst thieves," answered the king. "Were I an
officer of Cupid's court I might stop you, having taken you in the
very act of carrying off your booty; but being merely a poor
pickpocket myself, I am not justified in interfering. Come, let us
forward," he continued, seeing that the colour had risen somewhat high
in Julia's cheek; and turning his horse, he rode on in the direction
of Chamberry.

A young lover is always like a miser with a jewel of great price. He
may feel certain of the strength of the bolts and bars which secure
his treasure; he may be confident that it is safe; but yet he never
feels entirely at his ease, when he knows that robbers are abroad; and
undoubtedly Gowrie was somewhat less than pleased to see the gallant
attentions of the king to his fair promised bride as they rode along.
Henry saw his uneasiness, and was amused, though the earl concealed it
well; and with some good-humoured malice--for I believe in this
instance it was no more--the monarch strove to persuade his two young
guests that they might well spend a few days with him in Chamberry.
"You," he said, turning to the earl--"you, sprung from a race of
soldiers, and who have probably been in arms yourself, can you make up
your mind to leave a spot where high deeds are being performed?"

"I feel myself obliged to do so," replied the young earl, adding, with
a smile, to point his double meaning, "If there were nothing else,
this lady's presence would, of course, hurry my departure from the
scenes in which your majesty takes so much delight."

"Parbleau! there is no danger," cried the king. "Our camp is filled
with ladies. The town of Chamberry is in our hands. 'Tis but the
citadel holds out for honour; and Madame de Rosni gives a ball in the
city this very night.--What say you, fair lady? Will you not stay and
grace her entertainment?"

"It must be as a prisoner if I do, sire," replied Julia; "for duty
calls me on to Scotland as fast as possible, and, to tell truth in no
very courtly fashion, inclination too."

"On my life," cried the king, laughing, "you must be both disciples of
Rosni's. That hard-headed Huguenot will speak his mind however
unpalatable; and I find that the Scotch are as blunt, though they
cannot be more honest. Well, well," he continued, with a sigh, "as you
will not consent to cheer us by an importation of fresh thoughts and
fresh faces, I must even let you go, although I do believe I should be
justified in treating you both as rebels, and shutting you up as
prisoners, the one in the camp, and the other in the old Carthusian
convent, to do penance for your offence--I acting as father confessor
of course."

Julia looked anxiously to Gowrie, who replied, with a laugh, "That
would be a breach of the law of nations, sire. Francis the First
suffered his enemy, Charles the emperor, to pass unscathed; and as
your majesty deigns to call me cousin, good faith, I will only treat
with you as crown to crown."

"I call many a man cousin who is less so than yourself," replied the
king, seeing that he could not succeed in detaining them. "If I
remember right, your grandmother, or great-grandmother, was sister to
Mary Queen of France, and to Henry, the excellent King of England,
eighth of that name, who had an admirable expedient for ridding
himself of troublesome wives. Upon my life, I wish it were an
inheritance of kings. Parbleau! it would be a more valuable privilege
than that of curing the evil by our touch, which they say we kings
possess. I would rather touch my own sore and cure it, than that of
the lame beggars who crowd about the cathedral doors at Rheims."

"Methinks your majesty would not use it even if you did possess it,"
said Julia.

"Why not, fair lady?" cried Henry, quickly, for the subject was one
which always excited him.

"I mean the sharp touch which King Henry used to cure the ill of which
you speak," replied Julia.

"No, perhaps not that," said Henry, musing. "I am not cruel; and I do
not love such sharp remedies even with hard, iron-tempered men. I have
a notion, too, that ladies' necks were made for other things than to
bear an axe--to bear gay jewels and bright glittering chains, I mean.
That same fondness of the axe you speak of, especially in the case of
women, seems a particular characteristic of the Tudor race. Thank God,
it has not come hither. I do not think I should like the practice,
even on the worst of women; and by my faith, the dagger and the bowl,
which we have been rather fond of here in former years, is not to my
taste either. If I were to choose, I would rather be the victim than
the executioner. God deliver me from being either!"

There was something in the conversation, and the course which it had
taken, which brought a fit of deep thought upon Henry; and for the
next twenty minutes he said little or nothing; then looking up, he
pointed forward with his hand, saying, "There is fair Chamberry; but
it is some miles distant yet; and as you must needs go forward
to-night--which, after all, is perhaps better--I will send on to bid
them have my homely dinner ready, and a few spoonfuls more pottage
than is ordinarily supplied to the king's table. I can tell you,
cousin, the kings of France are almost sure to find their way to
Abraham's bosom, for there is much more of Lazarus than of Dives in
their condition on this earth. Things are rather better now, thanks to
Rosni; but in times past I have often wanted a dinner, and even now,
as you may see, and will see, I am neither clothed in purple and fine
linen, nor fare sumptuously every day."



CHAPTER XIV.


Although Henry IV. was much accustomed to call things by their own
names, the tent which he had spoken of was a handsome house in the
town of Chamberry, his camp the wide circuit of the city itself,
though, to say sooth, there were other tents, and another camp without
the walls. The purveyors of the royal household had not, it is true,
been much more careful in providing "cates divine" for the monarch's
table than they usually had been in times past. Perhaps no general
officer in his army fared so ill as Henry IV., for he was too
good-humoured to take notice of any little derelictions, and cared
less for an offence against his own person than one against the state.
Perhaps he was wrong; I believe he was: for a man who tolerates
disobedience of orders or default of duty in one instance, gives
encouragement to the same fault in another. But still men of great
genius have many roads open before them to the same ends; and the
rigid rule which one considers necessary to the attainment of his
objects, may be dispensed with by another without danger.

It may be true as an axiom, that the French nation can never remain
peaceable and prosperous--considering their peculiar national
characteristics--except under a tyrant. It may be true that Henry IV.,
had he been a tyrant, would never have perished by the knife of
Ravaillac. It may be true, that no _strong-minded_ tyrant ever fell
either by the hands of the assassin or the judgment of his people;
that it is the combination of weakness of character with despotic
theories, that has been the downfall of every monarch who has
succumbed to public indignation or private vengeance:--"The roar of
liberated Rome" itself was merely the exultation of a people who had
been cowed for years by a madman and a fool, at their liberation from
a yoke as pitiful as it was oppressive. But there is a power in love,
when excited by a being whose sterner and stronger qualities command
respect, which is powerful over great masses; and although Henri
Quatre passed over many small faults in those who surrounded him, I
believe his vigour and determination in great things would have
secured him against anything like popular caprice or versatility; and
that the only thing which he had to fear, as a consequence of his
good-humoured lenity in regard to personal offences, was the cowardly
means of private assassination.

However that may be, the king's table, on the day of which we have
been speaking, was certainly more poorly provided than that of many
private gentlemen of modern fortune. The pomp and circumstance of a
court waited around; but yet his scanty meal was no way royal, and the
king felt a little mortified that such penuriousness had been
displayed before a stranger.

Immediately after dinner, Henry left the fair Julia with Madame de
Rosni and some other ladies, and called Gowrie away to a small cabinet
of the house in which he had taken up his quarters. Seating himself,
he motioned his young guest to a chair, and then said, "I take it for
granted, my lord, that what you have said is actually the case, and
that you have not seen our good cousin of Savoy, nor know anything of
his affairs; but that you are simply travelling homeward with the
beautiful bird in your trap, intending, of course, to make her your
bride when you reach your native land?"

Gowrie merely bowed his head, saying, "I assure your majesty, I know
nothing of the Duke of Savoy whatever."

"Well, then," replied Henry, "there may be one, perhaps, whom you may
be well pleased to know--I mean Elizabeth, Queen of England. I will
therefore write her majesty a few lines in your favour; and you will
do well, when you reach Paris, to see her ambassador, Sir Henry
Neville, in order that he may second my recommendation. I can see the
time coming," continued the king, "when favour in England may be
highly beneficial to a Scottish nobleman. If you should attain it, use
it discreetly, for you have to deal with two people who have their
peculiarities. The one, with strong sense, has small sincerity, with
infinite policy combines many weaknesses, who can be a bitter enemy,
but not an honest friend, and who will always sacrifice to expediency
those who have served her--and there are none others--for their own
ends. It will be right for you to be well with her, but not too well.
The other has the greatest wit of any man I know, and the least
wisdom. Cunning as a fox, his policy is as wily as that of the beast,
and as pitiful. But his hatred is very dangerous, for it is strong in
proportion to his weakness, and will pursue paths as obscure as his
logic or his religion. To the latter personage you must have access
from your own rank; to the former I will give you a letter, which will
prove of good or bad effect on your own fortunes as you shall use it.
Wait a moment, and I will write. You have done me some wrong in your
own thoughts to-day; but I do not bear malice long; and I will not
tell the maiden queen that you were half afraid to trust yourself with
her brother of France, having a fair maiden in your company."

The king looked at him with a meaning smile as he spoke; but Gowrie
instantly replied, "It was doing your majesty no wrong to suppose that
you have great power over all hearts, and to be anxious to preserve
one at least from your sway."

"Out, flatterer!" said the king; "do you think I do not know mankind,
when I have dealt with them, fought with them, negotiated with them,
and played at cards with them for seven-and-forty years? I knew what
was going on in your young heart better than you did yourself, and
would have teased you a little longer, but that I know myself too,
and am aware that it is dangerous sporting where a fair girl is
concerned--at least, with Gascon blood in one's veins. So you shall
go, and God speed you. I knew your father in my youth, when he was
here in France, and I would have saved his life if he had fled to me
at once, as he should have done. You are a sad race of rebels, you
Ruthvens; but all my best friends have been rebels in their day, and
therefore I must not exclude you."

Thus saying, the king began to write with a rapid and careless hand,
while the young earl, in whom some part of what he had said had
wakened painful memories, sat with his eyes bent upon the ground, and
his mind buried in thought.

Henry's letter, though somewhat quaint and formal, as his epistles to
Queen Elizabeth usually were, was conceived in a gay and light tone,
and intended beyond all doubt to do the young earl service with the
royal lady to whom it was addressed. After the usual form of
superscription, he went on to say, "I have learnt of your Majesty to
deal promptly with enemies, and therefore, though most unwilling to
have recourse to arms against our good cousin of Savoy. Being desirous
to live peaceably with all men, yet finding that he mistook us for
children, I judged it right to lead here, into the heart of his
territories, an army which, I think, is bringing him rapidly to a
better judgment. We have taken a number of his towns and castles, and
are now here in the very heart of the mountains, with Chamberry and
Montmeillant in our hands, and nothing but the citadels holding out.
In the midst of these successes, I have been visited by the noble
lord, the Earl of Gowrie, who will lay these at your feet; and as he
is exceedingly desirous of serving your Majesty, I trust my letter to
his care, being well assured of his honour and fidelity. Moreover, as
doubtless your Majesty well knows, he is bound to honour and serve
your royal person, even by the ties of blood, being descended, though
remotely, and by the female line, from that great prince who
terminated by the sword on Bosworth field the dissensions of York and
Lancaster. I doubt not that for his own sake you will grace him with
your favour, and whatever may be wanting in his own deserts to the
eyes of one who judges not lightly, I trust you will grant him, for
the sake of your Majesty's brother and grateful servant."
                                                          "HENRY."

"Now, a few words to good Sir Henry Neville," said the king, looking
up; "and then I will dismiss you, Gowrie, to your journey, that you
may say, you had nothing but good at the hands of the King of France."

He then wrote a letter, in rather a different strain, to the English
ambassador in Paris, recommending the young earl to his care and
notice, and begging him to forward to the utmost of his power,
consistently with his duty to his royal mistress, whatever views the
earl might have at the English court. Then starting up, he said, "Now
call the page, Gowrie, and let him bring wax and silk to seal these
epistles, after which we will to horse with all speed, for I must on
the way too. I have played Henry of France long enough to-day. I must
now play Henry of Navarre again, for I intend to have Charbonnieres
before to-morrow night."

The letters were soon sealed, and once more Lord Gowrie and his party
set out upon their way, the king himself accompanying them with a
small troop some three or four miles on their road. He then took leave
of them with a gallant speech to the fair Julia, and a gay jest with
the young earl; and wending onwards slowly, those whom he thus left
made the best of their way to Lyons, where some repose became
absolutely necessary.

As this book is not intended for an itinerary, I shall not dwell upon
the events of their farther journey, which was very much like all
other journeys in that day, when very few facilities were offered to
the traveller for proceeding at a rapid pace to the end of his
journey. Inns, indeed, were infinitely more numerous in France than
even at present, for the very slowness of progression rendered it
necessary that halting places should be provided at short distances;
and, of course, those inns were sometimes very good, and sometimes
very bad, according to the quality of the landlord, and the class of
guests whom he was accustomed to receive. Although it is probable
that, from the most barbarous ages down to the present time, some
sorts of machines on wheels, usually called carriages, have been used
amongst European nations, and that persons travelled in them from one
part of a country to another, yet very few persons in France at that
period ever adopted such a mode of conveyance, but performed their
journeys on horseback, when they were capable of so doing. I am not
aware, indeed, whether the horses which were provided for travellers
at different stations all along the high roads, were even fitted for
draft; and the usual plan, when either dignity or infirmity induced
any one to travel in a carriage, was to proceed with his own horses,
or to hire of the peasantry beasts of draft, which could usually be
obtained at any of the small towns on the road. For travellers
journeying with their own horses, the best inns were of course always
open; and the appearance of the party of the Earl of Gowrie secured
reverent reception from landlords and attendants. Nevertheless, the
inconvenience and fatigue to which the fair Julia was subjected during
her long journey were so great, that at Lyons Gowrie determined to
purchase a carriage and four horses for herself and her maid, and in
this conveyance they proceeded on their way, escorted by the rest of
the party on horseback. The length of time spent on the journey,
however, was by this means rendered much greater than it otherwise
would have been, for--tell it not in these days of railroads--the
utmost they could accomplish on the average was three-and-twenty miles
in the day.

Who is there now-a-days who would not declare such a journey very
tiresome? but yet, if the truth must be told, neither Lord Gowrie nor
his fair companion found it so. Bee-like, they extracted pleasure from
every flower on the way; and an impression seemed to have taken
possession of them, which we but too rarely obtain in life, that the
present may be rendered, if we please, the happiest part of existence.
There were no particular clouds in the horizon of the future. There
was nothing tangible which could make them dread the coming days; but
they felt that they were very happy in the society of each other; and
though they both longed for the hour when their fate would be
permanently united, every other change but that presented itself to
imagination as something fearful. Long as the journey from Lyons to
Paris was, it was at length accomplished; and as they approached the
barriers of the great city, Lord Gowrie rode on with a single servant,
to seek and prepare lodgings for his whole party. He commended Julia
to the care of Mr. Rhind, but spoke a few words, before he rode away,
to Austin Jute, directing him where to seek him in the city, and
trusting, if the truth must be told, more to his wit and capacity than
to any knowledge of the world possessed by his former tutor.

The carriage passed the gates of Paris without difficulty, and went
slowly on through the tortuous streets of the capital of France, the
way being so narrow in many places, that the servants who rode with
the vehicle were obliged to drop behind. Mr. Rhind had taken a place
in the coach at the barrier; but he could not refrain here and there
from drawing back the leathern curtains which covered that open space
which is defended by windows in more modern vehicles, but which was
then altogether destitute of glass. The motive he assigned to himself
and Julia for so doing was to see that the driver went right to the
Place Royale, where they were to meet the young earl; but, in truth,
the worthy gentleman's knowledge of Paris was much too limited to
enable him to give any accurate directions in case the man had gone
wrong, and perhaps curiosity might have as great a share in the act as
caution. However that may be, the proceeding proved unfortunate. The
sea remains long agitated after a storm, and the civil wars which had
desolated France for so many years had left a great deal of licence in
the capital, which not all the firmness and energy of the king had
been able to repress. Just as the carriage was turning out of the Rue
St. Antoine towards the river, and while the servants were yet behind,
a gay company of young men rode by at the very moment Mr. Rhind was
about to close the curtain again. The look which one of them gave into
the vehicle called the colour into Julia's cheek. It might be
difficult to explain what there was in the expression which caused the
blood to rush so quickly into her face--she never could explain it
herself; but she felt that it was insolent, if not insulting. The
curtain, however, was immediately drawn, and she thought the annoyance
past, when suddenly the clatter of a horse's feet at the side of the
carriage was heard, the curtain was pulled rudely back from without,
and the same face which she had before seen was thrust partly into the
carriage.

The stranger said something in a laughing tone, but Julia heard not
what it was, and almost at the same moment she saw an arm stretched
out, and a clenched fist strike the intruder a violent blow on the
side of the head, while the voice of Austin Jute exclaimed in English,
"Take that, for showing so much more impudence than wit. Never thrust
your snout where you can't get it out."

A scene of strange confusion instantly followed, of which she could
only behold or comprehend a small part. She saw Austin Jute off his
horse, and the stranger in the same situation. But then Mr. Rhind drew
the curtain tight, and tied the thongs. There was a clashing of
swords, however, and the combatants seemed to run round and round the
vehicle, which, by this time, had stopped, till at length there came a
low cry and a deep groan, and then the voice of Austin exclaimed
aloud, speaking to the driver, "On!--on to the Place Royale as quick
as possible!"



CHAPTER XV.


We must now change the scene for a while, and carry the reader to a
very different part of the world. In a small cabinet in the old castle
of Stirling, sat a young man between nineteen and twenty years of age.
It was clear, and even a warm day, though the season was winter. No
snow, however, had yet fallen; the fields were still green; and the
beautiful scene that stretched out beneath the eye, with the tall
highlands mounting to the sky on the one side, with the fair lowland
scene spread out for miles on the other, displaying all the windings
of the Forth on its course towards the sea, little needed the leafy
foliage of the spring or summer to render it exquisitely beautiful. It
is probable, indeed, that he who built the high turret in which the
cabinet was situated, had little thought of affording a beautiful
scene to those who occupied it, for its destination was that of a
watch tower, and from its peculiar position it commanded the widest
possible view to be obtained of the country on three sides. The young
man whom I have mentioned, paid as little attention to the fair
landscape stretched beneath his eyes as the builder of the tower may
be supposed to have done, though he sat near one of the four small
windows which it contained, and the casement was wide open. In his
hand--as he had cast himself back, resting against the stone-work of
the window, with his head leaning forward, and his feet crossed over
each other--was a small piece of paper, closely written in a female
hand, and oft he gazed upon it, and oft he smiled, and once he raised
it to his lips and kissed it. There was something that pleased him
well in that paper. Oh, false and treacherous hopes of youth, how
often do ye prove sweet poisons, which we quaff gaily to our own
destruction! I once saw a curious piece of ancient sculpture,
representing a child playing with a serpent, and I have often thought
that the sculptor must have intended to typify the hopes of youth.

Still he gazed, and smiled, and played with the paper, and fell into
thought. What was it the enchantress promised him? What was the golden
dream which, for the hour, possessed the palace of the soul? I know
not. Woman's love belike, for he was as fair a youth to look upon as
ever mortal eye beheld--exceedingly like his brother, the Earl of
Gowrie, but of a lighter and a gayer aspect.

Hark! There is the sound of a foot upon the short flight of steps that
lead up to the turret from the large chamber below! It is not the step
of her he loves. It is not hers, the giver of the gay day-dream in
which he has been indulging; for see, he suddenly hides the paper, and
looks towards the door with a glance of surprise if not alarm. And yet
it is a woman's foot, light and soft falling; and the form that now
appears at the door is surely young enough and bright enough to waken
all the tenderest emotions of the heart.

But no! There is a slight gesture of pettish impatience, and he
exclaims, "What, Beatrice! What do you want now? Really, you tiresome
girl, one cannot have a moment's time for thought."

"Thought, Alex?" cried the young lady, with a laugh; "I wish to Heaven
you would think, or think to some purpose. I have come to make you
think if I can. Nay, nay, no signs of impatience, for I intend to
lecture you; and you must both hear and consider what I have to say.
Though I be a year younger, yet I am older in court and experience
than you are. Oh, if you get up that way I shall lock the door;" and
she did as she threatened, adding, "What do you laugh at?"

"At your sauciness, silly girl," answered Alexander Ruthven. "Where
should you get experience, and what right have you to assume all the
airs of sage old age?"

"I got my experience in this court," answered Beatrice, "where I have
been for eighteen months, and you but three; and as for age, Alex, a
woman of eighteen is as old as a man of four or five-and-twenty. So
now sit you down there, like a good boy, and listen to what I am going
to say to you."

Alexander Ruthven cast himself down in the seat again, with an air in
which a certain affectation of scornful merriment overlaid, but could
not conceal altogether, an expression of irritable mortification.
"Well," he said, "here I am. Pray to what do your sage counsels tend,
sister of mine?"

"They tend to your happiness, your safety, your honour, Alex,"
answered the Lady Beatrice, a little sharply, for though she had come
with the kindest as well as highest purposes, her brother's tone hurt
her.

"Now, gad's my life!" replied Alexander Ruthven, "I do believe that no
man upon earth would suppose this to be the gay, bird-hearted Beatrice
Ruthven."

"If so, what must be the brother's conduct which has so changed me,
which has made the gay, grave, the light-hearted, heavy?" demanded
Beatrice.

Her words now seemed to strike him more than those which she had
previously uttered, for there was a deep melancholy in her tone, which
gave their meaning additional point. "Well, Beatrice," he said, laying
his hand on hers, "you are a dear good girl, I believe, and love me
truly. Tell me what it is in my conduct that you object to?"

Beatrice instantly threw her arms round his neck and kissed him. "This
is like my own dear brother," she said; "and now I'll be Beatrice
again. But to the point. Do you know, Alex Ruthven--do you know that
you are flirting with a queen till it is remarked by many?"

The youth's cheek turned fiery red. "Pooh, pooh!" he cried, "this is
all folly! Can I not, in common courteous gallantry, profess my
devotion to my sovereign's wife without any evil construction? Surely
the difference between our stations is so great as to leave no ground
either for danger or suspicion."

"The difference of station is so great as to free her from all danger
of evil," replied Beatrice; "and I trust there are higher and holier
principles too which would keep you, Alex, from the same; but neither
those principles nor that difference will free either of you from
suspicion, nor will it free you from danger even of your life, if you
and she go on as you have been doing."

"Why, what have I done, and what ought I to have done?" demanded the
young man, almost sullenly.

"I can tell you better what you ought not to have done," answered his
sister. "You ought not to take private moments for stooping over the
queen's chair, and whispering words into her ear with low tones and
sweet smiles. You ought not, in any mask or pageant at the court, to
seek her out, and find her instantly, as if you had some secret way of
discovering which she is, amongst a hundred different disguises. You
should not have pages coming to you with billets to be delivered
secretly. I could tell you a dozen more things you should not do; but
methinks this is enough."

The young man's countenance had changed expression several times while
she spoke; but at last he answered, angrily, "Do you consider,
Beatrice, that you censure your royal mistress as well as me?"

"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed his sister. "I am her lady of honour; and
her honour is dear to me as my own. No, no, what she does, and what
she permits, is, I do believe, from a knowledge of the vast difference
between her and you--the barriers between the sovereign and the
subject, which she never dreams that you will venture to overstep. She
knows not the danger to herself and you, even of that which is done in
all innocence; and you, who should know it better, go rashly on, I
trust with a pure heart, but still with an evil aspect to the world.
Nay more, Alex, I tell you, you are watched by eager and jealous eyes,
and that your name--which never should be--is ever coupled in men's
mouths with the queen's. Beware, beware in time, my dear brother."

Alexander Ruthven put his hand to his head and gazed down on the
ground with an expression no longer that of anger, but rather of
sorrow, and almost of despair. "I knew not it would come to this," he
said. "Heaven and earth! what is to be done?"

"I thought you knew it not," said his sister, "and therefore, my dear
brother, I was resolved to warn you. As to what is to be done, I think
nothing can be more easy. Get leave of absence for a while, and when
you return, be careful of all your words and looks. Of your purposes
and acts, I believe--nay, I am sure--there is no need to warn you to
be careful. But remember, my brother, and ever bear it in mind, that
though you yourself and though the queen may be perfectly blameless, a
court is always filled, not alone with the suspicious, but with the
malevolent. It must ever be so in a place where one man can only rise
by another man's downfall. If your purposes be true and noble, and I
will not doubt they are so, and if your conduct be but prudent, the
task before you is an easy one."

The young man waved his hand and turned away his head. "More difficult
than you know," he said, gloomily. "Oh, how difficult!"

He seemed as if he were about to go on, but at that moment some one
suddenly laid a hand upon the lock of the door, and tried to open it.
The young man and his sister both started, and looked at each other
with an expression difficult to describe. Beatrice turned very pale,
her brother very red, for each fixed in their own mind upon a person
in that court as the yet unseen visitor; and in the imagination of
both it was the same. Another instant, however, undeceived them. The
door was shaken violently, and the voice of the king exclaimed, in
broad Scotch, "Hout! What's this? Wha's lockit in here? Alex Ruthven,
what need to steek the door, man?" At the same time he continued to
shake the door furiously, as if seeking to force his way in.

Beatrice instantly started forward and turned the key, and the door at
once flew open, nearly knocking her down. In the door-way appeared
James himself, with his coarse countenance flushed, and a heavy frown
upon his brow, while a little behind was seen one of his favourites at
that time, named Doctor Herries, and another form, the sight of which
made Beatrice's heart beat quick. Without noticing the young lady,
James took a stride into the room, and looked all round, with his
large tongue lolling about in his mouth, and the tip appearing between
his half-open teeth. It was evident that he expected to see some other
person besides those which the room contained; but there was no place
of concealment of any kind, and no means of exit except the door near
which he stood. The furniture itself was so scanty, that one glance
was sufficient to show him he had been mistaken. Prefixing one of
those blasphemous oaths in which he so frequently indulged, he
exclaimed, "What the de'il is the meaning o' this? Why should brother
and sister lock the door upon themselves?"

By this time, however, Beatrice had recovered her self-possession, and
she replied, with a low curtsey, "It was nothing, your majesty, but
that Alex and I have had a little bit of a quarrel; and I was
determined to have it out with him. He wanted to run away, and so I
locked the door."

"I think that's a flaw, lassie," replied the king, coarsely; "but gin
you've quarrelled with your billy, tell me what it's about, and I'll
soon redd ye."

"It's all redd up already, sire," answered Beatrice. The king,
however, was determined to hear more, and pressed her closely; but
Beatrice, without any want of respect, answered him with spirit. "I am
not going to tell of my brother, sir," she said. "When brother and
sister quarrel, it is better, like man and wife, that they should
settle their quarrels themselves; and ours is settled. So, with your
majesty's good leave, I'll not begin the matter again."

"Ay," murmured the king to himself, in a bitter tone. "These Ruthvens
are all rebels. By----" he continued, turning to Doctor Herries, "I
thought he had got some one else locked in here than his sister, and
that there were more sweet words than bitter ones going on."

Dr. Herries, a coarse hard-featured man, with a club foot, shrugged
his shoulders, saying, in a low voice, "Your majesty is seldom wrong
in the end; but you had better not let him see all that you suspect,
and give him some reason for coming."

"Oo, ay," said the king. "It had gane clean out o' my head. Weel,
Alex, my bairn," he continued, in a cajoling tone, which he not
unfrequently assumed when seeking to cozen some one, against whom he
meditated evil, into a belief that he was well disposed towards him,
"I was just bringing you this good knight here, who came this morning
with letters from your mother. 'Deed, his business, it seems, is mair
with your saucy titty than yoursel; but I thought it just as weel to
let you know what was going on before I put they two together."

Beatrice coloured till the blood mounted over her whole forehead, but
Alexander Ruthven answered somewhat sullenly, "I thank your majesty,
and am well pleased to see Sir John Hume. As for my sister, she is her
own mistress, and sometimes wants to be mine, too."

"There now," said the king, laughing, "the bairn's in the dorts; but
what he says is true enough, as Sir John may find out some day. She'd
fain manage us all. So now I shall leave you three together, for I've
got a world of work to do. A crowned heed is no a light ane."

Thus saying, he retired with his club-footed favourite, taking a look
back at the door to see the expression of the faces he left behind;
but well knowing his majesty's habits, all parties guarded their looks
till he was gone, and the door shut. Even then they were silent till
the heavy step of Doctor Herries was heard crossing the room below,
for the king's propensity to eaves-dropping was no secret in Stirling
Castle.

As soon as they were assured that he was gone, Sir John Hume, even
before he exchanged greetings with her he loved, turned to young
Ruthven, exclaiming, "In Heaven's name, Alex, what is the matter with
the king?"

"I don't know," answered Alexander Ruthven. "He does not make me the
keeper of his secrets."

"But this secret somehow affects you," replied Hume; "and it is worth
looking to, my friend, for James's enmities are very deadly, and his
fears often as much so."

"What makes you think that he has any ill will towards me, Hume?"
asked the young man, who, if the truth must be told, had been not a
little alarmed by all that had taken place.

"His whole conduct," answered Hume. "He kept me below nearly half an
hour talking the merest nonsense in the world--a heap of learned trash
about Padua and Livy, just like the daudling nonsense of old Rollock
of the High School, when he fell into his dotage. And yet he fidgeted
about the whole time, pulling the points of his hose in a way that
showed me he was uneasy. Then he called a page, and whispered to him
some message; and then he began again upon Livy, and roared out a
whole page of crabbed Latin, and asked me if I could translate it.
Just at that minute the boy came back again, and said aloud he could
not find her Majesty, upon which up started James, saying, 'We'll find
some one, I'll warrant. Come along, Cowdenknows. Come along, Herries.
You must come and see the work;' and then he said, as if he had
forgotten to say it before, 'I'll take you to Alex Ruthven, John
Hume.' All this time he was rolling away towards the door, like an
empty barrel trundled through the streets by a cooper's man. I never
saw him go so fast before in my life--muttering all the way, too, till
he came to this door; and he seemed in such a fury when he found it
locked, that I did not know what was to happen next; and a bright
sight for me was the face of this dear lady when I came in. Bright as
it always is," he added, taking Beatrice's hand and kissing it, "it
never looked so bright as then."

"Nay, nay, Hume," said Beatrice, "let us talk of more serious matter,
and seriously. What you say makes me very uneasy. I saw the king was
angry about something, and your account proves that his anger was not
light. Give us your counsel. What is best to be done?"

Alexander Ruthven had cast himself down again, and seemed buried in
bitter thought; but his sister's words roused him, and he started up,
exclaiming, "What I will do is decided. I will away to the king, and
ask leave of absence--absence!" he murmured to himself--"a bitter
boon! He well may grant that;" and without waiting for reply or
comment, he hurried from the room.

"And now, dear girl," said Hume, as soon as he was gone, "let us speak
of happier themes. Is my Beatrice changed, or does the heart of the
woman still confirm the promise of the girl?"

"Don't you see I am changed?" answered Beatrice, gaily. "I am half an
inch taller, and a great deal thinner. My mother was quite right to
say that she had no notion of a girl marrying till she had done
growing."

"Ay, but is the mind changed?" said Hume: "you have changed, my
Beatrice--from lovely to lovelier."

"Fie!" exclaimed Beatrice. "You might have made it a superlative, and
said loveliest, at once; but if you think I have become more beautiful
in person, why should you think I am uglier in mind? And would it not
be so, John Hume, to cast old love lightly away like a crumpled
farthingale? No, no; you know right well that Beatrice does not
change; and, therefore, all the time that you are asking such silly
questions, you call her your Beatrice, to show that you are quite
sure."

"And you are my own dear Beatrice, ever," said the young knight,
throwing his arm round her, with a smile; "and if there was the least
little bit of doubt engendered by two long years of absence, it was
the least little bit in the world."

"There, that will do," said Beatrice, turning away her head, but not
very resolutely. "But now, tell me about my dear brother Gowrie. Where
is he? What is he doing? When is he coming back?"

"When last I left him, he was at Voghera," replied her lover. "What he
was doing, was making love; and when he will be back depends upon the
state of the roads, the courage of Mr. Rhind, and the strength of the
fair lady who bears him company."

"Making love?" said Beatrice. "I heard something of this from my
mother. A fair Italian, is not she? Beautiful, I will answer for it:
for John knew what beauty is, even when a boy; but I do not think that
he would be taken by beauty alone. Heaven and earth! I must get
somebody to teach me a few more phrases of Italian than I have. Can
the dear girl speak French, do you know?"

"I cannot tell," answered Hume, laughing; "for I never spoke to her in
anything but English, which she speaks nearly as well as you do,
Beatrice, and better than I do. There is Florentine blood in her
veins, it is true; and the warm south shines out in her eyes, and
glows upon her cheek; but she is Scottish by birth, and half Scottish
by parentage. More I cannot tell you, Beatrice, for more I do not
know. She is protestant, too, Gowrie says; and certainly I never saw
her tell beads or heard her say Pater-nosters. She was likely to have
got roasted for the omission; but that, I trust, will secure her a
warm reception here."

"From me and mine, at least," replied Beatrice. "But if you mean from
the court, I do not know what to say. The king has his own notions of
religion as well as of government. They are both much the same, and
both somewhat strange. I believe he would willingly have the whole
land papist, if he might but be the pope. Indeed, he insists upon
being the pope of his own church, and makes every one bow the head to
his infallibility."

"He'll find that a hard matter in Scotland," said Sir John Hume,
gravely; "and I almost fear that Gowrie's humour will not suit all he
finds here--at least, what I hear on my return makes me think so. I
understand the king has forbidden three or four ministers to preach,
because they would not defend his actual supremacy. The days of old
John Knox seem to be quite forgotten."

"Not quite," answered Beatrice. "There are those who remember them,
though the king does not. God guard that Gowrie may have the prudence
to keep quiet, for the king will have his way. There are some men who
oppose him, and many who laugh at him; but by one means or another, he
makes them all bend to his will sooner or later; and there is
generally harm comes of it, if people do not yield readily."

"Everybody is tired of the feuds we have had," answered Hume; "and
therefore men give way to things they disapprove; but Gowrie's is a
spirit not easily bowed, and I doubt that he will ever be a favourite
here."

"Heaven grant that he never may," replied the lady; "for it is a place
of peril, depend upon it, Hume, and one out of which I shall be right
glad to be."

"That may be when you will, dear Beatrice," answered Hume. "You have
but to say the day, and free yourself from the bonds that tie you to a
court."

"In order to fetter myself with others," said Beatrice, gaily; "but it
is not so easy as you suppose, John. When my mother's letter came to
the queen, telling her majesty that she consented to our marriage, the
king vowed, with a great many hard oaths, that he would not have it
for a twelvemonth."

At this announcement, Sir John Hume became very wroth, and ventured to
break the precepts of the wise king in regard to speaking ill of
princes; but his angry exclamations were cut short by the return of
Alexander Ruthven, with the tidings that he had obtained leave of
absence very readily, and was about to set out. "What must be done,
had better be done quickly," he said; and then with a meaning look he
added, "Excuse me to her Majesty, Beatrice, for I shall not be able to
see her before I go."

It is probable that the young man did not in truth seek to deceive his
sister; but certain it is, that some two hours after, when the king
had gone out on horseback, Beatrice, as she looked forth from one of
the windows, saw Anne of Denmark walking, unattended, between the
castle wall and Heading Hill, a little mound just beyond the limits of
the castle. I have said unattended, but not unaccompanied, for by her
side was a form very like that of Alexander Ruthven; and Beatrice, as
she saw it, pressed her hands together tightly, murmuring, "Rash boy!"



CHAPTER XVI.


In the year 1599, the Place Royal at Paris was a new and fashionable
part of the world; but nevertheless, one of the best houses, forming
an angle with the street which led down from the Rue St. Antoine, had
been taken by an Italian speculator, to be let out in apartments as a
sort of inn, or, as it would now be called, hotel, though the more
modest title of auberge was all that it then assumed. Next door to
this house, was the hotel of the English ambassador, Sir Henry
Neville; and before the porte cochère of each of the two houses was
assembled a little knot of four or five persons: in the one instance
composed of servants gazing vacantly out into the Place; and in the
other, of the master of the house, some of his waiters, and the Earl
of Gowrie, with the servant whom he had taken with him from the gates.
The young earl and the host, with whom he had just arranged for the
reception of his party, were looking up the street, and waiting for
the arrival of the carriage, when suddenly they saw it approaching at
a much more rapid pace than they expected, and a tumultuous assemblage
of several persons following, while Austin Jute, at a quick trot, rode
on before. The moment he arrived in the square, he sprang from his
horse, and throwing the rein loose, approached his master, saying, in
English, "I am sorry to tell you, my lord, that a young man has just
thought fit to insult the Lady Julia, so I ran him through the body;
and now they are following with a guard to catch me. I had therefore
better be off, and find your lordship out afterwards."

He spoke rapidly, without any of his usual proverbs; but his young
lord replied, "Stay, stay, Austin; if you are not in fault, I will
protect you."

"I could not help myself, sir," replied the man. "He thrust his head
into the carriage. I boxed his ears. He drew his sword; and I defended
myself. There are plenty who can prove it."

"Let him come in here," said one of the English ambassador's servants,
who had been listening. "If he's an Englishman, here's the proper
place for him. This is the embassy."

"Run in there, Austin," said the young earl. "Tell your story to Sir
Henry Neville, if he be within, and say that I will see him in a few
minutes. Let him know that you are a subject of her Majesty the queen,
and he will give you protection."

"Come along, come along! there is no time to stand talking," cried the
English servant; and, hurrying after him, Austin Jute ran under the
porte cochère, and the gates were closed just as the carriage drove
into the Place, and stopped at the door of the inn. The servants who
had remained with the vehicle were four in number; and they had
without difficulty contrived to cover Austin Jute's retreat, by riding
between the wheels of the carriage and the houses of the narrow
street, though pressed upon by two mounted gentlemen, who followed
them with drawn swords and menacing words. The moment the carriage
entered the Place, however, the horsemen who were pursuing dashed
round the vehicle and the servants, and just caught sight of the
closing gates of the English embassy. At the same time, coming down
the street, as fast as they could run, were five or six of the town
guard, with large unwieldy halbards on their shoulders, which, of
course, greatly impeded their advance.

"Did he go in there?" shouted one of the horsemen, as soon as he saw
Austin's riderless horse in the Place, and the gates of the English
embassy closed.

The words were addressed to no one in particular; but he looked
straight to the Earl of Gowrie as he spoke. The young nobleman took no
notice of him, however, but calmly handed Julia out of the vehicle,
saying, "Go straight in with Mr. Rhind, dear one. Everything is ready
for you;" and then, seeing that she was very pale, he added, "Do not
be alarmed. There is no danger. Austin has taken refuge at the English
ambassador's.--Go in with the lady, and show her the apartments, sir,"
he said, speaking to the landlord. "I will follow immediately."

"But, my dear lord," said Mr. Rhind, who had by this time got out of
the carriage----

"Go in, go in," said Gowrie, interrupting him, as he saw the two
horsemen coming up towards them, and the guard entering the Place. "Go
in, my dear sir, and do not leave her till I come. Now, gentlemen," he
continued, turning to the strangers, as soon as he saw that Julia was
safe in the hotel, "you seem to have business with me."

"Sacre bleu!" cried one of the others; "does that carriage belong to
you, sir?"

"It does," replied Lord Gowrie, quite calmly.

"Well, then, one of your companions has just killed a gentleman, our
friend," rejoined the stranger, furiously; "and we will have vengeance
upon him."

"I understand," replied Gowrie, in the same unmoved tone, "that one of
my servants--seeing a person, whom I will not honour by calling him a
gentleman, insult a lady--punished him as he deserved, and then, in
his own defence, ran him through the body. Is this the case or not?"

"Your servant!" exclaimed the Frenchman, without giving a direct
answer, but mixing a few very indecent expletives with his speech;
"was it a coquin of a servant who ventured to draw his sword upon a
gentleman?"

"It is impossible to know a gentleman but by his actions," replied the
young earl; "and whether he were gentle or simple, my servant would
certainly punish any one who insulted a lady under his protection,
well knowing, sir, that I would justify him and support him either
with my sword or with my means; and let me add more, that whoever or
whatsoever you may be, I shall look upon those who take part with him
who committed the insult, as having shared in it, and treat them
accordingly."

The Frenchman to whom he spoke instantly sprang to the ground; and
perhaps more serious results would have ensued, had not the guard with
their halbards come up, and thrust themselves between the earl and his
opponent, both of whom had their hands upon their swords.

"Where is he? where is he?" was the cry; and the officer of the guard
seemed much inclined to lay hands upon Gowrie himself, not having a
very correct notion of the personal appearance of him he was to
apprehend.

"You are mistaken, my good sir," said Lord Gowrie; "the person you are
in search of apparently, has taken refuge at the house of the English
ambassador, being a subject of that crown. At present, I am but
scantily informed of what has occurred. Is the person he fought with
dead, and who is he?"

"He is not dead, but he will die certainly," said the officer; and the
Frenchman, who had dismounted, as I have stated, finished the reply by
saying, "He is a Scotch lord, who has been brought up with us at this
university, the Seigneur de Ramsay."

"I know no Scottish lord of that name," said the earl.

"We must have the homicide out, however," observed the officer of the
guard; and approaching the gate of the embassy, he knocked hard for
admission.

It was common, in all large Parisian houses at that period, to have a
small iron grating inserted in the great gates, at the height of a
man's head, through which, in times of danger, letters or messages
might be received by those within, without opening the doors. This, at
the English embassy, was covered in the inside with a thick shutter of
wood, which, on the loud knocking of the officer of the guard, was
withdrawn, showing the face of a burly porter behind the grate.

"What do you want?" demanded the porter.

"I want the body of a man who has taken refuge here after committing
homicide," replied the officer.

"You can't have him, either body or soul, unless his excellency gives
him up," answered the porter, gruffly.

There is in every man's mind, I believe, a store of the comic, which,
though often battened down under strange and little-penetrable
hatches, is sometimes arrived at, even in a very obdurate bosom, by
the simplest of all possible processes. The Earl of Gowrie was in no
very jesting mood. He was vexed at the scrape his servant had got
into; and he was vexed to think that the life of a human being had
been endangered, if not lost. He was vexed, moreover, then, that
Julia--his Julia, should have been insulted by any one on her first
entrance into the French capital. But yet the braggadocio tone of the
French cavalier had somewhat amused him; and the reply of the sturdy
English porter, delivered in very indifferent French, almost made him
laugh, notwithstanding the seriousness of the subject. He had
approached close to the gate with the officer, who, for the moment,
seemed completely rebuffed by the reply; and knowing well that the
matter could not end there, Gowrie interposed, to procure a more just
and reasonable arrangement. He did not choose to use the English
language, lest any suspicion should be excited in the minds of the
Frenchmen around; but speaking French almost as well as he did his
native language, he said, "Be kind enough, my good friend, to tell Sir
Henry Neville that the Earl of Gowrie is at his gate, and would fain
speak with him; but as French gentlemen are very apt to take their own
prepossessions for realities, and to suspect, whenever they are in the
wrong themselves, that others are in fault, it will be better, if he
does me the honour of admitting me, that he should admit this officer
of the prevot, and also this gentleman, who styles himself the friend
of the wounded man."

"I demand that the culprit should be delivered up," said the cavalier,
fiercely. "The privileges of no ambassador can shelter a murderer; and
as to prepossessions, we all know that you Englishmen are the natural
enemies of France, and that you have never aided any party in this
country but for the purpose of promoting dissensions, and thereby
nullify the efforts of Frenchmen for the honour and glory of their
native land."

"His majesty, your king, might well be grateful to you for the
observation, sir," replied the earl; "and my opinion of a Frenchman's
prejudices is not altered thereby; but as my proposal is a fair one, I
am quite willing to abide by it if it suits you. If not, I shall
demand entrance for myself alone, which I think will not be refused
me, as a distant relative of the ambassador's sovereign."

The latter words of the earl's reply had no slight effect upon the
officer of the guard, who thenceforth addressed the young earl as
"monseigneur," and took pains to explain to him that he was only
acting in the strict line of duty. The two French cavaliers stood
apart, consulting between themselves, till the porter returned, after
carrying Gowrie's message to Sir Henry Neville.

"I am to permit three to enter," he said; "but while I do so, the rest
must stand back to at least thirty paces from the gate, that I may
open the wicket in safety."

The guard, and Gowrie's men, who had crowded round, were ordered to
withdraw to the prescribed distance; and the command having been
obeyed with no great alacrity, a small wicket in the gate was opened,
through which Gowrie passed at once, taking precedence of the others
as his right, from a knowledge that it is always dangerous to yield a
single step to a Frenchman, who is certain never to consider it as a
courtesy, but to look upon it as an acknowledgment of his superiority.
The officer of the guard followed; and then came the stranger, looking
back for a moment to some half-dozen idlers who had gathered round,
with a strong inclination to call upon them to assert the honour of
France, whether impugned or not impugned. Although Gowrie saw the
glance, and easily comprehended what was passing in the worthy
gentleman's bosom, his mind was put perfectly at ease by the array
which he saw drawn up in the court-yard of the embassy. Those days
were not as these, when powdered lacqueys, in the gold and silver lace
which their masters will not condescend to wear, with two or three
attaches and a few clerks hired on the spot, are the only guards of a
diplomatist accredited by one court to another. Men went prepared for
any contingency, and buckler and broadsword were as common in the
suite of an ambassador as paper and pen and ink. Full forty men, well
armed and stout in limb, were drawn up in the court of the embassy,
while the secretary of the envoy himself waited at the foot of the
stairs, on the left hand, ready to conduct the earl and his companions
to the minister's cabinet. To the Earl of Gowrie he was particularly
deferential and attentive, while to the French cavalier who followed,
and whom he addressed as Monsieur de Malzais, he was coldly polite.
After passing through two or three handsome saloons, the whole party
was ushered into a small room surrounded with book-shelves; and a
tall, elegant, dignified looking man rose up from a table to receive
them, laying down a book which he had been reading, with the most
perfect appearance of tranquillity and ease. His eye instantly rested
on the Earl of Gowrie, being in truth well acquainted with the persons
of the two others, and advancing towards him, he took his hand, and
welcomed him to Paris with many expressions of esteem and regard.

"I have had a letter from his majesty, the King of France," he said,
"informing me of your lordship's approaching arrival; and I only
regretted that I did not know how I might serve you in anticipation of
your coming, so that all might be prepared for you. Pray, my lord, be
seated;" and placing a chair for him, he remained standing till the
earl had taken his seat.

We can hardly bring our minds in the present day to believe that all
this ceremonious respect, this ostentatious display of reverence for a
fellow man, could have any effect upon the view which reasonable
beings would take of a simple question of justice. But there was very
little of the old Roman left in the sixteenth century. When men sold
their loyalty and compounded for their treason, it was not to be
supposed that justice was unmarketable. Cromwell, with all his faults
and all his crimes, was the first who thoroughly purified the seat of
justice, and taught the world that, in one country at least, neither
rank nor wealth, nor even long conceded privilege, could prove a
shield against the sword of justice. The immunities claimed by and
granted to ambassadors were then enormous, and the influence of high
rank often amounted to elevation above the law. The officer of the
guard, though a man sensible of his duties and willing to perform
them, was not less subject than others to the general feelings of the
age and country in which he lived; and Monsieur de Malzais, though
resolute even to obstinacy and bold to rashness, was habitually
impressed with the reverence thus thought due to high station; and
though they had both entered the room with a determination to require
that Austin Jute should be at once given up to justice, the honours
shown to his master by the ambassador of the haughtiest queen in
Europe, rendered their demand very moderate in tone, and not very
persevering in character.

To the surprise of both, however, Gowrie himself pressed for immediate
investigation. He had been brought up in a sterner school, in which
that spirit prevailed which afterwards shone forth with so strong a
light in the higher and purer of the puritan party in England.

"I do not request your excellency," he said, after the officer of the
guard had stated his object, and Monsieur de Malzais had preferred his
charge, "to throw your protection over my servant, unless a clear case
of justification can be made out in his favour; and then only so far
as to shield him from long imprisonment and perhaps suffering, till it
is ascertained whether the gentleman he has wounded lives or dies. I
doubt not that the laws of the land will do justice between man and
man, though the one be a mere servant and the other a person moving in
a more elevated station of life, and I shall myself stay to see that
it is so. But, in the first instance, as your own countryman and as my
servant, I think you have every right to inquire whether he did, as he
says, injure this gentleman in his own defence or not."

"I shall certainly do so," replied Sir Henry Neville; "for I should
not be fulfilling my duty to my sovereign, were I to suffer one of her
subjects to undergo unnecessary imprisonment for an act which he was
compelled to perform. I shall deal with the case, my lord, exactly as
if it were that of one of my own servants. If I find he has been
guilty of a crime, I shall give him up at once to justice; if I find
he has not, I shall protect him against all and every one, as far as
my privileges extend. To this neither you yourself nor these gentlemen
can object."

Whatever might be their abstract notions of the sovereignty of the
law, neither of the Frenchmen did venture to object, and Austin Jute
was called into the presence of the ambassador, and told his story in
his own words, which were translated by the secretary for the benefit
of those who did not understand the English tongue.

"We were riding along quietly enough, your excellency," he said, "much
more like sheep that have got into a strange fold than anything else,
when three gentlemen, of whom that was one," and he pointed to
Monsieur de Malzais, "rode up and passed the carriage. We made way for
them to go by, for they say, 'when you meet a fool in an alley, give
him the wall;' but then they said something amongst themselves and
laughed, and one of them wheeled his horse with a demivolte, and poked
his head in at the carriage window, holding back the curtain. As it
must have been done on purpose, unless he and his horse were both
taken giddy, which was not likely, for it is rare for two animals to
be seized with dizziness at the same time, I reminded him of the way
he ought to go by a knock on the side of the head. He did not like
that sort of direction, and jumping off his beast, or tumbling off, as
the case may be, he drew his sword and poked at me in a way that would
have made the daylight shine through me if I had not slipped off on
the other side. An open enemy is better than a false friend; and now I
knew what I was about. A cat in a corner is a lion; so having no means
of escape, I drew cold iron too, and we both poked away at each other
till he got a wound and fell. Thereupon, thinking to make my heels
save my head, I got on my beast again and came hither."

"Did this gentleman here present, or any of the others, attempt to
part you and your opponent?" asked Sir Harry Neville.

"No," answered Austin Jute; "that gentleman called out, 'Well lunged,
Ramsay,' or some such name--'punish the dog.' I know French enough to
understand that."

"Well, sir, what do you say to this?" asked Sir Harry Neville, turning
to Monsieur de Malzais. "If the man's story is true, it would seem
that the provocation came on the side of your friend; that he was
justly punished for insulting a lady, and that then he drove this good
man to defend himself."

"But his story is not true," replied the Frenchman, in a somewhat
hesitating tone; "the Seigneur de Ramsay did not insult the lady. He
only looked into the carriage, as any gentleman might do."

"That's a lie!" said Austin Jute, who had a very tolerable knowledge
of the French tongue. "He looked into the carriage as no gentleman
would do, and pulled back the curtain with his hand. There were plenty
of people to prove it. Ask Mr. Rhind, and the other servants."

A part of this reply only was translated to Monsieur de Malzais, who
was answering warmly; but Gowrie interposed, saying, "I will send for
Mr. Rhind, who was in the carriage, and also for some of the servants.
I have spoken with none of them myself. This man has had time to speak
with none of them either, and therefore their account will be
unbiassed."

The persons whom he mentioned were speedily brought to the embassy,
and fully and clearly confirmed the account of Austin Jute. Mr. Rhind
testified that the curtain of the carriage had been rudely and
insolently drawn back, and the head of a stranger thrust into the
vehicle; and the servants proved that the wounded man had drawn his
sword, and made a thrust at their companion, before Austin Jute had
even unsheathed his weapon. That first lunge, they said, would most
probably have proved fatal, had not Austin dexterously slipped from
his horse, and so avoided it.

While they proceeded in giving their evidence, the secretary
translated their replies almost literally; and although the French
gentleman did not actually look ashamed, yet he seemed very much
puzzled how to meet their testimony. He had recourse, however, to a
means not uncommon with persons in his predicament, declaring there
was evidently a conspiracy to shield the offender, which called a
smile upon the lips of Sir Henry Neville, who replied, in a quiet
tone, "You have had so many conspiracies in France lately, Monsieur de
Malzais, that you fancy almost every transaction is of the same
nature. It seems to me, and I doubt not also to the officer of the
guard, that no time has elapsed sufficient for these people to make
themselves perfect in exactly the same account of the whole
transaction. It will therefore be my duty to protect this poor man,
who seems to have done nothing but what he was bound to do in defence
of his lady and of his own life. My house must therefore be his place
of refuge, from which he shall not be taken except by violence, which,
I presume, nobody will think of attempting."

"Assuredly not, your excellency," replied the officer of the guard;
"my view of the case is the same as your own; but neither you nor I
are judges in this land; and I only consent to abstain from any
farther proceedings against this person, till it is ascertained
whether the gentleman he has wounded lives or dies. Should the latter
event occur, I must apply to higher authorities for directions as to
my future conduct."

"That as you please, sir," replied the ambassador; "but be assured,
that under no circumstances will I give him up, unless I have express
directions so to do."

"And in the meantime he will of course escape," said Monsieur de
Malzais.

The ambassador made no reply, but rose and turned upon his heel with a
look of some contempt; and the French gentleman, with the officer of
the guard, retired.

"Now, Master Austin Jute," said Sir Henry Neville, "you may depend
upon my protection so long as you keep yourself within the limits of
this house, its courts, and garden; but if you venture out upon any
pretext, you are very likely to get into the little Chatellet, in
which case you might find yourself some day stretched out considerably
beyond your usual length, upon an instrument called the rack, and
perhaps might never be heard of afterwards; for there are often
curious things done in this country in the name of justice. Be warned,
therefore, and do not go abroad."

"Don't be afraid, sir," answered Austin Jute; "I will never stretch my
feet beyond the length of my sheet. I know when to let well alone.
When the waters are out, it is better to be on the top of a hill than
in the bottom of a valley. If the maid had kept the pitcher in her
hand, it would not have got broken; so, with many thanks, I will
follow your advice to the letter."

With these quaint saws the good youth withdrew, accompanied by the
rest of the Earl of Gowrie's servants, who had been summoned to give
evidence; and as soon as they were gone, Sir Henry Neville said, with
a smile, "I trust this young man will not die, my lord, for it might
occasion us some trouble, although his character is well known here in
Paris."

"Who is he?" demanded Lord Gowrie. "There are so many Ramsays in
Scotland, that it is impossible to distinguish one from another,
unless one knows the name of the estate belonging to the person."

"I do not believe he has any estate to distinguish him," replied the
ambassador; "but he is a cousin of Sir George Ramsay of Dalhousie,
whose brother John is page to your own sovereign, King James. This
young man, proving of an unruly disposition, and likely to bring
disgrace upon himself and his very honourable family, was sent hither
by Sir George, one of the finest and highest-minded men I know, to
study at the university here. He has rendered himself, however, more
famous for rashness, violence, and insolence, than for learning or
talent; and I believe the reports of his conduct which have reached
Scotland have given great pain to his elder cousin, though the younger
still remains much attached to him, and has promised, they say, to use
his influence at the court of the king for this young man's
advancement. But now, my good lord, by your leave I will accompany you
to pay my respects to your fair lady. I was not, indeed, aware that
your lordship was married."

The colour somewhat mounted into Gowrie's cheek; but he replied, "Nor
am I, Sir Henry. The lady whom I have the honour of escorting back to
Scotland,--her grandfather, with whom she resided, having very lately
died in Italy--is my cousin, the Lady Julia Douglas."

Perhaps the slight shade of embarrassment apparent in the earl's
manner, in making this announcement, might excite the ambassador's
curiosity; but he was too good a diplomatist to suffer any trace of
what was passing in his mind to appear in his demeanour, and repeating
his wish to be presented to the lady, he accompanied Gowrie to the
inn. By this time all trace of the little disturbance which had
occurred had vanished from the Place Royale; and gay groups of
Parisians were beginning to assemble there, to walk up and down, and
converse, make love, or observe each other, as was customary during
the evening of each fine day. After being introduced to Julia, with
whose exceeding beauty he seemed greatly struck, the ambassador
proceeded to discuss with Gowrie that nobleman's plans. He advised him
strongly to remain in Paris till the result of Ramsay's wound was
known, adding, in a low voice, for the young earl's own ear, "I can
almost forgive Ramsay's attempt to get another sight of a face and
form like that, when once he had seen them."

"I shall not forgive him so easily," answered the earl; "for no lady
under my care and escort shall be insulted with impunity."

"I beseech you, let the matter drop, my good lord," replied Neville;
"if the young man dies, there is an end of it; if he recovers, he has
surely been punished enough."

"He shall apologise, however," said the earl, in a thoughtful tone;
"though I am not disposed to be harsh with him. Perhaps, indeed," he
continued, "he may have received a lesson from the hand of my servant
which may do him good. I know Sir George Ramsay well, at least I did
so in my boyhood; and if there be one drop of his blood in this young
man's veins, there must be some good qualities at bottom."

"Let us trust that the bad blood has been let out," said the
ambassador, "and that the good remains behind, and that he may recover
to make a better use of life than he has hitherto done. I will send in
a short time to inquire how he is going on, and will let you know the
answer I receive. In the meantime I take my leave, and will do my best
to provide for your amusement during your sojourn in Paris."



CHAPTER XVII.


Austin Jute was soon quite at home at the house of the English
ambassador. His talents were of a very universal kind; and they had
been sharpened by certain citizen-of-the-world habits, which he had
acquired in the roving life he had led for some years. He had first
come over to France with the Earl of Essex, as servant to one of the
gentlemen of his household; and that gentleman having been killed in
one of the many skirmishes which were then taking place, Austin had
been left, like a masterless horse on the field of battle, to run
about the world as he liked. Doubtless the earl himself would have
either provided for his return to England, or taken him into his own
service, had Austin applied properly. But Austin did not, for he had
no affection for the Queen of England's favourite, although
susceptible of strong attachments; and with a score or two of crowns,
which he had accumulated one way or another, he set out to see the
world, and, if possible, improve his fortunes. He was rarely at a
loss, in whatever circumstances he might be placed; for though very
unlike a cat in disposition, he had the quality attributed to the
feline tribe of always falling upon his feet. Ready, willing, bold,
active in mind and body, a shrewd observer, a ready combiner, with a
very retentive memory of everything he saw or heard, and great
confidence in his own luck, Austin Jute might have gone through life
with the greatest possible success, had it not been for a certain
light-hearted love for the fair sex, which often got him into quarrels
with more serious lovers, and a quickness of disposition, which
rendered those quarrels much more serious than they might otherwise
have been. Whenever he was not personally concerned, and he had to
manage any affairs for others, he was generally exceedingly prudent
and shrewd; at other times, however, he was rash to the greatest
possible degree, and seemed to find a pleasure--a vain pleasure,
perhaps--in multiplying scrapes around him, with the most perfect
confidence of being able to get out of them some way or another.

Thus, in gaiety of heart, he had wandered half through
Europe--sometimes being obliged to make a very precipitate retreat
from one or other of the small states into which the continent was
then divided, but as frequently obtaining as much honour and success
as he could have anticipated--when a succession of misadventures,
unusually long and serious, brought him to Padua without a crown in
his pocket. He was there relieved in the midst of poverty, which had
depressed, and sickness which had nearly extinguished his light
spirit, by several of the English and Scottish students, and thus fell
under the notice of the Earl of Gowrie, who, finding him clever, and
having cause to believe him honest, engaged him in his service, at
first in a very inferior position, from which he had risen by strong
proofs of zeal, attachment, and honesty, to the highest point in his
master's favour and confidence.

With all his fellow-servants, too, he was a very great favourite, for
he had not the slightest inclination to domineer, to exact, or to
exclude; and the curious sort of miscellaneous education which he had
received, or rather, which he had bestowed upon himself, gave him a
superiority that they were quite willing to acknowledge. He could
write, and he could read, which was more than many persons in a much
higher station could do at that time. He could play upon the fiddle
and the flute, and the hurdy-gurdy. He could carve all sorts of things
in wood. He had as many curious receipts as are to be found in the
"True Gentlewoman's Delight." He could catch all sorts of birds and
beasts by strange devices of his own. He could fence, use the sword
and buckler, or play at single stick like a master of the art of
defence. He could ride well, and was never known to appear either
tired or sleepy.

He had not been a couple of hours in Sir Henry Neville's house, before
a multitude of his small talents displayed themselves for the benefit
of the ambassador's servants; and his frank good humour soon gained
him plenty of friends in the household. Unlike most Englishmen, who
seem to look upon every man as an enemy till he has proved himself
otherwise, Austin Jute appeared to regard the whole human race as a
friend, which is, perhaps, the greatest of all secrets for smoothing
the way of life; and on the evening of the day of his arrival, he sat
in the hall at the embassy, carving a little sort of box or casket out
of a piece of yew, in which he produced the most extraordinary
devices, whistling all the time airs so wild and merry, that many of
the servants collected around to listen, and others looked over his
shoulder, examining the progress of his work.

While thus employed, one of the attendants came into the hall, saying,
"The news isn't good, Master Jute. The people say he will not get over
the night."

"Well, he knows best what he's about," answered Austin Jute, quietly.
"Every man must die once; and but once can a man die. He has got what
he deserved from me, and nothing more. He must manage the rest as he
likes himself."

"But it may be awkward for you, if he does die," answered the man.

"Not a whit," replied Austin Jute. "My luck is not at so low an ebb.
Fortune comes tripping, they say; and a stumble's no great matter so
there be not a fall. I say devoutly, 'God save the worthy gentleman!'
But if he dies, he dies; and it is no fault of mine--I wish him well."

"But who is the lady who was in the carriage?" asked another of the
servants; for curiosity, the passion of all semi-civilized people, was
even stronger then in capitals than it is now in country towns. "They
say she is not your lord's wife."

"No," answered Austin Jute, "but she is his cousin, which is better,
as the world goes. She will be his wife hereafter, if Heaven so will
it, and she live long enough to reach the first stage of woman's
decline."

"Nay, I see not how that is a decline," said the servant. "It is
promotion, I think; and all ladies think so too."

"Why was Sarah better than Hagar," asked Austin Jute, laughing,
"except that the one was the free woman and the other bond woman? Now,
according to our rites and ceremonies, the wife is the bond woman, and
therefore, matrimony in a woman's case is the first stage of decline.
It is maid--wife--mother; and then widowhood or death gives the poor
thing liberty again. She is first free, then the slave to one, then
the slave to many, and if ever she regains her liberty, it is by
Heaven's will."

