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Title: Legendary Tales of the Highlands (Volume 1 of 3) - A sequel to Highland Rambles
Author: Lauder, Thomas Dick
Language: English
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                               LEGENDARY
                        TALES OF THE HIGHLANDS.

                              A SEQUEL TO
                           HIGHLAND RAMBLES.


                                   BY
                     Sir THOMAS DICK LAUDER, Bart.

            AUTHOR OF "LOCHANDHU," "THE WOLFE OF BADENOCH,"
                        "THE MORAY FLOODS," ETC.


                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOLUME I.


                                LONDON:
                       HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,
                       GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
                              M.DCCC.XLI.



CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.


    DEDICATION,                                             vii

    INTRODUCTION,                                            xi

    STRATHDAWN,                                               1

    THE WATER-KELPIE'S BRIDLE AND THE MERMAID'S STONE,       13

    THE DOMINIE DEPARTS,                                     25

    HISTORY OF SERJEANT ARCHY STEWART,                       32

    GALLANTRY OF THE SEVENTY-FIRST HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY,  62

    LEGEND OF THE CLAN-ALLAN STEWARTS,                       77

    FATE OF THE OULD AUNCIENT MONUMENTS,                    261



ILLUSTRATIONS.

    SUMMARY JUSTICE OF A HIGHLAND CHIEF,                    113

    THE TABLES TURNED,                                      223



                                   TO
                               HIS GRACE
                          JOHN DUKE OF ARGYLL.


My Dear Duke,

The permission which you have so kindly given me to dedicate these
Volumes to you, affords me a double source of gratification.

In the first place, it recalls and strengthens the recollection of
the first formation of that, which may now be called an old friendship
between us; from the continuance of which I have, from time to time,
derived so much valuable scientific and general information, as well
as so much rational recreation of mind, and which has, moreover,
produced some of the happiest hours of my life.

Secondly, I am thus allowed to attach to my Highland Legends the name
of Mac Chailein Mhòir, which is certainly, of all others, that most
fitted to be associated with Highland story.

With my best thanks, therefore, and with every wish for your Grace's
health and happiness, as well as for those of all you hold dear, I
beg that you will always believe me to be, with the highest respect
and regard,

    My dear Duke,

        Most sincerely and affectionately yours,

            THOS. DICK LAUDER.

                                                       The Grange House,
                                                        19th March 1840.



NOTE EXPLANATORY OF THE ARGYLL PATRONIMIC OF MAC CHAILEAN MHOIR.


This patronimic of the noble family of Argyll has been strangely
changed by Sir Walter Scott, and others, into MacCallum More. The
true orthography and reading of it is Mac Chailein, that is, the
son or descendant of Colin. Mòr signifies great; and when used in
the genitive case as above, it is written Mhoir--pronounced Vòr,
or rather Vore--having much the same sound as More in English.

Mac Chailein Mhoir, the son of the Great Colin, or Mac Chailean, is
synonymous in Gaelic with Argyll; and Mòr, great, makes it, in fact,
the Great Argyll.

Calain Mòr--so called from his stature or his actions--was the eighth
knight of Lochow of the name of Campbell. He commanded the right wing
of the Scottish army at the battle of Largs, in the year 1263. His
father Archibald was in life at the time, though Colin led on the
men of Argyll. Colin Mor was knighted by Alexander III. in the year
1280. He was killed in a fight with John Bachach (that is, Lame John)
MacDougald of Lorn about the year 1293, in forcing a pass called the
Ath-dearg, or the Bloody Ford, in Lorn. His remains were carried to
Kilchrennan, on Lochow side, and interred in the parish churchyard,
where his tombstone is still a conspicuous object. From him the family
of Argyll have the patronimic of Mac Chailean Mhoir, or, as generally
pronounced, Mac Calain Mòr.

The Author has to thank the Rev. Dr. Norman MacLeod of Glasgow
for having afforded him the information which has enabled him to
give this explanation, and he is the more grateful for it from the
interest he personally takes in the memory of the heroic Sir Colin,
from whose great grand-daughter, Alicia, he has himself the honour
of being descended.



TO THE READER.


These three volumes of Highland Legends are published in continuation
of those which appeared in 1837, and in pursuance of a plan--long
cherished by the Author--of collecting, and preserving in print,
all the more interesting of the traditional and local histories of
the Highlanders that yet remain, but which, to the regret of all
antiquaries, are fast melting away. Not a year passes over us, that
does not see some ancient Seanachaidh, whom perhaps we may have known
as the venerable historian of the district where he lived,--to whose
tales of love, strife, or peril, we may have often listened with eager
attention,--borne to his silent grave in the simple churchyard of some
lonely Highland parish, where his snow-white head is consigned to
its parent earth, and there left to moulder into dust and oblivion,
together with all the legendary lore which it contained. The Author
has always had great pleasure in availing himself of every opportunity
that occurred to him, of conversing with those living records of the
glens, and he has never failed to write down whatsoever curious matter
it may have been his good fortune to gather from them. By such means,
as well as by the assistance of many kind friends, he has been enabled
to make a very considerable collection of these traditions, from all
parts of the Highlands of Scotland; and, like all other collectors,
he has become only just so much the more insatiably avaricious to
increase his store, the larger that he sees the heap becoming.

Such legends are not only curious and interesting in themselves,
but they will often prove to be helps to history, from the little
incidents which they furnish, that may throw light upon it. But,
however they are to be estimated in this respect, they must always be
considered as having some value, from the pictures which they afford
of the manners of the times to which they belong.

It is quite possible that many of these Traditions, in the course of
their long descent through successive ages, during which they have
been distilled and redistilled through the poetical imaginations
of so many narrators, may have undergone considerable alteration,
and even, perhaps, in some instances, exaggeration. To many fervid
minds such an effect produced by their antiquity, may not render them
one whit less palatable; whilst people of a less romantic and more
common-sense cast, will always be able to winnow out for themselves
the more solid grains from the glittering but empty chaff. But any
one, who, from the apparent improbability of some of their attendant
circumstances, should assert that such legends have no foundation in
fact, would fall, it is apprehended, into a very grievous error. The
Author thinks that no legend, however improbable, can have been
created, without having had some foundation in reality,--some germ,
in short, from which it had its origin,--and perhaps he cannot better
illustrate this observation, or prove its truth, than by narrating
a circumstance with the particulars of which he was favoured by his
friend the Venerable Archdeacon Williams, which shows this connexion
in the strongest light. What he has to tell, it is true, belongs more
particularly to the Principality of Wales, but it only furnishes a
more than ordinarily curious and striking example of a class, of which
many similar samples might be easily produced from the Highlands of
Scotland, as well as from many other parts of the world.

Some of the Welsh legendary historians tell us, that in the year
500, there flourished a renowned chief called Benlli Gawr. His
usual residence was where the present town of Mold now stands, and
his hill-fort, or place of strength was erected on the highest of
the Clwydian range, nearly due west from Mold, and about half way
between that place and Ruthin. The hill on which the remains of this
fortalice still exist, is called Moel Benlli, or the conical hill
of Benlli, and it presents a conspicuous object from Mold, Ruthin,
and Denbigh. An immense carnedd or cairn of stones, which was still
to be seen some years ago in an entire state in a field about half
a mile from the town of Mold, was supposed to have been the place
of this hero's interment; and if we may believe what we read in the
Welsh verses on the graves of the warriors of the Isle of Britain,
his son's place of sepulture was in a spot about eight miles distant,
and is thus noticed in the following rhymes:--


   "Pian y bedhd yn y Maes Mawr,
    Balen a law ar ei larn awr:
    Bedhd Beli ab Benlli Gawr."


That is,--


   "He who owns the grave in the large field,
    Proud his hand on his blade:
    The grave of Beli, son of Benlli Gawr."


But to return to the great Carnedd of Benlli himself in the field
near Mold. It was always called Tomen y r Ellyllon, or the Tumulus
of the Goblins, and for this reason, that from time immemorial it
was believed that the grim ghost of Benlli, in the form of a knight
clad in splendid gear, and especially wearing a Celain Aur, or golden
corselet, appeared after sunset, standing on the cairn, or walking
round it, and that there he continued to maintain his cold post,
till the scent of the morning air, or the crowing of the cock, drove
him to the necessity of retiring from it to some more comfortable
quarters. This legend had for generations so terrified the people,
that no bribe could have tempted any one to have passed by that way
after nightfall. Yet, though nobody went thither, and that every
possibility of having anything like direct evidence as to what the
spectre knight's personal appearance and dress really were, had been
thus precluded by the circumstance that every one shunned his dreaded
presence, the most wonderful and incredible accounts of his stern
countenance and terrific bearing, together with the most fearful
stories of their effects upon people who had beheld them, continued
to be propagated, although no one could specify the individuals who
had seen them, or been so affected by them.

Towards the end of the year 1833, it happened that the occupier of
the field where the carnedd stood, took it into his head, that the
stones of which it was composed might be of use for the construction
of a road, or for filling drains, or for some such rural purpose. It
was with some difficulty that he could procure workmen bold enough to
make such an assault on the very castle of the goblin, even although
it was to be carried on during the hours that the blessed sun was
abroad. But having at last succeeded in obtaining these, he proceeded
to work, and soon drove away some four or five hundred cart-loads of
stones from the cairn, when, at last, the workmen came upon something
of a strange shape, which was manifestly constructed of some sort of
metal. It was with no little dread that they ventured to touch it,
but their observation having led them to believe that it was some
old brass pot-lid or frying-pan, it ceased to be an object either
of dread or of interest in their unlearned eyes, and they threw it
carelessly into a hedge, where it lay all night neglected.

Some person of education having come to the spot next morning, who
had heard of such a thing having been found, was led by curiosity
to examine it, when, to the astonishment of all who heard of it, the
brazen frying-pan was discovered to be a lorica, or corselet of gold.

The metal was found to be of about the same degree of purity as our
present coin. It was so thin, that it weighed altogether no more than
sixty sovereigns, and therefore it appears evident that it could
not have been used as armour of defence in combat. It is more than
probable that it must have been worn merely as an ornamental piece of
armour on occasions of state or parade, in which case it was, very
likely, originally lined with leather. It was embossed all over it,
of a simple pattern, but it was not perforated.

The obliging correspondent through whose kindness, and that of his
friends, I have become possessed of these very remarkable facts,
amuses himself by calculating the immense value which such a piece
of dress must have had in the time of Benlli-Gawr, its wearer, that
is, in the year 500. "This," says he, "may be done by referring
to the ancient laws of Wales, now publishing under the Government
Commission. In these laws, the average price of a cow was five
shillings, and allowing for the difference in the value of money,
a cow would now cost about ten pounds. Then one pound at that time
would buy four cows, and the ten pounds would buy forty cows, and the
sixty sovereigns would be the value of two hundred and forty cows,
or two thousand four hundred pounds sterling."

This curious and highly valuable morceau of antiquity was immediately
claimed by the Honourable Edward Mostyn Lloyd Mostyn as lord of the
manor, and by Colonel Salusbury of Gallbfarnan as the possessor of
the field where it was found, and the law having determined that it
should belong to the former gentleman, it is now in his possession. It
is gratifying to the Author to think, that it should have fallen into
the hands of Mr. Mostyn, with whom he has since had the honour of
becoming acquainted, during the Welsh Eisteddvod, held at Liverpool,
where, as President of that body, his high attainments--his courteous
manners--and his ardent devotion to the cause of the preservation of
Welsh literature and antiquities, gave universal satisfaction to all
present, and afforded a sufficient assurance for the safety of the
interesting relic, of which an account has been given.

This is certainly a very powerful instance of the soundness of the
proposition, that legendary tales, however incredible many of their
circumstances may be, have always some foundation in truth. It appears
to be by no means difficult to speculate reasonably enough on the
probabilities of the matter in this case; and it would seem that they
have in all likelihood been these:--In the year 500 or thereabouts,
the renowned hero, Benlli, died, and in obedience to his own last
instructions, or of those of his son, Beli, or of some other relative
or friend, he was buried in the tumulus with his golden corselet on,
and then the carnedd was heaped up over his remains. To prevent the
risk of any avaricious follower or serf, or any other promiscuous
pilferer, uncovering his body during the night, in order to possess
himself of the glittering prize, his surviving friends circulate the
story that his ghost, frowning fearfully, as such ghosts are wont, is
seen nightly to guard the tumulus, girt in the golden armour. Terror
fills the superstitious minds of the inhabitants of the district,
and no man for his life will venture to approach the Carnedd after
sunset. This lie protective is thus very naturally and innocently
handed down from one generation of the superstitious people of the
neighbourhood to that which succeeds it, and implicitly believed; and
so the story is traditionally preserved for about fourteen hundred
years, until it is now at last unravelled, in our own time, by the
removal of the Carnedd of stones, and the discovery of the golden
corselet itself.

Let not any one refuse then to give credence to the main circumstances
of these our Highland Legends, because they may perhaps be somewhat
overlaid with circumstances of a romantic or doubtful nature, but let
the judgment rather be exercised to discover, and to discriminate,
between the thread of the true and original history, and those
adventitious filaments of later manufacture which have from time to
time been introduced and interwoven with it. This will generally
be found to be no very difficult task, and there are many by whom
it will be considered rather as an agreeable amusement, than as an
irksome occupation.



HIGHLAND RAMBLES.

STRATHDAWN.


We left the Highland village of Tomantoul after an early breakfast,
and proceeded to wend our way slowly up the pastoral valley of
Aven. The scenery as yet had nothing peculiarly striking about it,
but our faces were turned towards the Cairngorm group of mountains,
and the closing in of the hills forming the termination of our present
view, already excited interesting expectation regarding those higher
regions which arose beyond them. This was especially the case with
my fellow-travellers, who had not previously visited this elevated
district. A certain air of tranquil repose that hung over every thing
around us, and gave an indescribable charm to the simple features of
nature, rather disposed our minds to quiet and passive enjoyment,
so that we walked leisurely along for some time, less inclined to
talk than to ruminate each within himself. Our young friend Clifford
was the first to break silence.

Clifford.--What a beautiful little plain!--How animating the clear
river that waters it, with its stream sparkling under the bright
morning sun!--And see how appropriate the few figures that give life
to it. Those cattle there, so agreeably disposed, cropping the fresh
herbage, with that boy so intent upon plaiting a cap of rushes for the
innocent little girl who sits beside him. It would make a subject for
a Cuyp or a Paul Potter. What a scene of simple happiness, contentment,
and peace!

Dominie Macpherson.--It is indeed a quiet enough scene at this moment,
sir. But peaceful as it is at this present time, it hath not been
always so, for it hath more than once had its green turf trodden
into black and dusty earth by the thundering hoof of the neighing
battle-steed. The day has been, Mr. Clifford, when, as Maro has it:--


    -----------------------------------"Agmine facto
    Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum."


Here it was, sir, that Montrose encampit with his army in 1645, alter
having defeated the godly sons of the covenant in the bloody field of
Auldern, and before marching to glut his cruel spirit by massacring
more of them at Alford on the Don. And, as if the soil of this fair
spot had not been thus sufficiently polluted, it so chanced that,
in June 1689, the bloody Clavers also cumbered it with himself and
his followers on his way to the Pass of Killiecrankie, where, on the
16th of July thereafter, praise be to the Lord, his wicked existence
was at last put an end to.

Grant.--Ha! These historical recollections do indeed give a new
interest to the scene.

Clifford.--Only fancy the motley troops, in the varied military
costume of the time, drawn up here in their lines, the tents and huts
stretching along yonder in regular order,--the mingled sounds arising
from the busy camp followers,--the trumpets clanging,--and the bold
Dundee scampering across the plain on his gallant black charger! What
a contrast to the figures which are now before us!

Dominie.--Aye; and if all tales be true, he was but an uncanny beast
that black hone of his. But, my certy! the beast and the man were
well matched.

Clifford.--You seem to have a great distaste at the Viscount Dundee,
Mr. Macpherson, and yet he was followed by the great mass of your
Highland clans.

Dominie.--That may be, Mr. Clifford; but that makes no odds to me,
sir. I am in no ways answerable for the deeds of my forebears. If
they turned out to support popery and yepiscopacy, that is not what I
would have done. I reverence the manes of those sainted heroes who drew
their good broadswords for God and the Covenant, and who suffered all
manner of tortures and all kinds of cruel deaths rather than abandon
so glorious a cause,--a cause, let me tell you, with all due respeck
to you, Mr. Clifford,--a cause in which I should be proud to die at
this moment.

Clifford.--Your enthusiasm is not only excusable, but honourable
to you, Mr. Macpherson. But will you tell me the name of this spot,
that I may endeavour to remember it?

Dominie.--It is called Dell-a-Vorar, or the Lord's-haugh, a name which
it got from one, or may be from both of these two lords I have named,
though it is more probable that it was from Clavers, seeing that the
place in Braemar to which he marched from here has ever since borne
the same name.

Grant.--I know there is a place in Braemar so called.

Author.--By the bye, Mr. Macpherson, does not the dwelling of Willox
the wizard lie somewhere in this neighbourhood?

Dominie.--Yes, sir, it does. Gaulrig, as the place is called, lies
up beyond yon hollow in the hill on the right side of the glen which
you see before us yonder, dipping into the valley of the Aven from
the north.

Clifford.--Let us visit the old fellow by all means, Mr. Macpherson.

Dominie.--We may easily do that, sir, for the house is not much out
of your way, and we are pretty sure of finding him, for he is too
old now to be often or far from home.

A walk of some couple of miles brought us to the place where we found
the residence of this extraordinary man, standing on the sloping side
of the northern hill, immediately below a small tributary ravine, which
ancient popular superstition has very appropriately consigned to the
dominion of the fairies, and other beings belonging to the world of
spirits, and in which there is one of those green artificial-looking
knolls called shians, from their being supposed to be places of
especial fairy resort. His cottage hangs on the edge of the bank
facing the Aven, is of the most primitive architecture, composed of
drystones and sods, and forms, with its humble out-houses, two sides
of a small square. Near one angle of the house there is a rude stone,
on which the old warlock is in the habit of sitting to enjoy the sun.

Understanding that Willox was at all times rather flattered by a
visit from strangers, we made no scruple in requesting an interview
with him; and, accordingly, he soon appeared from the door of his
dwelling. Notwithstanding all that Mr. Macpherson had said to the
contrary, I had found it a difficult matter to persuade myself that I
was not to see a vulgar countenance, strongly marked with that species
of sordid cunning, which one might suppose sufficient to enable a
knave, of the lowest description, to impose on the most ignorant class
of rustics. The figure of the man, indeed, who now showed himself,
had nothing about it to do away with this preconceived notion of
mine. He was rather under the middle size, and was dressed in the
ordinary hodden grey clothes, which have now so generally usurped the
place of the gayer tartans, and more picturesque highland dress. But
I at once perceived that his low stature was to be attributed to the
decrepitude of old age, for he was probably above ninety. The moment
he put forth his head from the threshold, and perceived those who
sought for an interview with him, an inconceivable expression flashed
from his eyes, which, I might almost say, threw over him a certain
light of dignity. We were all of us at once convinced that this was
no common man, and our regard was riveted upon him. It seemed as if
the native lightnings of an uneducated, but naturally very powerful
mind, were bursting through the obscurity of those grey orbs, which
had been dimmed by the gathering mists of many a long year. The half
dormant spirit appeared to have been suddenly summoned to the portal
of the eye, by this anticipated interview with people whom he had
never seen before, just as, in the olden time, the jealous captain
of a fortress might have been brought to its barbican by the bugle
call of some knight of doubtful mien who wished to hold parley.

As he advanced to meet us, I was struck with the corselike paleness
of his face, to which the glaze of his eyeballs, and the grizzly
and tangled locks that strayed from beneath his bonnet, gave an
inexpressibly ghastly effect. A transient gleam of electric fire shot
from within his eyeballs into each of our countenances individually, as
he was introduced to us in succession. We felt as if it had penetrated
into the inmost recesses of our very souls. It appeared to us as if he
had thereby been enabled, from long practice in the study of mankind,
at once to read our several characters and thoughts, like so many
lines of the great book of nature hastily skimmed over. To each of
us in turn he bowed with a polished air, and a manner like that of a
faded courtier of the age of Louis Quatorze, than the inhabitant of
so humble a dwelling, in the simple and pastoral valley of Strathdawn;
and strangely indeed did it contrast with the coarseness and poverty of
his dress, and the squalid impropreté of his whole personal appearance.

After the usual preliminary salutations were over, I expressed a wish
to see the far-famed magical kelpie's bridle and mermaid's stone, for
the possession of which he is so celebrated in all the neighbouring
districts.

"You shall see them both, sir," said he, after eyeing me for a moment
with a searching look. "To such gentlemen as you, I cannot refuse a
sight of them, though they are hardly to be seen by vulgar eyes, and
never to be handled by vulgar hands;" and, with a marked politeness
of manner, he returned into the cottage to bring them out.

"Now," said I to my companions, "you must keep him in talk, whilst
I endeavour to steal a sketch of him."

"Here are the wonderful implements of my art," said he, as he returned,
holding them up to our observation.

"They are very curious," said I; "perhaps you will have the goodness
to allow me to make a hasty drawing of them. I hope it will have no
effect in taking away their virtues.

"Their virtues cannot be taken away by human hands," replied Willox,
gravely. "You are welcome to draw them if you please, sir, and I
shall hold them for you so that you may best see them."

I thanked him, and proceeded instantly to my work. My friends
followed my injunctions so well as fully to occupy his attention in
replying to their cross fire of queries, whilst I was myself obliged
to interject a question now and then, in order to get him to turn
his countenance towards me. The wonderful expression I have already
alluded to appeared even yet more striking, on these occasions, by
his ghost-like features being brought so closely and directly opposite
to my eyes. I then looked in as it were upon his spirit,--and it was
manifestly a spirit which, in ancient days, when superstition brooded
as much over the proud castle of the bold baron, as it did over the
humble cot of the timid peasant, might well enough have domineered
over the minds of nobles and princes, nay subjected even crowned
heads to its powerful control.

I did make sketches of the mermaid's stone and the water-kelpie's
bridle, the two grand instruments of his art. As already described
to us by Mr. Macpherson, we found the stone to be a circular and
flattish lens, three inches diameter, of semi-opaque crystal, somewhat
resembling, in shape and appearance, what is called a bull's eye, used
for transmitting light through the deck of a vessel into its smaller
apartments below. The water-kelpie's bridle consists of a flat piece
of brass, annular in the middle, and having two lobe-like branches
springing from it in two curves outwards, the wider part of each lobe
being slightly recurved inwards, so that they present the appearance
of two leaves when they are held flat. Attached to the ring part,
but loose upon it, are two long doubled pieces of flat brass, and,
between these, a short leathern thong is attached by a fastening so
intricate that it might have rivalled the Gordian knot. It has not
the most distant resemblance to any part of a bridle, and none of us
could guess to what purpose, either useful or ornamental, it could
have ever been applied. Willox's own account of the acquirement of
these two wonderful engines of his supernatural power, elicited by
our repeated questions, was nearly as follows:--



THE WATER-KELPIE'S BRIDLE AND THE MERMAID'S STONE.


My grand-uncle Macgregor, was so much devoted to the study of that
mysterious and unpronounceable art which gives man control over
the world of spirits, that he ultimately became a powerful adept in
it. He lived on the banks of the river Dulnan, in Strathspey, and his
fame went so much abroad, that his name was never mentioned without
reverential awe. Whilst involved in the pursuit of these studies, he
was much used to take solitary walks, during which it was believed
that he held high converse with beings rarely brought within the
reach of human communing.

He was walking one evening on the lonely shore of Loch-an-dorbe. The
sky was calm, but the air was hot and sulphurous, and the sun went
down in a blood-red haze, that the gifted eye of Macgregor knew
to be portentous. Wrapped in his plaid, he leaned against a huge
stone, and stood earnestly gazing at the sinking orb till it had
altogether disappeared. He read therein that some mighty deed was to
be achieved, and he wound himself up to encounter whatever adventure
might befall him.

Suddenly the black waters of the lake began to heave from their centre
without any seeming cause. Not a breath of wind stirred them, yet they
came boiling outwards, so as at once to dash their waves on every part
of the surrounding shores. A dark object was seen to bound forth upon
the beach at no great distance from the spot where Macgregor stood. A
less strongly fortified heart would have quailed with fear, but his
was armed with potent spells. He stretched his eyeballs towards the
object, when, less to his astonishment than delight, he beheld a black
horse, of immense size, and of beautiful proportions, approaching him
through the lurid twilight. On he came, prancing proudly along the
strand, pawing the ground from time to time, and neighing aloud with
a voice of thunder, while blue lightnings were ever and anon darting
from his expanded nostrils, and his eyes were shining like stars. It
required not Macgregor's skill to know that this was no ordinary horse,
but his superhuman knowledge made him at once aware that it was the
water-kelpie himself, and he watched his coming with a heart beating
high with hope. Well instructed as to the measures which it now became
necessary for him to adopt, he stood aside behind the large stone, and
employed certain charms which he knew would aid in his concealment;
and as this terrific incarnation of the spirit of the waters was
curvetting grandly past him, he sprang suddenly out upon him, and,
seizing his bridle with his left hand, he raised aloft his gleaming
claymore with his right, and cut it out of the water-kelpie's head
at one blow. In an instant the terrible spirit was metamorphosed into
the shape of a man of huge and very formidable appearance.

"Give me back my bridle, thou son of earth!" cried he, in a voice
like the roaring of a cataract.

"No!" said Macgregor, boldly; "I have won it, and I shall keep it."

"Then," roared the enraged spirit, "you and it shall never enter your
house together!"

Macgregor staid not to hear more, but ran off in the direction
of his home, from which he was then distant a good many miles. The
enraged spirit came roaring and howling after him. Ten thousand floods
pouring down over the rocky ridge of Ben Nevis could not have created
so appalling a combination of terrific sounds. The hot breath of the
fiend came about Macgregor as he flew, as if it would have threatened
suffocation. Lucky was it for my granduncle that the kelpie, in losing
his bridle, had also lost with it, for the time at least, the power of
becoming a horse, else had his chance of escape been small indeed. As
it was, however, it seemed as if Macgregor had suddenly acquired a
large proportion of those racing qualities which were derived from
that magical virtue so strongly inherent in the bridle which he bore;
for he appeared, even to himself, rather to skim than to run over the
vast extent of moors, hills, and bogs that lay between him and his
own home, scarcely bending the heather tops in his way, so lightly
and rapidly did his feet fly over the ground. But great as was the
supernatural speed he had acquired, that of the water-kelpie was so
little short of it, that the wicked spirit was close at his heels when
he reached his own house. With a presence of mind, and an adroitness,
which no one but an experienced and expert adept in the management
of a contest with powers naturally so superior to man, could have
commanded or exercised, he avoided entering by the door, although it
stood yawning temptingly wide to receive him. Luckily a window was
open. "Hulloo!" cried he hastily to his wife, whom he happily observed
within, "catch this in your apron!" And, throwing the bridle to her
through the window, he cunningly avoided the denunciation which the
kelpie had uttered against him.

No sooner did the kelpie perceive that he was thus outwitted, than
he shrieked so loud that all the hills of Strathspey re-echoed
again.--Yes, you need not stare, gentlemen; I tell you that the
mountains echoed again, as if the lofty Craig Ellachie had rent itself
from its foundations, and rolled itself into the river Spey. The
water-kelpie disappeared, and, what is strange, he has never since
been seen by mortal man. But my grand-uncle Macgregor had his bridle,
which, as you see, afterwards descended from him to me.

The story of the acquirement of the Mermaid's Stone is no whit less
extraordinary than that of the bridle. The stone came to me from my
maternal grandfather, who gained it by the superhuman powers which
he possessed; for in my veins two most potent streams of necromantic
blood have united themselves, though it would ill become me to say
that I have ever equalled my ancestors. After having made frequent
visits to the sea coast, my grandfather at last found out the spot
where a beautiful mermaid was wont to sport amid the shallows,
and sit on a rock, to comb her long hair, and to sing the most
exquisite melodies. Long and anxiously did he watch her motions,
till he perceived her one day combing her lovely tresses over her
face and bosom, altogether unconscious that she was observed. Arming
himself with certain spells which he possessed, which gave him
superhuman powers, he crept into the sea from the rocky point where
he lay concealed, and wading silently towards the stone where she
sat, he came behind her, and clasping her eagerly in his arms, he
held her fast, and, in spite of all her wailings, her lamentations,
and her struggles, he succeeded in carrying her on shore. When fairly
on land, she became exceedingly helpless, so that he had no farther
trouble with her, and, delighted with his fair prize, he brought her
home in triumph. There he made a soft bed for her upon the rafters
of the house; and although he was unwillingly compelled by prudence
to make sure of her by subjecting her to the restraint of tying her
to the couples of the roof, he in all other respects lavished the
utmost kindness upon her.

So very much, indeed, was my grandfather taken up with his
new acquisition, that my grandmother began to grow jealous of
his attentions to the fair sea nymph; and, more out of spite,
perhaps, than from any real wickedness, she began to encourage the
visits of a young man who had been formerly attached to her. Now,
strange as it may seem, it is no less true, that, great as were my
grandfather's powers in the art magic, he was yet unable thereby to
discover the fact, that his wife received the visits of this lover,
on certain occasions, when his trifling affairs required his absence
from home. Now, it happened one day that my grandfather returned so
suddenly, and so unexpectedly, that his wife was compelled to conceal
the youth hastily behind a bed. The lady was in a terrible taking,
you may believe; but she so far subdued her agitation as to receive
her husband with every possible appearance of kindness and affection.

"I dreamed a strange dream last night," said she, after fully
recovering her presence of mind, and smiling gaily. "I dreamed that I
put both my hands over your eyes, and yet you saw as well as if they
had not been there."

"Come try, then!" replied her husband sportively, taking what she
said as the mere prelude to some little innocent matrimonial frolic;
"come try then, my dear. I believe I can see as far into a millstone
as most people."

"No doubt you can," said his spouse, laughing outright, and approaching
him with a merry air, she clapped her hands so firmly over his eyes
that he was completely blindfolded, "now can you see?" exclaimed she.

"No!" replied the husband, "not one whit."

"Stay a little," cried his wife, laughing heartily again, "depend
upon it this miraculous light will come to you at last!"

"Aye, aye!" cried he, struggling till he escaped from her hands, and
then kissing her heartily, "I see now well enough." But, alas! my
grandfather's vision had come too late, for the lover had availed
himself of this brief opportunity, so cunningly afforded him, to make
his escape.

The mermaid, who was seated on the rafters above, laughed aloud with an
unearthly laughter, as she witnessed the trick that had been played to
my grandfather. To divert her husband's attention from a mirth that at
first appalled her, the lady, with great presence of mind, threw down
the girdle-stone, a flat stone, which in those primitive times was used
for firing the oaten cakes, instead of the iron plate of that name,
which now forms so important an article of furniture in the kitchen
of every Scottish cottage. The stone was broken to pieces, and the
lady's loud lamentation for this apparently accidental misfortune,
quickly diverted her husband's attention from the mysterious merriment
of the mermaid, and having thus effected her purpose, she threw the
fragments of the stone out on the dunghill.

The poor mermaid pined and sighed for her native element, until she
wrung the heart of her captor to pity.

"Take me but down to the sea," said she with her sweet voice, "take
me but down to the sea, and put me but into the waves--but three
yards from the shore--and it shall be better for thee than all the
good thou can'st gain by keeping me here."

Softened to compliance at last, my grandfather did take her down from
the rafters, and carrying her to the coast, he waded into the sea
with her, the three yards she had specified, and put her gently down
amid the waves, near the very stone where he had originally caught
her. The joy of this beautiful marine spirit in finding herself thus
again bathing in the invigorating waters of her own native ocean,
after having been so long hung up, as it were, on the rafters of a
Highland cottage, to be smoked like an Aberdeen haddock, or a kipper
salmon, may be easily imagined. But, although wicked people might
perhaps impute her parting speech more to that natural love of scandal
which is said to belong to her sex, than to any strong feeling for my
grandfather, yet we must say, that her words and her counsel shewed
that her gratitude was no less abundant than her joy. Turning to him
who had treated her so compassionately, she passed her taper fingers
gracefully through her long silken tresses, and thus addressed him
with her siren tongue:--

"Travel not so oft nor so far from home again! Ill luck attends
that home whence the master often wanders. Dost thou remember my
loud laugh on that day when thy wife broke the girdle stone? It
was because she made a fool of thee by blinding thine eyes that her
lover might escape unseen. Be wiser in future, and never leave home;
and when you go back now, look among the straw where the broken bits
of the girdle stone were thrown, and you will find that which will
be a treasure to you and to your children for ever."

With these words she dived among the breakers and was seen by him no
more. My grandfather returned home rather chopfallen; but on searching
where the mermaid had indicated to him, he found that very stone,
which has now, for three generations, been the agent in performing
so many wonders.



THE DOMINIE DEPARTS.


Soon after quitting the dwelling of the Warlock, we were doomed to lose
the company of one, with whom we were all much more unwilling to part.

