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Title: Legendary Tales of the Highlands (Volume 2 of 3) - A sequel to Highland Rambles
Author: Lauder, Thomas Dick
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Legendary Tales of the Highlands (Volume 2 of 3) - A sequel to Highland Rambles" ***

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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 II.


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



CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.


                                                           PAGE

    THE LEGEND OF CHARLEY STEWART TÀILLEAR-CRUBACH,           1

    A TEMPEST,                                               79

    THE LEGEND, &c.--Continued,                              82

    AN UNWELCOME VISITOR,                                   150

    THE LEGEND, &c.--Continued,                             152

    AN OLD FRIEND WITH A NEW FACE,                          207

    THE LEGEND, &c.--Continued,                             217

    THE AUTHOR FLOORED,                                     289

    A DAY BAD FOR ONE THING MAY BE VERY GOOD FOR ANOTHER,   290

    ORIGIN OF THE NAME OF INCHRORY,                         292

    COMFORTS OF A FIRESIDE,                                 293



ILLUSTRATIONS.


    THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR IS DISCRETION,                 71

    THE HOWLET,                                             114



HIGHLAND RAMBLES.

THE LEGEND OF CHARLEY STEWART TÀILLEAR-CRUBACH.


There is a long, low, flat-topped, and prettily wooded eminence,
that rises out of the middle of the bonny haughs of Kilmaichly,
at some distance below the junction of the rivers Aven and Livat. I
don't remember that it has any particular name, but it looks, for all
the world, like the fragment of some ancient plain, that must have
been of much higher level than that from which it now rises, which
fragment had been left, after the ground on each side of it had been
worn down to its present level, by the changeful operations of the
neighbouring streams. But whatever you geology gentlemen might say, as
to what its origin might have been, every lover of nature must agree,
that it is a very beautiful little hill, covered as its slopes are
with graceful weeping birches, and other trees. The bushes that still
remain, show that, in earlier times, it must have been thickly wooded
with great oaks, which probably gave shelter to the ould auncient
Druids, when engaged in their superstitious mysteries. At the period
to which the greater part of my story belongs--that is, in and about
that of the reign of King James the III.--the blue smoke that curled
up from among the trees betrayed the existence of a cottage, that sat
perched upon the brow of its western extremity, looking towards the
Castle of Drummin. This little dwelling was much better built, and,
in every respect, much neater than any of those in the surrounding
district; and its interior exhibited more comforts as to furniture and
plenishing of all sorts, and those too of a description, superior to
any thing of the kind which a mere cottager might have been reasonably
expected to have possessed.

The inhabitants of this snug little dwelling were, a very beautiful
woman, of some four or five and twenty years of age, named Alice
Asher, and her son, a handsome noble looking boy, who, from certain
circumstances affecting his birth, bore the name of Charles Stewart.

There was a well doing and brave retainer of the house of Clan-Allan,
called MacDermot, who had lived a little way up in Glen Livat, and who,
for several years, had done good service to the Sir Walter Stewart,
who was then chieftain of the Clan, as son and heir of that Sir Patrick
whom my last Legend left so happily married to the Lady Catherine
Forbes, and quietly settled at Drummin. This man MacDermot died bravely
in a skirmish, leaving a widow and an infant daughter. It happened that
some few months after the death of her husband, the good woman Bessy
MacDermot went out to shear one of those small patches of wretched
corn, which were then to be seen, almost as a wonder, scattered here
and there, in these upland glens, and which belonged in run-rig, or
in alternate ridges, to different owners, being so disposed, as you
probably know gentlemen, that all might have an equal interest, and
consequently an equal inducement, to assemble for its protection in
the event of the sudden appearance of an enemy. Charley Stewart, then
a fine, kind-hearted boy of some nine or ten years of age, had taken
a great affection for the little Rosa, the child of Bessy MacDermot;
and this circumstance had induced the mother to ask permission of
Alice Asher, to be allowed to take her son with her on this occasion
to the harvest-field, that, whilst she went on with her work, he
might watch the infant. Charley was delighted with his employment;
and accordingly she laid the babe carefully down by him to leeward
of one of the stooks of sheaves. Many an anxious glance did the fond
mother throw behind her, as the onward progress of her work slowly
but gradually increased her distance from Charley and his precious
charge. The thoughts of her bereft and widowed state saddened her
heart, and made it heavy, and rendered her eyes so moist from time
to time, that ever and anon she was compelled to rest for an instant
from her labour, in order to wipe away the tears with her sleeve. Her
little Rosa was now all the world to her. The anxiety regarding the
child which possessed her maternal bosom was always great; but, at
the present moment, she had few fears about her safety, for, ever as
she looked behind her, she beheld Charley Stewart staunchly fixed
at his post, and busily employed in trying to catch the attention
of the infant, and to amuse it by plucking from the sheaves those
gaudy flowered weeds, of various kinds and hues, which Nature brought
up everywhere so profusely among the grain, and which the rude and
unlearned farmers of those early times took no pains to extirpate.

Whilst the parties were so occupied, the sun was shining brightly upon
the new shorn stubble, that stretched away before the eyes of Charley
Stewart, when its flat unbroken field of light was suddenly interrupted
by a shadow that came sailing across it. He looked up into the air,
and beheld a large bird hovering over him. Inexperienced as he was,
and by no means aware that its apparent size was diminished by the
height at which it was flying, he took it for a kite, or a buzzard,
and it immediately ceased to occupy his attention. Round and round
sailed the shadow upon the stubble, increasing in magnitude at every
turn it made, but totally unheeded by the boy amid the interesting
occupation in which he was engaged. At length a loud shriek reached
him from the very farther end of the ridge. Charley started up from
his sitting position, and beheld Bessy MacDermot rushing towards him,
tossing her arms, and screaming as if she were distracted. She was
yet too far off from him to enable him to gather her words, amidst
the alarm that now seized him; and, accordingly, believing that she
had been stung by some viper, or that she had cut herself desperately
with the reaping-hook, he abandoned his charge, and ran off to meet
her, that he might the sooner render her assistance; but, by the time
they had approached near enough to each other to enable him to catch
up the import of her cries, he halted--for they made his little heart
faint within him.

"The eagle! the eagle!" wildly screamed Bessy MacDermot. "Oh, my
child! my child!"

Turning round hastily, Charley Stewart now saw that the very bird
which he had so recently regarded with so little alarm, had now
grown six times larger than he had believed it really to be. It was
in the very act of swooping down upon the infant. Charley ran towards
the spot, mingling his shrieks with those of the frantic mother; but
ere their feet had carried them over half the distance towards it,
they heard the cries of the babe, as the fell eagle was flapping his
broad wings, in his exertions to lift it from the ground; and, ere
they could reach it, the bird was already flying, heavily encumbered
with his burden, over the surface of the standing corn, from which
he gradually rose, as his pinions gained more air, and greater way,
till he finally soared upwards, and then held on his slow, but strong
course, towards his nest in the neighbouring mountains.

"Oh, my babe! my babe!" cried the agonized Bessy MacDermot, her eyes
starting from their very sockets, in her anxiety to keep sight of
the object of her affections, and her terrors.

But she did not follow it with her eyes alone. She paused not for
a moment, but darted off through the standing corn, and over moor
and moss, hill and heugh, and through woods, and rills, and bogs,
in the direction which the eagle was taking, without once thinking
of poor little Charley Stewart, who kept after her as hard as his
active little legs could carry him; and, great as the distance was
which they had to run, the eagle, impeded as he was in his flight
by the precious burden he carried, was still within reach of the
eyes of the panting and agonized mother, when a thinner part of
the wood enabled her to see, from a rising ground, the cliff where
he finally rested, and where he deposited the child in his nest,
that was well known to hang on a ledge in the face of the rock,
a little way down from its bare summit. On ran the frantic mother,
with redoubled energy,--for she remembered that an old man lived by
himself, in a little cot hard by the place, and she never rested till
she sank down, faint and exhausted, at his door.

"Oh, Peter, Peter!--my baby, my baby!" was all she could utter,
as the old man came hobbling out, to learn what was the matter.

"What has mischanced your baby, Mrs. MacDermot?" demanded Peter.

"Oh, the eagle! the eagle!" cried the distracted mother. "Oh, my
child! my child!"

"Holy saints be about us! has the eagle carried off your child?" cried
Peter, in horror.

"Och, yes, yes!" replied Bessy. "Oh my baby, my baby!"

"St. Michael be here!" exclaimed Peter. "What can an old man like me
do to help thee?"

"Ropes! ropes!" cried little Charley Stewart, who at this moment came
up, so breathless and exhausted that he could hardly speak.

"Ropes!" said Peter; "not a rope have I. There's a bit old hair-line
up on the baulks there, to be sure, that my son Donald used for
stretching his hang-net; but it has been so much in the water, that
I have some doubt if it would stand the weight of a man, even if we
could get a man to go down over the nose of the craig;--and there is
not a man but myself, that I know of, within miles of us."

"You have forgotten me," cried Charley Stewart, who had now somewhat
recovered his wind. "I will go down over the craig. Come, then,
Peter!--get out your hair-line. It will not break with my weight."

"By the Rood but thou art a gallant little chield!" said Peter.

"Oh, the blessings of the virgin on thee, my dearest Charley!" cried
Bessy MacDermot, embracing him. "And yet," added she, with hesitation,
"why should I put Alice Asher's boy to such peril, even to save
mine own child? Oh, canst thou think of no other means? I cannot put
Charley Stewart in peril."

"Nay," said Peter, "I know of no means; and, in truth, the poor bairn
is like enough to have been already half devoured by the young eagles."

"Merciful Mother of God!" cried poor Bessy, half fainting at the
horrible thought. "Oh, my baby, my baby!"

"Come, old man," cried Charley Stewart, with great determination,
"we have no time to waste--we have lost too much already. Where is the
hair-line you spake of?--Tut, I must seek for it myself;" and rushing
into the cot, he leaped upon a table, made one spring at the rafters,
and, catching hold of them, he hoisted himself up, gained a footing
on them, and ran along them like a cat, till he found the great bundle
of hair-line. "Now," said he, throwing it down, and jumping after it;
"come away, good Peter, as fast as thy legs can carry thee."

Having reached the summit of the crag by a circuitous path, they could
now descry the two eagles, to which the nest belonged, soaring aloft
at a great distance. They looked over the brow of the cliff, as far
as they could stretch with safety, but although old Peter was so well
acquainted with the place where the nest was built, as at once to be
able to fix on the very spot whence the descent ought to be made, the
verge of the rock there projected itself so far over the ledge where
the nest rested, as to render it quite invisible from above. They could
only perceive the thick sea of pine foliage that rose up the slope
below, and clustered closely against the base of the precipice. A few
small stunted fir trees grew scattered upon the otherwise bare summit
where they stood. Old Peter sat himself down behind one of these,
and placed a leg on each side of it, so as to secure himself from
all chance of being pulled over the precipice by any sudden jerk,
whilst Charley's little fingers were actively employed in undoing the
great bundle of hair-line, and in tying one end of it round his body,
and under his armpits. The unhappy mother was now busily assisting the
boy, and now moving restlessly about, in doubtful hesitation whether
she should yet allow him to go down. Now she was gazing at the distant
eagles, and wringing her hands in terror lest they should return to
their nest; and torn as she was between her cruel apprehensions for
her infant on the one hand, and her doubts and fears about Charley
Stewart on the other, she ejaculated the wildest and most incoherent
prayers to all the saints for the protection and safety of both.

"Now," said Charley Stewart at length; "I'm ready. Keep a firm hold,
Peter, and lower me gently."

"Stay, stay, boy!" cried the old man. "Stick my skian dhu into your
hoe. If the owners of the nest should come home, by the Rood, but thou
will't need some weapon to make thee in some sort a match for them,
in the welcome they will assuredly give thee."

Charley Stewart slipped the skian dhu into his hoe, and went boldly
but cautiously over the edge of the cliff. He was no sooner fairly
swung in air than the hair rope stretched to a degree so alarming that
Bessy MacDermot stood upon the giddy verge, gnawing her very fingers,
from the horrible dread that possessed her, that she was to see it
give way and divide. Peter sat astride against the root of the tree,
carefully eyeing every inch of the line ere he allowed it to pass
through his hands, and every now and then pausing--hesitating, and
shaking his head most ominously, as certain portions of it, here and
there, appeared to him to be of doubtful strength. Meanwhile, Charley
felt himself gradually descending, and turning round and round at the
end of the rope, by his own weight, his brave little heart beating,
and his brain whirling, from the novelty and danger of his daring
attempt--the screams of the young eagles sounding harshly in his
ears, and growing louder and louder as he slowly neared them. By
degrees he began distinctly to hear the faint cries of the child,
and his courage and self-possession were restored to him, by the
conviction that she was yet alive. In a few moments more he had the
satisfaction to touch the ledge of rock with his toes, and he was at
last enabled to relieve the rope from his weight, by planting himself
upon its ample, but fearfully inclined surface. He shouted aloud,
to make Peter aware that the line had so far done its duty, and then
he cautiously approached the nest, where, to his great joy, he found
the infant altogether uninjured, except by a cross cut upon her left
cheek, which she seemed to have received from some accidental movement
of the beak or talons of one of the two eaglets, between which she had
been deposited by the old eagle. Had she not been placed between two
so troublesome mates, and in a position so dangerous, nothing could
have been more snug or easy than the bed in which the little Rosa was
laid. The nest was about two yards square. It was built on the widest
and most level part of the ledge, and it was composed of great sticks,
covered with a thick layer of heather, over which rushes were laid
to a considerable depth. Fortunately for the infant, the eaglets had
been already full gorged ere she had been carried thither, and there
yet lay beside them the greater part of the carcass of a lamb, and
also a mountain hare, untouched, together with several moorfowl, and
an immense quantity of bones and broken fragments of various animals.

Charley Stewart did not consume much time in his examination of the
nest. Being at once satisfied that it would be worse than hazardous
to trust the hair-line with the weight of the child, in addition
to his own, he undid it from his body. Approaching the nest, he
gently lifted the crying infant from between its two screeching and
somewhat pugnacious companions. The moment he had done so, the little
innocent became quiet, and instantly recognising him, she held out her
hands, and smiled and chuckled to him, at once oblivious of all her
miseries. Charley kissed his little favourite over and over again,
and then he proceeded to tie the rope carefully around and across
her, so as to guard against all possibility of its slipping. Having
accomplished this, he shouted to Peter to pull away--kissed the little
Rosa once more, and then committed her to the vacant air. Nothing
could equal the anxiety he endured whilst he beheld her slowly rising
upwards. And when he beheld the mother's hands appear over the edge of
the rock, and snatch her from his sight, nothing could match the shout
of delight which he gave. The maternal screams of joy which followed,
and which came faintly down to his ears, were to him a full reward
for all the terrors of his desperate enterprise. For that instant he
forgot the perilous situation in which he then stood, and the risk
that he had yet to run ere he could hope to be extricated from it.

But a few moments only elapsed ere all thoughts of any thing else
but his own self preservation were banished from his mind. The angry
screams of the two old eagles came fearfully through the air, and
he beheld them approaching the rock, cleaving the air with furious
flight. He cast one look upwards, and saw the rope rapidly descending
to him--but the eagles were coming still faster, and he had only time
to wrench out a large stick from the nest, to aid him in defending
himself, when they were both upon him. He had nothing for it but
to crouch as close in under the angle of the rock as he could, and
there he planted himself, with the stick in his right hand, and the
skian dhu in his left, resolved to make the best fight he could of
it. They commenced their attack on him whilst still on the wing, by
flying at him, and striking fiercely at him with their talons, each
returning alternately to the assault after making a narrow circuit
in the air. Whilst thus engaged, Charley neither lost courage nor
presence of mind, but contrived to deal to each of them a severe
blow now and then with the rugged stick, as they came at him in
succession. Finding that they could make no impression upon him in
this way, sheltered as he was by his position under the projecting
rock, they seemed at once to resolve, as if by mutual consent, to
adopt a more resolute mode of attack.