"If they are going to marry," said the blunt Englishman who spoke, "I
wonder they don't marry at once, and go back home, man and wife. It is
what we simple people would do. It would save trouble and save
speculation."

"True," answered Austin Jute; "but there are impediments in all
things, Master Jacob. Look you here, now. The lady has just lost her
grandfather by death, who was as good as a father to her, or better.
Now, it is improper for a lady to marry in mourning, and improper for
a lady to travel all alone with a gentleman, without being married to
him. Now, which is worst, think you, Master Jacob?"

"All alone with a gentleman without being married to him," replied the
Englishman, "for that, one can cure one's self."

"And so one can cure the other," replied Austin Jute; "and therefore
the lady does not travel all alone with my lord; for, besides her
maid, who is a very nice young woman, she has got with her my master's
old tutor, Mr. Rhind, who is a very nice old woman. Thus all decencies
are made to meet; and they can jog along as coolly as Noah and his
wife did over the waters of the flood, though, Heaven mend me! I do
not think I could do the same."

Perhaps the task was not so easy to Gowrie as his good servant
thought, and to say truth, all considerations of prudence prove
frequently but very weak bonds against inclination. He strove to
strengthen them indeed as far as possible, and though the presence of
worthy Mr. Rhind was often an annoyance as well as a restraint, yet he
tried not to escape from it. Mr. Rhind, however, whose sense of
propriety was somewhat capricious, and who was now so much accustomed
to see Gowrie and Julia together, as to think it not so strange as he
had done at first, would frequently, during their stay in Paris, go
forth to see this object or that, which was worthy of attention, and
the lovers would be left alone together in circumstances dangerous to
their resolution. It was thus one evening, after about seven days'
residence in Paris, that the worthy tutor was absent, and Gowrie sat
by Julia's side. The windows were closed, the hangings drawn, the
bright fire of wood sparkled and glimmered on the broad hearth, the
taper light was dim and shadowy; and they sat dreaming over the
future, or meditating over the past, while Fancy's timid wing dared
hardly rest over the present, lest she should settle there and be
unable to rise again.

It was a cold evening, the frosty air made the fire sparkle; there
came sounds of joyous voices from without, rousing sympathies and
hopes and visions of happiness. A gay girl's tongue was heard passing
the windows, sinking into silence almost as soon as heard; but the
words "_Oui, oui, je t'aime, je t'aimerai toujours_," sounded distinct
upon the ears of those within. It was the key-note of the heart, and
in each bosom it echoed, "_Oui, oui, je t'aime, je t'aimerai
toujours_."

She was very lovely as she sat there, leaning back in the large chair,
with her tiny feet stretched out towards the fire; every line full of
grace; one small fair hand resting white upon the dark drapery falling
over her knee, the other locked in Gowrie's, and her head slightly
bending forward, with the bright dark curls flowing over her brow and
cheek, and her full dark eyes bent upon the fire, seeing pictures in
the strong light and shade.

"_Oui, oui, je t'aimerai toujours_," said Julia's heart, and Gowrie's
repeated it; and the thoughts of both wandered far away, plunging
through the future like a swallow into the depths of air. Whither did
Gowrie's wander? Far, far away, as I have said, and calm judgment
strove in vain to regulate its flight. There was something stronger
still than reason in his breast. Love--passion was for the time the
master, and fancy was but passion's slave. He let her range, but it
was for his good pleasure, and reason's voice was all unheard.

At length the lover started up with a thrilling frame and an agitated
voice, exclaiming, "This is, indeed, too hard!"

"What, Gowrie, what?" demanded Julia, rising with some alarm at the
sudden exclamation which broke the stillness, for they had not spoken
for some minutes.

Gowrie clasped her in his arms, and whispered in a low tone, bending
down his head till it rested on her shoulder, "Thus to love you, thus
to be ever near you, and to be forbidden to call you mine till long,
long months of dark uncertainty are past.--Oh, Julia, why should we
not be united at once? He who is gone could never foresee all the
difficulties and even dangers in which his prohibition may place us. I
feel sure that had he done so, he never would have exacted such a
sacrifice. One half of our journey is still before us. We must still
remain here many days, perhaps weeks; and oh, dear girl, if you can
feel or even conceive that which I feel, you will know that this
struggle is almost more than mortal can bear, especially when I see
the difficulties and dangers increasing ever before us, which would be
all removed by our immediate union. What should prevent you from
giving me this dear hand at once?" and he covered it with ardent
kisses.

"Nothing but our promise, Gowrie," replied Julia, with a burning cheek
and a deep sigh; "but, oh, let us not break our word. I will do
whatever you will. You are all to me now. I have none but you; and
what you can ask I will not refuse, for I know you will not ask
anything that is wrong. But oh, remember and consider what it was we
promised, how solemnly we promised, and that that promise was given to
the dead."

"But if the dead could see," answered Gowrie, "would not the
circumstances in which we are actually placed appear so different to
those which were contemplated, as to justify a deviation from our
engagement?" And as he spoke he pressed her closer to him.

"I know not," answered Julia, without an effort to free herself from
his embrace, "nor can we ever know, till we join him where all doubts
end; but yet, Gowrie, he was not one to overlook aught in his
foresight of the future. Nothing has occurred which he might not
naturally foresee. We love dearly, we feel strongly, we are anxious to
be united, we have been delayed on our journey, we have been exposed
to some insolence and some inconvenience. More, even, may be before
us; but all this could not but be displayed to the eyes of one who had
well nigh eighty years of the world's experience, and whose memory of
every event in life was as perfect as that of youth. Besides, Gowrie,
it was a promise, and I have ever held a promise to be the most sacred
of all things. Did I know that I had ever broken one, let whatever be
the motive, let whatever be the justification, I should never know
pure happiness after--I should live in regret and fear--there would be
a spot upon the past and a cloud upon the future. I should feel that I
had been untrue, and fear retribution."

She raised her bright dark eyes to his face, with an appealing, almost
an imploring look, and then added, in a low tone, "But be it as you
will, Gowrie. My fate is in your hands, and I am ready to suffer
anything--even that, for your sake."

"Enough, enough, dearest!" said Gowrie, with a sigh; "you shall suffer
nothing for my sake that I can spare you. But oh, dear girl, you know
not the pain which the fulfilment of this promise costs. Did you never
dream, Julia, that you were parched with thirst, and saw a cool stream
flowing before your eyes, but that when you bent down to drink, the
pure wave receded before your lip, leaving you more thirsty than
before? Thus often do I fancy it may be with me, and that our union
may still be delayed by circumstances, till some unexpected fate
snatches me from you, or you from me, for ever, when a few dear words
spoken at the altar might put our happiness, in that respect, beyond
fate."

Julia bent down her head, with bright drops swimming in her eyes, for
such sad pictures were not unfrequently present to her own
imagination; but she answered, "It would be a clouded happiness,
Gowrie; for we should both feel that we had done wrong. I have never,
indeed, dreamt such a dream as you mention; but yet I understand well
what you mean, and sometimes fears and doubts take possession of me
also. Yet I reproach myself when I give way to them; and I am sure
that they would increase a thousand fold were we to break our
promise. I should then tremble every hour lest our dear-purchased
happiness--bought by a falsehood--should be taken from us, and that
the union too soon attained, would be too soon ended."

"You are wiser and better than I am," said Gowrie, gently relaxing the
embrace in which he held her, and kissing her tenderly--"and it shall
be as you will, my love."

"Oh, neither wiser nor better," answered Julia; "but women are
accustomed to ponder upon such things, and think of them, I imagine,
more deeply than men, who act often from sudden impulses."

Though grave and sad, Gowrie could not refrain from smiling at the
very different view she took of human character from that which either
prejudice or experience gives to man. Yet, after a moment's thought,
he replied, "The world does not judge so, my Julia; and yet, perhaps,
you are in some degree right. Women give more weight to feeling and
thought, and men to interest and passion, in balancing the right or
wrong of actions in the mind. But hark! there is a foot in the
ante-room;" and he led her back to her seat.

The next instant there was a gentle tap at the door, and on Gowrie
saying, "Come in," the person of Austin Jute appeared.

"Austin, Austin!" cried his master, "I commanded you strictly not to
stir from Sir Henry Neville's house till this unfortunate affair was
terminated."

"True, my noble lord," replied Austin, "but the _till_ has happened.
Not, indeed, that I could have staid longer, pent up in one house like
a jackdaw in a cage, if it had cost me my life to go out. Had the
doors been locked it might have been a different thing, for one soon
learns to do without what one cannot get; but with what one longs for,
always before one's eyes, one is sure to try for it."

Gowrie turned his eyes, with a smile, to Julia, but did not speak; and
the man went on, saying, "All yesterday I looked out of the window of
the porter's room, because I did not choose to trust myself to look
out of the door; and this morning, as I crossed the fore-court, I
found myself sidling up towards the gate, whether I would or not, like
a young crab left upon the sands. To-morrow I should have been out, I
am sure, had I not had a message to-night to tell me that Master
Ramsay had taken a sudden turn the night before in the right way, and
was now out of danger. He sent himself to tell me, which was civil,
and he told the messenger to bid me come to see him to-morrow, when I
should be quite safe."

Lord Gowrie mused; but after a moment's thought he said, "I trust this
youth has some grace left. Nevertheless, Austin, you had better not go
until I have seen and taken counsel with Sir Henry Neville. This might
be a mere scheme to entrap you. I say not that it is so, for I do not
know the habits of this place well enough to judge; but it is exactly
such a stratagem as men would have recourse to in Italy; and I must
have the advice of one who knows better the customs of Paris than
either of us."

"Oh, they are very different from the Italians," said Austin Jute; but
then, remembering Julia's parentage, he stopped short, and the next
moment Mr. Rhind entered the room.



CHAPTER XVIII.


As early on the following morning as possible, Gowrie visited Sir
Henry Neville, and was received with every mark of kindness and
distinction. He propounded at once his questions regarding Ramsay and
Austin Jute, but received a reply which somewhat surprised him.

"Oh, there is no danger to your servant," said the ambassador.
"Neither Ramsay himself nor any one else in Paris, I think, would
venture to send such a message to my house for the purpose of
entrapping any one. Besides, I have the same information myself; but
yet I think I would not let the servant go."

"Will you explain why not?" said Gowrie. "I was in hopes that the fact
of Ramsay's sending this message at all, was a proof that the rash
intemperance of which you formerly spoke, proceeded merely from the
unchastised passion of youth, and that he has better qualities in his
nature than he has hitherto suffered to appear."

"I trust it is so," replied Neville; "but yet there remains a great
deal to be beaten out of him. The truth is, my dear lord," he
continued, with a laugh, "that the message first came to me, and
though, perhaps, kindly intended towards your servant, was still
somewhat insolent in its tone. He sent to say that he was recovering,
and that the man who had wounded him need fear no chastisement--that
was the word he used; and he then went on to say, that the man might
come to him in safety, when he would assure him of his pardon. We
rough islanders, my lord, are accustomed to think that no pardon is
necessary where no offence has been committed; and therefore I judge
that you had better not let your man go. It might only lead to evil
consequences; for I do not think, from Master Austin's look and
manner, that he is one to submit to haughty or injurious words without
a rejoinder."

"He certainly shall not go," answered Gowrie, "since such was the
message. However, I shall myself soon quit Paris, and therefore, Sir
Henry, if you will favour me with the letters which you have promised
me for the English court, I will deliver them with pride and pleasure,
as it is, of course, my intention to present my humble duty to her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth, as I pass through London."

"You shall have them this very evening," answered Neville; "but yet I
wish you would stay for a couple of days longer; for I know that you
are a great lover of music, and there is a very delicate concert to be
given the day after to-morrow. There are three of the most excellent
performers on the violin that ever were heard, besides some famous
singers from Italy; and they will perform several rare and beautiful
pieces by a new composer of great genius."

Lord Gowrie promised at once to stay for the high treat offered to
him; but he took his leave without informing Sir Henry Neville that he
had other objects in delaying his departure. Had the message of Ramsay
been that which he had imagined when he visited the ambassador, the
young earl would have quitted Paris on the following day; but the tone
in which he now found it was conceived, induced him to adopt another
course, and proceeding at once to his own chamber without seeing
Julia, he sat down and wrote the following note:--


"To Master Ramsay of Newburn, greeting:--

"Sir,

"His excellency Sir Henry Neville, English ambassador at this court,
has communicated to me your message to my servant, by whom you were
wounded. I rejoice to hear that you are in a way of recovery, which, I
trust, will be soon complete. It was my purpose to have quitted this
capital long ago, but in the circumstances which exist, I shall remain
here for some days longer, in order to give you an opportunity of
doing that which, doubtless, you will be naturally disposed to do. We
are all subjected to error, especially in youth; but when a man of
good breeding has committed a fault towards another, he is always
desirous of apologizing for it. I am informed, by no less than five
eye-witnesses, that while I had ridden on before my carriage, you
offered an insult to a lady under my care and escort, which was, in
fact, an insult to myself. Doubtless you are inclined to write an
apology for this conduct, as that which has passed between my servant
and yourself can be considered as no atonement to

"Your most humble servant,

"GOWRIE."


When he had read the letter over, sealed, and addressed it, the earl
dispatched it by an old and somewhat matter-of-fact servant, who had
accompanied him from Scotland to Italy. He gave no especial directions
in regard to its delivery; and the man, in the ordinary course, would
probably have left it at the lodging of his young countryman, had he
not been forced to take with him, both to show him the way, and to
interpret for him, a lacquais de place, who had been engaged by the
earl since his arrival in Paris. The lacquais de place of those days
was a very different animal from that which bears the title at
present, when every drunken courier, who has been discharged for bad
behaviour, and whose character is too well established to obtain
permanent employment, places himself at the door of a hotel, and calls
himself a lacquais de place. The one who had been hired by Lord Gowrie
was a brisk, impudent, meddling fellow, full of the most consummate
French vanity, and determined to have his say upon every occasion. He
must needs see the letter which was to be delivered; and when he got
to the door, he did not fail to impress upon the good old man, that it
was necessary he should deliver the letter to the Seigneur de Ramsay
in person, and obtain an answer of some kind, to which the Scotchman,
always well inclined to meet a countryman in foreign lands, did not in
the slightest degree object. Some difficulty, indeed, was made in
admitting him; but when he announced that he came with a letter from
the Earl of Gowrie, the difficulty ceased, and he was ushered into the
room of the wounded man.

Ramsay of Newburn was lying on his bed dressed in a warm robe de
chambre, as if he had been only allowed to get up during the morning.
He was a powerful and a handsome man of one or two-and-twenty years of
age, with good features, but by no means a prepossessing expression.
His face was very pale from loss of blood, and from the illness
consequent upon his wound; but his eye was bright and hawk-like, and,
with his black hair, neglected since his wound, and falling in ragged
masses over his forehead, it gave a wild, fierce look to his worn
countenance. As soon as the servant entered, he motioned his own
attendant to withdraw, and said in a low, hollow tone, "They tell me
you are the Earl of Gowrie's servant. You are not the man who wounded
me?"

"No, sir," replied the other. "He is still at the embassy."

"You have got a letter for me, have you not?" asked Ramsay, keeping
his eyes fixed upon his face.

The man presented it; but Ramsay went on without opening the letter,
saying, "You are a countryman of mine, by your tongue."

"Yes, sir," answered the servant. "I come from fair Perth itself."

"It is a beautiful town," said Ramsay. "I suppose you have been long
in the service of the earl?"

"I was in the service of his brother before him," replied the man.

"Well, I am very sorry there should have been any disagreement between
the earl and myself," continued Ramsay. "Pray, who is the lady who is
with his lordship?"

"I cannot justly say, sir," answered the man; and then, seeing a
curious sort of light coming into the other's eyes, he added, "She's a
far-away cousin of my lord's. The Lady Julia Douglas, they call her.
My lord met with her in Italy, where some of her relations dying, he
agreed to see her safe back to Scotland."

"Then she is not an Italian, as some of my people told me?" rejoined
the young man.

"Oh, no," cried the servant. "She speaks fine English; and I've never
heard her speak anything else, except to the servants at times."

Ramsay mused, and then inquired if the earl was going direct back to
Scotland.

"He'll stay a while in London town, they say," rejoined the man; "but
I can tell nothing for certain. My lord does not talk much of what he
intends to do."

"Will you draw back that curtain from the window?" said the wounded
man, "that I may see what the earl writes;" and his request being
complied with, he opened the letter and read. The first words seemed
to please him well, for a smile came upon his lip. It had somewhat a
sarcastic turn, indeed; but the usual expression of his face was
sneering. The next words, however, clouded his brow; and as he read
on, it became as black as a thunder cloud. When he had done, he
remained with his teeth hard set, and the letter still in his hand,
apparently musing over the contents, while quick, almost spasmodic,
changes of expression came over his face, and from time to time he
muttered something to himself, the sense of which the servant could
not catch. Gradually, however, the irritable movements seemed to
cease; and he looked at the letter again, not reading it regularly,
but glancing his eye from one part to the other, in a desultory
manner. His brow then became smoother, though it cost him an apparent
effort to banish the frown, and the sneer which hung about his upper
lip he could not banish.

"If your lord takes his departure so soon," he said, "I fear I cannot
have the honour of paying my respects to him. Is it quite certain that
he goes in three days?"

"I have not heard, sir," replied the man, "and so I can't say; but if
he has told you so in the letter, depend upon it he'll do it: for he
is not one to change his mind lightly."

"Well, then," said Ramsay, with a somewhat peculiar emphasis, "I must
wait another opportunity."

"I will tell him so, sir," said the old servant; but the young man
exclaimed, "No, no, you need not tell him exactly that; merely say I
regret my inability to wait upon him, and that I am unable to write.
You may say, moreover----"

He did not finish the sentence, but fell into thought again, tossing
himself uneasily on his bed, till the servant, thinking that he had
done, took a step towards the door, saying, "Well, I'll tell him, sir,
just what you say."

"Stay, stay," said Ramsay; "I have something to add. You may say to
the noble lord, for me, that I am sorry I offended the lady, but that
I did not at all intend to insult her. The curtain was drawn rudely in
my face by a man in the inside of the carriage; and I pulled it back
as a reproof to him, without thinking of her at all."

"Well, sir, you know best," replied the man, who, though not very
brilliant, did not think that this account accorded well with what he
himself had seen. "I'll tell the earl just what you say."

"Pray do," said Ramsay; "and say, moreover, that I shall soon have the
honour of seeing his lordship in Scotland, as I intend to return
thither as soon as I can travel. Your master is well acquainted, I
think, with my good cousin, Sir George."

"Oh, ay," answered the man. "I have seen Ramsay of Dalhousie many a
time, both at Perth and at Dirleton, and young Jock Ramsay, too, his
brother, who used to come to play with Mr. Alexander. They used to
quarrel and fight very often; but that is the way with boys."

"They quarrelled, did they?" said Ramsay of Newburn, with a smile.
"Doubtless they'll be better friends as men. And now, tell my man to
give you a draught of strong waters, but don't let it make you forget
to deliver my message to your lord."

"No, no, sir; no fear of that," answered the man, and withdrew.

When he was gone, Ramsay writhed upon his bed, as if in pain, and he
murmured to himself, "Ay, that bitter cup is quaffed; but I'll make
those who have forced it upon me taste a bitterer. But how--but how? I
shall never have strength to wield a sword like a man again. The
villain has crippled me for life. I can fire a shot, though; and, my
good lord of Gowrie, I will not forget you."

Then he fell into thought again, and meditated in silence for nearly
half an hour, while various changes of expression came over his
countenance, all dark, but of different shades. At length some thought
seemed to please him, for he laughed aloud. "Ay," he said, "that were
better. Then, however matters go, I am the gainer. He has made me
truckle to his leman. I'll try if I cannot make him bend his haughty
head before those who once already have trampled on the necks of
Ruthvens. Let him beware both of words and actions, for he shall be
sharply looked to. The proud peat! Let him stay in London with the
crooked old Englishwoman. I'll be in Scotland before him, and he shall
find her protection blast rather than save him. If I know my cousin
John aright, I can so work these ends together as to make this earl
regret having done shame to a Ramsay. What I have not strength to do
boldly, I will try to do shrewdly, and there will be some pleasure in
seeing him help to work out my objects against himself. There is
Stuart, too; if we can once get him mixed in the affair, the king will
not be long out of it. Then, Gowrie, look to yourself, for James never
forgives those whom he fears."

He continued thus muttering to himself for some time longer; but what
has been already detailed will be sufficient to show that Ramsay
entertained that sweet and gentlemanlike passion of revenge, which was
at the time exceedingly dear and pleasant to most of his countrymen.
It is so, indeed, with all nations in a semi-barbarous state, and in
such a state was Scotland undoubtedly at that time. Torn by factions,
frequently a prey to civil strife, when not actually a prey to
anarchy, ruled by the strongest and the readiest hand which could
clutch and hold the reins of government, she had long seen her
children rising to power and wealth on each other's heads, and the
pathway to honours marked out by a stream of blood. Ambition went hand
in hand with revenge; and the terrible rule seemed fully established
in the land, "to forget a benefit as soon as possible, but never to
forgive an injury."



CHAPTER XIX.


I must pass over, with a very brief and general statement, the events
which occurred to the personages connected with this tale during
several months. There is always in tale-telling, unless the action be
compressed within a very short space, a period during which the
interest would flag, if the regular passing of each day was noticed,
and the small particulars detailed. Were life filled with those
striking events which move and interest the reader, with those
passions to which the sympathetic heart thrills, with those grand
scenes of action which excite the imagination, or with those lesser
incidents which amuse and entertain, the human frame, like an
over-sharpened knife, would be ground down upon the whetstone of the
world, and existence be curtailed of half its date. It is my belief,
that patriarchal age was secured to the earlier inhabitants of earth
as much by the long intervals existing between the periods of intense
excitement, to which they were sometimes subjected, and by the calm
and careless ease of the intervening periods, as by any of the many
other causes which combined to extend the space between birth and
death to well nigh a thousand years. True, they were not close pent up
in cities--true, they were continually changing air and scene--true,
that excess in anything was little known--true, that they were nearer
to the great architype, fresh from the hands of his God, and framed
for the immortality of which sin deprived him--true, that long
centuries of vice, folly, contention, and misfortune had not then
brought forth the multitudinous host of diseases continually warring
against the mortal body, diminishing its powers of resistance from
generation to generation; but still I believe that the want of
excitement, which can only be known where men are spread wide and far
apart over the face of the earth, was absolutely necessary to that
vast prolongation of life. The mind and body did not mutually grind
down each other. Still, the more peaceful periods in any man's history
are those which the least interest his fellow-men, and during the time
which elapsed between Gowrie's departure from Paris and his arrival in
Scotland, no adventures or impediments occurred which can justify much
detail. That departure was delayed for a day or two beyond the period
which he had at first fixed; and though the weather was now becoming
sharp and cold, yet those few days produced a favourable change, and
rain and fog gave way to clear skies and broad sunshine. The days,
however, were brief, and the journeys necessarily short; so that a
week elapsed between his departure from Paris and his arrival at
Calais. Four days more brought him to Loudon, and now a new scene
opened upon him.

Furnished with letters from Sir Henry Neville to the principal
statesmen of the court of Queen Elizabeth, he was received with every
demonstration of respect and esteem in the English capital, and two
days after was presented to the queen herself. I find little record in
history of what followed; but one historian, whose views, it must be
remarked, were strongly biassed by peculiar feelings of partizanship,
declares that the honours shown by the English sovereign to the young
earl were of the most marked and extraordinary kind. It is sometimes,
in the present day, not easy to account for the course of policy
pursued by Elizabeth in her conduct to the subjects of the
neighbouring crown; but we must not doubt well-authenticated facts
because we cannot penetrate their motives. The writer whom I have
mentioned states, in speaking of the Earl of Gowrie, that the queen
"ordered that guards should attend him, that all honours should be
paid him which were due to a Prince of Wales and to her first cousin,
and that he should be entertained at the public expense all the time
he should remain at her court."

I can scarcely imagine that this account is not exaggerated. We find
that she showed no such honours to others, who stood much in the same
degree of affinity to herself as he did; and unless she wished
needlessly to alarm the King of Scotland, no cause can be supposed for
such conduct. That she treated Gowrie with great distinction, however,
is undeniable, and even marked her favour for him more strongly than
her old affection for his grandfather could account for. This course
was very dangerous to the young earl himself, for the court of England
at that time was thronged by spies of the Scottish monarch; and even
the most familiar friends and counsellors of Elizabeth conveyed
information to James of all that could affect his interest, to the
most minute circumstances. The natural desire of what is called
currying favour, of course, gave some degree of colour to the accounts
transmitted; and there is every reason to believe, from an examination
of the State Paper Office, that such intimations alone were given as
had a tendency to put the monarch on his guard, without discouraging
his hopes or diminishing his energies. The way for his advent to the
throne had been prepared long beforehand; whether from the general
considerations of policy, from personal ambition, or from avarice,
such men as Cecil had chosen their course, and were determined to
remove or overawe all competitors, and to insure the accession of the
King of Scotland. I am inclined to believe--without considering them
as anything more than mere mortals--that the purest spirit of
patriotism inspired those who thus acted. Every man of common sense
must have seen that most important ends were to be obtained by uniting
the crowns of Scotland, Ireland, and England upon one head; nor could
any one doubt that--apart from all considerations of the personal
character of the man--the means of maintaining his claims, of crushing
all competitors, and of establishing his power upon a firm and secure
basis, were more completely in the hands of the King of Scotland than
of any other person who could aspire to the English throne. His faults
were all personal, which never enter sufficiently into the
calculations of politicians; his advantages were those of position,
which almost always have too much weight with those who influence the
fate of empires. By personal character, no man was ever less fitted to
fill the throne of a great country, or to unite discordant races under
one sway, than James I.: by political position, no one could compete
with him in pretensions to the throne of England. Happy had it been
for Great Britain had such not been the case, for the vices of the man
more than compensated the advantages of the prince, and the weakness
of his successors consummated what his own wickedness began; but no
one can blame those who chose according to the lights they possessed,
and who smoothed the way for that which naturally appeared the best
for the whole nation at the time.

The reports which reached Scotland of the honours shown to the Earl of
Gowrie in the English capital, generated, in a jealous and irritable
mind, covetous of extended and despotic rule, a feeling of doubt and
dread most dangerous to its object; and the busy and gossiping spirit
of a small court did not fail to increase the unpleasant impressions
thus produced, by a thousand rumours, which had no foundation in
truth. Reports were circulated and credited, that Queen Elizabeth had
actually designated the Earl of Gowrie as her successor, and even
that, in order to unite two great claims to the crown which she held,
she had made all the arrangements for a marriage between that nobleman
and the Lady Arabella Stuart; one who, like himself, was not very
remote from the direct succession. These facts have been omitted
altogether, or slurred over by modern historians, in noticing that
part of history in which this young nobleman appears; but that such
rumours existed in England and Scotland can be proved from
contemporary authorities; and we can easily conceive the feelings with
which such a man as James was thus prepared to view one whose
influence was already redoubtable, on his return to his native land.

Could he have seen the private life of the earl, it is probable that,
although he might still have remained inimical, the king's fears would
not have assumed the character of hatred. From various motives, which
every one can conceive, Julia was not disposed to mingle with the
gaieties of a foreign court, or, before she was received and
recognised in her own land, to assume the position she was entitled to
in the society of the neighbouring state. She felt it no privation,
indeed--she sought it not--she cared not for it; but even if she had,
she would have forborne, and she had full compensation in the
tenderness of him she loved. Gowrie appeared at the court of England
alone: he put not forth on her behalf, claims which were to be decided
in a different country, and by different laws; and on the only
occasion when the queen jestingly alluded to his fair companion, he
replied, with that courtly reverence towards the sovereign to which
Elizabeth was accustomed, and that due respect for Julia's situation
from which he never deviated, "It is painful, madam, to be torn by two
duties and two inclinations. You may easily suppose it would be
grateful for me to linger here at your majesty's feet, but my duty,
both by kindred and by promise, is to escort my cousin back to
Scotland, in order to establish rights of which she has been too long
deprived. I trust, however," he added, with the air of gallantry which
pervaded Elizabeth's court, "that ere long I shall be enabled to
return, not alone to bask in the beams of your favour, but to ask a
share for one who, I may humbly say, is more worthy than myself of
that honour for which princes might well contend with pride."

He spoke with that serious gravity, and yet with that unembarrassed
ease, which greatly struck the sovereign whom he addressed; and she
replied, in her somewhat abrupt manner, "God's my life, cousin, I have
a great inclination to see this same fair creature, and would do so
too with all honour, either in private or in public, did I not know
that it would do her no good service where she is going. Commend me to
her, however, and tell her we regard her and yourself with favour, and
will do our best to serve you both should need be."

The earl conveyed the message to her he loved; but Julia smiled almost
sadly, as she replied, "I fear me, Gowrie, that I am not fitted for
courts, at all events by inclination. Calm and peaceful quiet with him
I love is all that I desire in life. Nevertheless, understand me, I
would not for the world keep back him whose fame and whose character I
am bound to regard even before my own peace, from the path of honour
and renown, for anything that earth can give. I am ready, when you
require it, to mingle with courts and crowds, to take my share in
whatever may be for your benefit--nay, should need be, to buckle on
your armour with my own hands for the battle-field, and bid God speed
you in the right, while I remain alone to weep and pray for your
deliverance and success. Heaven send me strength when the hour of
trial comes; but in strength or in weakness I will not shrink from my
duty towards you."

About ten days after, when the frost, which was then reigning with
great severity, had broken up, rendering the roads more passable,
Gowrie took his departure from London, and proceeded by slow journeys
towards Scotland. He was detained for somewhat more than a week at
York by a fresh fall of snow; but as soon as that had melted away
under the increasing warmth of the spring, he resumed his way, and
passed the border in the end of February, 1600.



CHAPTER XX.


It was a cold, clear, frosty afternoon, in the month of January, 1600,
when two gentlemen, both young, but one considerably older than the
other, walked together up and down a trim but formal piece of garden
ground, beneath the walls of one of the old fortified houses of the
day, not very many miles distant from the fair city of Edinburgh, and
in the county of Mid Lothian. The hour was late, the sun was below the
sky, bright stars were beginning to peep out above, and the garden was
only defended from the keen blast by a wall of uncemented stones,
although the castle itself was a very solid piece of masonry.

Still the two gentlemen continued to walk on, with the crisp frost
crackling under their feet, whenever they fell upon the long grass at
the side of the path, or upon the dry leaves which had dropped from
the trees, few and far between, which graced the little enclosure.

The elder of the two was a man of about six or seven-and-twenty years
of age, of the middle height, or perhaps somewhat less, slight in
appearance, from the extreme accuracy of all his proportions, though
in reality much stronger than many men of a more powerful look. His
features were slightly aquiline, but chiseled with wonderful delicacy.
The hair was dark, but the eye clear and blue, with that calm, firm,
but mild expression, which we are inclined to attach to vigor of
character when united with gentleness of heart. His mien and air were
particularly distinguished by a sort of easy dignity, which rendered
it impossible to see him without feeling that there was not only a
gentleman of high race and associations, but a man of remarkable
powers of mind, of which he was conscious, but not vain.

The companion of this personage was in years a mere youth, but in form
a strong and active man. He was darker in complexion than the other,
taller, more muscular, and the well-grown beard showed that boyhood
was no more. His countenance was also very handsome; but there was in
it a stern and fiery look, which reminded one of a fierce warhorse
when checked by the rein; and occasionally as he talked, there would
come a scowling frown upon his brow, which rendered the expression
very different from that of his companion. Nevertheless, there was
traceable in the features a strong resemblance, so that in the angry
moments of the one, which indeed were rare, or the gayer and gentler
moments of the other, there was no difficulty in pronouncing them two
brothers.

"Well, John," said the elder of the two, as they turned in their walk,
"I wish much you would abandon your intention of riding back to-night.
I would fain put eight-and-forty hours between your rash impetuosity
and your meeting again with your former friend. You seem so little
moved by reason, that I would see what time can do."

"I tell you, Dalhousie," said his brother, "I am not going to quarrel
with him. Indeed, he will take care how he gives me occasion, I think.
But I and Alexander Ruthven can never more be friends. His pride is
insufferable, and his favour with the queen, be it good and honest, as
some would have us think, be it dishonest and disloyal, as others
suspect, can give him no claim to reverence from others as good as
himself, or better perhaps."

"Is there no pride at the bottom of your own feelings towards him,
John?" asked his brother, with a smile; "and is there not, perhaps, a
little jealousy of that same favour that you speak of, which makes you
look upon it in an unfair light? Ruthven's sister is the queen's
dearest friend; and is it at all unnatural that a portion of her
regard for the sister should be extended to the brother?"

"I do not know," answered John Ramsay, quickly; "I am not so nice in
my scanning as you are, George; but one thing I do know, which is,
that I do not love to see my lord and master made to look like a fool
in his own court by one of his own servants. If there be nothing evil
in this familiarity but that, it is surely bad enough; but if there be
more, they had better not let me see fair signs of it; for I would
drive my dagger into his heart as readily as his grandfather drove his
into Rizzio's."

"Fie, fie! You are too rash, boy," said Sir George Ramsay; "neither
zeal nor courage are worth much, John, unless tempered by discretion;
and again I say, you give too much way to passion, and suffer it to
give a colour to all you see; just as you used to quarrel with
Alexander Ruthven, when a boy, without any reasonable cause, so do you
now suspect and dislike him as a man without just grounds."

"I never loved him," answered the other, moodily. "I dislike all the
Ruthvens--I always have disliked them, with their stately grandeur and
proud airs."

"Because you are proud yourself, John," said his brother; "and because
your pride has been somewhat offensive at times, they have not liked
you. Did you ever see any of them show pride towards me?"

"Because you are not proud enough," replied the young man, sharply.

"I am as proud as any man ought to be," replied his brother, in a
reproving tone; "too proud to do a base action--too proud to give way
to a grovelling thought--too proud to entertain a mean suspicion. I am
proud, too, of my name and race, proud of the deeds of my ancestors,
and proud enough, I trust, never to tarnish their renown by any
unworthy act of their descendant."

With one of those impulses which move hasty men, the youth seized his
brother's hand and pressed it warmly. "I know you are, Dalhousie," he
said; "forgive me, my dear brother. I may be somewhat too proud; but I
do not ever really doubt that you are proud enough for all that is
noble, too proud for anything that is mean. But you have not lately
seen so much of what is passing at the court as I have; and believe me
the sight is not pleasant."

"Well, then, John, stay another night away from it," answered his
brother; "you acknowledge that the king does not expect you till
Friday. One day will take you to Edinburgh and to Stirling, ride as
slow as you will."

"Be it as you wish," replied John Ramsay, "but I must set out
to-morrow somewhat early.--Hark! There are horses' feet coming along
the frosty road. Who can it be, I wonder, at this late hour?"

"Some of our good cousins come to rest for the night," said Sir George
Ramsay, with a smile; "it can be no one on business of much
consequence, by the slowness of the horses' tread."

He was mistaken, however, for the result of the meeting which was
about to take place was of infinite consequence to the fate of his
brother and himself. The two walked leisurely along the little path
which led back to the house, and passing through a small postern door,
proceeded to the gates to welcome the coming guest. All that they
could see, when they looked out along the road, was a dim figure on
horseback, at the distance of about two hundred yards, and something
like another horseman behind. Both were coming very slowly, although
the coldness of the night might well have rendered quicker progression
agreeable both to man and horse. As the travellers were evidently
approaching the house for the purpose of stopping there, Sir George
Ramsay called out some of the servants; and the moment after, his
brother, looking intently forward, said, "It is very like Andrew's
figure, but riding bent and listless, as I have seen him when he is
drunk."

"I hope he has not chosen that condition to present himself on his
return," said Sir George. "Halloo! Who comes?"

"'Tis I, Sir George," answered the voice of Ramsay of Newburn, "faint
and weary, and needing much your hospitality."

It was evident, from the way in which he spoke, that the young
gentleman was perfectly sober; and Sir George merely replied, "Come
in, Andrew, come in. You shall be right welcome. Here, William, take
Newburn's horse."

"Lend me your arm, good fellow," said the guest, slowly dismounting.
"I am not over supple, nor so strong as I once was."

His own servant rode up with the saddle-bags at the same moment; and
being assisted from his horse, he was led into the house, where lights
were burning in what was called the great chamber. Both Sir George
Ramsay and his brother were struck and moved with the ghastly paleness
of their cousin's countenance, and everything was done that kindness
could devise to refresh and revive him.

"Ah, now," said Sir George, after he had drunk a cup of that fine
Bordeaux wine which was to be found nowhere in greater perfection than
in Scotland, "there is some colour coming into your cheek again. You
will do well now."

"My cheek will never bear the rose again, Dalhousie," replied his
cousin. "It was once red enough, but its ruddiness is gone for ever."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed John Ramsay; "why, what is the matter with thee,
man? Hast thou seen a wraith?"

"Ay, and felt one too, in the shape of a drawn sword," replied the
other. "I have been run through the body by a churl in the streets of
Paris. 'Tis now some two months ago, and I am well, they tell me. But
where is my strength gone? Where the quickness of my hand, which could
always keep my head, till that hour?"

"But how did all this happen?" demanded Sir George Ramsay. "Some
foolish quarrel, I'm afraid, Andrew."

"Good faith, foolish enough," answered the young man; "but I am cured
of folly for life, George;" and he proceeded to give his own account
of the adventure which had befallen him with good Austin Jute.

"I was riding through the streets of Paris," he said, "with two young
friends, when we had to pass a large old country carriage, in which I
espied a very pretty face--you know I always loved pretty faces. I
might gaze at it somewhat earnestly perhaps for a moment longer than
was needful; and I am not sure that I did not rein in my horse a
little, when lo, up rides one of the servants who was behind the
carriage, and struck me a blow, which made me miss the stirrups, and
left me scarcely time to save myself from falling under the horse's
feet."

"A lounder on the side of the head," said John Ramsay, half inclined
to laugh; but his cousin went on gravely.

"I should not have had the blood of a Ramsay in my veins," he said,
"if I had not taken sword in hand to avenge such an insult. But, good
faith, the fellow was as quick as I was, and a good swordsman too,
though I have seldom met my match. The street was narrow and crowded,
however, the carriage in the way, horses all about us, and somehow I
slipped my foot, and the next instant found his sword running like a
hot iron through my chest and out of my shoulder bone. Here--it went
in here," he continued, laying his hand upon the spot, "and passed out
here, going clean through flesh and bone. I dropped instantly, and was
carried away to my lodging, where I lay upon a sick bed for many a
day, and rose only to find that I have lost the full use of my sword
arm for ever. I may hold a pen perhaps, like a clerk, but as to manly
uses they are gone."

"But what became of the man who hurt you?" demanded Sir George Ramsay;
"if your tale be quite correct, Andrew, his conduct was most
unjustifiable."

He laid a strong emphasis on the word, if, for he knew his cousin
well, and there was a conviction in his mind that something had been
kept back. Ramsay of Newburn, however, did not appear to remark the
peculiar tone in which the words were pronounced, but replied, "It was
unjustifiable, I think, Dalhousie; but he had great protectors.
The English ambassador stood his friend, and the ambassador's
intimate--your friend, the Earl of Gowrie--talked high, and opposed
the pursuit of justice. Between them they would not suffer the man to
be secured, even till it was ascertained whether I lived or died."

"But what had Gowrie to do with it?" asked Sir George, while his
brother's brow grew dark, and his teeth tight set together. "I should
have thought that Gowrie, of all men, would have been inclined to
resent an injury done to a Ramsay; and the earl has a strong sense of
justice--he had, even as a boy."

"Not where his own followers are concerned," replied his young cousin;
"and this man was his own servant. I know not what became of his sense
of justice in this case; but the matter is as I told you. He defended
the man against all pursuit; and had I died I have no doubt that he
and his dear friend and counsellor, the English ambassador, would have
found means to shelter the offender altogether."

Sir George Ramsay mused, still doubting much; but John got up and
walked about the room, and, after a momentary pause, his cousin
continued, "He had even the kindness, when I was lying on a sick bed,
to send a demand that I should make an apology to the lady whom I
gazed at."

"You did not do it!--I trust you did not do it!" exclaimed John
Ramsay, vehemently.

"I trust you did," said Sir George, looking up. "An apology is due to
any lady we have offended, whoever asks it; and I cannot but think,
from what I have seen of the young earl myself, and from what I have
heard through others, that he would not have demanded an apology had
there been no cause of offence."

"You always judge me harshly, Dalhousie," said his cousin, somewhat
bitterly.

"Faith, not I," answered the young knight. "I judge men as I find
them, Andrew. I know Gowrie's nature and temper well, and I know
yours, too, my good cousin.--But what did you do? Did you make the
apology?"

"I could do nothing else," answered the other. "I was ill on a sick
bed; I felt that the powers of my right arm were gone for ever; I knew
not what might happen if I refused, with such influence as there was
arrayed against me. Otherwise, I would have made him eat my sword
first. As it was, I only said that I was sorry if I had offended the
lady, and that I had no intention of insulting her; but with that he
contented himself."

Sir George Ramsay smiled. "I can see Gowrie in it all," he said;
"resolute in what he thinks is right, but mild and easily appeased."

"Out upon it!" exclaimed his brother, and darted impatiently from the
room.

Sir George did not seem to notice his departure in the least, but went
on with what he was saying. "But what I do not understand is, that he
should send you a message. Surely he wrote, Newburn? Have you still
the letter?"

"Yes," answered his cousin. "I will show it to you some other time. It
is in my baggage."

"I should like to see it much," said Sir George. "Now, tell me truly,
Andrew, did you do nothing else than gaze? I know you well, my good
cousin. You are gay and rash, have a somewhat evil opinion of all
women, and believe that admiration, even when implying insult, must
still have something pleasing in it for them. Did you add no words to
the look?"

"Not one, upon my honour," replied his cousin, boldly.

"And no act either?" asked Sir George; and then seeing a sort of
hectic glow come into his cousin's pale face, he added, quickly, "You
did--I see it there--What was it?"

"I really do not know what right you have to tax me so," replied
Andrew Ramsay, colouring still more.

"I will tell you," answered Sir George, in a calm, but stern tone.
"You have told me some passages which have lately taken place,
implying that you have been injured. Now, if wrong has been done my
cousin, and the very consequences of that wrong prevent him from
redressing it himself, I take up his quarrel as the head of his house.
But I must first be sure that wrong has been done you. I must see the
case clearly, and therefore I ask you what it was you did. Do not
conceal anything from me, Andrew, for depend upon it I will know the
whole, and that very soon."

The other grew white and red by turns, but his elder cousin had
habitually great command over him, and he answered in a low and
somewhat sullen tone, "I only pulled back the curtain of the carriage
a little, to see her more plainly, nor should I have done that if it
had not been rudely drawn in my face."

"So now we have the truth," said Sir George; "and I will tell you how
I read your story, Andrew. You and some young companions--gay
libertines, mayhap--in riding through the streets of Paris, met a
carriage containing a young lady of great beauty. You stare rudely in,
as I have seen you do a thousand times; the curtain is drawn to shut
out an insolent gaze, and you pull it back again with a sort of coarse
bravado. These are the plain facts of the case, I take it, and even by
your own showing I cannot but see that Gowrie was quite right."

"You seem to have got his own story by heart, Sir George," replied his
cousin, "and throw it somewhat unkindly in the teeth of a kinsman who,
wounded, weak, and sick, comes to seek your hospitality."

"I am sorry for your wound, Andrew," said the knight, "and trust you
may soon recover health and strength. As for the story, I have never
heard one word of it but from your own lips. The writing was not very
legible, but you cannot deny that I have managed to decipher it. And
now let us change the subject a little. Who is this lady in whom
Gowrie takes such an interest?"

"I know no--this leman, I suppose," replied the young man, with a
scoff.

"Not what you suppose, Andrew, but what you have heard. You cannot
have been mixed up in such an affair without having learned more of
the object of your admiration. Who did people say she was?"

"Oh, she was given out to be his cousin, whom he was bringing from
Italy," replied Ramsay of Newburn. "They said that she had been living
with relations there, who were lately dead, and that Gowrie, like a
true Paladin Orlando, was bringing her straight back, defying all men
in her cause by the way."

"But what was her name?" asked Sir George. "You must have heard her
name."

"His servants called her, the Lady Julia Douglas," answered his
cousin. "I never heard of such a person. Did you?"

Sir George Ramsay mused, saying slowly, "No--no, not exactly--yet at
the time of Morton's death there were rumours of a private marriage
with an Italian lady--there were many Italians about the court at the
time--Ha! here comes John back again--Have you ever heard, John, any
rumours of the Regent Morton having left a daughter? I think I
remember something of it."

"Oh, yes," answered John Ramsay. "I have heard Stuart talk of the
matter. He was employed himself to search for the supposed widow and
child; for they got about a story that the regent had married an
Italian in the end of his life, but dared not own it for fear of the
ministers, who would have put him on the stool of repentance, or
preached at him by the hour, which would have been just as bad. Stuart
could hear nothing of them, except that an old Italian count, with his
daughter and young child, had fled to Leith as soon as Morton was
arrested, and had taken ship there for France some weeks after his
execution. They supposed that this was Morton's wife and child, and
that she had carried away with her all the vast treasures he had
scraped together."

Sir George Ramsay shook his head; but saying, "It must now be supper
time; I will call for it," he left the room without any further
observation on the subjects of which they had been talking.

The moment he was gone and the door closed, John Ramsay gave a
peculiar glance to his cousin, saying, "I must hear more of this
matter, Andrew--but alone, alone. Dalhousie's cold prejudices drive me
mad. I cannot keep my temper with him when he talks of these Ruthvens.
I have much to say to you, too."

"And I much for your ear, John," said his cousin, hurriedly. "Find out
where your brother's people lodge me, and come to my room, after I
have gone to bed and all is quiet; I shall retire soon, upon the plea
of weariness; but I shall not sleep till you come, for I have those
things in my breast which are enemies to slumber."

They had not time to say much more before Sir George Ramsay returned,
and it was immediately after announced that supper was served in the
hall. Thither, then, they took their way; and over the good cheer and
the rich wine all painful subjects seemed forgotten, till Ramsay of
Newburn rose, and alleging that he was weary, retired to rest.



CHAPTER XXI.


It was nearly midnight when the door of the small room which had been
allotted to Ramsay of Newburn, opened, and, with a lamp in his hand
and a quiet stealthy step, his cousin John entered, and seated himself
at the foot of his bed. "I could not come before, Andrew," he said,
"for Dalhousie has been walking up and down the hall an hour beyond
his usual bed-time."

"Never mind, never mind," answered the other. "I can rest, but I
cannot sleep, John. I never sleep now till two or three o'clock, and
shall not do so, till I see those punished who deserve it."

"My longings go in the same way," said John Ramsay; "but my brother
has been telling me that you pulled back the curtain of the lady's
carriage in order to stare in at her. You should not have done that,
Andrew. I cannot call upon Gowrie for reparation after that."

"Pshaw! give not one moment's heed to private quarrels, John,"
answered his cousin, in a frank tone. "I might be wrong in the
business; and Lord Gowrie was certainly overbearing and unjust. I have
apologized, however, to the lady--not to him, and that matter is
settled; but there are other matters behind."

"Of a more public nature, I suppose, from what you say of private
quarrels," observed John Ramsay; "and I know right well that Alexander
Ruthven has run up a score which he may find it difficult to wipe off;
but the earl has nothing to do with that. Happily for him, he has been
so long absent that he cannot be suspected either of intrigues at
court or treason to the state."

"Be you not sure of that, John," replied the other. "Would I had as
free access to the king as you have, I would soon put his majesty upon
his guard against this haughty young lord, who is now wending back to
plot here as his ancestors did before him."

"I will soon bring you to the king's presence if you have any charge
to make against him," said his cousin. "If you accuse him boldly and
with good proof, you will not want supporters who will bear all before
them."

"Nay, but I have no direct charge to make, my good cousin," replied
Ramsay of Newburn; "and clear proofs are difficult to obtain."

"Indeed!" said John Ramsay, his countenance falling. "I thought, from
your words, that you were very sure of your game--I mean, sure that
this man is plotting."

"As sure as I lie here and you sit there," answered his cousin; "but a
man may be very sure himself, and yet not be able to make others so.
The most dangerous traitors are always those who conceal their designs
most carefully; and Gowrie is such. Calm and tranquil in speech,
thoughtful and prudent in act, he never commits himself till his
purposes are matured."

"Why, Begbie of the Red Hill, who saw him in Italy, told me he was
frank and free, and fond of jest and harmless sport," replied John
Ramsay.

"Begbie's a fool," answered the other, impatiently; "and for fools the
earl can put on what character he likes. I saw Begbie as he came back
through Paris, and he told me how the earl had shown him, at Geneva,
little paper balls, which at his command rose into the air, and
skimmed quite across the lake, and small figures of ducks and geese,
that floated in a vessel of water, and came to whatever side he called
them. Why, there is not a mountebank in France or England but would
show him such wonders, and yet the fool took it all for magic, and
half believed the earl to be a sorcerer."

"But if you have no charge against him," said his cousin, returning to
the point, "I see not what can be done with the king."

Ramsay of Newburn mused. "If we knew a serpent to be in the garden,"
he said, at length, "and saw the grass moving towards a dear friend
who lay sleeping there, should we not do well to wake him, even though
we could not perceive the reptile under the covering through which it
moved?" he asked, at length, in a slow emphatic tone.

"Assuredly," answered John Ramsay; "but we must be quite sure that
there is a snake there, and afterwards seek for the beast to destroy
it, otherwise our friend may be angry with us for breaking his
slumber."

"Exactly so," rejoined the other; "and I think we can at least show
that there is a snake in the grass, though perhaps not exactly where
it lies. As to seeking the beast and destroying it, that must be done
hereafter, if we find it venomous, as I believe it is."

"Come, come, to leave all such figures," said John Ramsay, "let me
hear of what the king is to be warned. He is too wise and shrewd to
listen to every tale that can be told, especially when he knows that
the teller loves not the race against whom it bears. How shall I show
him, or how will you show him, Andrew, that there is a snake in the
garden? That is the question."

"I can do but little," answered his cousin. "Wild and reckless,
seeking pastime and pleasure, and thoughtlessly getting into every
kind of difficulty, I have neither reputation nor favour to back my
words against the influence of a man so great; who has, moreover, a
brother and a sister prime favourites at the court. You can do much,
John; and I will tell you all I know, both that you yourself may see
that there is just cause, and that your warning to the king may not
prove vain."

"As to his brother," exclaimed John Ramsay, the object of whose
greatest animosity at that moment was Alexander Ruthven, "he may
indeed be a favourite at the court; but he is no favourite with the
king."

"That matters not," answered his cousin. "My word would go for little,
and even yours, perhaps, John, may not go for much; but I have no duty
to perform, and you a great one. Yet I would not have you hardly and
imprudently accuse the earl before we have stronger proofs."

"Then what would you have me do?" demanded the young man, interrupting
him impetuously.

"I will tell you what," answered his more wily cousin. "I would have
you point out to the king, how dangerous it is for some of his prime
nobles to sojourn for weeks at the court of the Queen of England--the
murderer of his mother, the unceasing enemy of his whole race--at the
court of her who has ever promoted treason and rebellion in his
kingdom, and received the banished traitors of Scotland as her best
friends. I would point out to the king, how dangerous this is," he
repeated, "especially when the person who does sojourn there is,
within a short remove, as near the throne of England as himself."

"I see--I see," answered John Ramsay. "I understand what you mean."

"I would, then," continued his cousin, "ask the king if he is aware
that the Earl of Gowrie has spent some weeks in Paris, almost in the
sole society of Sir Henry Neville, the English ambassador, seeing him
every day at his own house, and going but once to visit the
representative of his own monarch."

"But is this true? Did he do it?" inquired the other, eagerly.

"It is quite true, and can be proved by a dozen witnesses," answered
his cousin. "I have a statement of the fact in the saddle-bags which
lie there, given me by the master of the inn where the earl lodged in
Paris. He did this, and even more. I would then ask the king if he is
aware that honours almost royal were shown to this youth at the
English court; that the guard turned out at his presence; that
chamberlains and officers went down to meet him at the foot of the
stairs on his approach; that the queen always styled him, cousin, and
sometimes spoke of him as the nearest heir to her crown? I would ask
if his majesty were aware of the nature of those private conferences
which John Earl of Gowrie held with Robert Cecil and the Earl of
Essex, besides numerous others of the court, whom the king may think
more in his interests than they really are? I would also inquire
whether King James had heard of a project for marrying the Earl of
Gowrie to the Lady Arabella Stuart, and suffering the crown of England
to fall quietly on his head?"

"By Heaven! if all these things be true, he should be arrested for a
traitor the moment he sets foot in Scotland," cried John Ramsay, his
impetuous spirit jumping at conclusions far beyond those which his
cousin's words implied, or to which his intentions reached; "and I
will do it myself, if no one else will do so."

"No, no!" exclaimed the other. "You are too impetuous, John. The
arresting him on his arrival would but put all the other parties
concerned upon their guard, and enable him by their means to conceal
his treason by a skilful defence. Besides, the king dare not for his
life make the acts of his good sister of England matter of accusation
against her 'fair cousin of Gowrie.' Fie, man; for a courtier, thou
art but little of a politician. Tell his majesty what I say. Ask him
the questions which I have put. He hath information large enough, I
will warrant; but if he want more, let him demand it of me. I have
ligged for a fortnight in London, weak almost to death, and neglected
by every one, but a few trusty friends, who brought me all the secrets
of the court. There I heard of nothing but Gowrie, Gowrie. His star
was in the ascendant; and I have doubts, strange doubts about his
journey onward."

"Think you he will not come?" demanded John Ramsay, fixing his eyes
upon him.

"I do not know," answered his cousin, thoughtfully; "but if he do, it
will be for some purpose of which it were well to beware.--If he
stay," he continued, very slowly, "he stays to be King of England. If
he come back hither, it may be but to settle his affairs before he
returns, or perhaps--but I would not carry my thoughts to the daring
length to which it has been hinted he might carry his ambition. He has
no claim upon the crown of Scotland, even were the king removed. The
nobles of the land would never suffer it! What though his descent from
Margaret Tudor may give him some show of title to the English throne;
here he has no show of right whatsoever, and I will not believe it. Do
not mention what I have said on this head, John," he continued, taking
his cousin's hand and pressing it; "do not mention it, on any account.
All the rest I can prove; but this is merely the rash suspicion of one
who knows not our habits and our customs, and whom I am bound in
honour not to name. He is a great man, too," he continued,
thoughtfully, "but one whose views of policy and ambition have, I
cannot but think, too wide a range--Do not mention it, on any
account."

"I will put the king upon his guard, at all events," said John Ramsay,
thinking himself very politic in giving no definite answer as to what
he would tell and what he would withhold, while he was in reality
meditating the very course on which his cousin sought to guide him.
"It is frightful to think what might be the result if this young man
had the ambition and the daring of his ancestors. Why, the king's life
itself----"

"No, no!" cried Andrew Ramsay, interrupting him, "I do not think he
would venture such an act as that. The worst I do believe he would
attempt, might be to seize his majesty's person, and send him prisoner
to England, like his mother."

"He should feel my dagger first," answered the young man with whom he
spoke; "but I do not know, Andrew, how far these men's ambition may
go. You cannot tell what has been taking place at our own court. If
Gowrie is aspiring in one way, his brother Alexander is not less so in
another. I will tell you what, Andrew," he continued: "there was a
time last autumn when the king hurried away from his cabinet with
Herries and John Hume, and took his road, as fast as he could go,
towards the rooms where Alex Ruthven is lodged. I know not upon what
information he acted; but I followed him to the foot of the stairs,
and when I heard that the door above was bolted, and the king shook it
till it was like to come down, I thought, Andrew----" he continued,
dropping his voice, and pressing his hand tight upon his cousin's arm,
"I thought that the next sound I should hear would be the death cry of
a Ruthven."

"No bad noise," said Andrew Ramsay, drily; "but you told me something
of your suspicions by letter, John. How has this matter gone on
since?"

"From bad to worse," answered the young man. "He went away for a
while, and then returned; and since then he has been more daring than
ever."

The conversation thus proceeded for about half an hour longer, when
the clock struck one, and John Ramsay rose, saying, "Well, I will away
to bed; but we shall meet to-morrow, before I depart for Edinburgh."

"If you go to-morrow I will ride with you," answered his cousin, "for
I am bound thither too. We can talk farther by the way."

"So be it, then," answered John Ramsay; and with a few more words, to
arrange their plans, they parted for the night, the younger man to
sleep, after a short space given to agitated thought, the elder to
meditate somewhat scornfully, though well pleased, upon the easy tool
which passion renders the most impetuous and unruly, when duly and
skilfully directed.



CHAPTER XXII.


I love not to leave Gowrie and Julia so long, and yet they are very
happy without me. Doubtless they could do without Mr. Rhind either, as
he sits there in the window of the old-fashioned inn, with its deep
bay and its small lozenges of glass, and its heavy frame of lead and
iron. Julia looks up at Gowrie, and smiles, and his eyes glance
cheerfully. There must be some jest between them, light and happy,
with none of the world's bitterness--the jest of two lovers' hearts.
Would that I knew what it is; but the words are spoken in a whisper,
for Mr. Rhind is there with his everlasting little volume bound in
vellum, and I may as well leave them at Berwick, too, and go on
before, to see what reception was preparing for them in a distant
place.

I must convey the reader with me to the old royal palace of Falkland,
without, however, giving any detailed account of a building, a much
better description of which than any I can afford may be found in many
an antiquarian record. Suffice it that it was large, roomy, and then
in a high state of preservation. It was also surrounded by an
extensive deer-park, called "The Wood of Falkland," which was perhaps
its highest attraction in the eyes of King James VI., whose only
virtue was the love of hunting.

The season, as every reader, whether skilled in woodcraft or not, must
know, was not one in which St. Hubert permits the horned tenants of
the forest to be chased by man, for it was as yet but the month of
February. But that season of the year was a dull one for the Scottish
monarch; and after being deprived of his favourite pastime, he
sometimes found the exercise even of his "Kingcraft," as he termed the
art of government, so tedious as to require relief, and the labours of
learned dullness, in which at other times he indulged, very wearisome.

When this was the case, he would often retire for a day or two, either
to Falkland or to Stirling, with a few chosen attendants or
companions, to see how his "_beasties_" were going on, or rather to
revive the memories of the sport in which he delighted, by the sight
of gray woods in their winter bareness, and of the antlered objects of
his pursuit stalking about familiarly through the glades at a period
when they knew, by experience or tradition, they were free from the
hostility of men and dogs. The king had that sort of tender admiration
for the objects of his sanguinary pursuit, that strange mixture of
affection and cruelty, which is not uncommon in the human tiger
throughout the world. The libertine, with the creature of his
pleasure, whom he chases but to destroy, affords merely a modification
of the same selfishness, and no one could probably have entered into
James's feelings more fully than good old Buffon himself, who begins
his description of the stag with the kindly words, "Voici l'un de ces
animaux innocents, doux et tranquilles, qui ne semblent être faits que
pour embellir, animer la solitude des forêts, et occuper loin de nous
les retraites paisibles de ces jardins de la nature;" and then he
gives an account of the best and most approved means of tearing it to
pieces.

However, it was in one of the alleys of the park or wood of Falkland
that King James wandered on, in the latter end of February, 1600.
Where he first entered the wood, the underwood was not very thick, and
the sharp winter, just drawing to a close, had torn from the branches
to which they clung many of the leaves which, like shipwrecked
mariners, had held feebly on long after their brethren had been swept
away. By his side, or rather half a step behind, was a young man,
dressed, like the monarch himself, in Lincoln green, and some fifty
paces further back was a well-armed attendant. The period at which the
stags are dangerous had long passed, indeed; but still James was not
usually ill pleased to have aid ever at hand in case of need, for he
was accustomed to say himself, "there are more vicious beasts in the
world than harts and hinds." His pace was quick, though, as usual,
shambling and irregular, and as he went he rolled his eyes about in
every direction in search of some of the beasts of the chase.

"Whist, whist, Jock," he said at length, pausing, and pointing with
his finger; "there's a fine fellow--an old stag, upon my life, as fat
as the butterman's wife. De'il's in the beastie! he's casting his head
gear already. Do you see, man, one side is as bare as my hand? We
shall have an early summer and a hot one. Whenever the old stags, or
the stags of ten, cast their horns before March, you may be sure there
will be an early season. The young ones are always a bit later; but
that's an old hart coming his ninth year. I'll warrant he's been down
every morn to neighbour Yellowly's farm at the water, by the grease
upon him. Let me catch you in the month of June, my man."

The king then went on to instruct his young companion in various parts
of science connected with his favourite amusement, giving him all the
French and Scotch and English terms for different proceedings in
woodcraft, and for the qualities and distinctions of the deer.

The young man listened with all due submission and apparent attention,
though, to say truth, he was somewhat impatient of the lecture, and
thought that he understood the subject, practically at least, as well
as the king himself. There was another source of impatience also in
his bosom, for the truth was, he eagerly sought an opportunity of
speaking upon a different topic; while the profound reverence for the
kingly office, in which he had been educated, prevented him from
introducing it himself, till the monarch's own words gave him some
fair opening. He had watched his opportunity for weeks, but something
had always intervened to prevent his executing his purpose; and now
when he had fully expected to find the moment he sought, during the
expedition to Falkland, it seemed likely to be snatched from him by
James's long-winded dissertation upon hunting. He could almost have
burst forth with some impatient exclamation as the king went on
discussing and describing, and mingling his disquisitions with quaint
scraps of Latin most strangely applied; but the opportunity was nearer
than the young man thought.

"You see, Jock," said the king, "a young stag, or a stag entering ten,
or even a stag of ten, may be forced and run and brought to bay easily
enough; but an old stag is a wily beast, ever on his guard, and ready
at every minute to give the dogs and the hunter the change. He knows
well where his enemies lie, which way they will take, what they will
do, and how to circumvent them."

"He must be very like your majesty, then," said the young man, with a
low bow, adding, "at least, I hope so."

"Ha, man, what's that?" cried the king, looking round; but before John
Ramsay could answer, the king had plunged into woodcraft again. "In
the season when people cannot hunt," continued James, "he'll come out
to the edge of the wood, or into the fields, and nibble the young
corn. I've known one rout out an old wife's kail-yard; but as soon as
the month of May begins, back goes the sleek fellow into the very
heart of the woods and parks, and then you have to track him step by
step, mark all his footprints, and sometimes in hot weather trace them
contrariwise over the dry ground, in order to put the dogs on where
the scent lies. Eh, man, he's a wary beast, and takes every means to
hide his comings in and his goings out."