Dominie Macpherson.--I can hardly bring myself to tell you, gentlemen,
that I must now--sore against my will--take my humble leave of you. My
road to my brother's house lies north over the hill there. But ere
I go, I am truly glad to have it in my power to put you under the
guidance of my good friend, Serjeant Archy Stewart. I sent him a
message last night to come and meet us here; and there is the very
man coming over the knoll, with his Sabbath-day's jacket and bonnet
on.--How is all with you, Serjeant? My certy, I need not ask, for
you look stout and hearty.

Serjeant Archy Stewart.--Thank ye, Mr. Macpherson, I cannot complain. I
am a little the worse for the wear--but my old legs, such as they be,
are fit enough for the hill yet. I am glad to see you well back in
the country again.

Dominie.--Thank ye, Serjeant. Now, my good man, these are the three
gentlemen you are to guide. Three better gentlemen you never fell
in with in all your travels. You must do all you can for them; and,
above all things, be sure to give them plenty of your cracks. They
like to hear all manner of auld-warld stories; so, as you must put on
a budget of their provisions on your back--which, by the bye, will
be like Æsop's burden, always growing less,--you may e'en lighten
yourself as you go of as many of the auncient legends which you carry
in your head as may help to ease your travel.

Serjeant.--Uh! I'll not be slack at that, Mr. Macpherson, I promise
ye, if it be the pleasure of the gentlemen.

I shall not attempt to describe the scene of our parting with the
worthy schoolmaster. It threw a gloom over us all. As for the good
man himself, his voice trembled--his lip quivered--and his eyes
filled with moisture, when he pronounced that most unpleasant of
all words--farewell--and gave us the last cordial shake of the hand,
pouring out his best wishes and blessings upon us. He then put his
stick firmly to the ground, as if to help his failing resolution,
and, as he took his way over the hill, he turned and waved--and turned
and waved, twenty times at least, e'er he disappeared from our sight.

Our attention was now directed towards Serjeant Archy Stewart,
who was cheerfully occupying himself in shouldering a portion of
our necessaries. He was a veteran of about sixty years of age, of
middle size, and of a hardy, wiry, though not very robust frame. His
fresh coloured countenance was lighted up by a pair of small, grey,
and very intelligent eyes; and its bold forehead, aquiline nose, high
cheek-bones, and prominent chin and lips, exhibited traits of a very
undaunted and indomitable resolution, which his whole appearance showed
had been well tried by hardships. All this, however, was tempered and
sweetened with so perfect an expression of courtesy and good humour,
pervading every line of his weather-beaten features, that he instantly
gained the golden opinions of our party. After adjusting the wallet
to his back, he pointed his hazel stick to the grass, and led the
way before us with an activity much beyond his years.

Clifford.--Capital fishing hereabouts, no doubt, Mr. Stewart?

Serjeant.--Just grand, sir--no better in this, or any other country
side.

Clifford.--You know the river well, I suppose?

Serjeant.--Few should know it better, sir--for I've known it ever
since I could look out over the nest.

Clifford.--You are a native of these mountains, then?--Come! we have
been told that you are full of their legendary lore, and we look to
have much of it out of you ere we part.

Serjeant.--I am sure your honor is welcome to as much as you can take
and I can give you.

Clifford.--Come away then--you shall begin, if you please, by giving
us your own history.

Serjeant.--Oh troth, sir, my history is little worth; but, such as
it is, you shall have it. I was born in this very glen here--for I am
come of the Clan-Allan Stewarts, who were the offspring of Sir Allan
Stewart, who was said to have been a natural son of the Yearl of Moray.

Author.--What Earl of Moray was that, Archy?

Serjeant.--Really and truly I cannot tell you, sir. But this I know
well enough, that them Clan-Allan Stewarts were a proud, powerful,
domineering race, and always reported to have been very troublesome
customers to those who happened to have any feud with them. I've heard
say, indeed, that while they boore sway here away, fint a man of any
other name dared to blow his nose throughout the whole of Strathdawn
without their leave being first asked and granted. Wild chields they
were, I'll warrant ye.

Author.--That may be, Serjeant; but I shrewdly suspect that you are
not altogether right in your genealogy. My belief is, that it does
in reality go somewhat farther back than you suppose.

Serjeant.--Do you think so, sir? Well it may be so.

Author.--I am inclined to think that you must be come of the old
Stewarts, Earls of Atholl.

Serjeant.--Aye, aye!--Yearls of Athol!--that would be strange. But
what makes you think that, sir?

Author.--Why, we know that it was through the marriage of Alexander,
third Earl of Huntly, with the Lady Johanna Stewart, daughter of one
of these Earls, in 1474, that Strathdawn first came into the family
of the Gordons, with whom it still remains. It is therefore clear that
Sir Allan, your ancestor, must have come here considerably before that
period; and if your forefathers, the Clan-Allan Stewarts, were such
hard-headed, knock-me-down, domineering fellows as you would seem to
say they were, it is by no means improbable that they may have managed,
by the use of their swords, to bear sway here for many a long day,
after the lands were chartered to the Gordons.

Serjeant.--I have little doubt that your honor is perfectly
right; and now I think on't, I remember an auncient legend of the
Stewarts of Clan-Allan, in which a speech of the old Lord of Cargarf
strongly supports the very view of the matter which you have so well
explained. I never could very well understand it before--but now, when
I put that and that together, I see the truth as clear as day light.

Clifford (taking out his tablets and writing.)--I shall put you down
for that same legend, Mister Serjeant; but in the meanwhile proceed
with your own history, if you please.



HISTORY OF SERJEANT ARCHY STEWART.


Well, Gentlemen--as I was telling you, I was born in Strathdawn
here--as pretty a glen as there is in all Scotland. Oh, what a bonny
glen it was in my young days! You see plain enough, without my telling
you, that there are no trees now in it to speak of--none, indeed,
but a parcel of straggling patches and bushes of aller and birch
and hazel about the bit water-runs and burnies, or hanging here and
there on the brae sides. But when I was a boy, the hills were all one
thick wood of tall trees, that gave shelter to great herds of deer in
the winter. Now, alas! the trees have fallen, and the deer, annoyed
and persecuted by sheep, shepherds, and sheep-dogs, have longsyne
retreated to the upper mountains and vallies of the Cairngorms, save
may be, at an anterin [1] time, when severe weather on the heights,
may drive an odd few of them down upon us for a short season.

Well, gentlemen--not to detain you with my school-boy days--(for I was
at school, gentlemen--and not so bad a scholar neither)--when I grew
up to be a stout lad, I left the glen, with six others of my own age,
to go and seek for work in the south country. I shall never forget
that day that we left it. We went off full of life and joy--for we
thought but little of leaving our friends or the scenes of our youth,
since we trusted that the same firm legs that were carrying us away
could at any time bring us back to them the moment we had the will
to return. We panted to see the world, and it was now opening before
us. All the fanciful dreams of our boyhood were, as we thought, now
about to be realized. Light, I trow, were our hearts, and full were we
of hopes, as we made our way across the Grampians, and in a few days
these hopes were realized, by our finding ourselves busily employed,
and working hard, though at good wages, in a quarry near Cupar in Fife.

There we continued for some time perfectly contented with our labour,
as well as with the price of it, till John Grant of Lurg, grandson of
the famous Robert of Lurg, well known by the nick-name of Old Stachcan,
or the stubborn----

Clifford (breaking in on the Serjeant's narrative.)--What! the fierce
looking fellow whose picture we saw at Castle Grant with a pistol in
his hand?

Serjeant.--Just exactly--the very same, sir--he has a pistol in his
hand in the picture, and well, I promise you, did he know how to
use it when he was in the body. Well, it was his grandson, John of
Lurg, who, some how or other, smelt us out in the place where we then
were in Fife; and as he was at that time raising men for a company,
you may well believe that his joy was not small when he thus came,
like a setting dog, to a dead point on such a covey of stout young
Hillantmen in a quarry. He soon contrived to get about us altogether,
and with a hantel of fair words, and mony a bonny speech about our
Hillant hills--Hillant glens--Hillant waters--Hillant lasses--and,
what was more to his purpose at the time, about Hillant deeds of
arms--all of which, observe ye, gentlemen, were made over a reeking
bowl of punch that you might have swum in, he very soon succeeded in
stirring up the fire of military ambition within our souls, until
he ultimately so inflamed us, that, with all the ease in life, he
quickly converted us, who were nothing unwilling, from hard-working
quarriers, into gentlemen sodgers, by enlisting us, all in a bunch,
into the ninety-seventh regiment, or Inverness Highlanders.

I need not tell you all the outs-and-ins of adventures that befel me
while I was in the ninety-seventh, in which corps I remained about
two years and a half. But I may mention to you, that I was serving
with it when I got my first wound--I mean this bit crack here,
gentlemen--(and he pulled up his trews, and shewed his right leg
immediately below the knee, which was shrunken up to half the thickness
of the other, from having had the greater part of the muscles utterly
destroyed.)--Some way or another, they took it into their heads to
put us on board of the Orion, one of the ships of Lord Bridport's
squadron, to act as marines--an odd sort of duty truly for Hillantmen,
and one, I'll assure you, that we by no means liked over much, seeing
that, on board of a ship, we were obliged to stand to be peppered
at like brancher crows on a tree, without the power of having our
will out against the villains, by charging them with the baggonet,
as we should have done had we been opposed to them on dry land; and,
indeed, we soon felt the frost of this, when we came to be engaged
in the action fought with the French fleet on the 23d of June 1795.

On that day, the French had twelve line-of-battle ships, besides a
number of frigates and other smaller vessels. From all their manoeuvres
it was very clear that they did not wish to face us--for they stole
off in a very dignified manner, never looking over their shoulders all
the time, as they were fain to have made us believe that they never
saw us at all, or that we were quite beneath their notice. But it
was no time for us to stand upon ceremony.--We after them full sail,
and we soon made them condescend to attend to us. In spite of all
they could do we brought them to action in L'Orient Bay. There we
lethered them handsomely, and we very speedily took from them three
great ships, the Alexander, the Formidable, and the Tigger; and,
if it had not been for the batteries on shore, there was no doubt
that we should have had every keel of them. Well, you see, gentlemen,
a large splinter of oak--rent away from the ship's side by a cannon
shot--took me just below the knee, and demolished the shape of my leg
in the ugly fashion I showed you this moment. But I was young then,
and hearty, and no very easily daunted or cast down, so that I was
soon out of the doctor's list, and on duty again.

But what was far worse than all the wounds that my body could have
suffered, though it had been shot and drilled through and through like
a riddle, was that which befel me at Hilsea barracks after we returned
to Britain. You know very well, gentlemen, that the Bible says, "a
wounded speerit who can bear?" Now, you may guess what were the wounds
of my speerit, and, consequently, what were my sufferings, when I and
some of my Hillant comrades were told, that we were to be immediately
drafted into the ninth, or East Norfolk--an English regiment!

It was with sore hearts, and no little indignation, that we heard of
the odious order for this cruel separation from our beloved native
regiment--a corps in which we had all been like bairns of the same
family in the bosom of our common mother--where our officers had
been more like elder brothers to us than superiors--cracking with us,
at times, in Gaelic, over all our old Hillant stories--and enjoying,
as much as we did, our Hillant songs and Hillant dances--and many of
them, having known sundry individuals among us when at home in boyhood,
were as familiar and easy with us, at any ordinary bye-hour, as you,
gentlemen, are pleased to be with me at this precious moment--and
yet the di'el ae bit was our discipline any the waur o' that,
whatever his Grace the gallant Duke of Wellington may say against
such a system--and, for aught I know, he may be right enough as to
the English, who have not been brought up as we were in the allowance
of such liberties,--but, as for us, when the parade hour came, or the
time for duty, all such familiarities ceased, and every one filled his
own place, like the wheel of a watch, to be turned at the will of him
who was above him.--You may easily conceive, then, that banishment,
or even death itself, would have been better to us than the being
thus torn from such a regiment for the express purpose of being
joined to a corps composed of Englishmen, with whom we could neither
crack of our homes, nor of our Hillant hills, nor sing Gaelic songs,
nor tell auncient stories, nor speak about Ossian, nor hear the pipes
play, nor dance the Hillant-fling.--And then, instead of the kind and
brotherly correction of our Hillant officers, the very slightest sound
of whose word of reproof brought the blush of shame into our cheeks,
and was as effectual a punishment to us as if we had been brought
to the halberts--think what it was to us to be snubbed by some cross
tempered upsetting Sassenach, who could know nothing of our nation's
temper or disposition, and who might perhaps, of a morning, order
our backs to be scored, with as little remorse as he would order a
beef-steak to be brandered for his breakfast.--Oh it was a terrible
change!--Our very speerits were just altogether broken at the very
thought of it, and we actually ceased to be the same men.

But, gentlemen, if this was the effect produced on our minds by
the mere anticipation of this most bitter change in our fate, what
think ye was the misery of body which we sustained, and, especially,
what think ye was my misery, when I, who never wore aught else but a
kilt from the day I was born till that accursed moment, was crammed,
in spite of all I could say or do to the contrary, hip and thigh, into
a pair of tight regimental small-clothes!--Aye, you may laugh indeed
gentlemen--but if anybody was to tie your legs together with birken
woodies, as they have tied the fore-legs of yon pouny that you see
feeding yonder in the bit meadow at the foot of the brae, and if you
were then to be bidden to climb up the steepest face of Ben-Machduie,
you could not be more helpless, or more ill at ease than I was. As
for drilling, you might as well have set up a man in a sack to march.

"Step out!" cried they eternally--"why the devil don't you step out?"

But it was just altogether ridiculous to cry out any such thing to
me, for fint a step could I take at all, unless they had letten me
step out of my breeks.--I was in perfect torture with them.--The
very circulation of my blood was stopped--my nether man was rendered
entirely numb and powerless. Nay, had I been built up mid man into
a brick-wall I might have stepped out just as well.

Now, I would have you to understand, gentlemen, that especially and
above all things, the confounded articles grippit and pinched me most
desperately over the henches. The joints of my henches were so bound
together in their very sockets by their pressure as to be rendered
altogether useless; and the torture I endured in these quarters became
so great, that I felt I could bear it no longer. I sat down, therefore,
to hold a consultation with myself what was best to be done; and, after
as cool and calm a consideration of my lamentable case as my extreme
state of misery would allow, I came, in my own private council of war,
to the determination, that I had only three things to choose from, and
these were,--to desert--to cut my throat--or to cut my breeches; and,
after having much and duly weighed these different evil alternatives,
I finally resolved to adopt the last of them.

Having come to this resolution, I then began, like a skilful engineer,
narrowly to examine the horrid instruments of my sufferings, in order
to ascertain how and where I could most easily make a breach in them,
and one that was most likely to give the greatest ease to myself. A
little farther thought and observation soon convinced me, that, as
the parts most grievously afflicted, were those which your masters of
fortification would have called the sailliant angles of my henches to
right and left, and especially as on these hinged much of the motion
of the whole man, it was clear that the proposed attempt to work myself
relief should be first tried in those two points. I lost not a moment,
therefore, in carrying my plan into execution. I immediately borrowed
a pair of shears from a sodger's wife; and, sitting down regularly
before my breeches, like an experienced general about to besiege a
fortress, I fairly attacked the two sailliant angles of the bastion,
and carried them by storm; and having, with the greatest nicety,
cut out a round piece of the cloth of three or four inches in width,
directly over each hip-joint, I ventured to thrust my limbs within
the very garrison of my breeches; and really, gentlemen, the ease I
obtained in consequence of this bold operation is not to be described.

So innocent was I, and so utterly unconscious of even a suspicion
that I had done any thing wrong, that when the drum beat, I went off
to the private parade of the company I had been attached to, with
my heart almost as much eased as my henches; nay, it was absolutely
bounding with benevolence, and brimful with the earnest desire and
intention of spreading the blessed discovery I had made, and making
it widely known among my Hillant comrades, so that all of them who
might be in the same state of misery as I had been, might forthwith
proceed to benefit themselves, as I had done, by the bright discovery
I had made. Rejoicing in my ease, therefore, I strode across the
barrack-square, with a step so much wider and grander than any I
had lately been able to use, that I felt a pride in the excellence
of my invention which I cannot possibly describe. I halted for a
moment--stretched out, first my right leg, and then my left, just as
I have seen a fowl do upon its perch--and then, clapping my hand upon
the new made hole on either side of me, I chuckled for joy.

"Hah!" cried I; "breeches do they call you? By my faith, then, but I
have made you more like your name by these well-imagined breaches of
my own contrivance, which I have so ingeniously opened through your
accursed sides."

I then bent myself down, and made a spring into the air; after which,
being quite satisfied that a paring or two more off the edges of the
round holes would make all nearly right, I walked on with an air of
dignified self-satisfaction that was not to be mistaken. But I had not
come within ten yards of the spot where the company was falling in,
when I heard the serjeant exclaim,--

"My heyes! look at that ere Ighland savage! I'm damned if he arn't
been cutting big oles in his Majesty's rigimental breeches!"

A loud horse-laugh burst out from among the men, and the serjeant
joined heartily in it. But it was no laughing matter to me; I was
cut to the soul. All our horrible anticipations of English officers,
halberds, and cat-o'-nine-tails, came smack upon me at once. I was
overwhelmed--I grew dizzy--and, before I had well recovered myself,
I was marched off to the guard-house under the charge of a corporal
and a file of men, and a written crime was given in against me in
these terms.

"Privut Archbauld Stewart of Captin Ketley's compnay, confined by order
of Sargunt Nevett, for aving cut two big oles in the ipps of a pair of
riggimental britches belonghing too is Magesty King George the Third."

Well, gentlemen, there was I left in the guard-house for some hours
a prisoner. But if I was confined in one way, I took good care to put
myself very much at my ease in another; for I pulled off my tormentors
altogether, and sat quite coolly and comfortably without them. But
I was sore enough at heart, for all that; for, independent of the
fearful prospect of the unrelenting punishment that awaited me, the
disgrace of confinement to which I had thus, for the first time in
my life, been subjected, and that so unjustly, stung me to the very
heart. For a good hour or more I could do nothing but grind my teeth
with absolute vexation and rage; but at length I began to gather some
command of myself, and to think of the necessity of making up my mind
as to what was to be done. I recalled the three evil alternatives,
from which I had already made that which had now proved to be so
unfortunate a selection, and as that had so miserably failed me, I
continued for sometime swinging backwards and forwards, like a bairn
in a shuggy-shue, [2] between the two that yet remained to be tried,
and I had not yet made up my mind on the subject, when the serjeant
appeared, and ordered me to put on my breeches and follow him. I obeyed
like a man who gets up from his straw to go out and be hanged. But
there was one great difference between such a poor wretch and me,
very much in his favour, for as his fetters in such a case are taken
off, I was on the contrary condemned to buckle on mine.

I did follow the serjeant as he bade me, but notwithstanding the
outlets I had made in the breeches for the joints of my hench bones,
and the comparative ease I had thereby formerly enjoyed, yet the few
hours I had had in the guardhouse of a freedom of limb resembling that
which I was wont to enjoy in my old kilt, made me feel so strange upon
thus recommitting my joints to the thraldom of the accursed garments,
that I went shaughling along after him, as if they had undergone no
improvement at all. He took me directly to Captain Ketley's quarters,
and whilst I was on my way thither, I was compelled to bring my doubts
to a hasty conclusion, and so I resolved that of the two plans now
only remaining for me to choose from, desertion should be first tried,
seeing that if it should fail me, I might cut my throat afterwards, for
that if I should cut my throat first, I should not afterwards find it
an easy matter to desert. I had no more time than just enough to settle
this point with myself, when the serjeant rapped at our captain's door.

"Come in!" cried Captain Ketley, in what sounded in my ear like a
tremendous voice.

"Privut Archbauld Stewart and his cut breeches, your honour!" cried
the serjeant, ushering me without ceremony into the middle of the room.

There I stood with my head up, and in the military attitude of
attention, the which, as you will naturally observe, gentlemen, was,
of all others, out of all sight the most convenient and best chosen
attitude for me at the time; for, as you will understand, the palms of
my two hands were thus exactly applied to the two holes I had made,
though the size of the holes themselves was so great that I could by
no means entirely cover them. But if I could have done so, this well
conceived manoeuvre of mine would have been of no avail.

"Stand at ease!" cried the serjeant, giving me at the same time a
smart tap on the back with his rattan cane.

"Serjeant," said I impatiently, "you know very well that it's not
possible for me to stand at ease in thir fashious breeks of mine."

I saw that Captain Ketley had a hard task of it to keep his gravity.

"What is this which has been reported to me of you, sir?" demanded he
with as stern a look as he could possibly assume; "how comes it that
you have taken upon you to destroy a pair of new regimental breeches
in that manner?"

"Captain," said I, now quite brought to bay, and making up my mind
to go through with it, whatever the consequences might be; "Captain,
if your honor will but hear me, I will speak."

"Speak on then," said Captain Ketley, "provided you say nothing that
as an officer I may not listen to. Serjeant Nevett, you may retire."

"You need not fear that I shall offend you, Captain Ketley," said I,
"I have been over long accustomed to speak to officers to forget the
respect and duty I owe to them as a sodger, and since your honour is
so kind, I will be as short as I can. I enlisted, you see, to serve in
the Inverness Highlanders, and in so doing I covenanted to fight in
company with my own countrymen, and in the freedom of a kilt. Now,
against all bargain--against all manner of justice--against my
will--and against the very nature of a Hillantman, I have been thrust,
first into this English regiment, and then into this pair of English
small clothes--well may they be so called, I'm sure. Captain Ketley,
all this is most unreasonable. You might as well put a deer of the
mountains into a breachame, and expect to plough the land with him,
as to put a Hillantman into such cruel harness as thir things, with the
hope that he can do his work in them; and, although I am as wishful as
any man that serves King George can be, to spend the last drop of my
blood, as some of it has flowed already in the cause of his Majesty,
God bless him! and for our common country, yet I will just tell your
honour plainly and honestly--though with all manner of respect--that
I will not stay in this Ninth Regiment to be kept in the eternal
torture of thir breeks, though I should see the men drawn out to
shoot me for trying to desert--for death itself is desirable rather
than that I should longer endure such misery as this. So I say again,
that although I am quite willing to serve King George in any regiment
he may be pleased to put me into that wears the kilt, yet I will take
the first moment I can catch, to run away from such disgraceful and
heartbreaking bondage as this to which I am now subjected."

"No, no, my good fellow," said Captain Ketley, who had all this time
had his own share of trouble in keeping himself from laughing, and
who now gave way and laughed outright; "you must not run away from
us, Archy. We cannot afford to lose so good a man. We must do all we
can to put you at your ease with us. Your complaints are certainly
not altogether unreasonable. But you should not have cut holes in
your breeches--you should have come and stated your grievances to
me. Remember in future, that you will always find me ready to listen
to any well-founded complaint you may have to make. Meanwhile,--see
here," said he, taking a pair of old loose trowsers out of his chest,
and tossing them to me,--"wear these for a few days, till your limbs
get somewhat accustomed to the thraldom of small clothes, and until
we can get you fitted with a better and easier pair of your own. I
shall see about your immediate release from confinement, and that
you and your Highland comrades be excused from duty until you are
more at home in your new clothing. If you behave yourself well,
you shall always find a friend in me."

"God bless your honour!" cried I, with a joyful and grateful heart,
and, if you will believe me, gentlemen, almost with the tears in my
eyes; "your honour has spoken to me just like one of our own kind
Hillant officers of the Ninety-seventh. I'll go all the world over
with you, though my breeks were of iron!"

Well, gentlemen, Captain Ketley was as good as his word--he was a
kind and steady friend to me as long as he lived. He inquired of me
whether I could read and write; and, finding that I could do both--aye,
and spell too--and that somewhat better, as I reckon, than Serjeant
Nevett,--and, moreover, that I was not a bad hand at counting,--he got
me made a corporal in less than a fortnight, and, very soon after that,
a serjeant. But, woe's me! a few months had hardly passed away when
Captain Ketley died. Many were the salt tears I shed over his grave,
after we had given him our parting vollies, and no wonder, for he was
one of the best friends I ever had in my life. I cannot think of him,
even yet, without regret. Willingly would I have given my life for
his at any time. But what is this miserable world, gentlemen, but a
valley of sorrow?

Well, I got fond enough, after all, of the Holy Boys, as the old
Ninth lads were called.

Clifford (interrupting.)--How did they get that name, Archy?

Serjeant.--Oh, I'll tell you that, sir.--You see, when they came from
the West Indies, as a skeleton regiment, they were made up again with
growing boys. Colonel Campbell of Blythswood tried to do them some
good by getting them schoolmasters and Bibles. But the young rogues
had been ill nurtured in the parent nest, and they used to barter their
Bibles for gin and gingerbread. The Duke of York used to say of them,
that they were every thing that was bad but bad sodgers--ha! ha! ha!

And now, gentlemen, I believe I have little more to tell you about
myself, except that I got my jaw broken in two places by a musket
ball in Holland, on the 19th of September 1799. See what a queer kind
of a mouth it has made me in the inside here. You see I had been out
superintending the working party in the redoubts, and I had returned,
tired as a dog, to the barn where the light company were quartered,
and had just laid my head on my wife's knee to take a nap--for I
was married by this time--when a terrible thumping came to the door,
and Corporal Parrot ran to see who was there. Now, it happened that
one of our serjeants was sick, and the other had been killed.--It
was Adjutant Orchard who knocked so loud.

"Where is Serjeant Stewart?" demanded he, in a terrible hurry, the
moment he entered the place.

"Can't I do instead of him?" replied Corporal Parrot; "for he is just
new out of the trenches."

"No!" replied the Adjutant; "if he was new out of hell, I must have
him directly."

"What's ado, sir?" demanded I, jumping up.

"You know as much as I do," replied the Adjutant; "but, depend upon
it, we are not wanted to build churches. Get you out the light bobs
as fast as you can."

Well, I hurried about and got out the light company with as little
delay as possible; and no very easy matter it was to get hold of the
poor fellows, knocked up as they were. Some of them I actually pulled
out of hay stacks by the legs, as you would pull out periwinkles from
their shells. The troops marched fifteen miles without a halt. We found
the French and Russians hard at it, blazing away so that we could see
the very straws at our feet as we marched over the sand. The balls
came whistling about us like hail as we advanced. First came one,
and knocked away the hilt of my sword; then came another, and cracked
off the iron head of my halberd.

"If you go on at this rate, you villains," said I, "you'll disarm
us altogether."

Then smack came another, whack through my canteen, and spilt all
my brandy.

"Ye rascals!" said I, trying at the same time to save as much of it
as I could in my mouth, "that is most uncivil. Ye are no gentlemen,
ye scoundrels, to spill a poor fellow's drop of comfort in this way."

By and bye, half-a-dozen of balls or so went through the blanket I
carried on my shoulders.

"By my faith," said I, "it's time now that I should return you my
compliments for all your civilities, you vagabonds."

I stooped to take a musket from a dead Russian for my own defence. The
piece was a rifle, and it was yet warm in his hand from the last
discharge.

"By your leave, my poor fellow," said I, "I'll borrow your firelock
for a shot or two, seeing that you have no farther use for it at this
present time."

But dead as he was, the last gripe of departing life had made him hold
it so fast, that I was obliged to twist it round ere I could make him
part with it. I took off his cartridge-box by pulling the belt over his
head. He had fired but two cartridges, and eighteen still remained. I
loaded and fired twice; and I was just in the act of biting off the
end of my third cartridge to fire again, when a musket ball took me
in the left cheek, and knocked me over as flat as a sixpence on the
ground. The captain of the company looked behind him, and seeing that
I was still able to move my hands, he very humanely ordered a file
of men to carry me to the rear. They lifted me up from the ground,
and the whole world seemed to be going round with me. They supported
me under the arms, and I staggered along like a drunk man. They took
me to a barn, where I lay insensible for some time, until coming to
myself somewhat, as I lay there, I saw two surgeons employed with the
wounded. "You will have little trouble with me, gentlemen," thought
I within myself; "I shall be dead before you can get at me." Just at
this moment I heard one of the surgeons say to the other,--

"I believe I shall die of hunger."

"I am like to faint from absolute want," said the other.

I could not speak, but I beckoned.

"By and bye," said one of the surgeons, shaking his head.

"Your turn is not come yet," said the other.

I beckoned again, and pointed to the wallet at my side.

"Oh ho!" said the first surgeon crossing the place, and rapidly
followed by the other,--"Oh ho! I comprehend you now. Let's see what
you have got in your larder."

He put his hand into the wallet, and found some balls of oatmeal,
which my wife, honest woman, had made by rolling them up with water,
and then giving them a roast among the ashes. The two gentlemen
devoured them with great glee. They then looked at my chafts, put
some lint into the wound, and bound it up.

"Well," thought I to myself, "a leaden ball made the wound, and
a ball of oatmeal has doctored it. Many thanks to my worthy wife,
God bless her!"

After the doctors left us, the place, which was pitch dark, became
hot and pestiferous, and the groans that came from some of the poor
wretches put me in mind of pandemonium. I was for some time feverish
and restless. I tried to stretch myself out at length, but I felt some
one at my feet who would not stir all I could do. Though I could not
speak, I was not sparing of my kicks, but still the person regarded
me not. Next to me was Serjeant Wilson with a broken leg, and he was
pressed upon by some one at his side. But the Serjeant had the full
use of his tongue.

"Sir," said he to his neighbour, for he was noted for being a very
polite man, "will you do me the favour to lie a little farther over,
and take your elbow out of my stomach."

His civil request was disregarded, and there was no reply.

"Oh!" said the serjeant, "perhaps the gentleman is a furreiner; but
all them furreiners understands French, so I'll try my hand at that
with him:--Moushee wooly wous have the goodness to takee your elbow
out of my guts. Confound the fellow, what an edification he has had
that he does not understand French. I've heard Ensign Flitterkin
say that it is the language of Europe. Pray, sir, may I ax if you
be a European? No answer,--by my soul then I may make bold to say
that you are any thing but a civilian. Sir," continued the serjeant,
beginning now to lose patience altogether, and to wax very wroth,
"I insist on your removing your elbow. I say, rascal! take your elbow
out of my stomach this moment!"

And so the serjeant went on from bad to worse, till he swore, and
went on to swear, at the poor man more and more bloodily the whole
night. But neither his swearing, nor my kicking, could rid either
of us of our troublesome companions. And it was no great wonder
indeed--for when the day-light came, we discovered that they were
two dead Russians!

"This is a horrible place!" exclaimed the principal surgeon when he
came back in the morning. "As near as I can guess, one hundred and
fifty-two men have died in this wretched barn since last night!--we
must have the wounded out of this."

Thanks to my wife's oatmeal balls, which the grateful surgeons had
not forgotten, my wounds were dressed the very first man. We were
soon afterwards carried on hand-barrows by a Russian party down to
the flat-bottomed boats, and so we were conveyed to the Texel. I bore
the bullet home in my chafts, and it was cut out by an English doctor
in Deal hospital. I was discharged on the 23d of June 1800. But my
pension was granted before pensions were so big as they are now-a-days,
so that I am but ill off compared to some who have come home from
the late wars. But, thank God, I am contented, since I cannot make
a better of it.



GALLANTRY OF THE SEVENTY-FIRST HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY.


Clifford.--How little known are the miseries to which the brave
defenders of Britain's glory are subjected!--and how meagre is
their reward, and how poor is their harvest of individual fame!--Our
Nelsons and our Wellingtons, to be sure, are as certainly, as they are
deservedly, destined to immortality of name. But is it not most painful
to think that so many of our bravest hearts have gallantly fallen,
to sleep in undistinguished oblivion? Your scene in the old barn,
Serjeant, reminds me of an anecdote which I had from an officer of the
Ninety-first Regiment.--It has never yet appeared in print, though it
well deserves to be so recorded, as being worthy of that distinguished
corps, the Seventy-first Highland Light Infantry, to which it belongs.

The circumstances took place in 1813, during the Peninsular War. The
Seventy-first were at that time stationed with the Fiftieth and the
Ninety-second, at St. Pierre, on the main road between Bayonne and
St. Jean-pied-de-Port.--This was the key of Lord Hill's position
on the river Adour, and the fire of musquetry brought against its
defenders on the 13th December, was such as the oldest veterans had
never before witnessed. The corps under Lord Hill, indeed, were on
that day attacked by Soult's whole force. But so nobly did those
fine regiments perform their duty, that the late Lieutenant-General
the Honourable William Stewart, next day gave out an order, which I
remember treasuring up in my memory as a masterpiece of soldier-like
diction. I think the very words were these:--"The second Division has
greatly distinguished itself, and its gallantry in yesterday's action
is fully felt by the Commander of the Forces, and the Allied Army."

And well indeed had they merited this highly creditable testimonial of
their good behaviour. But the carnage was great, and there were many
who, alas! did not survive to participate in the honour conferred
by it. Several of the wounded, belonging to the respective corps,
were huddled together in the lower storey of an old house, that stood
upon the very ground on which the thickest part of the contest had
taken place. Now it happened, that certain officers from different
regiments had taken shelter in a room in the floor above, where they
were refreshing themselves, after their fatigue, with such food and
other restoratives as they could command, and among them was that
officer of the Ninety-first who told me the facts to which he was
an ear-witness.