Alighting on the ledge of rock at the same moment, one on each side
of the place where he was crouching, both the eagles now assailed him
at once with inconceivable ferocity. Half fronting that one which was
to his right, he laid a severe blow on it, which somewhat staggered
it in its onset. But whilst he was thus occupied with it, the other,
which was to his left, tore open his cheek, with a blow of his talons,
that had nearly stunned him. More from mechanical impulse, than
from any actual design, he struck a back-handed blow with his skian
dhu. Fortunately for him it proved most effectual, for it penetrated
the eagle to the very heart, laid it fluttering on its back, and,
in the violence of its struggles, it rolled over the inclined ledge,
and fell dead to the bottom of the crag. But poor Charley had no
leisure to rejoice over this piece of success. He looked anxiously
to the hair-line, which hung dangling within reach of his grasp;
but, ere he could seize it, his other enemy was at him again. As if
it had profited by the severe lessons it had gotten, the strokes of
this second eagle were given with so much rapidity and caution, that
close as Charley Stewart was obliged to keep into the angle of the
rock, and stupified as he was, in some degree, by the wound he had
received, he was able to do little more than to defend his own person
from injury, whilst he was obliged slowly to give ground before his
feathered assailant. Whilst retreating and fighting in this manner,
one blow of his stick, better directed than the rest, struck the eagle
on the side of the skull, close to its juncture with the neck, and
it went fluttering down over the rock, in the pangs of death, after
its fellow. But alas! poor Charley Stewart's victory cost him dear.

The two listeners above, who had seen the approach of the eagles,
were dreadfully alarmed by the noise of the terrific conflict that was
going on upon the ledge below. In vain did they shout to terrify the
birds. In vain did old Peter frequently try the hair-line, by pulling
gently at it, in the hope of finding that the weight of Charley's
body was attached to it. They were tortured by anxious uncertainty
regarding him, until a piercing shriek came upwards from him, and
all was quiet. Winged by terror, Bessy MacDermot rushed, with her
child in her arms, down the winding path, to a point whence she could
command a view of the ledge. The boy was no longer there!--She rubbed
her dimmed eyes, gave one more intent gaze. From the very nature of
the place, it was impossible that he could be there unseen by her,
from the point she now occupied, and she was thus too certainly
assured that he was gone. Uttering a despairing scream, she flew
franticly down to look for him among the trees at the bottom of
the cliff. There she sought all along the base of it, dreading every
moment to have her eyes shocked with the sight of his mangled remains,
and uttering the most doleful lamentations that she had murdered her
dear friend's gallant boy. She found both the dead eagles indeed,
but she could see nothing of Charley Stewart. Old Peter then came
hobbling after her, to join her in her search, and both of them went
over the ground again and again in vain. A faint hope began at length
to arise in the minds of both, that he might, after all, be still on
the ledge above, though, perhaps, lying wounded, or in a swoon; and,
although both felt it to be almost against all reason to indulge in
it, they instantly prepared to return, to endeavour more perfectly
to ascertain the fact; and, if it could be done no otherwise, Bessy
MacDermot resolved to run and rouse the country, in order to procure
strong ropes, and men to go down to examine the ledge itself.

Full of these intentions, they were in the act of quitting the bottom
of the cliff, when a faint voice arrested their steps. They stopped
to listen, and, after a little time, they were aware that it came down
from over their heads. They looked up, but, seeing nothing, they became
more than ever convinced, that it was Charley's voice calling to them
from the ledge, and they again turned to hurry away to assure him of
help. But the voice came again, and so much stronger, as to satisfy
them that the speaker could be at no very great distance from them.

"Peter!--Bessy!--I am here in the tree," said Charley Stewart,
"for the love of Saint Michael, stop and take me down!"

Some minutes elapsed before they could catch a glimpse of the poor
boy. At length they discovered him, half way up a tall pine tree,
hanging by his little coat to the knag of a broken branch. I may as
well tell you at once how he came there. Whilst he was in the very
act of dealing that last well directed blow of the stick, that proved
so fatal to the second eagle, his foot slipped on the narrower and
more inclined part of the ledge, to which he had been gradually driven
back during the combat, and uttering that despairing scream which rang
like his knell in the affrighted ears of Bessy MacDermot, and Peter,
he fell through the air, and crashed down among the dense foliage
of the pine-tops below. One of his legs was broken across a bough,
which it met with in his descent through the tree, but his head, and
all his other vital parts, had luckily escaped injury; and the knag,
which so fortunately caught his clothes, and kept him suspended, had
been the providential means of saving him from that death, which he
must have otherwise inevitably met with on coming to the ground.

But how were they to get poor Charley down from the tree? Old Peter
could not climb it; but, seeing that it was furnished with branches
nearly to its root, Bessy MacDermot gave her child into the hands of
the old man, and, taking a double end of the hair-line with her, she
clambered up the stem to the place where the boy was hanging. Tenderly
relieving him from his distressing position, she quickly passed two
or three double folds of the rope around him, and then lowered him
gently down to Peter. So patient had Charley been under his sufferings,
excruciating as they were, that it was not until they were about to
move him from the ground, that they discovered the injury that his
limb had received.

"Oh, what shall I do?" cried Bessy MacDermot, wringing her hands;
"Oh, how can I face Alice Asher, after thus causing so sad a mischance
to her darling, her beautiful boy?"

"Tut, Bessy, never mind me!" said Charley faintly, but with a gentle
smile, that sorted but ill with his wounded and bloody countenance;
"I shall soon get the better of all this; but if it had been twice
as bad with me, Bessy, nay, if I had been killed outright, I should
have well deserved it, for quitting my poor little Rosa there, as I
did upon the harvest rig."

"Nay, nay, my dearest boy, Charley," said Mrs. MacDermot, kissing him,
and weeping fondly over him; "thou did'st thy part faithfully. Had
it not been for my foolish fright, and my silly screams when I first
saw the eagle, thou wouldst never have left my child, and nought of
these sad mischances could have happened."

With some difficulty, and not without Bessy MacDermot's help, old
Peter managed to carry Charley Stewart down to his hut, whence he was
afterwards moved home, when proper assistance could be procured. Alice
Asher was overpowered with grief, when the darling of her heart
was brought to her in this melancholy and maimed condition. But she
readily forgave Bessy MacDermot for the innocent share she had had in
producing it; and after Charley's wounds were dressed, the bones of
his fractured limb set, and that she was satisfied that his life was
perfectly safe, she not only felt grateful to God that he had been
so wonderfully preserved, but she began to regard him with honest
pride for the gallant action he had performed.

"Well hast thou proved thyself, my boy, to be a true Clan-Allan
Stewart!" said she to him, with a deep blush on her countenance, as
she sat fondly watching by the bed where Charley was quietly sleeping,
from the effects of the drugs that had been given to him, till the
tears began to follow one another fast from her eyelids. "Well might
thy father now, methinks, make thee his lawful son, by extending
to me those holy rites, the false hope of obtaining which betrayed
mine innocent and simple youth! Thou at least ought not to suffer for
thine unhappy mother's fault, which now nearly nine years of sorrow,
of remorse, and of heart-felt penitence, and prayer, and penance,
have not yet expiated! But God's holy will be done!"

Poor afflicted Alice Asher had occasion to repeat these last words
of pious resignation to the will of God, more than once after the
recovery of her son. She was deeply grateful to Heaven indeed, that
his life had been spared to her, and that his health and strength
were completely restored to him, but his handsome countenance had been
greatly and permanently disfigured, by the deep cross-like scar that
remained upon his left cheek, and the grace of his person had been
much destroyed by the limping of his left leg, occasioned by the bad
surgery of the rude practitioner who had set the broken bones. She
bore this affliction, as she did all others, with meek submission,
as a divine chastisement which her sin had well merited, though she
wept to think that she had been visited by it through the suffering
of her innocent boy. Some eight or nine long years passed away,
during which Sir Walter Stewart of Drummin was liberal in providing
richly for the wants of the mother, as well as for the education of
her son, though he strictly avoided seeing either of them. The story
of Charley's brave achievement, and severe accident, reached him not,
for he was at that time abroad upon his travels in foreign lands;
and, ere he returned home, the talk about it had died away, so that it
had never been permitted to exercise any influence upon him whatsoever.

Passing over these years, then, we find Alice Asher, paler and thinner
than before, but still most beautiful, sitting one morning, at the
window of her cottage, that looked towards the tower of Drummin,
which was partially seen from it, through between the thick stems
of the trees. Her elbow rested on the window-sill, and supported
her head, which was surrounded by a broad fillet of black silk,
from beneath which her hair clustered in fair ringlets around her
finely formed features, and fell in long tresses over her neck and
shoulders. Her close fitting kirtle, and her loose and flowing gown,
were of sad-coloured silk, and the embroidered bosom of her snow-white
smock was fastened with a golden brooch, that sparkled with precious
stones, and more than one of her fingers glittered with rings of
considerable value. Alice was not always wont to be so adorned; but,
ornamented as she thus was, beyond the simplicity of that attire which
she usually wore, her countenance bore no corresponding expression
of gladness upon it. She sat gazing silently towards the distant
stronghold of the Clan-Allan Stewarts, sighing deeply from time to
time, until the thoughts that filled her heart gradually dimmed her
large blue eyes, and the tears swelled over her eyelids, and ran down
her cheeks, and she finally began to relieve the heaviness of her soul,
by thinking aloud in broken and unconscious soliloquy.

"Aye! he is going to-day!" said she, in a melancholy tone. "He is
going to the court, to mix with the great, the proud, the gay,
and the beautiful; and I shall not see him ere he goes! Yet the
vow of separation which we mutually took, had a saving condition
in it. He might have come--he may at any time approach me--aye, and
honourably too--when the object of his visit may be to do me and my boy
justice. But, after so many years have passed away in disappointment,
why should my fond and foolish heart still cling to deceitful hope? a
hope, too, that wars with those of a purer and holier nature, which
may yet ally me, a penitent sinner, to Heaven. Then, what have I to
do with those glittering gauds that would better become a bride? Yet
they are his pledges, if not of love, at least of kindness and of
friendship, sent to me from time to time, to show me that I am not
altogether forgotten; and surely there can be no harm in my wearing
them? and then to-day--to-day, methought that he might have come. But
if he had ever intended to come, would he have sent, as he has done,
for Charley? Oh, my boy! would that he could but think of doing thee
justice, and thy poor sinful mother would die contented! But, if he
is pleased with the youth, may he not yet come hither along with
him? How my silly heart beats at the very thought! What sound was
that I heard? Can it be them?--No, no, no, he will never come more
to me!--Alas, alas! my poor boy's face and person have suffered too
much to win a father's eye, and he knows not the virtues that lie so
modestly concealed within them. But what is that I see yonder?--The
bustle of the horsemen before the gate, with their pampered steeds
and their gay attire--their pennons fluttering, and the sun glancing
from the broad blades of their Highland spears?--What!--was that
a distant bugle blast I heard?--Again!--Then they are moving--aye,
indeed! They are now galloping off along the terrace!--Alas, alas,
they are gone! and my vain and foolish hopes have gone with them!"

These last words were uttered in the deepest tone of anguish, and
Alice drew hastily back into the darkest recess of the apartment,
where she seated herself, covered her face with the palms of her
hands, and wept aloud. Having thus given full vent to her feelings,
she retired to the privacy of her closet, where she endeavoured to
divert her mind by holy exercise from the sorrows that oppressed
her. At length, a gentle tap at the door informed her that her son
had returned from his visit to Drummin, and tremblingly anxious to
know the result of it, she immediately admitted him.

"Mother! my dearest mother!" said Charley Stewart, tenderly embracing
her, and with a manifest effort to subdue certain emotions that were
working within him; "Why hast thou been weeping?"

"Alas! I weep often, my beloved, my darling boy!" replied she, warmly
responding to his caresses; "I weep, and I deserve to weep! But
hast thou aught of tidings for me, that may give me a gleam of
joy?--Say--how wert thou received?"

"Why, well, mother!" replied Charley, endeavouring to assume a lively
air; "I was well and kindly received, though neither, forsooth,
with parade of arms, nor with flourish of trumpets, nor of clarions;
but Sir Walter received me kindly."

"Did he embrace thee, dear Charley?" demanded his mother, with great
anxiety of expression.

"Um----Aye," replied her son, with some degree of hesitation;
"he did embrace me, though hardly indeed with the same fervour that
thou art wont to do, dearest mother. But then thou knowest, mother,
that Sir Walter is a courtly knight of high degree, and they tell me
that the fashion of such folks allows them not to yield themselves
altogether, as we humbler people are wont to do, to the feelings that
are within us."

"Alas! thou say'st that which is but too true!" replied Alice, in a
desponding tone; "but go on, boy."

"Sir Walter put his hand on my shoulder, and turned me round,"
continued Charley. "Then he made me walk a step or two, and eyed me
narrowly from top to toe, pretty much as if he had been scanning the
points and paces of a new horse.--'How camest thou so lame and so
disfigured?' demanded he.--'By a fall I had in climbing to an eagle's
nest,' replied I.--'A silly cause,' said Sir Walter; 'and yet, perhaps,
the bold blood that is in thee must bear the blame. But know, boy,
that fate hath not given to all the power to climb into the eyry of the
eagle.' And having said this much he changed the subject of his talk."

"Would that thou could'st but have gathered courage enow to have told
him all the circumstances of that adventure!"

"Nay, mother, I had courage for any thing but to speak aught that
might have sounded like mine own praise," replied Charley.

"Would that he but knew thee as thou art!" said Alice, with a
sigh. "Would that he but knew the soul that is within thee! With
all his faults--and perhaps they are light, save that which concerns
thee alone--he hath a generous spirit himself, and he could not but
prize a generous spirit in one so kindred to him. But tell me all
that passed. Did--did he--did he ask thee for tidings of me?"

"He did question me most particularly about thee," replied Charley. "He
questioned me as if he would have fain gathered from me the appearance
and condition of every, the minutest feature of thy face, and of every
line of thy form. He questioned as if with the intent of limning thy
very portrait on the tablet of his mind; and, as if he would have
traced it beside some picture, which he still wore in fresh and lively
colours there, for the purpose, as it seemed to me, of making close and
accurate comparison between them. Thus he would pause at times during
his questioning of me; and, after a few moments of deep abstraction,
he would say, as if forgetful of my presence, and in converse with
himself alone, 'Strange! aye, but she was then but fifteen, scarce
ripened into woman--the change is nothing more than natural--the same
loveliness, but more womanly;' and so he went on, now to question,
and now to talk of thee, for a good half hour or so."

"And he!" cried Alice, with unwonted animation; "Say, boy, looked he
well? I mean in health; for of his manly beauty, his tall and well
knit form, his graceful air, his noble bearing, and his eagle eye! how
could I have lived till now, without hearing from those who have seen
and admired him? Alas!" added she, in a melancholy and subdued tone,
"of such things I have perhaps inquired too much!"

"Sir Walter had all the ruddy hue, as well as the firmness of vigorous
health, dear mother," replied the youth.

"Thanks be to all the saints!" exclaimed Alice fervently; "Then,
come boy--tell me what passed between you?"