"So do some of your Majesty's enemies," said the young man, with
peculiar emphasis; and James's attention was now fully caught.

"Ha! say you so, Jock?" cried the monarch, with a start. "There's
something thou hast to say, lad--out with it, in God's name. You love
your king well, I do believe. Come, tell the whole--keep farther back,
Sanderson," he continued, raising his voice, and speaking to the man
who followed. "Now, Jock, now, let's hear it all, and if you do your
duty faithfully you have the king's favour."

"My duty I will do whether or no," answered the young man, bluntly. "I
love your majesty too well to keep anything back from you, even should
it make you think me indiscreet; and I know that your wisdom will soon
see that which my poor wit cannot divine. I have had some doubts, as
to whether I may not be doing wrong, in my own thoughts, to a noble
gentleman; but if I tell you just what I have heard, which is my
bounden duty, your majesty will soon see and judge which is the right
of it all."

"That's a good lad--that's a good lad," repeated the king. "We will
soon clear the matter up when we know the whole, and act according to
judgment and reason. Kings were appointed of God, the judges of all
things upon earth; but how should they judge if they do not hear? Now
tell me, man, who it is you suspect. There are in every kingdom a
great many fools who are always getting into mischief from want of
wit, and a great many born devils always egging them on."

"I don't know that I've a right to say that I _suspect_ the Earl of
Gowrie," replied the young man; but the king instantly interrupted
him, exclaiming, with a violent oath, "Why, what the de'il do you know
about Gowrie? I had thought that all his tricks were known to myself
alone--but what have you to say concerning him?"

"If your majesty knows all his proceedings," answered John Ramsay, "I
have nought to say. The matter is in good hands."

"But how can you tell I know all about the matter, Gabie?" asked the
king, impatiently. "Speak out, man--speak out."

"Well, then, I would humbly ask your majesty," continued Ramsay,
remembering the instructions he had received, "whether you are aware
that during the whole time the earl was in Paris, he was in continual
connexion with the English ambassador, Sir Henry Neville, seeing him
every day, and that he only thought fit to wait upon your majesty's
ambassador once?"

"Ay, did he so?" said James, musing. "He may find that he cannot
lightly his own born sovereign without scathe. How got ye knowledge of
this, man? You've no been in Paris yourself, unless you can be in two
places at once."

"I had a cousin there at the time, your majesty, and he tells me that
the thing was commonly remarked and talked about. Then I understand
that her majesty, the Queen of England, showed somewhat more honour
and grace to this Earl of Gowrie than one of your majesty's subjects
should willingly have received."

"Ay, poor fellow, he couldn't help that," said the king, with a
curious grin at his own affectation of candour. "If our good titty and
aunt, Queen Elizabeth, like the other wild jade, Fortune, will thrust
honours upon a man who does not want them, he must take them as they
come. But what did she do that was worthy of mark?"

John Ramsay, in reply, recapitulated all that his cousin had told him;
and, more from James's manner than any words that escaped him, judged
the communication gave the monarch a slight uneasiness. The king, as
was common with him when internally agitated, hurried his sort of
limping pace into the thicker wood, pulling the sides of his breeches
at the same time, and mumbling inward comments, of which not one word
could be distinctly heard. Then sitting down on a broad stone bench,
which stood at the side of the avenue, near a spot where a lateral
alley branched off, he impatiently bade his companion go on, although
the young man was already speaking as fast as he could.

"The only thing more I have heard, sire," said John Ramsay, who had by
this time well-nigh finished his tale, "is that the earl was in
constant communication, and that of a secret kind, with Sir Robert
Cecil, the Earl of Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Lord Cobham."

"The devil is in those fellows," said the king, abruptly. "They betray
every one, first their own mistress, and then their own friend.
They've softened all down to me; but I saw through them, lad, even
before what you have told me. They could not blind my eyes so as
to prevent my finding out that there was more under their fine
speeches.--But you've got something else to say, Jock. I see it in
your face, man.--Out with it!"

"It was only this, your majesty," replied the young man, "and I don't
know, indeed, whether it is necessary to say it, for your wisdom needs
no guidance; but the fact is, all the information I have received,
comes from my cousin Newburn."

"None the worse for that, man, I dare say," said the king. "Why should
not your cousin Newburn tell truth, as well as another, Jock
Ramshackle?"

"I have thought, since I spoke with him, sire," answered Ramsay, "that
he may be a little prejudiced, for he and the earl, it seems, are not
on the best terms, one of the earl's men having nearly killed him in a
dispute about a lady travelling under the earl's escort. Besides, my
brother Dalhousie is a great friend of the earl's, and thinks very
well of him."

"Tell your brother not to take his lot with him," said James, sharply.
"He does not know what he mints at; and he'll bring himself to bad
bread before he's done.--A lady, did you say? What lady might that be,
I should like to know? Odds life! I trust he'll bring none of his
Italian limmers here, or he'll have the kirk session on his back."

"They say she is a cousin of his own," said Ramsay, in a doubtful
tone, "and that one of her relations in Italy dying, while the earl
was there, committed her on his death bed to the earl's charge. They
call her the Lady Julia Douglas."

"Whew!" cried the king, adding a long whistle, as if he were calling
back a falcon. "So, my bonny bird, we shall get you at last. The Lady
Julia Douglas! Why, this is the very lass, I'll pawn my ears, that
Arran, poor body, was looking for so felly some eighteen years ago.
Mayhap we shall hear something now; we shall get some inkling of all
Morton's treasures which we could never lay hand on. This must be
thought of quickly. We must have the lady in our own ward, Ramsay, for
we are sair pressed for siller just now. I'll away to Edinburgh this
very night, and see to this matter. Why, that man Morton had gathered
together, what by scarting and what by nipping, enough to replenish
the treasury of Scotland for a twelvemonth, and yet when he went to
take the last kiss of the maiden of Halifax, he had not money enough
in his pouch to pay the hangman. All that he had was forfeited to the
crown, being attainted as a traitor; but he had either hidden all his
gold away, or else the Italian lady and her father had carried it away
with them, for we could never find so much as a crown piece, and I can
tell you it sat ill upon my stomach and Arran's too. He was a feckless
poor body, that Arran, or he'd have never let the old count and his
daughter and the bairn get away. But we must watch for this good earl
and the pretty lady, and we'll soon find out where the money is."

"Shall I set out at once, sir, with a party of the guard?" asked
Ramsay, ever ready for action. "I'll arrest the earl the moment he
sets foot in Scotland, if your majesty will but warrant me."

"Fie, now, lad. What a rash fool thou art!" said James, in a
good-humoured tone. "No, no, boy. We must trust things that require to
be done fair and softly to older and cooler heads than thine. There
must be no violence, no show of force; but we must get the lady into
our own ward cannily and quietly, and then deal with the earl
afterwards, as he comports himself. I tell thee what, Jock," he
continued, stretching out his hand, and pinching the young man's
cheek, "I would not have all the wealth of the old regent Morton go to
swell the riches of Gowrie for one half of Perthshire. They are too
rich and powerful already, those Ruthvens; and I'll have no new
Douglases rising up in the land to outshine their king and beard him
too. They used to call Dalkeith the lion's den, when Morton had it;
but I'm not fond of such wild beasts, and these Ruthvens are a bit of
the same breed. No, no; we'll take care of the lady, and provide for
her marriage; but it shan't be to a Ruthven."

As the king spoke he rose, as if he were going to walk away, but the
next moment he stopped, and turned round to his young companion,
saying, "Now mind, Jock, what I'm going to bid you, and see that you
obey. Hold your tongue about all that has passed between you and the
king. Say not a word to any one, whatever you may see or hear; and
above all things keep your hands, and your tongue too, off young Alex
Ruthven, whom you are always bickering with, I'll take my own time,
man; and depend upon it, if I want anything that requires a strong
hand and a bold heart, and love and affection to a sovereign, I'll
send for you, Jock; so you keep quiet and bide your time, as I shall
bide mine. Kingcraft teaches a man patience, Jockie Ramshackle; but
you'll need an awful quantity of drilling."

Thus saying, the king moved on along the avenue, till he came to the
corner of the cross alley which I have mentioned, where he suddenly
started and turned pale, on seeing a man, and that man a stranger,
approaching with an easy, sauntering step, and within some five or six
yards of him. With the impulse of courage, Ramsay, who was a little
behind, placed himself at once at the king's side, although he could
not but see there was no danger, for the stranger was quite unarmed;
and James, at the same time, becoming conscious of that fact also,
recovered his courage, and said, in a low tone, "Whist, man! wha the
de'il is this, I wonder? Haud your tongue--he's going to speer
something at us."

"I say, old gentleman," said the stranger, "I wish you would tell me
my way out of this place, for I've lost myself, and cannot get back to
the palace."

Now it is to be remarked, that James was not at this time an old
gentleman, being then in his thirty-fourth year; but his hair was
somewhat gray already, and the strange and awkward form of dress which
he affected--quilted, loose, not always in very good repair, and here
and there somewhat greasy--gave him the appearance of being at least
twenty years older than he really was. Ramsay's cheek reddened at the
man's familiar address to his sovereign; but James made him a sign to
be quiet; and the stranger went on in the same cavalier tone, saying,
"It's a long lane that has never a turning; but this has so many
turnings, that it is as bad as the labyrinth of Didymus."

"Dædalus, you mean, young man," answered the king; "and you yourself
make an ugly sort of Theseus, though I am not quite so frightful as
the Minotaur."

"I never heard of that gentleman," answered the stranger; "but I dare
say he was ugly enough. However, handsome is who handsome does; and if
he behaved well in his capacity, no one could blame him for not being
pretty. You cannot have more of a cat than its skin, or comb a monkey
that has got no hair. However, I want very much to find my way out of
this place, for like many another pretty piece of work that man gets
into, it is easier in than out."

"I should like to know how you did get in," answered James, who was
exceedingly amused. "You must have got over the wall, I think."

"Not I," answered the man; "I came round by the stables, and through
the back court; but what signifies it to you how I got in?"

"It signifies very much," cried Ramsay, fiercely, for his blood had
continued boiling during the whole conversation, at what he considered
the man's insolence.

But James interposed, exclaiming, "Hout, lad, keep your breath to cool
your porridge. How can the man tell that I am the head keeper? He's
clearly a stranger here, by his tongue."

"Oh, if you are the head keeper, that makes all the difference,"
answered the other. "I know what belongs to parks as well as any one;
and the head keeper is always a very reverend gentleman in my eyes. A
man should never quarrel with his bread and butter; and I've often got
a capital venison steak for being civil to the head keeper. So, sir,
I'll tell you I got quite honestly in, as you can learn yourself, if
you go back with me to the palace. I've brought a letter from my lord
to his majesty the king, and as I've long had a great wish to see him,
I told a lie, and said I was to deliver it myself; but the people at
the palace told me that his majesty was busy in his cabinet on affairs
of state."

"The lying loons!" muttered James, with a laugh.

"And so," continued the other, "I just put up my horse at the hostel,
and walked through the gates into the park."

"And so you had a great desire to see the king, had you?" said James.
"What might that be for? Why should you want to see him more than any
other man?"

"For three reasons," answered the other; "because they say he is as
wise as King Solomon; because he's fond of proverbs; and because he's
the greatest hunter upon earth since Nimrod."

James chuckled, till his quilted doublet shook; and then he asked,
"Who told you all this?"

"Why, my lord, the Earl of Gowrie," answered the man; and the king
instantly turned a sharp and meaning glance to Ramsay's countenance.

"And so he told you," he said, "that the king was as wise as Solomon?
Faith, my man, though I love the king, who is my master, as well as
any man in the realm can love him, yet I think your lord was a little
bit mistaken to tell you so."

"He didn't exactly tell me so," answered Austin Jute, whom the reader
has already discovered, "but he told others so within my hearing."

"Then he followed the counsel of King Solomon himself," answered
James; "and he must be a wise man, too. He spoke not ill of princes, I
mean, otherwise would the birds of the air have carried the matter."

"Now, Heaven forbid that he should speak ill of his own born
sovereign," answered Austin Jute, "or think ill of him either; but I
pray you, good sir, without more conference, tell me my way out, for I
fear that the king may go forth; and I have got to ride far to-night."

"What, you ride toward Berwick by the gloaming, I'se warrant?" said
James.

"No, not so," replied Austin Jute. "I'm away across the country to
Carlisle, and hope to meet my lord just as he crosses the border."

"Ay, comes he by Carlisle?" said the king; "but it's a wild country
thereabout, my man. Aren't you afraid to ride without any arms?"

As he spoke, he moved down the avenue, back towards the palace; and
Austin Jute followed, saying, "I have got sword and buckler at the
hostel, and know how to use them at a pinch, I trust. He who bides a
blow may spare a buffet; but you see, sir, I thought it was not right
for a man of my condition to approach the king's palace with arms on
my back, so I left all those things at the hostel till I had delivered
the letter.--Now there goes a fine stag, upon my life! I would fain be
as near him some fine summer's day, with a bow in my hand, and liberty
to shoot."

"I should like to see thee right well," said the king; "and if thou
comest here to me at Falkland some summer day, thou shalt have leave
and licence to pick out three fat bucks, and kill them, if thou canst,
with three arrows, but the first shaft that fails, so ceases thine
archery."

"Agreed, agreed," cried Austin Jute, tossing up his cap in the air,
and catching it again. "Thank thee, master keeper. If I pick thee not
out some fine venison, or if I miss one buck, say there is no archer
left in Lincolnshire; and thou shalt set up the horns over thy door,
and give a pasty to the poor men of the village, that once in their
lives they may taste king's meat."

"Soul and body! and so I will," cried the king, taking part in his
enthusiasm; "and thou shalt have two crowns into the bargain, for each
buck thou killest."

"Two crowns!" cried Austin Jute, taking a step back, and gazing at his
companion. "That's good pay, master keeper, considering that the
umbels are my own by old forest law."

"Well, well," said the king, "'twas a rash promise; but I like to see
a good shaft shot as well as any man--don't look round, lad, for I'm
taking thee straight to the palace--there you see the windows. Never
mind that man; he's only one of the under keepers."

And as they passed the attendant, who had followed the king in his
walk, the man dropped behind, and took up his station at the same
distance as before.

"I've a notion," said Austin Jute, with his cap in his hand, "that
eagles would be taken for rooks by foolish men, if they hid themselves
in rooks' feathers."

"So thou hast brought a letter from the Earl of Gowrie," said James,
without noticing the quaint observation, though it sufficiently
indicated that his real rank was now suspected. "Well, he is a right
loyal and well disposed young lord, I have heard. Have you got the
letter with you?"

"It is here, sir," answered Austin Jute, producing it.

"Let me see it, let me see it," said the king.

The man hesitated for a moment, and then dropped upon his knee,
saying, "I beseech you, sir, to pardon me; but I have strange doubts I
must have offended--unwittingly, as you will well believe--if you be
really, as I now think, the king's majesty. But your attendants
assured me confidently that you were busy in your cabinet on matters
of great moment; otherwise I should never have ventured into your
royal park."

"God's blessing on the vermin!" said the king, "for they have made me
a merry minute or two. Give me the letter, man. I am the king; and for
your mistakes you have our grace and pardon, for a dusty doublet may
well cheat a man of no great conveyance."

Thus saying, he opened the letter and read. The tenour was as follows:


"Please your Majesty,

"If the bestowing of great benefits should move the receivers thereof
to be thankful to the givers, I have many extraordinary occasions to
be thankful to your Majesty; not only being favoured with the benefit
of your Majesty's good countenance at all times myself, but also, that
it hath pleased your Majesty to advance my brother and my sister to
great grace at your royal court. Being anxious to give some more
certain sign and vive testimony to your Majesty of my devotion to your
royal person, I am now hastening to cast myself at your feet, in the
hope that it may please you to command me in anything whereby your
Majesty may have a proof of my prompt and faithful obedience in all
things that may tend to your Majesty's satisfaction, together with the
weal and prosperity of the realm.

"In the meantime I repose myself still in your Majesty's constant
favour, till God grants that I shall see your Majesty in so good a
state as I wish, which will give me the greatest contentment of all.

"So earnestly craving Heaven to bless your Majesty with all felicity
and satisfaction in health, and with an increase of many prosperous
days, I kiss most devoutly your Majesty's hands.

"Your Majesty's most humble subject, and obedient servant in all
devotion,"
           "GOWRIE."


"A right loyal and faithful letter," said the king. "Now walk straight
forward into the house, my friend. Fill thy stomach at the larder. Get
thee a good cup of wine at the buttery, and away with thee at once, to
tell thy lord that the king is well pleased at his return, and waits
impatiently to consult with him and other good lords upon many things
concerning the good of the state. Tell him, however, that he will not
find us here at our palace at Falkland, but at our poor house in
Edinburgh--which, if he have any grace left," he added, in a low voice
to Ramsay, "he will not like to walk about so well. Bid him make haste
and come to us straight, for we are anxious for his presence, and
desirous to show him favour.--Away with you, my man!"

The king waited till Austin Jute had taken somewhat more than a
hundred paces along the avenue, and then said in a low voice, to
Ramsay, "This earl is a false loon, Jock. See here what he says--that
he is willing to show prompt obedience in all things that may tend to
our satisfaction, together with the weal and prosperity of the realm.
That's just their hypocritical talk when they intend to play the
traitor. They always find something which is required for the weal and
benefit of the realm, which may thwart their own natural prince, whom
God appointed to rule over them, and made his vicegerent upon earth.
He'd never have put in these words, Jock, if he were not minded to do
all he can to cross us. A dour divot, just like all those Ruthvens. I
can smell him out as well as my brack Barleycorn can smell the foot of
one of those beasties."

"I hope your majesty will let him feel that it is so," said Ramsay,
"and teach him that he cannot cross his king with impunity."

"No, no, lad. I shall handle him after my own way," said the king.
"Have you never seen a bairn stroking bawdrans up the wrong way? So
I'll just cross the grain with him in all kingly courtesy, then we
shall soon see whether he turns dorty upon us, and then will be the
time to wind off the pirn. But come along, Jockie, it's time that we
should get home, for I must see to this lassy he's got with him. It
may be she, I think--it may not; but if it be, it's high time to care
for her."

Thus saying, the king walked on hastily, and, by a small side-door,
entered the palace. Immediately after, some of his attendants were
called to his presence, and questioned regarding the account which
Austin Jute had given of himself. All they could tell, however, was
that he had brought a letter from the Earl of Gowrie, and had said
that he had been to Holyrood, but finding the king absent at Falkland,
had come on direct. On this James made no comment, but, somewhat to
the surprise of his attendants, ordered everything to be prepared for
immediate departure for Edinburgh.



CHAPTER XXIII.


Austin Jute's horse was a strong one, but it was hardly strong enough
for his purpose. Austin Jute's own frame was hardened by much
exercise, but it was barely firm enough to endure what he imposed upon
it. He left the presence of the king with a very quiet though a quick
step; and had the eye of James traced him along the avenue, he would
have seen that easy, jaunty, somewhat self-satisfied air, which was
natural to him--and is to most men who have always a proverb under
their hand for a walking-stick--not in the least diminished by his
late interview. But, alas! that which was natural to him at other
times was now assumed. He would not have drooped a feather at that
moment for the world. Even when he had reached the little hostel or
inn, which had been set up as near the gates of the palace as decency
permitted, and to say truth, by the connivance of the king's
comptroller, somewhat nearer than in strictness it should have been,
he maintained his gay and quite-at-ease demeanour: laughed with the
good man of the house, eat something which had been prepared for him
during his absence, and seemed to be trifling away his time, when
suddenly a large clock, which then graced the front of the palace,
struck one, and Austin started up with a look of surprise.

"Gads, my life!" he exclaimed, "is that one o'clock?"

"Oo, ay," replied the host, "that's the knock's just chappit ane."

"Then I'm an hour behind," cried Austin; and paying his score with due
attention, he mounted and rode away, merely asking, in a common-place
tone, which was his shortest road towards Carlisle.

His movements were all reported in the palace before half an hour was
over; but when it was found that he had made inquiries about the
Carlisle road, no further questions were put. But Austin Jute did not
long continue on the road he first took. He had learned by some
experience in his various travels to foil pursuit, even in countries
that he did not know; and he was soon riding on a bridle path towards
Lesslie, going on at a quick but not a violent pace, anxious to
advance as rapidly as possible, but not to knock up his beast before
he reached his journey's end.

To all human creatures whom he met on the road, to innkeepers, and
even inn-keepers' daughters, he was uncommonly taciturn; but with his
horse he held long conversations, which seemed to comfort the poor
animal greatly.

"Well, you got over that last mile bravely, Sorrel," he would say; "a
good heart's worth a peck of provender. But a peck you shall have at
the very next village. If we cannot get oats we can get meal, that's
one comfort, in Scotland. Thank Heaven, you are no way dainty, and I
dare say would drink a stoup of Bordeaux wine if we could find it.
Perhaps we may, too, at the next town. We never know where good luck
lies."

He kept his word, and the horse justified his good opinion; for the
wine was procured, and the beast drank it, seeming as much revived
thereby as if wine were made to cheer the heart of beast as well as
man.

On, on, the pair went, however; and as they passed over one of those
wild moors, neither then nor now unfrequent in the land of cakes,
Austin began to tell the good stout horse all about his interview with
King James, in the full confidence he would never repeat it.

"I think I managed that right well, Sorrel," he said. "The covetous
thief never dreamt that I knew him all the time, and had heard every
word he said for a long while before. By cock and pie, if he had, I
should have had both my ears slit, I'll warrant; the right ear for
eaves-dropping, and the left for calling him 'old gentleman.'--You
answer never a word, Sorrel. That's poor encouragement for a man to
tell a merry tale. If thou wouldst but give a horse-laugh or anything,
I would say thou art a witty beast and understandest a joke. But thou
art weary, poor fellow," he added, patting the horse's neck, "and yet
thou must go many a mile further ere morning. A merciful man is
merciful to his beast; but I must not be merciful to thee, or my dear
lord and lady may suffer, and thou wouldst not like that, Sorrel.
Well, well, take the hill easily, then; I will get off and walk by thy
side. Here's a pool of water, thou shalt have a drink."

In this sort went he on; and it is not too much to say, that by such
cheerful conversation and a great number of little attentions, he kept
up both his own spirit and the horse's.

It is no slight distance from Falkland to Berwick, take it which way
one will; but when the distance was aggravated by having to cross the
Firth of Forth, an operation disagreeable both to man and beast, it
may easily be conceived that Austin's expectation of reaching Berwick
before the next morning was a bold one. His journey also had been
increased by the detour he had made at first setting out, and by a
ride of five-and-twenty miles or more in the morning. He reached
Kinghorn, however, about half-past three; and there, after sundry
inquiries as to his best course, hired one of those large and
excellent boats for which the place was famous, to put him over to
Prestonpans. The wind was low but favourable, the sea calm, and
neither Austin nor his horse suffered so much as might have been
expected; but still, the poor animal showed no great inclination to go
farther forward that night. He eat his provender, however, with a good
appetite, that surest sign of a horse not being near the foundering
stage; and after an hour and a half's rest, the traveller set out once
more by the light of the stars. Sorrel bore up well to Haddington, but
between that place and Dunbar, his pace grew slower and more slow,
till at length it fell into a walk.

"Well, I will not hurry thee, Sorrel," said Austin, "thou hast gone
good sixty miles to-day, besides two ferries, and if we get to Dunbar
'tis but thirty more to Berwick. It cannot be eight o'clock yet, and
thou shalt have some hours' rest."

Thus saying, he dismounted, and walked by the beast's side for the
next five miles, till the sound of the ocean beating with a heavy
murmur on the shore showed him that the town of Dunbar was near; and
in a moment after he saw a light here and a light there, at no great
distance before him. Mounting his horse, he rode quietly in, and
stopped a sober citizen, who, with a lantern in his hand, was taking
his way through the unlighted streets.

In answer to his inquiry for the best inn, the good man, as usual,
directed him "straight on," adding the invariable "you cannot miss
it."

He was so far right, however, that Austin did not miss it, and riding
into the open yard, was soon in possession of the landlord and his
myrmidons.

"Ae, ye've a tired beast there," said the good man, "and we must find
a stall for him, though we've more than we can well lodge already; for
the great Earl of Gowrie came in an hour or two ago with all his
people."

"No, not with all of them," answered Austin Jute, "for I am one; and I
hope and trust that the earl has not gone to bed yet, for I have kind
greetings to him from the king's majesty, which I ought to give as
soon as may be."

"In bed!" cried the landlord. "Fie! His supper's just put on, and the
auld man has hardly finished his thanks yet for the good meat."

"If that's the case I'll let him have his meal in peace," answered
Austin, "and after I have seen to poor Sorrel, you shall take me where
the other servants are, that I may have some meat too; for, to say
sooth, I've had but one cup of bad wine and a morsel since daylight."

"That is the way servants treat their lords," thought the host; "here
is this man has a message even from the king himself, and he must
first fill his beast's stomach, and then his own before he delivers
it."

But he did good Austin Jute injustice, for without a strong motive he
would have gone fasting to bed, rather than have provided for his own
wants--whatever he might have done for his horse's--before he
fulfilled his duty to his master. But, to say truth, he had a
disinclination to the presence of Mr. Rhind when his tale was to be
told, and having, with that acuteness which the lower orders exercise
more frequently upon the higher than the higher imagine, acquired a
thorough knowledge not only of Mr. Rhind's character but of all his
little habits, he calculated very accurately what would be his
proceedings. "He has had a long ride," thought Austin; "he will eat a
good supper; he will drink a good cup of wine; and then he will go to
bed directly. I must spend my time as best I may till then, and when
the coast is clear, go in and tell my tale. It must be a long one."

"Don't you say a word of my arrival, good host," he continued, perhaps
gathering from the landlord's countenance what was passing in his
mind, and "fooling him to the top of his bent." "Servants must feed,
you know, as well as their masters, and if they know I'm here, I may
be sent for, and kept an hour before I get a bit of meat and a crust
of bread between my grinders."

"Well, well," said the host, with a sigh; and after Austin had seen
the corn duly poured out under Sorrel's nose, he was led into the inn
kitchen, where he was at once received with such a shout of
gratulation by his fellows, as to show the host that his new guest was
a favourite with his equals, whatever he might be with his superiors.

Austin eat his supper in peace and merriment, jesting gaily with all
around him, but still carrying on a course of under-thought in his own
mind till his meat was finished, and then the landlord thought fit to
hint that it might be as well for him to deliver his message, hoping
perchance to hear the terms thereof; and the words of a king were
great in the eyes of a Scottish host in those days.

"Your lord has all but done, I can tell you, my man," he said.

"Ay, all but and well nigh," said Austin; "has the old gentleman gone
to bed yet? Supper is not over till he's gone, I think."

"No, he's not gone yet," answered the host, "but he's just dawdling
over some nuts."

"Well, then, he'll entertain my lord till I've taken another cup,"
replied Austin Jute; and he set himself to work again to make his
companions laugh, with an affectation of insolence he did not really
feel.

A minute or two after, however, the landlord returned, saying, "The
old gentleman's gone now--and I'm thinking you had better not let your
lord know how long you've been here."

"Oh dear, yes, I shall," replied the servant, starting up at once. "I
never hide anything from him, Master Host, whatever you may think;"
and away he went, without pause or hesitation.



CHAPTER XXIV.


The supper had been gay and cheerful, the materials better than might
have been expected in a small country inn of Scotland at the beginning
of the seventeenth century; and Julia and Gowrie were alone once more,
for Mr. Rhind had now become quite accustomed to his position, and
forgetting all his sage decorums, consulted little but his own ease.
The night was cold and clear, the fire in the large open chimney
blazed bright and cheerfully, and a gay and happy sensation, as if the
presentiment of coming joy, was in the heart both of the lady and of
her lover. When they crossed the border, indeed, and re-entered the
native land of both, their feelings had been different; a sort of
dread had come upon Julia's mind--that kind of oppressive sensation
which often overpowers us when some great fact, to which we have long
looked forward, is accomplished, deciding our destiny for ever, and
yet leaving the results hidden in darkness till they are evolved by
time. When Gowrie had said, "Here we are, in Scotland," the land of
her fathers, where they had ruled, and bled, and suffered--the land
where her own fate was to be worked out; where the brightest happiness
which the wildest flight of her young fancy could reach, or the
deepest grief which a fearful heart could portray, was to be enjoyed
or endured; an overpowering impression of great things, past and to
come, fell upon her for an instant, and she could hardly sit her
horse.

The feelings of Gowrie were somewhat similar. After a long absence,
he, too, was returning to his native land. With him, too, there was
much that was painful in the history of the past. In this land his
father had perished on the scaffold; from it that father's father had
fled an exile to linger out a few short years of sickness in a foreign
country; while many and many a relation and friend had here wetted the
scaffold with their blood. What was before himself? he asked; and as
he crossed the frontier, he strove to cast his eye forward, as if to
penetrate the dark and heavy veil which hides the future of all mortal
fate: nor did he do so without dread.

Such feelings, however, had passed away. The morning had been clear,
though cold. The scenes through which they passed were fair enough,
and there was that blue freshness in the hues of the bright wintry
landscape which compensates, in some degree, for the warmer colouring
of the summer. All had gone well, too, on the road. Nothing had
occurred to harass or disturb. The delicate complexion of the
beautiful girl, nurtured under a softer sky, had acquired a brighter
glow in the bracing influence of the northern air, and she looked
lovelier than ever in Gowrie's eyes; while, as she turned a look to
him, he seemed to ride with that prouder air which one ever feels
inclined to assume when, after a long absence, we again tread the land
of our birth and of our love.

Thus, by the time they reached the inn for the night, all dark fancies
had been swept away; and now they sat with their feet to the bright
lire, and with their hearts overflowing with those words of love which
had been repressed during the day by the presence of another.

Austin Jute, Austin Jute, stay where you are for an hour! Break not
yet the spell of happy dreams--cloud not yet the gleam of wintry
sunshine. Let no shadow cross their path!

But it must not be. There was a tap at the door, and Lord Gowrie
raised his head, and looked round with some surprise, saying, "Come
in."

"I have ventured to intrude upon you, my lord," said Austin Jute,
"having a message from his majesty, the king----"

At that moment he was followed into the room by the good host, who at
once began to bustle with cups and platters; but Gowrie turned,
saying, as he saw his servant stop suddenly, "You can leave those
things, Master Fairbairn. I will send for you when I want them
removed."

The man retired slowly and ill pleased, and Gowrie made a sign to
Austin to go on; but the man paused for an instant, and then
approached the door, saying, in a low voice, "By your leave, my good
lord, I will see that there be no eaves-droppers."

There was no one at the back of the door; but the light that streamed
out shone upon the figure of the landlord at the end of the passage.
Austin stood for a moment and stared at him with a full, determined,
pertinacious gaze, till the man, somewhat disconcerted, walked slowly
and sulkily down the stairs.

Then returning close to his lord's chair, and shutting the door behind
him, Austin said, "I have a great deal to tell you, my lord, and have
made haste to get back."

"The king's message first, good Austin. What said his majesty?"

"Oh, fine things, my lord," answered Austin Jute. "It's a bad mercer's
where there's no silk, and a poor court where there are no courtesies.
The king was full of delectable speeches upon your lordship's graces
and fine qualities; and he bids you hasten on to his presence with all
speed, as he wishes to consult you upon many things."

"What, then, you saw his majesty in person?" said Gowrie.

"Ay, did I," answered Austin Jute, "and heard him, too, and that
before he knew it. Thus I had the sauce to my salmon ready made--that
is to say, the interpretation of his majesty's speeches before they
were spoken."

"Explain, explain," said Gowrie, somewhat eagerly. "I trust that thou
hast committed no new imprudence, Austin?"

"Oh no, my good lord," answered the man. "I never commit any
imprudences on your account: it is only on my own I venture. I would
not play at pitch and toss with your fortunes as I do with mine for
half your lordship's estate. But the matter is this: I went to
Edinburgh as you told me, but at the palace--Holyrood, as they call
it--I found that the king had gone the day before to another place
called Falkland, and making myself familiar with the porter, I heard
all about it, as how King James V. had died there----But that as
nothing to do with the matter; so on with my tale. Well, this morning
early, I set off for Falkland with the letter, taking----"

"This morning early?" said Gowrie. "Thou hast had a long journey for a
winter's day----Stay, stay, my Julia. This may be news for you also."

"It is, indeed, my lord," answered Austin Jute, with a bow to the
lady; "and I have, as your lordship said, had a long journey, for I
took my way round that my horse and myself might have as little water
as possible. Well, I got to Falkland about ten o'clock, and a fine
place it is, better than Eltham a great deal. When I got there, I left
my horse and my sword at the inn, brushed the dust off my jerkin, and
went away to the palace. Well, I asked to see the king."

"Asked to see the king!" exclaimed Gowrie, almost angry; "in Heaven's
name, man, what were you thinking of! Do you suppose that the king
sees every servant who brings a letter of compliment from a gentleman
of his court? You should have given it to an usher, or some other
officer."

"Upon my life, my lord, I know not what possessed me," answered Austin
Jute, "unless, indeed, it was that the porter at Holyrood told me the
king had got a gentleman of the name of Ramsay with him, and the name
of our friend in Paris was Ramsay too. So I wanted to see what was
going on--I always want to know what is going on. However, the people
at the palace told me that the king was very busy in his cabinet,
transacting affairs of state. I answered, I would wait his majesty's
pleasure, or come back again in an hour. Thereat the men laughed,
which was not very civil, and told me I had better come back. Taking
them at their word, I left the door, and was going back to the inn,
when seeing some horses led about near one corner of the building, I
concluded that there must lie the stable, and always having a love for
horses, I went away thither to see if there was anything worth looking
at. I found nobody there; but saw a door open, with a view into a park
beyond, so I judged I might as well take a walk."

"Upon my life, I wonder thou hast come back with thine ears on," said
Gowrie.

"One is born with luck, though years bring learning," replied Austin
Jute; "and luck befriended me, my lord, all the way through. First I
came to a garden with some fine trees in it. I did not know there were
any such in Scotland; and then I walked across a wild piece of ground
towards a thick wood I saw some way off, about a third of a mile or
so. Well, it was a mighty pleasant wood, with a great many of the
brown leaves still hanging upon the underwood, and alleys and avenues
cut very nicely. I wandered here and I wandered there, till at last,
when I wanted to get out, I could not find the way; and suddenly, just
as I was going out of one alley into another, I heard two people
speaking, and I stopped----"

"To eavesdrop," said Gowrie, with a glowing cheek; "for shame of
yourself, sir!"

"Well, it is a bad habit, my lord," said Austin; "but all servants
have it; and in this instance it is lucky I gave way to it."

"Tell me nothing about it," said Gowrie. "I will not have it said----"

"My lord, you must hear," replied the man, firmly. "If you drive your
dagger into me the next minute, you shall hear what I have to say, for
this dear lady's safety and your own, and the happiness of both,
depend upon it. If people will take double ways with you, you must
take double ways with them; and I tell you the king is putting on a
fair face to you, but intends you ill."

Julia dropped her head upon her hand, with a cheek which had lost the
rose; and Gowrie, after a pause, said, "If such be the case, speak on.
I must not refuse intelligence that may affect her."

"It's about her almost altogether, my lord," replied Austin Jute, "for
there was a great deal had gone before, which I did not hear. However,
I know that what seemed the younger voice said, 'If your majesty will
give me a warrant I will apprehend the earl as he comes.' Now mind, my
lord, I can't give you the exact words all through, but I'll give you
their meaning. Well, when this voice had spoken, a fat thick voice
answered, like that of a man with plums in his mouth; and it called
the other a fool, and said he didn't understand policy, and a great
deal more, and that he would deal fair and softly with your lordship
till he had got occasion against you--I should have told you that this
wasn't the first thing I heard, because it has all got mixed up in my
head together; but I heard the young one say, 'They call her the Lady
Julia Douglas,' which showed me it was you they were talking of, and
my lady here; and besides, one of them said something about hating
those Ruthvens."

"Make your tale short--make your tale short," said the earl. "What
more said the king about the lady? As for myself, I will take care he
shall have no occasion against me."

"Why, he said, my lord, that the lady and her mother had carried off
from Scotland all the treasures of a gentleman he called Morton, who
had been attainted for treason."

"Alas! alas!" said Julia, "I've often heard my grandfather say that we
fled with little more than would carry us to Italy."

"What more--what more?" demanded the earl; and Austin Jute proceeded
to give very accurately the substance of all that had been said by the
king and Ramsay during the latter part of their conversation.

"In his ward!" exclaimed Gowrie. "She shall never be in his ward, if I
can help it. No, no, my Julia. Your father's wealth was his ruin, for
to seize it was the object of those who destroyed him. What he did
with it has never been discovered; and now, fancying that you must
either possess it or know where it is concealed, this avaricious king
of ours would fain get you into his power. Heaven only knows what then
might happen. But that shall never be!--What more said he, Austin?"

"Nay, not much, my good lord, but what he did say was not sweet;" and
then, after detailing the rest, he added, "At those words I heard them
get up, and begin to walk along, crushing the crisp leaves under their
feet. So I went on and met them."

"You were mad," cried Gowrie.

"Oh no, my lord, never wiser," answered Austin Jute. "I put on a gay
sort of sauntering air, and called out to the king as soon as I saw
him, 'Halloo, old gentleman! I wish you would show me how to get out,
for I have lost my way.' The young man looked as if he would have
cracked my skull, but the old one took it as a good joke."

Moved as he was, Gowrie could not forbear from smiling faintly. "And
how did all this end?" he asked.

"Why, sir, I treated him with no sort of ceremony for some time," said
Austin Jute; "talked with him familiarly about the king, and for fear
of getting you into a scrape, owned it was a lie that I had told at
the palace about having orders to deliver your letter to the king
himself, and said that I wanted very much to see the king, because I
had heard from you he was as wise as Solomon, and the greatest hunter
upon earth. We chatted very friendly for some time, I can tell you;
and then he thought fit to let out that he was the king, never
dreaming, I will answer for it, that I knew it quite well all the
time. When he had got your letter, nothing could be more civil or
complimentary than his majesty was. He bade you hasten your coming, as
I told you before, and sought to know which road you took, so I told
him by Carlisle, just to give your lordship time. If it does not suit
you to bear me out, you can just say that it was a lie of mine, or a
mistake, or anything you please. My ears are quite at your lordship's
disposal."

"No," said Gowrie, thoughtfully--"no. Something must be determined at
once. Go out into the passage, Austin, and see that nobody comes
near.--No eaves-dropping, remember!"

"Upon my honour, my lord," replied the man, and took his departure.

"Oh, Gowrie, what is to be done?" exclaimed Julia.

Gowrie pressed her to his breast with feelings difficult to describe.
"In truth, love, I hardly know," he said. "I must think calmly for a
moment."

"Had I not better return at once to England," she asked, "and remain
there till you can satisfy the king that I know nothing of this
coveted wealth, or till we can be united?"

Gowrie walked up and down the room for a minute, strongly tempted, but
he did not yield.

"No, love, no," he said; "if you go, I must go too. I will not leave
you unprotected in another land; and, moreover, it might be dangerous
even to myself. Listen, dearest Julia;" and seating himself beside
her, he laid his hand upon hers, saying, "While we were in London,
some subtle dark words were dropped by the ministers of Elizabeth, as
to my having the power of being of great service to her majesty in my
native land. I gave no encouragement to such conversation, and it
ceased; but if she had you in her power, might not she try to use the
strong love which she knows I bear you, to drive me to acts contrary
to my duty and my allegiance? Trust you with her, I dare not. Trust
you in James's hands I will not; for I doubt him, Julia--I doubt him
much. He prides himself on dissembling; and his acts all show that he
aims at absolute power. What is to be done, is the question, and only
two courses seem open to us--either for you to give me your hand
at once, when Gowrie's arm will find means to protect Gowrie's
wife.--Nay, look not so sad; I know your scruples, dear one, and there
is another course to choose. We have in this country of Scotland a
district, as you know, called the Highlands, where law is little
known, and to which the king's power can hardly be said to extend.
Just upon the borders of that district, I have a mountain castle
called Trochrie, where, I think, beyond all doubt, you would be in
greater safety than in England. At all events, it would require an
army to bring you forth; and I do not believe that James would think
fit to do any violent act. It may be as well, however, that you should
remain there in secret till I can prove to the king that neither his
own avarice, nor the greediness of his favourites, would be served by
taking you from me. The castle shall be well prepared for defence,
however; and with justice on my side, and the good friends I have, I
could hold out against him for ever. I will do no disloyal act myself,
but I will endure no tyranny."

"Oh, let me thither," cried Julia, with a bright smile of hope coming
upon her face again. "I will keep myself so carefully that he shall
never dream that I am there. I will take exercise in the early
morning, or in the evening twilight, so that people shall fancy I am a
spirit; and the rest of the day I will pass my time in my lonely tower
with my two maidens, like some enchanted lady that we read of in those
books of magic chivalry."

"It is very hard to doom you to such a fate, my Julia--to send such a
flower as you to bloom in such a desolate wilderness."

"Hard!" said Julia, enthusiastically--"hard, when it is for you,
Gowrie! Have I not been accustomed to solitude too? It will but be
living over again, for a short time, amidst the beautiful scenes of
nature, with free fresh air and changing skies around me, the same
life that I led so long in Padua, amongst close houses in a dull town.
And then, perhaps," she added, with a smile, "Gowrie may sometimes
steal away from courts to see me; and when I think the time of his
coming draws nigh, what joy it will be to look out from some high
window of the castle, over moor and fell, to see if I can perceive my
dear knight coming across the distant plain."

"It is a fair picture you have drawn, dear girl, of a less fair
reality," answered Gowrie; "but I will try, dear girl, to make it as
bright for you as may be. Often, often will I come to see you, till
the dear hour when I can call you my own. And I will bring some of my
sweet sisters, too, to cheer you. We will store the old castle with
pleasant books and instruments of music; and when I come you shall
sing me the songs of the sweet south, till all darker things are
forgotten. Still, still I could hardly consent to your plunging into
such a scene, were not the bright season coming when our Highlands
look the fairest, when the yellow broom and the purple heath succeed
each other on the hills, and the bright sunshine softens the
ruggedness of the scene. During the six long months which must elapse
ere, according to our promise, you can give me your hand, the year
still goes on brightening for us in Scotland. In truth, I see no other
course we can pursue."

"Nor I," she said, eagerly. "Let me set out to-morrow early, Gowrie;
and in the meantime you hasten back across the border again, take the
way round by Carlisle, as the man said you were coming by that road,
and so lull the king's suspicions, if he entertains any."

"But you cannot go alone, my Julia," answered her lover. "That will
never do. Stay; my mother is at Dirleton with my young brothers. I
have thought of a plan that will answer. You shall go thither under
the escort of good Austin Jute and my servant David Drummond. She can
then forward you on your way to Trochrie with Austin and some of her
own people. Part of the way were better made by sea, for the waves
will leave no trace of your passing, and the weather is now fair. To
Dirleton you can go to-morrow, and on the following day proceed; but
alas! I must not go with you, I fear."

Julia bent her head a little, gazing on the ground, and then said, in
a low voice, "Will she receive me willingly, Gowrie?"

"As her own child," replied Gowrie, warmly; "I will answer for it,
love."

"Though I am a stranger, an intruder, one who even now is bringing
danger on her beloved son!" said Julia, almost sadly.

"You know not Dorothea Stuart," answered Gowrie. "Were the pursuers
close upon your steps, my love, were every danger and misfortune
following you close, it would only render you dearer to her--it would
only make her whole soul rise to serve you. However, I will write to
her this very night, telling her all I wish, and the reasons thereof.
You shall carry the letter with you; and if everything is not
performed as zealously and punctually as if I were there myself, my
mother is changed indeed, and has lost all love for me. Now, dearest
Julia, retire to rest; you shall be roused in time, and everything
shall be prepared for your departure: alas! that I must add, for our
parting, too; but it shall not be a long one, dear girl. Whenever
occasion serves that I can get away without observation, I will be on
the way to Trochrie, for my heart will lie buried there with you, and
even in the midst of crowds I shall be solitary."

Julia could not answer, for her heart was too full--it was like a cup
brimming over, and the least thing that shook her would have spilt the
precious drops within. One silent pressure of the hand, and they
parted for the night; but when she was gone, Gowrie stood and mused
with sad and painful thoughts, and ere she sought her pillow she bent
her head and wept.



CHAPTER XXV.


There was a fine old house, as we should call it now, but which was
then in great part a modern one, although the beating and buffeting of
angry winds, and the dark breath of the storm, had blackened it ere
more than sixty years had passed since the foundation-stone was laid.
It was built in a style of which there are very few specimens in
England, though several in France; but that is easily accounted for,
inasmuch as during the greater portion of the short period assigned to
that particular style, contentions of one kind or another had existed
between the court of London and that of Paris, and the communication
between England and Italy was extremely limited. Very different had
been the case with Scotland, the connexion between which country and
France had been cemented by many ties, while an infinite number of the
young noblemen of the north completed their education either at Paris
or at one of the universities of Italy. The Tudor architecture in
churches is well known; and although there is something in the breast
of every man of taste which tells him that there is a want of purity
of conception and grandeur of design therein, yet it is very beautiful
in its kind. So much, however, can hardly be said in favour of the
social architecture of the period; and perhaps less still, in point of
really good taste, were the pretensions of that Italian style, in
which one front of Dirleton House was constructed. The windows were
large and many, divided by stone mullions, and having pilasters
between, light and airy, but of no order under the sun, and panels
covered with rich and fantastic arabesques.

The whole had an air of lightness and richness, notwithstanding its
incongruous and unmeaning details; but at the hour of which I speak,
and at which a little cavalcade consisting of seven horses approached
the front, nothing could be seen of the elaborate ornaments, and the
whole building lay in the midst of the grey woods that surrounded it,
a large and sombre pile of building, with a cheerful light streaming
through two or three of the casements. Weary with travelling, anxious
and apprehensive, Julia looked up to Dirleton House with a cold
feeling of dread and gloom. Vain had been Gowrie's assurances of a
kind reception: she felt that she was a wanderer--a fugitive, claiming
protection and aid, even to their own peril, from persons on whom she
had no claim, and who were strangers to her in all the kindly
relations of the heart. Her timidity became more and more great as she
approached the principal entrance of the house, which projected before
the rest, with a sort of terrace and flight of steps of its own. Fancy
was very busy, and showed her the strange looks with which she would
be at first received, the stately lady of royal race, the two or three
tall and lordly striplings, her sons, all gazing upon her as a
stranger, and wondering what brought her there.

"I will send in the letter first," she thought; "they will then know
who I am, at least; and I shall soon see by my reception whether I am
a welcome guest or not. It will be bad enough at the best----Here,
Austin," she said, when, having ridden up to the terrace by one of the
two slopes at the sides, the man sprang to hold her rein, and assist
her to dismount,--"here, Austin, take this letter in. Deliver it into
the Countess of Gowrie's own hand, and tell her that I wait her
pleasure without."

The man looked surprised, but took the letter, and approached the
great door, by the side of which hung an immense massive iron ring,
notched all over the inner side, with a small iron bar beside it
suspended from a chain, Austin gazed at this strange-looking
instrument by the faint light, and felt it with his hand, but could
make nothing of it. He was looking for some other means of making
their presence known within, when the other servant, David Drummond, a
heavy, sinister-looking man, started forward, and taking hold of the
ring, soon produced a sound, by running the iron bar over the notches
in the inside, sufficient to call two or three servants to the door.

Austin was immediately admitted, and disappeared from Julia's sight,
while the other servant shook hands with an old friend, one of the
domestics of the countess, and seemed to explain who the fair guest
was, for the porter came instantly forward, and with a civil tone, but
in such broad Scotch that she could scarcely understand him, asked if
she would not alight and come in, as he was quite sure his mistress
would be very glad to see her.

"I will alight," said Julia, accepting his assistance, "for I am very
weary of my horse's back; but as to the rest, I will wait;" and
springing to the ground, she leaned her arm upon the saddle, the tired
beast standing quite still by her side.

She had not long to remain in uncertainty, however, for hardly two
minutes had passed when she heard a female voice, as some one
approached the door from within, exclaiming, "Where's my bairn?
Where's my dear child?" and immediately after a tall and commanding
woman, somewhat past the middle age, issued forth with a quick step,
and approached her. Her gray hair, falling from under a black velvet
coif, and mingling with a lace veil attached thereunto, her long black
velvet garments, in the fashion of the reign of Queen Mary, her fine,
though worn countenance, her tall figure, and her quick step and eager
look, all struck poor Julia with a feeling of awe, which was only
dissipated by the warm and tender embrace in which the countess folded
her, kissing her repeatedly, and saying, "And did ye doubt, poor
thing, that Gowrie's mother would not take ye to her heart? Come,
come, my bairn, you do not know me yet; but Dorothea Ruthven is no
false friend or fleeching courtier, to say one thing and mean another.
Come you in, and rest all your cares upon a mother's bosom; for, God
willing, I will be a mother to you as to my own bairns."

Thus saying, she took her by the hand, and led her through the wide
vestibule into a small but richly decorated room on the ground floor.
Then stopping in the midst, where the full light from a large sconce
filled with wax candles fell upon them both, she turned to look upon
her fair companion for the first time.

As if struck and astonished by what she beheld, the old countess
suddenly loosed her hold, and clasping her two hands together, she
exclaimed, "Ae, but you're bonny!" Then instantly throwing her arms
round her, she pressed her to her heart again.

Julia wept with agitation and joy, and the gentle clasping of her
small soft fingers upon the old countess's hand conveyed without words
all that was passing in her heart.

"Now sit down, my dear child," said Lady Gowrie, taking her own seat,
and pointing to another close by her; "you're weary and frightened, I
dare say, for I see from the first few lines of Gowrie's letter that
something has not gone quite right with all your plans; but you must
not let that put your heart down, my bonny bird, for this is a wild
land, and if we were to let little things scare us, we should live in
terror all our lives. My two young lads have gone out, and not come
back yet, but they will be right glad when they return to find their
new sister, and then we'll have our supper, and you shall go to bed
and sleep."

"Oh, read Gowrie's letter first, before you are so kind, dear lady,"
said Julia, wiping the tears from her eyes; "you will see that my
coming with him has first brought embarrassment upon him on his return
to his native land, and perhaps you may not love me so well
afterwards."

"Not a bit less, my child," said the old countess, in a firm, but sad
tone. "I have ever loved those I loved, best when misfortune came upon
them. Did I not love his father well," she continued, raising her eyes
to heaven, "the day the axe fell? And yet, woe is me! bitter was that
day of love, indeed! Well-a-well, I will read my boy's letter; but
mind, my dear, you are to call me mother, for a mother I will be to
you, come fair or come foul;" and wiping away the tears from her eyes,
she held the letter nearer to the sconce, and read.

While she went on, Julia gazed at her with a look of anxious interest;
but her longing to know what would be the lady's feelings on hearing
all the particulars of her situation, was soon lost in scanning the
worn but noble feelings, and tracing the strong likeness between her
and her son.

"Fie, fie!" cried the old lady, at length, when she had read the
somewhat long epistle to an end; "this is but a scratch, and you and
Gowrie have taken it for a wound. Our good king is fond of gold, and
he has those about him who are fonder still; but when they find that
you have none, my child, they'll leave you at peace right willingly.
It will all come to nothing, you'll see. However, in the meantime,
like a dutiful mother," she continued, with a smile, "I must do what
my son bids me, though I'm loath to part with you so soon. But first I
must take care that the servants are tutored to speak carefully. All
my own people I can depend upon; can you on yours, my child?"

"I trust so," replied Julia; "the two girls can speak no English, so
they are safe; and of the men, one is faithfulness itself. The other I
do not know so well, but he has been with Gowrie long, I believe, and
came with us all the way from Italy."

"What's his name?" asked the countess; and when she heard it was David
Drummond, she shook her head with a rather doubtful look. "He's what
we call a dour creature," she said, "but faithful to his trust, I
believe. He killed a man here in a fray, and I sent him over to John
to get him out of harm's way. John warned him well, that if he played
so with his hands again, he should suffer; but I believe he is honest,
only ill to manage when he takes a grudge at any one. I will have the
people up into the vestibule, and tell them to be secret. They've been
used to things that would teach fools discretion."

Thus saying, she rose, and taking a small silver bell from the table,
went out into the vestibule, where Julia heard the bell ring, and
after a short pause the sound of many feet moving. Then came the voice
of the countess speaking loud and slow. A few short sentences, with
long pauses between, concluded her harangue; but in a moment after
there was a considerable movement and bustle; and when Lady Gowrie
returned, she had on either side a fine tall lad, bearing a strong
resemblance to her eldest son. Each of the boys gazed forward with
natural eagerness to see their future sister in-law, and the colour
mounted somewhat more warmly into Julia's face; but all embarrassment
was over in a moment, for one after the other advanced with frank
grace, kissed her fair cheek, and called her Julia and sister.

"Now, William, my boy," said the countess, "we must have supper soon
and to bed betimes, for Julia must on upon her way early to-morrow,
and you must go to guard her, with five or six of the men and her own
people."

"Early to-morrow!" cried the lad, in great surprise; "I thought that
she was going to stay with us here. Where is she going?"

"Ask no questions, lad," said his mother, gravely; "it does not become
youth to inquire, but rather to obey. You will have your directions
to-morrow ere you set out; and those you must entirely keep to
yourself till you come to the end of your journey. Now go and order
them to set on the supper. Your dear sister is tired and hungry, I
doubt not."

"No, indeed, dear mother," replied Julia; "fear has taken all appetite
from me to-day."

"Fear, poor frightened bird!" said the old lady. "We must strengthen
your heart with mountain air--not to make it harder, but more firm.
Fear nothing here, my dear, for we will guard you well. You come of an
eagle's race, and he who checques at you is but a goshawk."

While she had been speaking, her son William had left the room, and in
a minute or two it was announced that supper was served. Putting her
arm through that of her fair guest, the countess led her to a small
hall, where supper was found upon the table; but as they went the
elder lady said, in a low voice, to her young companion, "You shall
have a little chamber next to mine, and your two maidens beyond. I
will wake you before daylight, for ever since Gowrie's death I rise at
four. But, in truth, you must warn the girls yourself that you set out
early, for though I could once speak French I have lost it now, and
Italian I could never conquer."

Weariness of body and of mind performed for Julia the part of peace;
and she slept as soon as her head touched the pillow. Her sleep was
disturbed and full of dreams, however; and on the following morning
she woke with a start and a feeling of terror, when some one knocked
at her chamber door. For a moment or two she knew not where she was;
but she was soon recalled to the recollection of all the circumstances
of her fate, by the voice of the Countess of Gowrie warning her that
it was time to rise for her journey. All that kindness could do was
performed to soothe, comfort, and encourage her; and her lover's
mother affected to laugh at her fears, though she bewailed the
necessity of her going at that season of the year into the wild and
solitary scenes where she was about to take up her abode.

In her directions to her son William, the old countess was very
particular, remaining closeted with him for nearly half an hour. No
one was informed of the ultimate end of the journey about to be taken
but Julia and himself; and instead of directing their course by land
towards Trochrie, the party proceeded in a straight line towards the
sea, and took boat, thereby increasing the length of the journey some
thirty or forty miles. The servants, who were acquainted with the
country, might well be somewhat surprised when they found where they
landed, and in what direction they afterwards bent their course; but
not the slightest expression of astonishment was seen upon the
countenance of any one, and not one word of comment was uttered
amongst them. With much unquestioning obedience they followed where
their young master led, in a manner which perhaps was only seen in
Scotland at that time. Towards Julia, William Ruthven was all
brotherly kindness and attention, cheering her to the utmost of his
power, and attempting, in his young zeal, to amuse her with tales of
the different places through which they passed. But it is sad to say,
that almost every little history--such had been for many years the
state of Scotland--ended with a tragedy; and he soon found that the
subject on which Julia was most inclined to speak was that of his
brother Gowrie. He indulged her, then, by many a question with regard
to the earl's stay in Italy, and to their journey home; and thus
indeed he did contrive to while away several hours, till at length, on
the evening of the third day, they arrived in sight of a large and
somewhat gloomy-looking building, which William Ruthven pointed out as
the castle of Trochrie. During the whole of the latter part of their
journey the mountains had been rising up before them, and all the
beautiful scenery of Athol, with which every English traveller is well
acquainted, presented itself to Julia's sight. The day was peculiarly
favourable, too, though that which preceded it had been dark and
lowering. The sun, journeying towards the north, had made, as it were,
an effort to dispel the clouds; and, towards evening, the heavy masses
of vapour floating away upon the light wind, only served to cast dark
shadow upon some points of the landscape, while the rest remained
covered with bright gleams; and the sinking sun flooded the glens with
light, and sparkled in the streams and waterfalls. At the distance of
about a mile from the castle a man was sent forward to have the gates
opened, and as they rode over the drawbridge, which had been lowered
to give them admission, William Ruthven said, in a kind tone, "Welcome
to Trochrie, dear Julia."

Julia knew not why, but a cold shudder crept over her frame at the
words; and looking up at the dark arch under which she was passing,
she asked herself involuntarily, "In what case shall I pass these
gates again?"



CHAPTER XXVI.


We must now turn to follow the course of the Earl of Gowrie, who
hurried to horse as soon as he could force himself to part with Julia,
the 28th of February, and he spared not the spur till he had reached
Carlisle. The distance was not far short of a hundred miles, although
knowing the country well, till he reached the borders of Cumberland he
took the shortest cuts towards his destination. Nevertheless, by
twelve o'clock on the following day, he had reached the city of the
British chief, and halted there for three hours, to rest those horses
which were capable of going on, and to purchase three or four others,
to supply the place of those which were knocked up. The journey was
then resumed, at a slow and orderly pace; and the earl once more
approached the frontier of Scotland, on the western side. Such rapid
progress as he had made during the last thirty hours was not at all
suited, of course, to the habits of good Mr. Rhind; and that worthy
gentleman was left behind, with a request that he would tarry for a
day or two at Dunbar, and then proceed slowly to Edinburgh, preserving
perfect silence as to the events which had lately taken place; which,
it must be remarked, puzzled him greatly, as the earl was not inclined
to enter into lengthened explanations on the subject. On the
discretion of the servants who accompanied him, the earl thought he
could depend; and he consequently satisfied himself with giving them
merely two commands--namely, to avoid mentioning to any one their
previous journey to Dunbar, and if asked what had become of the lady
who had accompanied them to England, to state that he, the earl, had
sent her to a place of security some way before they reached Carlisle.
This having been done, they rode on towards Langholm, where the earl
proposed to pass the night. On his arrival, however, at the only inn
which that place contained, he found the court-yard in a bustle with
numerous horses and servants, and perceived also two or three of the
king's guard loitering about. The announcement that the place was
quite full, therefore, did not surprise him; and, in answer to his
inquiries, the host informed him that the Lord Lindores had just
returned with his suite, after having visited the border that morning.

Gowrie smiled at the name of one of the especial companions of the
king; and finding, in answer to a quiet inquiry, that the noble lord
had arrived from Edinburgh late the night before, he was confirmed in
the suspicion, that the object of Lindores' coming had been to claim
the wardship of Julia in the king's name.

Innocent of all offence himself, however, he did not scruple to send
up a message to the courtier nobleman, requesting that he would spare
him a part of the accommodation of the inn; but one of Lord Lindores'
servants had been beforehand with him in communicating his arrival,
and before the host, whom Gowrie charged with his message, could leave
his side, the gentleman to whom it was to be delivered was seen
descending the stairs, which, as was then very customary in Scottish
inns, came down at once on the outside of the house, from a covered
gallery above, into the court-yard. His dress and appearance were
sufficient to indicate his rank, although Gowrie had not seen him from
his boyhood; but Lord Lindores, forgetting his prudence, advanced at
once towards the young earl, holding out his hand, and saying, "Ah, my
noble Lord of Gowrie, how goes it with your lordship? Welcome back to
Scotland after a long absence."

"Many thanks, my lord," replied Gowrie, shaking hands with him. "My
absence has indeed been long enough for old friends to forget me. But
I find your lordship has engaged the whole house; can you not spare me
a room or two?"

"I should be sadly wanting in courtesy else," replied the other, whose
eye, during the whole conversation, had been wandering over Gowrie's
followers. "We will put some of the men into the cottages or houses
near. What will you require?"

"Only a room for myself," replied the earl, who was somewhat amused by
the puzzled look upon his companion's face--"only a room for myself,
and an ante-room for two or three of my servants. The rest must shift
as they can. We will not put you to inconvenience."

"That will be soon arranged," replied Lord Lindores; "and as my supper
will be ready in a few minutes, your lordship must honour me by
partaking thereof. I will just speak a word or two to some of my men,
telling them to seek lodgings elsewhere, and rejoin you in a moment."

Gowrie remained near the foot of the stairs till his return, with an
air of the most perfect indifference; but he did not fail to observe
what seemed eager question and answer pass between his brother peer
and one of the men who had been in the court-yard when he arrived.

"Now, noble earl, permit me to show you the road," said Lord Lindores,
returning; and he led the way up stairs to a small guest-chamber,
prepared for the evening meal, but which was also ornamented by a
truckle bed. After some ordinary compliments, Lord Lindores fell into
thought for a moment or two, and then looking up, he said, "Had I not
thought that your lordship would not arrive in Scotland till
to-morrow, I should have prepared better for your accommodation; for,
to say the truth, I was led to expect the pleasure of seeing you on
the border if my business detained me here a day or two."

"Indeed! How so?" demanded Gowrie, looking up; for he, too, had fallen
into thought.

"Oh, very simply," replied the other lord. "His majesty, when sending
me yesterday to inquire into some of the affairs upon the border,
informed me that he had had a letter from your lordship, and, as you
were returning by Carlisle, I should most likely meet you somewhere
here. He bade me greet you well on his part, and say that he was
anxious for your arrival."

"His majesty is ever gracious," said Gowrie, drily; "I trust to kiss
his hand the day after to-morrow at the farthest."

"He taught me to believe, my noble lord, that I should find a fair
lady in your company," said his companion, assuming a jocular look and
tone; "the most beautiful of the beautiful, I understand; a gem that
you have brought us from southern lands."

"Oh, no," answered Gowrie, in a light and easy tone; "his majesty has
been misled. Such a lady as you describe did travel part of the way
hither under my convoy; but I left her behind before I reached
Carlisle."