The conversation of these gentlemen, though mingled now and then with
many regrets for lost companions, had a certain temperate joy in it--a
joy arising from a conviction that they had behaved like men--and which
was tempered by strong feelings of gratitude to a kind Providence,
who had preserved them amidst all the perils of the fight. Suddenly
their talk was put an end to by the most heart-rending groans and
shrieks of agony, that came up from the room below, through the old
decayed floor. What mirth or joy there was among them, was altogether
banished by the frequency and intensity of the screams, that betokened
the mortal sufferings of a dying man. They sat for a time mutely,
though deeply sympathizing, with the poor unfortunate from whom they
came. At length they distinctly heard another faint, and apparently
expiring voice, say, in a tone of rebuke,--"Haud your tongue, James,
and bear your fate like a man. We'll soon be baith at ease.--But, in
the mean time, haud your tongue, for there are folk aboon us that may
be hearin' you; and if you have no respect for yoursell, recollect
what you owe to the gallant Seventy-first Hillant Light Infantry,
to which we baith belong."

This appeal had the desired effect. All that could now be heard, in
the stillness of the night, was a low murmur. A surgeon, who was of
the party, immediately went to administer what relief he might to the
wretched sufferers. But in one short hour these heroic men had ceased
to exist, and no one can now tell even the name of either of them.

Author.--A most touching anecdote!--What magnanimous fellows!

Grant.--Their names should have been written by the hand of Fame
herself, in letters of the purest and most imperishable gold!--Yet
they have been allowed to sink into the sea of forgetfulness, and,


   "Like the snow-falls in the river,
    A moment white, then gone for ever."


they have melted into oblivion--so far, at least, as this world
is concerned.

Clifford.--Yes; they sleep unremembered, whilst every lily-livered
cobler, or tailor, who has handled his awl, or his bodkin, with no
more peril to his person than may have lain on the point of one or
other of these formidable weapons, has his tombstone--his death's
head and cross-bones--and his attendant cherubims--as well as his
text and his epitaph.

Serjeant.--Very true, sir--very true. What have such chields as these
to do with fame? But for all that, we see fame arise to the silliest
men, and from the most trifling causes.

Grant.--Right, Archy. For instance, I remember a certain Highlander,
who gained his fame in a way that may perhaps make you envious--for
it is the tale of your unwhisperables that has brought him to my mind.

Serjeant.--Aye, sir!--What was his story?

Grant.--Why, the hero was a certain Rory Maccraw, who, despising
the kilt which he had worn all his life, resolved, at all risks,
to figure in a pair of those elegant emblems of civilization called
breeches. At the present day, one may travel from the Tweed to the
Pentland Firth without seeing such a thing as a kilt; but at the time
of which I am now speaking, anything in the shape of breeches was
just as rarely to be seen as the kilt is now. Rory had a pair made
for him in some distant town, where, as they would say in Ireland,
he had not been by when his measure was taken, and having put them on,
he left his glen to go to a market. It was observed by his neighbours,
that he never before took so long a time to walk the same distance,
and, from his strange and stately manner of strutting, they attributed
this circumstance to the pride he felt in his new garments. Arrived at
the market, the expectation he had indulged in, that he was to excite
the wonder and envy of all the people there, did not deceive him. He
was followed, and stared at, and admired, and questioned wherever he
went. If a dancing bear had waddled through the fair, he could not
have had half the number of people after him. But like most of those
who envy the lot of their neighbours, these good folks only saw the
outside of things, and knew not the misery which was covered by this
fair external show. In the midst of their admiration, poor Rory was in
torture. He would have given all he was worth, unmentionables and all,
to have got rid of the admiring crowds that followed him; and at last,
long before he had done half his business in the market--for as to
pleasure, he could taste none of it--he, the envied, the observed of
all observers, watched his opportunity to steal hobbling away down a
back lane, whence he went limping in agony into the country. There,
seating himself by the public way-side, regardless of what eyes
might behold him, he pulled off the instruments of his suffering, and
hanging them on the end of his staff, he placed it over his shoulder,
and so trudged his way homeward, in defiance of the taunts, gibes,
and laughter of the crowds which he fell in with by the way. But
his fame was established; and ever afterwards he went by the name of
Peter Breeks.

Clifford.--Capital!

Author.--Well, Archy, to return to your own story, and the
disappointment you have met with in the arrestment of your career of
glory, I would fain comfort you with the old proverb, that a contented
mind is better than riches.

Serjeant.--That is very true, sir; and I am very thankful that I am
blessed with that same. And although I got but little in the army but
hard knocks, yet I would take them all over again, rather than that I
should not have seen the many things I did see, as well as the heaps of
queer human beings I met with during the few years I served. What is
man, gentlemen, unless he gets the rust of home, and the reek of his
own fire-side rubbed off him by travel? He can never be expected to
speculate on any thing but the ducks in the dubbs, or the hens on the
midden-head. Though I had a tolerable education for the like of me,
what would I have been had I never been out of this valley? Not much
better, I trow, than one of the stirks that are bred in it. Bless you,
sirs, I saw a vast of human nature in my travels.

Grant.--And thought much and well on it too, Archy, if I mistake not.

Serjeant.--May be I did, sir,--and a very curious nature it is, I'll
assure you. But, gentlemen, we must cross the water at this wooden
bridge here.

Author.--If you had not seen so much by going into the world as you
have done, Archy, I have great doubts whether that curiosity, which
has since made you pick up that great store of your native legends
which you are said to possess, might not have lain entirely dormant.

Serjeant.--Oh, bless your honour, I should never have thought of
such things. It was the seeing so much that roused up the spirit of
enquiry within me. And so it happened, that after I came back from the
sodgering trade, this spirit could not rest till I had gathered up all
the curious stories I could get. And then I fell tooth and nail upon
books, so that, when I was not working, I was always reading histories,
novelles, magazines, newspapers, and such like, so that I am not just
altogether that ill informed. But stop a moment, gentlemen; do you see
yon bright green spot in the hollow of the hill-side yonder above us?

Grant.--Yes; but what is there wonderful about that, Archy?

Serjeant.--There is nothing very wonderful about itself, indeed,
but it is worth your remarking for all that. It is what we call in
this country a wallee, that is, the quaking bog out of which a spring
wells forth.

Clifford.--Tut, Archy! There are few grouse shooters who have not
experienced the treachery of these smooth-faced, flattering, but most
deceitful water-traps.

Serjeant.--Smooth-faced, flattering, and deceitful, indeed, sir. I've
heard them compared by some to the fair sex, beauteous and smiling
outside, and cruelly cold-hearted within. But I think any such
comparison is most unjust, for my old woman never deceived me; and,
as I have told you, if it had not been for her oatmeal balls I verily
believe I should not have been here at this moment.

Clifford.--It would ill become you, indeed, to slander the fair sex,
Mister Serjeant, and depend upon it, you will not catch me doing so.

Serjeant.--But about the wallee yonder; I was saying----

Clifford.--Aye, the wallee; I shall never forget the first cold-bath I
had up to the neck in one of them. It was all owing to the spite of a
cunning old moorcock, which I had severely wounded. Out of revenge,
I suppose, for the mortal injury I had done him, he chose to come
fluttering down into the very middle of what I conceived to be a
beautiful surface of hard green-sward. Being but a young sportsman at
the time, and very eager to secure my bird, who sat most provokingly
tock-tock-tocking at me, as if he had bid me defiance, I ran down
the bank, and made a bound towards him. In I went souse. I shiver
yet to think of it--my very senses were congealed--and for a moment I
verily believed that I had been suddenly transformed into the North
Pole, and that the cock-grouse that fluttered around me was Captain
Parry come to explore me. And, i' faith, if it had not been for the
light foot and strong arm of the gilly who was with me, I believe I
might have been sticking upright there, preserved in ice till this
moment. There was a moorish bath for you!

Serjeant.--They are most unchancy bits for strangers; that is certain,
sir.

Clifford.--Unchancy indeed! But if that is all you have to tell us
about yonder place in the hill-side, Mr. Archy, you may save yourself
the trouble of attempting to astonish me with your information;
for, Sassenach though I be, I promise you that I have been long ago
initiated into the full depth of the mystery.--Nymphs and Naiads of
the crystal Aven, what a beautiful stream there is for fishing!

Serjeant.--'Tis very good, indeed, sir. But yon wallee that I was
speaking about would swallow a horse, with you on the top of it. Many
a time have I thrust a long pole down into it without reaching any
thing the least like firm ground. It would swallow that fishing-wand
of yours, sir.

Clifford.--(Already employed in putting his rod together.)--Plague
choke it, I should be sorry indeed to see my rod go in any such way. It
is one of the best Bond ever made; and though adapted, by means of
these different pieces, to any size of stream, it was never intended
for such deep sea fishing as you would put it to. I shall apply it to
another purpose, my good serjeant. With this sky, the trouts there will
take a grey mallard's wing with a yellow silk body, in great style.

Serjeant.--But the wallee up yonder is worth your notice, because of
an ould auncient monumental stone, that once stood on the dry bank
beside it.

Grant.--Ha! a monumental stone!--let us hear about that.

Serjeant.--It was about seven feet high, sir, and the tradition
regarding it is, that it was set up there in memory of a sad story
that is connected with it.

Author.--A story, said you?

Clifford.--Then, my good fellow, Serjeant Stewart, just have the
kindness to sit down there, and tell us the particulars of your sad
story, while I give a few casts here over this most tempting stream.

Serjeant.--With all manner of pleasure, sir; I shall be happy to tell
your honours all I have gathered about it. It is the very legend for
which Mr. Clifford marked me down in his book.

Clifford immediately began to fish. Grant and I seated ourselves on the
daisied bank of the river, one on each side of the serjeant. The gilly
stretched himself at length on the grass, and was soon asleep--the
pony with the panniers grazed as far around him as the length of his
halter would let him, and my Newfoundland dog Bronte sat watching
the trouts leaping, whilst Archy proceeded with his narrative, as
nearly as I can recollect, in the following words; but if not always
precisely in the serjeant's own language, at least I shall give it
with a strict adherence to his facts.



LEGEND OF THE CLAN-ALLAN STEWARTS.


From the important correction which your honour has made upon my
genealogy, I think I may now venture to say, with some confidence,
that the time of my legend must be somewhere about the fifteenth
century--how early in it I cannot say; but it is pretty clear that my
ancestor, Sir Allan Stewart, must have lived about that period. As
I have already told you, the whole of this country, hill and glen,
was then covered with forests, except in such spots as were kept
open by the art of man for pasture or for tillage, but of the latter,
even of the rudest kind, I suspect there was but little hereaway in
those days. I take it for granted that the chief of the Clan-Allan
must have had his stronghold at the old tower of Drummin, though I
do not mean to say that it was identically the same building that
now exists there. It stands, as some of you perhaps know, gentlemen,
a good way down the country from where we now are, on a point of table
land considerably elevated above the valley, which is there rendered
wider by the junction of the river Livat with the river Aven, and just
in the angle between these two streams. When the noble old forests
waved over the surrounding hills, leaving the quiet meadows below
open in rich pasture, it must have been even yet a more beautiful
place for man to dwell in than it is now,--and, let me tell you,
that is saying a great deal.

My history begins towards the end of the life of Sir Allan Stewart,
whose term of existence had been long, and no doubt boisterous enough,
as you may very well guess. He was by this time so old as to be
confined to his big oak chair, which was generally placed for him
under the projection of the huge chimney of the ancient fire-place,
or lumm, as we call it in Scotland; and there he sat, propped up with
pillows, crooning over old ballads, and muttering old saws from morn
till night, as if he now cared for nothing in this life, but to drone
away the last dull measure of his time, like the end of some drowsy
ill-composed pibroch, if such a thing there can be. But the lively
interest which he took when any stirring event occurred, which in any
degree affected the honour or welfare of himself, his family or clan,
sufficiently showed that all his martial fire was not extinguished;
for then would it flash out from beneath his heavy eyelids--his bulky
form would move impatiently on his seat, and he would turn his eyes
restlessly towards his broadsword and targe, that hung conspicuously
among the deers' heads, wolfs' skins, and the numerous warlike weapons
that covered the walls, with an expression so animated, as very plainly
to speak the ardour of his decaying spirit, which still, like that
of the old war-horse, seemed thus to snuff up the battle from afar.

Sir Allan had two tall strapping sons by his first marriage--Walter and
Patrick, both of them pretty men. To Walter, as the elder of the two,
he looked as his successor, and, accordingly, he already acted in all
things, and on all occasions, as his father's representative. After
the death of their mother, Sir Allan had married a woman of lower
degree, by whom he had a third son, called Murdoch, whose naturally
bad dispositions had been fostered by the doting fondness of his old
father. Murdoch's mother, at the time we are speaking of, was what
we would call in our country phrase a handsome boardly-looking dame,
of some forty years of age or so, whose smooth tongue and deceitful
smile covered the blackest and most depraved heart.

"See, father!" said Walter Stewart to old Sir Allan, as he and his
brother Patrick entered the hall one evening, followed by some of
their people, with whom they had been all day engaged in the pursuit
of a wolf, whose grinning countenance, attached to his shaggy skin,
was borne triumphantly on the point of a hunting spear. "See here,
father! we have got him at last. We have at last taken vengeance on
the villain for his cruel slaughter of poor Isabel's child. Look at
the spoils of the murdering caitiff who devoured the little innocent."

"Hath he not been a fell beast, father?" said Patrick, holding up
the hunting spear before Sir Allan, and shaking the trophy.

"Ah!" said Sir Allan, rousing himself up, "a fell beast indeed!--aye,
aye--poor child, poor child!--bring his head nearer to me, boy! Would
I could have been with you! Aye, aye--dear me--age will come upon
us. But I have seen the day, boys--aye, aye--och, hey!"

"Ho, there!" cried Walter Stewart, "what means it that there are no
signs of supper? By St. Hubert, but we have toiled long enough and
hard enough to-day with legs, arms, spears, spades, and mattocks,
to have well earned our meal! Where is brother Murdoch?--where is
the Lady Stradawn?"

"Aye, aye," said the querulous old Sir Allan, "it is ever thus
now-a-days. I am always left to myself--weary, weary is my life I am
sure--and I am hungry--very hungry. Aye, aye."

"Thou shalt have thy supper very soon, father," said Patrick, kindly
taking his hand; "and Walter and I will leave you but for a brief
space, to rid us of these wet and soiled garments."

The two brothers then hastened from the hall to go to their respective
chambers.

"Whose draggle-tailed beast was that I saw tied up under the tree
beyond the outer gateway as we came in?" demanded Walter of his
attendant, Dugald Roy.

"I have seen the beast before," replied Dugald. "If I am not far
mista'en, it is the garron the proud Priest of Dalestie rides,--and a
clever beast it would need to be, I am sure, for many a long, and late,
and queer gate does it carry him, I trow."

"How came the animal there, Dugald?" demanded Walter quickly.

"If by your question, how the animal came there, you would ask what
road he took, Sir Knight," replied Dugald, "I must tell you that the
man that could answer you would need to deal with the devil, for no
one but the foul fiend himself could follow the Priest of Dalestie;
for, unless he be most wickedly belied, his ways follow those of the
Evil One, as much as our good father, Peter of Dounan, is known to
travel in the path of his blessed Master."

"Nay, but I would know from thee, in plain terms, where thou judgest
that the rider of the horse may be?" said Sir Walter, impatiently.

"With your lady mother, the Lady Stradawn, I reckon," said Dugald,
sinking his voice to a half whisper.

"Call her not my lady mother!" said Sir Walter, angrily, "my lady
step-mother, if thou wilt, or my step-mother without the lady, for
that, in truth, would better befit her, disgrace as she hath been and
still is to us all.--Here, undo this buckle!--But what, I pr'ythee,
hath she to do with the proud Priest of Dalestie, as thou hast so
well named him?"

"Nay, nothing that I know of, Sir Walter, unless it be to confess her,"
replied Dugald.

"Why, the good old father, Peter of Dounan, was here but yesterday,
was he not?" exclaimed Sir Walter, "might he not have shriven her?"

"Father Peter was here sure enough," replied Dugald, "but it would
seem that he is not to the lady's fancy."

"Beshrew her fancy!" cried Sir Walter, bitterly,--"Where could she,
or any one, find a worthier confessor than Father Peter of Dounan? He
is, indeed, a good and godly man, and, frail as he is in body, we
know that he is always ready to run, as fast as his feeble limbs
can carry him, wherever his pious duties or his charities may call
him.--Moreover, he is at all times within reach, what need, then,
hath she to send so far a-field for one whose character is, by every
one's report, so very questionable--give me my hose and sandals,
Donald.--Now thou may'st go.--By the Rood, I like not that pestilent
and ill-famed fellow coming about our house! He hath more character
for arrogance, and self-indulgence as a glutton and a toss-pot, than
for sanctity.--It was an ill day for this country side when it was
disgraced by his coming into it."

After muttering this last sentence to himself, Walter quickly
descended the narrow stair, and approached the door of the lady's
bower in another part of the building.--It was partially open.--He
tapped gently, and, no answer being returned, he pushed it up, and
great were his surprise and disgust at the scene which he beheld. The
Lady Stradawn was sitting, or rather reclining in her arm-chair, with a
pretty large round table before her, covered with good things.--A huge
venison pasty occupied the centre of it, and around it stood several
dishes, in no very regular order, containing different dainties. Two
well-used trenchers, showed that some one else had assisted her, in
producing the havoc that appeared to have been wrought in the pie,
and among the other viands--and a black-jack half full of ale--and a
tall silver stoup, which, though now empty, still gave forth a potent
odour of the spiced wine which it had contained--together with two
mazers of the same metal, which bore the marks of having been used in
the drinking of it, proved that the guest, who had just left the lady,
must have been a noble auxiliary in this revel, which, judging from
the fact of an over-turned drinking horn that lay on the floor, and
one or two other circumstances that appeared, must have been a merry
one. The deep sleep in which the lady lay, and her flushed countenance,
left no doubt in Sir Walter's mind that she had enjoyed a full share
of this private banquet. By the time he had leisure to make himself
fully aware of all these particulars, the lady's bower-woman appeared
at the chamber door. She started, and would have retreated--but Sir
Walter seized her by the wrist, and adroitly put a question to her
before she had time to recover from her confusion.

"When did the priest of Dalestie go forth from hence, Jessy?" demanded
he.

"I have just come from seeing him to horse, Sir Knight," said the
woman, trembling.

"Well, Jessy, thou mayest go; I would speak with thy mistress in
private," said Sir Walter, seeing her out, and shutting the chamber
door; and then, turning to the Lady Stradawn, and shaking her arm till
he had awakened her. "Madam," said he, "what unseemly sight is this?"

"Sis--sis--sis--sight, Sir Priest?" replied the lady, with her eyes
goggling; "sis--sight! What mean ye, Sir Priest? he! he! he!"

"Holy Saint Andrew grant me temper!" said Sir Walter. "Madam, Sir
Allan waits for thee to give him his evening meal: he is impatient. Sir
Allan, I say!"

"Tut! hang Sir Allan," cried the lady, still unconscious as to whom
she was addressing, and taking him by the arm; "hang Sir Allan, as
thou thyself saidst but now, thou most merry conditioned mettlesome,
Sir Priest. He! he! he! Hang the old stobber-chops, and let's be
jolly while we can. Come; sit down--sit down, I say. You need not go
yet. Did I not tell thee that Jessy keeps the door?"

"I am not the priest, vile woman!" cried Sir Walter, with indignation,
whilst, at the same time, he shook her off with a force and rudeness
that seemed almost to bring her back to her senses. "Did'st thou not
now, alas! alas! to our shame, most unworthily fill that place once
occupied by my sainted mother, and that thine exposure would prove but
the greater dishonour to our house, by the holy Rood, I would call up
every thing that hath life within these walls, down to the very cat,
that all eyes might behold thy disgrace, and then should'st thou
be trundled forth, and rolled into the river, that the fishes might
gorge themselves on thine obscene carcase!"

Bursting from the apartment, Walter hastily sought the hall; and
the evening meal having been by this time spread, he called to the
retainers to be seated, and hastened to busy himself in attending
to his father, in supplying him with the food prepared for him, and
with such little matters as he knew the old man most liked--feeding
him from time to time like a child.

"Aye, aye, that's good," said old Sir Walter. "Thanks, thanks,
my boy; you are a good boy. But where is Bella? where is the Lady
Stradawn? Och hey, that's good,--but she is often away now; seldom
it is, I am sure, that I see her. Aye, aye, Walter, boy, that is
good--that is very good."

When his father was satisfied, Walter seated himself at the board, and
ate and drank largely, from very vexation and ire, and in order to keep
down the storm of rage which was secretly working within him. This, as
well as the cause of it, he privately determined to conceal, even from
his brother Patrick, with whom he had been, upon all other occasions,
accustomed to share his inmost thoughts. For the rest of the night he
sat gloomy and abstracted, and at an earlier hour than usual he hurried
off to his chamber. There, having summoned his attendant, Dugald Roy,
he questioned him more particularly as to all he knew regarding the
visits of the Priest of Dalestie to Drummin, and having then dismissed
him, with strict injunctions to maintain a prudent silence, he threw
himself into bed, to pass a restless and perturbed night.

The next morning saw the Lady Stradawn glide into the hall, to preside
over the morning meal, gaily dressed, and covered as usual with chains,
brooches, and rings of massive worth, which she procured no one knew
how. Her countenance beamed with her wonted smiles, as if nothing
wrong had happened, or could have happened on her part. Walter and
Patrick saluted her with that cold yet civil deference, which they had
always been in the habit of using towards her, as the wife of their
father, and in which Walter took care that neither his brother, nor
any one else, should perceive any shadow of change upon the present
occasion. The manner of her salutation was as blythe, kind, free,
and unconcerned as it ever was before.

"Wicked rogue, Walter, that thou art!" said she in a tone of merry
railery, "fie for shame on thee! to steal into thy lady mother's
bower to catch her asleep in her arm-chair! In sooth I was not
altogether well last night, else had I joined thee at the festive
board, to rejoice with thee over the spoils of that grim gaffer wolf,
whom they tell me thou hast so nobly slain."

"Thou did'st indeed seem somewhat indisposed, madam," said Sir Walter
with a peculiarly significant emphasis, and with a penetrating look
which she alone could understand.

"I was very much indisposed as you say, Walter," replied she, as if
quite unconscious that he had intended to convey to her any covered
meaning; "that foolish old woman, Nancy, the miller's wife, took it
into her wise head to come a plaguing me, to reckon with her about
the kain fowls she had paid into the castle since last quarter-day;
and she talks--Holy Virgin, how the woman does talk!"

"Truly the woman does talk marvellously," replied Walter, biting his
nether lip to keep down his vexation.

"As thou say'st, son Walter, she does e'en talk most marvellously. Her
tongue seems to have learned the art of wagging from the clapper of
old John's mill. I protest I would as lieve sit listening to the one
as to the other. My head aches still with the noise of her clatter."

"I wonder not indeed that thy head should ache," replied Sir Walter.

"And then, forsooth, I behoved to call up meat for the greedy cummer,"
continued the lady,--"Holy Mother, how the woman did swallow the
eatables and drinkables!"

"She must have swallowed enough of both sorts," said Sir Walter,
with a meaning in his mode of speaking, that he began to suspect he
might have made almost too plainly marked; and, hastening to change
the subject, "Madam," continued he, "I fear you have forgotten Sir
Allan this morning."

"Holy Saints, but so I have!" cried she, starting up from her
seat,--"what have I been thinking of? My poor Sir Allan!" continued
she, as she hastened to him with a covered silver dish, that contained
the minced food the old man was wont to take; and, after making of
him, with all the fuss and phrase she would have used to an infant,
she put a napkin around his neck, and proceeded to feed him.

"Where is Murdoch this morning?" demanded Patrick of his brother.

"I know not," replied Walter, as he sat musing with a clouded brow.

"He was not at supper last night," observed Patrick again; "nay,
I know not that I have seen him for these three days bypast."

"He was not at supper," said Sir Walter, still absorbed by his own
thoughts.

"Murdoch is an idle good-for-nothing," said the Lady Stradawn, joining
in the conversation, from the place where she stood by the side of
Sir Allan's chair. "Though he be mine own son, I will say that for
him, that it would be well for him to take a pattern by his elder
brothers, and be killing wolves, or doing some such useful work,
and not be staying out whole days and nights this way, at weddings
and merry-makings, without ever showing us his face. I wish you would
give him a good word of your brotherly advice, my dear son Walter."

"Chut!--tut!" cried old Sir Allan,--"let the boy alone!--aye,
aye--let the boy alone. The lad is young.--I was a wild slip myself
once in a day--that I was. But old age will creep on--hech sirs!--aye,
aye--what days I have seen!--Och, hey!"

"Here, take this, my dear Sir Allan," said the lady,--"take this,
dearest--'tis the last spoonful."

"Where art thou going, brother?" said Patrick, rising to follow his
brother Sir Walter, who had left the table, and was moving towards
the door.

"Up the glen to look for a deer," replied Walter.

"Then have with thee brother," said Patrick.

Sir Walter would have fain shaken himself free from his brother, for
that morning at least; but he felt that he could not do so without
a certain appearance of unkindness, which the warm affection that
subsisted between them could not allow him to use, or that otherwise,
he must have given him an explanation, which he was conscious that
he could not have given him, consistently with those designs which
he then privately cherished in his bosom. He was therefore compelled
silently to assent to his accompanying him. They both accordingly
assumed that humble garb, which they usually wore when bent upon the
pursuit of the deer,--in which, but for their carriage and bearing,
they might easily have been mistaken for the humblest of their party,
and, after such preparation, they sallied forth.

They were hardly gone, when the Lady Stradawn, leaving the old Sir
Allan to entertain himself with his own dreamy musings and vacant
thoughts, climbed to the bartizan of the tower to look out for her son,
Murdoch. It was yet early in the morning--but as her two step-sons
had a walk of a good many miles before them, ere they could reach
the place where they proposed hunting, they and their people were
seen toiling up the valley, at a pace which corresponded with the
violence of those feelings which then possessed Sir Walter, who was
stretching away at the head of the party.

"Curses on ye both!" cried the lady, with intense bitterness, after
having followed them with her malignant eyes, till they had wound out
of sight behind a projecting spur of a wooded mountain that flanked
the valley.--"Curses!--black and withering curses on ye both, vile
spawn that ye are, that stand between my boy and his prospects!--I
fear that Walter--my especial curse upon him!--for, with all his fair
words, he is stern and ferocious as a wild cat when he is roused.--But,
wild cat though he be, the wily viper may yet wind its folds silently
around him, and sting him to the death ere he may have time to unglove
his claws.--What can make my darling boy tarry so long.--He has now
been absent for more than three days.--Much as he hath enriched me
with money and jewels, I like not the risk he runs.--But he will not
be forbidden.--Nature works in him, and perhaps it is as well that he
should thus render himself hardy, seeing that he must one day--aye,
and that soon too, if I have any cunning left in me--command the proud
Clan-Allan. Stay, did I not see tartans yonder, and arms glittering in
yon farther lawnde, in the vale below, beyond those nearer woods? That
must surely be Murdoch and his men. The foolish boy will not surely
bring them within nearer ken of the Castle? Ha!--I see one figure
separate from the rest, whilst the main body seems to take to the
woods on the hill-side. In sooth, there is no prudence lacking in
the youth, nay, nor any cunning neither, as I well know, from the
trouble it hath cost me to lull his suspicions regarding the Priest of
Dalestie. But if Murdoch hath cunning, he hath it from me, his mother;
and it will be hard indeed if mine cannot match it. Ah!--there he
already bursts from the wood--I must hasten to meet him in my bower,
that I may learn what luck he hath had."

The lady hurried down to her bower--quickly found some errand on which
to despatch her woman--and then she sat waiting impatiently, turning
over the bunch of antique keys which hung at her girdle, until she
heard her son's step in the passage, and his gentle tap at her door.

"Come in!" said the Lady Stradawn in a subdued voice--"come in,
my son!"

"Ha!--I am glad that thou art here and alone, mother," said Murdoch,
a slim, handsome, dark-eyed youth, who, after cautiously entering,
shut the door behind him, and carefully turned the huge key that
locked it. "I am glad that you are here alone, for I have such treasure
for you."

"Hush, hush, my darling," said the lady, almost in a whisper--"speak
lower, I entreat you, lest any eaves-dropper should hear
you.--Quick!--how sped ye?--and what have you got?"

"We have been all the way to Banff again this time," replied
Murdoch. "Seeing that we sped so well the last time we made thither,
as thou well knowest we did, we thought we should try our luck there
once more. We heard that there was a market in the Brugh, and we
sent a clever-witted spy among the packmen, to gather who among them
might be best worth holding talk with. Two of them we learned were to
travel together for company's sake,--fellows who dealt in goldsmiths'
work. But, marry! they travelled not far from the town-end till we
met them, when, like good-natured civil fellows, we eased them of
their heavy loads, under which they seemed to sweat so grievously;
and that they might not trouble us here, and at the same time being
loth to part two such friends, we set them both a travelling together
on a journey to the next world."

"Speak not of the next world, Murdoch!" said the lady, shuddering. "But
they were sickerly sent thither, said'st thou?"

"As surely as we shall one day go there ourselves, good mother,"
replied Murdoch.

"Speak not of our going there, boy," said the lady. "'Tis time enough
yet. But there is little crime I wot, after all, in ridding this
world of such cheating gangerels as those you tell me of."

"Crime!" replied Murdoch, "Why, mother, there is an absolute virtue in
such a deed. Have we not put an end to their rapacity and knavery? And
have we not thereby saved many a foolish maiden from being cheated
by them? By Saint Nicholas, but the doer of so good a deed deserves
to be canonized!"

"But come, boy, thy treasure," said the greedy and impatient
dame. "Quick,--what hast thou got to show me? Haste thee to feast
mine eyes with the spoil of these miscreants."

"In the first place, then," said Murdoch, "as at a feast we should
always begin with the solids,--here is a small bag of broad pieces,
which might well satisfy many a hungry man. Secondly, here are
your curious cates and delicacies, enow to bedizen out a dozen
of lordlings' daughters!--See what a chain!--how exquisite the
workmanship!--Behold these rings,--see what sparkling gems! Every one
of them set, too, most rarely in a different fashion! Here is one,
for example, which would seem to have a curious posey in it; some
ready-made love verse, I suppose. Let me see,--'Feare God and doe no
evyle,'--eh! ha!--that--that is a good advice, which the last owner,
as I take it, was too great a knave to profit by; but you and I,
mother dear----"

"Have done with thy foolery, Murdoch," said the lady, impatiently;
"have done with thy foolery, and give me thy booty, without farther
nonsense. Now, leave me for a while, and go talk with the old man,
whilst I bestow the treasure in a place of safety. Thou knowest it
will all go to deck thy bride, when thou canst find one."

"Leave me alone for that, mother," said Murdoch, significantly. "I
promise thee, I have mine eye on a good man's daughter, whom I shall
have by foul or by fair means ere I die. But that is a secret I shall
keep to myself till the time comes; so good day, good mother."

"What can he mean?" said the Lady Stradawn, after he was gone. "But
'tis nothing, after all, but his wild talk. No, no; I must have my
say with him when it comes to that!"

Now that the lady found herself alone, she doubly locked and bolted the
door. She then spread the gold and the jewels on the table before her,
and glutted her eyes for a time with the glittering sight. Applying
her keys to a cabinet which stood against the wall, she opened the
leaves of it, and so exposed the front of a set of secret drawers,
shallower above and deeper below. Selecting other keys from the bunch,
she began to open and to examine the drawers, one by one, from above
downwards--her eyes successively surveying the riches they contained,
whilst, with scrupulous attention, she from time to time selected
articles from among the spoils on the table, and deposited them among
the rest, as fancy led her to sort and arrange them, carefully locking
each drawer ere she proceeded to open the next; and thus she went on
until she found that she had disposed of the whole of the trinkets.

"'Twas no great things, after all," said she, musing; "I wonder when
they will go forth again? But let me count the money.--Aye, that is
pretty well; and yet it might have been more for the death of two
men. But there are other two men I know of, whose lives would be
worth more!--Hush!--did I not hear a noise?--Quick--let me huddle
the gold into this drawer in the cabinet, where I bestowed the
broad pieces in the hurry I was taken with when the Priest came in
last night.--What!--nothing there!--Ha!--can the man who--can the
villain have robbed me?--Yes; it could have been no one else.--I
see clearly how it was. He asked me for money--I gave him two pieces
from that very drawer. His greedy eyes saw what it contained, and,
whilst my back was turned, he must have cleverly helped himself to
the whole. It could have been nobody else, because I well remember
that I carefully closed the leaves of the cabinet, locked them, and
put the keys into my iron strong-box, before I called Jessy to bring
the refreshments.--What a consummate knave!--But what could I expect
better of such a reprobate--a priest who glories as he does in his
wickedness? It would have been well perhaps for me that I had never
seen him.--And yet--But his share of his crime is his own.--Wretch that
he is, he might have had it all for the asking.--Weak woman that I am,
I could have refused him nothing.--Well, I must e'en let it pass, and
be more careful again.--But I shall look better after this bag of broad
pieces. It shall be added to the heap I have here," continued she,
unlocking a drawer of deeper and larger dimensions. "Aye!" said she,
eyeing the treasure it contained with avaricious delight,--"that is all
safe; go thou, then, to increase the store, and may my darling boy soon
fetch me other bags to bear these company in this their prison-house!"