"After all his questions touching thee and thy health were done,"
said Charley, "and that we had talked of other matters of no import,
he sat him down, and thus gravely addressed me as I stood before him:
'I have been thinking how best to provide for thee, boy. I can see that
thou art but ill fitted for hardy service, or the toils of war. And,
by the Rood, it is well for thee that, in these times, there are
other ways of winning to high fortune, yea, and to royal favour even,
besides that which leads to either by doughty deeds of arms, where
so many perish ere they have half completed the toilsome and perilous
journey. Thou must content thee, then, with some peaceful trade. Let
me see--let me see. Ah! I have it. Now-a-days, men have more chance
to push themselves forward by the point of the needle, than by the
point of the lance. What thinkest thou of Master Hommil, the king's
tailor, who, as all men say, hath a fair prospect of shaping such a
garb for himself, as may yet serve him to wear for a peer's robes,
if he doth but use his sheers with due discretion? This is the very
thing for thee, and it is well that I have so luckily hit on it. I'll
have thee apprenticed to a tailor, and, when thy time is out, I'll
have thee so taught in all the more curious mysteries of thine art,
by its very highest professors, that none in the whole land shall be
found to equal thee. Thou shalt travel to France for learning in the
nicer parts of thy trade, and then, I will set thee up, close under
the royal eye, with such a stock of rarest articles in thy shop, as
shall make it a very Campvere, for the variety and richness of its
merchandize. But thou must begin thy schooling under Master Jonathan
Junkins here, who, though but a country cultivator of cabbage, hath
an eye towards the cut of a cloak or doublet, that might well beget
the jealousy of the mighty Hommil himself. I once wore a rose-coloured
suit of Jonathan's make, that did excite the envy, yea, and the anger,
too, of that great master, by the commendations that royalty himself
was heard to pass upon it. Though there were some there, who, from
malice, no doubt, did say, that the merit lay more in the shape of the
wearer, than in that of the garments. But I am trifling. I have some
orders to give ere I mount, and this, as to thy matter with Junkins,
shall be one; and time wears, boy, and thou, too, hast some little way
before thee to limp home; therefore, God keep thee. Bear my love, or,
as she would herself have it to be, my friendship, to thy mother. And,
see here; give her this ring as a fresh remembrance of me. Farewell--I
shall see that all be well arranged regarding thee ere I go; and I
trust that thou wilt not idly baulk the prudent plans I have laid down
for thee, or the good intentions I have towards thee; and so again,
farewell, my boy!'--And thus, my dearest mother, was I dismissed."

"Well, God's will be done!" said Alice, with a deep sigh, after a
long pause, and after having betrayed a variety of emotions during
her son's narrative. "I had hoped better things for thee, my boy, but
God's will be done! Thou hast no choice but to submit, Charley. Forget
not that Sir Walter Stewart is thy father, and that thou art bound
by the law of nature to obey him."

"It is because I do not forget that Sir Walter Stewart is my father,
that I find it so hard a thing to obey him in this," said Charley, with
a degree of excitement, which all his earnestly exerted self-command
was, for the moment, unable entirely to control. "But, as it happens,
that it is just because he is bound to me by the law of nature,
and by no other law, that he thus condemns me to be nailed down to
the shop-board of a tailor, instead of giving me a courser to ride,
and a lance to wield, so, as thou most truly sayest dear mother, by
the law of nature, but by that law alone, am I compelled to submit
to this bitter mortification, and to obey him."

"Nay, nay, dearest Charley, talk not thus!" cried Alice, throwing
her arms around her son's neck, and fondly kissing him; "talk not
thus frowardly if thou lovest me!"

"Love thee, my dearest mother!" cried Charley, returning her embraces
with intense fervour, and weeping from the overpowering strength of
his feelings; "Nay, nay, thou canst not doubt my love to thee; thou
canst not doubt that, on thy weal, or thy woe, hangs the happiness
or the misery of your poor boy. Be not vexed, dearest mother, for
though I have spoken thus idly, trust me that a father's word shall
ever be with me as the strictest law, which I, so far as my nature
can support me, shall never wilfully contravene."

Charley Stewart again tenderly embraced his mother, and, scarcely
aware that he was leaving her to weep, he hurried away to seek some
consolation for himself, in a quarter where he never failed to find
it. This was at the cottage of Bessy MacDermot, whither he was wont
frequently to wander, for the purpose of listening to the innocent
prattle of his young plaything Rosa, who, having now seen some eight
or nine summers, was fast ripening into a very beautiful girl. As
Charley approached the widow's premises on the present occasion, he
found Rosa by the side of a clear spring, that bubbled and sparkled
out from beneath a large mossy stone, that projected from the lower
part of the slope of a flowery bank, under the pensile drapery of
a grove of weeping birches. The moment she beheld him, she came
tripping to meet him, with a rustic wreath of gay marsh marigolds
and water-lilies in her hand.

"Where have you been all this long, long morning, dearest
Charley?" cried Rosa; "I have been so dull without you; and see what a
wreath I have made for your bonnet! But I have a great mind to wear
it myself, for you don't deserve to have it, for being so long in
coming to me."

"I have been over at the castle, Rosa," said Charley, stooping
to embrace her, as she innocently held up her lips to be kissed
by him. "I have been over at Drummin, looking at the grand array
of steeds and horsemen. But what are these flowers?--Water-lilies,
as I hope to be saved! Holy Virgin! Rosa, how didst thou come by them?"

"I got them from the pool," replied Rosa, hesitating, and gently
tapping his cheek with a few stray flowers which she held in her hand;
"I got them in the same way that you pulled them for me the other day,
that is with a long hazle rod, with a crook at the end of it."

"From the pool, Rosa?" cried Charley; "What could tempt thee
to risk thy life for such trifles? If thou hadst slipt over the
treacherous brink, where there was no one by to save thee--thou wert
gone! irrecoverably gone! How couldst thou be so rash? my very flesh
creeps to think on't!"

"Don't be angry with me, Charley!" said Rosa coaxingly--"what risk
would I not run to give thee pleasure?"

"But you have given me any thing but pleasure in this matter, Rosa,"
said Charley; "I tremble too much to think of the hazard thou hast run,
to look with pleasure on any thing that could have occasioned it."

"So thou wilt not let me put the wreath on thy bonnet, then?" said
Rosa, with a tear half disclosing itself in her eye-lid; "Come, come,
Charley! sit down--sit down on this bank, and do let me put it upon
thy bonnet."

"If it will pleasure thee to make a fool of me, Rosa," said Charley,
smiling on her, and kissing her; "Thou shalt do with me as thou
mayest list."

"That is a dear kind Charley," cried Rosa, her moist eyes sparkling
with delight, and throwing her arms around his neck; "I'll make no
fool of thee: I'll make thee so handsome!"

"Handsome!" exclaimed Charley, laughing. "Why Rosa, it is making a
fool of me, indeed, to say that thou can'st make me handsome, with
this ugly deep cross-mark on my cheek."

"That cross-mark on your cheek, Charley!" cried the little girl, with
an intensity of feeling much beyond anything which her years might have
warranted; "To me that cross-mark is beautiful! I love that noble brow
of thine--those eyes, that whenever they look upon me, tell me that I
am dear to thee--those lips, that so often kiss me, and instruct me,
and say kind things to me--but that mark of the cross on thy cheek--oh,
that hath to me a holy influence in't; it reminds me that, but for
thy noble courage which earned it for thee, I should have been food
for the young eagles of the craig. Charley! I could not fail to love
thee, for thy kindness to me; but I never could have loved thee as I
do love thee, but for these living marks which you bear of all that
you suffered for thine own little Rosa. Kiss me my dear, dear Charley!"

"My little wifey!" cried Charley, clasping the innocent girl in his
arms, and smothering her with kisses.

"Aye," said Rosa, artlessly, "I am thy little wifey. All the gossips
say that I am fated to be so; for you know I have got my cross mark
as well as you, aye, and on my left cheek too. The eagles did that
kind turn for me. They marked us both with the cross alike. See! you
can see my cross here quite plain."

"I do see it," said Charley, kissing the place. "But thanks be to
the Virgin thy beauty hath not suffered one whit by it. I can just
discern that the mark is there, and that is all; and I trust that it
will altogether disappear as you grow up to be a woman."

"The Virgin forbid!" cried Rosa energetically. "The gossips say that
we have been so miraculously signed with the cross expressly for
each other, and I would not lose so happy a mark, no, not to be made
a queen! But do let me put on thy chaplet, dear Charley. I hope to
see thee some day with a grand casque on thy head--a tilting spear
in thy hand--bestriding a noble steed, and riding at the ring with
the best of them."

"Alas, Rosa!" said Charley, with a deep sigh, "that will never be
my fate!"

"Why not?" demanded Rosa; "surely Sir Walter Stewart may make thee
his esquire?"

"Alas, no!" said Charley, despondingly. "The casque he dooms me to is
a tailor's cowl--the shield a thimble--the lance a needle--and the
gallant steed I am to mount is a tailor's shop-board, and if ever
I tilt with silk, velvet, or gold, it will be to convert them into
cloaks and doublets for my betters!"

"A tailor!" exclaimed Rosa, with astonishment; "surely thou art
jesting, Charley."

"I'faith, it is too serious a matter to jest about," replied
Charley. "Truly I am doomed to handle the goosing iron of Master
Jonathan Junkins."

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" shouted Rosa--"Ha, ha, ha, ha!--What an odd fancy
of Sir Walter!"

"Nay, laugh not at my misery, Rosa," said Charley, gravely, and
somewhat piteously. "I cannot bear the thought of such a life! What
think you, Rosa, of being a tailor's wife?"

"So that thou wilt always call me thine own dear little wifey, I
care not what thou art," replied Rosa, tenderly, and throwing her
arms around his neck. "And why, after all, mayest thou not be quite
happy as a tailor? Old Johnny Junkins sings at his task from morning
till night. Besides, he hath no risk of being killed in battle, as
my poor father was. He always sleeps in a whole skin, save when his
wife Janet beats him with the ell-wand, and surely thou wouldst have
no fears that I should do that for thee, dear Charley?"

It was now Charley's turn to laugh, which he did very heartily, and
having thus gained a temporary victory over his chagrin, he improved
upon it by immediately taking a small Missal from his sporran,
and commencing his daily occupation of giving instructions to Rosa,
who greedily learned from him all that he could impart.

I mean now to give you some little account of Sir Walter Stewart,
gentlemen. You must know that he was one of the prettiest and most
accomplished men of his time, and a great favourite at court. His
perfection in all warlike exercises--his fondness for horses--and
his fearless riding, were qualifications which fitted him for being
the companion of the king's brothers, the spirited Alexander Duke
of Albany, and the tall and graceful John Earl of Mar, whilst his
skill in fencing--his proficiency in music--and his taste in dress,
secured for him a high place in the good graces of that elegant,
but weak monarch, James the Third. With young Ramsay of Balmain,
afterwards created Earl of Bothwell, he was in the best habits of
intimacy. But with the lower minions of the king, I mean, with such as
Cochran the mason--Rogers the musician--Leonard the smith--Hommil the
tailor--Torfefan the fencing-master, and Andrew the Flemish astrologer,
he was more polite than familiar. With the ladies of the court Sir
Walter Stewart was an object of admiration, nay, he was the theme of
the praise of every one of them, from the beautiful, fascinating,
and virtuous Queen Margaret herself, down to the humblest of her
maids of honour. It is no wonder, then, that Sir Walter was induced
to spend more of his time at court than among the wilds of his native
mountains. On the occasion of which I am now speaking, he was on his
way to the castle of Stirling, where James the Third was at that time
residing, and after a long and tiresome journey, he and his attendants
entered the city, and rode up to their hostel in the main street,
at such an hour of the evening, as made it neither very seemly nor
very convenient for him to report himself to his majesty.

Sir Walter Stewart was too well known not to command immediate
attention from every one belonging to the inn. The horse-boys, who
were grooming the numerous steeds, that were hooked up to various
parts of the walls surrounding the yard, made way respectfully, not
only for himself, but also for his people and their animals, and the
cattle of some persons of less note and consideration, were turned
out of their stalls for the accommodation of his horses. Meanwhile,
the knight was ushered up stairs into the common room, by mine host
in person, who, with his portly figure, stripped to his close yellow
jacket and galligaskins, and with a fair linen towel hanging from
his girdle, puffed and sweated up the steps before him, his large
rubicund visage vying in the brightness of its scarlet, with the fiery
coloured cap of coarse red cloth which he wore. Sir Walter found the
large apartment surrounded by oaken tables and chairs, which were
occupied by various guests, some eating, and some drinking, whilst
the rattling of trenchers, the clinking of cans, the buzz of voices,
and the hum of tongues, were so loud and continuous, as to render
it difficult for him to detect a word of the conversation that was
going on any where, except the clamorous calls for fresh supplies of
provender, ale, or wine, which the bustling serving men and tapsters
were hurrying to and fro to satisfy.

As the host showed Sir Walter to an unoccupied table at the upper end
of the place, most of the guests arose and saluted him as he passed
by them. To some of these he gave a condescending bow of recognition,
whilst to others he hardly deigned to bestow more than a dignified
acknowledgment of their courtesy. But he was no sooner seated,
than he was left to his own reflections, for each man again turned
his attention to his own particular comforts, and the knight was
not sorry to be very soon enabled to do the same thing for himself,
by paying his own addresses to the smoking pasty that was placed on
the table before him. He had but just finished his meal, when the
host entered, ushering in a very elegant young man, the richness of
whose attire, as well as the perfection of its make, together with
his noble air, at once showed him to be a gentleman of the court. His
rose-coloured jacket, and amber trewse, were of the richest silk,
and made to fit tight, so as to show off, to the greatest advantage,
his very handsome person. His girdle-belt of black velvet, together
with the pouch of the same material, sparkled with gems, as did also
the sheaths and hilts of his sword and dagger. Several rich chains of
gold were hung about his neck; his shoes had those long thin points,
which were worn at that period, though they were not, in his instance,
carried to any very absurd extravagance. His cloak was of blue velvet
richly bordered with silver, and his broad jewelled hat, of scarlet
stuff of the same material, was drawn over one side of his head,
as a necessary precaution of counterpoise to the weight of the
long feathers of green, blue, red, and yellow, which stretched out
from it so far as to threaten to overbalance it on the other. From
beneath this his brown hair hung down, curling over his ample brow,
and spread itself in wide profusion over his shoulders.

"What, Ramsay!" exclaimed Sir Walter Stewart, rising to meet him
with a cordial salutation, which again silenced the clatter of the
trenchers and cans, and brought all eyes for some moments upon the
two gentlemen. "This is a lucky meeting indeed."

"Lucky!" replied Ramsay, smiling jocularly; "what a boorish phrase!--It
is indeed well worthy of one, who hath been rusticating so long amidst
northern moors and mountains."

"Cry your mercy, my lord of the court," said Sir Walter Stewart,
laughing.

"Nay," continued Ramsay; "I know not whether thy clownish expression
be most discourteous to me, or to thyself,--to me, as it would deny
me all credit for this mine expressly purposed visit to thee,--or
to thyself, for supposing that such a preux-chevalier, as thou art,
could be, for the smallest fraction of time, within the atmosphere
of the court, without being run after by those who love thee."

"Thank thee! thank thee, my dear Ramsay," replied Sir Walter, shaking
him cordially by the hand, and laughing heartily; "Then will I say,
that it was most kind of thee to find me out so soon, and to come
thus purposely to take a stoup of French claret with me, and to pour
thine agreeable talk into mine ear, so as to fill the empty vessel
of mine ignorance, to a level with that of thine own full knowledge
of courtly affairs, and of all the interesting occurrents which have
chanced about the court since I last left it. So, sit thee down,
I pray thee. We shall be private enow at this table, which is well
out of ear-shot of all those noisy gormandizers and guzzlers."

"Nay," replied Ramsay, as he seated himself beside his friend; "thine
emptiness is of too vast a profundity for me to be able to fill it at
this time. On some other occasion I shall do my best to replenish thee,
when we can have leisure for a longer talk together, than we can look
to have to-night. I came hither only to carry thee away with me."