"Indeed!" said Lord Lindores, with a look of mortification and
surprise. "But perhaps the journey was too fatiguing, and she will
follow you?"

"Oh dear, no!" answered Gowrie, with a laugh. "She is very well where
she is, I doubt not, and will remain there for some time."

"On my life," cried the other, resuming his jocular tone, "I think
your lordship is jealous of us poor lords of Holyrood."

"To be sure I am," answered Gowrie, at once; "and fully resolved I am
not to bring her to that court till I bring her as my wife. You see,
my good lord, I am frank with you; but you will own that there is
cause to fear that I might lose my bride, if I carried her amongst
such gay cavaliers as the Lord of Lindores."

His companion, who had already seen the middle age, laughed gaily; for
I know neither age nor circumstance in which vanity will not do its
work. He seemed perfectly deceived, however, and indeed was so,
concluding that Gowrie, from some cause, suspecting the king's
purpose, had left his fair companion on the other side of the border.
He was not well satisfied, indeed, with the result of his mission, for
he had calculated upon gaining considerable credit with the king by
skilfully executing a somewhat delicate task. Their meal passed over
gaily, however; and Lindores, who was somewhat of a bon vivant, had
taken care that the table should be supplied with better wine than
could be procured at Langholm. Of this he partook abundantly, and
hospitably pressed his guest to do the same; but Gowrie was upon his
guard, and contrived to avoid the glass, without his companion
noticing that such was the case. In the meantime, Lindores, imagining
that each large double bottle was shared equally between him and the
earl, drank more than his due proportion, and passed through most of
the stages of inebriety, from loquacity to drowsiness. In the former
stage, however, the wine being in and the wit out, he laughed joyously
at the thought of the king's disappointment, and told his companion,
as a profound secret, the end and object of his journey to the border.

On the following day early, the earl and Lord Lindores set out
together for Edinburgh; but Gowrie thought fit to stop for the night
at Selkirk, while his companion pushed on somewhat farther, in order
to bear to the king the news of his disappointment in person. He
arrived in the capital at a somewhat early hour the next day, and
proceeded at once to the palace, where James's ill-humour knew no
bounds.

"That is just like those Ruthvens," he said, in the presence of Sir
Hugh Herries and John Ramsay, who were in the king's closet when
Lindores told his story. "They are all as wise as serpents, but not as
innocent as doves; and this lad is at the head of them. If he were not
at heart a rebel to his own liege sovereign, wherefore should he leave
the lass in England? Does it not give our good aunt Elizabeth a hold
upon him, which no foreign sovereign should have over one of our
subjects? Can she not twist him thereby what way she likes? Maybe his
treason is already consummate, and he has left the girl behind him as
a pignus or pledge for his carrying it out to our destruction. We must
deal softly with him, nevertheless," he continued, seeing that his
words had sunk deeply into the minds of those around him, and having,
perhaps, the example of Henry II. before his eyes--"we must deal
softly with him, till we find occasion against him; mind that, lads,
and let not one of ye cross him, so as to make the matter into a
private quarrel. He has many friends and great wealth, so we must go
gently to work with him till the time comes."

Notwithstanding his injunctions to others, the king could not
altogether restrain his own demeanour, but remained sullen and
irritable all day. He inquired twice whether the earl had arrived in
Edinburgh; and when told that he had come to the house of one of his
relations, whither a number of the old friends of his family flocked
to meet and congratulate him, he exclaimed, "The fickle fools! They go
as blithesome to a burial."

The following morning, as he was seated with the queen, receiving some
of the nobles of the court, with the Duchess of Lennox, Gowrie's
sister, on one side of Anne of Denmark, and Beatrice Ruthven behind
her chair, some loud shouts, uttered in the streets of the town, made
themselves heard even in the royal apartments.

"What are the fools skirling at now?" cried the king; "is it another
Tolbooth fray?"

"Not so, your majesty," replied Lord Inchaffray, who had just entered;
"as I rode hither a moment ago, the young Earl of Gowrie was passing
up the street with a large number of noble gentlemen, his friends; and
some hundreds of people were running after his horse's heels, shouting
and wishing him joy on his return."

James's brow darkened immediately, and lolling his tongue in his
cheek, with a bitter and meaning smile, he said, loud enough for
several persons to hear, "There were as many people who convoyed his
father to the scaffold at Stirling."

The Duchess of Lennox instantly turned deadly pale, and fell, so that
she would have struck her head against the queen's chair, had she not
been caught in the arms of her sister Beatrice.

The court was immediately thrown into strange confusion; and the king,
as if totally unconscious that the illness of the young duchess was
produced by his own act, exclaimed, "De'il's in the woman! What's the
matter with her? The rooms not so hot."

"But your majesty's words were sharp," said Beatrice; "my sister is
not accustomed to hear the death of a father she loved made sport of."

"You are saucy, mistress, I think," said the king, frowning upon her.

"And your majesty unkind," said Beatrice, boldly; but Anne of Denmark
interfered, and caused some of the gentlemen present to assist in
conveying the duchess to another room.

James himself felt in some degree, it would appear, that he had acted
in a cruel and discourteous manner, for he said, in a low but somewhat
apologetic tone, "Fegs! I forgot she was the earl's daughter. One
cannot always remember, in this good land of ours, who is of kin to
those who have had their heads chopped off."

He then turned to other subjects, seeming soon to forget altogether
what had occurred; and when, a few minutes afterwards, Gowrie himself
was introduced, unconscious of all that had taken place, the king
received him with the utmost cordiality and kindness, displaying
remarkably, on this occasion, that detestable hypocrisy which he
considered one of the essential parts of kingcraft. If anything, his
manner was too condescending and gracious, approaching to a degree of
familiarity more repugnant to the feelings of the young earl than
haughtiness could have been. After having given him his hand to kiss,
he pinched his ear, called him a truant, and insisted upon examining
him in what he called the humanities, much to the annoyance of most of
the gentlemen of his court, many of whom understood neither the Latin
nor Greek languages, and some of whom did not understand their own.
The earl's replies gave his majesty satisfaction, at least apparently;
and he went so far as to pronounce him a good scholar and a credit to
the country.

This gracious speech he followed up by commanding him to come to his
breakfast on the following morning, and there he commenced a
conversation with the earl, who was standing behind his chair, the
coarseness of which, in point of language, prevents it from here being
written down, but the nature of which may be divined, when I state
that it referred to the murder of David Rizzio, and the fright which
that horrible event had occasioned to the unfortunate Mary when about
to become the mother of the very monarch who spoke.

Gowrie felt that the choice of the subject was intended as an insult
to himself, from the part which his grandfather had borne in that
lamentable transaction; but he repressed all angry feeling, not alone
from respect for the royal authority, but also because he had a deep
internal conviction that the conduct of his ancestor on that occasion
could not be justified, and that the king had a fair subject of
reproach against his family, which, upon every Christian principle and
every honourable feeling, should have been restrained to silence,
considering all that had passed since, but which might naturally be
remembered, if not rankle, in a weak grovelling mind. He made no reply
whatever then, and left the conversation to seek another course, when
suddenly, to his surprise, Colonel Stuart entered the room, and was
greeted by James as an invited guest.

The spirit of his race now rose in his bosom. He saw before him,
invited apparently to meet him there that morning, the man who, when
his father, after an imperious order from the king to quit the realm
within fourteen days, lingered for a few hours longer at Dundee to
settle the affairs of his family, and to hire a ship to carry him
abroad, pursued him to the very port where he was about to embark, and
brought his head to the block. His patience could not endure any more,
and drawing back a step, he said, "I think, your majesty, it may be
better for me now to retire."

"Come, come, my Lord Gowrie," said the king, "I will not have you look
down upon Colonel Stuart. He is a worthy gentleman, and has done this
crown good service. Neither will I have you seek quarrel with him in
regard to passages long gone."

"Sir," answered the earl, with a low bow, "I will never seek that man,
but it is not fit that he should cross my path. As to seeking quarrel
with him, _aquila non capit muscat_. I now beseech your majesty to
pardon me for retiring;" and he withdrew slowly from the royal
presence.



CHAPTER XXVII.


The whole court of Holyrood was now busied principally with one
subject. It is the vice of all petty courts to have their whole
attention taken up with personal quarrels and small passions, not the
less venomous for their minuteness. The Earl of Gowrie was not a
favourite--that had become evident within one week after his return
from the continent; and although he neither held nor coveted any place
about the king's person, all those who were mounting the frail ladder
of courtly favour marked the coldness between the king and himself
with satisfaction, and augured the fall of those members of his family
who had obtained appointments in the royal household. At all events,
as far as he was personally concerned, Gowrie prepared to cut the
matter very short, by taking leave of the king within ten days after
his arrival in Edinburgh, upon the plea of visiting his mother, and
examining the condition of his own estates. Still he himself, and his
relations with the court, continued to occupy the thoughts of men.
From his wealth, from his connexions, and from his extensive property,
he was much too important a person to have his movements, his
demeanour, or his intentions considered lightly; and, far superior to
most of his fellow peers, both in acquired knowledge and intellectual
scope, he had shown so decided a leaning to that rational freedom
which was repugnant to all James's ideas of authority, that courtiers
readily learned to hate him because their royal master showed that he
feared him. Nevertheless, with the great majority of his equals in
rank he was very popular, and by the poorer classes he was universally
and dangerously beloved. The people cheered him when he appeared in
public, even while the courtiers were drawing back from his brother
and sister, in terror of the plague-spot of disfavour. Yet the effect
of his coming had been very different upon different men who had been
united in opinion before his arrival. Sir Hugh Herries, commonly
called Doctor Herries, who had a strong personal dislike both to the
earl's brother Alexander and to the Lady Beatrice, and who had
extended this feeling of animosity to the earl himself and all his
family, seemed but to be confirmed in his rancorous ill-will by the
presence of Gowrie himself. Nor did he at all attempt to conceal it,
replying to any observations the earl addressed to him, in few words
and with a repulsive tone; and calling him in private, proud,
overbearing, and ambitious, although he himself had personally no
cause to accuse him of such faults.

John Ramsay, on the contrary, grew grave and thoughtful. He did not
seek the earl's society, but he did not avoid it; and the kind and
friendly tone which Gowrie assumed towards him, treating him as the
brother of an old and dear friend, his frank and open manner, and some
instances of calm and generous forbearance, when the young man gave
way to the impulses of a rash bold temper, appeared at once to pain
and to soften him.

"He is a noble creature," he said, one day, speaking to Herries, who
had been decrying the young lord. "He may be ambitious, he may be
proud, and he must bear the brunt of his faults if they lead to acts;
but he is a noble creature, Sir Hugh; and when I look at him, I cannot
help thinking that he is like a gallant stag that has been marked out
for the slaughter."

"That is very likely," answered Herries, with a cold sneer. "One
generally chooses the finest beasts to lay the hounds at their heels;
but I've a notion, Ramsay, that a stag which carries its head so high
might become dangerous if one did not run him down before his antlers
were fully grown."

"Perhaps so," answered Ramsay; "more's the pity;" and he turned away
and left him.

While this brief conversation was passing, Gowrie was seated with his
brother and sister in a small room of the palace, talking quietly with
them just before his departure. They were all careful in what they
said, and the subject of the king's conduct and demeanour to the earl
since his return was never mentioned, for James's ubiquity was well
known in the palace, and no one was sure where the monarch might be at
the moment.

"Well, Gowrie," said Beatrice, "I shall try to get leave of absence
for a day or two while you are at Dirlton, and come and see you and my
mother; for there are a thousand things I want to talk to you about,
which I have never been able to speak of in this place, and never
should if we were to live here till we are gray-headed."

"Of no great moment, I dare say, dear Beatrice," replied the earl, "or
you could have come to talk over them all at my lodging in the
High-street."

"You men are all alike," said Beatrice, laughing; "you think all women
such frivolous creatures, that we can never have anything important to
say. Now, if I were to speak to you of the lady with the dark eyes,
whom you were bringing over from Italy, and who has never yet appeared
amongst us, would not that seem of moment, my lord and brother?"

"Hume has been telling tales," said Gowrie, laughing.

"Not a whit," answered Beatrice; "it is your own dear mother who told
the tales four or five months ago. She sent me your dutiful and humble
letter, my lord--I suppose to teach me to behave myself. But what have
you done with the dear girl? I long to see her soon.--Where have you
hid her?"

"In a place of great security, child," replied her brother, gaily, but
still upon his guard; "and you shall see her, too, as soon as I have
proved to his majesty--who has taken it into his head that she has got
all the Earl of Morton's treasures--that her whole dowry consisted of
two thousand gold ducats, and that she and her grandfather have been
living in actual poverty ever since they fled from Scotland, nineteen
years ago."

"But what could put it into the king's wise head that she had got the
regent's wealth?" asked Beatrice.

"Such a thing was not as unlikely as you think," replied Gowrie. "The
king has a shrewd scent for such things; and so convinced was he that
it was the case, he sent Lindores to meet me on the road from
Carlisle, and claim my poor Julia as a ward of the crown. Lindores was
vastly mortified when he found I had left her behind; and the same
night, to console himself, he got drunk, and told me the whole story
in his cups."

Beatrice laughed, and Alexander Ruthven laughed; but Gowrie went on,
saying, "I cannot venture to speak to his majesty on the subject
myself, and I have looked in vain for him to speak to me. I have
thrown the ball at his foot a dozen times, but he would not kick it;
though I have a shrewd notion, Beatrice, he would rather have me wed a
dowerless girl like this, than marry a rich bride."

"Hie, Alex, boy! Alex!" cried the voice of the king, certainly not
very far from the door. "Alex Ruthven, I say, is your good brother
gone?" and James himself entered the room unattended.

Every one instantly rose; and the king rolled on towards a seat, with
that peculiar ungainly shamble which was more conspicuous when he was
either moved by any strong emotion or wished to appear peculiarly
gracious. It was almost always a certain sign that the monarch was
dissembling favour when he approached any one with that roll very
strongly apparent.

The only one in the room, however, whose clear sight and long
observation enabled her to judge the truth, was Beatrice Ruthven, and
she stood and gazed sidelong at the king, while Gowrie hastened to
advance a chair.

"Weel, ye've an unkie cosy family council here," said James, seating
himself; "but, my good lord earl, there's something I wish to say to
you before you go--just in a private friendly kind of way."

"Now comes the matter of my fair Julia," thought Gowrie, and he
replied, "I am happy to be here to receive your majesty's commands."

But James had made up his mind not to utter one word upon the subject
which Gowrie thought he was about to touch upon, till the earl spoke
himself; and whether he had heard any part of the preceding
conversation or not--which will ever be a mystery--he kept his
resolution. "What I was about to say is this, my lord," he said. "We
are now at the twelfth of March, and on the twenty-third of the month
we propose to hold a council of our peers, to lay before them the
necessities of the state, which can only be subvented by the devising
of some new tax or subsidy from our faithful people, which may enable
us to carry on the work of government more at our ease--and very
little ease do we get for crowned kings, as the devil in hell kens,
who gives us so many troubles," continued James, in his more familiar
tone. "Now, my good lord, what I wish to say is, I must have your
advice and assistance in this matter, with other noble lords, like
yourself, and therefore I trust you will be back in time to give us
counsel, as you are sworn."

"Most assuredly, sire," replied Gowrie; "I will not fail to obey your
majesty's summons whenever it is sent. I shall be found at Dirleton,
or at my poor house in Perth."

"Moreover," continued the king, seeming hardly to notice the reply, "I
trust you will, as folks say, lend the king your shoulder in this
matter; for I can tell you, my lord, that we are sorely pinched and
straightened at this present, more than befits a king to be; and
trusting to your loyalty and affection, we believe that you will
farther us to the extent of your ability."

"If it cost me half my estate, I will, sire," replied Gowrie, frankly;
"it shall never be said that my king was in need, and I refused to do
my share as far as my private fortune would go."

"Well said--well said!" replied James; "I always knew you for a loyal
and faithful subject. But I fear, my good lord, that what any good
friend to the crown would do in his individual capacity--not that I
mean to refuse any free gift or kindly aid to the royal treasury, all
which should be repaid in bounties hereafter--but I fear it would go
but a little way to supply the vacuity in the finances--it would be
but a drop in a draw-well, man; and we must have a general tax, which
would spread the burden lightly and evenly upon all the good people."

"When your majesty's views are fully developed," replied Gowrie,
seeing that the king paused for an answer, "I will, according to my
bounden duty, offer you in all humility my conscientious advice upon
the subject."

"Ay, say you so, man?" said the king, with a slight frown upon his
brows; "well, I hope you will, and that your advice and my views may
run together. Go you first to Perth or to Dirleton, my lord?"

"Not to Perth, may it please your majesty," answered Gowrie; "I have
not yet seen my dear mother, thinking it my duty first to offer my
humble respects to you."

"There you were right--there you were right," said James; "the king
is, as it were, father to the whole land. When set you out?"

"This evening, sire," answered the earl; "and if I could obtain your
permission, and that of her majesty, I would fain take this wild girl
with me, as she has not seen me, before this last week, for seven
years, nor her mother for as many months."

"My leave you have, with my whole soul," replied the king; "and grace
go with her; for she found little here, brought little here, and will
leave little here. As to the queen, I doubt not her majesty will grant
her licence--soul of my body! if she doesn't, the lady is very likely
to take it!"

Gowrie's cheek turned a little red, for he had been long unused to a
coarseness of speech which was as different from frank honesty as it
was from courtly polish; but he replied not, having steadfastly
resolved to bridle his tongue on all but great and important
occasions, and to avoid every occasion of offence.

After a momentary pause, during which the king did not seem either
disposed to speak or move, Gowrie said, "Then we have your majesty's
permission to apply to the queen?"

"Ay, ay, lad!" answered James, in a dull heavy tone, rising, and
moving towards the door; "I dare to say she will not refuse you leave
to take her where you please." And then he muttered between his teeth
as he passed out, "and the de'il gang wi' ye."

Alexander Ruthven had opened the door for the king's exit, and after
closing it again, he said drily, as a sort of comment on the words he
had heard distinctly enough, "He means me: but I wish he had expressed
his permission more clearly."

"Meant you! by what, Alex?" demanded Gowrie.

"By the devil," answered Alexander Ruthven; "for he said to himself as
he was going out, 'The de'il gang wi' ye;' but we can't both be away
at the same time, I know, so I must even stay where I am."

"Besides, you have had your holiday, Alex," answered Beatrice; "and
like most boys when they return to school, came back no wiser or
steadier than they were before. But I'll run away to the queen, and
ask permission on my bended knees; then, if I get it, I shall be ready
when you will, Gowrie. Oh! how I shall rejoice in a wild gallop over
the hills!"

"Away!--away, then!" answered her brother; "and if Alex will give me
paper, I will write a letter to a friend in the mean time."

Away sped Beatrice to the queen's presence, and kneeling down on the
footstool before her, she preferred her petition.

"You must ask the king, love," said Anne of Denmark, who, with all her
many faults, and not very steady principles, was a kind-hearted and
amiable, as well as highly accomplished woman. "I can but ill spare
you, Beatrice; but far be it from me to keep you from any joyful
expedition; but you must ask the king's permission. You know he is
fond of despotic rule, even in his own household; and though I
struggle every now and then for the rights and liberties of women,
till he is fain to give way for the sake of a quiet house, yet I dare
not altogether take the rule even of my own maidens into my own
hands."

"But the king's permission has been obtained, dear lady," replied
Beatrice; and seeing a slight shade of displeasure come upon the
queen's face, as if she thought she ought to have been first asked,
the young lady added, "Gowrie asked the king himself, your majesty."

"Well, that is right," replied Anne of Denmark. "Tell your good
brother for me, that I regret we have had no means, since his return,
of entertaining him at our court; but we shall have balls and pageants
soon; and I trust to show him that we people of the north are not so
far behind his bright Italians. Now, kiss me, child, and go and
prepare."

Beatrice Ruthven needed no long preparation; but she went first to
make her arrangements with her brother, and it was agreed that he
should go back to his own dwelling in the town, and return for her in
a couple of hours. While speaking together, she caught sight of two
notes he had written during her absence, and with a blush and a laugh
laid her finger on the back of one, as he held it in his hand, ready
to send. "I can see the name, Gowrie," she said.

"Well, wild girl," he answered; "I will not send it if you dislike it.
It is only a note of invitation to Hume, asking him to meet us at
Dirleton. Shall I tear it?"

Her only reply was a playful tap on the cheek, and away she ran to get
ready.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


It was about three o'clock in the evening when Gowrie and his sister,
followed by eight or nine servants on horseback, set out from the
gates of Holyrood. She looked bright and happy, and Gowrie gazed at
her from time to time with a look of thoughtful affection, tracing in
the beautiful young woman the same lines he well remembered in the
beautiful child.

"Well, dear Beatrice," he said, "your little heart seems full of
rejoicing, and your cheek looks as fresh as the rose, and your light
limbs, though they be not at the largest, quite ready for any exertion
that may be needed."

"Oh, I am equal to anything," said Beatrice, in the confidence of
young strength and health. "I think, on this nice jennet which the
queen gave me, and with you, my dear brother, by my side, I could ride
over half Scotland."

"Perhaps I may try you," said Gowrie, with a smile.

"What mean you, brother mine?" asked Beatrice, gazing at him. "You
look dark and mysterious."

"How far can you fly in a night, busy bee?" asked Gowrie.

"As far as a swallow," answered the young lady, looking up in his
face.

But Gowrie, after a moment's thought, said, "No, sixty miles is too
far; still we will go on as far as we can, and then stop for the
night."

"Man of mysteries, what do you mean?" cried Beatrice, in her usual gay
tone. "Whither are you going to take me? To some deep dungeon of one
of your castles in the mountains, to keep me a prisoner there during
your good pleasure?"

"Yes," answered Gowrie, "I am."

"But what has your poor sister done?" cried Beatrice, laughing. "I
have divulged none of your secrets. I have discovered none of your
plots. I am not even going to marry without your leave."

"You have asked indiscreet questions," said Gowrie, assuming a gruff
tone--"indiscreet questions about a lady with black eyes. Is not that
offence enough to a tyrant brother like myself?"

"Oh, I understand, dear brother--I understand. Let us get on, let us
get on to-night. I long to see her, and to tell her how I will love
her."

"Hush, hush, hush!" said Gowrie, in a low tone; "if you are as
indiscreet as that, I will not take you. Everything," he continued,
almost in a whisper, "depends upon secrecy; for I must give the king
no hold upon me, Beatrice; and although, perhaps, with the
explanations I can afford in regard to the wealth he supposes her to
possess, he might not be so anxious to obtain her as his ward, yet I
will not put it in his power to refuse me her hand, or to make it an
inducement with me to do anything I think wrong."

"There you are right," answered Beatrice. "I have learned to know more
of courts and kings than when you went away, Gowrie; and I would not
that any one I love was in the hands of that man for all the wealth in
Europe." A sort of shudder seemed to pass over her as she spoke; but,
after being silent for a moment, she continued, "Do you know, Gowrie,
I am very anxious for one thing, which is, that Alex should withdraw
from the court. I wish you could persuade him to give up his post, and
either go to travel, or betake himself to Dirleton."

Gowrie turned and gazed at her with surprise. "I am astonished, dear
Beatrice," he said. "I should have thought that, in your situation at
the court, you would have been right glad to have Alexander with you."

"For my own sake, I should," she answered; "and yet that is not wholly
true either; for I am kept in such a constant state of anxiety, that
his presence is more pain than comfort."

"But what is the cause? What has he done?" demanded her brother, with
still increasing surprise. "You seemed the best friends possible."

"And so we are," replied his fair sister. "It is for him that I fear,
for him that I am anxious. As to what he has done, or rather to his
whole conduct, I cannot well speak of it, Gowrie. He has done nothing
wrong, I do hope and believe; but he has been very imprudent. He has
many great and powerful enemies. The king loves him not, and will some
day or another work him ill. Sir Hugh Herries hates him mortally; and
he and young John Ramsay are always bickering. Because Ramsay's
education has not been equal to his own, and his manners are more
rough and less polished, Alex looks down upon him, and makes him feel
it. But it is the king I fear."

Gowrie asked some more questions, but he could not get a satisfactory
reply; and, in the end, Beatrice said, "Ask Hume, Gowrie--ask Hume. He
will tell you more about it. He must have heard and seen enough."

At this point of their conversation, however, they were interrupted by
one of the men riding up and saying, "This is the road to Dirleton, my
lord, which you have just passed."

"I know," answered Gowrie, with a smile. "I have not yet forgotten the
way, Archy; but I have a friend whom I must see to-night. Take three
of the men with you, and ride away to Dirleton. Give that letter to
the countess, and assure her I will be with her the day after
to-morrow. Tell her that business which she wots of calls me over into
Perthshire; but that I will not spare the spur to be with her soon.
The lady Beatrice goes with me, and we will join her together. There,
look not surprised, but go. Leave Wilson and Nichol with me." Thus
saying, the earl turned his horse, and rode away at a quicker pace
towards Queensferry. "You must even abide a bit of sea, Beatrice," he
said; "for we have not time to ride up the river to-night; but we
shall get over in daylight."

"Oh, I mind it not," answered Beatrice. "Speed, speed, Gowrie, is the
thing now. I will race with you, for all your horse's long legs."

"Spare your beast--spare your beast," replied her brother, as she was
pushing her jennet into a quick canter. "You would make a bad soldier,
Beatrice, and a worse courier, if you spent all your horse's strength
in the beginning of a long journey. I doubt not that we could reach
Kinross to-night."

"Oh, farther than that," answered Beatrice. "It is now hardly four
o'clock. We shall be over the ferry in half an hour, and at Kinross by
seven. We might even get on to Perth before midnight."

The earl smiled. "You miscalculate your time, little lady," he
answered, "and your horse's strength, too. Besides, what should I do
with you in Perth? There is nobody but Henderson and an old woman in
the great house; and they'll be in bed by nine."

"Let us go to Murray's Inn, then," said his sister; "that will be
open, I'll warrant. If you dare me, I'll soon show you that my
calculations are correct, both as to time and the jennet. I have
ridden forty miles upon her before now, Earl of Gowrie. It is you who
do not know what a Scottish girl and a Spanish horse can do."

"Well, we shall see," replied the earl; and on they went.

Queensferry was soon reached, and speedily passed; and during nearly
an hour longer the sun shone upon their way They had been lucky in the
tide. They were lucky in the evening; for the wind, which had been
high, went down before sunset, and, for an afternoon in March, the
weather was mild and pleasant. Having talked of all that was sad or
threatening, Beatrice's gay spirits returned in full tide; and,
keeping her own jennet at a good sharp pace, she would sometimes
playfully whip her brother's horse to make it go on, declaring it was
the laziest beast she ever saw, or else that he was determined not to
take her to Perth that night. Notwithstanding a short halt at the inn
at Blair Adam--where, we are credibly informed, there has ever been an
inn since the days of the arch-patriarch whose name it bears--they
reached Kinross by eight o'clock, and Gowrie admitted that they could
reach Perth easily, if his sister was not tired.

"I have only one objection," he said, bending down his head, and
dropping his voice, "which is, that we might be detained in Perth till
late to-morrow, and besides, I told the king I was not going thither.
It may attract attention and create suspicion, if I either attempt to
conceal myself, or hurry on instantly after my arrival. I am not very
sure of Henderson's discretion."

"Nor I of his fidelity," said Beatrice. "But what do you mean, Gowrie?
Is not the dear girl at Perth?"

"No; at Trochrie, in Strathbraan," replied Gowrie. "Why, I told you,
silly girl, that there was no one at the great house but Henderson and
some old woman."

"I thought you meant with an exception," answered Beatrice. "But, if
that is the case, we had better not go there at all. I tell you what,
Gowrie, I have a plan that will answer very well. Let us go to Rhynd,
and then up the Tay. At Rhynd we shall find good Mr. M'Dougal, the
minister, poring over his books; and right glad will he be to see the
yearl and his bonny titty Beatrix; and we shall have rare bringing out
of bottles and glasses; and if I am not compelled to drink some strong
waters, it will be by dint of vigorous resistance. Then we shall be
able to go on to-morrow without any one knowing aught about it, for
M'Dougal will ask no questions, and forget we have been there the
moment we are gone. I am thinking you might have taken a shorter road
to Trochrie, though; but I suppose you have grown so Italianized, that
you have forgotten all the byways of Scotland."

"No, no," answered Gowrie; "but I came this way, that, in case of any
inquiries, we might puzzle the pursuers. The stags teach us, Beatrice,
to cheat the hounds; and so we get lessons from even the beasts we
hunt. But the difference is very small; and we shall arrive in good
time to-morrow. I like your plan well, dear sister, if you know the
way to Rhynd in the dark."

"That do I well, Gowrie," she answered. "I believe my head was
intended for a geographer's, and got fixed on my shoulders by mistake.
I will send it back if ever I can find the right owner."

"Ask Hume's leave first," said Gowrie. "I should think he would not
like to part with it."

And on they rode through the darkness, Beatrice fully justifying the
account she had given of her own geographical talents. Not a step of
the way did she mistake, but even led her brother straight to the best
passage of the little river which joins the Tay near Rhynd, but the
name of which I forget, and thence up to the door of the minister's
manse. Her reception and that of her brother was as joyous and
hospitable as she had anticipated. The old man had known them both
well as children, and had seen Beatrice often since. But I must not
pause to give any detail of how the evening or the night passed; of
how the minister brought out his choicest stores for the earl, and
sought his assistance in translating a difficult passage of Hebrew; of
how he lodged Beatrice in a chamber all covered over with pieces of
quaint embroidery, worked by the hands of a defunct sister; or how he
gave up his own room to the earl, and laid strong injunctions on his
maid-servant to redd it up--otherwise make it tidy--which, to say
truth, it needed not a little.

Beatrice slept soundly, and though the earl was kept awake for some
time by joyful thoughts of his meeting with her he loved, they were
both on horseback again within half an hour after daybreak; and the
good old man, after seeing them depart, returned into his house, to
spend his time, as usual, between books and bottles, sermons and good
cheer. It would be difficult to say whether nature had not originally
intended him for a monk, if John Knox had not been born a century too
soon, and compelled, what would have made an excellent Benedictine to
become a Presbyterian minister. He was a good man and a kind one,
however, acting by pleasant impulses, with a great deal both of the
corporeal and of the mental in his mixed nature; and, if not
possessing quite sufficient of the spiritual, altogether to curb the
appetites of the one part and the energies of the other, so as to
leave the purely ethereal her full exercise, yet he had a great many
negative virtues and some active ones, which might, in a mass,
compensate for a few not very violent failings. Mr. M'Dougal's
blessing, as his two young guests departed, and his prayers for a
pleasant and happy journey to them, seemed granted at once. All went
gaily and easily with them as they rode on; and when the castle came
in sight, with the wild and romantic scenery around--somewhat bare and
desolate indeed, but beautiful and characteristic, Gowrie strained his
eyes eagerly forward, gazing over the dark masses of gray stone, as if
he would fain have seen through them into the chambers within. By the
side from which he approached, Trochrie could be seen at a
considerable distance. True, it was lost again behind the shoulder of
a hill very soon; but, as he gazed at the walls, he thought he saw
something like a figure, clad in dark garments, move along the
battlements, not of the keep or donjon, but of the lower towers, which
were backed by the body of the principal building. He said not a word,
for love is timid of raillery; and he feared even the gay spirit of
his young sister. But the moment after his doubts were removed, for
the figure at the angle of the western tower stood forth against the
clear sky, and he could see her pause, and, as he thought, turn round
and gaze towards the spot where he and Beatrice were riding.

"See, Beatrice, see," he cried, "she is upon the ramparts, and looking
out for me, as she promised she would."

"She has nothing else to do," answered Beatrice, "except to gaze at
wild moors or gray stones, or the few scanty trees left of Birnham
wood. See what a difference there is between gay, wild, enthusiastic
love and calm, sober sense, Gowrie. You are all in a glow because you
think that she is watching for you, and, my life for it, she has been
looking at the corbies building their nests, just for nothing else to
look at."

"Did you not look for Hume?" asked the earl, somewhat vexed, if one
must speak the truth.

"Not I," answered Beatrice. "He found me and Alex quarrelling, or
rather, me scolding him, and Alex, pouting--but I do think there is a
woman on the battlements; and now she is moving away again. It may be
a man in a cloak, but yet it looks like a woman too.--Now don't expect
her to come down and meet you at the gate or on the drawbridge, for,
if she has any sense of her own dignity, and the subjection in which
woman should keep man, she will remain just where she is, and know
nothing of your coming till you go to tell her."

At that moment the hill hid the castle again, and when, passing some
woodland, they came once more within sight of Trochrie, they were
close under the walls. Gowrie looked up, but Julia was no longer to be
seen; but, as he mounted the ascent, his heart beat with joyful
feelings to see Beatrice's light prognostication falsified. Beneath
the deep arch of the castle gateway, which stood wide open, with
portcullis up and drawbridge down, stood a figure which it needed no
second glance to identify. In an instant he was over the bridge, off
his horse, and by her side; and as Beatrice rode up, followed by the
servants, Gowrie took Julia's hand in his, and led her a step or two
forward to meet his sister.

"She is not so coldhearted as you are, Beatrice," he said, gaily, "and
so did come down to meet us."

But Beatrice was off her horse in a moment; and certainly her greeting
of her brother's promised bride showed no great coldness of heart.
Casting back the waves of her own bright brown hair, she kissed her
tenderly, saying, "I have teased him sadly, dear Julia, as we came,
just to prevent his impatience from breaking all bounds; but never you
think that I do not love you, whatever he may say. Have I not ridden
well nigh seventy miles to see you, with all the greater pleasure,
because it is so secret that it feels almost like treason, which is
the greatest of all possible delights to a woman. But come, let us
into the castle. You have neither veil nor coif on; and the mountain
air is not delicate, especially for those who have lived long in
southern lands;" and twining her arm through that of her new friend,
she led the way into Trochrie, with all the chambers of which she
seemed well acquainted.

No servant presented himself as they went; and with open gates and
lowered drawbridge, the castle seemed at the mercy of any one who
might choose to attack it. Gowrie looked round with displeasure.

"This is dangerous," he said, as they walked on across the outer
court. "Where are the men you brought with you, dear Julia? I should
have thought that Austin would have been more careful."

"Austin is watching in the tower," said Julia; "and the women are
milking in the field behind; but the rest of the men are gone out, I
believe, to catch game in the valley on the other side of that great
hill. We found the place scantily supplied with provisions, and they
seem to have been accustomed to take such means of getting what they
want."

Gowrie mused. "This was what I feared," he said; "but we must see that
you are better guarded for the future, love; and I am sure my mother,
if she knew the state of the castle, would have sent up all that was
needful for you."

"And so she has, indeed," answered Julia. "Several horse loads arrived
this very morning--everything she could think of, indeed, to while
away the time; but, doubtless, the men, accustomed to a more active
life than I am, and not having so much to meditate upon, find it
dull."

"They must learn better," replied the earl; and with this comment,
they walked on to a large chamber above, which Julia had made her
sitting-room, and decked out as best she could with the books which
Lady Gowrie had sent her, a lute, and a mandolin.

A slight cloud in the morning often leads in the brighter day. Gowrie
was displeased with the negligence of his followers, and when they
returned soon after, he reproved them sternly for their want of
caution. Only two attempted to excuse themselves--the man who usually
remained in charge of the castle, who, with humble tone, and with the
deference of a clansman to his chief, declared that he had not been
made aware of his lord's wishes or the necessity of caution; and the
man, David Drummond, who had accompanied Julia thither, and who
replied to his lord in a tone of dogged sullenness, which Gowrie bore
with more calmness than either Julia or Beatrice had expected.

"You must be more upon your guard, Donald," he said, speaking to the
first, "and, moreover, you must have some additional force here. You
must call in the tenants to the guard of the castle, and never suffer
it to be without ten men within at least. Give notice, too, that they
be prepared on the usual signals to come in with every man that they
can muster. The men of Athol, too, will come down to help you in case
of need. I will write to my good sister to-night, for I know not, from
moment to moment, what may happen; and it is my command to you to hold
out to the last against any force which may be sent to surprise
Trochrie, let it come under whatever authority it may. But we will
speak more to-night before I retire to rest. David Drummond, you go
with me to Perth to-morrow--be prepared."

With these words, the cloud passed away from his brow and from his
mind, and the rest of the evening went by in unmixed happiness. Oh, it
was a dream of delight to a spirit like that of Gowrie--or, rather it
was the realization of a dream as bright as ever filled the mind of
man. Often, often on their way homeward from Italy, when gazing on the
fair face of her he loved with that mixture of ardent passion with the
purer, the higher, the more elevating tenderness which exalts passion
to the dignity of love, he had thought he saw the bright being now
before him sitting with those who were bound to him by the ties of
kindred and of early association and long affection, winning their
love as she had won his, becoming the child of his dear mother, the
sister of his sisters. And now, as she sat by Beatrice, with their
fair hands often locked in each other, and their arms sometimes twined
together, and their eyes gazing into each other's faces to scan the
features they were so ready to love and to print on memory, till a
passing blush or a gay smile was called up by the earnestness of the
glance, he would almost fancy that all dark auguries were swept away,
and that happiness was placed beyond the power of fate. He himself was
very silent with much joy; but Beatrice spoke cheerfully, and led
forth Julia's more timid but more deep-toned thoughts; and the sister
gazed and smiled with strong grave interest at the fresh spirit and
the eloquent originality of the brother's promised bride, and declared
aloud, that it was charming, that it was unlike anything of the earth,
that it was like an angel sent down now into a world of evil and of
care, of which she knew nothing.

Then as the hours wore on, and night fell, and lights were lighted in
the hall, Gowrie persuaded Julia to sing; and the full rich tones of
the melodious voice pouring forth a finer music than was yet known in
the north, filled the old hall, and made the small panes vibrate
in the leaden frames, calling into being, in Beatrice's heart,
deep-seated emotions, the very germs of which she knew not to exist in
her bosom till occupied by the sunshine of the song. Sometimes she
almost trembled as she heard, and sometimes she well nigh wept; and
even the servants, lured by the sweet melody, peeped in and listened
through the partly opened door.

Oh, it was a happy evening that, full of every sort of pure enjoyment,
and willingly, right willingly would I pause upon it long, and tell
the words of joy and hope and love that were spoken by all, and try to
depict feelings that brightened the passing hour. Willingly, too,
would I draw back from the darker scenes before me; willingly would I
linger in the sunshine, so bright in contrast with the dark cloud
coming up upon the wind. But the cloud advances--Fate is moving
slowly, but inevitably, forward. It cannot be! We must on!



CHAPTER XXIX.


In the beautiful town of St. Johnstone, of Perth, on the west bank of
the river Tay, and in a line with the streets called Spey-street and
Water-street, the former of which, I believe, now bears the name of
South-street, stood, at the time I speak of, one of the largest and
most magnificent houses in Scotland, which well deserved the name of
The Palace which it sometimes obtained. It was generally called,
however, Gowrie House, or Gowrie Place, and occasionally, by the Earls
of Gowrie themselves, was termed "The Great House," to distinguish it,
probably, from their other mansions, of which they possessed several.
The extent of this building may be conceived, when we recollect that
the great court in the centre of the building was an oblong of sixty
feet in one direction, and ninety in the other. Round this immense
area rose four massive piles of building, raised at various epochs,
and of very different styles of architecture, but united into one
grand and imposing mass of masonry of a quadrangular form, and having
but one break, in the centre of the west front, where stood a large
and handsome gate of hammered iron, the view from which extended down
the whole line of the South-street. The gardens, which were very
extensive, and kept with remarkable care, lay at the back and to the
south, stretching in that direction to the town wall. At the
south-eastern angle of the garden rose a curious and very ancient tower,
called the Monk's Tower, from some tradition which has not reached me.
The parts of the building towards the Tay, and those towards the
south, were of an unknown antiquity, with walls of immense thickness;
and legends were current, even at the time of which I speak, of
persons having been confined by former lords, in secret recesses
within those heavy walls, and left to perish miserably. The northern
and western sides of the quadrangle were far more modern, and had
probably been erected either by the Countess of Huntley, who once
possessed the palace, or by some of the early Lords of Ruthven. By
whomsoever they were built, much pains had been employed to remodel
the internal arrangements of the older building, so as to make it
harmonize, within at least, with newer parts; and each successive Earl
of Gowrie had expended large sums in improving the accommodation which
the great house afforded, so as to meet the advance of his country in
luxury and refinement. Nor was decoration wanting; for in the south
range a number of small chambers had been swept away to form a
gallery, which was one of the finest at the time in Europe; and it had
been the pride of William, the first earl, to collect from all
countries, for this large chamber, pictures by the greatest artists of
the day.

At each corner of the house was a tower or turret, and both at the
south-east and north-west corner of the great court was a broad stair,
leading to the rooms above. Several smaller stairs opened also into
the court, and one especially, in the south-west corner, led direct to
a large chamber at the western end of the gallery, called the "gallery
chamber," to which was attached a cabinet, named, the earl's study.
The large dining-hall and a smaller one were in the more ancient part
of the building to the east, and the lodge of the porter was by the
side of the great iron gate in front.

This long description is not unnecessary, as the reader will find
hereafter; but it may be necessary now to proceed with the narrative,
begging the reader, however, to bear in mind the particulars which
have been mentioned.

Towards the afternoon of the 14th of March, 1600, a man was standing
with his back towards the great gates of Gowrie Place, which were
partly open. The court behind him was vacant, and there were not many
people in the streets, for the labours of the day were not over in the
industrious town, and nobody was to be seen but a man slowly crossing
the South-street, or a girl wending her way along that which led in an
opposite direction. The man who thus stood gazing up and down the
street was a short, somewhat stout man, with a ruddy complexion, and a
light brown beard and hair. He was by no means ill-looking, and yet
there was a certain degree of shrewd cunning in the expression of his
face, especially about the small black twinkling eyes, which did not
prepossess a beholder in his favour. If one might judge by the
half-open mouth and narrow jaw and chin, there was also in his
character that species of weakness by no means incompatible with
cunning. He was habited in a good brown suit of broadcloth, and a
short black cloak, with no sword by his side, but a small dagger in
his girdle, and might well have been taken for one of the substantial
citizens of the town, had it not been for a sort of cringing air for
which the worthy burgesses of St. Johnstone were never famous. From
time to time, he turned and looked back into the court, as if he
expected somebody to appear therein, and once he muttered, "De'il's
in the wife! she's long ere she comes to take the keys." But a minute
or two after, he took a step forward with a joyous air, as a man on
foot entered the South-street, and nodded and beckoned with a smile.

The man advanced with a quick step towards him, with a "Good day, Mr.
Henderson."

"Ah, Wattie!" said the man, who had been standing at the door of the
great house, "what has brought you to Perth, and how are you and all
your people, and good Sir George Ramsay, your master?"

"They're all well, sir," answered the man; "though, to speak truth, I
have not seen Sir George this many a day. I've been with the court,
Mr. Henderson, trying what I could do to better my fortune--all with
my good master's leave, however; and his brother John is doing all he
can to help me."

"Well, I hope you will have good luck," replied Andrew Henderson, the
Earl of Gowrie's factor, or bailiff. "I wish I could do you any good,
Wattie; but the earl has been so long gone, that he can help little;
and as to Mr. Alexander, the wild lad and I are not such great
friends."

"You can help me, nevertheless, very much, Andrew," replied the other;
"for you are just the man who must do it, if any one does."

"How's that--how's that, Wattie?" asked Henderson. "I will do anything
I can, man."

"Why, the case is just this," answered Sir George Ramsay's man: "the
old supervisor at Scoon is dead; and I'm to have the place, which his
majesty has graciously condescended to promise to Master John Ramsay,
if I can get the earl's factor's good word. Now, who's the factor but
yourself, man?"

"Then my good word you shall have, Wattie," replied Henderson,
slapping him on the shoulder. "Didn't your wife's cousin Jane marry my
half-brother's second son? I'll write you a letter commendatory, in a
minute, to the honourable comptroller of his majesty's household. But
where have you put your horse, man?"

"Oh, I just left him at Murray's Inn," replied the other; "not knowing
whether I should find you or not. Come and take a stoup of wine,
Andrew; and you can write the letter there."

This proposal was readily agreed to, for Andrew Henderson was a man
who by no means objected to that good thing called a stoup of wine. He
called to an old woman who was now in the court, saying, "Here, Nelly,
take the keys; I'm going to Murray's Inn." And the two were soon
seated in the public room of Murray's Inn, as it was called, with
several other persons who were drinking there likewise. George Murray,
the keeper of the inn, was a man of good family, though it is supposed
of illegitimate birth; but what is certain is, that he had the best
wine in the town, and that his house was frequented by all the
principal gentlemen in the neighbourhood. Henderson and Sir George
Ramsay's man were soon supplied with what they wanted, and sat
drinking and talking for about half an hour; at the end of which time
a horse's feet were heard to stop opposite to the inn, and a minute
after, David Drummond, the dull looking servant of the Earl of Gowrie,
entered the room and looked round. The cheerful countenances of Andrew
Henderson and his friend Wattie changed the moment they saw him; and
Henderson exclaimed, "Ah, Davie, is that you, man? What brings you to
Perth? Is the earl coming?"

"Ay, is he, Henderson," answered the man, looking heavily at Sir
George Ramsay's servant. "He'll be here in five minutes, and sent me
on to tell you. So you must get up and come away to the Great House
directly, for I've been there seeking you."

Henderson was rising at once; but his friend Wattie laid his hand upon
his arm, saying, "Just write me those few lines to Sir George Murray
first. It will not take you a minute, Andrew."

"Hold your tongue, you little stupid pock-pudding!" cried David
Drummond, in an insulting tone; "do you think he's going to neglect
his natural lord and master, to attend to such a thing as you are, Wat
Matthison?"

"Ah, David Drummond, David Drummond," said the other man, with his
eyes flashing fire; "you killed my niece's husband, and you'll come to
be hanged by the neck, for all you think yourself so safe."

"It shall be for killing you, then," said Drummond, who was a very
powerful man; and he struck him a violent blow with his fist.

The other, though not so strongly made, instantly returned it; and a
regular battle would have ensued between them, had not the master of
the inn and all the other persons present interfered, and pushed them
by main force into the street. There they kept them apart for a
moment, and tried to pacify them; but soon getting tired of the task
of peacemaking, they left them to themselves, and Drummond rushed upon
Walter Matthison again. The two grappled with each other, and
struggled vehemently for a moment, the spirit and resolution of
Matthison supplying the want of physical strength.

"Call the bailie! call the bailie!" cried Henderson, loudly. "De'il's
in it, Jock, can you not part them? Here, Murray, help us."

But at that moment Drummond was seen to put his hand to his girdle,
and the next moment Matthison loosed his hold and reeled back with a
sharp cry, exclaiming, "Oh! the man's killed me!" and before any one
could reach him, he fell back on the pavement with the blood pouring
in torrents from his side.

David Drummond, without staying to take his horse, or to look what he
had done, ran off as hard as his legs would carry him in the direction
of the Great House, pursued by a number of the people. He reached it
before them, however, rushed through the iron gates, which were open,
into the court, where several horses and men were standing, and then
flinging-to the gates in the face of the pursuers, turned the key in
the lock. This done, he attempted to rush into the house, but was
suddenly met by the Earl of Gowrie himself, who was seen to seize him
by the collar, and point with his hand to what was probably a mark of
blood upon his arm. The next instant, the people who were gazing
through the gates saw the murderer handed over to two of the other
servants, who at once proceeded to strap his arms together with one of
the stirrup leathers, while Gowrie, advancing to the gate, said to the
people near, "I wish, my good friends, some of you would call one of
the bailies to me, and ask him to bring the guard. I have a prisoner
here who must be handed over to his custody."

"Long live the Earl of Gowrie!--Long live the great earl!--Long live
our noble provost! He will do justice," cried a dozen voices, while
two or three men ran off to bring the bailie.

"Ah, my lord, this is a sad business," cried Henderson, coming up.
"I'm glad to see your lordship returned safely to your own place; but
it's awful to think that one of our people should shed blood in the
streets before he's been ten minutes in St. Johnstone. It's that wild
beast Drummond has done it, and it seems he has fled hither."

"There he stands in custody for the deed, Henderson," replied the
earl; "and I give notice to all men that I will visit any offences
committed by my own people even more severely upon them than I would
upon others; and justly too, for most of them have been well nurtured,
and all are well paid and well fed. They have my example before them,
which I trust will never lead them to do wrong, and have always had my
commands to abstain from doing injury to any man. If they fail then,
their crime is the greater; and I will by no means pass it over. Who
is the man he has wounded?"

"Wounded, my lord!" cried Henderson; "he's as dead as a door nail.
David Drummond there stabbed him to the heart, and he was dead in two
minutes, before one could lift his head up. His name was Walter
Matthison; a good, quiet, harmless man as ever lived. Ay, here comes
Bailie Roy."

"Some one open the gates," said the earl; and advancing through the
crowd, he met Bailie Roy, a little, fat, pursy man whom he did not
know, with every sign of respect for his office.

"I have sent for you, Mr. Bailie," he said, "in consequence of a
horrible occurrence which has just taken place in the town, in which
one of my servants, named David Drummond, has, I understand, slain a
man, called Walter Matthison. I have caused the accused person to be
instantly secured, and I now hand him over to you to be dealt with
according to law. You will be pleased to have him removed to the town
jail, and tried for the offence in due course. I myself shall return
to Perth as soon as the king's service permits me, and will hold a
justice court immediately after my arrival. If more convenient,
however, to the magistrates of Perth to proceed to the trial earlier,
I beg that it may be done without either fear or favour, for my
presence is not absolutely necessary; and the prisoner would certainly
meet with nothing but simple justice at my hands."

"My lord, your lordship is extremely gracious," said the bailie. "The
magistrates will of course wait your lordship's leisure, as they would
not on any account be without the honour of your presence as our lord
provost on such an awful and important occasion. I beg leave to
felicitate your lordship very humbly upon your auspicious return."

This speech was accompanied by sundry bows to the great man; and then
turning to his own followers, he said, in a more authoritative tone,
"Take hold of the atrocious villain, and away with him.[1] Our
noble lord provost, my friends, will take care that there is no
bully-ragging in the town of Perth."

The earl was too much vexed and annoyed by all that had taken place to
afford a smile; and as soon as the prisoner was removed, he dismissed
the worthy bailie with a gracious speech, and retired into the house
with his factor, Henderson. Having seated himself in the lesser
dining-room, he inquired more minutely into the circumstances of the
transaction, of which he received an account very nearly, if not quite
true.

"But who is this Walter Matthison?" he asked, after Henderson had told
him what he had seen with his own eyes. "Was he a married man? Had he
any family?"

"He was a good, peaceable man, my lord, as ever lived," replied
Henderson, "and an old servant of Sir George Ramsay's, who was always
a kind master to all his people. Married he was too, poor fellow, and
has three or four children."

"I grieve to hear it," said the earl; "something must be done for
them. Let me have paper and ink. I will write to Sir George directly."

When the letter was written and sealed, the earl turned his thoughts
to other matters, and gave the orders which were necessary for putting
the Great House at Perth into a condition to receive him at any time
when he might like to come.

"You must find me out a trustworthy person as porter, Henderson," he
said, "and engage whatever other people may be needful for the service
of the house, cooks, and sewers, and such persons. From what I see--we
must have the help of women's hands also, in order that everything may
be put into a better state, for the place is in a sad dusty condition,
Henderson. I am sorry to see that it has been so neglected."

"Why, you see, my lord," said the factor, who was one of those men who
never want an excuse, "her ladyship your mother would but allow two
poor old feckless women while you were beyond seas. They could not do
much, poor bodies; but what they could do, they did do, I will say for
them; but I'll see that your lordship's orders are obeyed, and
everything put straight before you come back. Where I'm to get a
porter, I do not know--oh, ay, there's Christie, I forgot him; he may
do well enough--a quiet, stout man, just fit for a porter; and he's
seeking service, too. Would your lordship like to see any of the
accounts to-day?"

"No, Henderson, no," answered the earl; "I must away to Dirleton as
soon as possible. Let me have a cup of wine. This sad business
distresses me sorely. I love not to have blood shed the very moment of
my entering the town."

"Nor I either, my lord," said Henderson. "It's a bad sign."

The last words were spoken in a low tone to himself; and retiring, he
brought the earl a small silver flagon and cup with his own hands.
Gowrie drank; and after giving some farther orders, and waiting till
the horses had consumed their corn, he remounted to ride on; but
hardly had his horse gone fifty yards from the gates, when he was
met by four men carrying a board, on which was stretched the body
of the unfortunate Walter Matthison, followed by a number of the
town's-people. Gowrie immediately stopped, and asked some questions,
by the answers to which he found that the body was being removed to
the house of a cousin of the deceased, named Symes, living in
Water-street.

"Tell the good man," said Gowrie, "that I grieve much for what has
happened; that I have written to Sir George Ramsay about poor
Matthison's family, and will myself take care that they are provided
for according to their station."

A murmur of applause and thanks followed, and the earl rode on, having
gained rather than lost in the esteem of his fellow-townsmen by his
demeanour on so painful an occasion.

It was late at night before he arrived at Dirleton; but his mother was
still up, expecting him, and he was soon pressed warmly to her bosom.
His two young brothers also were there, all eager to claim affection;
but after the first joy of meeting was over, the first question was,
"But where is Beatrice?"

"The dear girl chose to stay behind," said Gowrie, "to comfort and
cheer another like herself. I have to crave forgiveness, my dear lady
and mother," he continued, kissing the countess's hand, "for having
gone to Trochrie before I came to Dirleton; and I trust you will not
think I failed in duty."

"It was quite natural, John," said his mother. "Hearts are like trees,
my dear boy: they must be taken from the parent stem, and grafted on
another, in order to bear good fruit. I have loved myself, Gowrie, and
have not forgotten what it is."

"Love alone would not have carried me thither before seeing you, dear
mother," answered the earl; "but I feared that so strict and careful a
watch as is needful might not be kept up; and my suspicions were only
too correct. I found the castle gates open, and not a man in the house
but my English servant Jute. However, I have now spoken seriously to
Donald Mac Duff, our baron bailie, and taken such measures as to guard
against all chance of surprise. In case of need, Athol will come down
with help, and the clans would not be found wanting. And now,
William," he continued, throwing his arm over the stripling's
shoulder, "many, many thanks, my dear brother, for all your care and
kindness to one dearer to me than myself, and to you, my dear mother,
for your affectionate greeting of her, which made her no stranger in
the land of her fathers, or in the family of her future husband,
though she had never beheld either before. I shall stay with you here
for two or three days, and then go to bring Beatrice to you."

"It is well you have come, Gowrie," said his mother, "for here is a
summons from the king to attend the council some ten days hence. The
messenger inquired curiously where you were; and we told him you were
gone to Perth, but would be back to-night. The king, perchance, may
send to seek you there."

"He will find I have been to bonny St. Johnstone," said Gowrie,
laughing, "and to-morrow, by dawn, I will send off a messenger to show
him that I am now here. He will hear of my journey, too, most likely,
from other sources; for I am sorry to say a sad affair took place in
Perth between one of George Ramsay's men and David Drummond, who
stabbed him to the heart."

"The cankered beast!" cried the old countess, "I wish I had not saved
him to kill another honest man!"

"In that former business," said the earl, "both were in fault, so
there might be some excuse for him; but now the wrong was all on his
side, as far as I can learn; and so I have left him a prisoner in the
hands of the town. He shall have no favour from me, for he has been
well warned, and is greatly criminal. And now, dear mother, let us
talk of happier things----alas! your hair has turned sadly gray;" and
he smoothed it affectionately upon her brow.



CHAPTER XXX.


It was a gay sight in the town of Edinburgh, as, on the morning of the
twenty-third of March, all the principal nobles of the land rode,
gallantly attended, to the council for which the king's summons had
gone forth, and many were the persons assembled to see them pass. No
great joy or satisfaction, however, shone upon the countenances of the
good citizens of Edinburgh, for the rumour already had spread through
the city that a new tax was in contemplation to support the
extravagance of the king, and to enrich the minions of the court.
Never was a greater mistake made than that which is attributed to
David Rizzio, who is said to have expressed an opinion, when warned by
Sir James Melville of the peril which menaced him, that the bark of
the Scotch people was worse than their bite. On the contrary, history
proves that the bite, and that a sharp one, came frequently before the
bark. On the present occasion, there were no loud expressions of
popular feeling, except perhaps, when one of those barons in whom the
people had confidence happened to pass; but a dull and menacing sort
of gloom hung over the crowd, and whatever they thought, it was
expressed in low tones to each other. Gowrie was one of the first on
the way, and a shout greeted him when he approached the crowd
assembled near the palace gates, for there the council was held; but
the noise soon died away, and he was riding on, when a half-witted man
ran out from amongst the rest, and laid his hand upon the earl's rein,
saying, "Don't you vote for the tax, Gowrie! Don't you vote for the
oppression of the people. We poor folk can hardly bear it."

Gowrie said some kind but unmeaning words to the poor man, and passed
quietly on his way, arriving at the gates a few minutes before the
appointed hour. At the door he was met by the king's porter, who
informed him that his majesty had not yet left his apartments; and
with a slow step and very thoughtful countenance, the young earl was
walking across to the foot of the staircase, when young John Ramsay
came hastily forward from the fireplace, by which he was standing, and
accosted him, saying, "My lord the earl, I wish to speak to you."

"Ah, Ramsay!" said Gowrie, turning round, and holding out his hand, "I
did not see you!"

The young man, however, drew a little back, and replied with a haughty
and somewhat overbearing air, "There are some matters to be settled
first, my lord, before I know whether we are friends or enemies."

"It may be just as you please, sir," answered Gowrie calmly, gazing at
him with some surprise; "what is the matter?"

"I understand, my lord," replied the young man, "that one of your
servants has murdered, in Perth, my brother's man, Walter Matthison--a
person whom I protected."

The tone was very offensive; and the first answer that rose to
Gowrie's lips was, "Your protection, it seems, proved of little
avail;" but he checked the reply before it was uttered, and merely
said, "I am sorry, Ramsay, that such is too truly the case."

"Then you will remember, my lord," said Ramsay, "that we will have
blood for blood. No great protection shall avail here, whatever it may
do in France; and serving men shall not wound or slay as good or
better men than themselves, however powerful or wealthy their lord may
be."

Gowrie's cheek reddened, and his heart beat quick; but he mastered the
feeling of anger, and asked, though in somewhat of a stern tone, "Have
you heard from your brother lately?"

"No, I have not, my lord," replied Ramsay. "What of that?"

"Simply that if you had," answered the earl, "I think he would be
sorry both for your words and for your bearing. You have been
deceived, Ramsay," he said, in a milder tone; "certainly, with regard
to what has taken place in France, and I think with regard to what has
taken place at Perth. The murderer of your brother's servant--for I
can call my man, David Drummond, no less--was immediately seized by my
orders, and handed over to the justice of the town. I myself shall sit
as provost at his trial. I have invited your brother to be present,
and let me tell you, John Ramsay, that I say--which is something more
than what you say--that if all the power in Scotland, except the
king's grace, were exerted to save him from justice, he should die if
he be proved guilty, as I believe him to be."

Thus saying, the earl turned upon his heel, and walked up the stairs,
leaving Ramsay feeling himself painfully rebuked in the presence of a
number of bystanders, who, to say truth, had the ordinary amount of
love for their rivals, the favourites of the court. There are two
things from which the mind of youth usually takes its impressions, its
own prejudices or passions, and the opinions of others. It is an after
operation of the mind, in nine cases out of ten, to seek for and to
ascertain facts, and to form our opinions upon them. Ramsay was
naturally rash, bold, and resolute; and though he afterwards, as Lord
Holdernesse, showed some signs of greater powers, at the time I speak
of they were all in abeyance, and he was ready to receive all the
opinions of others, and tincture them strongly or weakly, according to
the prejudices and passions already existing in his own mind. He
remained near the fire, then, for a full quarter of an hour longer,
gnawing the bitter lip, and angry without cause for anger. At length,
one of the ushers came down and whispered in his ear, "The king is in
at the council, sir. He's been in some time."

"Pshaw!" said Ramsay, impetuously, and turned his back to the man who
addressed him.

Another quarter of an hour passed, and various noblemen, who arrived
somewhat late, went up the stairs without Ramsay noticing them. At
length, one of them, who was acquainted with him, hurrying in,
remarked him standing by the fire, and said, "Ah, I am glad to see you
there, Ramsay. I was afraid the king would be gone in to the council,
for I was detained by----"

"So he is," answered Ramsay, abruptly; and the gentleman hurried up
the stairs without waiting to finish his sentence.

The young gentleman followed with a slow step; and when he entered the
council chamber, a scene presented itself which I must attempt to
depict. The king was seated in a large arm chair, or throne, a few
steps in advance of the private door through which Ramsay passed.
Before him stretched a long table, or council board, at which were
seated almost all the great nobles of the land. Behind the king's
chair, and nearly filling up the vacant space between it and the wall,
were a number of the gentlemen of the royal household. Amongst these
were Sir George Murray, Sir Hugh Herries, Sir Thomas Erskine, Mr.
Alexander Blair, David Moyses, and nearer to the door, Sir David
Murray of Cospetrie, afterwards created Lord Scoon, a man of more mind
and intelligence than James was usually inclined to tolerate.

It would appear that the tax which the king wished to inflict upon the
people had been proposed for the consideration of the lords; and that
the debate, if it may be so called, had proceeded some way, for it is
known that the first three or four who spoke briefly expressed their
approbation. At the moment when Ramsay entered, however, the Earl of
Gowrie was on his feet, in the act of addressing the council. But that
he had spoken for some minutes; and that the argumentative part of his
speech was over was evident, for the only words which Ramsay heard
were, "For these reasons, my lords: because the tax would be
burdensome in its nature; because it would be unequal in its pressure;
because the people in this realm have not the means of meeting so
large a claim upon their loyalty; and because the actual necessity of
so great a demand, either for the purpose of maintaining the king's
royal dignity, or for securing the peace and safety of the country,
has not been clearly shown to exist; I, for my part, would humbly
petition his majesty, according to his great wisdom, to devise some
other means more easy to his loyal subjects for meeting the
necessities of the time----and," he added, after a moment's pause, as
if hesitating whether to utter the words which rose to his lips, "and
in his gracious condescension, and in that love and affection which he
is known to bear to all his subjects, to confine his requirements to
the limit of their means, and the most pressing exigencies of the
state."