I must now return to the two brothers. Walter, who usually directed
every thing in all their expeditions, never halted until he found
himself far up on these very mountains now before us. He sought for
deer, it is true; but, whilst he did so, or rather, whilst he allowed
his brother and his people to do so, his mind seemed to be occupied
with something else than hunting. It was towards evening, when he
and the rest of the party were still tracking their way through
the forest without success, when, they at last found themselves in
that part of it, which then covered the hill that hangs over the
haugh of Dalestie, some miles above this. Partial breaks among the
trees there gave Sir Walter, now and then, a view downwards into
the valley below; and, as he walked and ruminated within himself,
as if oppressed with some weighty matter, his secret musings were
suddenly broken by the distant toll of the bell of a small chapel,
which, if I am rightly informed, then stood near the bottom of the
hill. The sound came mellowed over the intervening woods, and Sir
Walter started as it reached his ear. He became deeply moved; but
his emotion was not like that movement of piety which the note of the
church-going bell should awaken. It more resembled that, which, when
the hoarse trumpet has sounded, or the shrill pipes have struck up,
I have myself seen convert the godlike countenance of man into that
of a demon. Sir Walter Stewart stamped upon the ground.

"Dugald!" cried he aloud; "What ho, Dugald Roy, I say. Does that bell
call to evening mass?"

"It does, Sir Knight," replied Dugald.

"Then get thee down through the wood," said Sir Walter; "get thee
down through the wood ere it hath ceased to sound, and tell the proud
priest of Dalestie that I, Walter Stewart of Clan-Allan, am upon the
hill, and that, if he dares to mumble a word, yea, or a syllable,
before I come, his life shall pay for it."

"Stay, stay," cried Patrick Stewart, eagerly; "stay him, dear
brother! What sudden fit is this that hath seized thee? A priest!--how
canst thou think of sending such a message as this to a priest?"

"Dugald Roy, begone, and obey thy master's bidding!" cried Sir Walter,
sternly. "Brother, I forgive thee this thine interference, though
I cannot allow myself to be swayed by it. Trust me, I have mine own
good reasons for so acting, though this be no fitting time for making
thee aware of them."

Patrick, whom affection, as well as habit had long disposed to show
implicit deference and obedience to his brother Walter's will, said
no more, but followed his solemn footsteps down the mountain path
that led to the chapel. They had not gone half the way till the bell
had ceased to toll. And they had not gone two-thirds of the way till
Dugald Roy met them.

"Thou hast not sped on thine errand, then?" said Sir Walter, with
an expression in which more of satisfaction than of disappointment
might have been read. "Speak, Dugald; how did the arrogant caitiff
receive my message?"

"Since I must say it, Sir Knight," replied Dugald, with some
hesitation,--"he received it very scurvily.--'Tell the proud Stewart,'
said he, 'that though he may be lord of the land, I am the king as
well as the priest in mine own chapel.'--And so he straightway began
the holy service, but rather, methought, as if he had been dighting
himself for single combat, than for prayer, and in a manner altogether
so irreverent, that the few people who were there, with faces full
of dismay, quietly arose and left the chapel, as if some wicked thing
had ta'en up the priest's surplice in mockery."

"By the Rood, but they were right if they so thought!" cried Sir
Walter, quickening his pace--"He is a vile obscene wolf that hath
crept like a thief into the fold.--But I'll speak to him anon."

The rate at which Sir Walter now strode down the hill, kept his
astonished brother Patrick, and the whole party at their full bent. The
trees grew thinner as they came nearer the level valley, and by and
bye they ceased altogether, so that a full view was obtained of the
haugh at the bottom. There the Priest of Dalestie was seen leaving
the chapel to go homewards.

"There he goes!" cried Sir Walter--"there he goes stalking along with
an air and a gait, that might better befit a proud prince of the earth,
than Heaven's humble messenger of peace, as his profession ought to
have made him.--What, ho, Sir Priest!--I would speak with thee."

The Priest started--looked suddenly back--halted, and drew himself
up--then turned again, and moved a few paces slowly onwards, as if
irresolute what he should do.--Again he halted, and again he moved on,
whilst Sir Walter's footsteps were hurrying fast up to him.--At length,
he seemed to have made up his mind to abide that parley which he now
saw he could not escape, and, turning sharp round to face the Stewart,
he planted himself firmly in the way before him.

"What would'st thou with me, Sir Knight?" demanded he, in a haughty
and determined tone.--"After the rude and unwonted message which
thou hast just dared to send to me, a holy minister of the Church,
methinks that thou canst dare to approach me now, for no other purpose,
than to sue penitently for pardon and absolution at my hands."

"A holy minister of the Church!" exclaimed Sir Walter.--"A minister
of the holy Church, if thou wilt--but thyself most unholy.--My sins,
God pardon me!--are many.--But albeit that I am at all times ready
to kneel in confession, and in humble penitence, before that true and
godly servant of Christ, the good and pious father, Peter of Dounan,
or any other such as he, I will never bend the knee before one, whose
wickedness has been the dishonour and reproach of the district, ever
since it hath been cursed with his presence, and who yet profanely
dares most impiously to approach the holy altar."

"Brother! brother Walter!" cried Patrick Stewart, endeavouring to
moderate Sir Walter's growing ire; "what madness is this! Think of
the sacred character he wears, however little common fame may give
him credit for supporting it. Think how----"

"Silence, I say, Patrick!" cried Sir Walter, in an authoritative tone,
which he had never before assumed to his brother. "Again I say, thou
knowest not the secret reasons which move me at this moment. That
foul swine, whose sensual snout hath been in every man's dish, and
who hath uprooted that very vineyard which hath been confided to his
care, must be forthwith cast out. He must be no longer permitted to
live. Seize him and bind him!"

"Lay not a hand on me, good sirs, if you would avoid the thunders and
excommunications of the Church," cried the priest, now no longer proud,
but trembling, and in an humble tone.

"Seize him and bind him, I say," cried Sir Walter. "If there be any
one man among the Clan-Allan here--if there be one Clan-Allan Stewart,
I say, who in his conscience believes that he doth not deserve to die
by fire, that man hath my leave to sit apart, and bear no faggot to
the pile that is to consume him. Who among you is there that doth not
know his misdeeds? Not a man answers. Then is he condemned by all. Let
each man, then, get him to the wood, and bring a faggot of the driest
fuel, and let him forthwith be brent, and his ashes scattered to the
winds, so that the earth may be no longer polluted with his carcase,
and that even the very memory of him may perish!"

"Brother, brother!" cried Patrick Stewart, in a tone of entreaty;
"do not bring upon yourself the terrors of the Church. His fame,
indeed, is none of the best; but, whatever be his sins, bethink thee
that 'twere better to let him be tried by that sacred tribunal to
which he is naturally amenable."

"By the holy Rood, which this traitor to his crucified Master has
so wickedly profaned, he shall not live an hour," cried Sir Walter,
rising in his rage. "I am but the executioner of God's justice on him;
and he shall die, be the consequences what they may. See!--see how
busily the fellows toil! Their hearts are in the work. The labour is
a pleasure to them. Not a man hath stood aloof from it, far less hath
any one dared to speak in his cause. Why, then shouldst thou speak
brother Patrick? Though thou knowest not all, thou knowest quite
enough to know that he hath well earned the fate I have awarded
him. But though thou art ignorant of all that now impelleth me, I
tell thee that I have enough to satisfy bishop or pope, if need were,
that I am now doing the Church good service. But, be that as it may,
I trust the time will never come when the chieftain of Clan-Allan
shall not dare to deal with all within the bounds of Stradawn,
whether churchman or layman, as his pleasure may dictate. Ha! see,
the pile is already heaped high, and now they are preparing to set
fire to it; that shows no want of good will; and see, of their own
accord, they prepare to drag him to it!"

"Then, brother, though I am the younger, I must needs interfere,"
cried Patrick Stewart, rushing forward to throw himself between the
men of the clan, and their terrified victim; "such a deed as this
must never be done by thee, my brother."

"Patrick, dispute not mine authority," cried Sir Walter, his rage now
beginning to get the better of him; "my father's weakness hath made
me thy chieftain. Stand back I tell thee! Stand back! place thyself
not between me and my just vengeance, or even the name of brother
shall not hinder me from dashing thee to the ground."

"Nay, stand you back!" cried Patrick, covering the priest with
his body, whilst the clansmen retreated from the prisoner at his
word. "Walter, I would save this wretched man for another and a calmer
tribunal; and, in thus saving him, I would save thee, my brother,
from----"

"Stand from before his polluted carcase!" cried Sir Walter, collaring
Patrick, and casting him from him with a force that threw him several
yards away from the spot where they were contending, and prostrated
him headlong on the ground. "Now, Clan-Allan! now do your duty to
your chieftain! I'll see that my sentence--aye, and your sentence,
is duly carried through!"

"Mercy, most noble knight!" cried the wretched man, as they dragged
him along to the pile, deadly pale, and quailing with fear--his pride
all gone, and the terrors of a horrible death upon him. "Mercy! O
spare me! spare me, most noble Sir Walter Stewart! I confess that I
have deeply sinned against you and yours; I confess that----"

"Silence, caitiff!" cried the stern Sir Walter, loudly and
hastily interrupting him; "I am no priest--I want none of thy
confessions. Confess thyself inwardly to thine outraged Maker. Thou
shalt have time for that. Down on thy knees! confess thy sins in
secret to Him, and pray to Him for mercy in the next world, for here
all laws, human and divine, tell me that thou shouldst have none;
and thou shalt have none from me."

The miserable wretch, trembling, haggard, and conscience-stricken,
knelt down at a short distance from the great heap of dry and decayed
timber which they had prepared. By this time it was lighted, and it
soon began to blaze up so high as widely to illuminate the broad faces
of the wooded hills on both sides of the valley, arousing them from
that gloom which had been already gradually deepening over them into
shadow, since the sinking of the sun. Neither his countenance nor his
eyes were directed heavenwards; yet his lips moved, more like those
of some one uttering an incantation, than of a penitent seeking of
Heaven to be shriven of his sins. Full time was allowed him. But the
stern Sir Walter Stewart stood over him, as if jealous lest his fears
or his agony of mind, might goad him on to utter some secret aloud
before the clansmen, which he wished to see consumed, and for ever
annihilated with all that was mortal of him who held it. And when
he thought that he had given the wretched man enough of licence, he
waved his hand--turned himself aside for a moment--heard one piercing
shriek--and when he looked again the myriads of brilliant sparks that
were rising into the air from the fall of a heavy body among the fuel,
sufficiently proved to him, that the miserable object of his wrath
had been thrown into the very midst of the burning heap. Another, and
a fainter cry, made Sir Walter again turn involuntarily towards the
pile. There the head appeared, with the face contorted with torment,
and fearfully illuminated. The body reared itself up for a moment,
as if by one last struggling effort of life, and these half-stifled
words were dolefully heard,--

"Walter Stewart!--THY GRAVE IS NEAR!"

The Clan-Allan men stood appalled. Again the figure sank. More broken
and decayed wood was thrown on the pile, and they continued to heap it
up until all signs of a human form were obliterated. Then it was that
Sir Walter, calling his followers into a ring around him, swore them
solemnly, on their chieftain's sword, to eternal secrecy; and then,
sick at the thought of the work they had done, chieftain and clansmen
slowly, and silently, left the place and began to wend their way down
the glen. Sir Walter thought of his brother Patrick as he went--he
halted, and blew that bugle sound, which was well known as a private
signal between them. But there was no note of reply. Taking it for
granted, therefore, that the stern act of justice, which circumstances
had compelled him to see done on the Priest, had been too much for the
sensitive mind of Patrick even to contemplate, and that, therefore,
he had hurried away to avoid witnessing the horrible spectacle,
Sir Walter pensively and moodily moved homewards.

But the cause of the muteness of Patrick Stewart's bugle, was very
different from that which his brother believed it to be. At the
time that he had been dragged from before the Priest, and thrown so
violently to a distance, Sir Walter had been too much excited by rage
to notice how he fell, or indeed whether he fell at all. Nor in the
fearful work in which they were all so intently, and with so much
good will engaged, did any of the Stewarts of Clan-Allan once think
of him more. Had Sir Walter known that his beloved brother had been
stretched bleeding, and senseless, on the ground, by his rash hand,
and that he was now leaving him to perish without help, his mind,
during his homeward journey, would have been even less tranquil than
his reflections on the past event permitted it to be. The truth was,
that Patrick Stewart's bonnet, having been driven off by the furious
force with which Sir Walter had hurled him from him, his unprotected
head came into contact with a large stone, that projected out of the
surface of the meadow-sward, with a sharp point, from which he received
so severe a cut, and so rude a shock, that he never moved after it,
but lay there as if he had been dead, in the midst of a pool of blood
that flowed from the wound. How long he had remained in this situation,
he had no means of guessing, but when his senses returned to him,
he found himself seated, with his back leaning against the trunk of
a great tree, near a fountain that welled out from the side of the
hill. By the blaze of a bit of moss fir that a man held in his hand,
he perceived that there were several people around him, who seemed
to be busied in administering to him. One especially was anxiously
supporting his head, staunching the blood that was still discharging
itself from the cut in his temple, and holding a cup to his lips.

"How fares it with thee now?" enquired this person eagerly; "how
fares it with thee, my dear friend?"

"Arthur Forbes of Curgarf!" said Patrick faintly.

"Holy St. Macher be praised that thine eyes are opened, and that I
once more hear thy voice!" cried Arthur Forbes, "I had mine own fears
that thou wert done for. What, in the name of all that is marvellous,
hath befallen thee? Hast thou chanced to come into the hands of the
Catteranes, who are said to harbour sometimes among these mountains?"

"Where am I?" said Patrick, turning his eyes around him, his brain
still swimming in confusion. "Ah! that fire yonder!"

"Aye, that fire!" said Arthur Forbes eagerly, "what knowest thou of
that fire?"

"Nay nothing," replied Patrick shuddering.

"By the Rood, but it brent boldly when we first saw it from the far
hill-side yonder," said Arthur, "though it hath now fallen somewhat
lower. Knowest thou at all who kindled it? We heard a bugle blast
come faintly up from the bottom of the valley, as we came first within
sight of it."

"It was not burning when I fell," replied Patrick guardedly.

"How did you fall, I pray you?" demanded Arthur Forbes.

"As I was hurrying through the haugh," replied Patrick, "my foot
tripped in the twilight against something in the grass, and I was
thrown forward, with so much force, that it is no wonder I was
stunned."

"Your head must have struck upon some sharp stone," said Arthur Forbes,
"that gash in your temple is a very ugly one, and it still bleeds
considerably. Let me bathe it for you."

"The ice-cold water is most reviving to me," said Patrick, sitting up;
"I am much better now. I think I am almost strong enough to walk."

"Shall we help thee down to the Priest's house?" demanded Arthur;
"that, as thou knowest, is the nearest dwelling."

"The Priest's house!" said Patrick, with an expression of horror
which he could not restrain.

"Nay 'tis no wonder that thou should'st shudder at the very mention
of that reprobate," said Arthur Forbes; "he is a scandal to the very
name of Priest."

"I would rather go anywhere than to the Priest's house," said Patrick
Stewart.

"Nay," said Arthur Forbes, "it is a thousand to one that we should
find him abroad on some of his unseemly nocturnal pranks; but you
might at least repose thee for a time in his dwelling."

"I should find no repose under the Priest's roof," said Patrick Stewart
quickly. "I would rather try to make the best of my way to Drummin."

"Thou shalt never essay to go to Drummin to-night," said Arthur
Forbes. "And, now I think on't, why should you not go over the hill
with me to Curgarf? My sturdy fellows there shall carry you. And then,
when you are there you know," continued he, sinking his voice to a
whisper into Patrick's ear, "my sister Kate shall nurse thee."

"Your proposal is life to me," replied Patrick, in the same tone. "I
gladly accept your kind offer. But as to loading your poor men with
the weight of my carcase, there will be no occasion for that. Now
that my head is bound up, I feel quite strong, and I know I shall
get better every step of the hill I travel."

"I thought that Kate's very name would be a potent balsam for thy
wound," whispered Arthur Forbes again. "Thou wilt be better in the
hands of Kate, my friend, than in those of the Catteranes. Lucky
was it for thee, truly, that those knaves did not find thee in thy
swoon. They were the people, no doubt, who kindled yon rousing fire,
from which they were probably driven away by our first appearance on
the hill. Thou wert lying scarcely half a cross-bow shot from the
very spot where they must have been making merry, and if they had
but stumbled on thee by accident, their cure for thy wound would have
been a dirk-point. Holy Saint Michael, what an escape thou hast made!"

The way to Curgarf was long and tiresome enough, for they had to cross
over the very summit of the mountain-ridge--that, I mean, which now
divides us from the water of Don. But Patrick Stewart bore the fatigue
of the walk better than any one could have expected, and there was no
doubt that the prospect of seeing Catherine Forbes very much improved
his animal powers. He was already known to his friend's father,
who received him hospitably, though rather haughtily. The old Lord
of Curgarf's coldness of carriage towards him was to be attributed
to the suspicion he entertained of that which was in reality true,
that a secret attachment existed between Patrick Stewart and his
only daughter Catherine. This he did not wish to encourage for many
reasons. The Clan-Allan Stewarts--to say nothing of what he considered
their questionable origin--were a new race in the neighbouring strath;
and although he had never been actually at war with them, there had
yet been many petty grievances and heart-burnings between them and
his people. These had not in the least shaken the friendship that had
accidentally arisen, during their boyhood, between Patrick Stewart and
Arthur Forbes; and you all know, gentlemen, that the affections of a
woman's heart are but little swayed by any such circumstances. The
bonny blue eyes of Catherine Forbes sparkled, and her bosom heaved
with delight, when she saw Patrick Stewart enter the hall of Curgarf,
though she was compelled to keep down her emotions, and to receive
him as a mere acquaintance. Certain stolen glances did, however, pass
between them; and when Arthur mentioned the accident which had led
to his bringing his friend to the castle, and made him exhibit his
wound, Catherine had an opportunity of giving way, in some degree,
to her feelings, without the risk of being chargeable with any thing
more than that compassion naturally to be expected from a lady, even
towards a perfect stranger, who came under such circumstances. Patrick
was by this time satisfied that the wound was of no great moment. But
his love for Catherine, and the opportunity which it thus happily
afforded him of being under the same roof with her, made him very
cautious in contending that it was not severe, and he had no objection
to admit, when he was much pressed, that the pain he suffered from
the contusion which his head had received, was very considerable.

Patrick retired to his chamber that night, his mind filled with the
lovely image of Catherine Forbes, his eyes having done little else,
during the evening meal, than carefully to collect and treasure
every minute beauty of her fair countenance, and graceful person,
so as to deepen the lines of that portrait of her which had been for
some time engraven on his heart. But fond as he was of dwelling upon
so much loved an object, he felt it difficult to keep possession
of her image, or to prevent it from being driven from his memory,
by the frequent recurrence of that horrible scene, of which he had
witnessed so much, previous to his being rendered unconscious, as well
as to overcome the distressing recollection of his brother Walter's
violence towards himself, and he found it a very difficult matter, to
control his mind so far, as to prevent his imagination from sketching
out the revolting circumstances of the catastrophe that followed,
with a degree of detail, and in colours, scarcely less appalling than
those of the dreadful reality.

Patrick was next morning blessed with a short private interview with
Catherine Forbes. It was short indeed, but it was long enough to
give time for the ingenuity of lovers to arrange a plan for a more
satisfactory meeting. It was agreed between them, that they should
separately steal out in the evening, to a grove of ancient pine
trees near the Castle, where, if I mistake not, they had met with
one another before, with the sanction of Arthur Forbes. There they
hoped for leisure and privacy enough to enable them more fully to
open their hearts to each other, and to talk of their future hopes
and fears. Contented with this arrangement, Patrick submitted to the
confinement which was imposed upon him in his character of an invalid,
and spent the day in basking silently in the sunshine of his lady's
eyes, in conversing with his friend Arthur as the confidant of their
loves, and in doing all that in him lay to thaw the icy politeness of
the old Lord of Curgarf. An earnest desire to make one's self agreeable
to another, will generally succeed, in some degree, in the long run;
but Patrick's success with the old Lord was much beyond what he could
have believed or expected.

"Truly thou art a pretty fellow, Patrick!" said Arthur Forbes jocularly
to him, at the first private moment which he chanced to catch. "Judging
by the proximity of the place where you were found lying last night,
to the fire which had been kindled by the Catteranes, there can be no
doubt that you must have fallen among thieves. This being the case,
I, like the good Samaritan, pick thee up by the wayside, bring thee
here in thy wretchedness, pour wine and oil into thy wounds, and see
thee well fed and lodged; and how dost thou repay me, I prythee? Why,
not contented with carrying off my poor love-sick sister's heart,
thou art likely to run away with the old man's too."

"I rejoice to hear that I have any such chance," replied Patrick;
"I had feared that thy father's coldness towards me was invincible."

"Nay, promise me not to interfere with my birthright, by taking away
half my father's lands with Kate, and I will tell thee what he said
of thee but half an hour ago."

"I should be too happy to have thy treasure of a sister, with nothing
but the sandals her fair feet tread on," said Patrick, with enthusiasm.

"Tush, man!" replied Arthur Forbes, "be assured thou shalt have
her some day or other; aye, and a bit of land, and some good purses
of broad pieces with her to boot. But hear what the Lord of Curgarf
said,--'Arthur, do you know that friend of thine hath a mighty pleasant
manner with him; yea, and his discourse is more worth listening to than
a young man's talk usually is: moreover, he hath a certain noble air
withal. I remember that, when I was a child, I was once taken to visit
the old Earl of Athol. His appearance made so strong an impression on
me, that I think I see him yet, and that Patrick Stewart is the very
image of his progenitor.' There is for you, my gallant friend! As to
finding thee agreeable, I marvel not much at that; for other people,
both men and women too, have been before him in making that wonderful
discovery; and then, seeing that thou didst listen so well to his talk,
and agree with him in every thing he propounded, his finding that
your conversation was good was all natural enough. But to discover
that you bore so strong a resemblance to the old Earl of Athol--the
person whom he is ever ready to cite as the pattern of every thing
that was graceful and pleasing in days long gone by, and now never
to be matched again--ha! that was something indeed to give thee a
great stride into the citadel of his affection."

"Be the breach through which I may be allowed to march in thither,
produced how it may," said Patrick Stewart, "I am not sorry at thine
intelligence. But, much as I love the good Lord of Curgarf's converse,
I must freely tell thee that I would fain slip away from it, for
some half hour or so, before supper to-night, unperceived by him, to
exchange it for that of thy sweet sister. We have not had above five
words of private conference together since I entered the Castle. So
pray have the charity to keep thy worthy father in talk, while the
Lady Catherine and I are out, for a brief space, on an evening walk."

"A pretty use thou wouldst put me to, truly!" said Arthur Forbes,
laughing. "But to pleasure thee, thou shalt be obeyed."

The lovers waited with no little impatience for the hour which was
to yield them the desired meeting. When it at length arrived, they
stole out at different moments, and went by different ways to the
trysting spot. No one but a lover can fully estimate the delight of
such a stolen interview as this was. They felt it deeply; and the
only difficulty they had was in estimating the lapse of time. The
surly toned bell, that pealed from the tower of the Castle at some
distance, warned them to separate, ere, by their calculation, they
had been more than a few short minutes together.

"Must we then part so soon?" said Patrick, fondly. "How swiftly the
moments have flown!"

"I dare not tarry one instant longer," said the Lady Catherine;
"my father, you well know,----"

"Alas! I do know," interrupted Patrick; "yet have I now some hopes
of working my way into his good favour. But I shall tell you more of
this anon. We shall meet again to-morrow night, shall we not?"

"Yes, yes!" replied Catherine, hurriedly.

"At the same hour and place?" said Patrick. "Alas! till then I must
be contented with such converse with thee as our eyes may yield us:
and blessings on thine for the intelligence they convey to me."

"I hope my father may not be able to read them so readily," replied
Catherine. "But I must go now."

"Stay for one moment, my sweetest heart," said Patrick. "Ere you go,
let me fix thine arryssade more firmly over thy bosom." And, as he
said so, he took from his sporran a golden brooch, formed of two
entwined hearts, set with garnets. "Wear this trifle for my sake over
thy heart. And now may I say, what I dare not utter in thy father's
hall--Farewell, my love--my dearest Catherine!"

"Farewell! farewell! my dearest Patrick!" replied she, with a throbbing
heart. "I shall never part with this thy gift whilst life or sense
endures; and I shall wear it ever thus, as thou sayest, over this
heart, which beats but for thee alone."

Thus they at last parted, with lingering reluctance; and each took
a different and circuitous way to return to the Castle.

As Patrick entered the hall, a significant nod passed between him
and Arthur Forbes. Soon afterwards, the retainers came crowding in,
and the evening meal was placed on the board by the serving men. The
piper had played his accustomed number of turns upon his walk, in the
open gallery over the court-yard. All were ready to sit down. But
there was one most important personage wanting; I mean, the fair
Lady Catherine Forbes. The fashion of the house, as well as of all
well fashioned houses of the time, forbade their sitting down till
the lady appeared. The Lord of Curgarf grew impatient.

"Go!" said he at length to one of the attendants; "go, and send some
of the women to knock at the Lady Catherine's chamber door, to tell
her that supper is served, and that we wait for her presence."

Again the company remained standing for some time. The old Lord of
Curgarf arose from his arm chair, and took two or three turns on the
large hearth before the fire place. Meanwhile, Arthur Forbes stole
an enquiring glance at Patrick Stewart, but could gather nothing in
reply. At length the Lady Catherine's bower woman entered the hall,
pale and trembling.

"What wouldst thou say, girl?" cried the Lord of Curgarf. "What of
my daughter? Thy looks are ominous! She is not ill?"

"No, my Lord," replied the girl, "my Lady is not ill; that is, she
was quite well little more than an hour ago--but--but----"

"But what?" cried Arthur Forbes, anxiously; "cannot the girl speak
out?"

"Tempted by the balmy evening," replied the girl, "my Lady threw
her arryssade about her, and walked forth beyond the castle walls,
as her custom sometimes is, to breathe the air a little while."

"Run!--fly all of you!--take lights, and search for her every
where!" cried the Lord of Curgarf. "How provoking this is! How often
have I tried in vain to cure her of this most foolish and pernicious
custom! And then to go without an attendant too! and beyond the
walls!--how very imprudent!"

The two friends were among the first to hurry out, in obedience to
these orders from the old man. Both were extremely agitated; and, so
far as this example went, it would have been difficult to have, from
it, determined the question whether the affection of a loving brother
or a tender lover, should be accounted the greater. Arthur Forbes was
eager for some explanation from Patrick Stewart as to what he knew of
the Lady Catherine. But, alas! Patrick could give him no information
beyond that which I have already detailed to you. Leaving the crowd
of the retainers to examine every hole and corner, bush and brake,
immediately around the castle walls, Arthur and Patrick, from their
knowledge of circumstances, pushed their search farther; and as they
secretly knew the way that Catherine had taken from the pine grove
homewards, they looked diligently for her all along the path. Of her,
or any thing belonging to her, they discovered nothing. But at last, in
one place, where the path ran through a thicket, where the ground was
soft, they were struck with the appearance of numerous newly impressed
prints of footsteps. On examining these more closely by means of a
torch, they observed, among those of many a rude brogue and sandal,
mixed and mingled together, and pointing in all directions, as if those
who wore them had been engaged in hurried action--among all these,
I say, they observed one tiny and delicate footprint, which was here
and there perceptible, and which Patrick Stewart at once declared,
could have belonged to no one but to the Lady Catherine Forbes.--Wild
with dread and alarm, they returned to the castle. On questioning the
warder, he admitted that he did remember having heard something like a
woman's shriek, that came faintly from some distance in the direction
of the thicket, but as it was immediately drowned by the first drone of
the piper's warning, and had been heard by him no more, it had passed
away altogether from his thoughts. Not a doubt now remained in their
minds, that the Lady Catherine had been carried off by some villains,
who had been lurking about the castle. The old Lord of Curgarf was
inconsolable.--He was quite unmanned, and unable to give an order
as to what should be done. His son Arthur, the Master of Forbes,
lost no time in acting for him.--The retainers were hastily armed,
and commanded to prepare for instant pursuit; and, being divided,
at Patrick Stewart's request, into two bands, the friends determined
each to take the command of one of them,--and accordingly, with such
hasty refreshments as the men could snatch, and carry with them, they
took leave of one another, and started off, each upon such a line of
country as he, in his quickly summoned forethought, judged to be the
most likely to bring his expedition to a successful termination.

As we have already learned from the conversation of the Master of
Forbes, when he first met Patrick Stewart after the accident which
befell him near Dalestie, it was pretty generally known in the country,
at this time, that a gang of Catteranes, or free-booters, from the
west, were occasionally harboured somewhere among the neighbouring
mountains, but no one could precisely tell whereabouts they most
commonly secreted themselves. On this point, however, Patrick Stewart
had some general suspicions, though he knew nothing that could lead
him to guess--even within miles--as to the exact spot where their
lurking place might be.--He took his way directly over the mountain
that separates the upper part of the river Don from the Aven, and
he descended towards the valley of the latter stream, through that
precipitous ravine, that affords a course for the little tributary
burn of Cuachan-Seirceag, down the face of the white cliffs that
almost overhang the small house of Inchvory, which, if we be all
spared gentlemen, we shall see this night before we sleep. There is
not a tree there now; but, at that period, the ravine was thickly
shaded by such timber as could find footing, or nourishment among
the rocks, and it therefore formed a good and well-known place of
shelter. Having fixed on it as the point of rendezvous, Patrick took
his way up the valley of the Aven for some little distance, and then,
dividing his people into two parties, he sent one of them off by
the pass leading in the direction of Loch Builg, whilst he continued
to lead the other up that which is more properly called Glen Aven,
by the Lynn of Aven, where the river throws itself over the rocks
in a fine wild fall. Having then ascended the mountains, he began,
by break of day, to march, and countermarch, over and across them,
visiting, and carefully examining every retired nook or corner that
he thought might be the least likely to be chosen, by such villains,
as a hiding-place, until mid-day came without bringing him the least
clue to the object of his search. Then it was that he unwillingly
halted his party in a hollow by the side of a spring, that the poor
fellows might refresh themselves with food, and rest for a time.



THE SERJEANT HALTED FOR REFRESHMENT.


Clifford.--(Interrupting the Serjeant.)--Gentlemen, I beg to remark,
that I think it would be quite proper that we should refresh ourselves
with food, whilst Mr. Patrick Stewart and his party are engaged in
doing so. We shall thus save time, as must be self-evident to all,
seeing that the action of the story is thus brought, for a little
while, to a state of repose. Of bodily rest we have had enough,
in all conscience--thanks to the length of Mister Archy's yarn.

Grant.--I beg to second the motion of our worthy secretary, which,
in my mind, is most sensible.

Clifford.--Methinks, then, that a slice or two from that cold round
of beef, which I saw so carefully bestowed in the right hand pannier
on the pony's back, would come well in as an episode to Serjeant
Stewart's story. Here Davy, untruss, if you please.

Grant.--Spread the cloth before us here on the grass, and then lay
out the eatables.

Clifford.--Now, methinks, we can more readily sympathise with Patrick
Stewart and his people at their luncheon. But come, Davy; we must
have something potable too.

Author.--Bring us one of those bottles from the pannier on the other
side of the pony.

Clifford.--Aye, that's right; something to wash the dust out of the
serjeant's throat would considerably improve his voice. What say you
to my prescription, Archy?

Serjeant.--Troth, sir, you're an excellent doctor. Well, here's
wishing all your good healths, gentlemen!

Author.--By the way, Clifford, how many trouts have you caught?

Clifford.--None of your jokes, my good friend. Why, you know very well
that I have never made a single cast. Before I had time to give one
throw over the stream, Archy hooked me here with the thread of his
discourse, and here he has been reeling me out such a line, that I
can plainly see it will be some time ere he can wind it up again so
as to land me. Fish!--no, no, I may as well put up my rod at once,
that we may all hear his Legend quietly to an end.

Author.--I think so, indeed.

Grant.--Well Archy, when you think that your Patrick Stewart and his
party have had their luncheon, and that you have satisfied your own
hunger and thirst, we shall all be ready to listen to you.

Serjeant.--I am well served now, sir, and quite ready to proceed.

Clifford.--Spin away then, my gay fellow.



LEGEND OF THE CLAN-ALLAN STEWARTS CONTINUED.