"Whither wouldst have me go?" demanded Sir Walter. "Trust me, I am
more disposed, at this moment, to enjoy mine ease in mine inn, than
to move any where else."

"But I must have thee," replied Ramsay; "rustic as thou art, thou must
submit to be led by me for some little time, like a blind man who hath
but newly recovered his eyesight, lest thou shouldst stumble amidst
the blaze of courtly sunshine. I came to bring thee to a small supper,
at the lodging of Sir William Rogers, that most cunning fingerer of the
lute and harp, and whose practice thereupon," continued he, sinking his
voice almost to a whisper, "seems to have taught him a most marvellous
power, of bringing what music may be most profitable for himself, out
of that strange and many-stringed instrument called a Royal Sovereign."

"Hush, hush, Ramsay!" replied Sir Walter. "Thy talk is dangerous in
such a place as this. But say, does the King go to this party?"

"No," replied Ramsay; "He is to be employed to-night in the occult
science, to which he hath of late so much addicted himself. He is to
be occupied with that knave Andrew the Astrologer, in regarding and
reading the stars."

"Then, what boots it for us to go to the party of this empty piece
of sounding brass?" demanded Sir Walter.

"Much, much, my dear Stewart," replied Ramsay. "In the first place,
thou shalt be introduced to his niece, who hath lately arrived from
England. Thou shalt see and hear that fair Philomela, yclept Juliet
Manvers, who plays and sings to admiration. Though here it behoves
me, as thy friend, to bid thee take care of thy heart, for the uncle
seems to have imported her, with the wise intent, of marrying her
to some one of the court, and mine own heart hath already been very
sorely assailed."

"A dangerous siren, truly!" said Sir Walter, laughing; "yet methinks
I may safely enough bid defiance to her enchantment."

"We shall see," replied Ramsay, with a doubtful nod of his head;
"But be that as it may, my second reason for taking thee thither,
is that, with exception of our host himself, we may at least spend
one tolerably pleasant evening undrugged and unencumbered, with the
base society of those vulgar fellows, whom the King, with so much
mistaken judgment, hath chosen to associate in his favour, with two
such well-born gentlemen as you and me. Cochran, that man whom nature
hath built up of stone and mortar, and who would yet ape the graces
of a finished lord of the court, as a bear would copy the gambols of
a well educated Italian greyhound."

"Hommil!" cried Sir Walter, laughing, and following up his friend's
humour. "Hommil! that thread-paper, whose sword and dagger would
be better removed, to have their places supplied by his shears and
his bodkin."

"Leonard!" cried Ramsay, "Leonard! that man of iron, whose very face
is a perfect forge, his chin being the stithy, his mouth the great
bellows, his eyes the ignited charcoal, his nose the fore-hammer,
and his brows the broken and smoke begrimmed pent-house that hangs
over all."

"Torfefan!" continued Stewart; "Torfefan! that bully of the backsword,
rapier, and dagger, who, except when he is pot-valiant, is always so
wise in his steel-devouring courage, as to spread it forth like the
tail of a turkey-cock, always the wider, the weaker the adversary he
may have to deal with."

"Bravo! bravo!" cried Ramsay, absolutely shouting in his mirth;
"Bravo! bravo! and then, last of all, Andrew, that solemn and
mysterious knave, who seems as if he would pluck the stars from
the skies, as I would the daisies from a flower border, and who,
if I mistake not, will yet contrive to weave a good rich garland of
fate out of them for himself, whatever he may do for others. To be
compelled to keep such company, Stewart, is to pay a severe penalty for
the daily converse and favour of a king. But this night, the monarch
being engaged, as I told thee, each of these precious fellows hath
gone on his own private amusement, for, as thou knowest, there is no
such great love among them, as to make any two of them much desire to
company together, so, to get rid for one single night of the whole of
them but Rogers, whom we must admit to be by far the least offensive
and most tolerable individual among them, is certainly a matter upon
which we may very well congratulate ourselves."

"True," replied Sir Walter; "but I see no reason why we should not rid
ourselves of Rogers, as well as of the rest, by staying and spending
the evening together over this excellent wine. I must confess that
I am somewhat travel-worn, and but little inclined for any such
entertainment as he may give us."

"Nay, that cannot be," said Ramsay; "I gave my promise to him, ere I
knew of thy coming, and when I heard of thine arrival, I pledged my
word to bring thee with me. So, now, thou must not abandon me. Besides,
as I told thee, the fellow is the best of these minions, and his music,
not to mention that of his niece, is always some recompense for the
endurance of his company. So haste thee to doff thy travelling weeds,
and pink thyself out in such attire, as may make thee pleasing in the
eyes of the fair and philomela-voiced Juliet. Be quick! for I shall
wait for thee here."

Sir Walter Stewart, rather unwillingly, summoned his servants--was
lighted to his chamber, and soon returned, in a dress, which was in no
wise put to shame by that of his friend, and they proceeded together
to the lodgings of Sir William Rogers.

The apartments of this favourite minstrel of the king were not
extensive, but, as the custom was, down to a very late period of our
history, even the principal bed-room, which purposely contained a
richly carved aud highly ornamented bed, was thrown open, and all
were lighted up with a blaze of lamps. The furniture was gorgeous
and gaudy. The serving-men numerous, but not always expert, and
the company was small, and chiefly composed of such persons as were
likely to be willing to scrape their way up into favour at court, by
grasping the skirt, and scrambling after the footsteps, of any one,
however worthless, who might be rising there. The entrance of two
gallants so distinguished as Ramsay and Sir Walter Stewart produced
just such an effect as one might look for from the sudden arrival of
two noble peacocks, in full glory of plumage, in the midst of a vulgar
flock of turkeys. Each small individual present vainly endeavoured to
hobble-gobble itself into notice, whilst the two greater and grander
birds permitted their own agreeable admiration of themselves, to be but
little interrupted by the ruffling and noise of the creatures around
them. To Sir William Rogers himself, however, court policy induced them
to yield a full and respectful attention. He was a good looking, and
rather stoutish man, with more of talent than of gentility in his face,
for though his brows were heavy, his large eyes were always ready to
respond, with powerful expression, to the varied feelings which music
never failed to awaken within him. In music he was an enthusiast,
but when not under the excitement which it invariably produced in
him, his whole features betrayed that dull, sordid, self-complacency,
only to be disturbed when his own immediate interest moved him.

The musical knight came forward to receive the two friends, with
manifest satisfaction, as persons who raised the tone of his little
society, and gave him additional consequence in the eyes of his other
guests. He presented Sir Walter, without delay, to his fair niece, who
arose gracefully from the harp, over which she had just begun to run
her fingers in a prelude, and returned his salute with condescending
smiles. She was very beautiful; but, although she appeared to be young,
her beauty seemed, somehow, to want the freshness of youth. She looked
like a gay garment, which, though neither soiled nor worn, had lost
somewhat of that glossy newness of surface, with which it first came
forth from the tailor's shop. Whilst her regards were turned towards
Ramsay, or Sir Walter Stewart, her countenance was covered with the
most winning smiles she could wear; but when they chanced to wander
round among the meaner personages of the company, it assumed a degree
of haughtiness, that was not unmingled with contempt. This proceeded
from her very expressive eyes, which beamed forth warm rays, when half
veiled by her long dark eyelashes, and were quite in harmony with the
mildness of her oval face, her polished forehead, and her dark and
finely arched eye-brows. But when their orbs were broadly displayed
by the rise of her full eye-lid, the fires that shot from them were
too formidable to be altogether agreeable. As was the fashion with
ladies of any distinction in those days, her hair was but little
seen--the greater part of it being capped up under a very tall,
steeple-looking head-dress, which was of a shape much resembling an
overgrown pottle-basket. This was of crimson velvet, ornamented with
gold embroidery, and from the taper top of it descended a number of
streamers of different colours, which hung down behind, and floated
over three-fourths of her person. She wore a rich robe, of the same
material and colour as the cap. This was made to fit her tightly, as
low as the waist, where it was confined by a richly wrought girdle
of gold, from which it flowed loosely down, and swept the ground
in a wide train, that covered a large extent of the floor around
her, but which was so looped up at the sides, as to display a deep
cherry-coloured silk petticoat flowered with gold.

"Better had it been for thee, Juliet, to have sung when I first asked
thee," said Sir William Rogers to her; "thy minstrelsy might have
passed well enough with our good friends here: but now, thou must
undergo the severe ordeal, of the nicely critical ears, of these
our honoured and highly accomplished guests of the court. Sir Walter
Stewart here, especially, is well known to be a master of the divine
art of music--as, with his gracious favour, you may perchance by and
bye hear."

"Alas! uncle, I know too well how silly I have been, in allowing myself
to be thus caught, and I feel too surely I am about to be punished for
it!" replied the lady, with a sigh, accompanied by a languishing glance
at Sir Walter; "for who hath not heard of the exquisite science of Sir
Walter Stewart? The fame of his accomplishments have made the proudest
gallants of England envious. But his eye hath too much benevolence
in it, to leave me to doubt, that he will pity and pardon the faults
that may spring from this trembling weakness of hand, and fluttering
of heart, which his presence hath so suddenly brought upon me."

The lady, quite accidentally no doubt, then assumed that attitude which
was best calculated to display her person to advantage, and began
to run her fingers over the chords, with a boldness and strength of
touch, that proved her to be a very perfect mistress indeed of the
instrument she handled, since she could thus make it discourse such
music, under circumstances which she had herself declared to be so
unfavourable. Notwithstanding the overawing presence of Sir Walter
Stewart, whose critical powers she had declared she so much dreaded,
she commenced a beautiful love-ballad, in a full, firm, and clear
voice, with which she very speedily whirled away the musical soul of
the Knight of the Aven, who, in spite of his boast to the contrary,
was immediately drawn towards her chair, over which he continued to
hang during all the time of her performance. Song after song was sung
by this siren, in a style so superior to any thing which he had ever
heard before, that he was perfectly enraptured. He was called upon
to play and to sing in his turn, and the praises which he received,
in terms of no very limited measure, from both uncle and niece, and
which, if fame does not belie him, were not altogether unmerited,
were re-echoed by the whole flock of gobbling turkeys who pressed
around them. The lady then joined her voice to his, in a tender and
melting lay,--and thus the evening passed away, till Sir Walter was
called upon to hand her to the table, where an ample feast was spread,
and where her very agreeable talk was rendered even yet more spirited,
by the rich wines, which enlivened the imagination of both speaker
and listener. The hours fled most agreeably; and, before Sir Walter
took his leave, he readily entered into certain arrangements with
the lovely Juliet, by which it was settled that next day was to be
the first of a series of meetings, for mutual practice in the art
in which both so much delighted, their studies being of course to be
carried on under the direction of Sir William Rogers himself.

"Well, Julietta," said the uncle to the niece, after they were left
alone, "how likest thou this new instrument, now that thou hast run
the fingers of thy fancy over his stops?"

"The instrument is a handsome instrument enough," replied Juliet. "The
strings sound melodiously too. But much of mine affection must rest
on the gold with which it may be enriched, and the value of the case
which may contain it. Is this Stewart wealthy, I pray thee; and are
his possessions ample enough for my desires?"

"I know that thy desires are ample enough," replied Rogers; "but
report speaks well of the wealth and possessions of this Sir Walter."

"Some where in the bleak north, are they not?" said Juliet. "By all
the saints, the cold and barren sod of this northern clime had hardly
ever been pressed by my foot at all, had I not hoped to have mated
me with some of its most wealthy nobles!"

"Thou hadst little chance of any such noble match where thou wert,
Julietta," replied Rogers; "and, let me tell thee, the fates are
quite as much against any such chance for thee here. These proud and
dogged Scottish nobles scorn to grace a court, where the King makes
so little account of them. And truly there is little wonder that they
should thus take offence, seeing that the places in the royal favour,
which by inheritance belong to them, should be filled by such beasts
as Leonard--Torfefan--Hommil--Andrew--aye, and that prince of brutes,
Cochran, too."

"They are all beasts, as thou sayest, uncle," replied Juliet;
"though, if I were obliged to choose among them, I should rather
tie myself to that coarse, clumsy elephant whom thou hast last named
as king of these brutes, than to any of the others. He is the man,
depend on't, who hath the true and proper art to raise the edifice
of his own fortunes; and, by using his broad shoulders as a scaffold,
a bold woman might thereby mount, methinks, to wealth and honours."

"He is a pestilent, pushing, proud, overbearing, ignorant, vulgar
beast, I tell thee," replied her uncle, much excited. "The brute
despises music! Depend upon it, he will never rise to any thing but to
the garret story of one of his own buildings, from which, if some kind
devil would but throw him down, to the dislocation of that accursed
bull neck of his, I should cheerfully compose an especial jubilate. Oh,
Apollo and Terpsichore! that a man of my musical science and learning,
should be compelled to associate with so vile a piler of stones,
and compounder of mortar!"

"I have a shrewd suspicion, that the measure of thy rage against
Cochran, is but that of thy fears for his outstripping thee in thine
ascent of the lofty tower of ambition," replied Juliet. "But spurn
him not, good uncle, if thou art wise; for his ladder is long, and
strong; and might, with proper management, be useful to thee."

"I should be right glad to see it so, July, could I but kick down
both the ladder and its owner, after I should have so used them,"
said Rogers. "But methinks thou wouldst fain carry ladder, hod and
mortar and all, to the very top of the tower, on thine own shoulders,
rather than lose the man they belong to."

"Thou art grievously mistaken, uncle," replied Juliet, keenly. "To
rise into a high and wealthy station, and the higher and wealthier the
better, would certainly be my desire; but I should much prefer youth,
and beauty, and accomplishment, in the instrument which I might use
for the gratification of mine ambition. If fate denies me all these
indeed, then would I embrace age, and deformity itself, rather than
fail of mine object. Nay, thou canst hardly as yet guess to what means
I should resort to secure its completion. As for Cochran, I know he
loves me; for, in his great condescension, he hath vouchsafed to tell
me so. Nor have I altogether kept the bear aloof. To wed myself to him
would be to speculate, and that too with but an ungainly and unloveable
subject. But if I could read the book of his fate, and find fortune
and honours therein, it would not be the coarse edifice of his body,
supported as it is upon such rustic pillars, and crowned by so vulgar
and heavy a capital, that would deter me from embracing it. Yet 'tis
but a speculation; and, being so, I must confess that I am disposed,
rather to grasp at this handsome Corinthian column of the Stewart,
than to tie myself to that clumsy Cochran, whose clay image might,
after all, crumble to pieces, and suffocate me in its dirty dust."

"I am right glad that thou hast so determined, Juliet," said Rogers. "I
have no jealousy of this well-born knight, who hath, moreover,
a greater feeling for the divine art of music than any of his cold
countrymen with whom I have yet met, without even excepting Royalty
itself. But I might as well see thee built up into a stone wall,
as see thee the wife of Cochran! To see thy great musical genius
tied to this most unmelodious and croaking chisseler of stones,
and compounder of lime, sand, and cow's-hair! I quaver at the very
thought! But get thee to bed, my girl. Now that I know my ground-notes,
I shall wonder if I work thee not out a piece that shall not only win
thee this instrument of thy more recent desires, but enable thee to
play upon it too, according as thou wilt, with thine own variations."

Whilst this precious conversation was going on between the uncle and
niece, Sir Walter Stewart gave the convoy to Ramsay as far as the
Royal Castle-gate, after which he returned towards his hostel. As
he was pursuing his solitary way thither, he heard the clashing of
swords; and, on moving quickly down the deserted street, he discovered,
by the faint light that came from a new moon, two men pressing hard
in fence against one, who was defending himself with great courage,
with his back to a wall. Though he had no knowledge of the combatants,
he could not stand by and see such foul play.