The earl sat down, and a murmur of applause ran round the lower end of
the table; but Sir David Murray turned towards Sir Thomas Erskine, and
said, fixing his eyes direct upon the Earl of Gowrie, "Yonder is an
unhappy man. They are but seeking a cause for his death; and now he
has given it."[2]

Sir Hugh Herries, who was standing near, looked over his shoulder with
a dark smile; and Murray, as if he felt that he had imprudently
committed himself, quitted the room in some haste.

A moment after, one of the ushers whispered in Ramsay's ear that his
brother was below, and wished to speak with him; and imagining that
the debate was likely to be long, the young gentleman went out, made
an appointment to meet Sir George in the evening, and returned. When
he reached the council chamber, however, he was only in time to open
the private door for the king to retire to his own apartments; but
James, who seemed in high good humour, gave him a sign to follow, as
he had previously done to Sir Hugh Herries; and when they reached the
royal closet, the monarch cast himself upon his thickly-cushioned
seat, and burst into a fit of laughter.

"Well, bairns," he said, "that's done, in the teeth of Gowrie's earl;
and we shall get the money."

"You would not have got it, sire, if he could have prevented you,"
said Herries, with the true malignity of a court.

"Ay, man; but we were too strong for him," said James. "He that
wrestles with a king who understands his craft had need be a stalwart
chiel."

"I hope he may get a fall some day," said Ramsay, bluffly.

James looked at him with a significant smile, "And so he will, Jock,"
he said, "such a fall as may break his neck, perhaps; but we must give
him time. It's always better to let such lads weary themselves out,
keeping a watchful eye upon them, Jock, lest they play us a scurvy
trick. Soul o' my body, man, but he made a fine speech, though; well
delivered, with just enunciation, and every sentence well put
together. Not so bad for the matter either, if it had not been against
his king and his duty. He's a sharp-witted callant, if he was not
somewhat traitorously disposed, like the whole of those Ruthvens,
every mother's son of them."

"I would soon stop their treason, if I were your majesty," said John
Ramsay; "however, you walk by wisdom and I by indignation, so your
majesty will of course walk best."

"No doubt of it," answered James; and then, mingling a coarse
familiarity with an affectation of dignity, which only rendered the
one grotesque and the other ridiculous, he proceeded to say, "And now,
Jock Ramshackle, as you have rendered us many and signal services, we
are determined to confer upon you a high honour and dignity, by giving
you a clout upon the shoulder"--or as the king pronounced it,
_shoother_--"so go your ways; tell Tammy Elliot to bring us a sword;
but bid him carry it discreetly on the cushion, with the hilt towards
our hand, and to take care that it does not pop out of itself. They
are but kittle weapons."

We must leave the learned reader, who may be so inclined, to
retranslate the king's speeches into the fine vernacular in which he
usually spoke; for we have only attempted, though somewhat more than
half a Scot ourself, to put in a word or two of the original dialect,
here and there, for vigour's sake; and, to say truth, we fear if we
had either the capability or the desire of rendering each speech of
his majesty word for word, most of our readers would be puzzled as to
the meaning, and many of them not a little shocked at expressions,
which we have omitted--for reasons which shall be fully assigned at
some future period in a dissertation which we intend to write upon the
oaths and blasphemies of Our late Sovereign Lord, King James, Sixth of
that name of Scotland and First of England, of happy memory.

Young John Ramsay hurried away with a proud and joyous step to seek
the instrument which was to bestow upon him the honours of chivalry;
and, in the meantime, the king spoke more rapidly, and in a lower
tone, to Herries than was his wont, every now and then pausing and
saying, "Ha, man." To which Herries invariably replied, "Yes, sire, I
understand your majesty. It was the wisest course;" and to this
general approbation of the king's views he added, just as Ramsay was
returning with Sir Thomas Elliot and the sword of state, "But you'll
need cold iron before you've done."

Ramsay instantly started and turned round, with a glance of keen
inquiry at the king's face, upon which James burst into a fit of
laughter, exclaiming, "Look at the young slothound, how it pricks up
its ears! I'll answer for it, put him on a trail of blood, and he'd
follow it till he pulled his man down."

The youth coloured, for there was something in the comparison he did
not altogether like; but, kneeling at the king's feet, he received the
honour of knighthood--with the sheathed sword, however, which he did
not altogether like either. The king then dismissed him, with the
directions that he might have given a child, to "go and play himself;"
and for his own part, he remained shut up with Herries for nearly an
hour. At the end of that time, James and his counsellor came forth
together, and walked towards the queen's apartments, the monarch
concluding their conversation by saying, "Bide a wee; you'll see.
We'll frame such a cunning device that the birdie shall walk into the
trap, and if ever he gets out again, it will be the fault of the
fowler's friends, and not his who set the snare. But mind, man, not a
word or a look, as you'd have our favour. We shall ourselves be all
kindness and courtesy; and you must make our looks your glass, that
you may not scare the quarry from the net."

"Don't be too civil, sire," said Herries, bluntly, stumping after the
king with his club foot. "He must feel that your majesty can't love
him: and I've known many a man put on his cloak when he saw the sun
shine too fair in the morning, because he knew it would rain before
noon."

"Hout, tout! Would ye school me, man? Faith, you are too bold," said
the king; and he walked on with an air of pique.



CHAPTER XXXI.


In one of the good old houses of the good old town of Edinburgh, and
in a handsome and commodious room, hung with polished leather stamped
with various figures of birds and flowers, in a fashion of which
hardly a vestige now remains, sat Sir George Ramsay and his younger
brother, just after the sun had gone down. The younger was in high
spirits, for, mere lad as he was at the time, he had many of the
weaknesses of the child still in his nature: varying in mood, easily
elated; when checked or disappointed, moody and irritable; when
prosperous, successful, and unopposed, gay, good-humoured, and even
placable. That morning he had been greatly irritated by the news--for
news travelled slowly in those days--that his brother's servant, and
that one of his own favourites too, had been killed by the Earl of
Gowrie's man, David Drummond; and the very calmness with which Gowrie
had met his intemperate insinuations and haughty bearing had not
served to calm him; but the knighthood just received had done more
than any arguments could have effected to soften and improve him; and
now he was talking cheerfully with one of much stronger sense and more
amiable character than himself, who knew him well, and how to direct
his mind to better purposes.

"Well, George, well," he said, "I am glad to hear what you tell me of
the earl. I have no wish to think ill of Gowrie, and if he has acted
as you mention, perhaps he had a right to be offended at the way I
spoke this morning; and I will apologize. A man who is ready to fight
another at any time, need not fear to apologize; but Newburn stated
the matter very differently."

"A man of honour need never fear to apologize when he knows himself in
the wrong, whether he be prepared to fight in a bad cause or not,
John," replied his brother, with a quiet smile; "and nobody, I think,
will suspect our house of wanting courage. As for Newburn, he is a
firebrand, and being now deprived of the power of doing mischief
himself by the consequences of one of his own insolences, he seeks
alone to set others by the ears. I have now had the whole story from
good William Rhind, who was in the carriage at the time. Newburn first
looked into the lady's face, with an insulting laugh, and then, when
the curtain was drawn, pulled it violently back, and thrust his head
quite into the carriage."

"Then he deserved what he got," replied John Ramsay, frankly; "but as
to this other business, you must look to it, George; for I feel sure
that Gowrie is a man who will stand by his own people."

"Doubtless, when they are in the right," replied the other; "but not
when they are in the wrong. I tell you, he seized the scoundrel with
his own hand, as soon as he saw him flying with the poor fellow's
blood upon him, and instantly gave him into the custody--not of his
own followers, as he might have done, and no one said him nay, but--of
the officers of the town. I forgot to tell you, too, that he has given
a pension upon the lands of Ruthven to the widow, and her two
daughters--fifty marks a year to each."

"That's noble--that's kind!" exclaimed John Ramsay.

"It is," said his brother; "but nevertheless, I shall go to Perth on
the day of the trial, not from any doubt of Gowrie's justice, but for
my own honour's sake. Thus, I beseech you, John, listen to no more
tales from Newburn, who would only deceive you. As for my part, I tell
you fairly, cousin or no cousin, he shall never darken my doors again.
I stood by him as long as a gentleman and man of honour could; but in
this business he sought so grossly to pervert the truth, that I will
have no more to do with him."

Young John Ramsay mused for a minute or two; and his brother, thinking
that he was pursuing the same train of thought, added, "You cannot
deny, John, that his whole conduct through life has been disgraceful."

"I was not thinking of him, Dalhousie," said the younger brother, with
a laugh; "I was wondering what Gowrie can have done with this same
beautiful lady--this Lady Julia Douglas, and what can have made the
king all in a moment seem to care so little about the matter. Either
his majesty, with his cunning wit, has found out where she really is,
and knows she is out of his power, or else he is waiting for the
return of the messenger he sent to Italy to inquire about her
treasures. The earl's movements have been very strange, as I told you,
and though so strictly watched----"

But at that moment the door was quietly opened, and a servant said,
"The Earl of Gowrie, Sir George, is waiting at the stairfoot to know
if he can visit you."

The colour came somewhat warmly into John Ramsay's cheek, for though
he had spoke of an apology, he did not think the opportunity of making
it was so near. His brother, however, instantly started up, and went
down to meet the earl, who took him kindly by the hand, saying, "'Tis
a strange hour to visit you, Ramsay; but I have been engaged all this
day, and hearing you had arrived, I would not let another pass without
coming to see you."

"Welcome at any hour, my lord," replied Sir George Ramsay; "but how is
it--alone, and on foot?"

"Even so, George," replied the earl; "had it been a visit of ceremony,
it should have been in the morning, with horses and attendance enow;
but as it is a visit of friendship, alone and on foot is best. I am
now the student of Padua again, and far more happy so than as Earl of
Gowrie."

While this conversation was passing, they were climbing the somewhat
steep and difficult stairs of a house in the old town of Edinburgh,
with a servant going before to light them; and when they entered the
room where young Ramsay had remained, Gowrie seemed somewhat surprised
to see him, but held out his hand frankly.

The other took it, not without grace, and feeling that he must speak
then or never, he said, "I have to offer my excuses, my lord, for some
rashness this morning, brought about by representations I now find to
be false, and I trust----"

"Mention it no more, I pray, Sir John," replied Gowrie, seeing he
paused and hesitated. "I understood full well that you had been
deceived by that idle jade, Rumour, and had I not been in haste to get
over a most painful duty, I would have stayed to explain more fully.
Trust me to do simple justice in the case of the poor man who was so
foully slain at Perth; and when I have done so, never let
misconception of any part of my conduct breed coldness between us
more. And now, let me congratulate you on the honour I hear you have
this day received--none worthier, I am sure, and none who will do more
honour to knighthood."

Seating himself quietly between the two brothers, Gowrie soon carried
the conversation away from things personal, and from all that could
excite one unpleasant feeling, or even difference of opinion. Having
mingled more in the world at large than either of the two brothers,
having seen more of mankind in every respect, he could always lead
where Sir George was very willing to follow, and mingling from time to
time some classical allusion for the elder, with conversation of hawks
and hounds, and courtly pastimes for the younger of the two, he
brought a brightness over the next half hour, which gained wonderfully
upon John Ramsay. So much indeed did it gain upon him, that he became
alarmed. He felt that he was beginning to like and admire a man whom
he wished to hate; that he could not believe all that he desired to
believe of him; and perhaps that he might learn to love the person
whom he was destined to overthrow.

There was certainly some impression of the kind upon his mind. I do
not mean to say that it was any superstitious presentiment, for it
might have its rise in natural causes. The monarch to whom he had
devoted himself had so often displayed his jealous antipathy towards
the man beside him, had so frequently pointed to a coming struggle
between the sovereign and the subject, and had so clearly indicated
him, John Ramsay, as the person upon whose courage, faith, and
resolution he relied, that it was not wonderful, he should see in
Gowrie a man whom he was fated, sooner or later, to encounter as an
enemy, and with whom it were better to enter into no bonds of
friendship.

These feelings impelled him to rise at length, saying, "Well,
Dalhousie, I must away back to the court. We are but servants after
all, though our master be royal; and we must perform our service. I
give you good night, my lord, and am happy that occasion has served
for my explaining conduct which must have seemed rude."

Gowrie shook hands with him; but he said to himself, as the young man
departed, "Nevertheless, he loves me not, and will love me less when
he comes to think over what he will daily consider more humiliating."

"Well, Dalhousie," he continued, aloud, "you and I need no
explanations. Your brother is a gallant youth, but young in mind as
well as years. It is a fault time and experience sorely mends, and I
doubt not he will do honour to your noble name."

"My lord," said Sir George Ramsay, in an eager manner, "pardon my
abruptness, but I have much wished to speak with you alone, and feared
every moment that you would go before my brother."

"What is the matter?" asked the earl, gazing at him. "I had hoped that
all chance of dissension was at an end."

"With my brother, assuredly it is so," replied his companion; "he now
knows you better than he did, and all foolish doubts with him are at
an end. But, my dear lord, I wished to warn you that you are not well
at the court. You know I would not speak unadvisedly upon so serious a
subject. The king does not love you."

"Of that I am well aware," answered Gowrie; "why or wherefore I know
not, and indeed it matters not. But I have done his majesty no wrong.
I have advised him, when called on to advise, as I think best for his
honour, his prosperity, and his peace; and there is no treason in
that, Dalhousie. But, indeed, his dislike began before that--even from
the first day of my arrival. I thwarted some of his plans, Ramsay, and
he does not soon forgive that. But the storm will blow by, and he will
find that I am a loyal subject though a sincere one, and forget his
anger."

"The matter is more serious than that, earl," said Ramsay. "The king
is jealous of your wealth, your power, your influence at the court of
England, your popularity with the people of Scotland. My lord, I tell
you you are in danger."

"I cannot think it," replied Gowrie; "I have given no cause for such
animosity. I defy any one to show a disloyal or even a suspicious act,
and I will give them no occasion, Dalhousie. My innocence be my
shield."

"No disloyal act, if you will, Gowrie," replied Sir George Ramsay, in
the tone of strong friendship, "but as to suspicion, it is different.
The court is full of suspicions, and all aiming at you; and be you
sure, Gowrie, that when suspicion takes possession of the mind of a
coward, it makes him cruel as well as unjust."

Gowrie mused. "If you can point out the causes of suspicion, Ramsay,"
he said at length, "I may perhaps remove them, at least I will try,
provided that I can do so without sacrificing my duty to myself, to my
country, or to my God. I have offended the king by opposing him, but
in truth have done him good service rather than otherwise; and I can
neither regret what I have done, nor promise not to repeat it; but as
to causes of suspicion, I know none."

"I find," replied Sir George Ramsay, "that the first doubts were
created by your frequent intercourse with the English ambassador in
Paris. Then came the extraordinary honour shown you by Elizabeth
herself----"

"Exaggeration!" exclaimed Gowrie. "There were no extraordinary honours
shown me. The Queen of England was kind and civil, expressed an
interest in my favour, spoke of my father as I loved to hear, and once
or twice called me cousin; but I am her cousin, as near in blood,
though not in succession, as any relation that she has. King James is
the undoubted heir to her throne. He has no right to be jealous of
me."

"Your relationship is a dangerous one," said Ramsay; "and when with it
is united the fact of your opposing strongly the views of a vain man,
an obstinate man, and a timid man, you may well fear suspicions. But
they have been increased by other things. You have been very closely
watched since your return to Scotland; and your course has appeared
somewhat mysterious. It is now known that you first crossed the border
near Berwick, then suddenly returned into England, and came round by
Carlisle. Again, you had an English servant with you, whose southern
tongue betrayed his country at once. You sent him with a letter to the
king, and he has since disappeared from your train, for the king
caused him to be sought for, wishing to cross-examine him after his
own peculiar fashion.--Let me go on, that you may have it all before
you. Shortly after your arrival you quitted the court, taking your
fair sister with you, and leading the king to believe that you were
going to Dirleton. Instead of so doing, you crossed the Firth, and
went into Perthshire----"

"I told the king I was going both to Perth and Dirleton."

"But you must have gone somewhere else than to Perth," said Ramsay,
"for although it is not known where you did go, yet they have
ascertained that you did not reach Perth till the fourteenth of the
month--in short, that you were two nights absent, neither at Perth nor
Dirleton, and moreover that you did not enter Perth from the side of
Edinburgh."

"I have other estates I might wish to visit," said Gowrie; "and I did
visit them, Ramsay. But if every movement of a Scottish gentleman is
thus to be watched, life in this land would be very little worth
having."

"I ask no questions, my lord," said Sir George Ramsay. "I speak but as
a friend anxious for your safety, and wishing you to know all and see
where the danger lies. Upon slight grounds men will build up strong
fabrics of suspicion, especially against those whom they hate and
fear; and although I know not exactly in what direction the king's
doubts point; but I can easily conceive that, from the supposed honour
shown you by the Queen of England, from the appearance and
disappearance of a certain servant, from your various movements, and
the secrecy which has attended them, he may imagine that you are
engaged in some intrigues with Elizabeth, and we all know well how
unjustifiably she has meddled with the affairs of this land."

"On my honour and soul, Ramsay," answered Gowrie, "I know of none of
her intrigues, if she has been carrying on any. I hold no
communication with her whatsoever. I have heard nought from her, sent
her no information, and never will consent to a foreign sovereign
taking any part whatsoever in the internal affairs of this land--nay,
not to save my head from the block."

"I do believe you, my noble friend," answered Ramsay; "but still
suspicion, if raised to such a pitch as it has been here, is as
dangerous when false as true, when groundless as just; and I tell you
that you are in danger."

"Of what?" exclaimed Gowrie. "Does he propose to arrest me, to try me?
Let him do it. He will only bring disgrace upon his own head for
persecuting a loyal subject who has done no wrong. I have never given
the slightest cause, Ramsay. I never will; and I dare him, I dare the
whole world, to find any flaw in my conduct which can give an opening
to a plain and straightforward accusation."

"That is likely too," answered Ramsay, shaking his head, "and I do not
believe that any straightforward accusation will be made. The times
are past when men could be murdered under form of law; and greatly as
all men must regret the anarchy and confusion which reigned in the
land so long, yet they have acted as a purifying fire, and produced
that freedom which is the best safeguard of justice. But there are
other means, Gowrie, for ridding oneself of an enemy or of a suspected
friend--secret means, much more easy to hide beforehand from the
victim, and to cover over after with the mantle of authority, than the
coarse expedient of manufacturing charges or corrupting judges."

"Good Heaven!" exclaimed Gowrie; "and is this Scotland?"

"Ay, even so," answered Ramsay. "I will not suppose that the king
would order or attempt such a thing; but there is many a ready hand
prepared to execute what is believed to be the royal wish, many an
eager eye watching to discover what that wish may be. Recollect what
happened in England when Becket, the proud opposer of the crown, a
churchman, fenced in with all the hedges of Rome, was slain at a mere
hint from the sovereign he had offended. We have as rash men amongst
us as Tracy and his companions; and, in your case, you have none of
the safeguards which Becket had. How many accidents could happen by
which the Earl of Gowrie might lose his life?--a street brawl even,
with which he had nothing to do--a chance shot during a hunting
party--a blow struck in apparent sport; I could name a hundred ways in
which the thing might be accomplished, without danger to the
perpetrator of the deed, or imputation upon the prompter."

Gowrie rose, and walked up and down the room, thoughtfully; and, after
a short pause, Ramsay continued. "I have spoken my mind freely, my
dear lord, from our boyish friendship, and from sincere esteem. I have
ventured to say things which put in your power, even perhaps my life;
but I know your generous nature too well not to feel sure that my
confidence will never be abused."

"Be you quite certain of that," answered Gowrie, pausing and taking
his hand. "But what would you have me do, Ramsay? I see the dangers of
which you speak; but I perceive no way of avoiding them."

"There are but two ways that I know of," answered Ramsay. "If you can
remove the king's suspicions, and convince him of your loyalty and
devotion, the danger will pass away."

"Remove some of his suspicions, I might," said Gowrie, thoughtfully;
and his mind rested on Julia's situation, and the chance that existed
of his being able to prove, to the king's satisfaction, that she knew
nought of her father's wealth, and had never possessed any part of it.
Could he do so, and obtain the royal consent to his marriage with her,
the mystery attending some of his late movements could be explained at
once. But he resolved at all events, whatever might be the risk, not
to divulge the place of her concealment till she actually was his
wife. He repeated, then, after thinking for a minute or two--"Remove
some of his suspicions, I might, and I will try to do so, if it can be
effected without a sacrifice which not even safety could compensate.
As to proving to him my loyalty and devotion, I know no way but that
which I have already followed--to be loyal and devoted in seeking what
are really his best interests."

Ramsay shook his head; and the earl replied to this mute
answer--"Well then, Ramsay, I can do no otherwise; if it costs me
life itself I will not abandon the cause of civil and religious
liberty. I will be no consenting party to the oppression of the
people. I will not be the stay of despotism, nor the tool of arbitrary
power. Let him take my life rather than that; for I will not hold the
fee-simple of existence on the tenure of dishonour."

"There you are right," answered Ramsay; "and your views are mine; but
the difference between us is, that you, by your high position, are
called upon to act and speak in dangerous circumstances, when I may be
still and silent. However, try what you can do to remove the king's
suspicions--to account, at least, for some part of your conduct. Nay,
smile not, my dear lord, for things that seem very simple to you,
magnified by the optic glass of jealousy, grow into vast
importance.--Try, I say, what you can do, but wait a few days, till
the remembrance of this morning's work is somewhat softened. There is
no present danger, I do believe. Such schemes take long in hatching;
and you will have time to see how the king bears with you. If he is
dry and sharp, you may doubt his intentions; if he is wondrous kind
and over familiar, showing you great favour and unwonted friendship,
then be you sure he meditates mischief. That is the time for taking
the alternative,--quitting the court, and keeping yourself out of
harm's way. I will take care that you shall have every information
that is communicated to me, except that which comes under the seal of
secresy; but I beseech you, my dear lord, linger not too long, but
trust in my word that I speak not without good cause, and perhaps
suspect more than I say. For the plucking of such a goodly bird as
yourself," he continued, with a faint smile, "would furnish many a
poor half-moulted fowl of the court with golden feathers for the rest
of life."

Gowrie thanked him again and again, and then took his leave; and, in a
very thoughtful mood, returned to his own house.



CHAPTER XXXII.


It is a hard task for a frank and honest mind to assume an easy and a
careless air when there are dark thoughts and heavy doubts within.
Gowrie did not return to the court on the day after his conversation
with Sir George Ramsay. He felt that he could not banish the
impression that he had received from his demeanour. On the following
day, however, he did go to Holyrood, and was extremely graciously
received; and for a week more he continued to frequent the court with
other men of his rank and station. The queen always received him with
peculiar favour; and in her circle he met with many of those whom he
loved and esteemed, so that he gradually regained all his
cheerfulness, although he was not inclined to share in the somewhat
boisterous mirth of the king, or to take part in his vulgar
pleasantries, which had full scope and licence on the first of April.
On the third of that month, however, he craved a private audience of
the monarch, and, after some little hesitation, was admitted.

James was in the midst of books and papers; and his manner, though
exceedingly condescending, was somewhat embarrassed. "We would not put
you off with a poor excuse, my lord," said the monarch, "for we could
not tell what you were wanting; but you have chosen an ill time for a
long confabulation, as we were writing a disquisition for our poor
people of Scotland, and perhaps for the good folks of England too,
upon the nature and property of witches and warlocks, and how to
discriminate them justly."

"I crave your gracious pardon for my intrusion, sire," replied Gowrie,
"and can well wait your majesty's pleasure. The matter is one entirely
personal to myself, and therefore should not for a moment be allowed
to interfere with your more important avocations. I will, therefore,
by your majesty's leave, retire, and wait upon you at some future
period when you have more leisure."

"No, no--stay!" said the king. "Let's hear what it's about. We shall
always find great pleasure in doing what we can to show our favour to
you, Earl of Gowrie. Speak, man, speak. What are ye seeking?"

"Merely your gracious leave and permission, sire, to wed a lady to
whom I am much attached."

There was a small spot on James's forehead just above the eyebrows,
which the monarch was accustomed to contract when eager and attentive,
and that spot now grew very red.

"What, with the Lady Arabella Stuart?" he said. "So runs the rumour.
We have heard of it. But you are cousins, my Lord of Gowrie; and we
like not cousins marrying."

"There would be a thousand other objections to such a union, please
your majesty," Gowrie replied, "all of which I see and appreciate
fully----"

"Then what the de'il makes ye seek it?" asked James, abruptly, and
evidently in a very angry mood.

"Such a thing never entered into my contemplation, sire," answered the
earl, "nor did I ever hear that rumour had done me such a needless
honour till this moment. I am in no way ambitious, sire. I neither
seek to augment my fortune, raise my family, nor increase my
influence. That lady's hand may well be bestowed upon some sovereign
prince, but not upon the Earl of Gowrie."

"Ha, my lord, you speak well," said the king; "but some trick has been
put upon us. We have not long since been told that our good sister and
cousin, the Queen of England, had offered you the lady's hand when you
were at her court of London."

"Doubtless, sire," replied Gowrie, "gossip and jealousy, together,
have connected many a tale with my short residence there, equally
false with this. The queen never mentioned the Lady Arabella's name to
me; and, as she happened to be absent from the court, I never even saw
her. Had such a thing been proposed, I must at once have declined,
without even troubling your majesty upon the subject, inasmuch as I am
attached to another lady, and contracted to her by promises which I
neither can, nor desire to break."

James had listened attentively while the earl proceeded, and it was
evident that he felt much satisfaction at what he heard; but he spoke
no more of the Lady Arabella.

"Promises," he said, when Gowrie paused, "promises before witnesses?"

"Before one witness at least, your majesty," replied Gowrie.

"That is not a congregation," said the king. "By word of mouth or by
writing?"

"By both, sire," answered Gowrie, decidedly. "I am bound to her in
every way that man can bind himself."

"That is serious, my lord," said James. "You would have acted more
wisely and more dutifully too, if, before undertaking such things, you
had consulted us--not to say asked our consent as pater patriae. It is
serious, good earl, I say; but we'll find a means to liberate you."

"But, sire, I do not desire to be liberated," replied Gowrie, with a
smile. "I desire to be faster bound than ever, both to the lady and
your majesty, by your graciously consenting to our speedy union."

"That's a joke, man, but not a good one--" said the king, laughing
grimly; "considering all things, it's not a good one. Now you are all
obedience, you see, and humbly asking my consent, which I dare to say
you would do without, if it were refused."

Gowrie felt some embarrassment, for he could not bring himself to say
he would not, and yet he did not like openly to set the king's
authority at defiance. James, however, relieved him by saying, "But
who's the lady, man? Let's hear all about her."

"I met with her in Italy, sire," replied Gowrie. "She was then living,
I may say, in poverty, with her grandfather, the Count Manucci."

"Ha, ha! now we have it," cried James, laughing loud. "I know all
about the story now. The daughter, or the reputed daughter of black
Morton."

"His real and lawful daughter, sire," replied Gowrie, "as these papers
will show your majesty. The originals are in the lady's keeping; but
the names of the witnesses put the matter of her birth beyond all
dispute."

"Ah," said James, taking the papers in his hand, and casting his eyes
slowly over them, "it's good and honest to be lawfully born; but that
is all she'll get by these rags of papers, for the estates of old
Morton were all confiscate to the use of the crown, and were granted
long since, with the advice of our council, to better deserving people
than himself."

"I fear it is as your majesty says," replied the earl, calmly, "for I
have looked over the papers well, and do not believe that, even this
small act of settlement upon the lands of Whiteburn can be now
maintained."

"Ha, say ye so, man?" cried the king. "You're a lawyer too, it would
seem, and in this case a good one. I can tell you that the parchment
on which this is drawn is not worth an old bull's hide. However, she
ought to have a goodly tocher, for Morton had been scraping money
together all his life, and as nobody could ever find where he put it,
there's no doubt it was carried off by this lassie's grandfather and
her mother."

"I can assure your majesty that you are in error there," said Gowrie.
"Count Manucci lived in absolute poverty from the time he quitted
Scotland, having been expelled from Florence, as your majesty probably
knows, on account of his religious opinions. He received a small
pension from the Earl of Angus up to the day of his death, which the
earl would certainly not have paid if the count had obtained
possession of all his uncle's wealth."

"That looks like truth," cried James. "I should not wonder if Angus
had got the money himself."[3]

"Of that I know nought, sire," answered Gowrie; "but I can assure your
majesty that the only wealth this dear girl brings with her to me is
herself, and three thousand ducats which her grandfather had saved."

"Sorry to hear it," said the king. "We could have wished you a
wealthier bride, my lord;" and there he stopped.

Gowrie remained also silent, anxious to hear what the king's
consideration of the subject would lead him to, and at all events to
get some definite answer upon which he might act. He thought that the
next question might be, where he had left Julia, but he was prepared
with an answer even for that, although he much wished to avoid being
compelled to give it. James, however, notwithstanding his despotic
principles and his anxiety to establish a complete absolutism in
church and state, was constitutionally timid with those of whose
resistance he had had any experience; and he did not like to drive the
earl to refuse an answer. He therefore merely said that which
precluded him afterwards from acting upon the information he had
really obtained, giving the earl greatly the advantage.

"And so the lady is in Italy?" he observed, after a somewhat
lengthened pause.

"No, sire, she is not," answered Gowrie. "Her present abode I have
engaged to keep secret, till such time as I may be permitted to
present her to your majesty as my wife. Immediately that such is the
case, and that we can be married, I will go to seek her, with your
majesty's leave."

"As far as the court of London, I suppose?" said James, somewhat
bitterly.

"No, sir, not above one quarter as far," replied the earl. "I should
have been very sorry to have given any foreign prince a hold upon me,
even through my affections."

James remained silent, and seemed to hesitate, for he played with the
points of his doublet, and shuffled about the papers on the table.

"Well, my lord," he said at length, "the question is one of some
difficulty. We must consider of the subject fully. All those
Douglasses, even to the second degree, are banished men--exiled from
the land; and it cannot be decided just in a moment whether we shall
open the door to any of them. Besides, it might make strife and
contention. Here, you see, is a sort of claim set up to the lands of
Whiteburn, long since bestowed upon our faithful servant, Andrew
Stuart."

"I will give an undertaking, sire, under my hand, that those claims
shall never be pursued," said Gowrie, "under the penalty of forfeiting
five times their value."

This wasn't exactly the end, however, at which James wanted to arrive;
and, affecting a little impatience, he exclaimed, "There, then, man,
you've had your answer. We will give the matter our consideration, and
after due deliberation had, we will say yea or nay, as may seem
fitting. There, now, gang your ways, my lord. We have other things in
hand just now."

Thus unceremoniously dismissed, Gowrie retired from the king's
presence with no slight feelings of impatience and disgust. Delay was
evidently the object, but to what end this delay could serve, seemed
difficult to divine; and during the next ten days he was frequently
tempted to recall the subject to the king's mind, with as urgent
application as that of Buckingham for "the earldom of Hereford and the
moveables." He refrained, however, anxious not to injure his own
cause; and still the king abstained from giving any direct answer,
although, with a varying favour, he treated him one day with somewhat
too familiar kindness, and the next with cold indifference.

This playing with his expectations wore his mind and depressed his
spirits; and his long absence from her he loved kept him in a state of
irritable impatience, for he had fondly hoped to bear to Julia the
tiding that the king's consent was given.

He found consolation, indeed, in the frequent society of his sister
Beatrice, who, wise beyond her years, yet gay and sportive as a child,
at once counselled him aright and cheered him on his way. Seeming
never to fear anything, she was nevertheless watchful and alive to all
that passed at the court, which could in any degree affect her
brother; and much information did both she and Gowrie gain from her
gay lover, Sir John Hume.

Day passed by on day, however; and the king seemed to have totally
forgotten the subject of the earl's application, till at length, in
speaking with his sister, Gowrie said, "I can bear it no longer,
Beatrice. I will away to Perth."

"If you get to Perth," answered Beatrice, "you will not be long away
from Trochrie, Gowrie."

"Perhaps not," answered the earl; "but I will write to the king first,
Beatrice. If he refuses his consent, I will do as best I may, though
it may be dangerous, if the law does really make her a ward of the
crown; but I doubt the fact where there are no lands to hold. If he
consents, it is all well; but I must and will have some answer."

"Be not rash, Gowrie--be not rash," said his sister; "a day very often
brings forth important things."

"I am for Perth to-morrow," replied her brother, in a determined tone;
"but I will soon return, and perhaps my absence may recall me to the
king's mind more than my presence."

Without taking any leave of the court, Gowrie set out on the following
morning, and rode with all speed to Perth, where he remained two days
arranging his household, and seeing that everything was prepared for
resuming his residence in his native city. He was then absent for one
whole day and a great part of the next; and the reader need not be
told where he spent his time.

On his return he was informed that the prisoner, David Drummond,
desired to see him at the town jail; but although the message was
brought by no less a person than Bailie Roy, the junior magistrate of
the town, the earl refused to visit the prisoner.

"Tell him, good Master Roy," he said, "had he not been one of my own
servants, I would have come to see him at his request; but such being
the case, I will deal with him no way privately before his trial."

When the worthy bailie departed, Gowrie expected to hear no more of
the matter; but he was surprised, about half an hour after, as he was
walking somewhat sadly in his garden, to see Bailie Roy posting up the
path towards him.

"I most humbly beg your lordship's pardon," said the good magistrate,
approaching; "but I am forced to intrude upon your private recreation
by another message from that dour divot, David Drummond. He bade me
tell your lordship that if you would not see him he would apply to the
king, and might tell him some things that he would be glad to hear."

"Then, by all means, let him pleasure his majesty," said Gowrie. "I
would not for the world deprive him of any valuable or agreeable
information. In short, Master Roy, I will not see him; and he should
know me well enough to be sure that when once I have said so I will
not alter."

Notwithstanding this determined answer, the prisoner's message left
the earl thoughtful and anxious. "The only thing he can tell," thought
Gowrie, "is the retreat of my poor Julia. The king has sent no answer
to my letter. I will wait till noon to-morrow, and then go to demand
one myself--I do not think he would venture to attempt to take her
from my protection by force; but we shall soon see, and, thank God,
everything is prepared."

No letter came on the day following, and Gowrie set out for Edinburgh
after the noon meal. He arrived too late to visit the court that day,
indeed; and was sitting down with all the evil anticipations of an
impatient spirit under prolonged anxiety, when the clouds were
suddenly dispelled, and a brief gleam of sunshine broke through the
canopy of storm that was fast spreading over him.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


"Gowrie, Gowrie, Gowrie!" cried the voice of Sir John Hume from the
antechamber, almost as if he had been calling to a dog; and the next
moment the gay knight entered with his face all radiant. "Where are
the once sharp ears of the noble earl?" he continued, "ears that would
have heard the hunter's, halloo, from Stirling to Linlithgow. Why, I
called to you out of my high window in the High Street as you rode by,
till the echo at the Blackford hills shouted out Gowrie; and you
spurred on as if you had stopped your ears with wax, like Don Ulysses
when in danger of the fair ladies on the shore. Would to Heaven all
our mariners would do the same when they first land."

"I did not hear you, Hume," answered Gowrie, in a grave tone. "In
truth, my friend, my heart is very sad, and my outward faculties have
little communication with the spirit within. But what makes you look
so joyful?"

"One of the strange revolutions of the court of King Solomon,"
answered Hume; "whether his majesty has found out some sovereign
remedy for dispelling the black humours, or for warming and comforting
the spleen; or whether his favourite brack has cast him a litter of
peculiarly fine pups; or whether Queen Elizabeth has declared him heir
to the throne of England, or the Queen of Sheba has sent word to say
she will be here to-morrow, or--But never mind, something or another
has turned the gall and verjuice into honey and sweetness, and
especially towards your dearly beloved family. He ran after Beatrice
to-day to the queen's very knees, vowing he would fasten her shoe,
while I was forced to stand by looking demure; and he actually gave
Alex a hawk--it is not worth a bodle, by the way, but still the gift
was something, considering who it comes from."

"I wrote to him from Perth," said Gowrie, "beseeching him to give me
an answer to the suit, which I told you I had preferred, and he has
never replied my letter."

"Done on purpose to fret you," answered Hume; "he said so before the
whole court this very day, and called you a love-lorn gallant."

"I care not what he calls me," replied the earl, "so that he do but
consent freely."

"He does consent," replied his friend, "and all your troubles on that
score, Gowrie, are at an end. So smoothe your wrinkled brow, my noble
lord, and give cold care to the wind."

"Are you quite sure?" demanded the earl, hardly believing the joyful
tidings.

"Surer than of my own existence; for that I know nothing about,"
answered Hume, "had it not been for that overt act, I should have
doubted his majesty's sincerity, for his sunshine is not always
summer. But deeds speak for themselves. I will tell you how it all
happened.--Three days ago he was in an awful mood, and pulled more
points off his hose than he had money in his coffers to put on again;
but just then came in the news of Stuart of Greenallan's death without
heirs, and all his moveables are seised to the crown, besides a large
sum in ready money, which he left by will to the king--knowing he
would take it if he did not. Well, this windfall mollified him
mightily, and he has been improving ever since. But this morning he
has had a dispute with three ministers touching church government, and
Heaven knows what besides, and he quoted all sorts of books that
nobody ever heard of before--long screeds of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew,
till I believe, upon my life, the poor bodies were quite, as they
said, _dumfounded_, and fairly gave in. I would wager my best horse
against a tinker's donkey, they did not understand a word, and the
king himself not half of what he poured forth upon them; but they
owned in the end that his majesty was right and they were wrong, for
they could not confute his arguments or reply to his authorities. One
old fellow, indeed, made some fight for it, and answered in Greek and
Hebrew too; but the king had two texts for every one of his, and so he
too was beat in the end. From that moment he has been all frolic; and
this afternoon he held up your letter before dear Beatrice's eyes, and
asked if she knew who that came from. So she answered, gaily, 'From
one of your majesty's sweethearts, I suppose.' 'Faith, no such thing,'
said James, 'but I'll try and make him a sweetheart before I've done,
and that by giving him his sweetheart too. It's from your own brother,
John, saucy lassie--a most disconsolate epistle, because I forgot to
tell him he should have the bonny bird he's so brodened upon. But he
shall have her notwithstanding; and I trust she'll plague him till she
makes him more complutherable.' Then Beatrice burst into a peal of
laughter, so clear, so merry, so joyful, that it set the whole court
off, king and queen and all, till James, wiping his eyes, told her to
'haud her guffaw,' or she should not be married herself for a month
after you; and then she laughed more gaily than before, but petitioned
that she might be permitted to write to you, and tell you of his royal
grace. That, the king would not hear of, saying, 'No, I forbid any one
to write him a scrape of a pen. Then shall we have him coming with a
face as long as a whinger, and his heart full of disloyal repinings,
to know if we are minded to condescend to his request.' But the dear
girl answered, with her own good sense, 'More chance of his heart
being full of sorrow lest he have offended your majesty.' However, the
king would not consent that any one should write to you, saying he
wished to see what you would do, and exacted a promise that neither
Beatrice nor Alex would say a word. Me, he did not so bind; but yet it
were better not to let him know that you have been informed."

"I am a bad dissembler, John," replied the earl, "and I fear that the
joy in my heart will shine out on my face, do what I will. However, I
will do my best to look sad; but is not this a strange person for a
king--a strange scene for a court?"

"You would have thought it stranger still, had you but seen the
whole," answered Hume. "All the time he was speaking, he held the hawk
I have told you of on his hand, and kept stroking it down the back, at
which it screamed, and then his gracious majesty called it sometimes
greedy gled, and sometimes courtier, till Herries, who thinks he can
venture anything, asked why he called it courtier."

"What did he answer?" inquired Gowrie.

"Why, he put on what he would call a pawky look," replied the other,
"and said, 'Because it is like the horseleech's daughter, doctor. It
aye lifts up its neb, and scrawks for more.'"

Both Gowrie and Hume laughed gaily at this sally, the one in hearing
and the other in telling; for the young earl's heart was lightened,
and such creatures of circumstance are we, that, with a mind relieved,
a reply seemed to him full of humour, which a minute or two before he
would have thought nought but a coarse and vulgar jest.

"How did Herries bear the rebuke?" asked Gowrie; "for to him it must
have been a severe one."

"Oh, with his own bitter humour," answered the knight. "He said, 'Ay,
sir, it is sad how we are led by example. Every one, man and beast,
follows his master.' To which the king replied, good naturedly enough,
'Haud yer peace, ye doited auld carle! If you followed your master
I'se warrant you'd no pluck but be plucked--you'd be the doo and no
the gled.' However, I think that Herries is not so great a favourite
as he once was; and I am not sorry for it, for he was ever an enemy to
both your house and mine, Gowrie, and is one of those cold-blooded,
ever-ready men, who never miss an opportunity to do ill to another by
a quiet insinuation pointed by a jest."

"I know him not at all," answered Gowrie. "Alexander and Beatrice love
him not; but one need never fear an open enemy. It is the covert
attack, the blow struck behind one's back, the quiet lie spoken,
forsooth, in confidence, that one fears; for they are like the
poisoned weapon of the Italian bravo, which slays, though the wound be
but a scratch."

"For the present I do not think you need fear him in any way," replied
Sir John Hume; "but go early to-morrow, Gowrie, and take advantage of
the tide of favour at the flow."

The conversation then took a more general turn. The various characters
of the personages of the court of King James were discussed by the
earl and his friend, and the prospects of the country generally were
spoken of in a lighter and a gayer spirit than the earl could have
shared in an hour before. Some little word--one of those accidental
expressions which often set the mind galloping in a different
direction from that which it was previously pursuing--led the earl's
thoughts suddenly to his brother; and he said, "By the way, Hume,
Beatrice seems to think that Alex is even in less favour than myself
with his majesty, and I could not induce her to explain the matter
fully. She referred me to you, saying you would be able to inform me
what was the cause of James's dislike."

"The simplest in the world," answered Hume. "The king dislikes him,
because he thinks the queen likes him--too much. The truth is, James
is jealous; and, like all suspicious people, hates the object of his
suspicion, endures his presence at the court simply for the purpose of
entrapping him, and watches for every opportunity to find a motive to
take revenge."

"But is there any cause for this suspicion?" asked Gowrie, very
gravely. "Can Alex have been mad enough, wicked enough, to have
afforded any just grounds for such jealousy?"

"On my life I believe not," replied Hume. "The queen makes no secret
of her liking for handsome young men; and Alex is certainly as fine a
looking lad as ever mounted a horse or drew a sword. She contends
strongly, too, for that liberty of action which we northern people do
not conceive a privilege of fair ladies. She will go where she likes,
do what she likes, and see whom she likes, without being responsible
to any tribunal but that of conscience. This is her doctrine; and, by
Heaven, she practises what she preaches. The king may make himself as
absolute as he will out of his own house, but he will not be despotic
there very easily. Then again, her majesty likes the gallant part of
the old chivalry, and thinks that love and devotion are every lady's
due from every courtly gentleman. There must be a touch of romantic
passion in it, too, to please her; and she goes into these little
amourettes in the most light-hearted way possible, without a thought
of evil, I do believe. It is all too open--too bold, to be criminal.
But the king, on the contrary, takes a very different view of these
matters. While he claims to himself the right of the utmost
familiarity of manner and lightness of speech with man, woman, and
child, he would have all ladies as prim and demure as nuns, and as
obedient as a spaniel dog. In point of policy, Alex committed a great
error in attaching himself to the queen instead of to the king, for,
it is sad to say, one cannot be a favourite with both."

"I would rather he were a _favourite_ with neither," said Gowrie. "He
might serve both, love both, merit the friendship of both; but to be
the minion of either king or queen is not for one of my race."

"Well, well," answered his friend, "he is still a very young man, but
right at heart, I am sure; and I trust he will see that these
gallantries with the queen, however innocent, are, at the least,
improper."

"I must make him see it," said Gowrie, and turned the conversation,
which ended soon after by Hume leaving him to his own thoughts.

The following morning broke cold and cheerless; but at as early an
hour as was consistent with propriety, Gowrie presented himself at the
palace, and was readily admitted to an audience. The king was in the
act of pushing out of the room, with his own hands, in a jocular but
somewhat rude manner, no less a personage than Sir Hugh Herries,
saying, "There, get along with you. You are a saucy body, and were we
not the best natured monarch that ever lived, we should not bear with
your gibes.--Ah, my Lord of Gowrie! Now you've come for an answer to
your letter, I ween?"

"If it may please your majesty to give me one," answered Gowrie, with
as grave a face as he could put on, while the king retired into his
cabinet again, and took his seat.

"You see, my lord," said James, with a very serious air, "this is a
matter of much importance, and which requires full consideration and
deliberation on our part. Now I'll warrant that you're for wanting to
cut the matter short, and to be married to the lady directly;" and he
looked up slily in the earl's face.

"My own inclination would of course lead as your majesty supposes,"
replied Gowrie; "and I think, in many points of view, it would be the
best plan; but the lady herself desires that our union should be
delayed till the month of September next, if it please your majesty to
consent for that time."

"She's a very discreet young lady," said the king. "Feggs! most lasses
would be all agog to be a married woman, and Countess of Gowrie. Well,
my lord, we'll consider of it."

Gowrie now felt alarmed and mortified. Whether the king had changed
his mind since the preceding night, or whether he was merely sporting
with his feelings for his own amusement, the young lover felt a degree
of impatience which he was afraid would break forth in some angry
words if he stayed longer; and therefore, with a silent bow, but a
heated cheek and disappointed air, he retired towards the door.

James let him reach it and lay his hand upon the lock, but then
stopped him, exclaiming, "Hoot, man, come hither--don't go away in the
dorts, like a petted bairn. Come hither to your king, who is willing
to act as a good and kind father to you and to all his leal subjects,
if they will let him."

Gowrie returned with a brighter look. "There, now," continued James,
who in many instances was acute enough; "you are laughing now; and
I'll warrant that your titty, or the lad Alex, has been telling you of
the grace and favour we intend to show you."

"I can assure your majesty," answered Gowrie, "that I have neither
seen nor heard from my brother or sister during the last four or five
days; but I can perceive, by your majesty's countenance, that you
intend to deal graciously with me in this matter."

"I'm thinking you're a false chiel," said James, laughing; "and you
think that a fine fleeching speech, about my countenance, as you call
it; but I'll tell you what, earl, if I thought my face would tell what
I'm thinking of when I didn't want it, I'd claw the skin off it with
my own ten fingers; for let me inform you, sir, it's a principal point
of kingcraft to be able to speak with a sober and demure countenance,
whatever the matter in hand may be, whether merry and jocose, or sad
and serious. Men should never be able to tell, by the looks of a
sovereign, whether he be thinking of a burial or a marriage, a birth
or a death."

"But wise kings, sire," answered Gowrie, "are ever apt to double the
value of the favours they confer by gracious looks and words."

"That's well said," said the king, with an inclination of his head.
"That's spoken like a prudent and well-nurtured lad; and we do intend
graciously towards you, and will give you proof thereof. We will
consent to your marriage with this lady in the month of September
next, as you suppose; and, moreover, we will give you that consent in
writing, for there are certain conditions which, as you know well, you
yourself agreed to, and which we have embodied here in this paper, as
a sort of proviso, qualifying our consent."

Gowrie was a little startled by this announcement; but the king soon
relieved him from all anxiety, by showing him the paper, which was to
the effect that he, the king, authorized and consented to the marriage
of John Earl of Gowrie and the Lady Julia Douglas, a ward of the
crown, upon the condition that the Lady Julia Douglas should
previously execute, in due form, a renunciation of all claims, founded
upon any grounds whatsoever, to the lands of Whiteburn, and to all
other estates, money, goods, or chattels whatsoever, once in
possession of the last Earl of Morton. Otherwise the authorization was
to have no effect. The sense was enveloped in an immense mass of legal
verbiage, which would have been totally unintelligible to any one
unacquainted with the language of the Scottish courts; but Gowrie had
made a point of bestowing some study upon the laws of his native land,
and the meaning was quite clear to him.

"To these conditions I agree at once, sire," he said; "and am willing
to give your majesty an undertaking, under any penalty you please,
that the renunciation specified shall be made."

James caught readily at this idea; and being fond of showing his skill
in such matters, he at once drew up, with his own hand, the form of
undertaking which was proposed, and to which Gowrie willingly put his
hand, on receiving the written consent of the king to his marriage.

"And now, my lord, away to Trochrie," cried the king, as Gowrie kissed
his hand, "and bring your bonny birdy out of her nest.--Ay, you may
stare, and look stupified, but if you think you can hoodwink your king
like a gyr falcon on its perch, you'll find yourself mistaken, like
many another man has been.--Well, well, say nothing about it. We
forgive you, man; and if you don't think us the most gracious monarch
that ever lived, you're an ungrateful lad."

"Indeed, sire, I do think your majesty most gracious," replied Gowrie,
a good deal moved; "and I will do my best to prove my gratitude; but
before I go to Trochrie, I had better have this renunciation drawn up
in due form by some people of the law, that I may at once obtain the
Lady Julia's signature, and lay it at your majesty's feet."

To this plan James cordially acceded; and Gowrie, taking his leave,
was retiring to share his joy with his sister Beatrice, and to
endeavour to persuade his brother to withdraw from the court, where
his presence was a source of jealousy and dissension, when there was a
gentle tap at the door, and an usher put in his head, saying, "Here is
the Italian merchant, may it please your majesty."

"Bring him in--bring him in," cried James. "Stay a little, my good
lord; this is a man from the country you know so well, bringing wares
to show us, and we will have your judgment upon his bonny toys."

Gowrie would fain have escaped, but there was no resource; and the
Italian merchant, as he was called, though in fact he might have
ranked better as a pedlar, was brought into the king's presence. The
young earl instantly recognised a man from whom he himself had
occasionally purchased wares in Padua, which was at that time famous
for its manufactories of silk; and the merchant himself, after
saluting the king, made him a low bow.

"Ah, you two have met before, I suppose," said the king. "But come,
open your chest, man, and let us see what you've brought."

The goods were soon produced, consisting principally of ribbons and
laces, which might have better suited the examination of a lady than
of a king; and James selected several articles for purchase with not
the very best taste in the world. He asked Gowrie's opinion upon them
before he concluded his bargain; and the earl, though not a very
excellent courtier, was sufficiently learned in that craft not to
speak disparagingly of the king's taste. At length an exceedingly
beautiful ribbon was produced, wrought with figures of blue and gold,
so thick and massive, that it seemed better fitted for a sword-belt
than anything else; but James fixed eagerly upon it, declaring he
would present it to the queen. He soon after suffered the earl to
depart, keeping the Italian merchant with him; and as soon as the door
was closed, he said, in a familiar tone, "You knew that lad in Italy,
I suppose, my man?"

The Italian replied in the affirmative; and James, whose curiosity was
inexhaustible, proceeded to question him upon all he knew regarding
Gowrie's history. The good man had no idea whatsoever of doing harm;
but we all know how one tale leads on another, especially under the
hands of one skilful in extracting anecdotes; and although almost all
the Italian had to say was favourable to the earl, though he told how
he had been elected unanimously Lord Rector, at a very early period,
and how his conduct had given such satisfaction, that the university
had placed his portrait in the great hall, yet he went on to add that
he believed the earl had conceived some disgust in the end from the
treatment of one to whom he was much attached.

James proceeded to question him eagerly on this hint, and soon drew
forth the Italian's version of the history of poor Manucci. Truth and
fiction were mingled in the usual proportion of a tale so told; but
magic and witchcraft were favourite topics with the king; and from the
gossiping style in which it first began, his conversation gradually
deviated into disquisition, and afterwards almost took the form of a
judicial examination, as he questioned and cross-questioned the poor
merchant in regard to Manucci's skill in diabolical arts, and Gowrie's
connexion with him. The good man, anxious to curry favour with the
monarch, and restrained by no very great scruples of conscience, would
probably have said anything that the king liked, and certainly, in the
matter of suggestion, James did not fail to supply him with
indications of his own opinions.

The belief in such arts as sorcery and witchcraft seems in our eyes at
the present day so ludicrous, that we can hardly bring our minds to
believe that in former times the great mass of all classes, high and
low, were fully persuaded that power could be obtained by mortals over
certain classes of evil spirits. But such was undoubtedly the case at
the time I speak of; and the effect was often most disastrous. In the
present instance, James took care not to inform the Italian of the
conclusions to which he came in regard to Gowrie; and it may be
sufficient in this case to state that when he dismissed the merchant,
he remained with an impression very unfavourable to the young earl,
which, combined with other causes, did not fail to produce bitter
fruit at an after period.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


"Can you tell me where I shall find my sister, Ballough?" said the
Earl of Gowrie, addressing the usher of the queen's chambers, after he
left the king.

"She's gone out with her brother, my lord," replied the officer; "and
I think they took their way to your lordship's lodgings."

"I do not think it, Ballough," said the earl. "I must have met them;
or at least they must have seen my horses at the gate."

"They went the other way, my lord," said the man. "I saw them go
towards the physic garden. I heard the Lady Beatrice say that that
would be the quietest road, as they were on foot."

"Can I pass through there?" asked the earl.

"Not through this passage, my lord," replied the man, "but if you go
round by the portico, you'll find the little gate open, and that will
lead you straight."

The earl accordingly dismissed his horses and servants, and took his
way through a part of the gardens of Holyrood, or "the abbey," as it
was frequently called in those days, issuing forth into the more busy
part of the town by a gate at some distance from the palace. The door
itself was closed but not locked; and, as he was approaching it,
he heard a voice saying, "We have not starved your horse, you
foul-tongued southron! Now, ride away as fast as you can go; and mind,
if you say one word, you will be put into one of the dungeons at
Stirling, and treated to a taste of the boot you saw the other day.
There, away with you!" And these words were followed by the loud crack
of a whip.

"A whole skin is the best coat that ever was made," said a voice which
Gowrie thought he knew well, and passing through the door at the same
moment, he looked eagerly up the street, his eye guided by the
clattering of a horse's feet at a rapid pace. On that side appeared no
other than the figure of his own man, Austin Jute, mounted on the very
horse which he had ridden to Trochrie; and turning sharply round, the
earl saw on the other hand, walking away towards the palace, the stout
form and club foot of Dr. Herries, and another gentleman attached to
the king's household, named Graham.

Gowrie asked himself what could be the meaning of this. Could Jute be
really betraying him after serving him so long and so faithfully. "I
will not believe it," he said to himself. "The tricks of these courts
would make a man suspicious of his best friend. Yet it is very
strange--but I will wait and see. I shall soon discover, by the man's
manner, if he is concealing anything from me;" and with matter for
musing, he walked on his way. Neither brother nor sister did he meet
as he went on, but found both waiting for him at his dwelling in the
town.

"We thought to catch you before you set out, Gowrie," said Beatrice,
as soon as she saw him, "for Hume wrote me word this morning that he
had seen you. However, I trust, from your look, that all is safe and
right, and that the king's good humour, which waxes and wanes like the
moon, has not decreased since yesterday."

Gowrie sat down by her side, and told her all that had occurred, the
whole account being tinged with the joyful hopes of his own heart.
Beatrice looked pleased, but less so than he expected; and she asked,
somewhat abruptly, "And now, Gowrie, what do you intend to do?"

"To set out for Trochrie as soon as this paper of renunciation is
drawn up," he replied; "and then transplant my wild rose to Dirleton."

"Take my advice, and do no such thing," answered Beatrice. "Depend
upon it, Gowrie, she's safer where she is. You do not know the king as
well as we do. With him the sunshine often prognosticates worse
weather than the clouds; and I very much doubt his motives in this
matter. That you have got his written consent is a great step,
certainly; and we may well be joyful thereat; but he is famous for
baiting traps; and if he once got her into his power, think what a
hold he would have upon you. It would cost him more men and more money
than he can collect, to take her by force from Trochrie; and he has no
excuse for attempting it; but if once she were at Dirleton, he would
soon find means of bringing her to Edinburgh, and then your freedom of
action would be gone."

"You are a wise counsellor, Beatrice," replied her brother; "and I
like your advice well. 'Tis only that Trochrie is such a lonely and
desolate solitude for the dear girl, that makes me hesitate."

"You can easily render it less solitary," said Alexander Ruthven,
laughing. "Go up there yourself, and keep her company."

"If you will come with me, Alex," replied his brother.

The young man coloured and looked embarrassed. "I cannot do that now,
John," he answered. "I was a long time absent from my post in the
winter."

"The truth is, Alex," said Gowrie, frankly, "from all I hear, it seems
to me that it would be better if you were more frequently absent--nay,
if you were to give up this office altogether."

"What! and have they poisoned your mind, too, Gowrie?" cried the
other, impetuously. "I will not go; for by so doing I should only
confirm the falsehoods they have spread. I will not abandon my own
cause, or show a shame of my own conduct, whatever my friends and
relations may do."

"You speak too warmly, Alex," said the young earl. "Your relations
have no inclination to abandon your cause; and I trust and believe you
would never give them occasion to feel ashamed of your conduct; but I
only advise you for your own good. Suspicion is a dangerous thing in
the mind of a king, and, whether justly or unjustly founded, is to be
avoided by all reasonable means. Besides, were your royal master and
lady entirely out of the question, no man has a right to furnish cause
for dissension in any family."

"Oh, if I were out of the way, it would be some other to-morrow,"
answered the young man. "The king's suspicion must have some object
upon which to fix."

"I would have it any other object than yourself, Alex," replied his
brother. "However, I have given you my advice, and you may take it or
not, as you please."

"I shall certainly not withdraw from the court," replied Alexander
Ruthven, in an impatient tone. "I should consider that I was doing
wrong to the character of another whom I am bound to love and respect.
Therefore, to give me that advice, Gowrie, is but talking to the
winds, for in this case I am sure I am right."

"I much doubt it," replied the earl, and there dropped the subject,
for he saw that it would be of no avail to pursue it farther.

Beatrice had remained silent during this brief conversation between
the two brothers, with her eyes bent down on the ground and her cheek
somewhat pale, but the moment it was concluded, she looked up,
recurring at once to what had been passing before.

"I would offer to go with you, Gowrie," she said, "and cheer your dear
Julia in her solitude; but I think I may be more useful to you both
where I am; for, both on your account and on Alex's, my task must be
to watch narrowly everything that occurs, and give you the first
intimation of danger. Whether Alex will receive a warning I do not
know; but you, Gowrie, I am sure, will listen to the very first hint
that I give you. I may not be able to speak plainly. I may be obliged
to write but a few words; but watch and understand, my dear brother,
and if I say, fly, then lose not a moment."

"Why should you suppose I will not attend to your warning, Beatrice?"
asked her brother Alexander, with the irritability of one who knows
that others think him in the wrong, and who is not quite sure himself
that he is in the right.

"How can I suppose you will take a warning," asked his sister, "when
you will take no advice?"

"Because a warning refers to a matter of fact, advice to a matter of
opinion," answered the young man.

"Well, well," answered Beatrice, "do not let us dispute, Alex. I
think, with Gowrie, it would be much better for you to go; but you may
be sure, Alex, that if ever I tell you you are in actual peril, which
I can foresee will be the case some day, I do not speak without
perfect certainty. And now good bye, Gowrie. We must not be too long
away, otherwise the king will think that we are plotting together."

"You see he suspects every one as well as me," said her young brother,
determined to make out a case in his own favour; "and I am sure Gowrie
is as little a favourite as I am myself. Besides, I do believe from
his conduct yesterday, that James is now convinced his previous
suspicions were unjust, and that he desires to make atonement."

"Pooh, pooh!" answered Beatrice, tossing her head with a somewhat
scornful smile. "The king never made atonement to any one. The king
always thinks he is right, and has been ever right, and will be right
to the end of his life. He never dreams for a moment that he can have
been wrong, though he may take means to lull the objects of his
dislike or his doubts till they are wholly in his power.--But now
come, Alex, do not let us pursue this subject any farther, but return
quietly to the palace."

Then bidding her elder brother adieu, the lady left him, and,
accompanied by Alexander, walked back almost in silence to Holyrood;
for she herself was full of doubts and anxieties, and Alexander
Ruthven was in that state of irritation which is often produced,
especially in a young mind, by a conflict between a wish to do right
and strong temptations to do wrong.

I need not pause to detail the passing of the day with Gowrie. The
law's delay is proverbial as one of the banes of human existence in
the blessed land wherein we live.--It was so even in his time; and he
found, on consulting with those who had to deal with such matters,
that the drawing up of the renunciation, simple as it seemed, would
require the labour and attention of several days, in order to couch it
in the full and ample terms which he knew would be required by the
king. He had to give long explanations, and to enter into details
which he had not previously considered, so that the greater part of a
spring day was consumed before he left the dim and dingy den where the
man of law held his abode. On his return to his own house he passed
more than an hour in walking up and down the large and handsome
sitting-room, and meditating over the past and the future. If it be
asked whether his thoughts were sad or bright, I must answer, very
much mixed, as is ever the case with a man of strong sense and active
imagination. But Gowrie, it must be remembered, was in the spring of
life, in that bright season when the song of the wild bird, hope, is
the most loud and sweet and seducing. The circumstances which
surrounded him might alarm or sadden him for the time, but the
cheering voice still spoke up in his heart, and the syren sang not in
vain. At length he ordered lights to be brought, and casting himself
into a chair, took up a book--his favourite Sallust--and began to
read. The pages opened at the Catiline, and the first words struck
him, as strangely applicable to the half-formed resolution which had
been floating vaguely in his mind, of passing life in peaceful
retirement.

"Omnis homines, qui sese student præstare ceteris animalibus, summa
ope niti decet vitam silentio ne transeant, veluti pecora, quæ natura
prona, atque ventri obedientia, finxit."

"And yet," he said, "methinks many a man can raise himself above
the brute without mingling in the busy turmoil of the world's
affairs--nay, do more real service to his country and his race in the
silence of deep but peaceful thought than in the noisy contests of
courts and cities."

Then he went on to read, till he came to the splendid description of
Catiline.--"Lucius Catilina, nobili genere natus, magna vi et animi et
corporis, sed ingenio malo provoque," &c.

"What a picture of wickedness," he thought, as he read on; "ay, and
what a picture of the state of Rome under the republic, when it was
possible to say of any one man's life, 'Huic, ab adolescentia bella
intestina, cædes, rapinæ, discordia civilis, grata fuere; ibique
juventutem suam exercuit.' Is this the fruit of free and democratic
institutions?" he thought. "Is a state so nearly approaching to
anarchy, the result of popular government? A despotism were better!
But yet it cannot be so. There must be a mean between the licence
which destroys and the authority which oppresses society, when the
people have sufficient power to guard and support their liberties, and
the magistrates of the land are armed with the means of checking
lawless violence without trenching upon lawful freedom. I am not a
free man if there be others in the land who have the power to injure
me unpunished: my freedom is as much controlled by them as it could be
by any king. It is laws which make real freedom, laws justly framed
and firmly executed, laws above kings and subjects both.--But let me
see what he says more."