With a view of multiplying the chances which might still remain of
effecting the anxious object of his expedition, Patrick Stewart
had no sooner started again from the heather where they had been
seated, than he subdivided his party into several sections, under
certain intelligent leaders, and having given to each of them such
instructions as he deemed necessary for their guidance, he sent them
off in different directions, with orders to meet together again,
by nightfall, at the ravine of Cuachan-Seirceag. There they were
all to wait till he should join them, unless in the event of the
Lady Catherine being recovered by any of them, in which case they
were to proceed in a body, without tarrying, to carry her straight to
Curgarf, leaving one of their number behind them to certify him of the
agreeable intelligence. For his own part, he took with him a single
attendant only, one of the Curgarf retainers, called Michael Forbes,
with whose superior sagacity and activity, some former circumstances
had led him to be more particularly acquainted.

After all the others had left them, Patrick and his companion began a
most particular and persevering search through the forest, and among
the mountains, of that part of the country which he had especially
marked out and reserved for himself, leaving no spot unexplored
that had any thing the least suspicious connected with it. But the
wilderness through which they wandered was so wide, and, in many
places, so very thickly wooded, that they might have been employed
for days in the same way, without his being one whit nearer his
object. It is not wonderful, then, that the evening began to manifest
its approach, whilst he was yet actively engaged in laborious travel,
yet still he bore on with unremitting exertion, altogether unconscious
of the wane of day.

The wild scenery by which he was surrounded was beginning to grow dim
in the increasing obscurity, when he arrived at the edge of a deep
corry or ravine, in the steeply inclined side of a mountain. It was a
place, of the existence of which, neither he nor his companion had ever
been aware, well as they were both acquainted with the mountains. The
precise position of it has been long ago forgotten; and indeed, if it
could be guessed at, it is probably now so altered, and blocked up,
by the fall of the mountain masses from time to time, as to be no
longer in such a state as might admit of its being identified. But it
was one of those rugged places of which there are plenty of examples
among these mountains. The elevation on the mountain side was not
greater than to have allowed Nature, at that time, to have carried the
forest partially up around it, and the wood, that in a great measure
concealed it, was chiefly composed of the mountain pine. The trees,
which were seen struggling against the wintry tempests that prevailed
around the summits of the cliffs above, appeared twisted and stunted,
yet they grew thickly and sturdily together, as if resolved, like
bold Highlanders in possession of a dangerous post, to put shoulder to
shoulder for the determined purpose of maintaining their position, in
defiance of the raging elements. Their foliage was shorn, not thinned
by the blast. On the contrary, it was thickened by it, from that very
clipping to which the storms so continually subjected it, so that the
shade which was formed by their tops overhead, was thereby rendered
just so much the more dense and impenetrable. The narrow and inclined
bottom of the immense gully below, was composed of enormous fragments,
which had been wedged out by time and frosts from the faces of the
overhanging crags, and piled one over the other to an unknown depth,
whilst the ground, that sloped rapidly down into it, from the lower
part of the abrupt faces of the precipices on either side, was covered
with smaller and lighter materials of the same sort, mingled with a
certain proportion of soil. There some scattered trees had been enabled
to grow to a huge size, from the uninterrupted shelter which the place
afforded; but whilst few of these had altogether escaped injury and
mutilation from the frequent descent of the stony masses, many of them
had been entirely uprooted and overturned, by the immense magnitude
of some of those falling rocks which had swept down upon them, and
there lay their enormous trunks, resting upon their larger limbs, or
upon one another, the whole being tossed and tumbled together in most
intricate confusion, so as to cover the rocky fragments beneath them,
with one continued and almost impervious natural chevaux-de-frize.

Patrick Stewart halted behind the bole of a tree, and, resting
against it, so as to enable him to lean forward over the precipice,
he surveyed the gulf below, as accurately as the evening twilight,
and the intervening obstacles permitted him to do. He and Michael
Forbes then stole slowly and silently along the very verge of it,
in that direction that lay down the mountain side, using their eyes
sharply and earnestly as they went, and peering anxiously everywhere,
with the hope of discovering some track which might tend downwards
into the ravine. While so occupied, Patrick became suddenly sensible
of the fresh smell of wood smoke. From the manner in which it was
necessarily diffused, by the multiplied network of boughs through
which it had to ascend, he looked for it in vain for some time,
till he accidentally observed one or two bright fiery sparks mount
upwards from below, such as may be often seen to arise from a cottage
chimney top, when new fuel has been thrown upon the fire by the
people within. Marking, with great attention, the spot whence these
had proceeded, he commenced a more narrow examination of the edge
of the ravine, until he at length discovered a perforation in the
brushwood, so small, that it might have been easily mistaken for the
avenue leading to the den of some wild beast, but which, a closer
inspection persuaded him, might have been used by human creatures,
there being quite enough of room for one man at a time to creep
through it in a stooping posture. At all events he was resolved to
explore it, and accordingly, having first stationed his attendant,
Michael Forbes, in a concealed place, near to its entrance, that he
might watch and give him warning if any one approached from without,
he bent himself down, and began his strange and hazardous enterprise.

Creeping along, with his bonnet off, and almost on his hands and
knees, he found that the track, which inclined gently at first over
the rounded edge of the ravine, became, as he proceeded, nearly as
steep as an upright ladder, but it was less encumbered with branches
than the first part of the way had been, though there was still enough
of growth to aid him in his descent, and to take away all appearance
of danger. It went diagonally down the face of the cliff, dropping
from one narrow ledge of footing in the rock, to that beneath it,
with considerable intervals between each. But to one accustomed,
as Patrick Stewart was, to scramble like a goat, the difficulties
it presented were as nothing. All his anxiety and care was exerted
to guard, if possible, against surprise, as well as against making
any noise that might betray his approach, to any one who might be
harboured in the ravine below.

Having at last got to the foot of the precipice, he found it somewhat
easier to descend the rugged slope that inclined downwards from its
base, and, upon reaching the bottom, he discovered that the track
continued to lead onwards under the arched limbs of an overthrown
pine, the smaller branches and spray of which, appeared, on a minute
examination, to have been evidently broken away by frequent passage
through underneath it. This circumstance he had some difficulty in
discovering, as the increasing darkness was rendered deeper here, by
the overhanging shade of the rocks and trees high above him. Bending
beneath the boughs of the fir, he advanced with yet greater caution,
and with some difficulty, over the rugged and angular fragments,
until he suddenly observed something, that made it prudent for him
to halt for a moment, that he might well consider his position. This
abrupt stop was occasioned by his observing a faint gleam of light,
that partially illumined the broad side, and moss-grown edge, of
a large mass of stone, a little way in advance of the place where
he then was. He hardly breathed, and he tried to listen--and, for a
moment, he fancied he heard a murmur like that of human voices. Again
he stretched his ear, and again he felt persuaded that he heard the
sound of the voices coming hollow on his ear, as if from some cavity,
somewhere below the surface, at a little distance beyond him. Resolving
at last to proceed, he moved on gently, and upon a nearer approach to
the great stone, on the broad edge of which the light fell, he found
that it formed one side of a natural entrance to a passage, that led
upwards under the enormous superincumbent masses, that had been piled
up over it, in their fall from the shattered crags above. Pausing
again for a moment, he drew himself up behind a projecting part of
another huge stone, that formed the dark side of the entrance, that
he might again listen. He was now certain that he distinctly heard
voices proceeding from within, though he was not yet near enough to
the speakers to be able to make out their words. The smell of the
wood smoke was exceedingly powerful, and his heart began to beat high,
for he was now convinced that his adventure was drawing to a crisis.

He plucked forth his dirk, and stooped to enter the place. He found
the passage to be low, narrow, gently ascending, and running somewhat
in an oblique direction, from the illuminated stone at the mouth, for
a few paces inwards, till it met with another block of great size. The
edges of this block glowed with a brighter light, that seemed to come
directly upon it, at a right angle, from some fire, not then visible,
but which was evidently blazing within, and which was again reflected
from the side of this stone towards that of the stone at the entrance.

Having crept onwards to this second fragment of rock, where the passage
took its new direction, he discovered that it led into a large, and
very irregularly-shaped chamber, which was within a few feet only of
the spot which he had now reached, but he had no accurate means of
judging of the full extent of the cavern. He could now see the rousing
fire that was burning in a recess, in the side of the rocky wall of the
place, the smoke from which seemed to find its way upwards, through
some natural crevice immediately over it, for the interior of this
subterranean den was by no means obscured by any great accumulation
of it. By the light of the fire, one or two dark holes were seen,
apparently forming low passages of connection with other chambers. How
many living beings the place might then contain, he had no means of
knowing or guessing. All that came within the field of his vision
were two persons, which he supposed were those whose voices he had
heard. One of these was a slim youth, who was employed in feeding
the fire from time to time with pieces of rotten wood and branches,
and in attending to a large pot, that hung over it by an iron chain,
depending from a strong hook fastened in the rock above. But the youth
and his occupations were altogether disregarded by Patrick Stewart,
in the intense interest and delight which he experienced in beholding
the Lady Catherine Forbes, the fair object of his toilsome search,
who sat pensively and in tears, on a bundle of heather on the farther
side of the fire.

You will easily believe, gentlemen, that it was difficult for him to
subdue his impatient feelings, so far as to restrain himself from
at once rushing forward to snatch her to his arms. But prudence
whispered him that her safety might depend on the caution he should
use. Ignorant as he was of the extent of the subterranean den,
or how it might be tenanted, he felt the necessity of exerting his
self-command, and to remain quietly where he was for a little time,
until he might be enabled to form some judgment, from what he should
see and hear, as to the probable force he should have to contend with,
as well as to determine what might be his best plan of action.

"If thou wouldst but listen to my entreaty," said Catherine Forbes,
addressing the youth in an earnest tone of supplication, whilst
the tears that ran down her cheeks roused Patrick's feelings to an
agonizing pitch of intensity--"If thou wouldst but fly with me, and
take me to Curgarf, my father would give thee gold enough to enrich
thee and thine for all thy life."

"I tell thee again that it is useless to talk of it, lady," replied
the youth. "I have already told thee that I pity thee, but it were
more than my life were worth to do as thou wouldst have me. And what
is gold, I pray thee, compared to such a risk?"

"Methinks that, once out amidst these wide hills and forests, the
risk would be but small indeed," said Catherine.

"That is all true," replied the youth. "The hills and forests are wide;
but the men of the band well know every nook and turn of them. Nay,
they are every where, and come pop upon one at the very time when they
are least looked for. Holy Virgin, an' we were to meet any of them as
we fled!--My head sits uneasily on my neck at the very thought!--By
the Rood, but there would be a speedy divorce between them! and where
would your gold be then, lady?"

"Then let me go try to explore mine own way without thee," said the
Lady Catherine.

"Talk not of it, lady," replied the youth, impatiently. "My head would
go for it, I tell thee.--It would go the moment they should return and
find that thou hadst escaped. They may be already near at hand, too,
if I mistake not the time of evening. Therefore, teaze me no more,
I pray thee."

"Spirits of mine ancestors, give me strength and boldness!" cried the
Lady Catherine, starting up energetically, after a moment's pause,
during which she seemed to have taken her resolution, and assuming
a commanding attitude and air as she spoke.--"Let me pass, young
man!--give me way, I say!--or I will struggle with thee to the death,
but I will force a passage!"

"I have a sharp argument against that," said the youth, drawing his
dirk, and planting himself in the gap before her.--"Stand back!--or
thou shalt have every inch of its blade."

"Out of the way, vermin!" cried Patrick Stewart, no longer able to
contain his rage, and dashing down the youth before him as he entered.

"Patrick!--my dear Patrick!" cried the Lady Catherine, flying into
his arms with a scream of joy.

"My dearest, dearest Catherine!" said Patrick, fondly--"this is indeed
to be rewarded!--Wretch!" cried he, grappling the youth by the throat,
and putting the point of his dirk to his breast, as he was in the act
of rising from the ground, apparently with the intention of making
his escape--"Wretch! our safety requires thy death."

"Oh, do not kill me, good Sir Knight!" cried the terrified youth
piteously, and with a countenance as pale as a corpse.

"Spare him!--spare him!" cried Catherine,--"his worthless life is
unworthy of thy blade."

"Oh, mercy, mercy!" cried the youth again.--"Spare me!--spare me!--oh,
do not kill me!"

"If I did kill thee, it would be no more than what thou hast well
merited," said Patrick.--"But, as thou sayest, Catherine, my love,
such worthless blood should never wantonly soil the steel of a brave
man; and if I could but make him secure by any other means, I should
be better contented."

"Bind me, if thou wilt, Sir Knight; but, oh, do not!--do not kill
me!" cried the youth.

"Well then, I will spare thy life, though I half question the wisdom
of so doing," said Patrick.

Casting his eyes around the cave, he espied some ropes lying in a
dark corner. Catherine flew and brought them to him. He seized them,
and quickly bound the youth neck and heel, in such a manner as to make
it quite impossible for him to move body or limb, and then, lifting
him in his arms, he groped his way with him into the farther end of
one of those dark recesses that branched off from the main cavern,
and there he deposited him.

"Now, let us fly, my love!" cried he, hastily returning to the Lady
Catherine. "Every moment we tarry here is fraught with danger.--Follow
me quickly!--I grieve to think of the fatigue you must undergo. But
cheer up, and trust for your defence, from all danger, to this good
arm of mine. Above all things, be silent."

"With thee as my protector I am strong and bold," said
Catherine. "Thanks be to the Virgin for this deliverance!"

Patrick now led the Lady Catherine forth into the open air. But
before he ventured to proceed, he listened for a moment to ascertain
that there was no one near. To his great horror, and to the lady's
death-like alarm, they distinctly heard a footstep slowly and
cautiously approaching. Pushing Catherine gently behind the dark mass
of stone at the entrance, he placed himself before her in the shadow,
that, whilst concealed by it himself, he might have a perfect view of
whosoever came, the moment the person should advance into the light,
that was reflected on the wall-like side of the rocky mass opposite to
him, and fell on the ground for a little space beyond it. He listened,
with attention so breathless, that he seemed to hear every beat of his
own heart, as well as of that of his trembling companion. The footstep
was that of one person only, and he felt as if his resolution was
quite equal to an encounter with a dozen; but he knew not how many
might be following, and he was fully conscious of the importance,
as regarded the lady, of avoiding a conflict, unless rendered
indispensable by circumstances. The step came on, falling gently,
at intervals of several moments, as if the individual who approached
was unwilling to make the least unnecessary noise. The dim figure
of a man at length appeared, under the arched boughs of the fallen
pine tree. He advanced, step by step, with increased caution. A dirk
blade, which he held forward in his outstretched hand, first caught the
stream of reflected light that came from the mouth of the cavern. The
next step that the figure took brought his face under its influence;
and, to the great relief of Patrick Stewart, displayed the features of
Michael Forbes. Patrick gave a low whistle. Michael had at that moment
stopped to listen, with a strange expression of dread and horror, to
the complaints of the youth who was bound in the innermost recesses of
the cavern, whence they came, reduced by its sinuosities, into a low
wild moaning sound, that had something supernatural in it, so as to be
quite enough to appal any superstitious mind. The whistle startled him.

"Michael!" said Patrick in a low tone of voice, "why did'st thou
desert thy post?"

"Holy virgin, is that you, Sir Knight?" said Michael, in a voice
which seemed to convey a doubt whether he was not holding converse
with a spirit.

"What could make you desert your post?" demanded Patrick, angrily,
and at the same time showing himself.

"Holy saints, I am glad that it is really you, Sir Knight," replied
Michael. "I crave your pardon, but your long delay led me to fear
that something had befallen you, and that you might lack mine aid."

"Had an accident befallen me, Michael," said Patrick, "thine aid,
I fear, would have been of little avail. But we have lost much time
by this thy neglect of mine orders. Quick! let us lose no more,
and give me thy best help to aid thy mistress, the Lady Catherine."

"The Virgin be praised!" exclaimed Michael, as Catherine appeared;
"then the lady is safe!"

"But so for only," replied Patrick Stewart. "We have yet much peril
to encounter; but our perils are increased every precious moment
that we loiter here. Get thee on quickly before us to the top of the
path where it quits the ravine,--the spot, I mean, where I left thee,
and see that you be sure to give me good warning, shouldst thou see
or hear any thing to cause alarm."

Michael obeyed; and Patrick, having led Catherine out from under
the boughs of the fallen pine, began to assist her in ascending the
path. He had some difficulty in dragging her up the wild-cat's ladder
that scaled the side of the cliff; but, by the assistance of his
strongly nerved arm, she reached the summit without danger. She then
forced her way through the narrow passage in the brushwood that grew
over the top of the crags, until she had at length the satisfaction
of being able to stand erect, to receive the cooling mountain breeze
on her flushed cheek and throbbing temples. But this was no place
for them to rest. Patrick whistled softly, and Michael appeared.

"Catherine, my love," said he, "this is no time for ceremony. Give
one arm to Michael, and put the other firmly into mine--so. Now take
the best care you can of your footing, and lean well upon me as we go
down the mountain side. Oh, how I long to talk to thee! But, dearest,
we must be silent as death, for we know not whom we may meet."

After a long, rough, and slippery descent, they came at length into
a narrow glen, where the trees grew taller and farther apart from
each other. This was so far fortunate for them; for as the shadows
of night became deeper here than they had been on the mountain side,
they were compelled to move slower; and it required all the care of
the Lady Catherine's supporters, to save her from the injuries she
might have sustained from the numerous fallen branches, and other
obstacles lying in their way.

They had nearly reached the lower extremity of this lesser tributary
glen, where it discharged a small rill into the wider glen and stream
of the Aven, when Patrick Stewart suddenly halted.

"Stop!" cried he; "I hear voices on the breeze, and they come this way
too. We must up the bank, Michael. Courage, my dearest Catherine! let
me help thee to climb. Trust me love, thou hast nothing to fear."

"I fear nothing whilst thou art by my side," replied Catherine,
exerting herself to the utmost.

"Now," said Patrick, after they had half carried her some
thirty or forty paces up the steep slope; "we have time to go no
farther. Hark! they come! Stretch thyself at length among this
long heather, Catherine, and let me throw my plaid over thee. Nay,
now I think on't, Michael's green one is better, the red of mine
might be more visible. There; that will do. Now, Michael, draw thy
good claymore, as I do mine. Here are two thick trunks which stand
well placed in front of us. Do thou take thy stand behind that one,
whilst I post myself behind this, so that both of us may be between
the lady and danger. They cannot come at her but by passing between
us. And if they do! But see that thou dost not strike till I give
thee the word. Hush! they come!"

They had hardly thus disposed of themselves, when the voices drew
nearer, and the dusky figures were obscurely seen moving up the bottom
of the little glen. They came loitering on, one after another, in
what we of the army used to call Indian files,--man following man
along the track, where they knew that the footing was likely to be
the best. This plan of march necessarily made them longer of passing
by, but it relieved those who were lurking in the bank above from any
great fear of being discovered by any stray straggler. Two individuals
of the party, who had probably some sort of command over the rest,
were considerably in advance. These lingered on their way, and halted
more than once to give time for those that followed to come up, so
that Patrick Stewart caught a sentence or two of the conversation
that fell from them.

"He must be as cunning as the devil," said one of them to the other,
in Gaelic.

"Thou knowest that she has not yet seen his face," replied the other;
"so that, when he comes to act the part of her deliverer, she will
never suspect that it was to him she was indebted for her unwilling
travel last night, and her present confinement. And then, you see, he
thinks, in this way, to make his own, both of her and her old father,
by his pretended gallantry in rescuing her from----"

Patrick Stewart in vain stretched his ears to catch more, for on came
the rest in closer lines, gabbling together so loudly about trifles,
and with voices so commingled, that it was not possible to gather
the least sense out of their talk. These all passed onwards; and, a
little way behind them, came four other men, who walked very slowly,
and stopped occasionally to converse in Gaelic, like people, who
were so travel-worn, that they were not sorry to halt now and then,
and to rest against a tree for a few moments.

"What made Grigor Beg stop behind Allister?" demanded one.

"Hoo! you may well guess it was nothing but his old trick," replied
the other. "The boddoch would have fain had me to tarry for him, that
I might help him, by carrying a part of what load he might get. But
I was no such fool. My shoulders ache enough already with carrying
the rough rungs of that accursed litter last night, to let me wish
for any new burden."

"If thou hadst not been carrying the bonny lassie for another's
pleasure, methinks you would maybe have thought less of it," said a
third man.

Whilst attentively listening to this dialogue, Patrick Stewart
observed some ill-defined object, coming stealing up the slope of
the bank, in a diagonal line, from the place a little way down the
glen, where the four men had halted. It came on noiselessly, but
steadily pointing towards the spot where Catherine lay. It stopped,
and uttered a short bark, and Patrick now saw that it was a large,
rough, Highland wolf-dog. Again, with its long snout directed towards
the plaid that covered Catherine, it barked and snarled.

"Dermot, boy!--Dermot!"--cried one of the men from the hollow
below.--"What hast thou got there?"

As if encouraged by its master's voice, the animal barked and
snarled again yet more eagerly, and seemed to be on the very eve of
springing upon the plaid. The blade of Patrick Stewart's claymore
made one swift circuit in the air, and, descending like a flash of
lightning on the neck of the creature, his head and his body rolled
asunder into different parts of the heather, and again Patrick took
his silent but determined stand behind the tree.

"Dermot!--Dermot, boy!"--cried the man again from below.--"What think
ye is the beast at, lads?"

"Some foulmart or badger it may be," replied another.

"Can'st thou not go up and see, man?" said a third.

"Go thyself, my good man," said the dog's master.--"I am fond enough
of the dog--aye, and, for that part, I am fond enough of travel too,
but I am content with my share of fagg for this day without going up
the brae there to seek for more. A man may e'en have his serving of
the best haggis that ever came out of a pot. Trust me, I am for going
no foot to-night beyond what I can help.--Dermot--Dermot, boy!--See
ye any thing of him at all, lads?"

"The last sight that I had of him at all, was near yon dark looking
hillock, a good way up the bank yonder," said another man.

"I'm thinking that the brute has winded a passing roebuck," said the
fourth man, "I thought I saw something like a glimmer just against
the light cloud yonder above, as if it had been the dog darting over
the height, the very moment after the last bark he gave."

"Dermot! whif-hoo-if!" cried the dog's master, and, at the same time,
whistling shrilly upon his fingers. "Tut! the fiend catch him for
me! let him go! I'll be bound that he'll be home before us."

"Come, then, let's on!" said another, "I wonder much that Grigor Beg
hath not come up with us ere this."

"Hulloah, Grigor!" shouted one of them. "No, no, we'll not see him
so soon, I'll warrant ye."

"Come! come away, lads!" said another, moving on with the rest
following him. "I'll be bound that the boddoch hath got a swingeing
load upon his back."

"Awell!" said one of the first speakers, "rather him than me. But we
shan't be the worse of it when it's well broiled, for all that. I'm
sure I wish I had a bit of it at this moment, for I'm famishing. I'm
dead tired to-night; I hope that we may have some rest to-morrow. Know
ye aught that is to do?"

"I heard the Captain say that"----but the rest of the dialogue was
cut off by the distance which the men had by this time reached.

"Thanks be to St. Peter, they are gone at last!" said
Patrick Stewart. "How my fingers itched to have a cut at the
villains.--Catherine," continued he, lifting the plaid, and assisting
her to rise, "art thou not half dead with terror? But courage, my
love. There lies the murderous four-footed savage, whose fell fangs
had so nearly been busied with the plaid that covered thee. If we may
trust to what we have just heard, there is but one man to come; and,
judging by the name of Beg [3] which they gave him, he ought to be no
very formidable person. Michael, get thee on a few steps in front, and
keep a good look out for him. Were we but out of this narrow place,
and fairly into the wider glen of the Aven, we should have less to
fear, and then we shall find means to carry thee."

"Thanks to the Virgin, I am yet strong," said Catherine. "Let us fly,
then, with all speed."

A farther walk, of a few minutes only, brought them into Glen Aven,
and they pursued its downward course, for a considerable length of way,
until Patrick Stewart began to perceive something like fatigue in the
Lady Catherine's step. He therefore halted, and made her sit down to
rest a while. In the mean time, he and Michael Forbes contrived to hew
down two small sapling fir trees, by the aid of their good claymores,
and having tied their plaids between them, they, in this manner,
very speedily constructed a tolerably easy litter for the lady to
recline at length in. This they carried between them, by resting
the ends of the poles upon their shoulders, Patrick making Michael
Forbes go foremost, and reserving the place behind for himself. I need
hardly tell you that the Stewart especially selected that position,
for the obvious reason that he might be thereby enabled to cheer the
Lady Catherine's spirits, and to lighten her fatigues, by now and then
addressing a word or two of comfort to her as they went. In this manner
they pursued their way down the glen, until the loud roar of many
waters informed them that they were approaching the grand waterfall,
called the Lynn of Aven. You will have ample opportunity of becoming
intimately acquainted with all the details of this fine scene,
gentlemen, as you go up the glen to-morrow. But in the meanwhile,
I may tell you generally, that the whole of this large river, there
precipitates itself headlong, through a comparatively narrow chasm
in the rocks, into a long, wide, and extremely deep pool below.

The sound increased as the bearers of the litter drew nearer to
the waterfall, and the rocky and confined passage, over which they
had to make their way, compelled them to walk at greater leisure,
and to select their footing with more caution. Fortunately they had
now the advantage of the moon, which had been for some time shining
favourably upon them, and they were already within a very few steps
of coming immediately over the waterfall, when they were suddenly
alarmed by a fearful and most unearthly shriek. It came apparently
from the very midst of the descending column of water below them.

"Holy Virgin Mother!" cried Michael Forbes, halting, and backing like
a restive horse, so unexpectedly, that the ends of the poles were
nearly jerked from Patrick Stewart's shoulders, by the shock which
was thus communicated to them. "Holy Mother, didst thou not hear that,
Sir Knight?"

"I did hear something," said Stewart, not quite willing to increase
that dread which he perceived was already quite sufficiently excited in
his companion, and of which he could not altogether divest himself. "I
did fancy that I heard something. But for the love of the Virgin
take care what thou dost. Thou hadst almost shaken the poles from my
shoulders by thy sudden start.--Come! proceed man!"

Again, a louder, and more appalling shriek arose from the midst of
the cataract, piercing their ears above all the roaring of its thunder.

"For the love of all the saints, let us turn back, Sir Knight!" cried
Michael. "It is the water-kelpie himself!"

"Nay," said Patrick Stewart; "back we may not go, without the risk
of falling again into the very jaws of the Catteranes. They are no
doubt hard on foot after us by this time.--Forward then, and fear not!"

Again came the wild shriek, if possible louder and more terrible
than before.

"For the love of God, Sir Knight, back!" cried Michael, now losing
all command of himself, and forcing the litter so backwards upon
Patrick Stewart, as to compel him, from the narrowness of the rocky
shelf where they then stood, to retreat in a corresponding degree,
to avoid the certain alternative of being precipitated over the giddy
ledge into the boiling stream of the Aven. "For the love of God, back,
I say! were it but for a few paces, till we have leisure to lay down
our burden, and cross ourselves."

"Merciful saints! what will become of us?" cried the Lady Catherine,
in great alarm.

"Now," said Patrick Stewart, after yielding a few steps, "now, we
may surely halt here till thy courage return to thee, Michael. What
a fiend hath so unmanned thee to-night? I thought thou hadst been
brave as a lion."

"A fiend indeed, Sir Knight," replied Michael, as they were laying down
the litter; "I trust that I lack not courage, at any time, to face any
mortal foe that ever came before me. But," added he, eagerly crossing
himself, "to meet with the devil thus in one's very path!--Good angels
be about us, heard ye not that scream again? Have mercy upon us all!"

"There is something very strange in this," said Patrick Stewart. "But
this will never do. We cannot tarry here long without the certainty
of being overtaken by the whole body of the Catteranes. By this time
they must be well on their way in pursuit of us."

"Holy Virgin! what will become of us if we should fall into their
hands?" cried the Lady Catherine, in an agony of distress.

"Fear not, my love!" said Patrick Stewart; "I will forthwith fathom
this mystery. I will see whence these horrible screams proceed."

"Nay, Sir Patrick, tempt not thy fate," cried Michael. "If thou dost,
thou goest to thy certain destruction."

"Oh stir not, dear Patrick!" cried the Lady Catherine, starting up
from the litter, and endeavouring to detain him. "Do not attempt so
great, so dreadful a danger."

"Catherine, my dearest!" said Patrick, fondly taking her hands in his;
"listen to reason, I entreat thee. The danger that presses on us from
behind is imminent, and more than what two swords, good as they may
be, could by any means save thee from. And since God hath given us
strength to flee from it, he will not forsake me in a conflict with
the powers of hell, should they stand in my way. I go forward in his
holy name, then; have no fear for me therefore. Rest thine arm upon
Michael, dearest--tell thy beads, and may the blessed Virgin hover
over thee to protect thee! As for you, Michael, draw your claymore,
and stir not a step from the lady till I call thee."

Patrick Stewart now crossed himself, and then strode, slowly and
resolutely, along the narrow ledge of rock towards the roaring lynn,
repeating a paternoster as he went. The moon was by this time high
in the heavens, and its beams produced a faint tinge of the rainbow's
hues, as they played among the mists that arose from the waterfall. The
shrieks that came from below were now loud and incessant, and might
have quailed the stoutest heart. But still Patrick advanced firmly,
till he stood upon a shelving rock, forming the very verge of the
roaring cataract, whence he could throw his eyes directly downwards,
through the shooting foam, into the abyss below. Far down, in the
midst of the rising vapour, and apparently suspended in it, close
by the edge of the descending column of water, he could distinguish
a dark object. New and more piercing screams arose from it. He bent
forward, and looked yet more intently. To his no inconsiderable dismay,
he beheld a fearful head rear itself, as it were from out of it; the
long hair by which it was covered, and the immense beard that flowed
from the chin, hanging down, drenched by the surrounding moisture,
and the eyes glaring fearfully in the moonlight, whilst the terrific
screams were inconceivably augmented. Appalled as he was by this most
unaccountable apparition, Patrick was shifting his position, in order
to lean yet more forward, that he might the better contemplate it,
when the toe of his sandal grazed against something that had nearly
destroyed his equilibrium, and sent him headlong over the rock. Having,
with some difficulty, recovered himself, he stooped down to ascertain
what had tripped him, when he found, to his surprise, that it was a
rope. He now remembered, that the feudal tenant of the neighbouring
ground, who owed service to his father, Sir Allan, was accustomed
to hang a conical creel, or large rude basket, by the edge of the
fall, for the purpose of catching the salmon that fell into it,
after failing in their vain attempts to leap up.

"Ho, there!" cried Patrick Stewart, in that voice of thunder, which
he required to exert in order to overcome the continuous roar of
the cataract.

"Oh, help! help! help!" cried the fearful head from below.

"Man or demon, I will see what thou art!" cried Patrick, stooping down
to lay hold of the rope, with the intention of making an attempt to
pull up the creel.

"For the love of Saint Andrew, lay not a hand on the rope, Sir
Knight, as thou may'st value thy life!" said Michael Forbes, who,
having heard Patrick's loud shout, had been hurried off to his aid
by the fears and the commands of the Lady Catherine.

"Why hast thou left the lady, caitiff?" demanded Patrick Stewart,
angrily. "Did I not tell thee to stay with her till I should call
thee?"

"We heard thee call loudly, Sir Knight," replied Michael, trembling
more from his proximity to the place whence the screams had issued,
than from any thing that Patrick had said.

"True, I had forgotten," replied Patrick; "I did call, though not
on thee. But since thou art here, come lend me thy hand to pull up
the basket."

"Nay, Sir Knight; surely thou art demented by devilish influence. For
the love of all the saints!" cried Michael, quaking from head to foot;
"for the love of ----"

"Dastard, obey my command, or I will hurl thee over the rock!" cried
Patrick furiously, and with a manner that showed Michael that it was
time to obey. "Now, pull--pull steadily and firmly; pull away, I say!"

"Have mercy on us! have mercy on our souls!" cried Michael, pulling
most unwillingly.

"What a fiend are you afraid of? Why don't you pull, I say?" cried
the Knight again.

"Jesu Maria protect me! that I should have a hand in any such
work!" muttered Michael. "Oh holy Virgin! to have thus to deal with
the Devil himself!"

"Come! pull!--pull away, I tell ye--pull! aye, there!" cried Patrick
Stewart, as the basket at last came to the top of the rock.

"Preserve us all!" cried Michael; "the water-kelpie, sure enough! Mercy
on us, what a fearful red beard! what terrible fiery eyes! For the
love of heaven, Sir Knight, let him down again!"

"Coward!" cried Patrick, "if you let go the rope, I'll massacre
thee! Now, do you hear? pull the creel well out this way.--Ha, that
will do!--Now I think it is safe."

"Oh, may the blessed saints reward thee!" said a little shred of a man,
who now arose, shaking in a palsy of cold and wet, from the midst of
at least a dozen large salmon, with which the creel was heaped up;
"Thou hast saved me from the most dreadful of deaths."

"How camest thou there?" demanded Patrick Stewart; "answer quickly,
for we are in haste."

"Oh, I know not well how I got there," said the little man, shivering
so that he could hardly speak. "I stept aside from the path, just
to take a look down to see if there were any salmon in the creel,
when something took my foot, and over I went. Oh, what a providence
it was that ye came by! Another hour, and I must have been dead from
cold and wet, and buried in salmon, for they were flying in upon me
like so many swallows. I thought they would have choked me."