"For shame! for shame, gentlemen!" cried he. "What! two upon one!"

"Gentlemen, indeed!" cried he that was assailed, in a contemptuous
tone, during the moment of breathing afforded him by Sir Walter's
interference--"Gentlemen indeed!--Tailors and scaramouches, else am
I not the Earl of Huntly!"

"Again dost thou dare so to miscal the gentlemen of the court of his
most Royal Majesty of Scotland?" cried one of the individuals, whom
Sir Walter immediately discovered to be the pot-valiant Torfefan. "By
all the gods of fire, thunder, and battle, thou shalt eat this good
bilboa of mine. Have at thee, then, earl, or carl, or devil, if thou
likest it!"

"Nay, then, my Lord of Huntly, I will myself relieve thee of this
bold bird," cried the knight; "do thou deal with the other."

"Thanks for thy rescue, Sir Walter Stewart," replied Huntly, now
recognizing his friend. "But thou hast left naught to me but the very
shred of the skirt of the garment of this broil--the vile cabbage--the
very tailor himself."

"Trust me, thy man, though but the ninth-part of one, is as good as
mine," replied Sir Walter.

The combat was now renewed upon fairer terms, and, in a few moments,
Torfefan's sword was sent spinning into the air, and, falling from
its flight, it rang upon the stones of the causeway, and was shivered
into pieces, whilst its owner was prostrated on his back by his
over-anxiety to withdraw from the fury of his adversary's onset. Sir
Walter's sword-point was immediately at his throat; and, at that
very moment the weapon of his noble ally had pierced a fleshy part of
his opponent, as he had turned to run away, which act of discretion,
however, it did not prevent, for it rather pricked him on to a more
active exertion of speed.

"Spare my life, good Sir Walter Stewart!" cried Torfefan, in an agony
of fear. "Most noble Knight, spare the life of a fellow-courtier!"

"Get up, sir; I have no intention of taking it," replied Sir
Walter. "'Tis enow for me that I have thus exorcised the spirit of the
pottle-pot out of thee. 'Twas that which made thine otherwise peaceful
sword leap from its scabbard against thy betters. Get thee up, I say,
and go home."

"Thou art right, Sir Knight," replied Torfefan, rising humbly upon
his knees, and gradually gaining his legs. "I am at all times mild
and peaceful, as so brave a man, and so perfect a master of fence
ought to be, save when the flask hath somewhat inflamed my brain,
and then, indeed, I am as dangerous as a devil. 'Twas well that thou
camest, else my Lord of Huntly, whom otherwise I so highly respect,
had certainly died by my murderous hand."

"'Twas well, indeed, that thy bloody Bacchanalian rage was staid in
time," said Sir Walter Stewart, ironically. "In this bout, thou hast
so well proved thy title to bravery, as well as to science in fence,
that who shall dare henceforth to deny these thy perfections? So take
the advice of a friend, Signor Torfefan, and get thee straightway to
bed, lest the dregs of that same pottle-pot, working in thee still,
should draw down upon thee some more serious fracture than that of
thy bilboa-blade."

"Ha! true," said Torfefan; "that was a loss indeed! But murderers
will suffer at last; and if thou didst but know the blood which that
same lethal weapon hath shed in my hands, and the lives which it hath
sacrificed, thou would'st say, Sir Knight----"

"I would say that thou should'st forthwith hasten to thy bed,"
interrupted Sir Walter. "If the King should hear of this brawl----"

"Gad so, that's true, Sir Walter!" cried Torfefan; "thank thee for the
hint. Were those reptiles, Cochran, Rogers, and the rest, to hear of
this, they might work mine absolute destruction. Ah, that's the worst
feature of our King's court, Sir Walter! The worst misfortune that
has happened, I say, to us gentlemen of the court, is the admission
to it of such vile scum as these Cochrans, and Rogers, and Leonards,
and such like base mechanics. My very broil this blessed night, may
be said to be owing to my permitting that lily-livered hog in armour,
Hommil, to company with me. But while I am prating, these villains may
get sight of me, and make their own story out of me. So I'll tarry here
no longer. Good night, Sir Walter Stewart; you are a brave gentleman,
well fitted to company with the King."

"What a cowardly boasting knave!" said Sir Walter, after he was gone.

"Yet, to such vermin are all the crumbs of royal favour thrown, to
the utter starvation of those who are of noble breed!" cried Huntly,
with bitterness. "I would fain drink one flask of wine with thee,
Stewart, at thy hostel, ere I go home, to wash down the indignation
and loathing, which the very sight of these scoundrel caitiffs hath
brought into my throat. Let me go thither with thee straightway."

"Willingly, my lord," replied Sir Walter, and, arm and arm together,
they proceeded to the hostel.

"Stewart," said the Earl of Huntly, after they were seated at their
wine, and leaning across the table to address his friend in a half
whisper, though they were the only guests in the room at that late
hour; "thou hast so much of the good will of great and small, that
no one grudges thee the favour the king shows to thee; and there
are few who have much jealousy of Ramsay either, seeing that he
was whipping-boy to James, and, moreover, that he is a gentleman of
good descent. But neither lords nor commons, knights nor burgesses,
can long tolerate the undue elevation and preferment of wretches, so
worthless, as those who block up the royal presence from the approach
of better men."

"'Tis unfortunate that it should be so," said Sir Walter; "but has
it never occurred to your Lordship, that the nobles of Scotland may
have some small share of the blame, by absenting themselves from
court as they do, so that the King lacks all opportunity of having
their several merits brought under his eye."

"You would not have the high-blooded war-steed to throw himself down
in the same stye with obscene swine?" replied the Earl. "I would as
soon thrust myself into a den of badgers, as sit down to partake of
a king's feast, with such company as that arrogant mason Cochran,
and the other dunghill companions whom James so much delights to
honour. The court must be cleared of all such, aye, and swept, and
garnished, and perfumed too, before I shall dare to trust my nostrils
within its precincts."

"No one can say that such feelings are not quite natural, my lord,"
replied Sir Walter Stewart; "but yet, I fear that the indulgence of
them, can do nothing else but increase the disease which you would
so fain cure. 'Tis pity that some few of the nobles do not so far
overcome them, as to appear now and then at court. As a soft answer
turneth away wrath, so gentle conduct will often effect that which
may defy the sternest boldness."

"Nay, but how are we used when we do appear?" demanded the Earl. "Even
Albany and Mar are treated as aliens; and if the very royal brothers
of the monarch are scarcely noticed, in comparison with those nauseous
toads who crawl about the king's footstool, what can we of the humbler
peerage expect?"

"There is great reason in what you say, my lord," observed Sir Walter;
"but hush! who comes here?"

A tall thin figure, in black trewse, with a doublet of black, slashed
with flame-coloured silk, the body strangely covered with silver stars,
and having the signs of the zodiac on the broad belt that confined it,
with a black cloak hanging from his shoulders, which had on it the
sun and moon and seven stars, and his head shaded by a broad hat,
that bore a large plume of feathers, all of the same gloomy hue,
stalked into the common room. From the small quantity of illumination
which the single lamp, that burned on their table, threw around it,
the person that came was but indistinctly visible, in the obscurity
that especially prevailed at the lower end of the apartment; but when
he came slowly forward within the influence of the light, Sir Walter
Stewart, and his friend the Earl of Huntly, recognised the pale, thin,
sharp, and prominent features, the cadaverous hue, the dark eyebrows,
the piercing eyes, and the long black locks and beard of Andrew
the Flemish Astrologer. He came as if in a walking dream; he stopped
within a few feet of the table where they sat--started, as if suddenly
returning to the consciousness of the realities around him--darted an
inquiring look, first at Lord Huntly, and then at Sir Walter Stewart,
and then slowly inclining his head in silent and sombre salutation,
he turned from them, and stalked away, without uttering a syllable.

The Earl, and the Knight, could not for some time shake off the
superstitious dread, that involuntarily crept over both of them at the
sight of this man, who had thus so strangely and mysteriously visited
them. His deep knowledge of the science, to which he pretended, was
admitted by all, and his powers were supposed to extend over other
regions besides those of the heavens. Their hearts were so chilled
by his very aspect, that both felt quite unfitted for renewing their
conversation; and, without making one single remark on this strange
intrusion, each drained the full cup that stood before him, and,
bidding one another good night, the serving men of the hostel were
called, and they separated, to seek their respective places of repose.



A TEMPEST.


Clifford.--What a dreadful tempest out of doors?--Forgive my
interruption, Serjeant; but ere you go farther with your interesting
story, I think we had better get in some more wood and peats, lest
the fire should get hopelessly low, a thing that is very likely to
happen where people are so engaged as we are.

Grant.--The Serjeant's stories might well make one forget every
thing else.

Clifford.--Come, Mister Serjeant, whilst the fire is mending, and
the Earl and the Knight are retiring to their repose, you may have
leisure to wet your whistle a little.

Serjeant.--I shall not be sorry to do that, sir; my mouth is a little
dry to be sure. Keep us all, such a night of wind and rain! How the
blast thuds against the windows!--That is awful indeed! God help the
poor man that may be out in such a night! 'Tis well for us to be in
bigged land.

Grant.--As you say, it is well for us to be under a roof, Archy; and
yet I wish that the roof of this old house may not be blown away. How
furiously the tempest howls along!

Author.--'Tis fearful to listen to it; yet I suspect that this is
nothing to the blasts which its walls must sometimes endure.

Serjeant.--Ou! bless you, sir! The wind comes down the trough of
this glen, at times, enough, one would think, to blow every house
and living thing out of it, stones and rocks and all, like peas out
of a pop-gun. But this house has stood many a blast, and I hope it
will weather out this one yet.

Author.--It came on very suddenly. It is not half an hour ago since
all was quiet, and hear how the wind rages and the rain rattles now.

Clifford.--Our friend Willox must be abroad with his kelpie's bridle.

Author.--Aye--or Andrew the Flemish Astrologer may have done it.

Clifford.--Andrew the Astrologer! yes, I daresay he was quite equal
to kicking up such a rumpus among the elements. I would fain know
more of that fellow.

Serjeant.--Be assured, sir, I shall tell you all I know about him in
due course of time. Meanwhile I am ready to take up the clue of my
discourse whenever you please.

Clifford.--You may do so when you like, Serjeant; for, as I suppose
that this terrible night puts all hope of an early start in the
morning out of the question, we may e'en sit up as late as we like.

Serjeant.--If the rain holds on at this rate, the rivers will all be
up, and the mosses swimming, so that our travelling further to-morrow
will be impossible.

Clifford.--Come away, then, Serjeant, proceed with your legend,
and let the storm roar and rattle as it will.



THE LEGEND OF CHARLEY STEWART TÀILLEAR-CRUBACH
CONTINUED.


Sir Walter Stewart was received next day, by King James, with all
that kindness which he was used to lavish upon his favourites, among
whom the accomplished knight held by no means the lowest place in his
estimation. Apartments were immediately allotted to him near the royal
person, and his time became almost entirely occupied by his duties as
a courtier. He failed not, however, to take all opportunities that
occurred, of cultivating his talent for music, under the auspices
of Sir William Rogers, and his fascinating niece. Notwithstanding
the knight's bold confidence to the contrary, the lady's designs
against his heart might have been very rapidly successful, had
not the baseness of her motives inclined her to waver from time to
time, between the balance of rival advantages, which were offered
to her by an encouragement of Cochran, who had declared himself to
be her lover. Thus it was that she often scared Sir Walter Stewart
at the very moment when, to all appearance, he seemed most likely
unconsciously to gorge the bait, and thus it was that several years
glided imperceptibly away, without the lady finding herself one bit
nearer to the attainment of either of her objects. Still, however, Sir
Walter would ever and anon return within the sphere of her attraction,
and the fair Juliet always the more easily managed to conjure him back
thither, that they were frequently brought together, to sing and to
play in presence of the royal pair, in those little private meetings
which were held almost nightly in the Queen's apartment. As for Sir
William Rogers, he did all he could to fix his niece's determination
towards securing an alliance with Sir Walter Stewart, not only from
his unconquerable abhorrence of the unrefined mason, on the one hand,
but also from his conviction, that his own ambitious views were fully
as likely to be helped forward by the lady's union with the gallant
knight, for whom moreover he had an especial respect, because of his
genius and accomplishment in that divine art, to which he was himself
so enthusiastically attached.

The royal party was one night assembled, as usual, in the apartment
of Queen Margaret, who, seated in a gorgeous chair, richly attired,
as became her station, and attended by Ramsay, and some of her
maids of honour, and with her angelic countenance lighted up with
unfeigned rapture, listened to the mingled voices and minstrelsy
of Sir William Rogers, Sir Walter Stewart, and the lovely Juliet
Manvers. The King was engaged with Cochran, at a table at one end
of the room, in looking over some plans, which had reference to the
buildings then going on within the castle. Any one who had witnessed
them, whilst so employed, would have said that neither his Majesty,
nor his architect, were much occupied in the subject which was the
ostensible object of their consideration, for whilst the ears of
the monarch seemed ever and anon to draw off his attention to the
music, the heavy eyes of Cochran were perpetually wandering towards
the person of the songstress. Ere the music had been long continued,
each of them yielded to the irresistible impulse which had moved him,
and, whilst the King drew a chair, and seated himself opposite to the
performers, Cochran placed himself behind it, and, with that vulgar
and unpolished air, which the magnificence of his dress rendered
only the more apparent, leaned awkwardly over the back of it, and
rivetted his gloating gaze upon the lady's charms. The piece had come
to its close, and the royal pair were bestowing their commendations
liberally upon those who had executed it, when three loud and solemn
taps were heard at the door of the chamber. King James started, and
at once assumed an air of intense and serious anxiety, and the Queen,
and all present, were more or less disturbed at this interruption.

"I had forgotten!" exclaimed the King, as if speaking to himself
alone.--"Enter! thou art at all times welcome!"

The door slowly opened at his word, and the tall thin figure of Andrew
the Flemish Astrologer stood in the doorway, habited as he has been
already described, and with a long white rod in his right hand. With
his left hand upon his breast, he made a low and solemn reverence
to the King, and then pointing his rod over his shoulder, he seemed
silently to indicate his desire that his Majesty should follow him.

"Lead on!" cried the King, with an awe-stricken voice and air, whilst
he arose from his chair, and hastily put on his hat and cloak. "If
we are called by the stars, we are at all times ready to give due
obedience to them," and, with these words, he immediately retired
with the Astrologer.

Ramsay, Stewart, Rogers, and Juliet Manvers, made their several
reverences to the Queen, in which they were clumsily joined by
Cochran, and all took their leave. They were no sooner out of the
Royal presence, than Cochran, rudely thrusting himself before Ramsay
and Sir Walter Stewart, bustled busily up to the lady, as she hung on
her uncle's arm, so as to engage the unoccupied place next her, to the
exclusion of every one else. Sir Walter was somewhat chafed at this
rudeness, and might have forgotten himself, had not his rising anger
been checked by the voice of one of the Queen's ladies, who called
him by his name. The Knight stopped to ascertain what she wanted.

"Sir Walter Stewart," said the lady, "the Queen commands thee to
return, for a brief space, to her apartment, that she may again hear
thee sing that French ballad of thine own composition, which so much
pleased her Majesty two nights ago. Her Majesty would fain have the
words, and catch the notes of it."

"I humbly obey her Majesty's command," replied the Knight, returning
with the lady immediately.

On entering the Queen's apartment, he made his reverence to her
Majesty; and she, having again signified her wishes to him in a very
gracious manner, she motioned him to take up a lute, and seat himself
on a stool near her chair; and after having done as she desired,
he began to sing the ballad she had named, and to accompany himself
on the instrument.