He had not time, however, to turn the pages of the book before the
door quietly opened behind him, and a step was heard upon the floor.
He did not turn his head, however; and the person who came in
proceeded round the table to the opposite side of the fireplace, when
Gowrie, suddenly looking up, beheld his servant, Austin Jute.

"Why, how now, Austin?" he exclaimed. "What has brought you to
Edinburgh? Has anything happened?"

"Nothing to my lady, sir," replied the Englishman, comprehending very
well that his sudden appearance might alarm the earl for Julia's
safety, "but a good deal to myself; and I thought it much better to
come and tell you, my lord, rather than go back to my duty, for nobody
can tell how much what happens to one man may do for another. I'm not
in Edinburgh by my own good will, you may easily believe, for you told
me to stay, and I would have stayed; but necessity has no law, and
what can't be cured must be endured. If other legs run away with me,
my legs aren't in fault, and might makes right, as people say.--Well,
my lord, I'm going on. I came against my will, as I shall set forth
presently. The way was this: it is just four days ago that we saw
three or four men riding in that long dark valley to the north west,
and old Mac Duff, your baron bailie, was thinking to go forth and see
what they were about; but knowing very well that if he were taken and
the place attacked, I could not command the men, or, at all events,
that they would not obey, which comes pretty near to the same thing, I
rode out alone to reconnoitre. I did not think I could be so easily
taken in, but this is a devil of a country, my lord, for such matters.
I looked sharp enough round, as I thought, all the way I went; but it
was impossible to go in and out amongst all the rocks and big stones,
and I still caught sight of the men I had seen from the tower. When I
came within about half a mile of them, they turned round and began to
ride away, as if they were afraid of being caught, and thinking they
had only been upon some marauding expedition with which I had nothing
to do, I did not ride after them more than a couple of hundred yards;
but when I turned to go home again, I saw five men on foot blocking up
the road behind me. I made a dash at them, thinking to get through,
but they were too much for me, my lord, and they soon had my horse by
the bridle, commanding me to surrender in the king's name. I asked for
their warrant, but they only laughed at me; and the other men on
horseback coming up, they tied my feet under the saddle, and my hands
behind my back. The horsemen rode with me, but the men on foot
disappeared."

"Did they go towards the castle?" demanded Gowrie, with some anxiety.
"What men did you leave behind?"

"Oh, the castle is safe enough, my lord," answered Austin Jute. "There
were fifteen men in all in it; and when I went away I said, 'Safe
bind, safe find, Mr. MacDuff. Pull up the drawbridge as soon as I'm
out; and if I'm not back in half an hour, send out for some of your
friends round about.' He'd soon have enough to help him; and there was
plenty of provision in the place, besides the beacon on the top of the
turret, which would bring more in a few hours; but they wanted nothing
at the castle, though no doubt they'd have taken my lady if they could
have caught her. That I found out by what I overheard as they brought
me here."

"And what happened to you here?" demanded the earl.

"Why, first they carried me up to a place called the castle, my lord,"
answered Austin Jute, "where I was crammed into a dark, cold hole, and
had nothing given me to eat but nasty stuff made of oatmeal and water;
but, at the end of some hours, they took me down to what they called
the abbey, where I was not so well off as before. Bad's the best, they
say, but better bad than worse; and so it was in my case, for now I
was left in the dark without anything to eat or drink at all for a
great many hours, till the sunshine came in at a hole up above, and I
began to whistle to pass the time. Soon after I was taken out, and was
carried to a room where there were five or six people, and a large
curtain across one end of the room. There was a table, too, with
several things upon it, some little and some big, made of iron, and of
very odd unpleasant shapes. One was like a barbecuing spit, only not
so big; and I heard them call it the boot. A stout man was standing by
the table, twice as big as I am, with his jerkin off and his sleeves
turned up. I did not like his look at all. When I was brought in,
those who were at the table began to cross-question me in all manner
of ways as to what I did in Scotland, and how I came to be at
Trochrie; and I beat about the bush a long time, especially when they
asked me about my lady----"

"Then they knew already she was there?" said the earl.

"I'm not quite sure, my lord, now," said Austin Jute, frankly. "They
seemed to know at the time; but I believe they took me in. I would not
tell you a lie, my lord, for the world; but I've a strong notion they
made me betray myself, by pretending to know more than they did. I'm
very sorry for it; but what's done can't be undone. A bolt that's shot
must go its own way. However, when I found that, either by what I said
or by what they themselves knew, they were quite sure of the matter, I
refused to answer any more questions as to how she was brought there,
and all the rest. Then they threatened to put the boot on me, as they
called it. I did not like that at all. I should have fancied my leg a
pig being roasted alive; but instead of that they put a thing upon my
thumb, and told me to answer truly, or it should be screwed up."

Gowrie rose from his seat, and walked up and down the room with his
cheek flushed and his brow contracted; but he said nothing; and, after
gazing at his lord for a moment, Austin Jute continued. "They changed
their course now, however, and began asking if I had been with you in
Italy; so I said I had. Then they inquired where you had hired me; on
which I said, in Padua, five years ago. After that, this question
arose, whether I had known the lady Julia there, and her grandfather,
and how long. It was an unpleasant sort of catechism with that thing
dangling at my thumb; but having heard the king talk at Falkland about
the lady's money, and how much he expected to make by having her in
ward, I saw what they were seeking, and I said to myself, they'll come
to the money in a few minutes. A nod is as good as a wink to a blind
horse, and so I answered, boldly, that I had known her and the old
gentleman ten or twelve years, long before your lordship came to
Padua."

"But that was false," exclaimed the earl.

"I can't help that, my lord," replied Austin Jute; "it answered its
purpose. As I had got into a scrape by letting out the truth, there
was only one way of mending it--by letting out some falsehood. Put
them into two scales, and the one will balance the other. If people
ask me questions they have no business to ask, they may get answers
that I have no business to give. However, they asked me how the old
gentleman and the young lady lived in Padua, and knowing I could do no
mischief now, I said, 'Heaven knows. They were poor enough, in all
conscience; but where they got what little they had, I can't tell.'
Then a club-footed man, that sat at the end of the table, said
quietly, 'Then they did not keep up much state;' at which I laughed,
and made him no answer, as if the very thought of such a thing was too
ridiculous; upon which that accursed fellow, with the sleeves turned
up, gave a turn to the thing upon my thumb, and sent a pain running
all the way down to the soles of my feet. I never felt anything like
that. I had well nigh roared with it; but I set my teeth hard and held
my breath; and the man at the end of the table checked the tormentor
for what he had done, and bade him keep his hands off till he was bid.
So the thing was unscrewed; and then they asked me how many servants
the old signor kept, and I humbly inquired whether they meant men or
maids. The answer was, 'Both,' to which I replied, 'One, and she
was an old woman. So it answered both purposes.' The man with the
club-foot called me a saucy knave, and tried to look very angry; but
he laughed notwithstanding, and inquired if I were sure there had been
no more kept; and I answered, 'Not one as long as I had known the
family.' The other questions were all of the same sort, and they tried
to puzzle me very hard; but they could not manage it, though they
talked about a man servant whom they pretended the signor had kept. To
that I had my answer pat, however--that I was ready to swear upon the
Evangelists that there had never been any but one and the same servant
there for ten years. 'Whether it was a man or a woman,' I said, 'it
was impossible for me to say. Their honours knew best; but one thing I
would take my oath of, that it wore petticoats and was called Tita.'
Thereupon there was a great burst of laughter; and the room had a
strange echo in it, for the same sounds came back from behind the
curtain."

"The party seems to have been a merry one," said the earl,
"considering the circumstances."

"Nevertheless, they took me back, and plunged me into the same dark
hole, and left me there till this morning, when I was taken out, in an
oddish kind of way, not by a jailor or a guard, but by two gentlemen.
There was a little boy, about as high as my knee, standing by a
garden-gate to which they brought me, and he had my horse in his hand.
So they told me to get up and ride away, as if Satan were behind me,
back to Trochrie, and not to say a word to a living soul, but more
especially to you, my lord, of anything that had happened; and they
threatened me sore, moreover. I did ride away, for I was glad to be
out of their hands; but I remained at the south ferry house till dusk,
and then came back to seek your lordship and tell you all."

"You have done well, Austin," replied Gowrie, "and are an honest
faithful fellow. I was nearer to you and them, when they mounted you
this morning, than either knew; and I heard something said about
starving your horse."

"Oh, that was but a snap, my lord, where I had no teeth to bite hard,"
replied Austin. "I know that a bitter word is often worse than a sharp
sword. So, having nothing else to say, I told them they had starved my
horse to make him like themselves. I took care to be in the saddle
first, however; but, instead of trying to stop me, one of them gave
the poor beast a cut with his whip, and sent us both about our
business."

How the king had obtained information that Julia was concealed at
Trochrie was now in part revealed; but only in part, for it was
evident, from Austin's capture and examination, that some hint had
been gained before--how, Gowrie could not divine. The honest servant
was sent back before dawn on the following day, on his way to the
highland castle, and he did not depart without a liberal reward, which
he accepted without ceremony, for there were no affectations about
good Austin Jute. He served faithfully, devotedly, where he attached
himself; he would at any time have perilled life or limb, or
sacrificed every comfort and convenience for a lord he loved; and, to
say nought but truth, I do not think that, in so doing, he ever in his
inmost heart thought of a recompence, but he took it willingly enough
when it was given, and, sad to say, spent it with as little
consideration as he won it.

Several more days elapsed ere the paper Gowrie required was drawn up
by the men of law, and he twice presented himself at the palace. All
there seemed still fair and smooth; the king's good humour lasted
undisturbed; the queen was ever kind and gracious; Sir Hugh Herries
did not appear at court, and John Ramsay, though distant to Alexander
Ruthven, was warmer in his manner to the earl.

"Beatrice's doubts are unfounded, I do believe," thought Gowrie, as he
rode away after the second visit; and when he returned to his own
dwelling, he found the act of renunciation waiting for him. Somewhat
less than an hour of daylight still remained, and that time was spent
in reading and considering the document.

The sun had just set, leaving a bright glow in the April sky, and
Gowrie had risen to gaze at it from a window which looked out towards
the west, when suddenly he heard a hasty foot in the ante-room, and
the next instant Sir John Hume entered in haste.

"Here, Gowrie," he said, advancing with a small paper folded and
sealed in his hand. "Here is something for you. What it contains I
know not; but Beatrice slipped it into my hand in haste and agitation,
saying, in a whisper, 'To Gowrie, with all speed.'"

Gowrie took it, tore it open, and found the words, "Away, with all
speed, to Perth!--to-night!"

"My lord, here is Sir George Ramsay without, desiring to see you,"
said a servant, looking in.

"Admit him," replied the earl, crushing the paper in the palm of his
hand.

The next moment Ramsay entered, with as much apparent haste as Hume;
but on seeing the latter he paused, assumed a calmer air, and
advancing to the earl, shook hands with him, saying, "It is a fair and
warm afternoon, my lord, what say you to a twilight ride?"

"Not to-night, Dalhousie," replied Gowrie, gazing at him attentively;
"have you any particular object in your proposal?"

"Only to have a few minutes' conversation with you, my dear lord,"
replied the other, returning his glance with one of equal
significance; "but a moment here in private will do as well;" and he
moved towards a distant window.

Gowrie followed him, bending down his head; and Ramsay approaching
close, whispered in his ear, "You are in danger, my lord. It were well
you departed at once. Lose no time--I dare not say more."

Gowrie pressed his hand kindly and gratefully, saying, "Thanks,
Dalhousie, thanks! I had heard the tidings before; but the obligation
to you is no less."

He spoke openly and aloud; and his friend, laying his finger on his
lip, as if to counsel discretion, retired almost as hastily as he had
come.

Ere half an hour had passed, the earl was on horseback, and riding
towards Queensferry.



CHAPTER XXXV.


It was a bright, hot summer day, the sky without a cloud, the air
without a breeze. The sports of the morning were over, the hounds had
returned to their kennel, the slaughtered stag was brought in, the
horses were in the stable, the hunters seeking repose. The old palace
of Falkland, where James V. drew the last breath of a life which had
become burdensome, rose stately amidst its gardens and woods; and the
old trees, but few of which now remain in the neighbourhood, then
spread their wide branches over the velvet turf; in some places
approaching so near to the building, as, when the wind waved them, to
brush with their long fingers the palace walls. James himself had gone
in about an hour before, rejoiced with the success, but fatigued with
the exertions, of the chase; and all the ladies of the court were
screening their beauty in the shady halls, from the glare of the full
sun.

It has often struck me, in looking at the finer paintings of Claude de
Lorraine--and they are not all really fine--and in contemplating the
calm, quiet, sunny scenes they represent, that the painter must have
chosen, by preference, that hour when, under the summer skies of
Italy, all nature seems to be taking a mid-day slumber. Such was the
aspect of the scene about the palace of Falkland on the day of which I
speak. Looking towards the wood, and with one's back towards the
palace, so as to shut out its memorial of active life, one might have
fancied that one was in the midst of some primeval solitude, or else
that the whole world, oppressed with the heat, was sound asleep. No
moving object was to be seen; not a forester or keeper was within
sight; the deer were hidden in the coverts of the wood; the very birds
seemed to avoid the glare; and the court servants themselves--those
busy toilers--were all enjoying the repose afforded by the weariness
of their lords.

At length, however, after the scene had remained thus quiet for about
half an hour, a very young but very handsome man sauntered forth from
one of the smaller doors of the building, crossed the warm green in
front, turned to one of the old trees, stood for a moment under the
shade, and then walked languidly to another, near an opposite angle of
the palace. He seemed seeking a place for repose, but difficult to
please, for he again left that tree and strolled to its green
neighbour, where, stretching himself on the grass, he laid a book,
which he carried with him, open on the ground, and supporting his
head with his arm, gave himself up to thought. Oh, the thoughts of
youth--the gay, the whirling, dream-like thoughts of youth! How
pleasant is the visionary trance which boys and girls call meditation!
True, youth has its pains as well as pleasures, both eager, intense,
and thrilling; but it wants the fears and doubts of experience, that
bitterest fruit of long life. The cloud may hang over it for an hour,
but the breath of hope soon wafts it away, and it is not till the
storm comes down in its full fury that youth will believe there are
tempests in the sky.

There he lay and thought, with the branches waving gently over him,
and the chequered light and shade playing on his face and on the open
pages of the unread book beside him. The air was very sultry, even
beneath the shadow of the trees, and he untied the cord which confined
his silken vest at the neck, displaying a skin almost as fair as a
woman's, although exercise, it would seem, was not wanting to give a
browner hue; for even then he looked fatigued as well as heated, and
there was dust upon his hair and upon his dress, as if he had ridden
far and long that day. Weariness, and the hot summer air, with the
playing of the shadows over his face, seemed to render him sleepy. His
eyes looked heavy for a moment or two, the eyelids closed, opened
again, closed once more, and there he lay, sound, sound asleep, not
unlike what we may fancy was the shepherd boy of Latmus, when under
the influence of the fair queen of night.

Some quarter of an hour had passed, and he still lay sleeping there,
when round that angle of the building near which the tree grew, came
walking, with a slow pace, a man of middle age, with an ungraceful
gait, and of an ungainly appearance. He was habited in a suit of
green, with a large ruff round his neck, and a tall crowned gray hat
and feather; but he wore neither cloak nor sword, and instead of the
latter, bore a small knife or dagger, stuck into his girdle on the
left side. He, like the youth, seemed to have come out of the palace
for fresher air than could be found within; and he, too, appeared in a
meditative mood, for he walked with his eyes bent down, and his hand,
in no very courtly fashion, scratching his breast. Nevertheless, from
time to time, he gave a glance around; and the second time he did so,
his eye fell upon the sleeping youth beneath the tree. With a quiet
step he approached his side, but was instantly attracted by the open
book, and took it up.

"Ay," murmured he, in a low tone, "love songs! That's just it; fit
food for such a wild, empty-pated callant's brain."

Thus saying, he laid down the book again, and gazed upon the young
man's face.

Suddenly he saw something which seemed to displease him mightily. His
cheek flushed, his brow contracted, and he set his teeth hard. Then,
bending down his head, he peered into the open bosom of the lad, and
even partly drew back the collar of his shirt. It was done quietly and
gently, but still it in some degree roused the sleeper, for he lifted
his hand and brushed his throat, as if a fly had settled on him. The
other started back instantly, but the young man did not wake; and the
one who watched him continued to gaze at him sternly, with many a
bitter feeling, it would appear, in his heart. His lip quivered; and
for a moment he held his hand upon the hilt of his dagger, with a
somewhat ominous look, and a cheek which had become pale. Then,
however, he seemed to have made up his mind as to what he should do;
and, stepping quietly back over the soft green turf, he approached one
of the doors of the palace, which was close at hand, and tried to open
it. It was locked, however, and turning on his heel again, with a low
muttered blasphemy, he went round the angle of the building by the way
which he had followed when he came.

Neither the sleeper, nor he who had lately stood beside him, was aware
that there was another eye upon them both; but the instant the latter
had departed, the door which he had tried in vain opened suddenly, and
the light beautiful form of Beatrice Ruthven darted forth, crossed the
green sward with the quick spring of a roe deer, and stooping over the
sleeping youth, without care or ceremony, she tore from his neck a
thick blue silk ribbon worked with gold.

The young man raised himself suddenly on his arm, looking surprised
and bewildered; but Beatrice laid her finger on her lips, merely
saying, in a low but emphatic tone, "Into the palace like lightning,
mad boy!" and away she sprang towards the building again, passed the
door, ran through the first passage, and up a narrow staircase to the
entrance of a room on the first floor. There she paused and listened
for a single instant, then threw the door open without ceremony and
ran in.

Anne of Denmark was seated at a table, writing; but the sudden opening
of the door made her lift her fair face with a look of some surprise
and displeasure; and she said, in a reproving tone, "Beatrice! What
now?"

Without reply, the fair girl darted forward in breathless haste, and
laid the ribbon on the table before the queen.

"Quick, madam! put it in the drawer," she said, in a low, hurried
tone. "Your majesty will see why in an instant;" and without waiting
for any answer, she hurried from the room by the same way she had
come, and closed the door.

There were several drawers in the writing table at which the queen was
seated; and opening one with a hand which trembled slightly, while her
cheek glowed a good deal, she placed the ribbon in it, closed it
again, and tried to resume her writing; but not more than one minute
had passed ere the step of the king was heard upon a staircase at the
opposite side of the apartments from that by which Beatrice had
entered, and a moment after James himself appeared, with a heavy scowl
upon his brow.

Anne of Denmark looked up, not without some timidity, though she was
by nature very intrepid. There was no expression, however, upon her
countenance which could betray the agitation within; and seeing the
look of anger and malice on James's face, she boldly took the
initiative, saying, "What is the matter, sir? You seem disordered."

"No, no, my bonny bairn," said James, "there's nothing the matter;
but I was just thinking what clever chiels those Italians are; and I
want to see that ribbon which I bought for you of the merchant man."

"Certainly, sir," replied the queen, rising, with an unconcerned look,
for she wished to test how far James's suspicions went; "you shall see
it in a moment."

"No," cried the king, hastily, thinking that the queen was going to
quit the chamber. "You had it in this room, madam, not so long ago
that you need go to seek it. It's here you keep all your gauds and
ornaments."

"Well, sir," answered Anne of Denmark, "I have no doubt that it is
here still; but I cannot even open the drawers of this table, to look
for it, without rising. I know not what is the matter with your
majesty, but your conduct is very strange."

"I just want to see the ribbon, madam, that is all; and I think it
must be in this chamber--if anywhere," was James's reply.

"Doubtless," answered Anne of Denmark, so far agitated as to open the
wrong drawer by mistake.

"It's no there," said the king, looking into the drawer. "There's
naething there but gloves, and bracelets, and such like clamjamfry."

"I see it is not, sir," replied the queen, turning over the things
with her hand; "but it may be somewhere else. Do you think any one has
stolen it?" And she opened the drawer in which it really was.

James did not reply to her question; but not a little astonishment was
painted on his rude coarse countenance, when Anne of Denmark drew
forth the ribbon and laid it in his hand. He continued to gaze at it
for a considerable time, and then put it closer to his eyes, to
examine it more carefully all over, as if he doubted that it was
really that which he had bestowed upon the queen. There it was,
however, precisely the same in every respect; and at length he gave it
her back again, and turning sharply on his heel, quitted the room,
muttering, loud enough for her to hear, "De'il tak me, if like be not
an ill mark."

A minute or two after, he was seen walking past the tree under which
Alexander Ruthven had been sleeping; but by that time the young
gentleman was gone.[4] One of the ordinary servants of the court
passed his majesty, bowing low, a moment after; and the king called
him up, saying, as he approached, "Go your ways, and rout me out
Doctor Herries and the man retiring," James continued to walk up and
down till he was joined by the person whom he had sent for. They then
turned to the farther part of the gardens, much to the disappointment
of Beatrice Ruthven, who saw all that passed from the window of a room
immediately below that of the queen, and who had hoped to gather, at
least from their demeanour, some indications of what was passing in
regard to her brother. I will not say that she would not have listened
eagerly to their conversation if the opportunity had presented itself;
and perhaps the circumstances in which she was placed might be some
justification of an act otherwise mean and pitiful; for, as the reader
will see in the subsequent chapter, she had accidentally obtained
information of designs the most treacherous against one dear brother,
of whose high principles and noble conduct she could not entertain a
doubt.

The king and his companion, however, walked away to the other side of
the garden, as I have said, and stayed there for nearly half an hour,
while Beatrice remained in anxious and painful thought. Her head
rested on her hand, as she sat near the open window; and she had taken
no note of how the time passed, when at length the sounds of people
speaking as they walked by below, caught her ear. She would not move
in the slightest degree; she even held her breath, lest she should
lose one sound, and the next instant she distinguished the king's
peculiar tone. The words as yet she could not hear, and still less
those of Herries in his reply, though she recognised his voice at
once.

The next instant, however, the sounds rose louder, and James was heard
to say, "No, no, that will never do. We should lose our grip of the
old bird, while wringing the neck of the young one; and there would be
such a dust about it, that we should never see our way clear after."

"There, I think, your majesty is right," said Herries; "but if you
will be advised by me there is a way to----"

Beatrice lost the conclusion of the sentence, for they moved on
towards the other end of the terrace. She knew, however, that none of
the royal apartments lay in that direction, and that the only door by
which the king could enter led through the great hall, where he must
necessarily encounter a number of the servants and followers of the
court, a thing which James rarely desired. She approached somewhat
nearer the window then, calculating that the two who had passed would
return by the same way; nor was she disappointed, for, in a very few
minutes, she heard the voices again, and the words of the king soon
became audible. They were of no great importance, indeed, and conveyed
no information but that which she already possessed--namely, that both
her elder brothers were the principal objects, for the time, of
James's hatred and suspicion.

"The de'il helps they Ruthvens, I think," said the monarch. "The one
brother conveys himself away just at the minute when we have got all
ready for him; and the other sends a token I would swear to, fleeing
through the walls of Falkland like a conjuror."

This was all that Beatrice heard, but after they had passed the
window, Doctor Herries replied, "The devil always helps his own,
sire."

"And that's well said," answered the king, "for we have information to
be relied upon, that this Earl of Gowrie, when in the city of Padua,
had long and familiar dealings with a reputed sorcerer and magician,
some of whose infernal arts he has doubtless acquired or contracted.
Such matters are difficult of proof, for deeds of darkness hide
themselves from the light. But time discovers many things, and
Sathanus deals with his pets as we do with the birds and beasts which
we keep for our food. He pats them on the back till his time comes,
and then he cuts their weasands."

Doctor Herries smiled, for he was not so credulous in matters of
demonology as his master; but by this time they had reached one of the
smaller doors of the palace, which stood open, and they went in.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


I must now go back for a period of more than a month. Gowrie on
quitting Edinburgh rode on at a quick pace, hoping to save the tide at
Queensferry; but he did not succeed. The water had sunk low, and the
boat was on the shore. There was no resource but either to ride
farther up in the direction of Stirling, or to wait till the next
morning. Gowrie chose the latter course, though at the chance of being
pursued and overtaken. He did not like the feeling of flight; and
though it might be necessary, and he had already adopted the expedient
as the only means of security, his repugnance was sufficient to turn
the scale, when, on the banks of the Firth of Forth, he had to
consider what was the next step to be taken. All passed quietly at the
little inn, however. No signs or sounds of pursuit disturbed the
night; and by grey of the dawn on the following morning, the earl and
his followers were upon the shores of Fife. A short ride brought them
into Perthshire; and then feeling in safety, the young earl paused at
the first village, to consider what course he had better follow. If he
went on to Perth, he saw that he might be detained there for some
time. It was long since he had seen her whom he loved; and he felt
that yearning of the heart to hold her in his arms again, which those
who have loved truly can well comprehend. He was also somewhat anxious
for her safety after all that had occurred to Austin Jute; but then,
on the other hand, the few brief words which his sister had written,
had indicated Perth as the place where he ought to take refuge; and it
was not improbable that she might either know of some ambush on the
way to Trochrie, or intend to send him further information before he
went. The importance of receiving the speediest intelligence of what
was passing at the court, decided him at length to act contrary to his
own wishes, and he resolved to sleep that night at least in Perth.

Hardly had he risen on the following morning, when, at one and the
same time, it was announced to him that one of the magistrates of the
town desired to see him, and that a messenger from Dirleton had just
dismounted in the courtyard. The latter was instantly admitted, and
presented the earl with a packet addressed in his mother's hand. On
opening it, however, he found a sealed letter from his sister, and
also a few lines from the countess, informing him that the enclosed
had come that morning from Beatrice, with the request that it might be
forwarded instantly, and by a trusty messenger, to Perth. The letter
from his sister contained the following words:--


"My dear and noble Lord and Brother,

"I had but time and opportunity to write you a very few words
yesterday evening, which Hume must have delivered safely, as I find
this morning that you have followed counsel, and are gone. I now send
you farther information, not direct to Perth, but by the hands of our
dear lady mother, lest what I write should be stopped by the way.
All is quiet here at this present, but some people are much
disappointed, I believe, in their hearts. The cause of my warning was
as follows.--My maid, Margaret Brown, who is very faithful to me, but
of a very prying and inquisitive disposition, and not without
shrewdness, informed me that danger awaited you, my dear brother. She
had seen that something was going on, it seems, in the abbey, which
excited in her some suspicion; and her cousin, Robert Brown, a menial
servant of the palace, after having been called to the presence of the
king, said to her, unadvisedly, as she was coming to my room to aid me
in changing my dress for the court in the evening, 'Your lady will
have a sore heart before long.' Thereupon the girl, after having
dressed me, employed all her art and ingine to draw forth from the man
what it was he meant, and succeeded so far as to learn that you were
to be arrested the next morning; but in such a sort, without due
warrant or form of law, and with insults and injuries belike, as might
bring you to resistance, when, a fray being created, you might
perchance be killed without there seeming blame to any one. This was
the girl's story. She having got some one of the court to call me out
of the presence, and having always found her faithful and true of
tongue, I wrote hastily the words I sent, and gave them to our friend
Hume, to be delivered to your hand.

"Thus far is the girl's story confirmed since your departure, that I
have it from a certain source, several people well armed went down to
your house this morning, and others followed them not far behind, even
so much that the street was crowded. On arriving they asked for you of
the porter, but learning that you had gone for Perth on the night
before, and being confirmed of the fact by one who saw you ride away,
they separated and retired, not having told the reason of their
coming. This makes me well satisfied that I warned you as I did, and
assures me that you have not been driven away needlessly by your
loving sister,

     "BEATRICE RUTHVEN."


"I must have forgotten Scotland," murmured Gowrie to himself. "Heaven!
what a dream I have been living in!"

Perhaps what he said was true. We are all apt to forget the evils and
discomforts of a place we have left behind. Memory is fond of pleasant
objects, and plants thick ivy shrubs to rise up and decorate the ruins
of the past. He had forgotten the turbulence and dangers which had
surrounded his early days. He had almost brought himself to fancy
that, as compared with Italy, Scotland was a place of peace, and
security, and freedom, where the assassin's knife, the oppressor's
wrong, the tyrant's sway were comparatively unknown. But the bitter
reality was now before him; and he saw that to be an enemy of the
court was to be but a hunted beast, whom every dog of favour might
pull down and tear at liberty.

After a few minutes' thought, however, he cast off the impression, and
sent for the bailie, who was waiting to speak with him. This
magistrate was the reverse in everything of his junior, Bailie
Roy--tall, thin, and raw-boned in person, somewhat bluff, and very
laconic of speech; a man to be moved neither by fear or favour, but
strong in his attachments and steady in his sense of right. He made an
ungainly bow in answer to the earl's salutation, and at once dropped
into the seat which he was invited to take.

"I have come, my lord," he said, "about the prisoner, David Drummond."

And there he stopped, as if all his say was said.

"Well, Mr. Bailie, what of him?" rejoined the earl. "I hear he has not
been tried yet. If you will name the day most convenient to the
magistrates, I will come down for the purpose, and hold a court."

"They were thinking of the twenty-second of the month," answered
Bailie Graham; "aiblins that might not suit your lordship?"

"Quite well," answered Gowrie. "I will be down, undoubtedly."

Still Mr. Graham continued to sit and twirl his beaver, as if
labouring with some other question or announcement; and at length he
said, "Your lordship would not see the prisoner?"

"Certainly not," answered Gowrie. "He has been my own servant; and
even that might be supposed to have some effect upon my judgment; but
I can have no private communication with him while awaiting trial. If
he have anything to request, either to make imprisonment more
tolerable or to provide for his defence, let him demand it publicly."

"He said he would write to the king, my lord, when he was told of your
answer," replied the bailie; "and he did it."

"Can he write?" asked the earl, in some surprise.

"No, not just with his own hand," said Mr. Graham; "but he got a
scrivener to do it for him; and Bailie Roy, one way or another, got
goodman Jobson to tell him what it was he said."

"I do not wish to hear, Mr. Bailie," said the earl. "It was probably
intended for the king's ear alone."

"Ay, that it was," said the bailie, drily; "and no doubt his majesty
will think no more of it than it deserves. It's not like to do the
Earl of Gowrie much harm, I should think."

"I cannot tell," replied Gowrie, coolly; "but the unfortunate man must
have his own way. If the king thinks there is anything important in
his memorial, he will probably have the prisoner examined before the
council."

"Na, na, my lord, he'll no do that," answered Bailie Graham. "He's
gotten a' that the man can gie; and so he may lie where he is for the
king."

A few words more explained to Gowrie that James had already sent some
one from Edinburgh to confer with the prisoner in his cell; but that
since then, "sin syne," as the bailie expressed it, no farther notice
had been taken of the unfortunate David Drummond.

I must not say that Gowrie had no curiosity to know what the prisoner
had said in his letter to the king; but he would not suffer it to
master him, although he had little doubt that the first intimation of
Julia's concealment at Trochrie had been thus communicated to James,
and he did not feel at all sure that many parts of his conduct might
not have been misrepresented by the sullen spirit of revenge which he
had often remarked in the prisoner.

"It is very possible, Mr. Bailie," he said, "that this man may have
attempted to injure me in his majesty's opinion by false or perverted
statements; but that shall not prevent me from doing all that justice
requires, without the slightest consideration of consequences. We will
proceed, then, to the trial on the day you have named, and I shall not
think it necessary even to let his majesty know the time appointed,
for although it would not become either you or me to stop a letter
addressed to our sovereign, yet the transaction is one with which we
have nothing to do; and we must fulfil our duties as if it had not
taken place."

"I knew your lordship was right," said Bailie Graham, in broader
Scotch than I shall attempt to transcribe. "Bailie Roy, poor body,
thought it would have been better for you to have seen the man, and
spoke civilly to him till he was hanged; but I said that was not the
way a provost of Perth should act; and so good morning to your
lordship. Let them say what they will of you, this is the way to win
through all."

Alas! that it should not always be as the worthy merchant said, and
that this history should afford a pregnant example of the reverse.

Within an hour after the good man had departed from the earl's great
house at Perth, Gowrie himself took his way towards Trochrie, riding
with the spirit of love to hurry him forward. Gay and bright were the
dreams that he dreamed by the way; and a feeling of rejoicing seemed
to fill his heart as he thought that he had cast off the trammels of a
court, and resumed that private station in which he now felt sure that
happiness was only to be obtained. It would seem that fate or chance
takes a delight in throwing obstacles in the way of impatience,
perhaps as a check to its vehemence, and a warning to go more quietly.
Though he set out early from Perth, and might have ridden the distance
to Strathbraan in a few hours, a thousand petty accidents beset the
earl by the way. A ford, which used to be practicable at almost all
seasons, was now found impassable, for there had been rain in the
hills. The earl's own horse cast a shoe, and it had to be replaced
before he could proceed; and lastly, turned by the necessity of
crossing the river higher up, into a more difficult and dangerous
path, one of the horses slipped over a rocky bank, was severely
injured, and the rider taken up insensible. The care of the poor man
occupied some time; and so much was lost in this and other manners,
that the sun had set nearly half an hour when the earl came to the
spot whence the first view of Trochrie Castle was to be obtained. He
looked eagerly forward through the thickening shadows of the night:
the castle itself was lost in the darkness; but a light streamed forth
from two spots, side by side, and Gowrie gladly recognised the
position of the room in which Julia sat. Oh, how cheering, how
gladdening are the lights as we approach after a long absence; what a
tale does that faint distant spot of brightness tell to the heart, of
peace, and love, and calm domestic joy, and all the hopes that gather
round the hearth of home!

Onward he went then, with renewed impatience, and in ten minutes more
he held Julia gladly to his heart. It was a moment that well repaid
all the cares and anxieties and griefs he had suffered.

And there they sat side by side, and gazed at each other in silence,
with her dear hand locked in his, and the heart looking out through
the window of the eye; and each had much to say to the other, but
still it was long unsaid, for emotions would have way before words.

"You look pale and sad, Gowrie," said Julia, at length. "I fear you
have met with disappointment."

"No, indeed, dear girl," he answered, "I am not sad, nor have I reason
to feel disappointment. My sensations have been very mixed, as all the
feelings produced by the great world are; but now joy certainly
predominates, for I am with you, and bear you some happy tidings.
Then, as to disappointment, dearest Julia, I may experience some at
finding that my fancy had drawn pictures of men and things in this, my
native land, in colours far too bright; but that was my own fault or
my own folly; and in the most essential point of my hopes, I have
succeeded as far as I could expect."

"Thank Heaven for that!" replied Julia, with no light words; "whatever
be that point, I am sure that it is a noble and a good one."

"Nay," said Gowrie, "do not praise too much, my Julia. It is a very
selfish one; but, to keep you in no suspense, let me tell you that the
king has given his consent, in writing, to our union in the month of
September next. All difficulties are thus removed, and I must say that
in this he has acted, to all appearance, generously; for he had
learned that you are here, and might not unreasonably, perhaps, have
expressed some anger at my having concealed the fact."

"I heard from good Austin that he had gained intelligence of my
abode," replied Julia, "and I felt some alarm, especially during your
faithful follower's long and unexplained absence; but I tried to
comfort myself by thinking of all the precautions you had taken when
last you were here; for I can hardly fancy that anything which Gowrie
undertakes can go wrong."

"Would it were so, truly, my beloved," replied Gowrie, somewhat
gloomily.

"See this very instance!" exclaimed Julia. "Have you not succeeded
where we had so little hope?"

"Not succeeded as well as I could wish," answered her lover. "The king
has made it a condition, Julia, that you shall formally renounce all
claim whatsoever upon the estates and property of your father--even
Whiteburn, though settled by deed upon your mother."

He paused a moment, watching her thoughtful face, and then added,
"Nevertheless, I have promised the renunciation in your name; first,
because I knew it was the only means of winning the king's consent;
and secondly, because I found that it was more than doubtful whether
you could establish your claim by law."

"I have but one regret in this case, Gowrie," replied the beautiful
girl--"that I come to you poor and dowerless. Oh, if I had all the
wealth which they say my poor father amassed, how gladly would I pour
it out before you!"

"If that be all, have no regret, my love," replied the young
earl--"right glad am I that you do not possess it. I have wealth
enough for both, my Julia--too much, indeed, it seems; for in this
land wealth and influence do not excite envy alone, but doubt and
suspicion likewise. It is dangerous, I am sure, to be too powerful a
subject under a weak king. However, I have enough, and to spare. If
then, dear one, you will sign the act of renunciation, I will despatch
it to the king to-morrow, and then no objection can be ever raised or
opposition offered."

"Then I must not go to the court to sign it?" asked Julia, eagerly.

"Not unless you wish it," replied Gowrie.

"Thank Heaven for that, too!" she exclaimed. "Wish it! Oh no, Gowrie.
I suppose the time will come when I must go there; but had I my will,
that time would never be. I always dreaded the thought of courts, and
what your dear sister told me of that in which she dwells, made me
more timid and fearful than ever. Oh, promise me, Gowrie, that we
shall spend the greater part of life afar from those nests of envy,
malice, and greediness."

"That promise I will make with all my heart," replied her lover; "but
tell me, Julia, are you not weary of this desert solitude? Beatrice,
who almost always counsels well, has half persuaded me to keep you
immured here till you are altogether my own; for she sees danger in
your residing anywhere not provided so well for defence as this. She
thinks the king might seize upon you, and use the expectation of your
hand as a means of leading me to a course which my heart and
conscience disapprove, or rather, employ the fear of losing you, to
drive me to acts which I am bound to oppose and to denounce."

"I have never felt weary one day," answered Julia: "fears I may have
had--anxiety to see you again, I may have felt; but weariness, never;
nor shall I, Gowrie. A few short months will soon pass: you will let
me see you at times; I have beautiful nature before my eyes, books,
music, painting, thought, to fill up the time; and what need I more?
Yes, follow dear Beatrice's counsel. Let me rest here, dear Gowrie,
till all places become alike to me, for thou wilt be with me in all."

Gowrie pressed her gently to his heart, and then withdrew his arms
again; for he felt that, lonely, protected only by his honour, he must
not let even the warmth of the purest love call up a doubt or a fear
in her young heart. His thoughts and words naturally followed the
course in which his feelings led; and he replied, "I will be with you
often, my Julia, though now I must leave you soon, I fear; but when I
return I will try to bring one of my sisters with me to cheer you."

But Julia had tasted less of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil, and she answered, innocently, "I want no cheering when you are
with me, Gowrie. Glad shall I be to see them; and if they be like
Beatrice, my heart will open to them like a humble flower to the
bright sun; but Gowrie's presence is life enough for me. But I have
many things to tell you, too; and yet, I know not why, but I think you
have not told me all."

"Oh, there are many minor things to mention," answered the young earl,
doubtful whether it were wisest to inform her of the dangers which had
menaced, or to conceal them, now that he was safe, at least for the
time. "What need," he asked himself, "to disturb her mind, and keep
her in constant agitation, whenever I am absent, by fears for me,
whose life has been already menaced? Better let her remain in
ignorance of the perils that beset my path, when she can do nought to
avert them. Could she act, could she counsel, could she direct, I
would conceal nothing from her; but she is here helpless and alone,
unable to do aught but sit and weep over the dangers or the griefs of
others. Shall I make the hours, lonely and dull as they must be here,
sad and apprehensive also? No, no; I will not be insincere; and
whatsoever she asks, will answer her truly; but I will say no more
upon such subjects than needs must be said."

Perhaps Gowrie went a little further than this, for he purposely led
the conversation away from the subject of his own fate; and all that
Julia learned was, that the king had shown no great love in his
demeanour either for the earl or for his brother. Even this made her
somewhat thoughtful; and to change the subject, Austin Jute was sent
for. He came as fresh, as gay, as ugly as ever; but on this occasion
he had little to tell, for his journey back to Trochrie had passed
without impediment from any other source but his ignorance of the way.
The difficulties he met with from that cause, he described with
considerable humour, telling the answers which had been given to his
inquiries at the different places which he had passed, and imitating
the various dialects of the counties through which he had gone, which
were in those days very strongly marked. He did very well till he came
to the Gaelic, and even then, though he was utterly unacquainted with
the words of the language, he contrived to give some of the sounds so
exactly, that Gowrie could not refrain from laughter.

Julia rejoiced to see him so gay; and if she had entertained any
suspicion that he was withholding the painful portion of the truth
from her, it was dissipated by the cheerfulness he displayed.

An hour or two thus went by; but Gowrie would not keep her long from
repose, for he longed to go forth with her on the following morning,
and roam through the valleys, and over the hills, now covered with the
yellow broom and the young shoots of the heath. The weather had become
bright and warm. The fair season was coming on with rapid strides,
when the mountains are softened and decorated by the hand of nature,
and their solemn gloom cheered by the smiles of the sky; and Gowrie
thought of many a plan to make the hours pass pleasantly. "While
here," he said to himself, "the feeling of security will spread a calm
and tranquil atmosphere around us, which we could not obtain in a less
wild and solitary spot. To-morrow, I will take my dear prisoner forth,
and show her some of the beauties of the land to which she is yet a
stranger."

At an early hour, therefore, he bade Julia adieu for the night, and
retired to the room which he had ordered to be prepared for himself in
the gate tower. There he held a somewhat long conversation with Donald
Macduff, his baron bailie in Strathbraan; and having ascertained from
him that all strangers had withdrawn from the neighbourhood, and that
a keen watch had been kept up ever since Austin Jute's capture, lest
any of the king's people should be lurking about in the valleys
around, he lay down to rest, and slept more soundly than he had done
for many a night before.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


In a room of no very great dimensions in the fair town of Perth, were
collected a number of persons upon a solemn and serious occasion. A
number of the officers and magistrates of the town were present,
seated on a little sort of platform raised above the rest of the room.
On either side were drawn up the various officers of a municipal court
of justice, as they existed at that time, although I am unable to give
their designations; and towards the door were seen two or three
halbardiers, with their imposing but clumsy-looking weapons over their
shoulders, and dresses of the reign of James V. In a large arm-chair,
in the midst of the magistrates of the town, was seated the Earl of
Gowrie, as provost of Perth and heritable sheriff of the county; and
at a little distance from him, on the same raised place of honour,
appeared Sir George Ramsay, habited in the ordinary costume of the
court. Across the front of the dais was stretched a long narrow table,
at which were seated two or three men in dark garments, with pen and
ink and paper before them, and at the opposite end of the room, with a
fretted and gilt barrier of iron about three feet high in front,
appeared the prisoner, David Drummond, with a stout jailor on either
side. His strong and muscular frame appeared to have suffered little,
if at all, by the confinement he had endured; but his dull and
sinister-looking face was now as pale as ashes, for the earl had just
pronounced upon him that doom of death which he himself had twice
inflicted upon others. Sadly but calmly, after the most convincing
proofs of his guilt, Gowrie had pronounced the fatal words, with his
eye fixed firmly on the man's countenance.

Drummond gasped as if for breath to speak; but the two jailors laid
their hands upon his arm, and were about to remove him, when the earl
interposed, exclaiming, "Stay, stay; he desires to speak. Let him say
whatever he thinks fit."

"I appeal to the king!" cried the wretched man--"I appeal to the
king!"

"There is no appeal from this court," replied Gowrie; "but----"

"Ah! you fear what I could tell, Earl of Gowrie," cried the criminal.
"It would not suit you that I should have communication with the
king."

"Unhappy man," replied the earl, with perfect calmness, "you are only
now aggravating your guilt. There is no act of my whole life that I
fear to have proclaimed at the market cross to-morrow. My conscience
acquits me of offence; would that yours could do so. But to prove to
you that I fear nought that you can do or say, and that I wish not to
deprive you of one chance of life, I will fix the day of your
execution, for the crime you have committed, so far off as to afford
you opportunity of using every means to obtain that pardon which you
do not deserve. You have been fairly tried and justly condemned. There
is no appeal but to the king's mere mercy. He has the power of grace
ever in his own hands, and far be it from me to interpose between you
and it. For your execution, therefore, if you cannot obtain grace, I
name the twenty-eighth day of the next month, at noon, and may the
Almighty have mercy on your soul! In the meantime, every means will be
given to you of addressing any petitions or memorials to his majesty
which you may think fit to send; and should I not be present in the
town of Perth, I beg that the magistrate will take care that they be
forwarded by a special messenger, and without any delay. Now remove
him."

The court then rose, and Gowrie and Sir George Ramsay spoke a few
words together, in the midst of which a servant of the earl's entered
the hall, bearing a sealed packet in his hand.

"From the king's majesty, my lord," he said; and Gowrie instantly cut
the silk and opened the letter, under the impression that it might
have reference to the cause which had just been tried. Such, however,
was not the case; and folding it up again, he put it in his pocket,
saying, "Come, Ramsay, and rest yourself with me for a day or two. I
am about to make strange changes in my house, and have also to place
my pictures, just arrived from Italy, in which I would have your good
advice."

"But a few hours, my good lord, can I stay," replied Ramsay; "and I am
afraid my advice would serve you but little. However, such as it is,
command."

Taking leave of the bailies of the town, and the other officers of the
court, with whom the earl was extremely popular, Gowrie and his friend
withdrew, and walked together through the streets. Several persons
followed them out; but as soon as they were free from the crowd,
Ramsay looked at the earl's face, saying, "I hope your news from the
court, my lord, is more favourable than that which I was unfortunate
enough to bring you when last we met."

"Oh, the letter was a mere invitation to join the court and hunt at
Falkland, in the early part of June," replied the earl, "and an
acknowledgment of having received a certain law paper, which had been
examined by the king's advocate, and found full and in due form. His
majesty has been very gracious," he continued, with a smile and a
meaning glance, "for the letter is written in his own hand."

"Do you intend to accept the invitation?" asked Sir George Ramsay.

"I am doubtful," said the earl. "An invitation from a monarch is well
nigh a command; and I am never disposed to disobey my king where I can
obey with safety to my person and to my honour."

"Your honour is safe, my dear lord, wherever you are," replied Ramsay.
"Where a man holds life lightly, when compared with integrity, his
honour is ever in his own safe keeping, and no other hand can touch
it. But your personal safety is another question, and I would have you
look to it."

"Do you know aught, Dalhousie, of fresh designs meditated against me?"
asked the earl, straightforwardly; nor was the answer less explicit.

"No, I do not," answered Ramsay. "Of fresh designs I know none; but I
may doubt whether the old ones are abandoned; and I have often
thought it a dangerous sort of sport, my good lord, to hunt with a
half-reconciled enemy. The chase has its accidents, which occur most
frequently where many people are assembled. Methinks I would advise
you to hunt but little, and with those people alone upon whose care
and prudence you can rely."

He spoke in a very meaning tone; and Gowrie answered, "I think your
advice is good; and, moreover, I could hardly contrive to accept his
majesty's invitation consistently with the arrangements already
formed; for my dear mother has consented to come forth from the
retirement which she has long kept, and meet me at Trochrie in a few
days."

"Then I suppose we shall soon have to congratulate you on an event
which, I trust, may contribute to your happiness," said Ramsay. "The
court has been busy with the story for some time past."

"Not very soon," answered Gowrie; "at least, to a lover it seems long.
Some three months must yet elapse--and it _is_ long; for what man is
there, Dalhousie, let him read the stars skilfully as he will, let him
be learned, wise, experienced, who shall say all that may happen in
three months? How often does the shaking hand of Fortune spill the
wine out of the overflowing cup of joy even as she is handing it to
our lips!"

"But too true, my dear lord," replied Sir George; "but I trust in your
case it will not be so, for your fate is, I think, much in your own
hands. If you but avoid dangers where they are known to exist, I think
they will not come to seek you."

Gowrie mused. "What should be the cause of this enmity?" he said at
length, in a meditating tone. "What have I done to merit it? Is
it that some one is playing false both to the king and me, and
poisoning his ear with lying tales of false disloyalty? Or is it that
between his blood and mine there is a repugnance which cannot be
pacified--that the sad and terrible deed done by my grandfather in his
mother's presence, when his unborn eyes were yet waiting for the
light, has placed enmity between our races even to the present hour?
They say that there are strange mortal antipathies in the blood of
some men towards others, which can never be conquered by any effort of
the person hated; and surely such must be the case even now, for a
more loyal subject, or one who more truly wishes well to his crown,
his state, his person, does not live. What are my offences?"

"I could tell you some, my lord," replied Sir George Ramsay. "First
and foremost, you are too powerful in the land for a king's love. Your
estates are vast. Your wealth, during a long minority, has mightily
increased; you are allied to all the most powerful and noble in the
land; and you are known to be one who would oppose, without fear, or
change, or wavering, the establishment of arbitrary power in Scotland,
either in the church or state. These are motives strong enough, my
lord, and they are the real ones. What the pretences may be, I know
not; but if you keep yourself aloof from all factions and all parties,
if you abstain, as far as is consistent with your honour and your
station, from all opposition to the king, methinks that the feelings
that have risen up must die away of themselves, like weeds that have
no roots.--But here we are at your great house, my lord, and a grand
mansion is it, certainly."

"Come, see the pictures I have lately purchased," said Gowrie. "I
shall have scantily room to place them unless I build me a new
gallery. It is with such things as these, Dalhousie--with music,
pictures, books, and thought, that I have employed my mind, and not in
hatching treason or brooding over schemes of disloyalty.--But we will
talk no more of such things. This is the way.--John Christie," he
continued, speaking to the porter, "bid them serve dinner in the
little hall for myself and Sir George, and see that his servants be
well entertained. We are in the gallery when the meal is ready."

Thus saying, he led the way across the court towards the right hand,
and entering a door in a little projecting tower which stood in one
angle, he conducted his friend up a small staircase which was called
the Black Turnpike, being but scantily lighted by three small
loopholes. At the top of this staircase Gowrie opened a door which led
into a very large and handsome room, containing no furniture except
some tall straight-backed gilt chairs, covered with rich embroidered
velvet. Passing by another door on the right, the earl then took his
way across this spacious chamber to an entrance on the opposite side,
while Ramsay remarked, "This is the gallery-chamber, if I remember
rightly."

"Yes," replied the earl; "and that door behind us leads to my study,
which I have furnished well with books. I am afraid, however, that I
shall have to change my domicile, for the window looks down into the
street, and the noise often distracts my thoughts."

"You will soon have other books to read in your lady's eyes, my lord,"
replied Sir George Ramsay, with a smile; and passing on, they entered
by a small door that splendid gallery which formed the admiration of
all men who saw it in those times. The walls were hung with pictures
by the older masters of the Flemish, German, and Italian schools. Some
were of a very ancient date, almost contemporary with the revival of
the arts--more curious, perhaps, than beautiful, but yet not without
their beauty too. There were two or three Van Eycks, and one
especially, a fine picture of John of Bruges. But that which most
attracted the attention of Sir George Ramsay, even from the Titians
and the Correggios on the wall, were some large flat wooden cases,
placed upright around, and with the tops removed, showing the pictures
which the earl himself had collected in Italy. Amongst the rest was
one of very large size, on which the clear light from the north shone
strongly. It was rich and powerful in tone, and vigorous in
conception, representing Niobe weeping over her children amidst a
scene of great picturesque beauty, while the vengeful God of Day was
seen retiring in the distance with the work of death completed. Before
it Sir George Ramsay stopped for a moment or two, and gazed with
interest and admiration. When he turned round he found the young earl
standing beside him with his arms crossed upon his broad chest, and
his eyes fixed upon the female figure with a look of stern thought.

"What a beautiful picture!" exclaimed the knight; "yet it is by a hand
I do not know, and seems fresh from the easel. Who was the artist?"

"A young man of the name of Guido Reni," replied Gowrie. "It was
painted for me this last year in an incredibly short space of time,
for the artist wanted money; and I gave him his own price. But that
picture, Dalhousie, has a particular interest for me. Do you not think
the Niobe very like my mother?--younger a good deal, but still very
like."

"It is, indeed," said Ramsay, "particularly in the brow and eyes.
Strange that it should be so, for this Italian most probably never saw
her."

"Never in his life," replied Gowrie; "and I can only account for it
thus.--I passed several days with this young man in his painting room
at Bologna, and chanced, I remember, to mention my mother, and her
devoted affection for her children. Whether there is any likeness
between myself and her I do not know; but I left him to finish the
picture and send it over when it was complete, and when I opened it a
few days ago, was struck with the extraordinary resemblance.--Come,
here is a Caracci well worth your seeing."

"And that lad lying dead with his arm thrown back under his head, and
the left hand clutching the grass, is like your brother Alexander,"
said Ramsay, lingering before the picture still. But Gowrie had gone
on, and his friend soon followed. There was still much to be seen in
the gallery; but the habit of that day was to dine at a very early
hour; and shortly after, the two gentlemen were summoned to their
meal; and Sir George Ramsay mounted his horse almost as soon as dinner
was concluded.

Gowrie then retired from the court in which he had seen his friend
depart, to the study which he had spoken of in passing through the
gallery chamber. There, casting himself into a chair, he thought for a
moment or two, but in the end took up a book out of a number lying
near, and began to read. He had not perused a dozen sentences,
however, when the door opened, and, without announcement, Mr. William
Cowper, a gentle and amiable man, one of the ministers of Perth,
entered, saying, "I hope I do not interrupt your studies, my lord."

"Oh no," answered Gowrie, throwing down the volume. "It is but a
foolish book, called, 'De Conspirationibus adversus Principes,' a
collection of famous treasons, all foolishly contrived, and ending in
defeat by the conspirators having too many men in their councils."

"Dangerous studies, my lord," replied the clergyman.

"Not for me, my good friend," answered Gowrie, gravely. "But what
brings you, my dear sir?"

The conversation then took another turn; but Mr. Cowper, after he had
left the earl, mentioned more than once, though doubtless with no bad
intentions, the studies in which he had found the young lord
engaged.[5]



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


Now, reader, for a short recapitulation of events which occupied
several weeks. I must be brief, for the stern limits stare me in the
face, and the tale must needs, perforce, draw to a conclusion. First,
then, with the Earl of Gowrie. In a few days he returned to Trochrie,
meeting his mother by the way, and escorting her with kindly care and
tenderness. The best apartments in the castle had been prepared for
her. The summer was of unusual brightness. The day had been one long
lapse of sunny light; and although, when the countess passed the dark
portal of the castle, which she had last entered with a gallant
husband, since torn from her by a bloody death, a shade of gloom, cast
from the cloudy past, fell upon her, yet it passed speedily away,
when, with her hand clasped in that of her son, and the beautiful arms
of his promised bride around her neck, she stood in the old hall, and
looked forward through the perspective glass of hope towards the
future.

A month passed away in joys and pleasant sports; Gowrie's household
was now completed. The number of his attendants and his tenantry, the
friendship of the neighbouring clans, the support of his relation, the
Countess of Athol--all rendered the residence at Trochrie perfectly
secure against any machinations of his enemies; and fear was banished
from the dwelling. The younger brothers of the house of Ruthven
appeared at the castle from time to time. His sister Barbara, quiet
and nun-like in character, spent the greater part of her time there.
An occasional guest partook of their hospitality. The mornings were
passed in chasing the deer, or in rides amongst the hills; and the
evenings in calmer and more intellectual pleasures. The old countess
would sit and listen, as it were entranced, while her son's promised
bride sang the exquisite songs of other lands, or while Gowrie
himself, with the peculiar charm which is given by high conversational
powers, told brief outpointed anecdotes of countries he had visited,
or great men whom he had known; and, while she gazed upon the
extraordinary loveliness of the one, or the high-toned, manly beauty
of the other, she would say to herself, "These two were certainly
formed by Heaven to be united," and would add, with a half-doubtful
sigh, "and to be happy."

At the end of about a month, suddenly and unexpectedly, they were
joined at Trochrie by the earl's younger brother, Alexander. He seemed
to shrink from all explanation of the causes of his having quitted the
court; and when his mother made some inquiries as to whether the king
and he were still friends, replied, "Yes. His majesty parted with me
most graciously."

Gowrie asked no questions; but he divined much. He was kind and gentle
to his brother, however; and the youth seemed to feel his forbearance
deeply, and showed greater reverence and affection than he had ever
done before. His faults were those of youth, passion, and
indiscretion; but his heart was generous and kind, and experience and
example might have made him a great and a good man.

The period of his stay at Trochrie was the happiest, by far the
happiest, of Gowrie's life; and it went on increasing in brightness,
for the days were rapidly approaching which were to make Julia his.

As the month of July waned towards a close, it became needful,
however, that some preparation should be made for his approaching
nuptials; and to ascertain whether, as he hoped and trusted was the
case, the feelings of enmity which the king had shown him had been
mitigated by time, he wrote to Beatrice, who was still with the queen
at Falkland, and to Sir George Ramsay, who was likely to obtain
correct information through his brother. Both the answers were
favourable, for James was an accomplished hypocrite whenever it suited
his purpose to be so; and Beatrice replied, "I trust that all danger
is past, and former things forgotten. The king seldom mentions you, my
dear brother, which is a good sign; and when he does so, it is with a
joke, which is a sign still better. He said the other day, that you
were so busy courting your fair lady, that you could not give a
thought to king or cousin; and added, that if he could find out the
day you were to be married, he would go as a guisard, and dance at
your wedding."

Sir George Ramsay's letter was much to the same effect.

"I trust," he said, "that time is curing old wounds. If anything is
meditated against you, my dear lord, I will undertake to say, that it
is unknown to my brother as well as to myself, for John is not of a
deceitful disposition, but rather rash and bold. He would not, and he
could not, conceal from me what he knows; and as he mentioned your
name the other day, if any design had menaced you, it would have been
told."

With such assurances, the young earl's plans were soon formed, and it
was agreed that the dowager countess, with her two younger sons and
Julia, should proceed by one road to Dirleton, avoiding the court at
Falkland, while Gowrie, with Alexander Ruthven, should go for a few
days to Perth, to make preparations for the reception of his bride,
and then join his mother and the rest of the family in East Lothian,
on the ensuing 5th of August. The marriage was appointed to take place
on the 1st of September, the earliest day which their promise to the
old Count Manucci permitted.

With such plans and purposes, Julia and her lover parted on the 30th
of July, 1600, in the fond anticipation of meeting again before the
week was at an end. Gowrie rode on to Perth; and the news of his
arrival spread through the county, where many of the gentry were now
assembled after having passed the winter and spring in courts and
cities. Multitudes flocked to see and congratulate the young earl on
his return, and on his approaching marriage; and, to say truth, the
crowd of visitors was somewhat inconvenient, considering the many
preparations he had to make, and the shortness of his proposed stay.
On the morning after his arrival, indeed, the inconvenience was
rendered greater than it otherwise might have been, by a circumstance
which seemed at the time merely ludicrous, but which was not without
its significance. Gowrie, on reaching the gates of his own dwelling,
had found them open, and the porter absent. He was somewhat angry at
the neglect, but on speaking to his factor, Henderson, the latter
excused the porter, saying that he had asked leave to absent himself
for a day, which had been granted, as the earl's arrival so soon was
not expected. The fault of the gates being open the factor took upon
himself, and proceeded to lock them with his own keys, before he
departed for the night to his small house in the town of Perth. He
forgot, however, to leave his keys behind him; and when, early on the
following morning, two or three of the neighbouring noblemen presented
themselves at the gates, they could not obtain, and Gowrie could not
give admission, except by a small postern door in the garden wall.
Christie, the porter, did not return till night, and upon being
questioned as to where he had been, replied, "To Falkland, my lord. I
went to see my sister, who is servant there."

"Saw you the king?" asked his lord; but to this question the man
returned one of those equivocal answers which are often all that can
be obtained from a Scotchman of the lower class, who has no mind to be
cross-questioned. It implied that he had just caught a sight of his
majesty, but certainly did not imply that he had spoken with him.

Was this the plain truth? I trow not; for James was much accustomed to
trust to his own skill alone in all dangerous negotiations.

The earl, however, had no suspicion of the truth, and dismissed the
man to his duty, with a slight reproof for having carried the keys
away with him. This occurred on Thursday, the 31st July, and I must
now ask the reader to pass over two days, and follow me to Falkland,
on Saturday, the 2nd August.

Do you see that little door, opening from a back staircase, and
somewhat high up in the building? It looks like the entrance to the
bedroom of some inferior follower of the court. It is on the third
story, just over the king's closet, and the staircase goes no farther.
Hark! there are voices speaking within! Laughter, too, and merriment.
Is it a party of revellers hiding themselves there, to enjoy a debauch
unobserved? No, it is a king and a king's confederate, talking over
deeds of blood and cruelty.

"He'll come, he'll come," said James, "just as ae deer comes to the
belling of another. But I'll no write, man--it's better to hold one's
hand from written papers; they come up long after; I'll send him a
message. Now, then, Sir Hugh, let us think who we can best trust.
Tommy Erskine is o'er soft-hearted, or he might be a good man, for
he'll keep the king's counsel, I think. You may just whisper a word of
the matter to him and to Geordie Hume--not Sir John, mind--but tell
them not all; only just an inkling."

"Ramsay, I suppose, must know the whole?" said Herries; "he's a man of
action, prompt and ready, and hates the whole name of Ruthven."

"Fye, now, ye silly gowk!" cried James, laughing; "it is just because
he is what you call him, that he shall not know a word before the
time. He'll be prompt enough, and ready for action at a minute's
warning; and his hatred of the Ruthvens will make him fancy any ill of
them the moment they are accused. But I'll tell you, doctor, you must
be there to put him forward the moment I cry out. Have him where he
can see and hear all as soon as it happens."

"I will take care, sire," replied Herries, with a meaning look. "I
have held a hound in leash before now, and put him on the scent at the
right minute."

James laughed again, saying, "Well run our buck down this time, I
think, doctor. But we must have some more. I'm not that fond of
trusting such secrets to lords and gentlemen; for they may think their
own turn will come. But there are two or three sturdy fellows in the
hall and the buttery who'll do good service, and hold their tongues
when it's done. Just you jog down the stairs and call me up Robert
Galbraith--stay, I'll put down five or six o'them, that ye may send up
quietly by turns. There's Galbraith, and then we can have the porter,
James Bog, and his brother John, who has the key of the ale-cellar,
and Brown, too. He's a stout fellow, and canny. He does not heed to
ask questions, but does what he's told, only he's o'erfond of the
lasses. We'll have all these."