"Here," said Patrick Stewart, taking out a flask, "take a sup of this
cordial; it will speedily restore thee."

"Oh, blessings on thee, Sir Knight!" said the little man; "I will
drink thy health with good will. But tell me thy name, I pray thee,
that I may know, and never forget, who it was that saved my life."

"I am Patrick Stewart of Clan-Allan," replied the knight
carelessly. "Come now, Michael, we must tarry here no longer."

"Sure I am that I shall never forget the name of Sir Patrick Stewart,"
said the little man, whilst he was following them along the narrow
path, as they retraced it towards the place where they had left the
Lady Catherine; "and if ever I can do thee a good turn I shall do it,
though it were by the sacrifice of my life."

Catherine's fears were soon allayed by the explanation that was given
her. She was again put into the litter, which was quickly shouldered
by her protectors, the little man lending them a willing helping hand;
and Patrick and Michael proceeded on their way, whilst the half-drowned
wretch went up the glen, pouring out blessings upon them. Without fear
or interruption they now passed by the spot which had occasioned them
so much dread and delay, and they soon left the roar of the lynn behind
them, and at length reached the ravine of Cuachan Searceag, where, much
to their relief, they found the whole of the party anxiously waiting
for them. When the Forbeses beheld Patrick Stewart, and, above all,
when they beheld their young mistress, the daughter of their Chief,
safe and well among them, they rent the air with shouts of joy that
made the whole glen ring again.

"Aye," said Patrick Stewart, as they sat down to rest a little while,
and to take some hasty refreshment, "We may now make what noise we
list, for, if the whole gang of these accursed Catteranes should
come upon us, we have brave hearts and keen claymores enow to meet
them. But, for all that, we have too precious a charge with us to
tarry for the mere pleasure of a conflict; so be stirring my men,
and let us breast the hill as fast as may be."

You may all well enough guess, gentlemen, how Patrick Stewart
was received by the old Lord of Curgarf when he entered his hall,
leading in his fair daughter safe and sound. The joy of the father
was not the less, that his son, Arthur the Master of Forbes, had
returned but a brief space of time before, jaded, dispirited, and
sorrowful, from his long, tiresome, and fruitless expedition. Worn
with anxiety, the old man had counted watch after watch of the night,
and the day and the night again, until his son's arrival, and then
he had sunk into the most overwhelming despair. After pouring forth
thanks to Heaven, and to all the saints, he now gave way to his
joy. The midnight feast was spread, and all was revelry and gladness
in the castle. Patrick Stewart was now viewed by him as his guardian
angel. Seeing this, Arthur Forbes took an opportunity of advising his
friend to profit by the happy circumstance which had now placed him
so high in his father's good opinion. He did so--and the result was,
that he obtained the willing consent of the old Lord of Curgarf to
his union with his daughter, the Lady Catherine, with the promise of
a tocher which should be worthy of her.

The happiness of the lovers was now complete, and the next day was
spent in open and unrestrained converse between them. The time was
fixed for the wedding, and then it was, after all these arrangements
had been made, that Patrick Stewart first had leisure fully to recall
to mind, all those afflicting circumstances which had taken place
when he last saw his brother Walter. He thought of his father--he felt
the necessity of going immediately home, to relieve any anxiety which
his father, Sir Allan, might have, in consequence of his unexplained
absence, as well as to make him acquainted with his approaching
marriage. He accordingly took a tender leave of his fair bride that
evening, and, starting next morning, he made his way over the hills
to Drummin.

Patrick Stewart was already within sight of home, when his attention
was arrested by the blast of a bugle, which rang shrilly from the hill
above him. It conveyed to him that private signal which was always
used between his brother Walter and himself. For the first time in his
life it grated harshly in his ear, for it immediately brought back to
his recollection those oppressively painful circumstances which had
occurred at Dalestie, which he had so studiously endeavoured to banish
from his memory. But the strong tide of brotherly affection within him
was too resistless not to sweep away every feeling connected with the
past. He applied his bugle to his lips, and returned the call; and,
looking up the side of the hill, he beheld Walter, and a party of the
Clan-Allan, hastening down through the scattered greenwood to meet him.

"Thanks be to Heaven and good Saint Hubert that I see thee safe, my
dearest Patrick," said Sir Walter, hurrying towards him, and warmly
embracing him. "Hast thou forgiven a brother's anger and unkindness?"

"Could'st thou believe that I could for a moment remember it, my dear
Walter?" replied Patrick, returning his embrace.

"Where in the name of wonder hast thou been wandering?" demanded Sir
Walter. "Where hast thou been since that night--that night of justice,
yet of horror--when you disappeared so mysteriously? Since that moment,
when I returned home and found thee not, I have done little else,
night or day, but travel about hither and thither, anxiously seeking
for tidings of thee."

"Let us walk apart," said Patrick in his ear, "and I will tell thee
all that has befallen me."

"Willingly," said Sir Walter in the same tone; "for, in exculpation
of myself, I would now fain pour into thy private ear all those
circumstances which secretly urged me to execute that stern act of
justice and necessity, which then thou could'st not comprehend, and
against which thy recoiling humanity did naturally enough compel thee
so urgently to protest."

Arm in arm the two brothers then walked on alone, at such a distance
before their clansmen as might insure the perfect privacy of their
talk, and long ere they reached Drummin, they had fully communicated
to each other all that they had mutually to impart. Old Sir Allan had
been querulous and impatient about Patrick's absence, and he had been
every now and then peevishly inquiring about him. But now that his
son appeared, he seemed to have forgotten that he had not been always
with him. He was pleased and proud when the contemplated marriage was
communicated to him, and he enjoined Sir Walter to see to it, that
every thing handsome should be done on the occasion. In this respect,
Sir Walter's generosity required no stimulus; and if Patrick was
dissatisfied at all, it was with the over liberality which his brother
manifested, which, in some particulars, he felt inclined to resist.

"Patrick," said Sir Walter aside to his brother, with a more than
ordinarily serious air, "I give thee but thine own in advance. One
day or other it will be all thine own. There is something within me
that tells me that I am not long for this world. The last words of
that wretch, delivered to me, as I told thee, from the midst of those
flames that consumed him, were prophetic. But, be that as it may,
I have never had thoughts of marrying, and now I am firmly resolved
that I never shall marry, so that thou art the sole prop of our house."

The entrance of the retainers, and the spreading of the evening meal,
put a stop to all farther conversation between the brothers. Patrick
had not yet seen either the Lady Stradawn, or her son Murdoch. On
inquiry, he was told that Murdoch had gone on some unknown expedition
on the previous day, and that he had not yet returned. A circumstance,
so common with him, excited no surprise. As for the Lady Stradawn,
she now came swimming into the hall, with her countenance clothed
in all its usual smiles. Her salutation to her stepsons was full
of well-dissembled warmth and affection. She hastened, with her
wonted affectation of fondness, to bustle about Sir Allan, with the
well-feigned pretence of anxiety to attend to his wants, after which
she took her place at the head of the board. It was then that Patrick's
eyes became suddenly fixed upon her with a degree of astonishment,
which, fortunately for him, the busy occupation of every one else at
the table left them no leisure to observe. To his utter amazement,
he beheld in her bosom that very garnet brooch which he had given
to Catherine Forbes! His first impulse was to demand from her an
explanation of the circumstances by which she had become possessed of
it; but a little reflection soon enabled him to control his feelings,
though he continued to sit gazing at the well-known jewel, altogether
forgetful of the feast, until the lady arose to retire to her chamber.

"My dearest Sir Allan," said she, going up to the old knight's chair
to bestow her caresses on him ere she went; "My dearest Sir Allan,
thou hast eaten nothing for these two days. What can I get for thee
that may tickle thy palate into thy wonted appetite? Said'st thou not
something of a deer's heart, for which thou hadst a longing? 'Tis a
strange fancy, I'm sure."

"Oh, aye! very true,--a deer's heart!" said the doting old man. "Very
true, indeed, my love. I did dream--oh, aye--I dreamed, I say,
Bella, that I was eating the rosten heart of a stag--of a great
hart of sixteen, [4] killed by my boys on the hill of Dalestie--aye,
aye--and with arrows feathered from an eagle's wing. As I ate, and
better ate, I always grew stronger and stronger, till at length I was
able to rise from my chair as stoutly as ever I did in my life--ouch,
aye! that day is gone! Yet much would I like to eat the rosten heart
of a deer; but it would need to be that of a great hart of sixteen."

"My dear father, thou shalt not want that," said Sir Walter; "thou
shalt have it ere I am a day older, if a hart of sixteen be to be
found between this and Loch Aven."

"Aye, aye, Walter boy, as thou sayest," said the old man; "a great hart
of sixteen--else hath the heart of the beast no potency in't--aye,
and killed with an arrow feathered from an eagle's wing--och,
aye--hoch-hey!"

Though the two brothers were satisfied that this was nothing but
the drivelling of age, they were not the less anxiously desirous
to gratify their father's wish to the very letter. Accordingly,
the necessary orders were given, and the trusty Dugald Roy [5] was
forthwith summoned to prepare six arrows, which would have been easily
supplied, with the small portions of feather which were necessary
for them, from the eagle wing in Sir Walter's bonnet. But Sir Allan
stopped him as he was about to tear it off.

"What, Sir!" exclaimed the old man testily, and in a state of agitation
that shook every fibre of his frame like a palsy;--"What! wouldst
thou shear the eagle plume of my boy Walter, thou ill-omened bird
that thou art? Yonder hangs mine; it can never more appear bearing
proudly forward in the foremost shock of the battle-field. Och,
hey, that is true! Take that, thou raven! Thou may'st rend it as ye
list. But, my boy's!--the proud plume of mine eldest born boy!--thou
shalt never take that!"

"I crave your pardon, Sir Knight," replied Dugald Roy; "and now I think
on't, I need not take either, for I have some spare wing feathers in
my store that will do all the turn."

The next morning saw Sir Walter and his brother Patrick early on foot,
dressed in their plainest hunting attire, stretching up the valley at
the head of their attendants. Each of the brothers had three of the
eagle-winged arrows stuck into his belt; for, as both were dexterous
marksmen, and as they had resolved to use their shafts against nothing
else but a great hart of sixteen, they felt themselves to be thus
most amply provided to insure success. Fortune was somewhat adverse
to them, however; for although they saw deer in abundance, they found
themselves in this very part of the valley, when the day was already
far spent, without having once had a chance of effecting their object.

"Look ye there, brother Walter!" at length cried Patrick Stewart
suddenly, as he pointed to a hart with a magnificent head, which
was crossing to this side of the river, at the ford you see above
yonder. "Look ye there brother! there he goes at last!"

"By the rood, but that is the very fellow we want," replied Sir
Walter. "Watch him! See!--he takes the hill aslant. He will not go far,
if we may judge from his present pace."

"I saw him walk over that open knoll in the wood high up yonder,"
said Patrick, after some minutes of pause. "He has no mind to go
farther than the dip of the hill above. I think that we are sure of
finding him there. What say you brother?"

"Thou art right, Patrick," said Walter. "Then do thou run on, and take
the long hollow in the hill-side, beyond the big pine tree yonder. I
will follow up the slack behind us here. Let your sweep be wide,
that we may be sure of stalking well in beyond him, so that, if we
fail of getting proper vantage of him, we may be sure that we drive
him not farther a-field. Let us take no sleuth-hound, nor bratchet
neither, lest, perchance, we cause him alarm. You, my merry men,
will tarry here for us with the dogs."

Off went the two brothers, each in his own direction, and each with his
bow in his hand, and his three arrows in his belt. In obedience to Sir
Walter's directions, Patrick hurried away to the great pine tree, and
then began his ascent through the long hollow in the woody mountain's
side with all manner of expedition. After a long and fatiguing climb,
he began to use less speed and more caution, as he approached nearer to
the somewhat less steep ground, where his hopes lay. Then it was that
he commenced making a long sweep around, stealing silently from tree
to tree, and concealing himself, as much as he could, by keeping their
thick trunks before him, and creeping along among the heather, where
such a precaution was necessary. Having completed his sweep to such
an extent as led him to believe that he had certainly got beyond the
hart, he was about to creep down the hill, in the hope of soon coming
upon him, when he chanced to observe a great uprooted pine, which
lay prostrated a little way farther on, and somewhat above the spot
where he then was, its head rising above the heather like a great green
hillock. Thinking that he might as well have one peep beyond it before
he turned downwards, and wishing to avail himself of its shade to mask
his motions, he took a direct course towards it. But it so happened,
that the hart had found it equally convenient for the same purpose,
as well as for a place of outlook, for it had taken post close to it,
on the farther side. Descrying Patrick Stewart through an accidental
opening in the foliage, and having no fancy to hold nearer converse
with him, the creature moved slowly away. His quick and practised
eye caught a view of it through the opening, as it was going away
up the hill, as it happened, in a direct line. Well experienced in
woodcraft, he, in a loud voice, called out "hah!" As is common with
red deer when in the woods, the hart made a sudden halt, and wheeled
half round to listen, and in this way he placed his broadside to the
hunter's eye. This was but for an instant, to be sure; but in that
instant Patrick Stewart's arrow, passing through the break in the
foliage of the pine, fixed itself deep into the shoulder of the hart.

"Clumsily done!" exclaimed Patrick Stewart from very vexation as he saw
the hart bound off. "I'll warrant me the arrow-head is deep into his
shoulder blade. One single finger's breadth more behind it would have
made him mine own, and with all the cleverness of perfect woodcraft."

Patrick, baulked and disappointed, now extended his sweep, and crossed
and re-crossed the ground, with the hope of meeting his brother Sir
Walter; but as he did not succeed in falling in with him, he followed
the track of the hart for some distance up the hill, until he lost
every trace of his slot upon the dry summit, after which he returned
with all manner of haste to make his way downwards to the party in the
valley below. This he did, partly with the expectation of meeting his
brother Sir Walter there, and partly with the intention of getting the
dogs, that he might make an attempt to recover his wounded hart. There
he found--not his brother Sir Walter--but his brother Murdoch--who
stood exulting over a dead stag. He was a great hart of sixteen,
just such an one as he himself had been after.

"Thou see'st that I have the luck," said Murdoch Stewart triumphantly.

"Whence camest thou, Murdoch? and how comes this?" demanded Patrick.

"All naturally enough, brother," replied Murdoch Stewart
carelessly. "As I was wandering idly on the hill-side above there,
I espied the people here below, so I came sauntering down to see what
they were about, and to hear news of ye all. But, as my luck would
have it, I had hardly been with them the pattering of a paternoster,
when the very hart that thou wentest after came bang down upon me--my
shaft fled--and there he lies. Mark now, brother, is he not well and
cleanly killed? Observe--right through the neck you see. But, ha!--it
would seem that thou hast spent an arrow too--for these fellows tell
me that thou tookest three with thee, and methinks thou hast but
twain left in thy belt."

"I used one against the hart I went after," said Patrick coldly.

"And missed him, brother--is't not so?" said Murdoch laughing. "Well,
I never hoped that I should live to wipe thine eye in any such
fashion; for these varlets all say that this is the very hart that
thou went'st after."

"Nay, then," replied Patrick with an air of indifference; "if this
be the hart I went after, I must have found another great hart of
sixteen the very marrow of him; and him I have so marked, that I'll
be sworn he will be known again; for I promise you that at this moment
he beareth wood on his shoulder as well as on his head."

"The hart thou sayest that thou sawest may be like Saint Hubert's
stag for aught I know," said Murdoch; "but it is clear, from all that
these fellows say, that there lies the very hart that thou went'st
forth to kill, and that is no arrow of thine that hath fixed itself
in his gullet."

"I did see a hart--draw my bow at a hart--and sorely wound a hart,"
said Patrick, rather testily; "and were it not that the scent is
cold, and the hour so late, I think that the sleuth-hounds there,
would soon help me to prove to thee that he is as fine a hart of
sixteen as this which thou hast slain."

"Cry your mercy, brother," said Murdoch; "I knew not that such great
harts of sixteen had been so rife hereabouts, as that one should
start up as a butt for thine arrow the moment that the other had
been lost to thee. Yet it is clear that thou hast spent an arrow upon
something.--Ha!--by the way--where is our brother Walter? They tell
me that he went up the hill-side with thee."

"After seeking for him on the hill-side in vain, I reckoned on finding
him here," replied Patrick. "But if he be within a mile of us I'll
make him answer."

He put his bugle to his lips, and awakened the echoes, with such
sounds as were understood between Sir Walter and himself; but the
echoes alone replied to him.

"He may have met with a deer which may have led him off in pursuit
over the hill," said Patrick.

"Aye," said Murdoch; "he may have fallen in with your hart of
sixteen--yea, or another, for aught I know, seeing that harts of
sixteen are now so rife on these hills."

"Fall in with what he might, he is not the man to give up his game
easily," said Patrick, somewhat keenly.

"Whatever may have befallen him," said Murdoch, "we can hardly hope
to see him hereabouts to-night."

"I hope we may see him at Drummin," said Patrick; "for as the night is
now drooping down so fast, he will most readily seek the straightest
way thither. So, as thou hast now made sure of a great hart of
sixteen for Sir Allan, we may as well turn our steps thitherward
without more delay."

On reaching Drummin, Patrick Stewart's first inquiry was for his
brother Sir Walter. He had not returned home; but it was yet early
in the night, and he might have been led away to such a distance as
to require the greater part of the night to bring him home. The hart
was borne up to the hall in triumph, and exhibited before Sir Allan,
with the arrow still sticking in his neck. The old man's countenance
was filled with joy and exultation when he beheld it. The Lady Stradawn
could not contain her triumph.

"So, Murdoch," said she, "thou art the lucky man who hath killed the
much longed for venison! Thou art the lucky man who hath brought thy
father the food for which his soul so yearneth! There is something
of good omen for thee in this, my boy!"

"A noble head!--a great hart of sixteen, indeed," said Sir Allan. "Aye,
aye, that is a head, that is a head indeed! Yet have I slain many as
fine in my time. Aye, aye,--but those days are gone; och, hey! gone
indeed. See what a cuach his horn hath. Yet that which I slew up
at Loch Aven had a bigger cuach than this one by a great deal. As
I live, you might have slaked your thirst from the hollow of it the
drowthiest day you ever saw. Yet this is a good hart--a noble hart of
sixteen,--aye, aye! hoch-hey! But, hey! what's this? A goose-winged
shaft? Did I not tell ye that my dream spake of an eagle's wing? His
heart will be naught after all--naught, naught--och, hey! och, hey!"

"Nay, we shall soon convince thee to the contrary, father," said
Murdoch, motioning to the attendants to lay the deer down upon the
hearth. "I will forthwith break him under thine own eye, and thou
shalt see, and judge for thyself."

Murdoch then drawing forth his knife, began to open up the animal
according to the strictest rules laid down for breaking a deer, as
this operation was called, and on proceeding to slit up the slough,
to the great wonder of every one, it was discovered that the old man
was right. The heart was indeed so very small that it might very
well have been said to have been naught. Murdoch was dismayed for
a moment at an omen so very inauspicious, which, in his own mind,
he felt was more than enough to overthrow all the fair prognostics
which his mother had so evidently drawn from his success. The Lady
herself was equally disconcerted.

"Naught, naught!" whimpered Sir Allan. "'Tis an ill omen for thee,
boy. Thou shalt ne'er fly with an eagle's wing--nay, nay! Aye,
aye! Thou art ever doomed to gobble i' the muddy stagnant waters like
a midden-gander.--Uch, aye! och, hey!"

"The fiend take the old carl for his saying!" whispered Murdoch
angrily aside to his mother.

"Amen!" replied the Lady Stradawn bitterly, in the same under
tone. "But fear ye not, boy, thou shalt wear his eagle wing, aye,
and sit in his chair to boot, ere long."

This dialogue apart was unobserved by any one, and both son and mother
speedily recovered their self-possession. The lady very cunningly
set herself, straightway, to turn the weak and dribbling stream of
Sir Allan's thoughts from the subject which then occupied them,
to some other, which was to her less disagreeable at the moment,
and she easily succeeded.

Patrick Stewart's attention was attracted from all this superstitious
trifling, as well as from what followed it, by again observing the
garnet brooch, which appeared in the bosom of the Lady Stradawn. His
thoughts were entirely occupied with it, and his eyes were from
time to time rivetted on it. At length it seemed as if Murdoch had
somehow remarked his fixed gaze, for a private sign appeared to pass
from him to his mother, after which she pleaded a sudden faintness,
and left the hall, to return no more that night, and her son soon
afterwards followed her. Patrick Stewart's mind remained filled with
strange speculations regarding the jewel, until the night wore late,
and he began to think anxiously about his brother Sir Walter. Having
done the last offices of attention to his father for the evening,
he secretly desired Dugald Roy to follow him.

"Dugald," said he, "I am, most unaccountably, unhappy about thy
master. Surely, if all had been well with him he should have been here
ere this? I cannot rid my mind of the idea that there is something
amiss with him. He rested not, as thou knowest, when I was missing,
and it would ill become me to sleep when he is absent. Let us go seek
for him, then, without delay."

Dugald Roy readily assented; and both of them having dighted themselves
well up for turmoil, as well as for toil, they secretly left the
tower of Drummin. All that night they travelled, and by daylight they
had got into the range of mountains, and of forests, where they had
reason to hope for tidings of Sir Walter. They searched through every
part of the wooded side of that hill where he had last disappeared,
and they visited every human dwelling within a great range around
it, but all without obtaining the slightest intelligence regarding
him. Disappointed, and disheartened, they had returned nearly as far
as where the village of Tomantoul now stands, on their way home in
the evening, when they met with Dugald Roy's brother Neil.

"What brought thee here, man?" demanded Dugald; "and what a fiend
gives thee that anxious face?"

"Holy Saint Michael, but it is well that I have foregathered with you
both!" replied Neil. "You must take some other road than that which
leads to Drummin, Sir Patrick. Believe me, it is no place for you at
this present time."

"What, in the name of all the saints, hath happened to make it
otherwise?" demanded Patrick Stewart.

"Cannot ye speak out at once, ye Amadan ye, and not hammer like a
fool that gate?" cried Dugald impatiently.

"Patience! patience!" said Neil; "patience! and ye shall know all
presently. In the first place, then, Master Murdoch says that Sir
Walter is murdered."

"Murdered!" cried Patrick, in an agony of anxiety; "My brother Walter
murdered!--Where?--when?--how?--by whom?--Oh, speak, that I may hasten
to avenge him! But, no!--'tis impossible!--speak!--I have mistaken
thee--surely it cannot be!"

"Master Murdoch says that it is true," replied Neil. "But the worst
of all is, that he hath accused thee, Sir Patrick, of having done the
deed, with an arrow, somewhere in the wood on the hill of Dalestie."

"Merciful Saints!" exclaimed Patrick; "can he indeed be such a
villain? But who will believe so foul and unnatural a calumny? Oh,
Walter, my brother, my brother! Heaven above knows that thy life was
ten thousand times dearer to me than mine own!"

"Nay," replied Neil, "he hath called all the clansmen who were
there to witness and to support the strong suspicions which he hath
industriously raised against thee."

"What argument hath he against me?" cried Patrick Stewart impatiently.

"He says that the men who were present can testify that you and your
brother, Sir Walter, went into the wood together," replied Neil;
"and that Sir Walter hath not been seen since; and then, he contends,
that the sudden flight which you made from Drummin, under the cloud
of night, is enough to show that you have taken guilt home to your
conscience."

"And is this all?" demanded Patrick Stewart.

"Nay," replied Neil, "there was more stuff of the same kind, by the use
of which he hath contrived so to persuade them with his wily tongue,
that they are all clamorous against thee. Nay, he hath even warped
the feeble judgment of Sir Allan himself to the same belief."

"Serpent that he is!" cried Patrick Stewart. "But let me hasten home to
confront this vile traducer. My brother!--my brother Walter!" continued
he, bursting into tears. "My brother Walter gone!--and I accused of
his murder!--Oh, my brother!--my dear brother! Heaven above knows how
willingly I would have laid down my life to have saved thine! Nay,
how willingly would I now lay it down at this moment, were it only to
secure to me the certainty that thou art yet alive! The very thought
that it may be otherwise is agony and desolation to me. But let us
hasten to confront this villainy. Let us hasten to revenge! For the
love of Heaven, let us hasten home, Dugald!"

"Nay, my good master," said Dugald weeping, "for if this sad tale be
true as to Sir Walter's death, other master than thee, I fear me,
that I now have none. Neil says well that Drummin is no place for
thee to-night, with so sudden and tumultuous a clamour excited against
thee. Thine innocence will avail thee nothing. Even the innocence of
an angel would naught avail against the diseased judgments of men,
with minds so poisoned and so possessed. Be persuaded to go elsewhere,
until the false and weak foundations of this most traitorous accusation
fail beneath it, and the mists drop from men's eyes. Who can say for
certain that my beloved master, Sir Walter, is dead? I cannot believe
in so great a calamity. What proof is there that he is dead? There
is no news that his body hath been found."

"Nay," replied Neil, "he is only amissing as I said."

"Thou dost well advise me, Dugald," said Patrick Stewart after a
moment's thought. "There is, as thou say'st, no proof that my brother,
Sir Walter, is dead. It is most reasonable to believe that this may,
after all, be nothing but a foolish or malicious surmise. My best hope,
nay, my belief is, that it is founded on naught else; and may Heaven
in its mercy grant that it may prove so. I will take thine advice. I
will not go to Drummin at present, but I shall straightway bend my
steps towards the Castle of Curgarf."

"Then shall I and Neil attend thee thither, Sir Knight," said Dugald;
"for next to Sir Walter Stewart do I assuredly owe thee fealty and
service."

Sir Patrick and his two attendants now turned off in the direction
of Curgarf, and the day was so far spent that the sun was setting,
as they were passing over the ridge of the country lying between the
Aven and the Don. The trees of the forest there grew thinly scattered
in little stunted patches. Sir Patrick was walking a few paces in front
of the two brothers, musing as he went, when he was suddenly surprised
by a shower of arrows falling thickly on and around him. One stuck
in his bonnet, another buried itself harmlessly in the folds of his
plaid, a third pierced his sandal and slightly wounded his foot; and,
whilst a fourth struck fire out of a large stone close to him, two
more fell short of him among the heather near him. In an instant his
bow and those of his attendants were bent, and their eyes being turned
towards the place whence the shafts had flown, they descried some men
lurking beneath one of the straggling patches of dwarf pine trees. To
have stood aloof with the hope of shooting at them successfully would
have been fatal, for the archery of Sir Patrick and his attendants
could have done nothing against men so ambushed, whilst the Knight
and his people would have been a sure mark for their traitorous foes.

"On them, my brave Dugald!" cried Sir Patrick Stewart, drawing his
sword, and rushing towards the enemy.

Dugald Roy, and his brother, Neil, were at his back in a moment. Before
they could reach the point against which their assault was directed,
several arrows were discharged at them. But so resolute, and so
spirited an attack had been so little looked for by those who shot
them, that they were too much appalled to take any very steady aim,
so that all of them fell innocuous. Seeing Sir Patrick and his two
attendants so rapidly nearing their place of concealment, the villains
thought it better to turn out, that they might receive their onset on
ground where they could all act at once. Six men accordingly appeared
claymore in hand, and as Sir Patrick continued to hurry forward,
he now took the opportunity of speaking hastily to Dugald and Neil,
who were advancing to right and left of him.

"Draw an arrow each," said he, "and when I give you the word, stop
suddenly, and each of you pick off the man opposite to you, and leave
me to take my choice of the rest.--Now!"

The unlooked for halt was made just as the assassins were preparing
to receive the on-comers on the points of their swords. The aim was
sure and fatal. Three men fell--and on rushed Sir Patrick and his
two people with a loud shout. The three, who yet stood against them,
were panic-struck, and, ere they could well offer defence, they were
also extended writhing among the heather, in the agonies of death;
and the whole matter was over in less time than it has taken for
me to tell of it. But, uncertain whether the partial covert of the
pine-patch might not still shelter some more enemies, they rushed
in among the trees, brandishing their reeking blades. Up started a
youth from among some low brushwood, and ran off like a hare. Neil
was after him in a moment, and up to him ere he had fled twenty
paces. Already he had him by the hair of the head, and his claymore
was raised to smite him, when Patrick Stewart called to his follower
to stay his hand. Neil obeyed, and granted the youth his life; but
when he brought him in as a prisoner, what was the Stewart's surprise
when he discovered that he was the same individual whose life he had
spared in the Catterane's den.

"Ha!" exclaimed Sir Patrick; "said I not well that I questioned the
wisdom of sparing thy life when we last met, thou vermin? What hast
thou to urge, that I should show mercy to thee now, Sir Caitiff?"

"Oh, mercy, mercy, Sir Knight!" exclaimed the youth, piteously. "Trust
me, I came not hither willingly. I had no hand in this treacherous
ambush against thy life."

"Appearances are woefully against thee," said Patrick Stewart; "yet
would I not willingly do thee hurt, if thou be'st innocent. But this
is no convenient time nor place to tarry for thy trial. So bring him
along with thee, Dugald. We shall take our own leisure to examine
him afterwards; meanwhile, take especial care that he escape not."

Sir Patrick Stewart's reception at Curgarf may be easily guessed
at. He told of the providential escape he had made from assassination
by the way; but he thought it better, as yet, to say nothing of
the mysterious disappearance of his brother, Sir Walter, or of the
traitorous accusations against himself, to which it had given rise. His
resolve to be silent as to this matter was formed, because he had by
this time reasoned himself into the firm persuasion that his brother's
reappearance would speedily make his own innocence as clear as noonday.

He was next morning happily seated in the hall, now talking with the
old Lord of Curgarf on one subject, and again taking his opportunity
of whispering to the Lady Catherine on another, when he suddenly
recollected the brooch he had given her. It was not in her bosom.

"Where are the two twined hearts?" said he to her, smiling. "Fear not,
dearest--I am not jealous."

"Thou hast no cause for jealousy, dear Patrick," replied the lady;
"and yet, I grieve to say, that I have not the jewel. When the
Catteranes hurried me off from here, and just as they stopped for
a little time to make up a litter, that they might the more easily
carry me, one who appeared to have a certain command over them,
but whose face or person I could not see in the obscurity which then
prevailed, snatched it from my bosom, whilst affecting to fasten my
arryssade more firmly around me. Nay, look not so serious, dearest
Patrick! surely thou dost not doubt me in this matter?"

"Doubt thee, my Catherine!" said Sir Patrick, kissing her hand with
fervour; "sooner would I doubt mine own existence;--thou art pure
virgin truth itself! Think no more of it. Thou shalt have another
and a richer one anon. But say, dearest! why should we longer delay
to set our own very two hearts in that indissoluble golden knot,
with which the sacrament of our holy church may bind them together,
so as to form a jewel, of which neither robber nor Catterane can
rifle us, and which cannot be rent asunder save by the iron hand of
death. I have thy father's permission to move thee to shorten that
cruel interval which thou hast placed between me and happiness."

In such a strain as this, did he continue to urge his suit, until
it was at last successful; and, to his great joy, it was ultimately
arranged, with the consent of all parties, that the marriage should
take place on the second day from the time I am now speaking of. The
bustle of preparation began in the Castle the moment the circumstance
was announced; and it immediately spread far and wide everywhere
around it, and went on incessantly day and night. Joy was everywhere as
universal among the clansmen as their devotion to the Lady Catherine,
the bride, and their admiration of the merits of the bridegroom, could
make it. The day at length arrived. The Castle was crowded with all the
friends and retainers of the family, who came pouring in to witness
a ceremonial so interesting to them all. The Priest had arrived; the
Castle chapel had been set in order; the bridal-chamber had been dight
up; and the feast prepared; and every soul was astir to contribute,
so far as in them lay, to the general felicity, as well as to share in
it. The old Lord of Curgarf seemed to have grown young again. Arthur,
the Master of Forbes, was all life and raillery. Already had the
whole company been assembled within the hall. All the men-at-arms
within the Castle had crowded in thither. Even the old warden at the
gate had lowered his portcullis, and made every thing secure with
bolt, bar, and chain, so that he might safely leave his post to the
charge of their stubborn defences. The blushing bride, arrayed in the
richest attire, had been led in, attended by her blooming maidens;
and the movement towards the chapel was about to be made, so that
the ceremony might go on, when suddenly a shrill bugle blast from
without the gate made the very Castle walls resound again.

"Go some of ye, and see who that may be who summons us so rudely,"
said the Lord of Curgarf.

"Murdoch Stewart, and a party of the Clan-Allan, are at the gate,
craving admittance," said the messenger, on his return.

"Son Arthur," said the Lord of Curgarf, "get thee down quickly,
and give Murdoch Stewart of Clan-Allan, the brother of this our
son-in-law to be, instant entry. Let the gate be opened to him,
aye, and to all his people, dost thou hear? It was kind in him
thus to come, on the spur of the occasion," continued the old Lord,
addressing Patrick, after his son had gone with his attendants to
obey his will--"It was kind in thy brother to come thus unasked on
the spur of the moment. Would that Sir Allan, thy father himself,
could have been here."