In the meanwhile the King followed the solemn, step and apparition-like
figure of the Astrologer till he brought his Majesty to an angular part
of the castle-wall that, skirting the giddy precipice of lofty rock on
which the fortress stands, looked out over the country to the south and
west. But that which was an extensive and magnificent prospect by day,
was at this moment shrouded in the shades of night. There he took his
stand, and pointed upwards with his rod. The moon was in its second
quarter, and shed a pale and partial light. A strange and portentous
arch of black and very opaque clouds, rested its extremities on the
verges of the northern and southern horizon, and spanned the heavens
through the zenith. Behind this, all to the eastward, was one dark
vault, impenetrable to the eye, whilst the western edge of the arch
was tinged with bright rain-bow hues, and the whole sky below it,
upon that side, was serene and cloudless. As the king gazed upwards in
wonder, not unmingled with dread, a bright flash of lightning suddenly
illumined the whole of the black and solid concave of clouds behind
them, and the walls of the castle were shaken by a tremendous peal
of thunder. The heart of the royal James quailed within him. The
peal was reverberated from the bold front of Dumyot, with a harsh
and crashing sound, and then, after visiting and rousing up every
echo among the Ochills, it rolled fearfully away up the valley of the
Forth, until it died amid the distant western mountains. Filled with
superstitious dread, the King grasped the left arm of the Astrologer,
who stood unmoved, with his rod extended in his right hand.

"Holy Virgin Mother, Messire Andrew! what do these dread signs
portend?" cried James, with deep anxiety of voice and manner.

"These!" exclaimed Andrew, in French, and in a wild and enthusiastic
tone, that would have sounded as contemptuous in the King's ear,
but for the intensity of his desire to have his fears and doubts put
to rest; "these are but the mere auxiliaries of Heaven's appalling
oratory. See!--Know you not yonder stars which now approach each
other to a conjunction so threatening?"

"Mars and Venus approaching to strange and fearful conjunction indeed,"
replied the King, shuddering. "What can it bode?"

"And see ye not that they are in the ascendant, whilst Jupiter is
sinking fast?--Now, they are almost in contact--and now!"

"Heaven in its mercy defend us, what a dreadful peal!" cried the King,
as the thunder again burst terribly over his head. "And see, the thick
and inky veil begins to rend asunder into separate clouds, like some
vast army breaking its general mass into its several legions. And
behold now, how they divide and subdivide, careering swiftly like
squadrons of horsemen over the vault of the heavens. And now, look
how strangely and capriciously the broken-up clouds have here veiled,
and there revealed, the different portions of the sky!"

"Aye!" said the Astrologer, solemnly, "and now the mystic dance
is done. Each several fragment of vapour hath taken his place. The
characters are fixed; and now 'tis man's fault if he read not enough of
Heaven's will in so wide-spread and so plainly written a book. There
we can see the Hydra, and there the Greyhounds--there the greater,
and there the lesser Dog. But where is the Lion? And where the
Northern Crown?"

"Alas, Messire Andrew! thou lookest as if thou wer't dismayed by
these fearful prodigies," exclaimed the King again, with an anxiously
inquiring eye. "What is it that you dread they may portend?"

"It is grievous for me to translate to your Majesty the meaning of
these direfully ominous portents," replied Andrew, gravely, after a
long pause, during which he seemed gradually to call down his spirit
from the heavens, where it had been soaring for sometime amid all
the wonders they displayed. "Yet is it better for you to know their
fearful warnings, so far as mortals may interpret them," continued
he, rising into a wild kind of inspiration. "Danger is threatened
to the King!--to the King of Scotland! Beware of the princes and
lords of the land! Those in whom thou takest the most pleasure may
prove thy greatest bane! Commotions and wars are to be looked for and
dreaded! Beware! beware! Oh, King! lest the Scottish Lion be devoured
by its whelps!"

"The Scottish Lion devoured by its whelps!" re-echoed the King, in
the muttered voice of dismay. "Danger from the princes and nobles
of the land! Danger from those in whom we take most pleasure! What
doth all this import? And in especial, what meaneth this last strange
enigma?--What!--the Queen!--Speak Messire Andrew? Or would it point at
those who most enjoy my favour?--Why dost thou not answer me?--Wars
and commotions--the powerful influence of Mars is plain--but that of
Venus!--say!--speak! Surely, surely that doth not touch the loyalty
of our Queen?"

"The moment of divination has passed away for this night," said the
cunning Astrologer, in a low hollow voice, like that produced from
an over-exhausted spirit. "I am now weak and blind as other men. Yet
said I nothing of her most gracious Majesty Queen Margaret, whom God
long preserve! The planet your Majesty speaks of hath two several and
distinct influences--one, the which may operate as touching things
more immediately under the dominion of woman's passion, and the other,
as denoting a mere point of time. This latter interpretation would
seem to me, at this moment, to be by far the more likely, for, as
Mars would predict battles, his conjunction with the Star of Evening
would rather appear to me to mark that they will arise in the evening
of your Majesty's reign, which may God and St. Andrew render long
and prosperous!"

"Nay, but cans't thou not yet inquire more closely, Messire
Andrew?" demanded the King, impatiently. "These doubts are worse
than ignorance."

"Another time we may find fit opportunity to solve them, good my
liege," replied the Astrologer, with a low reverence. "The spirit
of divination hath passed from me, and I am now no more than a
weak and blind mortal. And see! even the heavens have refused to
yield up farther knowledge of future events to the sons of earth,
for they have wrapped themselves up in one dark and impenetrable
veil of cloud. To-night the book of fate is shut!--Saw ye that! The
elements themselves forbid all farther question."

As he spoke, a terrible glare of lightning blazed around them,
momentarily illuminating every feature of the grand scenery by which
they were surrounded. A fearful clap of thunder again burst over their
heads with awful magnificence, and rolled terribly away. A furious
wind began to blow, and large drops of rain descended, a tempest
was approaching, and the King, sunk, disheartened, and unsatisfied,
was driven in by the natural results of those threatenings in the sky,
which he had been so attentively watching, to brood upon those fanciful
horrors and dangers with which they, in reality, had no connection. He
returned towards the Queen's apartment in deep thought, and he had
entered it fully, before the notes of the music that still sounded
in it had power to rouse him from his abstraction. Sir Walter Stewart
still sat near the Queen's footstool, singing to the accompaniment of
his lute, and her Majesty and her maids of honour were still eagerly
occupied in listening.

"Ha!" cried King James, as he recovered perfect consciousness of the
scene before him, and speaking with a highly disturbed air and tone;
"Methought our privacy had been relieved from all further interruption
for this night?"

"Pardon, my liege!--my love!" cried the Queen, rising from her chair,
and affectionately taking his arm. "Pardon, if we have done aught to
displeasure thee! I and my maidens had a mind to hear again that sweet
ballad of Sir Walter Stewart's making, which he sang so pleasantly
to us the other night, as you may remember. He was brought back,
therefore, in obedience to my command, and if there be aught of blame
in this, it is all mine own. That he hath staid so long after he did
return, if fault in that there be, it must be charged against his own
pleasing minstrelsy, which did so enchain the ears of his hearers,
that time passed by unheeded."

"Permit me, your Majesty, to take my leave," said Sir Walter, making
his wonted obeisance to the King as he retired.

"Good night," said the King, with more of condescension, but with
less of warmth than he was accustomed to use towards one whom he so
much favoured.

All that night the royal mind was vexed by frightful waking visions,
that haunted it to the exclusion of sleep. In vain did his Majesty try
to embody them into any thing like a clear and connected picture of
coming events. But dark though the ground was upon which he worked,
certain prominent lights continually started from it, and remained
stationary before him, so as ultimately to fix themselves in some
degree upon him as probable truths. The most stimulating of these might
be guessed at, from the royal orders which were issued on the following
morning. The Court was hastily and unexpectedly removed to Edinburgh
Castle; and soon afterwards, the two Princes of the blood-royal,
the Duke of Albany, and the Earl of Mar, were, to the astonishment of
all men, seized and made prisoners. Mar was confined in Craigmillar
Castle. But of Albany, the King seemed anxious to take especial care,
for he was committed to custody in Edinburgh Castle itself, where he
might be more particularly guarded under the royal eye.

Yet all this did not seem to have relieved James' mind from the terrors
which had taken possession of it. The approach of the nobles to the
royal person was less encouraged than it had ever been. The King's
favourites, though still permitted to have their usual intercourse
with him, were all in their turns looked upon at times with an eye
of doubt. Sir Walter Stewart sensibly felt, that he was subjected to
a greater portion of the effects of this suspicious temper than any
of the others. An excuse had been found for his being deprived of
such apartments in the Castle of Edinburgh, as he had had in that
of Stirling, and he was obliged to hire lodgings within the walls
of the city. His presence at the private parties in the Queen's
apartment was rarely, if ever, required. The musical meetings there
were of themselves less frequent, and when they did take place, he
was not among the number of the performers. To make amends for this,
he spent more of his time in the pursuit of his favourite science,
with the fair Juliet Manvers, in the apartments of Sir William Rogers,
and as the lady seemed to be making, day after day, greater inroads
upon his heart, so did Sir Walter Stewart himself rise every day more
and more in the estimation of the musical knight. With such a source
of amusement, Sir Walter was less affected by the coldness which he
experienced at court, than might have been naturally supposed. But
he felt deeply for the confinement of the Princes, with whom he had
been admitted into habits of intimacy that bordered upon the warmth
of friendship. Yet, much as he was personally attached to them, and
anxiously as he would have wished to have befriended them, he knew
enough to convince him that he could make no effort in their behalf,
that would not have a certain tendency to lead to some fatal issue,
both as regarded them and himself. But the death of the Earl of Mar,
which happened soon afterwards, and which was most suspiciously given
out as having taken place suddenly, by apoplexy, in a warm bath, so
roused his feelings, that he resolved to take the first opportunity
of making some attempt to save Albany, and to this he was more
immediately stimulated by something that occurred to him one night,
as he was walking and ruminating on the Castle-hill.

"Sir Walter Stewart," said a man, who stood muffled up in a cloak, to
him, as he was striding slowly past, unconscious that there was any one
near him, "wilt thou not halt for a moment to speak to an old friend?"

"My Lord Huntly!" cried Sir Walter, in astonishment, after approaching
the figure, and ascertaining who it was that spoke.

"Hush!--Name me not so loudly!" replied Huntly. "The very air hath
ears, yea, and eyes too. I am here in secret and in disguise. Were
I discovered, my life might pay for it. Come farther this way into
the shadow. I would speak with thee about matters which no one else
must hear, and my time is short. We must save Albany!"

"Most willingly would I aid in doing so," replied Sir Walter. "But
how is his safety to be secured?"

"Thou canst be eminently useful," replied Huntly.

"I know thy zeal in a friend's behalf, and although thou mightest have
shown some unwillingness to take part with us, when our grievances
amounted to nothing more than royal neglect, yet perhaps thou
mayest now be more sharpened to our purpose, when thou seest that
the murderous knife hath already been drawn upon us, that the first
victim hath been already sacrificed, and that victim too a high and
noble prince of the blood royal, who was, moreover, thy friend."

"Nay, surely thou dost not believe that my Lord Mar died other than
a natural death?" said Sir Walter.

"A natural death!" exclaimed Huntly.--"Aye, a death naturally occurring
from a weak and cruel brother's jealousy. That species of natural
death, to wit, which the sheep may very naturally receive from the
hand of the butcher!"

"Why, they say he died in a bath;" said Sir Walter.

"And in so saying they say truly," replied Huntly. "Of a truth he
died in a bath--a hot bath, into which he was kindly put to recover
him from a deep cut in the main artery of his arm, given him by one
of the royal executioners."

"'Tis horrible, if true!" said Sir Walter, shuddering.

"'Tis as true as it is horrible," continued Huntly. "And now methinks I
may trust to your being less scrupulous in listening to the grievances
of the lords, than thou wert when I last touched the topic with thee
at Stirling."

"My Lord," replied Sir Walter, "I will honestly tell thee, that
to save Albany, a man whom I honour as a royal prince and a highly
accomplished knight, and whom, moreover, I hold in deep affection
as a friend, I am willing to put mine own life to utmost peril, and
this the more too, that if I can save him I shall think that my so
doing will be the preserving of the right arm of Scotland. But in any
thing that may touch my fealty directly to the person of King James,
I must be held excused, seeing that I have already received too much
kindness from his Majesty, to permit me to prove in anywise a rebel
to him,--but in this matter of the Duke of Albany, my judgment tells
me that I shall, by saving him, be doing good service to my king as
well as to my country."

"Then let us leave all else at present, and talk of this matter in
hand," said Huntly. "Thou art well versed in the customs and affairs
of France, and canst speak its tongue. Couldst thou not contrive to
discover, whether some barque may not be soon looked for from thence
with merchandize?"

"So far, my Lord, I can answer thee here upon the spot," replied
Sir Walter. "It so chances that I look daily for the arrival of a
captain, well known to me, who trades in wine. He is the bearer of
certain casks for me, and I can therefore go to inquire regarding
him without much suspicion. It shall be done to-morrow."

"This is most lucky," said Huntly. "So now let us consider well as
to our plans. Knowest thou how the Duke is guarded?"

"I do not lodge within the castle," replied Sir Walter. "Nor am I
so often within its walls as I wont to be. But this I know, that
the Duke is guarded most strictly. The captain of the guard himself
keeps the key of the apartment where he is imprisoned, and where,
to make all things secure, his chamberlain is locked up with him,
and no one is allowed to go in or out who is not in the first place
most narrowly examined. But yet will I scrupulously observe, and make
myself master of the whole circumstances, and of the exact position
of things, and it will go hard with me if I cannot find some way of
baffling their vigilance."

"Then let us part to-night, lest we be observed," said Huntly. "That
accursed astrologer, Flemish Andrew, may again start up before us,
like the devil in our path."

"Um," replied Sir Walter, doubtingly; "thou mayest not be very far
from the truth in thy evil suspicions of him, my Lord. I liked not
his last visit."

"Well, no matter," said the Earl; "to-morrow night we may meet again."

"Aye, to-morrow night--here, and at the same hour," replied Sir
Walter. "But if I come not, my Lord, I would have thee believe, that
if not unwillingly detained by the King, I may perhaps be employing
myself more usefully elsewhere."

"I shall so believe," replied Huntly; "then farewell till our next
meeting, be that when it may."

The friends then parted, and took different ways, to avoid all chance
of being seen together, and Sir Walter Stewart was about to enter the
head of the close where his lodging was situated, when he was accosted
by a person who came limping up to him, with all the appearance of
a jaded foot traveller, and who addressed him in humble, but by no
means clownish, salutation.

"Sir Knight," said he, "wilt thou vouchsafe to pardon me, a stranger,
and deign to tell me whether thou canst direct me to the lodging of
Sir Walter Stewart of Stradawn?"

"Surely I have heard that voice before," said the knight, without
replying to the question.

"Sir Walter!--My father!" exclaimed the other in great surprise.

"What!" exclaimed Sir Walter, in no less astonishment, and in any
thing but a gracious tone, "Charley Stewart! In the name of all
that is wonderful what hath brought thee to Edinburgh?--This is not
well. Methought I had arranged all things to thy heart's content,
for thy proper employment in thine own native district. But I forget
how time flies. Doubtless ere this thou art as learned in thine art,
and in the use of the goose, needles, shears, and bodkin, as the
great and accomplished Mr. Jonathan Junkins himself."