Sir Hugh Herries listened with astonishment to the names which the
king mentioned, and at last ventured to say, "Will it not seem
strange, your majesty, to take with you, on your expedition, men of
such stations as your porter here at Falkland and the keeper of the
ale-cellar."

"Hout, tout!" cried the king, "who's to call it strange if I choose to
do it? May not a king guide his own menial servitors as he likes? and
who's to fash his thoomb with what it pleases us to command? I tell
ye, doctor, these are the best men we could have, and I must take heed
I do not get a gore from the hart I'm hunting."

"That of course must be cared for, sire, above all things," answered
Herries, who feared that James might suspect his loyalty, as being
somewhat lukewarm, if he estimated the king's danger less than he did
himself; "it were well to have some one well-armed close to you, and
none could be better than Ramsay."

"I and Christie will see to that," said James, nodding his head
significantly. "Ramsay will no do. He might be scrupulous if he kenned
it was all laid out beforehand, though he'll do the deed in hot blood
right well and willingly, if he thinks his king's in danger. You see,
Sir Hugh, it is not easy to get unlearned, thickheaded, common-witted
men to understand that judges and officers of the law are but
empowered to put offenders to death by authority committed to them by
their sovereign, who, in imparting to others, loses no part of his
power and authority himself; but having tried and condemned a criminal
in his own mind, according to the right which he derives from God, has
every title to say to any of his subjects, 'this man, or that man, is
a traitor, or a murderer, or a thief,' as the case may be; 'put him to
death;' for doing which the king's mere word is his sufficient
warrant. I say it is not easy to get such men as Ramsay to understand
this, though he would quarrel with any Ruthven of them all, and cut
his throat for our service, if we would but give him leave to proceed
according to his false fancies of honour and such like. No, no, man,
he must know nought of our purposes till the time comes, as I have
said. Such counsels are too grave for him, but still I will take care
so to prepare and preoccupy his mind with the knowledge of meditated
treasons that he shall be ready to strike home in our defence when
need is. The men I have told you of, are those we can best trust; and,
perhaps, before the day for the hunting, we may pick out one or two
more of the court folk, to accord greater or less knowledge to, as we
shall deem expedient."

"But is your majesty sure that the earl is now at Perth?" asked
Herries; "it would not do for you to go and find a warm nest and a
flown bird."

James chuckled. "See what an unbelieving carle thou art, Hughie," he
said; "the last time, I trusted the matter to you and your cronies;
and sure enough you found what you say, a warm nest and a flown bird;
but I have taken the matter into my own hand now, and made sure of
all. The lad returned to his great house, at St. Johnstone, on
Wednesday last at evening, and there he is carousing like any prince.
All the people are flocking to him from the country round, as if he
were king of Perth, and forgetting that we ourselves are here in
Falkland. The good folk of the town, too, are all mad about him, and
looking for the bridal, as if a king's son were going to wed."

"Is there no risk of the citizens rising?" asked Herries, in a low
tone.

James's face instantly fell. "That's right well bethought," he said;
"they, burghers of Perth, were aye a turbulent set. We must have men
enow in the town to keep them down. What's to be done, think you,
doctor?--stay, I've got the pirn. We'll send Davie Murray to his
cousin Tullibardine, and bid the baron meet us with all his folk in
arms, as if just by accident."

"I fear me, your majesty, that will not pass current," said Herries;
"people don't travel by accident with two or three hundred armed men."

"Ay, ay! but you forget there's that affair of Oliphant. The notorious
villain has been grinding down the Angus folk like corn between the
stones, and he's now in Perth or thereabout. That will be enough for
Tullibardine. As for the people about the court, we must have another
story ready; but I'se warrant we find one."

"I hope it will match all the rest," said Herries, with a grim smile;
"for where one has so many pirns on hand they are apt to get tangled.
I've seen many an old wife get clean dumfounded with the power o'them;
and I'm thinking that, at spinning a web, neither your majesty nor I
can match an auld wife."

"Gae wa', ye disloyal carle!" cried the king, laughing; "to even your
born sovereign to an auld wife! Go your ways, man, I'll make a tale
that shall puzzle them. You send up the folk I have told you; but
Davie Murray, our controller, first; and then the others, one by one.
Let them be like buckets in a draw-well, as one goes down, the other
comes up--no more clavers, but do as I bid."

Herries retired from the royal presence; but he stopped and thought
for a minute or two upon the stairs. He stopped and wondered, too; for
though he was ruthless enough, he could not regard the business before
him as the king did; and he asked himself, how James could plot the
death of two young, hopeful men, in the pleasant spring of life, full
of gay expectation and the happy blood of youth, as if he were but
laying out the chase of some beast of the field? The secret was, that
he could not, with his acute and logical mind, deceive himself with
James's sophistries as to the justifiableness of the act; and the king
did.

He descended at length, however, and twelve times that night the small
door at the top of the stairs opened and shut, as one of those who
were to take a part in the perpetration of the contemplated deed went
in and came out.

At length the king descended himself, his dark and fatal council over,
and lying down to rest, slept as soundly as a sick-nurse.



CHAPTER XXXIX.


The prayer and the sermon had been long and furious, for Mr. Patrick
Galloway was one of the most vehement men in and out of a pulpit that
even the Scottish church ever produced. "The man of many pensions," as
he was sometimes called, had once been, or appeared to be, a stern and
ardent advocate of church freedom; but he had mightily changed his
views since he became chaplain to a king whose love of liberty was but
small; and all the tremendous energies of the most persevering and
eager of men were now turned to advocate the views of his royal
patron. He now "wrestled and pleaded," as he called it, with peculiar
fervor in his prayer for the safety of his majesty, and his
deliverance from all enemies, and he took for the text of his sermon
merely the opening words of one of the epistles, "James, a servant of
God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are
scattered abroad, greeting." On this theme he descanted for a full
hour, speaking to his courtly auditory as if he were the mouthpiece of
the king, and venturing to exhort all men to passive obedience, in
terms and with arguments which James himself, with all his blasphemous
uses of scripture, would not have ventured to employ.

Many, nevertheless, listened to his fervid exhortations with that
reverence and kindling enthusiasm which rude and impassioned eloquence
often produces in the minds of the warm tempered and uncultivated, and
amongst those was Sir John Ramsay. Every word that the preacher
uttered went straight to his heart, and roused up therein a sort of
gloomy longing to be of service to his sovereign, which was but too
soon to be gratified.

After the king's dinner he called for Ramsay, who had hardly finished
his own, and walked out with him, otherwise unattended. The day was
hot, but cloudy, the pace of the king and his favourite slow, and
James's manner peculiarly calm and composed. I will not attempt to
give any idea of the language in which he expressed himself, for
though, as I have elsewhere said, somewhat more than half a Scot
myself, his majesty's knowledge of the vernacular was much greater
than my own, and to say sooth, many of his expressions were not very
decent and not very reverent. I may be permitted, therefore, to
translate the dialogue into English and legible terms.

The king's first question went to ascertain what Ramsay thought of Mr.
Galloway's sermon. Ramsay expressed his cordial concurrence with every
word which had been uttered, and showed by his reply how eagerly he
had listened.

"Well, well," said the king, "it was a good sermon, and well
conceived, but it was like a wasting of much powerful exhortation, for
those who most needed it were not present to hear it."

"I should have thought all men might have profited by it, sire,"
replied Ramsay, "as a stirrer up of zeal and of loyalty."

"Ay, but they were all zealous and loyal about me," answered James;
"and none of those Ruthvens were present except that wild thing
Beatrice, who has more folly than guile in her."

"I had hoped, sire, that her brothers were coming to a better sense of
duty," answered Ramsay. "Your majesty has shown them great favour
lately."

"Policy, Jock--policy!" replied the king. "Both being out of reach
together, or only one within arm's length at a time, there was little
use of attempting to strike where the blow was sure to miss. But I'll
show you what to think of their loyalty and sense of duty. Look you
here, John Ramsay, what the man David Drummond writes me--he who was
put to death the other day by sentence of the justice court in
Perth--see you here," and after groping for nearly a minute in his
large breeches pocket, James produced a packet of papers, from which
he selected one, and gave it to his companion.

Ramsay read it with looks of astonishment and displeasure, and then
returned it to the king, saying, "I wonder, sire, you did not save the
villain's life to be a witness against the traitor, his master."

"It would have been perverting justice," said the king, "for he died
by a just sentence, although I'm thinking that the earl was not sorry
to stop his tongue with a wuddy. His information served me so far,
however, that I wrote to a good friend and servant of mine at the
English court, and got down this copy of the King of France's letter,
which this young earl brought over with him. Look ye now, and devise
what he means, for to my mind it seems that he plainly points out to
one who has been an enemy to Scotland that this earl who brings the
letter is the ready man for helping her in her plans. See here, lad,
what he says; 'I have been visited by the noble lord, the Earl of
Gowrie, who will lay these at your feet; and as he is exceedingly
desirous of serving your majesty,' &c.--Ay, more desirous of serving
her than of serving his natural king," continued James; "but maybe
he'll be taken in his own trap yet. He would not come to our hunting
here, though we invited him by a letter under our own hand; and now we
understand he has thoughts of inviting us to his place at Perth----"

"I trust your majesty will not go," cried Ramsay.

"If we do, it shall be well accompanied," replied the king; "with many
faithful and loyal people like yourself, Jock, who will see that no
harm befals us; and mind you be ready if ever you hear the king's
voice crying, to run and help him."

"That I will, sire. Doubt me not," answered Ramsay, "and woe be to the
man whom I find attempting to do you wrong."

"I know it, I know it, Jock," answered the king; "and when I've such
folk as you about me, I do not fear any evil. But good faith, man, we
must get in for the afternoon preaching. I will bide here a little,
but you can go your ways."

Ramsay at once took the hint, and retired; but James continued walking
to and fro, and, whether by any previous arrangement or not, I cannot
say, some five or six gentlemen of his household and court went out
separately one after another, held each a few minutes' conversation
with the king, and then returned to the palace. To no two of them did
the monarch say exactly the same thing, though the subject was still
the same; and he seemed well satisfied with the answers of all.
Nevertheless, when at last he was joined by Sir Hugh Herries, he said,
in a low tone, "I don't like that cold body Inchaffray. He does not
speak heartily, doctor. I have told him little, and we'll tell him no
more. Has Davie Murray come back yet?"

"No, sire," answered Herries. "He has not had time, though he rode as
if the de'il were behind him--which perhaps might well be."

The last words were uttered with a low laugh; and the king turned
sharply upon him, asking, "What do you mean, you fause loon?"

"They say the king's anger is the devil," answered Herries, with a bow
and a cynical smile. "That's what I mean, sir."

James himself laughed now, replying, "Then ye're not feared for the
de'il yoursel. But we must get the preaching over, Herries. It had a
fine effect this morning; though I wonder that goose Galloway did not
touch upon the sorcery and magic. I had indoctrinated him well with
it; and he might have made a grand point of it, especially if he had
hinted that there were some people who studied in foreign lands, and
came home atheists, full of charms and diabolical arts, but that their
end was always evil."

"Perhaps he kept it for another time, sir," answered Herries; "and
indeed I think it might be somewhat too strong just now, to point out
the ill end that some people may come to, for it might make men
believe hereafter that the whole had been prepared beforehand."

"Awa wi' sic clavers," cried James; "who cares what they say
hereafter? We'll make it good, man; and it's always well to prepare
the way for the history of such an affair. I'll tell you what, Hughie,
I have full proof that this Gowrie lad has had dealings with
necromancers and conjurers of devils, and that's a food which, when
men have been nibbling at, they don't give up easily. So Galloway
might have said it, and told the truth, too.[6] But now, Herries, man,
you must look well to the people who are to go with us. Have as many
as possible, in case of there being a fray. It does not much matter
whether they can be depended on for beginning the thing or not, so
that you be quite sure they will take part with their king when it is
begun."

James paused for a minute or two in thought, and then said, "As for
Inchaffray, we must get him away. Your cold, long-thinking folk that
always take time to consider before they give an answer, are not for
such work as this; and when I put it to him quietly whether he did not
think that kings, having the right divine to judge all their subjects,
might cause execution to be done by their own power upon those that
the arm of the law was too short to reach, he said, it was a knotty
point, which required deleeberation, for kings might sometimes make a
mistake, though he would not go the length of saying that if they were
proved right in the end, they would not be justified. I will send him
to Stirling the morn, and he'll have time to deleeberate by the way."

"A small fine upon his estate might do him good," said Herries, "if he
shows himself at all refractory."

"It's a fine plan, those fines," said James, to whom the hint was by
no means disagreeable. "It punishes these fat, wealthy lords, by
taking a part of their ill-gotten gear from them. It leaves them less
power of doing mischief, and it strengthens the king to keep them
down. Harry the Seventh of England, our good ancestor, knew the value
of fines right well, and he was a wise prince. It's funny to read in
history how he employed his two sponges, Empson and Dudley, to suck up
all the gold that was scattered about the realm; and then, when he
wanted some himself, he gave them a squeeze, and the thing was done.
It's almost a pity that this young Earl of Gowrie has not taken it
into his head, with all these dangerous designs of his, to do some
open act which would have enabled us, doucely and quietly, to levy a
good fat fine upon him; but he's kept so quiet, that he's left us no
way but that we're taking; and that would not have touched his brother
Alex, who is the worst of the two, and deserves death as well as any
one that I know. But fegs, man, there's the old doctor looking out of
the window. I'll warrant you he's waiting for us to come to the
preaching. Rin, Cousland, rin!--but mind ye don't have the lassie
Beatrice jecking at ye, about your bowit foot."

"She did so this morning," said Herries, as he followed the king; "but
I asked her to let me look into her loof, and then told her that I
could see, by the art of chiromancy, some great misfortune would
happen to her within the month."

"Ye should not have done that, ye gowk," said the king.

"Then let her leave my bowit foot alone," said Herries. "I'll warrant
my lady turned very mealy about the haffits, for it scared her,
although she could not tell what I meant."

James was going to reply; but two or three gentlemen of the court now
approached, probably to tell his majesty that the evening preaching
was about to begin; and James re-entered the palace without saying
more.



CHAPTER XL.


On Monday, the 4th of August, 1600, the Earl of Gowrie, his brother
Alexander, good Mr. Rhind, a gentleman of the name of Oliphant, and
Mr. William Row, a celebrated presbyterian minister, and a man of a
bold, intrepid, and straightforward character, were seated together in
the little dining-hall immediately after the evening meal, which was
usually taken in those days at nearly the same hour as that at which
we sit down to dinner in our own times. The summer's day, and the
twilight which succeeds it, I need hardly tell the reader, is much
longer in the northern latitude of Perth than in the southern parts of
the island; and though supper was already over, it was still broad
daylight. There was some very rare old wine upon the table, one of the
good things of life to which even the strictest ministers of the
Presbyterian kirk had no conscientious objection, and of which I have
remarked, they can generally imbibe a quantity without its having the
slightest effect upon their intellect, which would very much puzzle
the brains of any man habituated to its daily use. Gowrie, however,
was accustomed to drink but little. Of a strong frame, in robust
health, hardly having known a day's illness in his life, he felt no
need of wine; but still his hospitality would, in all probability,
have induced him to stay and press the grape upon his guests, had he
not had many subjects calling for immediate attention.

"I must now leave you, Mr. Row," he said, "and must take Alex from
you, too, for we have a number of orders to give and matters to
arrange; but my good friend, Mr. Rhind, will be my locum tenens, and
see that you do justice to my cellar. If I find it otherwise at my
return, I shall either think that Rhind has played the host badly, or
that you find the wine of an ill flavour."

"You are going to Dirleton I think, to-morrow, my lord," said Mr. Row.

"Not before I have heard your sermon, my dear sir," replied Gowrie,
with a courteous smile. "We shall not set off till after dinner; then
I shall run through Fife, embark upon the Firth of Forth, and be at
Dirleton before night."

"And when you come back," said the minister, with a shrewd look, "we
shall see a bonny lady in the great house, I'm told."

"I trust so, my dear sir," replied Gowrie, "and one well qualified,
both by character and education, to esteem and love such men as Mr.
William Row. It is for her reception that I am now so busy in
preparations."

"Let us not keep you, my good lord--let us not keep you. We will just
take a moderate cup, and then retire."

"Oh, no, I trust to see you before you go," replied the earl, quitting
the table. "Now, Alex, let us away and make our arrangements."

Thus saying, the earl left the little dining hall, crossed the larger
hall and a part of the court-yard, and took his way towards the great
staircase which led to the picture-gallery, putting his arm
affectionately through that of his brother, and saying something to
him in a low tone.

"What!" exclaimed Alexander Ruthven, starting, and looking in his
face; "I did not hear you clearly."

"I only said, Alex," replied Gowrie, "that it is fit you should see
what is done and ordered; for if I should die before my marriage, or
without children, you will have to complete, as Earl of Gowrie, what I
have begun."

"Now, Heaven forbid!" exclaimed the young man, warmly. "What should
put such a thing in your head, John?"

"Nothing but the uncertainty of human life," replied his brother, with
a grave smile. "I might be drowned crossing the Forth to-morrow. My
horse might fall, as poor Craigengelt's did, the other day. A thousand
things might happen, to take me from this busy scene. It is true,
indeed!" he added, "I have thought of such things much lately; and I
suppose it is natural, when the greatest joy of life is before one, to
dread those accidents which so often interpose between expectation and
fruition. Would that the day were here, and my Julia's hand clasped in
mine for ever; but here comes Cranston. I shall leave him behind, to
see that all is executed properly. He is a man of taste and judgment,
and we can rely on him quite well."

The person who approached was one of the domestics of the Earl of
Gowrie, whom he had engaged since his return from Italy; but it must
not thence be inferred that he was a man either of inferior birth or
education, for many a well born and well instructed person, in those
days, accepted the higher offices in the houses of noblemen of the
rank and wealth of the Earl of Gowrie. Thomas Cranston, we find, was
the brother of Sir John Cranston of Cranston, and from the way in
which he is designated in his trial, it would seem that he had taken
his degree of Master of Arts.

On his approach, Gowrie addressed him familiarly, and led the way
through the picture gallery to the rooms on the side opposite to the
gallery-chamber and study. The first he entered was a light and well
proportioned room, looking out over the gardens, and catching a
pleasant view of the beautiful Tay.

"Remember what I have told you, Cranston, about this room," said
Gowrie, casting off the gloomy air which had more or less hung about
him all day. "This is to be my lady's bower, where she can be free
from intrusion, and spend her quiet moments at her ease."

"I think, my lord, you said the silk hangings of green and white were
to be put up here?"

"Oh, no, no," exclaimed Gowrie. "You are no lover, Cranston, I can
see. Here, we'll have the colour of the rose; and I pray Heaven, that
her life with me may be so coloured, too. The summer flower, Cranston,
whose blushing bosom will not rival her dear cheek, must decorate her
chamber. No, no; those hangings which we had made here in Perth are
for this room, and for the sleeping-room adjoining. My dressing-room
is the little room beyond, and these two rooms for my mother. In the
other wing, is your abode, Alex, hard by William and Patrick."

"I hope they will be more quiet than their wont," answered the young
gentleman, "for, to speak the truth, I am of a more quiet temper than
I used to be."

"You will be here but for a short time at once, and you must bear with
them, Alex," said his brother; "but you are far enough off from them,
too; so that even when you do come from the noisy court, you may find
repose enough."

"I shall never go to the court again," said the young gentleman, in a
thoughtful tone, walking on with the earl, while Cranston followed, a
step or two behind. "During the last fortnight, Gowrie, I have thought
more than I ever thought in my life before. I see that I have been
wrong, but not, I trust, criminal; and I know that the prayer which
petitions against being led into temptation is a very good one for
me."

"I will not say I am sorry to hear you so speak," said the young earl;
"and though a knowledge of the danger is, with a strong and high mind,
almost a certainty of victory, yet I will not try to shake your
resolution, for I believe it is a good one--at all events for the
present."

"I am sure it is, John," replied his brother; "and so, to return to
what I was saying, you see I shall be in Perth till you and the whole
household are tired of me, perhaps."

"If you remain till I am tired of you, my dear Alex," answered the
earl, kindly grasping his shoulder, "we shall spend our lives
together. But I trust that ere long I shall see you married, too; and
what I can do to advance your fortune, shall be done."

"I doubt not, Gowrie," replied the younger man, "that what I see of
the happiness of yourself and your fair Julia, will make me eager to
try the same lot--only where shall I find another such as she is?"

"Oh, easily," answered Gowrie, "though it be a lover speaks, Alex.
What I mean is, you will easily find one as well suited to you as she
is to me--though I could never in life find another such. But let us
finish our task, for our friends below will think us long;" and, in a
far more cheerful mood than before, the earl led the way onward,
giving various directions to Mr. Cranston, till all that he could
recollect at the time was arranged. He then turned to descend the
staircase which led to the north-eastern part of the house, at which
he had now arrived; but, before he went, he paused to ask--"How is
poor Craigengelt, Mr. Cranston? I have had so many people with me
to-day, I have not been able to get to see him."

"He is better, my lord," replied the other. "I saw him this morning
before dinner, and I shall see him again presently."

"Tell him I will come and visit him before I go to-morrow," said the
earl; "and he must come over after me to Dirleton when he is well
enough."

Thus saying, the earl went back to the dining-hall; but the party was
diminished, for Mr. William Row was gone.

"I must go, too, my lord," said Oliphant, as the earl remarked upon
the absence of the minister, "for the truth is, my cousin, the Master,
is lying concealed in Perth, and we are to ride away at midnight, as
the king's people are seeking him for that affair in Angus."

"A bad affair it was!" replied the earl, gravely. "I should be sorry
to say anything harsh of your house, but the king is quite right not
to suffer such things."

"Ay, the Master is a born devil when his blood's up," replied
Oliphant. "I wont justify him, my lord; but he is yet my cousin, you
know, and so I must help him, and now I'll bid your lordship good
night, and may God protect you!"

"I trust he will!" replied the earl. "Good night;" and sitting down,
he filled a tall Venice glass with wine, and drank it off at a
draught, as if he were tired and thirsty.

A few minutes after, Mr. Rhind left him, saying he would go and help
to put the books to-rights in the study; and the earl and his brother
were once more left alone together. Gowrie, notwithstanding the
momentary sadness which had come over him just as Oliphant departed,
seemed more cheerful than he had been for many a day. The light and
playful wit which had distinguished him in Italy, sparkled forth anew;
and he spoke gaily and happily of his own prospects, suffering the
bright rays of hope to rest upon the future like sunshine on a hill.

"It will be very sweet, Alex," he said, joyously, "to spend our lives
together here, afar from those courtly scenes of which you have now
found the hollowness. After all, a court is a dull place, from which
even those who rule it must retire to some small domestic corner for
anything like happiness. Its wit is all restrained, its merriment
measured by line and rule; and its gayest sports, hampered by
fictitious proprieties, always put me in mind of a man I once saw at
Milan, who danced in iron fetters for the amusement of the spectators.
We shall be much happier here. Sometimes we can sail upon the Tay, and
perhaps win the speckled salmon out of the blue water. At other times
we will away to hunt the deer, or mingle with the good citizens in
their sports; and then for idler hours, we shall have books, and
music, and pleasant chat, and let the world wag at its will, knowing
little of its doings. In a varied round of duties, pleasures, and
affections, time may well glide by us quietly, till we find age
creeping on us unawares, and telling us, there is another place before
us where rest is perfected in joy.--But it is growing dark, Alex. We
will have lights for an hour, and then to bed. To-morrow--oh,
to-morrow! Then shall I hold my dear one to my heart again."

"My lord," said the earl's page, Walter Crookshanks, entering, "here
is Mr. Fleming with a message from the king for Mr. Alexander."

Gowrie looked towards his brother, whose face turned somewhat pale,
and then replied, "Give him admission, by all means."

The moment after a well-dressed and graceful young man was ushered
into the room, with whom the earl and his brother both shook hands.

"Welcome to Perth, Fleming," said the earl, "pray you sit down. You
bear a message from his majesty, I think."

"Not to your lordship," replied Fleming, taking a seat, "but to Mr.
Ruthven. He greets you well, sir, and bade me say that he requests
your presence at Falkland, to-morrow, at as early an hour as may be,
to see the running of a famous stag which his men have marked down
this evening. You must not be late, for his majesty will be away
sooner than usual."

"How many legs has the stag, Fleming?" asked Alexander Ruthven, with
an effort to laugh. "Four, I trust?"

Fleming gazed at him for an instant, apparently in some surprise.
"Ah!" he said at length, "I did not understand you. Four, by all
means. I heard the order for horses and hounds, myself. We are all in
mirth and high glee at Falkland. The king seems to have forgotten all
cares and crosses, and like an over-ripe gooseberry, seems ready to
burst with sweetness. No, no, there is no danger. If you are there
about eight o'clock, you will find the whole court in the saddle. Some
of the ladies even, I have heard, are likely to be out to see the run.
What shall I say to his majesty?"

Alexander Ruthven looked to his brother, and then replied, "Say that I
am his most devoted servant, and always ready to obey his will.--You
must not go dry lipped, Fleming, however," he continued, seeing the
young gentleman rise, as if to depart. "A cup of this old wine will
refresh you--your horse, too, has not had time to feed."

"He will carry me back fasting," answered Fleming; "but I must drink
to your good health, and to that of my lord, your brother. The king
never bethought himself of sending for you till three hours ago--foul
fall his memory! when, after talking with your sister the duchess, he
suddenly called out to me, 'Fleming, get on your beast's back, and
ride to Perth as if the de'il had ye. Tell the bairn Alex to come and
run the muckle hart wi' us the morn, and bid him no lose time by the
way. Some one here can lend him a horse, I trow, for his ane beast
will be weary!"

As he spoke he filled himself a cup of wine; and the earl asked who
was with the king when this was said.

"The duchess and Lady Mar," said Fleming. "They came into the small
room, at the top of the great staircase, my lord, where I had
ensconced myself to talk awhile with Margaret Hume, if the truth must
be told. But now I will wish you both good night, and away on my long
ride again."

The earl bade him adieu; and Alexander Ruthven saw him to his horse's
back. Then, returning to his brother, he said eagerly, "What shall I
do, Gowrie? This invitation is strange."

"Strange as the man who sent it," said Gowrie; "but yet methinks he
can intend you no ill; and, if you refuse to go, it will at once put
enmity between you and the king. If there is any evil designed, it is
clear Fleming has heard nought of it."

"I must go, I fear," said Alexander Ruthven. "I know not why
I feel such a dread; for it is just like the king, the whole
proceeding--friends with you to-day, at enmity to-morrow, then friends
with you again, if you show that you heed his wrath but little. It is
possible--nay, it is probable, that he intends no ill; but yet, I know
not why, I feel as if I were going to execution. How often have I
flown to that court with joy!--and now how different!"

"If such be your feelings, Alex, I would not have you go," replied his
brother. "I may perchance be superstitious in this, but I have often
thought that, as we see in beasts sympathies with the elements which
give them warning of coming changes, teaching them to fly to the open
fields when earthquakes are approaching, or look up to the sky and low
with joy when the refreshing shower is soon about to descend, so in
man's nature there may be sympathies with the finer elements that
involve his spiritual nature, giving intimation of coming joy or
peril. My own short experience and reading, narrow though it be, have
tended to confirm this notion; for I have seldom seen or known a bold
spirit seized with an unaccountable repugnance to an act, and do it,
without the consequences being disastrous to himself. Now, were you,
Alex, of a timid nature, given to unreasonable fears, I should make
light of such dreads; but as it is, and as you perhaps are but too
bold in character, they have more weight with me."

Alexander Ruthven thought for a moment or two deeply, and then
replied, with a sudden start, "No, I will go! I have been scanning my
own heart, Gowrie; and I think I can trace the cause of this dread to
a consciousness which has come upon me lately, that I have been more
faulty, in my thoughts at least, towards the king, than I believed
myself to be when I left Falkland. So faulty will I never be again;
and as the first fruit of a better spirit I will obey his command and
go."

Thus was it settled, then; and all that remained to be determined was,
who was to accompany Mr. Ruthven on his expedition.

"Take our cousin Andrew," said the young earl; "he is honest and
faithful, and well looked upon by the king. With your own servant and
one of mine that will be enough.--Henderson, too, is going to Ruthven
to see after the farms; he may as well accompany you part of the way,
and bring me back word if you find any cause of apprehension as you
go. Andrew is at Glenorchie's house hard by. Send him a message, and
he will go, I am sure." The two brothers retired soon after to rest;
but by four on the following morning Alexander was on horseback, and
in a few minutes, accompanied by his cousin Andrew Ruthven, and
followed by Henderson with two other servants, he was on his way to
Falkland. The apprehensions which he had experienced the night before
seemed now to have returned upon him in full force. He spoke little to
any one; and his first words to his cousin, after they had quitted
Perth, were, "I do not love this journey, Andrew. I know not why the
king has sent for me. It is very strange."

Still, however, he rode on vehemently, as if anxious to know his fate,
let it be for weal or woe, and in the end he outrode all his
companions, coming in sight of Falkland by seven o'clock.[7]

"The king will not be out for an hour," he said to himself, "and I can
learn from Beatrice whether there be any signs of danger."

Riding straight east, between the little town of Falkland and the
wood, the young gentleman took his way towards the stables, then
called "The Equerry," intending there to put up his horse and enter
the palace privately; but just as he was approaching the building, to
his surprise and disappointment, he saw the king already mounted, and
an immense train of courtiers and huntsmen, going forth nearly two
hours earlier than usual. There were some old hawthorns growing near,
and dismounting at once, he threw his rein over a branch, and advanced
to the side of James's horse. There kneeling on the soft grass he bent
his head, saying, "I have come at once to obey your majesty's
commands."

His heart beat for the next words; but James, with a smiling face,
leaned over the saddle, and threw his arm familiarly round the young
man's neck, saying, "That's a good bairn. Well I wot, I wish there
were many to obey as readily and speedily, Alex. Noo, man, get ye on
your beast and come wi' us, we'll show you fine sport the day."

The young gentleman obeyed at once; the cavalcade took its way to the
wood; the tracks of the buck were soon found, and the hounds put upon
the scent. Twice, I think, in other works I have described a royal
hunt; and here I will refrain, not alone on that account, but because
"the hunting of that day" was not of stag or roe.

As the noble beast, which was the pretended object of the morning's
chase, forced from his leafy covert, bounded away over the more open
ground, and hounds and hunters dashed after him, the royal cavalcade
was separated into small parties, and Alexander Ruthven asked eagerly
of one of the gentlemen near, where his acquaintance Fleming was that
morning.

"He was sent off to Leith at six o'clock, poor lad," said Lord
Lindores; "tired as a dog with hard riding last night, he had sore ill
will to go; but the king was peremptory."

"Alex Ruthven! Alex, bairn, ride close!" cried James, from a little
distance; "what are ye clavering about? Mind the sport--Come hither,
man, come hither!"

The young gentleman immediately obeyed, and rode up to the king's
side; and throughout the rest of the hunting, whenever he absented
himself for a moment he was recalled almost instantly, if he was seen
to be conversing with any one belonging to the court. So long as he
remained silent and apart, James took no notice, and appeared to be
busily engaged in the chase; but no sooner did Alexander open his lips
to any other than the king himself, the monarch's voice calling him up
sounded in his ears.

The hunt was long, considering the circumstances, for the deer was
forced by half-past eight, and was not pulled down till ten. All
gathered round the noble beast as he lay upon the ground, and every
one made way for the king to perform, as he so frequently did, the
last disgusting offices of the chase; but, to the surprise of all, and
the consternation of Alexander Ruthven, James remained upon his horse,
saying, "Noo, my lords and gentles, we've another ride before us.
We're awa to St. Johnstone, to visit our loyal friend, the Earl of
Gowrie; but we shall be back before night, so you needna seek your
night-caps."

"I fear, your majesty," said Alexander Ruthven, "that you will hardly
find my brother at his house. He purposed to go to Dirleton early
to-day."

"De'il tak it!" cried the king; "but 'tis no matter. We will ride the
faster and catch him, I do not doubt. Here, Alex, bairn, ride by us;
and tell us all about your brother's journey. Ye've seen the leddy,
I'll dar' to say."

The poor young man, alarmed and confounded, replied, in faltering
accents, that he had; and, in answer to James's questions, he
described his brother's promised bride as accurately as he could find
words to do, in the state of trepidation of his mind at the moment.

The monarch kept him by his side as much as possible; but in the
course of their long ride they were naturally separated more than
once; and the very first time their conversation was broken off,
Alexander Ruthven took the opportunity of asking Sir George Hume, a
distant cousin of the affianced husband of his sister, what could be
the motive of the king's journey?

"It is understood he is going to Perth," replied the other, "to seize
the Master of Oliphant, who has been committing cruel oppression in
Angus."

This information was some relief to the young gentleman's mind, for he
knew that the culprit mentioned had been in Perth the day before; and
riding up to the king's side again, he said, "Perhaps your majesty
will allow me to go forward and give notice of your coming. I may so
catch my brother before he departs, and enable him to prepare for your
reception."

"No, no," replied the king; "my coming must be kept quite quiet till I
am there. As to the reception, we shall do well enough. You stay and
ride with us."

The young gentleman fell back again, with a gloomy and apprehensive
countenance; and James, turning to the Duke of Lennox, who was riding
on his other hand, said, in a low tone, "Do you see how scared he
looks? What know you of the lad's nature, my lord duke--is he given to
such high apprehensions?"

"I only know, your majesty," answered Lennox, "that he is a very
honest and discreet young gentleman, as far as my observation goes."

James mused for a moment or two, and then said, in a low tone, gazing
with a cunning look in the duke's face, "You cannot guess, man, the
errand I am riding for--I am going to get a pose in Perth."

"Indeed, sire," said Lennox, drily; "I am glad to hear it. I hope it
may be a large one."

"I dinna ken," replied the king, in the same low tone; "but the bairn
Alex came to me just when we were going out for the hunting, and told
me that he had got a stranger man locked up at Gowrie Place, whom he
had found in Perth with a pitcher full of gold pieces. He besought me
to come away directly and take it, and to make haste and come
privately, for his brother, the earl, knows nothing of it; and he's
feared that the man might cry out."[8]

"I do not like the story at all, sire," answered Lennox, with an
exceedingly grave face; "and were I in your majesty's place, I would
not go. The thing is quite childlike and improbable. How should
Alexander seize such a person and confine him in Gowrie House without
his brother knowing it? The house is the earl's; the servants there
are his; he is provost of Perth, and high-sheriff of the county. Were
it not better, sire, to dispatch two or three of us on to tell the
earl, on your part, what his brother has related, and to command him
to bring or send the man and his pot of gold before your majesty?"

"No, no," answered James; "I will e'en just go myself; but look well
where I go with the bairn Alex, when I am there."

The Duke of Lennox was silent; but in the course of the ride James
told the same story, and in the same low tone, to several of the other
courtiers. It was heard by every one with looks of suspicion, though
it may be very doubtful whether they imputed the falsehood to the king
or to Alexander Ruthven.

Even to Sir Hugh Herries his majesty repeated the tale, with a low
chuckle at the same time.

Herries shrugged his shoulders, with what perhaps might be termed a
look of contempt; but he merely replied, "I wish the tale were more
probable."

When the head of the royal cavalcade were within two miles of Perth,
but not before, James called Alexander Ruthven to his side, and said,
"You may now send one of your folk forward to tell your brother we are
coming this way, but stay you here yourself."

"I will send my cousin Andrew, please your majesty," replied Alexander
Ruthven.

"Well, call him up, call him up," said the king; and the young man's
hope of sending a private message to his brother was disappointed.
Gloomy and sad, he rode a step or two behind the king, till they were
within less than a mile of the town; but then again James, turning his
head, gave him a keen and scrutinizing look, and said, "Now, Alex,
bairn, ye may ride on to your brother."

The young man struck his spurs deep into his tired horse's flanks, and
dashed past the king with a low bow.



CHAPTER XLI.


The Earl of Gowrie slept well; nor did he wake till past six o'clock.
Even then he felt unwilling to get up, for the last hour had been
filled with pleasant dreams; and they set fancy wandering on the same
track, even after reason had roused herself to grapple with the tasks
of the day. In his sleep he had imagined that he was wandering with
Julia through a pleasant garden; he could not tell where. It was not
certainly in Perth; it was not at Dirleton; it was not any he had ever
seen in Italy or France. The fruits and flowers were of a different
kind from those of Europe--larger, brighter in colour, more
magnificent. The odour which filled the air was at once sweet and
refreshing; and the fountains that rose up here and there, the rivers
which glided through green banks at his feet, were so pure, and clear,
and bright, that the little stones at the bottom seemed like jewels,
as the eye penetrated the waters. There was a murmur, too, of many
sweet sounds in the air--birds singing, and happy voices, and the gush
of fountains, and the low song of the stream--all blended into an
entrancing harmony. There seemed nobody but himself and Julia in that
garden; and they sat together upon the velvet turf of a green bank,
with the shadow of a feathery tree waving over them, with nothing but
joyful sights and pleasant sounds around; and he held her hand in his,
and gazed into her dark and lustrous eyes, and they both murmured,
"This is like Heaven!"

For some minutes after he woke, he lay and thought of his dream. It is
very pleasant, on a bright summer's morning, with the birds singing
around, and the soft breath of dawn moving the air and agitating the
green branches, and the downy influence of sleep but half withdrawn,
to lie and meditate of happy days. Oh, how the images crowd upon us
then--how joy with joy weaves a wreath more beautiful than gems or
flowers--how we wish that life were indeed a day-dream like that! But
Gowrie was not suffered long to indulge. He heard some one moving in
the ante-room, and the next moment there was a tap at the door. He
rose and opened it, and, somewhat to his surprise, saw his servant,
Austin Jute; for he had thought it was his page come to call him.

"What is it, Austin?" he asked; "you seem disturbed."

"Oh no, my lord, not disturbed," replied the good man; "but a short
tale's soon told. I don't like your man Christie, my lord--the porter,
I mean."

"What has he done that you disapprove of, Austin?" asked the earl,
gravely.

"Nothing, my good lord," replied the Englishman. "That is to say,
nothing that I can say is wrong; and he is uncommonly civil to me; but
you can't always tell the bird by its feathers. A pig's got a long
snout, and so has a woodcock, but they're two different creatures.
However, to make short of my tale, Master Christie had two visitors in
his lodge this morning before five o'clock; and I'm very much mistaken
if I have not seen the face of one of them when you sent me to the
king at Falkland."

"He has a cousin amongst the royal servants," said the earl; but
Austin Jute shook his head with a doubtful look. "I never forget a
face," he said; "and very seldom a figure, when I have seen it. Now,
if I'm not much mistaken, indeed, the face I saw this morning, when I
saw it before, was going into the palace at Falkland with a very
different coat underneath it from that which was there to-day. There
was no badge then upon the arm either. They say fine feathers make
fine birds, it is true; and if so, it has sadly moulted; for it was a
finer bird then than now."

The earl mused for a moment or two, and then said, "That is somewhat
strange, indeed. It shall be inquired into."

"Ay, things are strange, my lord, till we hear stranger," said Austin
Jute. "I have not told you about the other man yet. I'm not likely, I
think, my lord, to forget a man I once ran through the body."

"I should suppose not, certainly," replied the earl. "Did you ever
confer that honour upon the second personage you saw to-day?"

"He was not first or second, my lord," replied Austin, "for I saw them
both at once. Birds of a feather fly together; and these two came up
cheek by jowl. However, if I ran a man through the body eight or nine
months ago in Paris--and people told me I did--he was here this
morning."

"As you say--stranger still!" replied the earl; "but this shall be
inquired into directly. How came you to observe them?"

"Why, I was up this morning to see Mr. Alexander off," replied
Austin, "and then I went out to walk through the town. As I was coming
back, I saw two men before me going along at a quick pace, till they
stopped at the gates here. They did not ring the great bell, but
knocked upon the railings with the end of a riding whip, and Christie
came quietly up and opened the gate. I stood at the corner and watched
them, so I had time enough to see what they were like. I did not like
to wake your lordship earlier, but as the people are all beginning to
stir, I thought it better to do so now."

"You were quite right, Austin," replied the earl. "Now go and send the
page to me. But say not a word of what you have seen to any one."

"Mum as a mouse, my lord," answered Austin Jute, and withdrew.

As soon as he was dressed, Gowrie descended into the court-yard, and
crossing it to the great gates, which were open, stood under the
archway close to the porter's room, looking up and down the street,
and giving Christie, who was bustling about within, a fair opportunity
of saying anything he might think fit. The man remained silent,
however, and the earl at length called him to him.

"Who had you here about five o'clock?" he demanded, as the man came
out, bowing low.

"Oo, it was just my cousin, Robbie Brown," replied the porter. "He was
on his way to Dundee, and looked in for a minute."

Gowrie fixed his eyes upon him in silence for a moment; and he could
see the tell-tale colour mount up into the man's cheek. "Who else had
you here?" he demanded, somewhat sternly.

"Weel, noo, to think o' that!" cried the porter, holding up his hands.
"If I had not clean forgotten to tell your lordship, that a very
worthy gentleman, Ramsay of Newburn, came speering as he gaed by, if I
thought your lordship could see him this evening. But I tellt him that
it was clean impossible, for I kenned you were to ride to Dirleton."

Gowrie was not deceived. There was falsehood in the man's face. Though
what could be the motive and what the object of all these proceedings
he could not divine, yet he saw that there was something evidently
wrong. Turning upon his heel, he re-entered the house, and, after
thinking for a few minutes, he sent for Mr. Cranston, saying, as soon
as he appeared, "I know not, Cranston, whether Henderson will have
returned before I set out, and as you remain here, I must charge you
with a message to him. Tell him to discharge the porter, Robert
Christie, at once, paying him whatever may be due to him, and giving
till to-morrow to remove from the house, but not to let him be found
here afterwards on any pretence."

"I will not fail, my lord," replied Cranston.

"And now send Henry Younger to me, if you can find him, Mr. Cranston,"
said the earl, who continued to walk up and down the room till the
servant he had sent for appeared.

"Younger," he said, as soon as the man entered, "you have been a good
deal with Sir George Ramsay's family. Do you know his cousin Newburn?"

"Oh, ay, right well, my lord," replied the servant; "a ne'er do weel
mischievous deevil, if ever there was one."

"Then take your horse, and ride to Dundee as fast as you can go," said
Gowrie. "See if you can find him out there, and bring me word if he be
in the good town, and who he has got with him."

"Am I to say anything to him from your lordship?" demanded the
servant.

"No," replied the earl at once. "All I wish to know is if he be there,
and who is with him. I have got nothing to say to him; but on those
two points I require satisfaction."

The man bowed and retired; and Gowrie proceeded with the ordinary
avocations of the day. Nevertheless, his mind was far from calm and at
ease. Many of those little ominous circumstances which, like clouds of
dust rising before a storm, prognosticate coming evil, though the
connexion cannot be traced, had gathered into the last two or three
days. The porter's sudden journey to Falkland during his absence, his
brother's unexpected summons to the king's presence, the visit at an
early and unusual hour of two persons from the court--all raised up
doubts in his mind as to the king's intentions; and he asked himself
what could James design, and how could he best meet it? Both questions
were difficult to be answered, and he revolved them in vain in his
mind till the hour arrived for his going, according to promise, to the
week-day preaching. In the parish church he found assembled, besides
the good citizens of the town, a number of gentlemen of his own name
and family, who were parishioners of Mr. William Row, the minister of
Forgandenny, who had undertaken to preach that day, the two regular
ministers of Perth being absent attending the provincial synod at
Stirling. Amongst those whom he knew best were the two sons of his
cousin, Alexander Ruthven of Freeland, and, in parting with them at
the church door, he invited them to dine with him that day at twelve,
as well as Drummond of Pitcairns and the Baron of Findown, who were
also present.

The moment after, the senior bailie of the town approached, and
informed him that there would be some business before the town council
that morning, if his lordship could attend; but Gowrie answered, with
a smile, "I fear, bailie, I cannot come, for Mr. Hay is to be with me
on county business, and though I love the good town well, I must not
give it all my time."

The worthy magistrate received his excuse in good part, and on
returning to his house, Gowrie found the gentleman he expected already
waiting for him. All who saw him during the morning remarked that he
was very grave; but he went through the whole of the matters which
were brought before him as sheriff of the county, and they were both
many and important, with great accuracy and attention. While Mr. Hay
was with him, and about ten o'clock, his factor Henderson returned,
and the earl eagerly asked, "What news from Falkland? Who found you
with the king?"

Henderson gave but a vague answer; and thinking he had something
particular to communicate, Gowrie took him into a neighbouring room,
and questioned him there.

What Henderson replied is not known; but on his return to the chamber
where he had left Mr. Hay, the earl found Mr. John Moncrief, who came
to obtain his signature to some papers.

"I met your lordship's factor," said that gentleman, after the first
salutation, "a mile or two south of Perth."

"Was he riding fast or slow?" asked the earl; for the most open and
generous natures will become suspicious by experience of man's
faithlessness.

"At a foot pace," answered Moncrief.

"Then I know not how he has got back so soon," answered Gowrie. "I
sent him with my brother Alex to Falkland, with orders to bring me
back word how the king received him, for there was some little
displeasure when they parted. Henderson was ordered to go to Ruthven
too, and he says he has been to both places. Now, I ride as boldly as
any man in the realm, and I could not have done as he has done in the
same time."

"He told me he had been three miles above the town," replied Moncrief.
"But these are the papers, my good lord, if you will be pleased to
read and subscribe them, for the lady cannot have her rights without
your signature."

"Then we will not detain your lordship farther," said Mr. Hay, rising.
"The rest of the county business can very well be settled at your
return."

Gowrie suffered him to depart, for, to say the truth, he was not very
fond of him; but Moncrief he asked to remain and dine, adding, "I
shall set off for Dirleton immediately after dinner. So you must not
expect me to play the good host, Moncrief."

The papers took long to examine, however, for Gowrie would not affix
his signature till he had read them through, so that it was half-past
twelve before he sat down to table. Just when the second course was
being placed upon the board, the earl's cousin, Andrew Ruthven,
entered the hall, dusty from his journey; and approaching the earl, he
said, in a low tone, "The king and all the court are coming this way,
my lord, and I rode on to tell you. The report is, that he is coming
to seize the Master of Oliphant."

"But the king is not coming here?" said Gowrie, with a heavy cloud
upon his brow. "The Master of Oliphant was at Dupplin this morning."

"I cannot tell, my lord," replied his cousin; "the king's words were
very short; all he said being--'Now you may ride on, Andrew.'"

"Well, well, sit down and take some dinner," said the earl,
thoughtfully. "Have you ridden fast?"

"I should have ridden faster," answered the other, "but there are such
a rout of Murrays in the street, I could hardly make my way through
them. I think the whole clan has turned in, with the Master of
Tullibardine at their head."

"What do they here in Perth?" demanded the earl. "Did you speak with
any of them?"

"Oh, yes," answered his cousin, seating himself at the board. "Some
quite down in Water-street, declared that they came to honour the
wedding of George Murray, who lives half way through the town; and
some said plainly, that they did not know--they came because they were
told."

"The Master of Tullibardine," said the earl, gloomily, "comes not to
honour the wedding of an inn-keeper. There is something more in this;
and we shall hear farther soon."

Andrew Ruthven had hardly time to fill his plate from one of the
dishes on the table, and to begin his dinner, when young Alexander
Ruthven entered the room in breathless haste, exclaiming--"Brother,
the king and all the court are near at hand. I left them, a few
minutes ago, not a mile from the town gates."

He fixed his eye eagerly, anxiously, upon his brother's countenance,
as if he could have said a world more, but had not time or courage to
speak. A shadow, like that of a flying cloud, swept over the earl's
face, deep but transitory--a momentary struggle in the heart, showing
itself by that grave, stern look--and calmed as soon as felt.

"Would that his majesty had given me notice," he said, "then might I
have received him more worthily. Nevertheless, we must prepare at
once. Gentlemen, we must go and meet the king. Henderson, take heed
that instant preparation be made that the king may dine. Let this room
be prepared for his majesty's meal; the great hall for the lords of
the court; my study near the gallery chamber for the king to take
repose, if he need it after such a day of fatigue. Have everything
ready as fast as possible, and spare neither speed nor money to
prepare befittingly. Cranston, I beg you run down at once, call the
bailies together, tell them the king is coming, and require them to
meet me as speedily as possible at the South Inch. Gentlemen all, you
had better rise and follow me to receive his majesty on his entrance
into Perth."

"By ---- we had better follow you to keep him out," said Hugh
Moncrief, with a meaning look, and then added, at a reproving glance
from Gowrie's eye, "for he will not go again, I judge, without
exacting more than we can well spare."

Gowrie took no public notice of his words, but led the way to the
door; and after a brief search for hats, and cloaks, and rapiers, the
whole party passed across the court on foot, and through the gates
into the street.

Christie, the porter, with a grave face, held the right hand valve of
the great iron gates open; but as soon as the earl and his friends had
passed through, a sinister smile came upon his lip, and murmuring to
himself--"Now, then," he retired into his room. The instant after,
Austin Jute ran through the gates and followed the earl, but did not
overtake him till he was half way down the street. Then advancing, so
as to be in his master's sight, he doffed his hat, saying, "Have you
anything to command me, my lord?"

Gowrie put his hand to his head, like one almost bewildered, and then
said, "Ay, Austin, ay.--Go on, gentlemen; I follow you. Take horse
directly, Austin," he continued, as soon as the others had passed on;
"speed to Dirleton. You must find your way as best you can. Tell my
mother--tell the dear lady Julia what has happened here. Say that I
cannot be with them to-night, but----"

He paused, and thought for an instant, and then added, "No! I will
make no promises for to-morrow. God, and God only, knows what may be
to-morrow. Do not alarm them, Austin, more than needful. But still,"
he added, solemnly, "do not buoy them up with hopes that may prove
false. Tell them the king comes--tell them I know not why he comes;
and let their own judgment speak the rest. But of all things, let my
mother be upon her guard, and see to the safety of my young brothers.
There's my purse, good fellow, to defray your expenses on the road.
Would there were more in it, for your sake. And now away with all
speed! Here, take my sword; lay it somewhere in the house. The king
shall not say that I wore arms of any kind."

Austin Jute caught the earl's hand and kissed it, as if he felt that
it was the last time he should ever see him. Then, without a word of
reply, but with a glistening eye, he turned from him, sped back to the
Great House, took the horse he usually rode from the stable, and
without farther preparation rode away.

In the meantime, Gowrie rejoined his friends and walked on, the party
every moment being increased by some accession from amongst the
magistrates of the town, or the gentry of the place and neighbourhood.
It had thus been swelled to the number of five or six-and-thirty
persons when it reached the side of the large fine piece of meadow
ground in the Tay, called the South Inch, and in a minute or two
after, the royal cavalcade was seen approaching at a slow and stately
pace. It was remarked, however, aloud, not by the Earl of Gowrie or
any of his friends, but by one of the bailies of the town, that
although they had met many of the Murrays in the streets as they went
along, not one of them had joined the party going to receive and
welcome the king.

"They do not show their loyalty, methinks," said Bailie Roy.

No reply was made aloud, but Hugh Moncrief, a warm-tempered,
plain-spoken man, who had been watching Gowrie's countenance
attentively, muttered between his teeth, "They may show it by and by
with a vengeance, perchance. I know not what they do here; the town is
full of them!"

Neither Gowrie nor his brother Alexander made any observation
whatever, but waited in grave silence till James's horse was within
some fifty yards; and then the young earl advanced with his head
uncovered, saying, "Your majesty is welcome to your good and loyal
town of St. Johnstone; and I only regret that I did not earlier know
of your coming, that a better reception might have been prepared for
your royal grace."

"Oh, we come in no state, my good lord," replied the king. "We love to
take our friends by surprise; and we know that no man in all the realm
will be more willing or better prepared to receive the king than the
Earl of Gowrie. Deed, our poor beasties are very tired, so that our
train has gone spilling itself on the road like an o'erfilled luggie;
but they'll come in by sixes and sevens, no doubt. And now, my lord,
by your good leave, we'll go on and repose ourselves."

Gowrie gave a glance over the king's train at this intimation of its
numbers being likely to increase before night. It consisted of more
than forty persons already; but, without any observation, he merely
bowed his head and walked by the side of the monarch's horse, James
continuing to speak with him in a gay and jocular tone all the way to
the gates of Gowrie House.

As soon as the monarch had entered the court, where some eight or ten
of the earl's servants were drawn up, Alexander Ruthven sprang to hold
the horse's head, while Gowrie himself assisted the king to dismount.
The magistrates of the town were then presented to the monarch in
form, having pressed somewhat closely around; but James, treating the
worthy bailies with somewhat scanty courtesy, cut their compliments
short, and was led by the earl through the great hall into the lesser
dining room, which had been hastily prepared for his reception.

"He's no like a king either in face or tongue," said Bailie Graham, in
a low tone, as he walked away.

"Ay, but it's a graund thing, the royal presence," said Bailie Roy,
aloud, as he retired.

So the town council were divided in opinion.



CHAPTER XLII.


From the moment of the king's arrival, Gowrie House, or Palace, was
one continual scene of confusion for nearly two hours. Every instant
some fresh party was arriving, either of the courtiers, who had
tarried behind on the road to refresh their weary horses or to procure
others, or of parties from the country, consisting generally of the
family of Murray of Tullibardine, of which powerful race we are
assured that there were three hundred men in arms in the town before
two o'clock.[9] Some of the latter, as well as all the former, flocked
into the court, and in a quarter of an hour after James had entered
the gates, the young earl found his dwelling no longer, in fact, at
his own disposal. Though courteous and civil to all, every one saw
that he was grave and displeased; nor were his doubts diminished when
one of those small accidental circumstances, which so frequently
betray deep-laid plans, proved to him and his brother that the
monarch's visit proceeded from no sudden caprice or accidental event,
but from design, arranged and concerted with others long before.

The assumed cause of the presence of so many of the Murrays in the
town of Perth on that day, was the marriage of one of their family in
the city; but the person married was known to be merely the innkeeper;
and, at the best, the presence of so many noblemen on such an occasion
seemed to Gowrie an honour somewhat extraordinary. When, however, a
cousin of the Baron of Tullibardine appeared at Gowrie Palace,
bringing with him a large and beautiful falcon from the country as a
present for the king, the young earl could not doubt that the house of
Murray had been made acquainted with the monarch's proposed visit
before the person who was to entertain him. He had little opportunity,
however, of communicating his suspicions, even to his brother, before
the king's dinner was served, for James kept him constantly at his
side, talking and jesting in a mood unusually joyous and noisy even
for him. He seemed to have forgotten altogether the story of the pot
of gold and the bound prisoner, which he had told to some of his
courtiers by the way, and though nearly an hour elapsed ere the meal
was ready, he quitted not the hall to which he had been first led.

"I grieve your majesty has to wait so long," said Gowrie, at length;
"but your gracious visit took me completely by surprise, and as I was
about to set out for Dirleton in the afternoon, with most of my
people, my poor house is not provided even as well as usual."

"It matters not, my good earl," replied the king; "fasting a wee will
do one no harm. Many a godly man fasts for mortification, and
doubtless an enforced fast will do as well. But here come your sewers,
or I am mistaken; and now we shall soon fall to. Alex, bairn, you
shall be our carver while we jest with the earl--though, fegs! my
lord, you would not do for a jester, for you seem as melancholy as a
pippit hen."

"I am in no way fit for that high office, sire," answered Gowrie, with
the colour mounting in his cheek; "and indeed it would require both
wit and courage to fill it at your majesty's court."

"How so? how so?" cried James.

"Because I should think," replied the young earl, "that your majesty
is more than a match for any jester that ever lived, both in the
hardness and the sharpness of your hits."

"Ay, but you can jest too, I see, earl," said James; and he took the
solitary seat which had been placed for him at the table.

In the meantime a table had been laid in the great hall for the
numerous unexpected guests who had flocked into the Great House that
day; and it seems it was customary, on such occasions, for the king's
entertainer to see the second course served at the royal table, and
then to invite the courtiers round to dine with him in another
chamber. Gowrie however, doubtful, anxious, and ill-pleased, neglected
the moment at which the invitation should have been given; and the
Duke of Lennox, the Earl of Mar, and others, continued grouped around
the king's table, while Gowrie himself stood at the lower end, and his
brother Alexander, stationed behind the monarch's chair, gave him wine
from time to time, or carved the dishes placed before him. Thus passed
a considerable part, not only of the first but of the second course
also, James talking incessantly to Alexander Ruthven and his brother,
in a very gracious manner, but with somewhat coarse and indecent
language.

At length, looking up with a sarcastic grin, the monarch said, "I'm
thinking, Alex, bairn, that your brother, the earl, fancies these puir
lads standing round hae tint their hunger by the road side, that he
keeps them sae lang empty."

"I really beg your pardon, my lord duke," said Gowrie, turning to
Lennox, "but I was so intent upon seeing his majesty duly served, that
I have fallen into the fault for which he justly reproaches me. I
trust we shall find a dinner of some kind in the great hall, though
the honour I have received, being unexpected, I fear it will be but
poorly requited by your entertainment."

Thus saying, he led the way to the other table, and seeing his guests
placed, and the best dinner which so short a notice permitted his
servants to provide, put before them, he returned to the inner hall,
and took his place, as before, at the lower end of the board.

He and his brother, with their own servants, were now with the king
alone. A closed door, a blow of a dagger, and James had died and
Gowrie lived; but such a thought never crossed his pure, high mind,
whatever might be then working in the heart of his royal enemy.

James continued to jest with ribald coarseness, till the second course
was removed, and a rich dessert of the finest fruits which could be
procured from the splendid gardens of Gowrie Place was placed before
him. Then, however, he said, "I feel somewhat weary, Alex, bairn. Show
me a room, man, where I can repose myself in quiet for a while, away
frae a' this din."

"There is one prepared for your majesty," replied the young gentleman;
"permit me to lead the way."

"I'll hae a sup o' wine first," said James; and taking a large goblet
or hanap from the hands of Gowrie's brother, he added, addressing the
earl, "My lord, you have seen the fashion of entertainments in other
countries, and now I will teach you the fashion in this country,
seeing you are a Scottish man. You have forgot to drink with me, and
to sit with your guests, and to bid us welcome; but we will now drink
our own welcome." He then quaffed off the beaker, and proceeded--"I
pray you, my lord, go to the other company, drink to them, and bid
them welcome in the king's name."

"I obey your majesty's orders," answered the earl, gravely; and
without farther comment retired to the great hall, leaving the king
alone with his brother.

Taking his seat at the head of the table, Gowrie called for wine, and
when his page had filled a cup to the brim he rose, saying, "I am
desired by his majesty to drink this _scoll_ to my lord duke and the
rest of the company;" and then turning to Lennox and Mar, who were
seated next each other on his right hand, he apologized, in more
familiar terms, for any neglect which had appeared in his reception of
his guests.

"His majesty's coming," he said, "was so sudden and unexpected, that I
had no time to learn my part, and prepare to perform it."

The wine went round. The conversation became general; and at this
moment Gowrie remarked young John Ramsay caressing a large and
beautiful falcon which he held upon his right hand, while an
enormously tall large man, sitting beside him, seemed resolved, by the
efforts of his immense appetite, to consume all the provisions which
remained upon the earl's board.

"You have a beautiful bird there, Ramsay," said the earl, speaking
down the table. "Is she as good upon the wing as she looks upon the
hand?"

"I really don't know, my lord," replied Ramsay. "Murray of Arknay
brought her in upon his fist as a present for the king. So I am
holding her," he added, with a laugh, "while meikle John Murray
devours to the extent of his ability."

"You'll have to keep her all the day, Ramsay," said the burly man of
whom he spoke. "I've had enough of her, carrying her sixteen miles;"
and then, turning towards Gowrie, he added, "She's as keen a bird, my
lord, and as true as ever was hatched and fledged. I wish you could
see her upon wing. I've only flown her thrice to prove her, intending
to take her to Falkland; but when I heard yesterday the king was
coming here, I scoured her and brought her with me."

"Pity that I should be the last to know of the king's coming,"
said Gowrie, in a meditative tone; and turning to Mar, he said,
"But poor entertainment I've been able to give you, my lord. My good
brother-in-law, the duke, will excuse it for love; but I know not how
to apologize to so many gentlemen who are nearly strangers to me."

Mar merely bowed his head, for he could not help seeing that their
coming had been as unpleasant as unexpected to his host; and, though
probably not in the king's secrets, he saw clearly that there was
something amiss between the monarch and the house of Ruthven.

"My Lord of Lindores, I beseech you ply the wine," continued Gowrie.
"It may not be so good as that which you gave me some five or six
months ago, but it will do for want of better."

"Cannot be better," replied Lindores. "This is wine of eighty-three;
the best vintage they have had in France for a whole century."

At that moment the king and Alexander Ruthven passed across the lower
part of the hall, taking their way towards the great staircase leading
to the picture-gallery, the cabinet close by which had been prepared
by Gowrie's orders, as the reader has already seen, for the king to
repose himself after dinner. James had his arm round Alexander
Ruthven's neck, in the over-familiar and caressing manner which he not
unfrequently put on towards those who were on the eve of disgrace; and
he was, moreover, laughing heartily. There were some sixty persons in
the hall at the moment, all talking aloud, and most of them with their
faces turned from the door which led into the lesser hall, so that the
monarch's passing was noticed by few. The Duke of Lennox, however,
caught sight of James's figure, and rose, as if to follow him; but
Gowrie said, "His majesty is going to repose for a while in my study
up stairs, which has been made ready for him;" and Lennox at once
resumed his seat.

Sir Thomas Erskine, however, who was placed considerably farther down
the table, had frequently turned his eyes towards the room in which
the king had been dining; and now he instantly got up and followed
James out of the hall, overtaking him at the foot of the broad
staircase, and entering into conversation with him and Alexander
Ruthven. They ascended the stairs together, and at the top encountered
Christie, the earl's porter, who instantly drew on one side with a low
reverence, but at the same time put his hand to his chin in a somewhat
significant manner.

Passing then through the gallery without taking any notice of the
pictures, the king, without direction from his host's brother,
proceeded at once towards the door of the gallery chamber, through
which was the only way from that part of the house to Gowrie's study;
and the door having been thrown open for him to go through, James
turned to Sir Thomas Erskine, saying, "Bide you here for us, man."[10]

Erskine bowed, and stopped at the door; and James, with Alexander
Ruthven, passed through. In the large gallery chamber, standing in the
recesses of the window, were two or three men, dressed as the ordinary
household servants of the king--at least so says tradition. Alexander
Ruthven either did not see them, or took no notice of a circumstance
which had nothing extraordinary in it; but, advancing a step before
the monarch, he opened the door of his brother's cabinet, and James at
once passed in.