The court-yard and the stair now rang with the clink of armed men,
and Arthur, the Master of Forbes, entered, ushering in Murdoch Stewart,
proudly attired, and followed by a formidable band of the Clan-Allan,
whose flaring red tartans were strongly contrasted against the more
modest green of those of the Clan-Forbes. To the no small surprise
of his brother Patrick, he no longer wore that appearance of youthful
carelessness and indifference, under the mask of which he had hitherto
disguised his true character. His bearing was now manly and lofty,
suited to the command of the Clan-Allan, which he now seemed to have
assumed. His salutation to the Lord of Curgarf was grave, dignified,
and courteous; and, as way was made for him, he advanced, with the
utmost self-possession, into the middle of the hall.

"I rejoice that I have arrived thus, as it seems, in the nick of time,"
said he, looking around him, and bowing as he did so, but without
once allowing his eyes to rest on his brother, who stood fixed in
silent astonishment at what he beheld.

"So do we all rejoice," replied the Lord of Curgarf. "Had we but
known that our bridal might have been thus honoured by the house of
Clan-Allan, on so short a warning, trust me thou shouldst not have
lacked our warmest bidding, as thou hast now our warmest welcome."

"Welcome or not, my Lord," replied Murdoch Stewart, with a respectful
reverence, "thou wilt surely thank me for this most unceremonious
visit, when thou shalt know the object of it. I come to save the
honour of thy house from foul disgrace: would, that in so doing,
I could likewise save the honour of that which gave me birth! But
although, in saving thee and thy house from dishonour, the good name
of that of Clan-Allan must assuredly be tarnished, it shall never be
said of me, that I preserved it by falsehood or infamous concealment."

"Of what wouldst thou speak?" demanded the Lord of Curgarf. "I do
beseech thee, keep me, and keep this good company, no longer in
suspense."

"Then, my good Lord," replied Murdoch, solemnly, "much as it pains me
to utter it, and much as it must pain thee, and all present, to hear
it, I must tell thee, that strong suspicions are abroad, that mine
eldest brother, Sir Walter Stewart, hath been most foully murdered,
and that he, on whom thou wert now on the very eve of bestowing thine
only daughter, is the foul murderer, who took an elder brother's life,
to make way for the gratification of his own ambitious and avaricious
desires. The circumstances are so strong against my unfortunate brother
Patrick, that all agree that no one else could have been the murderer."

"All!--all!--all!--all! was echoed from the stern Clan-Allans, at
the lower end of the hall.

"Holy saints defend us!" exclaimed the Lord of Curgarf, sinking into
a chair.

"'Tis false! oh 'tis all false, father!" cried the trembling Catherine
Forbes, rushing forward to assist her father.

"Infamous traitor!" cried Patrick Stewart; "lying and infamous
traitor! Where are the proofs on which you found so foul and false
an accusation?"

"Would, for the credit of our poor house, that it were false!" said
Murdoch, mildly. "But it is impossible to conceal, that thou wert the
last person seen in our poor brother Walter's company. Thou wentest
up the wood with him, with three arrows in thy belt. Thou camest back
shortly afterwards without him. One of thine arrows was gone. Thou
gavest reasons for the want of it which proved to be false; and our
dear brother Walter hath never been since seen."

"He is guilty! He, and no one else, is the murderer!" cried the men
of Clan-Allan hoarsely.

"Woe is me!" said the distracted Lord of Curgarf, springing from
his chair with nervous agitation; "the circumstances are indeed
too suspicious!"

"Father!--father!--father, he is innocent!" cried the frantic Lady
Catherine Forbes, holding the old lord's arm.

"Sister," cried the Master of Forbes, taking the Lady Catherine
affectionately by the hand, and speaking to her with great
feeling--"Dearest sister, this is indeed an afflicting trial for thee;
yet, be of good courage--I have no fears of the result. Patrick Stewart
cannot be guilty of the foul and cruel deed of which he has been
accused. We must have the matter sifted to the bottom; the truth must
be brought out; and, as his innocence must be thereby established, all
the evil that can happen will be but the short delay of your nuptials,
till he be fairly and fully cleansed from these wicked charges."

"I am sent by my father," said Murdoch Stewart--"I am sent by my
father, and that most unwillingly, to demand his son Patrick as a
prisoner. Forgive me, my good Lord of Curgarf, for thus daring to
execute his paternal order under your roof.--Men of Clan-Allan,
seize and bind Patrick Stewart!"

"Hold!" cried Dugald Roy, in a voice like thunder--"Hold, men of
Clan-Allan! Lay not a hand upon him, to whom, if my dear master Sir
Walter be indeed gone, ye must all soon, in the course of nature,
swear fealty as your chieftain. He is guiltless of my beloved master's
murder, though murdered, I fear, he hath most foully been. But here is
one who can tell more of this cruel and wicked deed. Come hither boy,
and tell us what thou may'st know of this mysterious matter."

Dugald Roy then led forward the youth whom he had brought prisoner
to Curgarf, of whose very existence Sir Patrick Stewart had lost
all recollection, amidst the tumult of joy in which he had been so
continually kept by his approaching nuptials. The Lady Catherine
Forbes started with surprise when she beheld him; but the countenance
of Murdoch Stewart turned as pale as a linen sheet at the sight of him.

"What hast thou to say, young man, to the clearing up of this dark
and cruel mystery?" demanded the Lord of Curgarf.

"My Lord, I saw Sir Walter Stewart of Clan-Allan murdered," said the
youth in a tremulous voice. "I saw him shot to the death by the arrow
of Ewan Cameron, one of the band of Catteranes."

"How camest thou to have been in any such evil company?" demanded
the Lord of Curgarf.

"Trusting to have mercy at your hands, my Lord, I will tell my whole
story as shortly as I can, if thou wilt but listen to me," replied
the youth. "I was prentice to a craftsman in the town of Banff, a
man who wrought in gold and silver. Being one day severely chidden
by my master for some unlucky fault, the devil entered into me,
and I resolved to be revenged of him. Having become known to the
captain of a certain band of Catteranes, I stole my master's keys,
and gave them to him, so that he and his gang were enabled to rifle
the goldsmith's stores of all his valuables. In dread of punishment I
fled with them to their den in the hills, where they afterwards kept
me in thrall to do their service. The lady, thy daughter, can tell
thee that I was there when she was brought in by them, and had not
Sir Patrick Stewart left me bound when he spared my life, they would
have certainly taken it on their return, in their rage and fury at her
escape; but, fortunately, I was lying quite out of their way at the
moment, and was not discovered till they had somewhat cooled. Finding
that their retreat had been found out, they hastily abandoned it,
and dispersed themselves through the hills. On the day that followed
after that, we were all collected together to meet our captain; and
after two days more, a breathless messenger came early in the morning
to tell him something which was kept secret from all else. There were
but few of the band with him at the time; but these were ordered to
arm on the sudden; and even I, who had never been called out on any
expedition until that day, was commanded to arm like the rest.

"Our small party marched off in all haste, and about mid-day we were
planted in ambush on the side of a hill above the Aven. Our captain
seemed to be restless and anxious. He moved about from place to place,
stretching on tiptoe from the top of every knoll, and sometimes
climbing the tallest pine trees, in order to scan the valley below
more narrowly. At length, as it grew late in the afternoon, he took
a long look from one point, and then, as if he had at last made some
discovery of importance, he suddenly moved us off into a thicket,
which grew on the edge of a considerable opening in the wood on the
hill-side; and I would know that opening again, for it had the green
quaking bog of a well-head in the very midst of it.

"We had not stood long there, till a man in very plain attire, with a
bow in his hand, came up from the thick wood below, and began to pass
aslant the open space. 'There goes a good mark for an arrow,' said
the captain of the band. 'Shoot at him, my men.'--'He is not worth
a shaft,' replied some of his people. 'He is a poor fellow who hath
nothing in his sporran to pay for the killing of him.'--'No matter,'
said Ewan Cameron, 'he hath a good pair of sandals on him; and my
brogues are worn to shreds--so, here goes at him.' And just as the man
was passing along the bank close above the well-eye, the arrow fled,
and pierced him to the heart. 'Well shot, Ewan!' cried the captain,
in a strange ecstasy of joy; 'thou shalt have gold for that shot of
thine.' So instant was his death, that he sprang high into the air,
and his body fell headlong and without life into the very middle of
the bog, with a force that buried it in its yielding mass, so high,
that nothing was seen of him but his legs. Ewan hastened to the place,
quietly took off the sandals from the dead man, threw off his own
brogues, and put on the sandals in place of them, and then the captain
himself ran eagerly to help him to force the corpse downwards into
the bog; and this they did till the green moss closed over the soles
of its feet. I then knew not who the murdered man might be,--and the
deed was no sooner done, than our captain ordered us to make our way
back, as fast as we could travel, over the hills, whilst he left us
to go directly down into the glen.

"Early next morning, a messenger again came to us; and five picked
archers were sent out under the orders of Ewan Cameron. I was
directed to accompany them; and I marvelled much why I, who was so
inexperienced, should be required to go on an expedition where they
seemed to be so very particular in choosing their men. But Ewan
Cameron soon let me into the secret. 'Thou knowest the person of
Patrick Stewart of Clan-Allan, dost thou not?' said he to me.--'If
that was he who took the lady from the cave, and left me bound,
replied I, 'then have I reason to remember him right well.'--'Then
must I tell thee, that we are now sent forth expressly to hunt for
him, and to take his life,' replied Ewan; 'and if thou would'st fain
preserve thine own, thou wilt need to look sharply about thee, that
thou mayest tell me when thou seest him.'--'Who covets to have his
life?' demanded I.'--'He who made me take the life of his brother
Walter, for those sandals which I now wear,' said Ewan.--'What! our
captain?' exclaimed I; 'that must be in revenge, because Sir Patrick
Stewart took the lady from him.'--'Partly so, perhaps,' replied Ewan;
'but I am rather jealous that our captain's greatest fault to Sir
Patrick Stewart is, that he, like his brother, Sir Walter Stewart,
was born before him. Knowest thou not, that our captain is no other
than Murdoch Stewart, the third son of old Sir Allan of Stradawn?' I
was no sooner made aware of this, than--"

The youth would have proceeded, but the loud murmur of astonishment
and horror that arose every where throughout the hall, so drowned
his voice, that he was compelled to stop.

"Holy Saint Michael, what a perfect villain thou art!" exclaimed
the old Lord of Curgarf, darting a look of indignant detestation at
Murdoch Stewart.

"Thou wouldst not condemn a stranger unheard," said Murdoch, calmly.

"Nay," replied the Lord of Curgarf, "thou shalt have full justice. We
shall hear thee anon. But let this youth finish his narrative, which
would seem to be pregnant with strange and horrible things."

"I have but little more to say," continued the youth. "Gratitude to
Sir Patrick Stewart, for having spared my life, when his own security
might have required the taking of it, at once resolved me against
betraying him to slaughter. Ewan Cameron marched us straight away
to the hill, which rises above the track that leads from the little
place of Tomantoul to the river Don, and there he kept us sitting,
for some time, watching, till we espied three men coming along the
way. Whilst they were yet afar off I knew one of them to be the very
person whom the murderers were in search of. 'Is that Sir Patrick
Stewart that comes first yonder?' demanded Ewan.--'I cannot tell
at this distance,' said I; 'but I think the man I saw in the cave
was much taller than that man.'--'That is a tall man,' said Ewan;
'take care what thou sayest, or thou mayest chance to have thy
stature curtailed by the whole head.'--'I say what is true,' said I;
'no man could know his own father at that distance.'--'Then will I
assert that thou sayest that which is a lie,' said one of the party;
'for great as the distance may be, I know that to be Sir Patrick
Stewart. I mean that man who comes first of the three.'--'Let us
down upon him without loss of time then,' cried Ewan; 'and do you
come along, Sirrah! Thou shalt along with us; and, when our work is
done, we shall see whether we cannot find the means of refreshing
thy memory.' Having uttered these words, Ewan hurried us all down to
the covert of a small patch of stunted pines, that grew on the flat
ground below. There we lay in ambush till Sir Patrick Stewart, and
his two attendants, came within bowshot, and there, as is already
known to most here, the six assassins were speedily punished for
their wicked attempt, and I became Sir Patrick Stewart's prisoner."

"Now," said the Lord of Curgarf, addressing himself to Murdoch,
"what hast thou to say in answer to all this?--What hast thou to
answer for thyself?"

"I say that the young caitiff is a foul liar!" cried Murdoch
violently. "He is a foul liar, who hath been taught a false tale,
to bear me down."

"He may be a liar," said the Lord of Curgarf; "but his story hangs
marvellously well together."

"Who would dare to condemn me on his unsupported testimony?" demanded
Murdoch, boldly.

"Here is one who is ready to support his tale," said Michael Forbes,
pressing forward, and pushing before him a strange looking little man,
with a long red beard, and a head of hair so untamed, that it hung
over his sharp sallow features in such a manner, as, for some moments,
to render it difficult for Sir Patrick Stewart to recognise in him,
the man whom he had saved from his perilous position in the salmon
creel, at the Lynn of Aven.

"Ha!--Grigor Beg!" cried Murdoch Stewart, betrayed by his surprise, at
beholding him; "What a fiend hath brought thee hither?--But thou--thou
can'st say nothing against me."

"I fear I can say nothing for thee, Murdoch Stewart," said the little
man, darting a pair of piercing eyes towards him, from amidst the
tangled thickets of his hair. "Nor is it needful for me now to say
all I might against thee. But here, as I understand, thou hast basely
and falsely accused thy brother Sir Patrick Stewart of murdering his
elder brother Sir Walter. Now, I saw Ewan Cameron shoot down Sir
Walter Stewart with an arrow; and it was done at thy bidding too,
for I was by, on the hill-side, when thou didst give to Ewan Cameron
his secret order to slay thy brother, and when thou didst teach him
to do the deed, as if it were an idle act, done against a stranger."

"Lies!--lies!--a very net-work of lies, in which to ensnare me!" cried
Murdoch. "But who can condemn me for another's death, who, for aught
that we know truly, may yet appear alive and well?"

"Thou hadst no such scruple in condemning thine innocent brother,
Sir Patrick," said the Lord of Curgarf; "yet shall no guilt be
fixed upon thee, till thy brother's death be established beyond
question. Meanwhile thou must be a bounden prisoner, till the truth
be clearly brought to light."

"Men of Clan-Allan! will ye allow him who must be your chieftain to
be laid hands on in the house of a stranger?" cried Murdoch Stewart
aloud. "You are armed; use your weapons then, and leave not a man
alive!"

A thrill of horror ran through every bosom. There were brave men enough
of the Clan-Forbes there, to have made head against three times the
number of Clan-Allans that now stood, armed to the teeth, and in a
firm body, at the lower end of the hall; but there was not a man of
the Forbeses, who, if not altogether unarmed, had any weapon at all
to defend himself with but his dirk. Those who had such instruments
were drawing them, whilst others were rushing to the walls, to arm
themselves with whatsoever weapons they could most easily reach,
and pluck down thence. The noise and bustle of the moment was great,
when, all at once, there fell a hush over the turbulence of the scene.

"Stir not a man of Clan-Allan!" cried Sir Patrick to the Stewarts, who
stood in their array, like a heavy and portentous thundercloud. "Stir
not, men of Clan-Allan!--Stir not a finger, I command you!"

"Sir Patrick Stewart is our young chieftain!" broke like a roll of
Heaven's artillery from the Clan-Allans. "Sir Patrick Stewart is our
young chieftain! Murdoch is a foul traitor and murderer! Bind him, bind
him! Let him be the prisoner, and let us have him forthwith justified!"

"Nay, nay," cried Sir Patrick; "bind him if you will, but lay not
your hands upon his life. This day, my Catherine," said he, turning
to the lady, and addressing her tenderly and sorrowfully; "This day,
that was to have been to me so full of joy, must now, alas! be the
first of that doleful time, which, in the bereavement of my heart,
I must devote to mourning for my beloved brother Walter. My first duty
is to go and seek for his remains; and in following out this most sad
and anxious search, I must crave thy presence, my Lord of Curgarf,
and thine, too, Arthur, with that of such of our friends as may be
disposed to go forth with us, to aid us in so painful a quest."

The wishes of Sir Patrick Stewart were readily agreed to. The nuptials
were for the present postponed; and instead of the marriage-feast, some
hasty refreshment was taken, preparatory to their immediate departure
on their melancholy search. The treacherous Murdoch Stewart was now
given in charge, as a manacled prisoner, to those very Clan-Allans,
at the head of whom he had come, so triumphantly, to fix a false
accusation on his brother Sir Patrick. With them too went the youth,
and the little man, Grigor Beg, who had given their evidence against
Murdoch. The old Lord of Curgarf's quiet palfrey was led forth;
and he set forward, attended by Arthur the Master of Forbes, Sir
Patrick Stewart, and a considerable following of those who were led
to accompany him by duty, or from curiosity.

They first visited the scene of the attempted assassination of Sir
Patrick Stewart. The spot where the six Catteranes were slain, was
easily discovered, by the flock of birds of prey that sat perched upon
the tops of the dwarf pines, or that wheeled over them in whistling
circles; whilst every now and then, some individual, bolder than the
rest, would swoop down on the heath, to partake of the banquet which
had been spread upon it for them. That some considerable share of
courage was required to enable these creatures to do this, was proved
to the party, who, on their nearer approach, scared away a brace of
hungry, gaunt-looking wolves, who had been employed in ravenously
tearing at the bodies, and dragging them hither and thither with
bloody jaws; as well as an eagle, who had dared to sit a little
way apart, to feed upon one of the carcases, in defiance of his
ferocious four-footed fellow-guests. The spectacle was shocking to
all who beheld it. But one object of their search was gained; for,
on examination, Patrick recognised his brother Walter's sandals,
which were removed from the feet of the corpse of Ewan Cameron,
and taken care of--thus so far corroborating the testimony of the
youth. Having completed their investigations in this place, they
piled heaps of stones over the bodies on the spot where they lay,
and the party then pursued their way, over the mountain, towards the
alleged scene of Sir Walter Stewart's murder.

Providence seemed to guide their steps;--for, as they passed over
the brow of the wooded hill that dropped down towards the Aven,
they scared away two ravens from a hollow place in the heath; and,
on approaching the spot, they discovered the well-picked bones of
a deer. His head showed him to have been an unusually fine great
hart of sixteen. An arrow was sticking so deeply fixed through the
shoulder-blade, as to satisfy all present, that its point must have
produced death, very soon after the animal had received it.

"As I hope for mercy, there is the very arrow that was lacking of
Sir Patrick's three!" cried Dugald Roy, triumphantly. "See--there is
the very eagle's feather which I put on it, with mine own hand! And,
look--there is the cross, which I always cut on the shaft, to give them
good luck. No shaft of mine, so armed, ever misses, when righteously
discharged. But for foul or treacherous murther, I'll warrant me,
that the most practised eye could never bring it to a true aim. But"
added he, as he very adroitly dislocated out the shoulder-bone, as
Highlanders are wont, and then possessed himself of the shoulder-blade,
arrow and all--"I'll e'en take this arrow with me, with the bone just
as it is, as a dumb but true witness in a righteous cause."

Led by the directions which they received from Grigor Beg, they now
descended through the forest, till they came to that very well-eye
you see yonder--for that was the very individual place, that both
the old man and the youth had described as the scene of Sir Walter's
murder. They had used the precaution to bring with them implements
for digging; and, by means of these, a few sturdy fellows were soon
enabled to make an opening into the lower end of the quaking bog,
so as very quickly to discharge the pent-up water within it. The
green surface then gradually subsided, and the legs of a human being,
with hose on, but without sandals, began to appear, sticking out,
with the feet upwards; and, by digging a little around it, they
soon succeeded in bringing the body of Sir Walter Stewart fully to
light. It was in all respects unchanged. The fatal arrow was deeply
buried in his left breast; his bow was firmly grasped in his hand;
and his three eagle-winged shafts were in his belt. The small unplumed
bonnet which he usually wore, when dressed for following the deer,
was fast squeezed down on his head, by the pressure which had been
exerted to sink him. How differently were the two brothers, Patrick
and Murdoch Stewart, affected by the harrowing spectacle which was
now brought before their eyes! Murdoch shed no tear--yet his features
were strongly agitated. He looked at the corpse with averted eyes, and
shuddered as he looked; whilst his face became black, and again deadly
pale, twenty times alternately. Sir Patrick Stewart, on the other hand,
threw himself, in an agony of tears, on the cold and dripping body of
his murdered brother, as it lay exposed on the bank; and, unable to
give utterance to his grief, he clasped it to his bosom, and lavished
fond, though unavailing caresses on it. In vain he essayed, with as
much tenderness as if his brother could have still felt the pain he
might thereby have given him, to pluck forth the arrow, deeply buried
in the fatal wound. All present were overcome by this sad scene;--but
poor Dugald Roy hung over them, and sobbed aloud, till the violence
of his grief recalled Sir Patrick Stewart to himself again.

"Aye!" said Dugald Roy; "that is a murderous shaft indeed! A good
cloth-yard in length, I'll warrant me; and feathered, too, from the
wing of some ill-omened grey goose, that was hatched in some western
sea-loch. This is no arrow of the make of Aven-side, else am I no judge
of the tool. No cross upon this, I'll be sworn. No, no.--By St. Peter,
but it hath murther in the very look of it! Aye, and there are the true
arrows of the cross in his belt!--These are of my winging, every one
of them. Little did I think, when I stuck them into my poor master's
girdle, that this was to be the way in which I was to find them! Would
that he had but gotten fair play! Would that he had but got his eye
on the villains ere they slew him! If he had but gotten one glimpse
of them, by the Rood, but every cross of these shafts would have been
eager to have dyed itself red in the blood of their cowardly hearts!"

The body of Sir Walter Stewart was now wrapped up in a plaid, and
fastened lengthwise upon two parallel boughs, and it was borne towards
Drummin. Their movements were so slow, and so often interrupted,
that it was dark night long ere they came to the place of their
destination. Sir Patrick Stewart felt the necessity of preparing his
father, Sir Allan, for the coming scene, as well as for the reception
of the Lord of Curgarf, and his son, the Master of Forbes. He therefore
resolved to hurry on before the party, that he might have a private
meeting with the old Knight, before their arrival. But being fully
aware that Sir Allan's mind had been already filled with those
iniquitous falsehoods, which his wicked brother, Murdoch Stewart,
had engendered against him, he thought it prudent to take with him
Dugald Roy, and two other men of the Clan-Allans, that they might be
prepared, if necessary, to support his justification of himself.

As Sir Patrick Stewart, and his small escort, approached the outer gate
of the Castle of Drummin, they perceived that it was shut. Dugald had
no sooner observed this circumstance, than he made a signal to the
Knight to remain silent, and then he advanced quietly to the little
wicket in the middle of the gate, and knocked gently.

"Who is there?" demanded the Warder, from within.

"Open the wicket, man, without a moment's tarrying," replied Dugald.

"Is that thee, Dugald Roy?" demanded the Warder.

"Who else could it be?" replied Dugald.

"It may be that any other might have done as well," replied the Warder
gruffly. "Thou wentst not forth with Murdoch Stewart;--Art thou of
his company at the present time?"

"What matter though I went not forth with him, if I come home in his
company?" replied Dugald readily.

"Is he with thee, then?" demanded the Warder.

"To be sure he is," cried Dugald impatiently. "Come, man! he is
close at hand, I tell thee. Come! art thou to keep us standing here
all night? By all that's good, he is coming upon us;--and, if he be
detained but the veriest fraction of a prod-flight, thou shalt surely
have a cudgelling for thy supper. Come man!--open I tell thee."

The huge iron bolts were now withdrawn from their fastenings, the key
grated among the rough wards of the lock, and the wicket was thrown
back, whilst the Warder, peering through the opening, seemed as if
he were inclined to know something more of those without, before he
removed his own bulky person, that still blocked the passage. But
Dugald, stooping his head, sprang through the low aperture, and
throwing his skull right into the poor fellow's stomach, with the
force of a battering-ram, he laid him sprawling on his back.

"Hech!" cried the Warder, as he fell. "Hech me!"

"Old fool that thou art!" cried Dugald, taking up the first word of
quarrel with him; "who was to think that thou wert to be standing in
the very midst of the way?--Yet I hope I have not hurt thee, for all
that. Thou knowest, Rory, that I had rather hurt myself than thee."

"Nay, nay," said the old man, with a surly sort of acquiescence, as
he was slowly raising himself from the ground by means of Dugald's
assistance; during which operation Patrick Stewart, wrapped up in his
plaid, and followed by the other two men, had made good his entrance
into the court-yard. "Nay, nay, I am not hurt. I'm no such eggshells,
i'faith. Yet what a fiend made thee so impatient? I behooved to be
careful who I let in, seeing that I was strictly charged to open to
none but Murdoch Stewart himself there," pointing to Sir Patrick,
who was standing a few paces aloof. "More by token, I required to be
all the warier, seeing that there was none living within the walls,
besides myself, save the old Knight Sir Allan, and the Lady Stradawn."

"How comes that?" demanded Dugald; "Though so many went to Curgarf,
there were still some left behind, surely."

"True enough, true enough," replied the Warder. "But I know not what
hath possessed the lady. They have all been sent hither and thither, on
some errand or another;--even the very women folk have all gone forth."

Sir Patrick Stewart stood to hear no more, but making a signal to
Dugald and the others to follow him, he crossed the court-yard towards
the door of the keep tower, where they stood aside, whilst he knocked
gently, yet loud enough to be heard in the hall above. Soon afterwards,
a timid and unsteady footstep was heard descending the stair.

"Open, good mother," said Sir Patrick.

"Oh, how thankful I am that thou art come!" said the Lady Stradawn,
mistaking him for her son Murdoch, their voices being a good deal
like to each other, and opening the door, pale and trembling, with a
lamp in her hand, which the gust immediately extinguished. "A plague
on the wind, my lamp is out! But oh, I am thankful that thou art
come! 'Tis fearful to be left alone in the house with a dead man,
and one, too----Oh 'twas fearful!"

"Dead!" cried Sir Patrick, with an accent of horror, which might have
betrayed him, but for the agitation which then possessed her whom he
addressed. "A dead man, saidst thou?"

"Aye!" replied the lady, in a hollow tone, "aye! I saw that thou hadst
yearnings. Yet, after all, it was but giving him ease, by ridding him
of a lingering life of pain. It was kindness, in truth, to help him
away from such misery. Yet, 'tis no marvel that thou, who art his very
blood, should have some compunction. But thou mayest be at rest now,
for he is gone beyond thy help, or that of any one else."

"Gone!" exclaimed Sir Patrick again--"Gone! how did he die?"

"Horribly! most horribly!" replied the lady, shuddering. "It was
fearful to behold him in his agonies! Knowing, as I did, the potency
of the poison, I could hardly have believed that the old man would
have taken so long to die."

"Horrible!" exclaimed Sir Patrick, involuntarily.

"Aye, it was horrible!" replied the lady; "horrible indeed, as thou
wouldst have said if thou hadst seen it. For a moment, the poison
seemed to have given him new strength, and he rose from his chair as
if he would have done vengeance on me. 'Twas fearful to behold him!"

"Art sure he is quite dead?" said Sir Patrick again.

"Aye," replied the lady, "as dead as his son Walter; so dead, as to
make thee surely the Laird of Stradawn, the moment that thou shalt
have made as sicker of Patrick, as we may now soon hope thou wilt
be able to do. I did but help him, as I was saying, out of the pains
and wretchedness of old age and dotage. Yet it was an awful work for
me. And oh, his last look was fearful! I wish I may ever be able to
get rid of it! Would that thou couldst have steeled thyself up to
have done it thyself Murdoch! But come in--come in quickly! Hast thou
secured the prisoner?"

"I have," replied Sir Patrick, now exerting a certain degree of
command over his feelings; "he will be here anon."

"That is well," replied the Lady Stradawn; "then all is thine own. His
trial must be short, and his execution speedy. But come, we have much
to do to make things seemly ere they arrive. He must appear to have
died of a broken heart, caused by the wickedness of his son. Every
thing suspicious must be removed from about him. I could not dare
to touch him. Why stand ye so long hesitating? But 'tis no wonder,
for I could not look upon him myself without fancying that the devil
was grinning over my shoulder. 'Tis horrible to think on't! But come,"
continued she, as she at last seemed to summon up resolution to climb
the stair; "lock the door, Murdoch, and follow me up quickly, for we
have no time to lose."

Sir Patrick Stewart made a signal to Dugald and the others, and then
ascended to the hall after the Lady Stradawn. A deathlike silence
prevailed within it. A single lamp was glimmering feebly on a sconce
at the upper end of it: and there stood the lady, pale and trembling,
at that side of the chimney which was farthest from Sir Allan's
chair. Sir Patrick, in his agitation, moved hurriedly forward; and
the moment the light of the lamp fell upon his features, the lady
uttered a loud scream, and swooned away upon the floor.

The spectacle that now met his eyes harrowed up his very soul. His
father lay dead in his chair, with his features and his limbs fixed
in the last frightful convulsion, by which the racking poison had
terminated his existence. His mouth was twisted, his tongue thrust
out, and his eyeballs so fearfully staring, that even his tenderly
affectionate son felt it a dreadful effort to look upon that, which
used to be to him an object of the deepest veneration and love. Beside
his chair was the small table, on which he was usually served with
his food. There stood a silver porringer containing the minced meat,
which his extreme age required; and notwithstanding all that the Lady
Stradawn had said to the contrary, the operation of the poison seemed
to have been so quick, as to have mortally affected him, ere he had
taken the fourth part of the mess that had been provided for him. Sir
Patrick was overpowered by his feelings. He sank into a chair, and
covering his face with his hands, he gave way to his grief, in which
he remained so entirely absorbed, that neither the entrance of Dugald,
nor the thundering which some time afterwards took place at the outer
gate, nor the noise of the many voices of those who came pouring in,
were sufficient to arouse him.

Dugald Roy had the presence of mind to hurry down to the court-yard,
to prepare the Lord of Curgarf, and those who came with him, for the
dreadful spectacle they were to witness. Thunderstruck and shocked
by his intelligence, they crowded up to the hall, where the general
horror was for some time so great, as to render every one incapable of
acting; but at length they gathered sufficient recollection to bestir
themselves. The poisoned porringer was first carefully preserved;
the Lady Stradawn was carried off in strong fits to her apartment;
the body of Sir Walter Stewart was borne up into the hall; and there,
after undergoing the necessary preparations used on such occasions,
the father and son were laid out in state together, and the couches
on which the bodies rested were surrounded by so great a multitude
of wax tapers, as to exchange the melancholy gloom of the place into
a blaze of light, which, reflected as it was from the various pieces
of armour that glittered in vain pomp upon the walls, shone but to
produce a greater intensity of sadness. The good priest of Dounan
was sent for; and the appalling news having spread quickly around,
the retainers began to swarm into the Castle, from all quarters, in
sorrowing groups, full of lamentation. Meanwhile the Lord of Curgarf
and his son, the Master of Forbes, occupied themselves in soothing
the afflicted Sir Patrick Stewart, and in aiding and encouraging him
to go through with those trying and painful duties which this most
afflicting occasion demanded of him.

Food and wine had been carried to the Lady Stradawn, where she
sat alone in her bower, so deeply sunk in remorse, and dejection,
and dread, as to be quite unconscious of the entrance or departure
of those who brought her these comforts. Those who were compelled
to be the bearers of them, gazed on her with fear, and hastened
from her with expedition, and no one else could be persuaded to go
near her, even her woman refused to remain with her, as something
accursed, so that she was left abandoned by all, as a prey to her
evil thoughts. Had any one ventured to look in upon her, as she sat
motionless in her great chair, with a lamp flickering on a table beside
her, and throwing an uncertain light by fits and snatches on her face,
now pale and fixed as marble,--and on her glazed and tearless eyes,
and her dry and withered lips, he might have fancied that she was
already a corpse; yet deep, deep was the mental agony that she felt.

The midnight watch had been set, and all had been for some time silent
within the walls of Drummin, save the distant hum of the subdued
voices of those who, according to custom, sat waking the corpses in
the hall, when the door of the Lady Stradawn's bower opened, and her
son Murdoch appeared. If the spirit of her murdered husband had arisen
before her eyes, she could not have started with more astonishment,
or recoiled with greater apparent horror.

"Murdoch!" cried she, in a loud and agitated voice, "Is it thee,
Murdoch?"--And then, sinking back into the same fixed and motionless
attitude, whence she had been thus momentarily aroused, she added,
in a faint, low, and feeble tone, "Murdoch!--would that thou hadst
never been born!"

"Mother," said Murdoch, calmly shutting the door behind him, and taking
a seat beside her chair, "I have heard all from Nicol, the playfellow
of my boyhood, who chanced to be set to guard me, in the apartment
below. I wished to see thee ere we die; and I purchased from the
sordid wretch this midnight hour--this last hour of privacy with thee."