"I crave your pardon, Sir Knight," replied Charley. "Ill as the spirit
of the Stewart that is within me might brook such mean drudgery,
I struggled hard to break it into the destiny which thou hadst been
pleased to assign me. But the rude caitiff churls that worked in
Junkins' shop, and some of the boorish neighbours too, presuming on
my youth, fastened on me the offensive nickname of Tàillear-crubach,
or the lame tailor. This I could not bear; and after having well
pummelled some dozen or so of them, one after the other, I deemed it
as well to secure peace for the future, by giving up all just claim
to so ignominious a title."

"By saint Michael, my boy," cried Sir Walter, cordially taking
Charley's hand; "I cannot say but thou didst well. What a strapping
burly chield thou hast grown! But what hast thou been doing with
thyself then, since thou gavest up tailoring?"

"I have learned to ride, and to use a sword and a lance indifferent
well," said Charley.

"Bravo!" cried Sir Walter. "By the Rood, thou art mine own very flesh
and blood! Trust me, had I guessed that thou wert made of such metal,
I should never have thought of tying thee to a tailor's board, I
promise thee. Would I had known this sooner! But now!--How fares it
with thy mother, boy?"

"Well, Sir Walter," replied Charley with a deep sigh. "She was well
when I last saw her."

"Would that I had sooner known thy merits, Charley!" said Sir Walter,
with a depth of feeling which he had not yet displayed. "I might
then have----But now I fear I am too far involved with another----The
fates have been cruelly against thee, boy."

"They have indeed!" said Charley, with an emotion which almost
choked him.

"Well! well!" said Sir Walter, affectionately squeezing his
hand. "Come--cheer up, Charley! I may yet have it in my power to do
something for thee.--And by Saint Andrew," continued the knight, after
a short pause, "now I think on't, thou hast come to me in the very
nick of time. Thine aid will be most useful to me. But this is neither
the time nor the place to talk about such matters. Come, let us to my
lodging, that I may procure you refreshment and rest; for your pale
face, hollow eyes, and clinging cheeks, would seem to say that thou
greatly lackest both; and as thou mayest require to be up betimes,
I shall delay farther questioning of thee till a fitter opportunity."

But as you will hardly wish to wait, gentlemen, until Charley
Stewart has had such necessary restoration of exhausted nature,
as shall enable him to tell his own story, I shall hastily sketch,
at somewhat greater length than he had time to do, what took place
with him during those years that have elapsed since we last heard
of him. A few months had sufficed to sicken him, as we have seen,
of the shop-board of Mister Jonathan Junkins. For a time he lived
quietly with his mother, soothing her sorrow with all the tenderness
of the kindest of hearts, following out his learning under the kind
instruction of the then priest of Dounan, who had taken an especial
favour for him; and, lastly, occupying himself in the delightful
task of communicating to Rosa MacDermot, that knowledge which he
thus gained. Now and then, to be sure, spite of his lameness, he
took pleasure in exercising himself in athletic feats; and in this
practice, he was much aided by an accidental acquaintance, which he
chanced to make with a certain Sir Piers Gordon, a small landholder in
a neighbouring glen, who, himself a dependant of the Earl of Huntly,
was glad to collect a few retainers about him, in any way, to help him
to uphold his dignity. Under the auspices of this well-trained soldier,
Charley became an expert handler of the claymore, a fearless horseman,
and no very contemptible wielder of a lance; and he had more than once
had the satisfaction, of making one of the party who accompanied his
patron, in some of those skirmishes or minor movements of warfare
between clans, which the wild and unsettled state of the country
rendered much too common in those days to be always particularized,
far less to be chronicled.

Charley was one day seated, with Rosa MacDermot, on their favourite
flowery bank, by the side of the same spring I formerly described as
gushing from below a mossy stone, under the grove of weeping birches,
where we last heard of them together. But Rosa was now grown almost
a woman, being tall of her age, and of very handsome person; and the
scar of the crossmark on her cheek had now become so slight, that so
far from being a deformity, it rather gave an interesting expression to
her otherwise blooming and richly beautiful countenance. Her love for
Charley, and his for her, had grown with every day they had lived. But
maiden modesty on her part, and delicacy on his, had made both of
them somewhat more reserved, and more guarded in giving way to the
expression of it. She no longer talked of being his wifey; and when
he, hurried on by the feelings of the moment, was led to allude to
their future union, when future prospects should smile more kindly
upon them, her words, though tender, were few, whilst her eyes and
her blushes spoke volumes.

They were intently engaged in converse together, when they were
interrupted by a most unseemly looking object that appeared before
them. If they had never beheld it until that moment, they might have
had doubts as to which of the sexes it belonged to. The face was
hideous, the nose being very prominent and hooked, so as to project
over the mouth, which was hardly perceptible. The eyes, when open,
were great, round, and fiery, and they were covered by eyelids of an
unnatural largeness, so that the strange and regular alternation of
the muscular motion, which was exerted in the dropping and raising
of them, produced the most fearful effect. Enveloped as the head was
in an old soiled red tartan plaid, which was twisted around it, and
fell in large folds over half the person, after being knotted behind
over the back, the whole body had a bunchy bird-like appearance, which
was rendered still more uncouth, by its being supported on the bare,
wirey, dirt-begrimmed shanks, and claw-like talons, which sprawled
out beneath a short grey petticoat. The real name of this strange,
unearthly looking monster, was lost in her antiquity. She had appeared
in that district many years before, no one knew from whence; and as
all her marks were then the same as I have described them now, it is
not wonderful that she should have acquired, from the rude people,
the name of the Howlet, from her extreme likeness to that ill-omened
bird. And tired as she had long been of kicking against the scorn of
the world, and callous as she had been rendered under all the miseries
it had heaped upon her, she now answered to that appellation, with the
same readiness which she might probably have shown in the more sunny
days of her youth, when she cheerfully replied to her own proper name,
and to the fond endearments of a father and a mother. Yet, let it
not be imagined that she, miserably abandoned as she had so long been
to all that was wretched in human existence, had not her moments of
reflection on happier days, long since gone by, the recollection of
which only the more embittered the present. Nor is it to be supposed
that, much as she had suffered, she herself had been bereft of all
the better feelings of humanity. Her external appearance was enough to
endow her, in the estimation of the vulgar, with all the attributes of
malignity, as well as with the dread powers of sorcery. But although
her approach never failed to produce a certain sensation of awe in
the gentle mind of Rosa MacDermot, it was always mingled with a very
large share of pity for the poor creature's penury and distress;
and this was fully participated by the good hearted Charley Stewart.

"Poor Howley!" cried Rosa, the moment she beheld her; "it is long
since I have seen thee. Where hast thou been wandering during this
many a day?"

"Some food for charity's sake!" said the Howlet, in that half
shooting, half whistling tone of voice, which strangely carried
out her otherwise remarkable similarity to the bird she was called
after. "I am starving! I am famished!--Some food for charity's sake!"

"Poor Howley, thou shalt never want it whilst I can help thee to
it!" said the compassionate girl.

"Though hard-heartedness and scorn may meet me at every other door
in this weary and wicked world," said the Howlet, "I still find
charity here."

"Sit down then on the bank there," said Rosa, "and I will run and
bring thee food in a moment."

"God's blessing be upon thee, fair maiden!" said the Howlet, with
deep feeling.

"Thou canst bless, then!" said Charley Stewart gravely, after Rosa
was gone.

"I can pray to God to bless!" replied the Howlet; "and, unlike the men
of this world, a God of all goodness will not refuse to listen to such
a prayer, because it comes from the heart of a poor outcast, the scorn
of this heartless world, clothed in rags, and starving for food. And
who should I pray for, if I did not pray for blessings on that angel?"

"She is an angel, Howley!" cried Charley, with ecstacy--"an angel in
soul as well as in form. See how she comes tripping with her basket
and pitcher, as if she hardly trod the earth!"

The old woman fastened her long hands greedily on the viands, the
moment they came within her reach, her eyes glaring wide, and shutting
alternately, and her ravenous hunger urged her to devour her food so
fast, that it was fearful to behold her; and then, as she did so, she
went on muttering in her whistling voice, "The holy Virgin bless thee,
my fair maiden!--Och! och! what pain it is to swallow. Three days have
I been denied food by my flinty-hearted fellow creatures! yet may
God, in his mercy, forgive them!--Three days! three whole days! The
blessing of Heaven, its best blessings on thee, thou angel!--Och,
such pain! Thou shalt be a landed lady yet! Och, och! Thou shalt
marry a man with a knight's spur at his heel! Och! such a pang at my
heart! Och! oh!"--

Rosa and Charley Stewart, who had both been swallowing her words,
with as much avidity as she had been devouring the food that had been
given her, now both started up in dire alarm, and ran towards the old
woman. Her eyes rolled dreadfully for a moment, and then they became
fixed; the basket she held dropped from her hands; her arms and limbs
stretched themselves out in rigid convulsion; her head fell stiffly
back on the bank, and, when they essayed to raise it up, they found
that she was dead.

It was many a long day before Rosa MacDermot could shake off the
horrible impression which this scene had made upon her young mind,
so far as to be able to recall it with anything approaching to
tranquillity. Charley, however, had often pondered deeply on the words
which had fallen from the old woman, and he was impatient till the
time did come, when he felt that he might venture to allude to them.

"Charley," said Rosa anxiously, and tenderly taking his hand, as they
were one day sitting together on their favourite spot; "something
grieves thee in secret. Thou wert not wont to conceal a thought from
me; why shouldst thou do so now? Why shouldst thou deny me my share
of that sadness, which, being thine, ought to belong to both of us?"

"Rosa," replied Charley, fervently returning her gentle pressure;
"I will honestly confess my folly. Those idle words of the poor Howlet
have clung to my soul with a heaviness which I cannot shake off."

"Idle words they were, indeed," replied Rosa; "words idly uttered
by the poor crazy creature in the delirium of starvation. But, idle
or not, they boded no evil to me; and is it by Charley Stewart that
they are to be grudged to me?"

"Think of their import, Rosa," replied Charley, gravely; "and then you
will see that I can scarcely be expected calmly to contemplate them."

"What!" exclaimed Rosa, smiling--"that I am to be a landed lady? Is
that a matter that should give thee pain to think of?"

"Reflect, Rosa, by what means it was said that thou art to become
so," replied Charley, with a sigh. "By marrying a man with a knight's
spurs at his heels! Ran not the old woman's words so? And canst thou
believe that I can coolly contemplate the probable accomplishment of
any such prophecy?"

"Charley!" cried Rosa, with great feeling, whilst tears swelled from
under her beautiful eyelids, "canst thou believe it possible that I
should ever forget all I owe to thee? Canst thou believe that I can
forget my often repeated vows? Canst thou believe that those infant
affections which have grown up with me, strengthening as they grew,
until they have now ripened with me in womanhood, can ever perish
but with my life? My life is thine, for to thee I owe it. My soul
is thine, for to thee I am indebted for that culture and expansion
which may best fit it for heaven. My heart is thine, for it is to
thee that I have been indebted for stocking it with its best and
purest sympathies. Canst thou then doubt that I ever could be any
other's than thine?"

"May the Virgin ever bless thee for thy words, my love!" cried Charley,
with ecstasy. "I am satisfied of the truth of thine affection. Yet
had I been better pleased if that old woman had never given utterance
to those idle dreams of hers. At such a time too!--So awful!--Just
before her vexed and worn out spirit took its flight from its wretched
earthly tenement!"

"It was awful, indeed!" said Rosa, solemnly. "But methinks," added
she, after a pause, and in a more cheerful tone--"Methinks the poor
Howlet's words might bear a more pleasing interpretation than thou
wouldst seem inclined to put upon them; yea, and to my fancy, much
more natural withal."

"As how?" demanded Charley, eagerly.

"Marry, that thou mayest be the man with the knight's spurs at his
heels," said Rosa, dropping her voice and her eyes, and blushing
deeply.

"What!" exclaimed Charley, energetically. "By all the saints in the
calendar, but that were an interpretation indeed! I thank thee, Rosa,
for thy augury. Trust me, if it lacks accomplishment, in due time, it
shall not be my fault. Though I have been turned over into the dirt,
by him to whom I should have looked for countenance and support, to
encourage me in a nobler career--by him to whom I reasonably looked
for the education befitting a soldier,--thanks to mine honest patron,
Sir Piers, I am not now altogether in want of it. Thanks, moreover,
be to God, that I have never done anything which may, with reason,
make my father ashamed of me. And, with the blessing of Saint Andrew
on this arm of mine, I may yet live to earn those honours, which his
indifference towards me would have denied me."

Rosa did not altogether enjoy perfect ease of mind after Charley
Stewart had left her. She thought, with some pride to be sure,
of the nobleness of that spirit which she had thus seen blaze up
within him. But she felt that she had now the dread responsibility of
having thus roused it; and all a woman's fears for the consequences
were awakened in her bosom. Nor was the happiness of the days that
followed increased by this accidental conversation. For now, she
rarely or ever saw him, in whose society her whole life had hitherto
glided on with so much felicity. Alice Asher too, had her complaints
to make of her son's frequent and long absence from her; and the only
consolation the maiden had, was in frequently visiting the mother of
Charley Stewart--to talk over his merits--a theme of which neither
of them were very likely to tire--and to sigh for his presence.

Meanwhile Charley was almost constant in his attendance upon Sir Piers
Gordon; and he very soon distinguished himself so much in all the
accomplishments of a soldier, that he became the most cherished and
favoured of the old soldier's followers. But this was not all; for,
unknown to himself, and altogether without any effort on his part,
he found especial favour in the sight of Marcella Gordon, niece, and
acknowledged heiress of his patron, Sir Piers. This was a lady, by no
means uncomely, though of most uncommonly masculine manners and mind,
who, at any time, would have much preferred to witness a fray, or even
to take her share in it, than to sit down to a feast, or to mix in a
dance or a masking party. She became smitten with Charley Stewart for
his martial acquirements, bold bearing in his saddle, and hardihood
at all times; and for all these he well merited her admiration.

Sir Piers Gordon and his party were one day returning from an
expedition, which had been suddenly undertaken in pursuit of some
Catteranes, whom, as being public marauders, and general enemies to
all, he had, without scruple, followed across the territories of the
Stewart of Stradawn. He passed at no great distance from the humble
dwelling of Mrs. MacDermot.

"So please thee, Sir Knight," said Charley Stewart to Sir Piers,
"I will turn aside a brief space to yonder cottage, to say a few
words to an old friend, whom I have not seen for many a day; and I
will join thee again ere thou hast ridden a long mile."

"I care not if I go with thee, Charley," said Sir Piers; "that is,
if thy friend's house can furnish me with a draught of any thing
better than water, for my throat is parched like a mountain corry in
the dog-days."

"Such as that humble roof may afford, I think I may venture to promise
thee," replied Charley, somewhat disappointed at being so attended.

"I shall go with thee too," said Marcella Gordon, who, on this
occasion, had followed her uncle in his expedition.

The men-at-arms having been halted by the road-side, Charley led the
way to the widow's cottage. As he rode forth from among the trees of
the birch-grove, that flanked one side of the house, and partly shaded
half its front, Rosa's quick eyes caught his figure--her heart bounded
with joy, and in a moment she was at the door, and, from the first
irresistible impulse of her heart, she almost sprang into his arms;
but immediately perceiving that her lover was not alone, she blushed,
and hastily retreated within doors.

"Is that your sister, young man?" demanded the Lady Marcella.

"No, lady," replied Charley, in some confusion; "but she is a very
old friend of mine."

"A very young friend of thine, methinks!" said Sir Piers. "She is
very beautiful."