When the young man had his step upon the threshold to follow, however,
he paused for an instant and hesitated, seeing a tall dark man,
completely armed, already in possession of the room.

"Come in, Alex, bairn--come in," cried James, in a good-humoured tone.

The young gentleman, not without a feeling of dread, obeyed; and the
door was closed.



CHAPTER XLIII.


The court-yard of Gowrie palace--that large court-yard which I have
before described, of ninety feet in length by sixty in width--was
filled with men and horses from a little after one till a late hour in
the afternoon. Gowrie's own attendants had more than they could well
manage to do--the domestic servants in waiting upon the king and the
courtiers, and his grooms and stable-boys in taking care of the
horses. The granaries were thrown open. The servants of the strangers
helped themselves to what they needed; and men who had never been seen
in the place before, were running over the whole building. In vain Mr.
Cranston remonstrated, and endeavoured to preserve a little order; and
while he himself was obliged to be absent from the scene of confusion,
besought Donald Macduff, the earl's baron bailie of Strathbraan, who
had come down with his lord from Trochrie, to stop the people from
entering the palace and swilling the wine and ale at their discretion.
Christie, the porter, seemed to rejoice in the tumult, giving
admission to all who wanted it, to every part of the house, except the
two upper floors.

"There'll be nothing done," said Macduff, "unless one of them has his
head broke. It's all Christie's fault. He knows that he's to go
to-morrow, and cares not what he does. I'll split his weasand in a
minute with my whinger, if you'll but say I may, Mr. Cranston."

"No, no--no violence, Macduff," said Mr. Cranston; "especially not to
the king's people;" and he turned away into the house again.

Macduff stood sullenly on the steps of the hall, gazing with a bitter
heart on the scene before him, till Mr. Alexander Ruthven, of
Freeland, came up and spoke to him in a low tone, saying, "This is
really too bad, Macduff; some order ought to be taken with these
people."

"The king alone can do it, sir," replied the baron bailie; "and I
doubt that he chooses to do so, otherwise he would have taken better
care at first. I suppose he calls this spoiling the Egyptians."

"That scoundrel Christie has left all the doors open," said Mr.
Ruthven.

"Ay, sir, I dare say he knows well what he's about; but I'll go and
speak to him;" and walking up to the porter, followed closely by Mr.
Ruthven, he said, "Hold your laughing, stupid tongue, and turn all
those people out of the house, except the gentlemen. Then lock the
doors, and keep them out."

"Deed, I shall do no such thing," answered Christie, turning from him
with a dogged look. "I'm no to take my orders from you, I'se warrant,
no better than a highland cateran."

Macduff laid his hand upon his dagger, and drew it half out of the
sheath; but Mr. Ruthven caught his arm, exclaiming, "For God's sake,
Macduff, keep peace! There's no telling where a broil would end if
begun in such a scene as this. Come away, man--come away;" and he
pulled the highlander by the arm to the other side of the court.
"Watch his movements," he continued, when they were at some distance.
"I doubt that man, Macduff, and it may be well to mark him."

"Ay, I'll mark him if I get hold of him," replied the other. "He's
gone into his den now; and see, there are three or four others gone in
after him."

"That's great Jimmy Bog, the king's porter at Falkland," said Mr.
Ruthven.

"And that broad-shouldered fellow is Galbraith, one of the
door-keepers at Holyrood," said Macduff. "What the de'il does the king
do bringing such folk here? If they had been his grooms, or his
huntsmen, one could understand it. I saw his cellarer about not long
since--I'll tell you what, Mr. Ruthven, I don't like this at all. How
it'll end I can't say, but ill I'm thinking. Here's my lord's house is
not so much his own as that of every loon about the court."

Mr. Ruthven shrugged his shoulders, and walked away; and Macduff
continued to stand upon the steps with his eyes fixed upon the lodge
or room of the porter. From the back of that room a long and narrow
passage, with windows looking into the court, ran along the western
mass of building till it reached a staircase in the corner, by which
access might be obtained to all the rooms on the first and second
floors. Neither Christie himself, nor those who had followed him into
his room, came out again while Macduff remained watching; but he saw
the head and shoulders of more than one man pass along the range of
windows I have mentioned, and then disappear. All this took place some
quarter of an hour before the king left the table; and shortly after
that, the baron bailie saw the porter coming from the very opposite
side of the building, showing that he must have passed round more than
one half of the house.

A minute or two after the voice of the earl was heard saying,
"Macduff--Donald, get me the keys of the garden from the porter."

The officer obeyed, and carrying the keys into the hall, he found
Gowrie himself standing with the Duke of Lennox, the Earl of Mar, Lord
Lindores, and some other gentlemen, while Sir Hugh Herries stood alone
at a little distance. Macduff would have given much to speak a few
words to his lord; but he did not venture to do so in the presence of
such a number of courtiers, and gave the keys of the garden in
silence.

"Now, my lord duke, and gentlemen," said Gowrie, "I will lead the
way;" and proceeding through a small door which opened directly into
the garden, he held it open while the others passed, saying to
Cranston, who stood near, "Let us know the moment his majesty comes
down. Come, Ramsay of the Hawk, will you not walk with us?"

The young gentleman followed in silence; and the earl rejoining his
brother-in-law, the Duke of Lennox, said, in a grave and quiet tone,
"It is long since you have been here, Duke. I trust Gowrie House will
have you more often for a guest."

"The oftener I am here the more beautiful I think these gardens,"
replied the duke. "The scene itself is fine; but I think if you were
to raise a terrace there to the east, you would catch more of the
windings of the Tay, and could extend your view all round the basin
through which it flows."

"The town would still shut out much," answered Gowrie, "unless I were
to build the terrace as high as the top of the monk's tower. Thence we
catch the prospect all round, or very nearly so."

"You are making some alterations I see, my lord," said the Earl of
Mar.

"Oh, they are very trifling," answered Gowrie; "merely some devices of
which I got the thought in Italy, which I am trying to adapt to this
place. It is somewhat difficult, indeed; for that which suits very
well with Italian skies and Italian architecture, would be out of
place in our northern land, and with that old house frowning over it."

Thus conversing in a quiet and peaceful tone they walked on quite
to the other side of the garden, and stood for a moment or two
under the tall old tower called the Monk's tower, which rose at the
south-eastern corner. While there, the town clock struck three; and
Sir Hugh Herries, with a sudden start, exclaimed, "There is three
o'clock! We had better go back, my lord. I know the king intended to
ride away at three."

Herries' face was somewhat pale when he spoke; but Gowrie did not
remark it, and replied, "That clock is ten minutes fast by all the
others in the town; but still we can walk back and prepare, for I hope
to give his majesty a few miles convoy on his road."

Thus saying, they all turned, and returned towards the house, while
Herries, seeming impatient of their slowness, got a step or two in
advance. A moment after they saw Mr. Cranston coming hastily from the
house towards them; and Gowrie hurried his pace at the sight, seeing
that his retainer had something to tell.

"A report has got abroad in the house, my lord," said Cranston, "that
the king has mounted his horse and ridden away privately with one or
two of the servants."

"That is just like him," exclaimed the Duke of Lennox. "He served us
so this morning at Falkland."

"Who told you so, Cranston?" demanded the earl, eagerly.

"It is in every one's mouth, my lord," replied Cranston; "but I
believe it came first from Christie."

"Quick, quick! see for my horse, Cranston," cried the earl. "I wished
to escort the king part of the way to Falkland."

"I bethought me of that, sir," replied the other; "but your horse I
find is in the town."

"In the town!" exclaimed Gowrie. "What does my horse in the town? See
for another quickly, Cranston. After such poor entertainment as I have
given his majesty, I would not for much show him such an act of
neglect as not to ride with him."

"Perhaps he's not gone after all," observed John Ramsay. "Which way
did he go? I'll go and see."

"Ay, do, Ramsay," said the Duke of Lennox; "you can do anything with
him."

"He went up the broad staircase to the picture gallery and to the
rooms to the west," said Cranston.

Still holding the hawk, Ramsay ran on before, appearing not to attend
to some words addressed to him in a low tone by Sir Hugh Herries; and
mounting the staircase with a light step, he entered the picture
gallery, the door of which was open. The sight of so many splendid
paintings, of grace, beauty, and colouring, such as he had never seen
before, according to his own account, struck the young man with
amazement; and, forgetting his errand for a moment, he stood and gazed
round with admiration. Then advancing to the western door, which led
into the gallery chamber, he tried it with his hand, but found it
locked. He then listened a moment for any sounds which might indicate
the king's presence in the room beyond--but all was silent; and
descending the stairs again to the court-yard, he said, in an
indifferent tone, "The king is not there."

"Ramsay--Sir John Ramsay, come hither!" said Herries, calling him to a
corner of the court just under the western tower. "I wish to speak
with you;" and Ramsay, approaching him, seemed to inquire what he
wanted.

In the meantime Gowrie, with the Duke of Lennox, the Earl of Mar, and
one or two other gentlemen, passed through the house, and crossed the
court to the great gates, near which the porter was standing.

"Come, my man," said Mar, addressing the porter, "what is this story
of the king being away? Tell us the truth."

"The truth is, the king is still in the house," replied the porter.
"He could not have gone by the back gate without my knowing it, for I
have the keys of all the gates."

The man's colour varied very much while he spoke; and Gowrie at once
concluded he was telling a falsehood.

"I believe you lie, knave," he said, fixing his eyes sternly upon the
man. "His majesty is always the first to mount his horse. But stay, my
lord duke, and I will go up and see."

He accordingly turned and left the party, taking his way to the great
staircase; and Lennox, looking after him, said, in a low voice, to the
Earl of Mar, "There is something strange here, my lord. Know you what
it is?"

"Not I," answered Mar, in an indifferent tone, but adding, immediately
afterwards, "The king is quite safe, wherever he is. The earl is
unarmed, without sword or dagger."

"What may that mean?" said Lennox.

But at that moment some one else came up, and Mar made no answer. In
little more than a minute after, Gowrie came down again in haste,
saying, "The gallery door is locked. The king cannot be there. Let us
to horse and after him. Where can he have gone?"

And passing through the gates into the street, followed by the other
noblemen, he turned to Sir Thomas Erskine, who was standing with some
of his relations and servants under the windows, and inquired if he
knew which way the king had gone.

All was now bustle, and confusion ten times more confused than ever,
in the court and round Gowrie Place. Lords and gentlemen were calling
loudly for their horses. Grooms and servants were running hither and
thither. Horses were prancing, neighing, and kicking; and Bailie Roy,
who had lingered about the Great House ever since the king's arrival,
was putting everybody to rights, and drawing down many a hearty
imprecation upon his head for his pains. Ramsay and Herries remained
quietly in the corner of the court; and the two earls, with the Duke
of Lennox, Sir Thomas Erskine, Alexander Ruthven of Freeland, and
several others, were conversing over the king's strange departure, and
considering in what direction they should seek him.

Suddenly a noise was heard above, proceeding from the south-west
tower. The long window was east furiously open, and the head and
shoulders of the king protruded.

"Help, help!" cried the king. "Help! Murder! Treason! Help! Earl of
Mar!"

Lennox, Mar, Lindores, and a number of others instantly rushed through
the gates, across the court to the great staircase, and mounted it as
fast as they could go; but they found the door of the gallery locked,
and could not force it open.

"Up the black turnpike, Ramsay," said Herries, in a low voice. "Up,
and save the king!--Here, man--here! Up this stairs to the very top,
then through the door to the left."

Without an instant's pause, even to cast away the hawk, Ramsay, with
his blood boiling at the idea of danger to the king, darted past
Herries up the narrow staircase, three or four steps at a time, till
he came to the very top; and there finding a door, without trying
whether it was locked or not, he set his stout shoulder against it,
and burst it open. He instantly had a scene before him, which I must
pause for a moment to describe.

James was at the window still shouting forth for help, and at some
little distance behind him, taking no part whatever in that which was
going on, appeared a tall, powerful, black looking man in armour, but
with his head bare. Kneeling at the king's feet, with his head held
tight under James's arm, in the posture of supplication, and with his
hands stretched up towards the king's mouth, as if to stop his
vociferous cries, was the graceful but powerful form of Alexander
Ruthven, who could, if he had pleased, by a small exertion of his
strength, have cast the feeble monarch from the window headlong down
into the street below. He made no effort to do so, or even to free
himself, however; and his sword remained undrawn in the sheath.

Such was the sight presented to John Ramsay when he entered the room
in fiery haste; and casting the falcon from his hand, he drew his
dagger.

James instantly loosed his hold of the young man at his feet, and
exclaimed, with an impatient gesture to Ramsay, "Strike him
low--strike him low! He has got on a pyne doublet!"

He gave no order to apprehend an unresisting man. His command was to
slay him; and Ramsay, starting forward at the king's words, struck the
unhappy youth two blows in the neck and throat, while James, with
admirable coolness, put his foot upon the jesses of the falcon, to
prevent its flying through the open window.

Ruthven made not an effort to draw his sword, but fell partly back;
and James, then seizing him by the neck, dragged him to the head of
the narrow stairs, and cast him part of the way down, while Ramsay,
rushing to the window, shouted to Sir Thomas Erskine, "Come up, Sir
Thomas--come up these stairs to the very head!"

Wounded, but not slain, Alexander Ruthven, stunned and bleeding,
regained his feet, and ran down towards the court. Before he reached
it, however, he was encountered by Herries, Erskine, and another of
the king's bloodhounds, and without inquiry or knowledge of what had
taken place, Herries exclaimed, "This is the traitor!" and stabbed him
to the heart. Another blow was struck almost at the same time by
George Wilson; and the poor lad fell to rise no more, with his sword
still undrawn, exclaiming, with his last breath, "Alas! I am not
guilty!"


              *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


A dead and mournful silence fell upon all. A terrible deed had been
done. A young fresh life had been taken. A kindred spirit had been
sent to its last account. Even Herries paused, and revolved
thoughtfully the act which he had just performed. Even he for one
brief moment, however transitory was the impression, however brief the
sensation, asked himself, as others have asked themselves before and
since, "What is this I have done?--Is there an Almighty God, to whom
the spirits of the departed go to testify not only of all they have
done, but all they have suffered--and must I meet that God face to
face with the spirit of this youth to bear witness against me?--What
sweet relationships, what dear domestic ties have I snapped asunder,
what warm hopes, what good resolutions, what generous feelings, what
noble purposes, put out for ever!"

But that was not all he felt. There is a natural repugnance in the
mind of man to the shedding of man's blood, which nothing but the
frequent habit of so doing can sweep away. There is a horror in the
deed, which I feel sure the murderer shrinks from the instant the
fatal deed is accomplished; and it was that, more than any reasoning
on the subject, that Herries and his two comrades felt, as they stood
in the semi-darkness, and gazed upon the corpse, so lately full of
life, and health, and energy, and passion.

Sir Thomas Erskine had not struck him, it is true, and that seemed to
him a consolation; but yet he felt that he had been art and part in
the deed--that he had known what was meditated beforehand, and that,
though his hand was not imbued in the youth's blood, he was as much a
murderer as themselves.

With a strong mind, Herries made a strong effort to conquer the
sensations which oppressed him; but it cost him several moments so to
do; and moments, in such circumstances, are hours.

That which first roused him and the rest was the voice of the king,
bringing back in an instant, by its very tone, all the worldly
thoughts which had been scattered to the winds by the sight of the
dead body and the perpetration of the deed.

"Hout, lad!" cried James, apparently addressing Ramsay, "dinna keep
skirling in that way. He's dead enough by this time; but there are
other traitors to be dealt with--traitors more dangerous and desperate
than this misguided lad. Here, take the birdie, and keep quite still.
We must not scare the quarry before the hounds are upon it. I must be
King of Scotland now or never;" and, approaching the top of the
stairs, he called out, bending somewhat forward, "Wha's doon there?
Hae ye dispatched him?"

"He's gone, sire, never to return," replied the voice of Herries from
the bottom.

"Then pu' him up here," cried James, "and come up yersels.--Wha the
de'il's that knocking so hard at the door there?--Come up, come up!
They may be Ruthven folk. We must have help at hand. Where the de'il's
the fellow with the harness gaen?"

Sir Hugh Herries hurried up the stairs, leaving Sir Thomas Erskine and
the servant of his brother James Erskine, to drag up the body of
Alexander Ruthven; and a hurried consultation took place as to what
was to be done next.

"Better, for Heaven's sake, sire, call up all the noblemen and
gentlemen from the court," cried Ramsay, while the knocking at the
gallery door still continued. "We are strong enough, when gathered
together, to defend you against all the Ruthvens in Scotland."

"I ken that, ye fule guse," cried James, with a sinister leer; "four
or five of ye are quite enough for that; but that's no the question,
man. The greater traitor of the two is to be dealt with; and you must
do it, Jock, unless you want a Gowrie for your king. He'll soon be
here seeking his brother. He must not get away alive, or we've missed
the whole day's work."

"I'll deal with the traitor," cried Ramsay, zealously. "Your majesty
showed me such proofs of his guilt, 'tis a wonder you let him live so
long."

"That's a good bairn--that's a good bairn," answered James. "Aye,
defend your king.--Somebody look to the door there, that they dinna
break in, but speak no word till you've done execution on the earl.
'Tis he set his brother on," he continued, addressing Ramsay. "The
other had not spirit for it--Ay, here they bring him! There, throw him
down there--The earl'll soon be here; and I'll just stay in the closet
till it's all done.--Here, Geordie Wilson, take my cloak, and cast
over the callant. Then, when his brother sees him, he'll get such a
fright, thinking it's mine ainsel, yell can do with him what ye like."

Sir Hugh Herries looked almost aghast to hear the king so completely
betray his own counsel; but the rest seemed to notice the matter but
little--Ramsay, with all his fierce passions roused, taking everything
for granted, and the rest ready to obey the king at his lightest word.
George Wilson, the servant, took the king's cloak, and spread it over
the dead body of Alexander Ruthven, from which a dark stream of gore
was pouring forth upon the rushes which strewed the room; and when
this was done, James took a look at the corpse, saying, "A wee bit
more o'er the head, man. He'll see the bonny brown hair." Then,
retreating into the earl's cabinet, he closed the door, calling to
those without to lock it and take the key.

Sir Thomas Erskine sprang to obey, saying, "Stand on your guard,
Ramsay. They are thundering at that door as if they would knock it
down. It's well I bolted it as well as locked it before I came down."
Then springing across the room to the entrance of the great gallery,
he said, "Who's there, knocking so hard?"

"It's I, the Earl of Mar," cried a voice from without. "Open directly!
The Duke of Lennox is here, the Lord Lindores, and others."

"All is right, all is right," said Erskine. "The king is safe; one
traitor slain. Keep quiet, or you will scare the other from the trap.
It is Sir Thomas Erskine speaks--keep quiet, as you wish for favour."

All was still immediately, and the moment after steps were heard upon
the narrow staircase.



CHAPTER XLIV.


What had become of Gowrie while this dark tragedy was enacted above?
He was standing, as I have said, talking with Sir Thomas Erskine and a
considerable party of noblemen and gentlemen, in the street, at a
little distance from his own gate, when suddenly the window above was
thrown open, and the king's head thrust forth. Bailie Roy had sidled
up towards the group of courtiers; and he instantly looked up, while
the Duke of Lennox, at the first sounds of James's outcry, exclaimed,
"That is the king's voice, Mar, be he where he will."

"Treason! treason!" shouted Bailie Roy. "Treason against the
king!--Ring the common bell!--Call the town to arms!--Treason!
treason!"

At the same moment, and without an instant's pause, Lennox, Mar,
Lindores, and others, rushed into the court, as I have before stated,
and up the broad stairs, and Sir Thomas Erskine, his brother James,
and George Wilson, the servant of the latter, sprang at Gowrie's
throat, and seized him by the neck, crying, without proof or even
probability, "Traitor, this is thy deed! Thou shalt die!"

Totally unarmed, and assailed by three strong armed men, the young
earl, notwithstanding his great personal vigour, must have been
overpowered in an instant, and probably would have been slain on the
spot, for he made no resistance, merely exclaiming, with a look of
consternation, "What is the matter?--I know nothing!"

But at that moment Alexander Ruthven of Freeland started forward to
his aid, and having no sword, struck Sir Thomas Erskine to the ground
with a buffet, while Mr. Cranston and Donald Macduff rushed forth from
the court to the rescue of their lord. Almost at the same time, the
voice of Ramsay was heard shouting to Sir Thomas Erskine from the
window above; and springing up from the ground, Erskine ran into the
court with George Wilson, the servant, and rushed up the narrow
turnpike stairs after Herries, to finish the murderous work which had
begun in the tower.

Freed from the fell hands which had grasped his throat, Gowrie gazed
round bewildered, exclaiming, "My God! what can this mean?"

"Arm, arm, my lord!" cried Macduff; "they are for murdering you on
pretence of treason."

But Gowrie rushed immediately towards the palace gates, exclaiming,
"Where is the king? I go to aid him."

As he approached, however, the gates were suddenly closed in his face
by his own porter, Christie, and a voice called through the bars,
"Traitor, you enter not here!"

"Arm, in God's name, or they will take your life!" cried Cranston,
seeing a number of the Murrays and the king's followers gathering
round.

"That I will," answered Gowrie, now roused to anger. "Away to
Glenorchie's! He will give us arms;" and running with all speed about
a couple of hundred yards down the street, he entered the large old
house of a friend of his family, and seized a sword and steel cap from
amongst many that hung in the outer hall.

"Here's a better blade, my noble lord!" cried Glenorchie's old porter;
"take them both--one may fail!"

Thus armed with a sword in either hand, Gowrie rushed out again,
exclaiming, "I will either enter my own house or die by the way."

"I am with you, my lord," cried Cranston, meeting him; and at the same
moment his page, who was running down the street, exclaimed, "Let me
fasten your salat, my lord; it will fall off."

Gowrie paused for an instant till the steel cap was clasped under his
chin, and then hurried on to the entrance of the Great House.

But a change had taken place. The gates were wide open; the servants
and retainers who had followed the king from Falkland, were all either
in the house or at the further side of the court; and without pausing
to ask any question, Gowrie rushed to the narrow stair at the foot of
the southwest tower, and ran up, followed close by his faithful
attendant, Cranston.

The door at the top, leading into the gallery chamber, was partly
closed, and a shoulder placed against it; but Gowrie pushed it open,
exclaiming, "Where is the king?--I come to defend him with my life,"
and at once entered the room with the two naked swords in his hands.
Before him lay a dead body bleeding profusely, and partly covered with
the king's cloak.

"You have killed the king, our master," cried Herries, "and will you
now take our lives?"

Gowrie's strength seemed to fail him in a moment--His brain
reeled--and pausing suddenly in his advance, he dropped the swords'
points to the floor, exclaiming, "Ah, woe is me! Has the king been
slain in my house?"

Without reply, Ramsay sprang fiercely upon him, and, unresisted, drove
his dagger into the young earl's heart.

Gowrie did not fall at once, but for one instant leaned upon the sword
in his right hand, without attempting to strike a blow. Cranston
sprang forward to support him, and caught him in his arms; but the
earl sank slowly to the ground, and with the indistinct murmur of one
well-loved name, expired.

The murderers gazed upon their victim for a moment in silence; but it
was no time now for hesitation or inactivity. They were four in
number, it is true, and there remained but one living man opposed to
them in the gallery chamber; but the sound of persons ascending the
turret-staircase was heard, and Erskine rushed upon Cranston with his
sword drawn.

Cranston, furious at the base treatment of a lord he loved and
reverenced, instantly repelled the attack, and, no mean swordsman,
wounded Erskine in hand and arm; but all the others fell upon him, and
drove him back to the head of the staircase. Succour, however, was
near; for three gentlemen, headed by Hugh Moncrief, who had dined with
the earl that day, alarmed by the tumult, and the vague rumours that
were circulated below, were now rushing up--unhappily, too late--to
the assistance of the noble friend whom they had lost for ever.
Unprepared for meeting immediate hostility, however, they were
encountered at the very entrance of the room by those who were too
ready to receive them, and after a sharp but short encounter were
driven down, as well as Cranston, into the court-yard. Hugh Moncrief,
Patrick Eviot, and Henry Ruthven of Freeland, forced their way into
the street, and joined a small knot of the dead earl's friends
collected under the window; but Cranston, less fortunate, was taken in
the court-yard.

The situation of the king, however, was less safe than he had imagined
it would be. There was much tumult in the streets of Perth, where the
family of the dead had ever been extremely popular; and when James,
informed that the deed he had long meditated was fully executed, came
forth from the cabinet, it was with a pale face, for seditious cries
were rising up from beneath the windows, and one of the most loyal
towns in Scotland was well nigh in a state of insurrection.

"Give us our noble provost," cried one, "or the king's green coat
shall pay for it."

"Come down, thou son of Signor David!" shouted another; "thou hast
slain an honester man than thyself."

The next minute, however, the head of Robert Brown, one of the king's
lacquies, appeared at the door of the gallery-chamber, to which he had
crept quietly, and casting himself on his knees before James, he said,
"God save your majesty! There are the Duke of Lennox and Earl of Mar,
with eight or ten of your best friends, in the gallery there, but they
can not get in to your help, for the door is locked."

"God's sake! let them in!" cried James; and strange to say! from
amongst the party present, the key of the gallery door was produced,
and Lennox and the other gentlemen admitted.

The door was instantly locked again, although the purposes for which
it had been first secured were now accomplished. Fortunately for the
king was such precaution taken; for, almost immediately after, a
number of Gowrie's friends and servants rushed to the gallery, loudly
demanding their lord and kinsman. Vain efforts were made to burst open
the door; swords were thrust through where a crevice gave the means,
and one of the Murrays, leaning against the partition, was wounded in
the leg. The voice of Alexander Ruthven of Freeland was then heard
exclaiming, "My lord duke, for God's sake tell me the truth! How goes
it with my Lord of Gowrie?"

"He is well," answered Lennox, in a sad tone. "But thou art a fool. Go
thy way: thou wilt get little thanks for thy present labour."

Still the tumult in the street increased, the common bell of the town
continued ringing, and James became seriously alarmed.

"Run down, my Lord of Mar--run down," he said, "and take good heed to
the court and all the gates. Drive out all the traitor's people or
slay them, and then set a good guard at each of the gates and in the
gardens. Young Tullibardine is in the town with all his men. Could ye
not find him, meikle John Murray?"

"I will try, your majesty," replied Murray of Arknay, who had been
wounded in the leg; "but there is Blair of Balthayock, with full fifty
men in the hall. He can keep the gates."

"Ay, tell him--tell him," cried James; "the lad Christie will show him
all the points of defence. Christie's a good serviceable body, and
shall be weel rewarded. Now, gentlemen," he continued, "let us proceed
to the examination of the dead traitors' persons. We may find
somewhat, perchance, that will tend to the purposes of justice.
Uncover that one first, and see what you can find."

The cloak was then removed from the body of Alexander Ruthven, and
without stopping to look at his handsome face, now calm in the
tranquillity of death, the courtiers searched his pockets. Little was
found, indeed, except a purse containing a small sum of money, and a
letter, which was handed immediately to the king, for it was in his
own handwriting.

"That must be put out o' the way," said James, looking at it. "Is
there a fire in the kitchen?"

"Oh, yes, there must be," replied Ramsay; and after tearing the letter
into very small pieces, the king gave it to his page, saying, "Put
them in the fire, Jock, instanter. But bide a wee--there may be mair."

"There is nothing more, sire," said the Earl of Mar, and then added,
"His sword has never been drawn--it is rusted in the sheath."

"That has nothing to do wi' it," cried the monarch, angrily. "Search
the other man--see what ye can find on him."

"Here is something worth finding," exclaimed Sir Thomas Erskine, who
had unclasped Gowrie's belt, and now held up the scheme of the young
earl's nativity, as drawn out by Manucci, displaying the various signs
and figures which it contained to the by-standers.

"It's magic!" cried the king, in great delight. "I tell't ye so. He
was a dealer with sorcerers and devils, and would have taken our life
by his damnable arts. I kenned it weel. I tell't ye, Jock Ramsay."

"And me too, sire," said Herries. "Your majesty's wisdom is never at
fault."

"See, the body does not bleed!" cried the king; "this is a magical
spell, upon my life. Turn him over, he will soon bleed now this is
taken away."

And so, indeed, it proved; for as soon as the body was turned over, so
as to bring the wound of which he had died in a different position,
the dark blood poured forth in a torrent.

While they were gazing at this sight, and the king was again and again
pronouncing that the paper he now held in his hand was a magical
spell, the noises in the street suddenly increased very greatly, but
the tone seemed to be different.

"De'il's in they folk!" cried the king; "will they pu' the house down?
Look out of the window, my Lord of Mar."

"These are some friends that are crying now," said Mar, after looking
from the window. "The bailies and their folk have forced their way in
amongst the mob, and seem well affected." Then leaning forth from the
window, he listened for a moment to something that was shouted up from
below. "They desire to see with their own eyes that your majesty is
safe," he continued, turning again to James, "and to receive your
commands from your own lips."

"Is it safe, man? Is it sure?" demanded the king. "Are they no
feigning?"

"No, no," replied Mar. "They have got that little Bailie Roy, I think
they call him, at their head."

"Oo, ay, that wee pookit like body Roy," cried James. "I'm no feared
o' him;" and, advancing to the window, he cried, at the utmost extent
of his voice, "Bailie Roy, Bailie Roy, I am safe and well, praise be
to God! And I strictly command you to cause all the people to disperse
and retire quietly to their lodgings."

This said, he withdrew his head again; and the good bailie made every
effort in his power to obey the royal injunction and disperse the
people. But his municipal eloquence, and his proclamation at the
market-cross, proved of little effect: an immense crowd continued to
occupy the street before the Great House, and cries and imprecations
upon those who had slain the innocent, continued to rise up from time
to time.

It is not, indeed, improbable that, but for the imposing numbers which
Blair of Balthayock kept drawn up in the court-yard, with their swords
unsheathed, and which could be seen by the people through the iron
gates, the mob would have burst in, and, as Nisbet says in his
Heraldry, would have cut the court to pieces.

For more than an hour, James and his principal nobles and favourites
continued in deliberation up stairs, the nature of which only
transpired in vague rumours. It is supposed by some, that this hour
was spent in patching together the somewhat disjointed tale which was
afterwards given to the public on royal authority, and in endeavouring
to make the story which James had previously told in coming from
Falkland, harmonize in some degree with the dark and bloody
transactions which had followed.

However that may be, there was still, at seven o'clock, so great a
multitude assembled in the street as to render it dangerous for the
king to attempt to pass that way. The porter, Christie, and a man
named Dogie, were sent for to the king's presence, and acting upon a
suggestion they threw out, it was resolved that a boat should be
brought down to the garden stairs, by which James and his principal
courtiers should be conveyed along the Tay to the South Inch, while
the rest of the monarch's retinue should attempt the passage by the
streets; and the young master of Tullibardine should be directed, with
the strong body of horse he had brought into the town, to guard all
approach to the Inch against those who had not a certain pass-word.
This was executed skilfully and promptly; and towards eight o'clock,
under a gloomy sky and heavy rain, James mounted his horse at the
South Inch, and escorted by Tullibardine and the Murrays, rode away
towards Falkland.

Thus perished the noble, the brave, and true! Thus triumphed the
feeble, the base, and treacherous! Let any man read attentively the
page of history, where too many events like this are recorded, and
then doubt, if he can, the coming of a future state where such things
shall be made equal.



CHAPTER XLV.


Austin Jute rode on towards Dirleton; but he did it with an
exceedingly strong feeling of ill will. He had doubts and
apprehensions in his mind, with regard to the fate of his well-loved
master, which, under any ordinary circumstances, would have bound him
to his side, to share his peril, to labour to avert it, or to fight in
his defence till death. But Gowrie's order had been peremptory; the
necessity of warning the earl's mother and Julia was great; and Austin
Jute, as I have said, rode on, though with a heavy heart. I shall not
trace his journey minutely, but merely notice that he took means to
avoid an encounter with the royal cavalcade in its approach to Perth,
and then made the best of his way to the old family seat of the
Ruthvens and Halyburtons, which, owing to some delay in the passage,
he did not reach till nearly eight o'clock. He was admitted instantly
to the presence of the old countess, who at the moment was standing by
the side of her son's promised bride, watching a portrait of Gowrie
which Julia was painting from memory. Every line of his countenance
was impressed so deeply upon her mind, that, with the perfect
knowledge of the art which she possessed, she had little difficulty in
transferring the image to the canvas. She had but to raise her look,
and fill the vacant air by the power of imagination, and Gowrie, in
all his young and high-toned beauty, stood visible to the mind's eye.

As Austin Jute entered, the countess turned partly towards him,
saying, "I think I know your errand already, good man. The pleasure of
my son's arrival is to be delayed for a day. Is it not so?"

"It is to be delayed, madam," replied Austin, in a tone so grave, that
Julia instantly dropped the brush, and started up.

"What did he say?" she exclaimed, fixing her bright eyes eagerly upon
the servant's countenance. "Austin, Austin, what has happened?"

"My dear child, do not agitate yourself so much," said Gowrie's
mother, in a soothing tone. "You know the king sent yesterday to ask
William to meet him to-day in Perth;[11] and, of course, with the king
for his guest, Gowrie could not leave his house, even to visit you,
sweet one."

"There is something wrong," cried Julia, still keeping her eyes fixed
upon Austin's countenance. "I see it there. Something has happened!"

"No, indeed, dear lady," replied Austin Jute; "nothing has happened
that I know of. The king's coming took my lord by surprise, for he
knew nothing of it till this day at his dinner."

"Nothing of it!" exclaimed the old countess, her brow contracting a
good deal. "Why, it was announced to my boy William, by four o'clock
yesterday evening.--But let us hope," she continued, "that this is one
of the king's wild jests. He loves to take people by surprise, I have
heard, and to make merry with the embarrassment he causes. Had the
king arrived ere you departed?"

"No, madam; but he was within a mile of the town," replied Austin
Jute. "My lord sent me to warn you, and----"

He paused and hesitated; and the old countess finished the sentence
for him, saying, "And to tell us he would come to-morrow. Was it not
so?"

Austin shook his head. "He was going to do so, my lady," he replied;
"but he stopped himself as the words were on his lips, and said, 'No;
I will make no promises for to-morrow. God, and God only, knows what
may be to-morrow!'"

Julia sank into a chair, and covered her eyes; and the old countess
put her hand to her brow, and fell into deep thought.

"Let me not alarm you more than needful, dear ladies," continued
Austin Jute, after remaining silent for a moment or two; "though my
lord seemed quite bewildered by the suddenness of the king's visit,
and perhaps he might think the matter more serious than it really
was----But let me tell you what he said. I can give it you word for
word, for I have repeated it over and over again, to myself, as I came
along. The order was, 'Tell them the king comes. Tell them I know not
why he comes; and let their own judgment speak the rest. But of all
things,' added my noble lord, 'let my mother be upon her guard, and
see to the safety of my young brothers!'"

"Wise and thoughtful ever," exclaimed the old countess. "Oh, Gowrie,
Gowrie!"

Julia remained in silence. She wept not, spoke not, hardly seemed to
breathe; and Austin Jute at length demanded, in a low tone, addressing
the countess, "Shall I go back, madam, and obtain tidings?"

"Oh, do, do!" cried Julia, starting up, and wringing her hands. "Bring
me tidings, bring me tidings!"

"Stay!" cried the countess, with recovered calmness. "Not you, my good
man. You are known to some of the people there; I will send a
stranger. Go and refresh yourself in the hall; but, first, tell
William Laing to come to me, and bid some of the grooms prepare a
horse for him without delay."

"We are giving too much way to fear, my child," continued the
countess, addressing Julia, as Austin Jute retired. "We are taking for
granted that some evil is meditated against my son, and without cause.
True, we know the king did at one time suspect him; but we know also
that the suspicion was groundless, and as James has lately shown him
greater favour, we may well conclude that he is satisfied he was wrong
in his doubts."

Julia went and knelt down on the cushion by the countess's feet, and
laid her broad fair brow upon her knee. "It was predicted to him," she
murmured, in a low voice, "that at this time great peril should befall
him; and we were warned in a strange manner that we should never be
united. Reason with me not, dear lady. I feel I am superstitious now,
though I never was before; and I feel, too, that it is in vain, when
superstition has possession of the mind, to struggle against it. God
grant that my fears may prove vain and idle, and if not, God grant
that we may both have strength to bear up under his will; but my brain
feels on fire, and my heart has hardly power to beat."

The countess cast her arms around her and kissed her neck, and at the
same moment the servant she had sent for entered the room.

"Mount directly, William Laing," the countess said, "and ride for
Perth with all speed. Bring us information, without pause or delay,
how fares the earl; but if you get important tidings by the way--mark
me, tidings that you can depend upon--return and let us know, be the
hour what it may. Now away, and lose not a moment by the road. There
is money for you, for you will need a boat."

As the man was retiring, young William Ruthven entered the room, and
seeing the anxious countenances before him, he exclaimed, in a tone
almost gay, "Why, what is the matter, dearest mother? What is the
matter, sweet sister Julia? I came in all glad to tell you that my new
falcon, Bell, has struck the largest old heron in the county,
and----But this must be something serious," he continued, as Julia
turned away with the tears in her eyes, "Gowrie--What of my brother?"

"Nothing, nothing," answered the countess. "His southron servant has
just arrived to say that he cannot come to-day, as the king pays him a
sudden visit, which he heard not of till dinner time; and our dear
Julia, whose heart is not accustomed to the rough things of the world,
has taken fright--needlessly, I do hope and trust. Stay with her and
comfort her, William. I have some orders to give;" and going out, she
sent at once for the factor of the Dirleton estates.

The man came almost immediately; for there was that kind of indefinite
uneasiness, that looking forth for evil through the whole house, which
so frequently precedes calamity; and every servant was alert and
active.

As soon as the door of the little room to which she had retired was
closed, the countess said, "I know I can trust you, Guthrie. I have
had news I do not like from Perth. The king goes to visit my son
suddenly, and by surprise; and the earl sends me word to be upon my
guard, and watch for the safety of his brothers. Keep four horses
saddled in the stable, and two men ready to fly with the boys, should
need be--at least till we hear more: and now, Guthrie, collect me all
the money you can get. Go to all the tenants nearest at hand, and ask
them for any sums they may have by them, within their amount of rent.
Tell them the countess has need of it. They know I would never press
them but in dire necessity; and they will not grudge it, I think."

"There is not one of them who will not give his last penny willingly,
my lady," replied the factor, "if it be not old Jock Halyburton of the
mill. I'll go my round, and be back in an hour."

"Go, then--go, Guthrie," answered the countess; and, leaning her head
upon her hand, she remained for somewhat more than half an hour in
deep, bitter, painful thought. She noticed not that there was the
sound of several feet moving past the door, and the first thing that
roused her from her reverie was a loud, shrill, piercing shriek from
the adjoining chamber.

Starting up at once she rushed in; but for a moment, by the faint
light which now prevailed, she could gain no clear view of the scene
before her. All she saw was, that there were two men besides her own
sons in the room. The next instant she perceived the form of poor
Julia lying prostrate on the floor near the window, with the lad
William bending tenderly over her, while the younger boy, Patrick,
stood nearer to the door, pale as death, and wringing his hands in
bitter grief.

"Oh, Henry, you have killed her!--Poor blighted flower!" cried William
Ruthven, as his mother entered.

"I knew not she was in the room," replied Henry Ruthven of Freeland,
who was one of the two men whom the countess had seen; and nearly at
the same moment his brother Alexander, who was with him, took the old
lady's hand, saying, "Alas! dear lady, this is a bitter day!"

"Your news?" said the countess, in a tone preternaturally calm and
cold, at the same time seating herself in a chair near.

The young man hesitated for an instant, and then replied, "I and my
brother Henry here are forced to fly with all speed for having drawn
our swords, dear lady, in defence of your noble sons."

"Then are my sons no more!" said the countess, solemnly; "their
friends would not fly if they still lived. Oh, accursed race of
Stuart! tyrannical, weak and bloodthirsty, could not the father's
death sate your appetite for vengeance, and must you wreak it upon the
innocent children? May Heaven avert from you the reward due to those
who shed the blood of the unoffending, and visit you only with the
remorse which works repentance! Oh, my poor boys, what had you done to
merit this? But I must not yield--No, I will not shed a tear. Thank
God, I am old, and the separation will but be short. I will remember
my noble son's last injunction, and care for his poor brothers. Lads,
lads, get ready to ride at once, for this is no longer a land for you.
James Stuart will never rest while there is one drop of your blood
unshed, one acre of your lands unseized. Away and prepare! The horses
are saddled in the stable; the gold will be here anon. Ride with them,
Henry and Alex; you will be some protection. And you, poor thing," she
continued, rising and moving across the room to where Julia lay, "your
prophetic heart gave no false augury. Oh, it was the oracle of deep
true love that spoke. Fatherless, motherless, bereft, you shall remain
with me, whom this man would make childless. My home shall be your
home, and you shall be to me as a daughter. Try not to raise her,
William. Let her have a respite from agony. You know not the blessing
you would take from her when you seek to call her back to life and
memory. Weep not, my dear boy--weep not now. Keep your tears for
another hour, as I shall do, and when you are safe afar, then we may
weep for others who are safer than ourselves. Go, go, my boy--prepare;
and you too, Patrick, for you must not let another sun shine upon you
in your native land. Go with them for awhile, good cousins, while they
make ready, and leave me and my maidens to tend this poor child."

It was nearly an hour before Julia awoke--I was going to say to
consciousness--but that I cannot say. When she opened her eyes she
gazed wildly round her, and pronounced the name of Gowrie in a low
plaintive tone that wrung his mother's heart.

"Come, my child," said the countess, tenderly; "come with me to your
chamber."

"Gowrie," said Julia again, in the same tone, gazing vacantly in his
mother's face, "Gowrie!"

It was all that she ever said. No other word ever passed her lips but
that. She was gentle, tractable, did all that was required of her, but
speak. That she never did after, but to utter one name. All language
seemed lost to her but that single sound; and that grew fainter and
fainter every day, while the rose died away from her cheek, the light,
wandering and wild as it was, faded from her eye, the hand grew thin
and pale. Ten weeks all but a day passed, and Julia found rest and
peace.

Happy, most happy for her, that reason never returned. She would have
heard of him she loved being pronounced a traitor, though he never
dreamed of treason--she would have heard of his dead body being
mangled by the hand of the executioner--she would have heard of the
faithful friends and servants who had drawn their swords to save
him from assassination, being torn by the torture and dying a
dishonouring death--his lands forfeited--his family proscribed--his
very name forbidden to be used; and--oh solemn mockery of God's
omniscience!--she would have heard of thanks offered up for his
destruction and his murderer's safety.

There could but have been one comfort--to hear and know that all men
thought him innocent; that the best and noblest of the clergy in his
native land refused, even under pain of deprivation and banishment, to
mock God as they were required, and that far and wide, throughout
Europe, the history of his asserted treason was treated with contempt,
and the tale of his death received with sorrow and with pity. But she
died, and, without ever recovering a glimpse of reason to groan under
the burden or to feel the relief, went down to that calm home where
the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.



CHAPTER XLVI.

POSTSCRIPT.


It may seem strange to place at the end of a work like the present,
those observations which are usually placed at the beginning, and to
add in a postscript, that general view of a subject which is generally
afforded in a preface. Except in those cases where a right
understanding of the scope and object of the work, and a clear view of
the principles upon which the author writes, are necessary to the
comprehension of that which is to follow, I greatly object to
prefaces. I do not wish to prepossess my reader in favour of my book,
nor to imbue him with my own peculiar ideas in order to gain his
assent to what is to come after. I, therefore, may as well say at the
close, where the reader is more likely to peruse it, what many others
would have said at the commencement, and having formed a very strong
and decided opinion upon a matter of history, in regard to which,
others, inconceivably to me, have adopted a different view, add a few
remarks in justification of my own judgment.

On the work itself I have little to say, except inasmuch as it is an
essay intended to prove what is really the feeling of the public in
regard to cheap literature.

I was aware, from the first, that should the experiment not succeed, I
might be met by the reply, that what the public desire is good as well
as cheap literature, and I therefore chose a subject of deep interest,
which I had pondered for some years, which was first brought to my
attention by a gallant officer[12] descended from the family which
figures most conspicuously in the foregoing pages. To those who have
really read the book and arrived fairly at these concluding pages, I
think I may venture to appeal as to whether I have spared labour,
research, and thought upon the work. I know that I have not, and I
believe the evidence thereof will be found in the tale itself.

I would have done as I have said, had it been merely because the work
was to be given to the public at a cheaper rate than usual; but there
were other strong motives for considering well every sentence I wrote.
An important point of history was involved: a point which has been
rendered dark by the passions and prejudices of partizans, who refused
to judge of it as they would judge of any other matter of evidence
brought before them.

The question is, whether the young Earl of Gowrie and his brother laid
a plot for entrapping James VI., King of Scotland, to their house at
Perth, for the purpose of murdering him, the king escaping by a
miracle, and causing them to be slain in return: or whether he laid a
plot for surprising them in their house, under the appearance of a
friendly visit, and, by a pre-arranged plan, murdered them in their
own dwelling.

I have maintained, as the reader has seen, and ever shall maintain,
that the latter was the case.

When any man is accused of a crime, it must be shown that the crime
was committed, that the accused had a sufficient motive, and that the
act is brought home to him by conclusive evidence.

The crime of which the Earl of Gowrie and his brother were accused,
was having seduced King James to their house at Perth, with the
intention of putting him to death; for the intention in such cases is
the crime.

The motive which has been assigned is the desire of succeeding to the
throne of Scotland, as the next heir. This has been tenderly touched
upon, because it was too shallow a pretence not to fail at once before
examination; but it is still clearly indicated as the motive. Gowrie
was only remotely related to James by Margaret Tudor, Queen of
Scotland, the king's great-grandmother, an English princess, whose
blood gave him no claim whatever to the Scottish throne, whatever it
might do to that of England. Moreover, the king had one son then
living, and another was born two months after. So that had the king
been killed on the fatal fifth of August, he would have been as far
from the throne of Scotland as ever.

The evidence of any crime having been committed by the Earl and his
brother, now comes to be examined; and I do not scruple to say, that
to the eyes of any man of common understanding, it not only proves
that Gowrie and his brother were innocent, but that James was guilty.
First, let it be remarked, that this evidence was all on one side,
that no defence was made on the part of the dead accused, that no
witnesses were examined on their behalf, that those on the other part
were not cross-examined. The king himself was the principal witness;
for his statement must be taken as a deposition. He declared that
Alexander Ruthven, the earl's brother, came up to him when he was
going out to hunt at Falkland, and besought him to come immediately to
Perth, as he, Alexander, had seized and imprisoned in his brother's
house, a stranger with a pitcher full of foreign gold, which he wished
to secure for the king; and that he must come privately, without
letting any one know, for he feared that the man might cry out and
call the attention of the earl, who knew nothing of the fact. James
says he determined to go, (though the tale was too absurd to obtain
credence from any rational being;) but instead of going immediately,
he continued to hunt from seven till ten o'clock; and instead of going
privately, took the whole court, all his usual attendants, and
moreover, two lacquies from the palace, together with the porter at
Falkland, and the keeper of his ale cellar. Of the conversation
between the king and Alexander Ruthven, we have no testimony but that
of James himself. It is true, as he rode towards Perth he related the
tale privately to the Duke of Lennox, when that nobleman at once
expressed his opinion of the improbability of the story; but yet the
king went on. His majesty did not send forward to announce his coming
to the young earl till he was within two miles of Perth; but then he
was met and received, not by Gowrie and his attendants in private and
alone, but by the earl as Lord Provost, at the head of the magistrates
of the town, hurriedly assembled. The king then proceeds to relate
what occurred at the earl's palace, and comments on the young
nobleman's demeanour, which, instead of being courteous, flattering,
and calculated to lull and deceive, was exactly what might be expected
from a man taken unprepared by the sudden and unannounced visit of a
sovereign, when he was about to set out on a journey of some length.
He was distant, silent, and though attentive to the king, anything but
so to the immense train he had brought with him.

After dinner the king was led by Alexander Ruthven to a chamber near
the picture gallery to repose for a little, and the king says that he
was taken through many rooms, the doors of which were all locked
behind him. The king's prudence must have been sadly at fault to go on
under such circumstances. In the chamber to which he was led,
according to the account of the king, and also that of Ramsay, was a
tall, dark, strong man, armed. The monarch described him particularly,
but implied that he was not one of his own attendants, but a stranger;
yet he remained some time conversing with Mr. Alexander Ruthven
without any apparent alarm, and suffered the young gentleman to go out
and in, he avers, to meet his brother. It is shown by the other
depositions that Gowrie was during the whole of this time, except for
one short moment, either in the hall with the large body of courtiers,
or walking with them in his gardens. At length Alexander Ruthven
assaulted the king, James declares, and attempted first to stab him
with a dagger, and then to bind his hands with two garters, saying,
coolly, "Traitor, thou must die, and therefore lay thy hands together
that I may bind thee." If we are to credit the testimony of Moyses,
one of the king's most faithful servants, there were five hundred
gentlemen in Perth on that day, of whom it would appear full three
hundred were of the family of Murray, sent for to meet the king under
the Master of Tullibardine. The rest were the king's friends and
followers, already completely in possession of Gowrie's palace. Many
of these were in the street just below the room, with the Duke of
Lennox, the Earl of Mar, Lord Lindores, and Sir Thomas Erskine.
Alexander Ruthven must have been a bold man, and not a prudent one, if
he really sought the king's death, to make so cool a proposal rather
than run him through the body with his sword, especially if the armed
man in the room was put there by himself to aid in the assassination.
The armed man, however, according to the king's account, remained
quaking and trembling; and Alexander Ruthven did not draw his sword
during the whole day. James then declares he rushed to the window,
and shouted treason, and when John Ramsay entered the room in
haste--having been informed by some one how to reach it, which none of
the others could divine--he found the younger Ruthven on his knees,
trying to stop the king's vociferation. James did not give orders to
apprehend him for trial, but to stab him, and even pointed out where
he was to be stabbed. The king, then, was locked in the cabinet, while
his friends laid wait for Gowrie to stab him likewise, when he came in
search of his brother.

The other depositions--with one exception, which I shall notice
presently--go to prove merely the facts which I have mentioned in the
preceding chapters, that Gowrie was taken by surprise, and
discontented with the king's unannounced visit, that he was unarmed
during the whole day, that when the report was spread that the king
was gone, he called for his horse, in order to ride after him with the
rest of the court, unarmed as he was, that he never left his guests
for more than a moment; and, as a very strict investigation has been
made of his occupations during the whole of the early part of the day,
it is shown that he attended the morning service at the parish church,
transacted important business with several parties, invited some
common acquaintances to dinner, dined with them calmly, made no
preparation whatever against the king's coming, and even sent two of
his servants to a distance, though he had but eight or nine in the
house, one of whom was ill in bed. In the testimony of not one of the
credible witnesses is there a word that implicates Gowrie, and there
is much to show that it was well nigh impossible he could have any
share in the attempt of his brother, if any attempt was really made.
At the same time, however, a great deal transpires which shows that
Gowrie was not the injurer, but the injured. No preparation is alleged
for the commission of the crime, no force was collected, no arms laid
up, he himself was totally unarmed, his brother had only an ordinary
sword (for the dagger was said to have been snatched from the armed
man.) Andrew Ruthven, who accompanied his cousin to Falkland, was
totally unarmed, so was George Dewar, one of the Earl's servants. He
had drawn round him no great body of friends. These are all negative
testimonies to his innocence. Then again we find that when he called
for his horse to follow the king with the rest of the court, he
learned that his horse had been removed from his own house. Was this
to prevent his escape? When the very act is said to have been doing
which was intended to deprive his sovereign of life, he went unarmed
and stood under the very window of the room where it was to take
place, with a large party of the king's most attached friends--in the
midst of the royal servants! Ramsay's deposition shows that he,
Ramsay, knew at once how to find his way to the monarch; and Sir
Thomas Erskine's proves that James did not go with Mr. Ruthven alone
to the earl's cabinet, but that he, Erskine, accompanied them, and was
stationed by the king himself at the door of the chamber. It is proved
also by the various depositions, that when Erskine, Ramsay, James and
George Wilson were together in the chamber after Gowrie's death, and
before the bodies were searched, the key of the door into the gallery
was amongst them, and was used to admit the nobles from the other
side, and to exclude the earl's friends. It is not even pretended that
any keys were found upon Alexander Ruthven after his death.

Moreover, it is proved that the king, who is represented as having
been struggling for life with a traitor, was so cool, that while his
friends despatched his enemy, he put his foot upon the jesses of the
falcon, to prevent it from flying away.

Setting aside the monarch's own evidence, therefore, the testimony of
all other persons was rather in favour of Gowrie, and against the
king, than otherwise; and the proofs of the monarch having assembled a
large body of men in Perth were easily to be obtained, showing a
preconcerted plan for going to that city before Alexander Ruthven
could, by any possibility, have told the story of the pot of gold.
Moreover, that story was in itself so absurd, and many parts of the
king's statement so unlike truth; and the fact of the earl and his
brother having been slain unresisting, when they could, without
difficulty or danger, have been taken and tried according to law, was
so suspicious, that it must have seemed necessary to all James's
advisers to support his testimony by some corroborative evidence or
circumstance. No one could give any evidence of what took place in the
gallery chamber or its cabinet, but the armed man who was present; but
it would have been something to prove that the armed man was one of
Gowrie's servants. He, therefore, was to be sought for, or at least a
substitute; but unfortunately the king, in his first proclamation, had
given a very accurate account of the man's personal appearance. He was
described by the monarch as a black, grim man, and as his head was
uncovered, and James had some conversation with him, he could not be
mistaken in his complexion. David Calderwood, quoted by Mr. Scott in
his life and death of the Earl of Gowrie, declares that the king first
asserted the man was Robert Oliphant, one of Gowrie's servants.
Oliphant proved, however, that he was not in Perth that day. Two
others were then successively pointed at as the criminal, but they
freed themselves from the imputation. The next person accused was
Henry Younger, likewise one of the earl's servants; but setting out to
establish his innocence, he was met, pursued through the fields, and
put to death by a party of the king's horse. The matter now seemed
settled; the dead body was exposed at the market cross at Falkland,
and Galloway, the king's chaplain, had the assurance to address the
monarch publicly at the cross, saying, "Sir, the man who should have
helped to do the deed could not be taken alive, but now his dead body
lies before you."

It was soon proved, however, that Henry Younger was at Dundee during
the whole of the 5th of August, and another had to be sought for.

In this exigency, Andrew Henderson, the earl's factor, volunteered, or
was persuaded, upon promise of pardon, to acknowledge himself the man
whom the king and Ramsay had seen. How this was brought about has
never been known; but he was suffered to make his deposition, and
therein told a story even more incredible than that of the king. He
said that his lord had commanded him to arm himself, to assist in
apprehending a notorious robber, and for that purpose _to suffer
himself to be locked into a closet at the top of the house_, where he
remained for about half an hour--in fact, till the king and Alexander
Ruthven came.

The other depositions clearly prove that this statement was false, as
well as absurd; for from the time of the king's arrival to the moment
at which James proceeded to the rooms above, and especially during the
last three-quarters of an hour, every moment of which is accounted
for, Gowrie never quitted the monarch's presence, except to go with
the nobles to the adjoining hall, or afterwards to drink to them by
the king's command. The contradictions between Henderson's evidence
and the statement of the king are pointed out both by Lord Hailes and
Robertson, and well summed up by Mr. Scott. The sermons of Bishop
Cowper prove that many persons in Perth denied that Henderson was in
Gowrie's palace at all after the king's arrival; and though that
worthy pastor states he had spoken with persons who saw Henderson
there, he seems not to have given information to the monarch, for whom
he was so zealous, of the names of these parties; for not one of them
was called forward to prove the truth of a tale which nobody believed.
Even James himself threw discredit upon the account, by not naming
Henderson as the armed man, though he published a statement after the
depositions were taken, and indeed with no face could the king have
done so; for he had previously stated that the man was a black, grim
man, and Henderson was a little ruddy man with a light brown beard.
Henderson was, moreover, contradicted by other witnesses upon various
points, and by the king himself upon many. Yet Henderson, we may
suppose, did James good service in some way; for we find that he was
honoured and rewarded with lands and offices, as well as Christie, the
Earl of Gowrie's porter, whose services are unknown, though strongly
suspected; and another domestic, named Dogie, of whose deeds we know
nothing.

The guilt of the Earl of Gowrie was disbelieved in Scotland all but
universally, and the accusation of magic and sorcery brought against
him was treated with the contempt it merited, except by a few persons
more curious than intelligent. Five ministers of Edinburgh refused to
offer thanks for the king's deliverance, in which they did not
believe; and, three of them suffered severely for their contumacy and
incredulity. The estates of the Earl of Gowrie were forfeited, and
divided amongst favourites, and three of the earl's faithful servants
were executed at Perth, declaring their innocence and his with their
dying breath. An annual thanksgiving was appointed in England and
Scotland, but the English laughed at the farce, and the Scotch were
indignant at the impiety. An annual feast also was held, which Weldon
mentions as follows: "Sir John Ramsay, for his good service in that
preservation, was the principal guest; and so did the king grant him
any boon he would ask that day. But he had such limitation made to his
asking, as made his suit as unprofitable as the action which he asked
it for was unserviceable to the king."

I have endeavoured, in the account of the last few days of the earl's
life, to keep as near to the truth as possible, only indicating
circumstances not absolutely proved as natural conclusions from
established facts. I have not ventured to represent the scene which
took place in the earl's gallery chamber and cabinet between his
brother and the king, for my account would probably be nearly as wide
of the truth as that of the monarch or the factor, though it might be
less absurd. But I have not felt myself bound to adhere to historical
truth in those parts of a romance which are conventionally established
as fiction. The character of Julia Douglas is purely imaginary; and
were there at present any descendants from the Regent Morton, I would
apologize for the liberties I have taken with their ancestor. The lady
whom it was proposed the earl should marry, was in reality the Lady
Margaret Douglas, daughter of the Earl of Angus; but particular
circumstances, which it would be tedious to dwell upon, prevented me
from mixing her name up with this history; and there were rumours
current, both before and after the earl's death, of another more
powerful but secret attachment, which might probably have frustrated
the views of friends under the influence of a stronger power.



T. C. Savill, Printer, 4, Chandos Street, Covent Garden.



FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: This man, David Drummond, was tried and condemned shortly
after, in the first justice court held by the young earl, and was
executed for his offence, June 28,1600, as appears by the chronicles
of the fair city of Perth.]

[Footnote 2: This curious anecdote is given in the manuscript memoirs
of the Church of Scotland, by Mr. David Calderwood, a contemporary who
was at this time about five-and-twenty years of age, and a keen
observer of all that was passing.]

[Footnote 3: It is now the generally received opinion that the Earl of
Angus did obtain possession of the treasures of the regent Morton, and
that he spent the whole of them in acts of liberality to his fellow
exiles.]

[Footnote 4: This anecdote of court scandal is to be found in
Pinkerton's essay on what he calls the Gowrie conspiracy, in which it
was inserted on the authority of Lord Hailes. The freedom of manners
attributed to Anne of Denmark, both before and after the accession of
her husband to the throne of England, and her fondness for several
ladies of more than doubtful virtue, are mentioned by almost every
writer of the day. All agree, however, that the character of Beatrice
Ruthven, afterwards Lady Hume, one of Anne's earliest favourites, was
perfectly irreproachable.]

[Footnote 5: This anecdote of Mr. William Cowper is given by
Archbishop Spottiswood, a strong partizan of the king; and it is clear
that he mentioned it with the view of supporting, by some independent
testimony, the extraordinary statement of James himself--a statement
which would not have deceived a child, so absurd, incongruous, and
ridiculous it is, had not the friends and flatterers of the monarch
exerted themselves, with all the zeal of sycophant ambition, to
bolster up a puerile defence of his conduct, by corroborative
circumstances often as false, and sometimes as puerile.]

[Footnote 6: This same Mr. Patrick Galloway, after the earl's death,
did very imprudently go the length of saying, in a sermon preached at
the market cross of Edinburgh, referring to the murdered nobleman, "He
was an atheist, an incarnate devil, in the coat of an angel, a studier
of magic, a conjurer with devils, some of whom he had under his
command."]

[Footnote 7: If Henderson ever was at Falkland on that day, as he
afterwards swore, he must have arrived at about half-past seven, and
to have seen anything of what took place could not have quitted the
ground till after eight. Yet he had returned to Perth by ten. He was
met by Mr. John Moncrief, about that time, riding into Perth, and
stopped to speak with him, so that he performed, in two hours, a
journey which had taken Alexander Ruthven three, over the bad and
tortuous roads then existing. But the whole of the man's evidence is
invalidated by his subsequent perjury in regard to the other
transactions of that day.]

[Footnote 8: The above is actually the story which James not only told
to his courtiers, but afterwards wrote to several neighbouring
princes, and embodied in his narrative of the events of that day,
leaving his hearers and his readers the very unpleasant alternative of
looking upon him either as an idiot or a knave. Lennox, in his
deposition, very barely conceals what he thought of the story and of
the king, for believing, or pretending to believe it.]

[Footnote 9: Moyses, in his Memoirs, declares that there were no less
than five hundred gentlemen in Perth that day who bore testimony to
the truth of the king's statement, and therefore were certainly not
inimical to James. Yet we are told to believe that in presence of this
imposing force of loyal subjects (assembled, who knows how?) Gowrie
and his brother, with eight servants, attempted the king's life.]

[Footnote 10: This fact is indiscreetly suffered to appear in
Erskine's deposition, where he says, "When all was over, I said to his
majesty, I thought your majesty would have concredited more to me than
to have commanded me to await your majesty at the door, if you had
thought it not mete to take me with you." That Sir Thomas Erskine knew
more of this foul transaction than he deposed to, is indicated by a
letter from Nicholson, the Queen of England's agent in Scotland, 22nd
September, 1602, in which he mentions that the king was much disturbed
because his queen had revealed to Beatrice Ruthven some secrets told
her by Sir Thomas Erskine.]

[Footnote 11: This fact is positively asserted in Calderwood's
manuscript Memoirs, quoted by Mr. Scott.]

[Footnote 12: Lieut. Col. Cowell.]





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