"Ha!" cried the Lady Stradawn, with a strange and sudden
transition from the apathy and torpor of despair, to the most
energetic anxiety of hope; "If Nicol did that for thee, why may
we not bribe him to open a way for us through those who guard the
gate?--Quick!--quick!--quick!--Oh, let us quickly escape!--Oh, let
us not tarry one moment longer! There are my keys; we have treasure
in that cabinet, which may well bribe him, and yet leave us rich!"

"Be composed, my most worthy mother," said Murdoch Stewart; "There
is not the shadow of a chance for us in that way. The door of the
keep is doubly barred, and doubly guarded, and no one leaves it
unexamined beneath the light of a blazing torch. The whole men-at-arms
and clansmen within the walls, infuriated against us, are of their
own free will engaged in vigilant watching. The portcullis is down,
the gate barricaded, the barbican manned, and the walls surrounded
by patroles. Mother, cast aside all such hopes as useless, for as the
guilt of both of us must soon appear as clear as to-morrow's noonday,
so that sun, which shall certainly arise to-morrow morning, shall as
surely look upon our graves ere he sets."

The Lady Stradawn sank again into the chair, from which the sudden
impulse of hope had so energetically raised her, and, groaning deeply,
she relapsed into her former state of deathlike stillness, broken
only by the long drawn sob that at certain intervals convulsed her
whole frame.

"Mother!" said Murdoch Stewart, after a pause; "Where are all the
fruits of that career of crime for which thou nursed me as an infant,
tutored me as a boy, and prompted me as a man? Have I not followed
thy bidding through deceit, robbery, and murder, and where is now my
reward?--Thine is locked up there in that secret cabinet of glittering
toys, which to-morrow thou must leave, to go out to be hanged by
the neck on the gallows-tree, with the son, whom thou wouldst have
had Lord of the Aven, grinning at thee like a caitiff cur from the
farther end of its beam--"

"Oh!--Oh--ho!" cried the agonized woman, shaken through every limb
by the palsy of her fears; "Is there no--no deliverance for us?"

"Yes," said Murdoch Stewart, calmly; "yes, there is a deliverance,
and a speedy one too."

"Oh, name it!" cried the frantic woman; "Oh, name it! and quickly
let us avail ourselves of it!"

"Here it is," said Murdoch Stewart, quietly taking a small paper
packet from his bosom; "Here it is, mother. A few small pinches of
this powder, mingled in a cup of that wine, will snatch us both from
the torture of being made a disgraceful public spectacle to-morrow--of
being gazed at by the vulgar eyes, and pointed at by the vile fingers
of those wretched serfs, and their grovelling mates and spawn, whom,
a little better luck and better fortune for us, had by that time made
the abject slaves of our will. See! here it is mingled, already it
is dissolved, and now the draught is potent. Good mother, I pledge
thee," said he, drinking down half of what the goblet contained;
"and now here is thy share."

"No,--no,--no!--I cannot!--no, I cannot!" cried the Lady Stradawn,
with frantic horror in her averted eyes.

"Then do I tell thee, mother mine," said Murdoch Stewart sternly;
"thou hast not trained me up to deal in deeds of blood and death for
naught. I shall never suffer thy womanish fears to bring the disgrace
of the gallows upon thee. I love thee too much for that. See here,
good mother! 'tis but a choice of deaths. Here is a concealed dagger,
look you. Say! wouldst thou bring one more murder--the murder of
a mother on my already overburdened soul, to sink it deeper in that
sea of torment, to which these priests would fain have us believe that
those, who, like us, have used the wit and the strength with which they
have been gifted, for bettering their own condition in this world,
must hasten from hence. Drink! or by every fiend that suffers there,
thou diest in the instant!"

The Lady Stradawn glared at her son with a vacant stare, as if all
reason had fled from her. She took the cup mechanically from his hand,
and drained it to the bottom.

"What hast thou done?" cried the man-at-arms, who had been brought to
the door by the violent tone of some of Murdoch Stewart's last words,
and who rushed in just as the Lady Stradawn had swallowed the poison.

"Do what thou wilt now, Nicol," said Murdoch Stewart, with perfect
composure; "We are both beyond thy power, or that of any one else
within the castle of Drummin."

Nicol at once guessed at what had happened, and ran instantly for
the Priest. The good Father of Dounan was deeply skilled in medicine,
as well as in divinity. He called for assistance, and antidotes were
forcibly given to Murdoch Stewart, and passively received by his
mother the Lady Stradawn. Their wretched existence was thus prolonged,
though death could not be altogether averted. They lingered on,
in great pain, for many days, during which all judicial proceedings
were suspended. The pious priest lost not one moment of this precious
time. By exerting all his religious learning, and all his eloquence,
he at length succeeded in bringing both of them to a full sense of
the enormity of their guilt, as well as to an ample confession of
all their crimes. It is not for us to interpret the decrees of the
Almighty in such a case as theirs; but if the apparent deep contrition
that followed was real, and heartfelt, we may trust that the mercy,
as well as the benefit of the merits of that blessed Saviour, who died
for us all upon the cross, even for the thief that was crucified with
him, was extended to them, dreadful as their crimes had been.

My legend now draws to a hasty conclusion. The days of mourning were
fully numbered by Sir Patrick Stewart, for his murdered father and
brother. The kindness of the old Lord of Curgarf, and his son Arthur
Master of Forbes, towards him, was unwearied and most consolatory. Nor
were the delicate affections of the Lady Catherine Forbes less tenderly
or unremittingly displayed, so that, in due time, by becoming her
husband, he bound himself to both his friends by the closest and
dearest ties. In pious remembrance of his brother Sir Walter's murder,
he erected the pillar of stone I spoke of, as that which stood so long
by the side of the well-eye where he was slain; but he refrained from
inscribing any thing upon it, lest his doing so might have revived
the recollection of Murdoch Stewart's atrocity. He likewise ordered
a stone to be set up, where the proud Priest of Dalestie was burned,
rather as a sort of expiation of the stern act of justice, which his
brother Sir Walter had inflicted upon him, than to perpetuate the
detested memory of the depraved wretch who suffered there.



FATE OF THE OULD AUNCIENT MONUMENTS.


Clifford.--(as we arose to pursue our journey.)--And what became of
these two monuments, Serjeant Stewart?

Serjeant.--A certain gentleman, who was building a house somewhere
in this neighbourhood, (for I had rather not designate him too
particularly,) cast his eyes on the fine stone that stood by the
well-eye, and perceiving that it would make an excellent lintel,
he took immediate measures to get it carried off to his rising
edifice. Having accomplished his intention, with no little difficulty,
it was speedily employed in the building, where it promised to
conduct itself with the same quiet and decorum which were observed
by all the other stones of the edifice, after being put to rest,
each in his separate bed of mortar. But no sooner did the house
come to be inhabited, than it began to be haunted by strange and
mysterious noises. Some of these were quite unintelligible, for they
resembled no earthly sound that had ever been heard before. Then long
conversations began, and were continued, in small sharp clear voices;
but although the words fell distinctly enough on the ears of those
who heard them, the language was as a sealed book to them. And ever
and anon the seeming dialogue would be interrupted by strange uncouth
fits of laughter, as if of several persons together, or in different
parts of the premises, that were so far from creating a corresponding
disposition to mirth or merriment in the listeners, that they froze up
the very blood in their veins. But this was not all. The most dismal
croaking of frogs arose in every part of the house. You would have
sworn that the creatures were in the cup-boards--the presses--the
chimnies--in the beds--on the floors--nay, on the very tables, and
among the dishes which the good folks of the family had set before
them. It was as if the frogs, that formed the great plague in Egypt,
had filled the house with their hoarse voices. One would begin as if
he were the leader of the band, and then others would start off, one
after another, till the doleful chorus, resounding from all quarters,
made the concert loud and sonorous. It was no uncommon thing, during
the dark and dreary watches of the night, for the voice of the leader,
which had something peculiarly striking in it, to arise of a sudden,
as if he that uttered it was sitting astraddle on the nose of the
goodman of the house. In vain was the hand applied to the organ,
to drive off what, in reality, appeared to be the organist. There
was nothing there; yet the sound continued as if it had come from the
deepest pipe in the organ loft of some cathedral, yea, of that of the
great organ of Haerlem itself. The more he rubbed the more it grew,
and the louder and more universal became the chorus. His very nose
itself increased in size, from the frequent and severe rubbings to
which it was thus subjected, whilst he began to grow thin and emaciated
in proportion, till his whole person at length appeared rather as if
it had been an appendage to his nose, than his nose an appendage to
his person. At last, being worn out in spirit, as he was very nearly
in body also, he was fain to take out the stone from the building,
and to carry it back to the hill-side again, and then, to be sure,
he enjoyed perfect quiet.

Clifford.--A sensible man, truly. But what had evil spirits or fairies
to do with a monumental stone?

Serjeant.--Nothing that I can see, sir, except that being guilty
of so impious a deed as the removal of such a stone, he was for a
time left unprotected by all good angels, and consequently he was
altogether at the mercy of those evil ones.

Grant.--Very well made out, Mister Serjeant. But where is the
stone now?

Serjeant.--Why, sir, I am sure you will hardly believe me when I
tell you, that a few years ago it was wantonly destroyed by another
gentleman, who shall be also nameless.

Grant.--What a Goth he must have been! Why should you conceal his name,
Serjeant?--It deserves to be held up to public reprobation

Serjeant.--I know my own interest too well to be the officious person
who shall publish it though. Yet I must own that it would have served
him right that it should have been so marked. What do you think he did,
gentlemen? Happening to be in this part of Strathdawn, he, without
rhyme or reason, and out of sheer wickedness, ordered his people
to break both that and the Clach-na-Tagart, or the Priest's stone,
which shocking pieces of barbarism he took care to see executed in
his own presence, whilst he stood by, like a mischievous baboon,
chuckling over their destruction.

Clifford.--The fellow deserved to have been plunged over head and ears
into the Wallee in the first place, and after being thus well soaked,
he ought to have been leisurely consumed at the Priest's stone,
like a well watered sack of Newcastle coals.

Serjeant.--Why, sir, I must allow that he has been punished severely
enough. The whole people of the country cried out upon him, and every
one declared that it was quite impossible that the fellow could thrive,
after having demolished two such ould auncient antiquities. And so in
truth it turned out, for not long afterwards he lost the whole fushon
[6] of his side. As for the Clach-na-Tagart, the Roman Catholics,
who form the chief population hereabouts, intended to have clasped
it together with iron bands, but, (addressing author,) as you know
very well, sir, from having recorded the fact in your book, the great
flood of August 1829 saved them the trouble of doing so, for the Aven
then carried the broken stone clean away, aye, and it swept off the
best part of the haugh it stood upon into the bargain.

Grant.--But stay, my good friend, Archy. What do you mean by quitting
the level path to climb this confounded steep hill, as the direction
of your nose, at this moment, would seem to indicate your present
intention to be?

Serjeant.--I would fain show you an extensive prospect, gentlemen. It
is only a bit start of a pull up here. A mere breathing for you after
the long rest you had by the water side yonder.--(Then addressing
the gilly.)--My man, hold you on the road to Inchrory with the horse,
and tell the gudewife there that we are coming.

Clifford.--'Tis a very stiff pull, Archy. But we shall be all the
better for something of this sort to put us in wind. I calculate that
we shall have some worse climbing than this before we are done with
these mountains.

Serjeant.--Troth, you may well say that, sir; and as for this hill,
we may be very thankful that we have not to climb it with a strong
demonstration of the enemies' riflemen lining the ridge of it.

Clifford.--You are out there, serjeant. Depend upon it, if we saw an
enemy lining the height, we should both of us climb it like roebucks,
to be at them.

Serjeant.--I'm not saying but we might, sir; that is, if we saw that
we were sufficiently well backed. But for all that, we might find
our graves before we were half way up the hill; and then what the
better should we be, of our comrades saying, as they passed by us,
"Poor fellows, you are settled!" Would that be any consolation to us,
as we lay writhing in the last agonies?

Grant.--Very small consolation indeed, Archy.

Serjeant.--I wot it would be little indeed, sir. Yet ought a man to
do his duty for all that, simply because it is his duty. Many is the
time I have heard my good friend Captain Ketley say that; and there
were few words fell from his mouth that had not some good sense,
or some good moral in them. And certain it is, that if we did not
always keep this rule of our conduct in view, we should neither be
good sodgers nor good Christians.

Clifford.--Right again, old boy.

Serjeant.--And yet, Mr. Clifford, as I reckon, there is some pleasure
in coming out of the skrimmage in a whole skin, and with ears that
can hear all the honest commendations that are bestowed upon your
own brave and gallant conduct.

Grant--(after reaching the summit of the hill.)--That was indeed
a breather; but now, Serjeant, for the prospect you promised us,
I see nothing as yet but the bare flat moist moory hill-top.

Serjeant--(leading us to the eastern verge of the top of the
hill.)--Come this way, then, gentlemen. See here what an extensive
prospect you have down the course of the river Don. It looks but a
small stream there, especially from this height.

Author.--What old castle is that which we see below us there, near
yonder clump of trees?

Serjeant.--That is Curgarf Castle. That is the very spot to which so
much of my legend referred, though I shall not pretend to say that
the building you see there is precisely the same. But now, gentlemen,
turn your eyes westward again. Is not that a fine mountain view? See
how proudly the Cairngorms rise yonder! But, observe me--you don't
see the very highest summits as yet, because those big black lumps
opposite to us there, hide the highest tops from our eyes.

Author.--It is a magnificent scene notwithstanding, especially as
viewed at present, under that splendid display of evening light,
that is now shooting over those loftier ridges from the descending sun.

Grant.--A very grand scene indeed!

Clifford.--Aye, Grant, we shall have some climbing there, I promise
you.

Grant.--There can be little doubt of that. But tell me, Serjeant,
what solitary house is that we see in the valley below?

Author.--I can answer you that question. That is Inchrory, the
small place, half farm-house, half hostel, where we are to sojourn
to-night. It is used as a place of rest and refreshment, by the few
travellers who pass on foot, or on horseback, by the rugged path which
we left in the valley, and which goes hence southwards, up through
the valley of the Builg--past the lake of that name,--so across what
is there the rivulet of the Don,--and then onwards over the hills to
Castleton of Braemar. That deep hollow in the mountains, that turns
sharp westwards beyond Inchrory yonder, is what is more properly called
Glenaven. The river Aven comes pouring down hitherwards through it,
and our way lies up its course.

Clifford.--I should be sorry if it did so this evening. I am quite
prepared to hail yonder house of Inchrory below, as a welcome place
of refuge for this night.

Author.--Few places must be more welcome to a wayworn traveller than
Inchrory, especially when first descried by the weary wayfarer from
Castleton, in a winter's evening, as the sun is hasting downwards.

Serjeant.--You are not far wrong there, sir. A dreadful hill journey
that is, indeed, from Castleton to Inchrory, amid the storms of
winter. Not a vestige of a house by the way. Many a poor wretch
has perished in the snow, amidst these trackless wastes. Not to go
very far back, there was a terrible snow storm about the Martinmas
time in the 1829. It roared, and blew, and drifted so fast, that
it was mid-day or ever Mrs. Shaw of Inchrory ventured to put her
head out beyond the threshold of her own door, to look at the thick
and dreary shroud of white in which dead nature was wrapped, and
which covered the whole lonely scene of hill and valley around her,
and was in many places blown into wreathes of a great depth. There
was not a speck of colour, nor any moving thing to vary the glazed
unbroken surface, except on one distant hillock, where a single
human figure was seen, wandering to and fro, as if in a maze, like
some one bereft of reason. The male inhabitants of the house were
all out looking after the stock belonging to the grazing farm; and,
as Mrs. Shaw was in doubt whether the person she beheld might not in
reality be some one who was deranged, as his movements rather seemed
to indicate, she was afraid to venture to approach him. But curiosity
as well as pity made her cast many a look towards him during that
afternoon, as he still continued to move slowly round the hillock,
and backwards and forwards, without any apparent sense or meaning,
and stopping now and then, as if utterly bewildered. At length,
as it was drawing towards night, Mrs. Shaw observed that the figure
had either fallen, or lain down among the snow, and her charitable
feelings then overcoming all her apprehensions, she proceeded to wade
through the snow towards the hillock where he lay. Having, with very
considerable difficulty, made her way to the spot, she found him lying
on his back, as composedly as if he had lain down in his bed. The
intense cold had so benumbed his intellects, indeed, that he did not
seem to be in the least aware of his own melancholy situation.--"Wha
are ye? and what are ye wantin?" said he, to Mrs. Shaw, with a faint
smile on his emaciated face, as he beheld her stooping over him with
an anxious gaze of inquiry. "I came to help you," replied Mrs. Shaw;
"Will you let me try to lift you up?"--"Thank you, I can rise mysel',"
replied he, making a vain effort to get up.--"You had better let me
help you," said Mrs. Shaw.--"Ou, na, thank ye," replied he again;
"I can rise weel eneugh mysel."--"Do so, then," said Mrs. Shaw,
whilst at the same time she prepared herself for giving him her best
assistance during his attempt. In this way, a strong effort on her part
enabled her at last to succeed in getting the poor man on his legs;
and then, after the expenditure of as much time as might have easily
enabled her to have gone five or six miles, and with immense labour and
fatigue, this heroic woman was finally successful in supporting him,
or rather, I should say, in half carrying him to Inchrory. When she
had got him fairly out of the snow, and into the house, she had the
horror to discover, that not only were his shoes and stockings gone,
but that even the very flesh was worn off his feet. When help arrived,
they got him into bed, and did all for him that charitable Christians
could do. Food was brought to him, but it was some time before he
could be made to swallow any portion of it, and that only by feeding
him like a child. The poor fellow turned out to be a young man of
the name of Thomas Macintosh, servant to the Rev. Mr. MacEachan,
the Roman Catholic priest at Castleton, which place he had left on
the Wednesday morning, and he had wandered among the snow, without
food or shelter, and becoming every moment more and more bewildered,
until the Friday evening, when Mrs. Shaw's praiseworthy exertions
brought him to her house. On the Saturday, the good people carried
him down the valley to the next farm, on his way to the doctor. But,
alas! no doctor was ever destined to do him any good, for he died that
same evening. Two one pound notes, and a few shillings, were found
in his pocket, which sum went to pay the expense of his interment in
the newly made church-yard at Tomantoul, of which, as it so happened,
he was the second tenant.

Grant.--What a melancholy fate!

Serjeant.--Sad, indeed, sir. But there are many stories of the same
kind connected with this wild path through these desolate mountains.

Author.--Do you remember any more of them, Archy?

Serjeant.--Ou, yes, sir. It was upon that terrible night of drift,
the 25th of November, 1826, no farther gone, when so many poor people
perished, that a man, three women, and two horses, were buried in
the snow upon yon hill, which is called Cairn Elsach, as they were
on their way back from the Tomantoul market. So deep was the snow
in many places, that one of the horses was found frozen stiff dead,
and the beast was so supported in it, as to be sticking upright upon
his legs, and a woman was discovered standing dead beside him. Some
little time afterwards, a shepherd, who happened to have occasion to
cross the hill, had his attention attracted by some long hair which was
seen above the icy surface, waving in the wintry blast. On scraping
away the snow, he found that it was attached to a woman's head, who
had unfortunately perished. He procured the assistance of some of his
friends, who were afraid to dig out the body for fear it might have
become offensive. I, who chanced to be there, had no such scruples,
first, because I knew very well that the snow must have preserved it,
and, secondly, because, if it had been otherwise, I knew that I had
lost my sense of smelling in consequence of the desperate wound in my
jaw, of which I told you. When the snow was removed, the poor young
woman's body was found quite fresh and entire, but it was perfectly
blue in colour.

Author.--These are melancholy details; yet, it must be confessed,
they are quite in harmony with the wild and lonely scenery now before
our eyes.

Grant.--They remind one of the horrors of the Alps.

Clifford.--The gaunt wolves are wanting, though, to make up the
picture completely.

Serjeant.--We had the wolves also ourselves once upon a time, sir;
and now the corby, and the hill-fox, and the eagle, do their best to
make up for the want of them. But such a wilderness as this, covered
deep with snow, and the howling wind carrying the drift across it,
has quite terrors enough in it for my taste.

Author.--I am quite of your opinion, Archy.

Serjeant.--Yet it is wonderful how Providence will interfere to
preserve people alive, amidst such complicated horrors. I remember a
story of a man of the name of Macintosh, who left Braemar, with his
wife, to come over this way. A dreadful snow storm came upon them, and,
being blinded by the snow-drift, and encumbered in the deep and heavy
wreathes, the poor people were separated from each other. The man made
his way, with great difficulty, to a whisky bothy, where he arrived
much exhausted, and quite inconsolable for the loss of his wife. Being
thus saved himself, he procured the assistance of people to help him
to look for the corpse of his lost partner. For two whole days they
sought in vain; when, just as they were about to abandon their search,
till the surface of the ground should become less burdened with snow,
they observed a figure coming slowly and wearily down the hill of
Gart. This, as it drew nearer, appeared to be a woman; and, on her
approaching nearer still, the overjoyed husband discovered that she
was his living wife, for whom he had been weeping as dead. She had
been wandering for nearly three days, without either food or shelter,
amid the mountain snows, but, although she was dreadfully exhausted,
she eventually recovered.

Grant.--That was indeed the support of Providence, Archy!

Author.--Most wonderful indeed! Her preservation was little short of
a miracle.

Serjeant.--Aye, truly, you may well say that, sir. Nothing but a
miracle could have preserved the poor woman from so many perils as
she must have encountered in her wanderings,--not to mention those of
cold, hunger, and fatigue. It was the hand of Providence, assuredly,
that supported her. By what means he worked, we have no opportunity
of knowing. But surely it was strange that he could have enabled any
human being, and especially a woman, to have come through so much
fatigue and suffering alive.

Clifford.--Truly, most miraculous!

Serjeant.--And then, gentlemen, how very strangely--so far as we
blind mortals can perceive--are others permitted to perish at the
very door, as it were, of help. I think it is now about sixteen
years ago--and, if I remember rightly, it was about the Christmas
time--that James Stewart, son of the miller of Delnabo, perished, on
the very haugh there, just below the House of Inchrory. The poor fellow
passed by this place, on his way over to Braemar, one morning that I
happened to be here. He stopped a few minutes with me, and had some
talk.--"I'm likely to get a fine day for crossing the hill, Archy,"
said he.--"Well," said I, "I hope you will, and I wish you may. Yet I
don't altogether like yon mountaneous heap of white tumbling-looking
clouds, that are casting up afar off over the hill-top yonder."--"They
dinna look awthegither weel, to be sure," said Jemmy; "but I houp I
may be in weel kent land lang or they break."--We parted. The snow
came on in a dreadful storm, about mid-day; and I had two or three
anxious thoughts about Jemmy Stewart, as the recollection of him was
ever and anon brought back to me, during the night, by the fearful
whistling of the wind, and the rattling of the hail. Next morning,
I, and some of the other men about the place, found a human track,
running in a bewildered, irregular, and uncertain line, between the
house of Inchrory and the burn yonder, which must be a width of not
much more than forty yards. We had not followed this far, when we
came to the poor man, whose worn-out feet had made these prints. His
walking-stick was standing erect among the snow beside him,--and
there lay poor Jemmy Stewart, on his face; his hands were closed,
and his head rested on them, just as if he had lain quietly down to
sleep. The lads who were with me, stupid gomerills that they were,
had a superstitious dread of touching him; but, deeply as I grieved
for the poor fellow, I had seen too many dead men in my time to have
any such scruples. I accordingly turned him, and found, alas! that he
was quite gone. It appeared that he had been suddenly surprised and
bewildered by the snow-drift among the hills, and that, having lost
all knowledge of his way, he had unconsciously wandered in the very
opposite direction to that in which he had intended to go. Becoming
more and more confused, as he wandered and wandered, he became at last
so entirely stupified by the multiplied terrors of that awful night,
that he ultimately yielded to the last drowsiness of death, and so
laid himself down to court its fatal repose. Alas! he was unhappily
ignorant that he was within a few yards of the friendly house which he
had passed on his way upwards on the previous morning, to the reviving
shelter of which, the least possible additional exertion might have
easily brought him, had he but known in what direction to have made it.

Clifford.--What a sad and fearful story!

Serjeant.--Aye, sir, sad and fearful indeed! Is it not dreadful to
think how often the recollection of him crossed my mind during that
fatal night, and how little trouble, on my part, would have saved him,
had I only known that he was wandering in the snow so near me? Aye,
and to think that I should have lain ignorantly all the while in my
warm bed, allowing him so cruelly to perish! Willing would I have
been to have travelled all night through the drift to have saved poor
Jemmy Stewart!

Author.--No one can doubt that, Archy.

Serjeant.--Well, but sir, you see these matters are in the hand of
God, and at his wise disposal; and although we, blind moles of the
yearth as we are, cannot easily descry why a worthy well-doing young
man like Jemmy Stewart should be permitted thus wretchedly to die,
without aid, either human or divine, we cannot doubt the justice and
wisdom of God's ways, which are inscrutable, and past man's finding
out. Well, I did all I could for the poor fellow, for I had his corpse
carried down to his afflicted father at Delnabo, and I saw him buried
at Dounan, near the Bridge of Livat.

Clifford.--That, indeed, was all you could do for the poor man,
Archy; and the manner in which you did that little, together with
all the sentiments that you have uttered regarding him, are enough to
convince any one that you would not have scrupled to peril your life,
if you could have thereby saved that of a fellow-creature, still more
that of a friend.

Serjeant.--Thank you, sir, for your good opinion of me; but, as I
said before, these matters are in the hand of God: and, whilst he
allows the strong to perish, he can, if he so wills it, preserve
the weakest. I remember an extraordinary circumstance that happened
about eighteen or twenty years ago, which I may mention to you as
an example of the truth of this observe of mine. Four women, who
had been in the south country at the harvest, were on their return
home over these mountains, when they were caught in a storm. The
snow came on so thickly upon them, and the wind raised so great a
land-drift, that they became bewildered, lost their way, and, after
much wandering, they at last got into the ruins of an old bothy,
near the side of the river Gairden, which runs, as I may tell ye,
beyond those farther hills there to the south. By this time their
shoes were worn off. They were without food--without all means of
making a fire--and the cold came on so intense during the night, that
the poor things were all frozen to death. There they were found in
the morning by a party of smugglers, who had been early a-stir after
their trade. The whole of the four women were cold and stiff. But the
most wonderful, as well as the most touching circumstance of all was,
that a female child, of about sixteen months old, was found alive,
vainly attempting to draw nourishment from its mother's breast. The
poor woman's maternal anxiety had enabled her to use precautions to
keep her babe warm and in life, which she had failed to exercise for
her own preservation. The child was taken charge of by Donald Shaw of
Lagganall, and brought up by him under the name of Kirstock; and she
afterwards went to service in Glen Livat, where----But mark me now,
gentlemen! Here we are at Caochan-Seirceag, of which you heard so
much from me in my Legend of the Clan-Allan Stewarts.

Clifford.--I see there are no trees here now, as you say there were
in the days of Sir Patrick Stewart of Clan-Allan.

Grant.--The cliffs are fine though, and the ravine itself romantic. How
comes it that some of these rocks are so brilliantly white? They
absolutely shine like alabaster amid the dazzling radiance of that
setting sun.

Author.--If I answer your question, it will draw me into a disquisition
which may bring an attack upon us from Clifford, for prosing about
geology to one another.

Grant.--Never mind him; he may shut his ears, if he likes.

Author.--Those brilliant streaks of alabastrine white, are nothing more
than incrustations of calcareous stalactites, formed on those rocks
of gneiss, by the evaporation of these trickling rills, the water
of which holds lime in solution, probably derived from the little
aquatic marl snail in the moss above, from which they drain themselves.

Clifford.--I'd advise you to think less of your alabastrine
incrustations of calcareous stalactites on gneiss, and more of your
necks and limbs, during this steep and somewhat hazardous descent,
else you may evaporate like some of those trickling rills you are
speaking of. These fellows you told us of, Mr. Serjeant, must have
had some little difficulty in carrying the Lady Catherine down and
up here. But tell me, I pray you, what is the meaning of the name
of Caochan-Seirceag? for I know that all your Gaelic names of places
are highly poetical and descriptive.

Serjeant.--The meaning of Caochan-Seirceag, sir, so far as I can make
it out, is the rivulet of the beloved maiden.

Clifford.--Poetical in the highest degree!--Why, what scope does it
not afford to the poet's mind to fancy the ardour of the passion of
the lovers who must have made the romantic bed of this rivulet their
trysting place, as well as the beauty of the maiden by whose beloved
image the youth thus happily chose to distinguish it--to imagine all
the obstacles which the pure stream of their love may have encountered
in its course, and of which this vexed and tortured little brook may
have formed but too lively a type, until at length it glided into a
peaceful channel, as this does in its passage across the green meadow
yonder below! What a glorious poetical romance might be suggested by
these rocks and rills!--Confound them!--I had nearly tumbled headlong
over this slippery stone!--What a fall I should have had!

Grant.--You made a narrow escape there, indeed, Clifford. I would have
you to remember, that it would have been quite as bad to have died
the victim of romantic enthusiasm, as of dry geological speculation.

Clifford.--I beg your pardon, my good fellow, you are quite
wrong there. I at least would have infinitely preferred to have
died from thinking of the beloved maiden, than from a confusion
of brain occasioned by a mixture of alabastrine incrustations of
calcareous stalactites and gneiss and marl snails! But to return to
my speculations as to the rivulet of the beloved maiden,--why may it
not have had its name from the Lady Catherine Forbes herself?

Serjeant.--As I shall answer, you have hit the very thing, sir. There
cannot be a doubt that it was from her that the rill was so called.

Clifford.--See now how lucky it was for you, Mister Archy, that I
was not killed by a fall, as I had so nearly been, else had you been
deprived of my ingenious elucidation of this most difficult point. But
now, thank heaven, we are all safe in the meadow, and I shall have
one touch at the trouts yet ere the light goes away entirely.

Author.--I wish you great success, Clifford. Pray do your best,
my good fellow, for I know not what commons we may have in this our
hostel of Inchrory here.

Clifford.--Aha! you see that my rod and my piscatorial skill are not
without their use. Depend upon it, you shan't go without a supper,
if I can help it.

As I suspected, we found that our accommodations at Inchrory were
rather of the simplest description. But the good people of the house
showed every disposition to do the best, for our comfort, that lay
in their power. A dozen and a half of large trouts, which Clifford
soon brought in, added to some of those provisions which we carried
with us, made up the best part of our repast, and we very speedily
prepared ourselves for the intellectual enjoyment of the evening.

Clifford.--One would think that the worthy people here, had been
forewarned of our story-telling propensities, and that they had made
especial provision accordingly for the serjeant's long yarns. Did you
ever see a more magnificent pair of wax candles on any table? Why,
these would see out all the narratives that ever were told by Sindbad
the Sailor.

Grant.--Who could have expected to have met with wax candles, such
as these, in an humble place like this, in the midst of these lonely
mountains, and so far from the haunts of men? Nay, who could have
expected to have met with any candles at all here?

Author.--How happens it, Archy, that they can give us candles so
superb as these, in a place like this, where they have so little else
to produce, and nothing at all that can in the least degree correspond
with them? They are of enormous size--nearly three inches in diameter,
I should say. I have seen no such candles as these, except in a Roman
Catholic church, or procession.

Serjeant.--Troth, sir, I imagine you have solved the mystery. The truth
is, as I told you before, that the great mass of the population of
this Highland country consists of Roman Catholics; and it is probable
that these candles, which have been originally used for some religious
rite, have, from necessity, been this night lighted for your use.

Clifford.--Come, then, serjeant, do you proceed to use the candles
as fast as may be. Open your budget, my good man, and give us one of
your many legends.

Grant.--You had better allow the serjeant to mix a tumbler of warm
stuff in the first place, and whilst he is doing so, he can be
considering as to what he had best give us.

Serjeant.--Thank you, sir. I'll just be doing that same. Would you have
any objections to another legend of the Clan-Allan Stewarts, gentlemen?

Author.--Certainly not, Archy, if it be only as good as the last you
gave us.

Serjeant.--It is not for me to speak in its praise, sir, though I
must e'en say that I think it no worse than the last. But it is a
hantel longer.

Grant.--The longer the better, if it be good. We have a long night,
and great candles before us, so that you may give your tongue its
fullest licence.

Serjeant.--Well, gentlemen, it's a good thing to be neither gagged
in the mouth, nor stinted in the bicker.

Author.--Depend upon it, Archy, you shall be neither the one nor
the other.

Clifford.--Come away, then, serjeant, begin as soon as you please.

Archy then took a long snuff out of the box which I handed to him,
during which he seemed to be collecting his ideas, and then he
began his narrative. Although I regret that I cannot always give the
precise words used by him, I shall endeavour to preserve as faithful
an outline of its particulars as I can, and that in language which
I hope may be at least as intelligible.



                          END OF VOLUME FIRST.



NOTES


[1] Accidental, and rarely occurring.

[2] A swing.

[3] Mòr, great, and Beg or Beag, little, are well known Highland
cognomina, employed like Dubh, black, Ruadh, red, and Bàn, white,
to distinguish different individuals of the same name.

[4] That is, having sixteen or more tynes upon his antlers.

[5] Or Ruadh, red.

[6] Power.





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