Mrs. MacDermot now appeared, and ushered the strangers into the house
with well-blended humility and kindness, and proceeded to do the little
hospitalities of her unpretending roof. Charley was himself abashed
and baulked; but yet he conversed with Rosa, though in that chastened
manner that more than any thing else betrays the consciousness of
lovers, in the eyes of those who may be observing them. No eyes were
more penetrating than those of Marcella Gordon. They shot basilisks
at the pair. The visit was necessarily short, and the parting between
Rosa and Charley was doubly severe to both, since they were thus
compelled by the presence of others, to conceal their emotions.

"By all the saints, but thou art a happy fellow, Stewart!" said Sir
Piers Gordon to Charley, as they turned away to join the party. "That
is the prettiest young creature I have seen for many a long day."

"I see little to admire about her," said the Lady Marcella, with a
scornful air; "a waxen child! a smock-faced red and white pippin!"

"Nay, Marcella, women are no judges of beauty in their own sex,"
replied Sir Piers. "I say she is very lovely; and I say again thou
art a happy fellow, Stewart; for, judging from appearances, thou
seem'st to be right well established in her affections."

"We have known one another since her childhood," said Charley Stewart
hurriedly.

"And so now thou wouldst fain convert her from thy playmate into thy
wife," said Sir Piers, laughing.

"My wife, Sir Piers!" said Charley, in great confusion. "What could I
do with a wife, who am so poor and unknown? I must e'en follow Fortune
for some time as my mistress, and court her till she smiles upon me."

"Fear not that she will refuse to smile upon one of thy merit," said
the Lady Marcella. "One who can ride, and wield his weapons as thou
canst, may well look to Fortune providing something better for him
than the obscure and low-bred orphan of a common man-at-arms."

Charley Stewart was silent, but Sir Piers was not altogether so blind
as not to perceive how matters stood with his niece. He had observed
the Lady Marcella's manner,--was struck with her words,--and a strong
conviction entered his mind that she had allowed herself to fall in
love with Charley Stewart. Now his affection for Charley had waxed
so strong, that, knowing the good blood that was in him, he would
have rejoiced to have seen him the husband of Marcella. But feeling
that it would be prudent, before giving encouragement to any such
scheme, that he should privately satisfy himself as to the suspicions
he entertained of an existing attachment between Charley and Rosa
MacDermot, and, having failed in one attempt to lead Charley to be
explicit, he privately resolved in his own mind, secretly to visit
Mrs. MacDermot herself, from whom he looked to receive clearer and
more ready information.

Having accordingly ridden over to her house alone, the very next
morning, he soon learned from the worthy woman the whole history
of the lovers. He was not a little disappointed to find that he
had made so shrewd a guess, and that, to so honest and honourable a
mind as his, there thus remained no fair hope of the completion of
that alliance, which would have been so agreeable to him, as well
as to his niece. All that he had learned from the widow regarding
Charley, had only served to increase his admiration of him, and to
make his regret the greater. But being now in possession of the fact,
he thought it his duty to deal plainly with the Lady Marcella, and
he accordingly embraced the very first opportunity he could command
of speaking with her in private.

"Marcella," said he to her abruptly, "what think ye of Charley
Stewart?"

"A proper young man, I promise thee," replied the lady, with the same
want of ceremony.

"His lameness is unfortunate,--it mars his appearance much," said Sir
Piers. "And that cross scar on his cheek is any thing but ornamental."

"Pshaw!" cried the lady; "a fico for his scar! I hope, ere he dies,
to see his manly face seamed by many a deeper ornament of the same
sort, gained in tough fight, man to man. And as to his lameness! shew
me one that will vault into his saddle with him, or ride with him,
or hold a lance with him after he is in it! Charley Stewart is a
prince of a fellow!"

"All that is very true, niece," said Sir Piers; "but methinks thou
speakest of him with unusual warmth. Pray Heaven thou be'st not in
love with the young man!"

"Nay, uncle, since I must needs say so, that is already past praying
for," replied Marcella, with a sigh; which, as it was the first that
ever in her life escaped her, was a precious deep one.

"I am sorry to hear thee say so, niece," said Sir Piers; "for thy
case is hopeless, seeing that thou hast already a rival, to whom he
is not only attached, but affianced."

"What, uncle!" exclaimed the lady, in a supercilious tone; "dost thou
think so very meanly of thy niece, as to suppose that the whey-faced
orphan of a miserable man-at-arms, can have any chance with me,
when I, the heiress of thy lands, choose to enter the lists?"

"I think and hope too well of my niece and heiress," said Sir Piers
gravely, "to believe, that, for her own gratification, she will try to
divide two hearts already united by the tenderest vows that affection
can form."

"Affection!" exclaimed the lady; "tush, nonsense, uncle! the affection
of children! the brotherly and sisterly affection of babes, for such
was the sort of affection of which Stewart himself spoke, and his
words are all we have yet to go upon."

"Pardon me," said her uncle, calmly; "I have yet better information
than any thing we have gathered from him. Suspecting that Charley
Stewart's merits were beginning to render him not altogether without
interest in your eyes, I deemed it to be my duty to know the truth
regarding this attachment between him and Rosa MacDermot. With this
view I visited the Widow MacDermot herself, and from her I learned,
that the bond between the pair, lacks nothing to complete it, but
the holy sacrament that may fasten the tie for ever."

"And until that tie be fixed, it is nothing," said the lady. "Yet
what sort of evidence would you bring me, truly, of this same
attachment?--That of an old woman, who, in her folly, sees every
thing just according to the way her wishes may lead her fancy. I will
believe Stewart himself before a dozen such crones, especially where
self-interest, and the interest of her girl, must so evidently sway
her. Let me but try my influence on him, and thou shalt see how soon
he will forget this peasant maid. Thou shalt see"----

"I grieve to find that thou art so resolved to blind thyself,
niece!" interrupted Sir Piers, very seriously; "but it is alike my
duty to see that you neither run into hopeless misery, nor try to
convert that misery into happiness, by unjustly and cruelly ruining
the peace of another. I shall again visit the Widow's cottage, this
very afternoon. I shall see and converse with the daughter herself,
after which I shall hold plainer converse than I have ever yet done
with Stewart. If I find that you have judged correctly, and that there
is nothing more in this matter than that the mother hath allowed her
judgment to be warped by her wishes, my best endeavours shall not
be wanting to accomplish those desires which thou hast so clearly
exposed to me. But I tell thee honestly, that if, on the other hand,
I find that the Widow has judged and reported truly, I shall, for
your sake, as well as for that of Stewart, do all I can to promote
his union with Rosa MacDermot."

"Say'st thou so, old man?" muttered the Lady Marcella to herself,
after her uncle had left her; "then must I act--aye, and act quickly,
and boldly too."

After a moment's thought, she clapped her hands for her page, and
sent him directly to entreat that Stewart would favour her with a
private interview immediately. He came at her summons; and, after
the usual salutations were over, she, with a face that, spite of her
determined and dauntless character, absolutely burned, from the very
nature of the communication she had resolved to make, entered upon
it in a low yet steady and unbroken tone.

"I take it for granted, Stewart," said she, "that the few words I
let fall, the other day, when we were returning from our pursuit
after the caitiff Catteranes, were not thrown away upon one of your
quick wit. They were not uttered without intention; and they have,
I trust, proved to thee that thy rare merits have not escaped my
notice, and that I take no common interest in thee."

The Lady Marcella paused for an answer; and the astonished Charley
Stewart, having mumbled some confused and ill-connected expressions
of gratitude for her good opinion, she continued in a yet calmer and
more collected tone.

"I have thus sent for thee, honestly to confess to thee, that the
interest I take in thee is of a nature, which could not permit me
to see unmoved, one, who is so manifestly born for better fortunes,
ignorantly to mar them from too humble an estimation of his own merits,
and, without looking higher, blindly to tie himself down from all
chance of rising, by rashly binding himself to baseness and poverty. If
ever a desire of turning the issues of fate into their proper course,
might be an excuse for a woman speaking out more openly and plainly
than tyrant custom has permitted her sex to do, certain I am it might
be reasonably held to be in the present case. But, were it otherwise,
thou hast already seen enough of me to know, that I am no ordinary
woman; and I, who have dared much, would dare this too--yea, and ten
times more, to secure mine own peace, and thy happiness. Reflect,
then, on the words I uttered as we returned from our expedition. Know,
that Fortune hath not refused to shine on thy deserts, for she now
offers thee the hand and fortune of her who addresses thee."

"Lady!" exclaimed Charley Stewart, staggering back with absolute
amazement, and altogether unable to answer coherently, from the
confusion he was thrown into--"I have been foolishly reserved, lady. I
have been strangely and grievously misconceived. Yet I thought I had
spoken plainly enough.--I--I--I am altogether unworthy of any one of
thy station. I am already pledged to another."

"I was not altogether unprepared for some such confession," said the
lady, with a self-possession, arising from the circumstance, that she
spoke truly. "I had heard, and I did see enough to make me aware that
something had passed between thee and the silly girl MacDermot. But
these were childish ties, entered into when thou couldst have no
foreknowledge of thine own fortunes; and they must, of stern necessity,
yield to that expediency which now demands thine exaltation."

"Lady," replied Stewart, who by this time began to be somewhat
more master of his faculties, "I have learned enough to know that
true exaltation can never be purchased by treachery, perfidy, and
cruelty. Rosa MacDermot and I loved one another whilst she was yet
a child, it is true, but we have loved one another ever since with a
growing affection, which has produced vows of the most solemn nature
between us. I love her more than I do life itself; and not for all
the wealth or honours that this world could bestow, would I cease to
love her."

"So great a constancy, and so true a heart, proves but the more
how much thou wert born for knighthood," said the lady, calmly. "And
perhaps, entangled as thou seemest to have been, it might have been due
to such honour as might befit a knight, to have clung to engagements
so made. But to render such a case of so great self devotion rational,
it would at least be requisite that it should be mutual. Hast thou
proof that it is really so? Hast thou never had doubts on that
score? No suspicions?"

"Proof of the love of Rosa MacDermot, lady?" exclaimed Charley,
with astonishment. "Doubts of Rosa? I should as soon ask for proof
that the blessed sun gives light, or have doubts that the glorious
orb might drop from the firmament."

"Other men before thee have been as honestly confiding, and yet
have been deceived," said the lady. "The humble soil where thou hast
rooted thine affections, is not always that which produces the most
virtuous fruits."

"What wouldst thou hint, lady?" demanded Charley, in a disturbed and
agitated tone.

"I grieve to tell thee," replied the lady. "It pains me to be compelled
to undeceive thee, by withdrawing thee from thy pleasing dreams, to
look boldly on the afflicting truth. Yet I must tell thee, that thy
heroic constancy hath not been met by a like unshaken return of it."

"Say--what?--Holy saints protect me!" cried Charley Stewart, in a
greatly agitated and excited manner. "What wouldst thou insinuate
lady? Rosa unfaithful?--Oh! impossible!--Where is the liar who
hath thus abused thine ear regarding her who is purity and truth
itself? Tell me his name, that I may make my sword drink his base
black heart's blood!"

"Be calm, Stewart," replied the lady, with imperturbable placidity of
manner. "Thou wilt gain nothing by yielding thyself up to blind rage. I
trust thou wilt see that it is no ordinary affection in me that can
prompt me to the disclosure that I am now about to make to thee."

"Speak on, lady. Oh keep me not in suspense!" cried Charley Stewart,
wildly breaking in on her mysterious pause.

"Stewart," said the lady, solemnly, "thou wert prepared to withstand
all temptation that might be calculated to break the rash vows of
youthful ignorance. But she for whom you made them--she for whose
sake thou wouldst have so honourably maintained them to the sacrifice
of wealth and advancement--she, I fear, has had less resolution to
resist their allurements. Be not too much astonished or shocked, for
I must tell thee, that mine uncle, Sir Piers Gordon, is the favoured
lover of Rosa MacDermot."

"Thine uncle Sir Piers, Lady?" cried Charley, petrified with
surprise. "Impossible! it cannot be!"

"Strange as it may seem to thee, and strange as it unquestionably is,"
replied the Lady Marcella, "it is in reality but too true that she
favours his visits for her own purposes. He has already found his way
to the Widow's cottage more than once, and he has even ventured to hint
to myself that he has not been coldly received--and then, Stewart----"

"Lady," interrupted Charley, impatiently and violently, "I would not
believe even Sir Piers himself if he were to tell me this!----and
yet," added he, after a pause, during which he struck his forehead
with the palm of his hand, and seemed to be immersed in deep thought,
"and yet, he was strangely struck with her when first they met!--But
the time is so short--so very short since then--she!--Rosa! Oh, Rosa
never could have been brought, in so short a time, to forget the days
of her childhood, and her oft repeated vows to me!"

"Reflect, Stewart," said the lady, "that mine uncle is a landed laird,
and a belted knight, with spurs at his heels!"

"What!" exclaimed Charley Stewart, in an intense agony of excited
feeling, and with a half choked voice, "landed laird, saidst thou! a
belted knight, with spurs at his heels! Can it be? Oh! that accursed
prophecy of that most accursed hag! But art thou sure of what thou
sayest, lady? How canst thou satisfy me? By all the holy saints I
must be satisfied!"

"Nay," replied Marcella, coolly, "I can satisfy thee no otherwise
than by saying that I have his own word for it, and--"

"His own word!" cried Charley; "Oh, wicked, wicked, and most deceitful
man, thus wilfully to undermine me! Though I was less open in thy
presence, lady, yet I said enough to him afterwards, to have enabled
even a fool and a dotard, to have read my meaning."

"So indeed he hinted," replied Marcella; "but then his apology for
the interpretation which he hath found it convenient to put upon thy
words is, that he has been encouraged by the girl herself. And as he
was with her but yesterday, if he had not spoken truly as to this,
he would have hardly hurried back again thither so soon as he has
now done."

"Back, didst thou say, Lady?" exclaimed Stewart, growing black with
rage and jealousy. "Back!--whither?--when?--how?--Oh, my brain is
burning! Back, didst thou say?"

"Yea," replied the Lady Marcella, with perfect calmness, "mine uncle,
Sir Piers, hath gone to visit Rosa MacDermot this very afternoon. He
parted from me for that purpose but a few minutes before thou camest
in hither. He is on his way thither now. Go!--convince thyself! But be
prudent. Act not rashly. Forget not that a knight, such as he is, hath
a natural belief in him that he is entitled to some little license,
where the matter concerns those only of such low degree as the girl
Rosa MacDermot can boast of."

Charley Stewart listened to those words of the Lady Marcella with a
fixedness of eye, and of aspect, that was almost too fearful for her,
bold as she was, to look upon. He seemed intent upon devouring every
syllable she uttered. And yet, his intentness of gaze was more like
that of a maniac, than of a rational man. She had no sooner finished
than he ground his teeth, clenched his hands, struck them both with
violence upon his bosom, and then rushed from the chamber, without
giving utterance to a word.

"I have stung him to the quick," muttered the Lady Marcella,
in soliloquy, after he was gone. "And now," added she, bitterly,
"my prudent uncle has some chance of learning, to his cost, that it
were better to face the lean and starving lioness, when preying for
food for her famished whelps, than to step between a woman and her
love. I never meant to have brought this upon him. He hath brought
it altogether upon himself; and now let him look to it, that his
heritage be not mine, some few good years before he would have had
it descend upon me. Should the plot chance to work so, my triumph
over this youth will be easy and certain."

The honest old knight, Sir Piers Gordon, had ridden quietly over the
hill, attended only by two of his people, and having left them to take
charge of his horse, in the wood, at no great distance from the Widow's
cottage, he had walked up thither alone. Mrs. MacDermot had been too
much gratified by his friendly talk, during his former visit to her,
not to have made her daughter acquainted with all that passed. Though
his present call was unlooked for, Rosa was already so far prepared to
expect that his visit was a visit of kindness, that she readily obeyed
the request, which he conveyed to her through her mother, to favour him
with her presence. He spoke to her with all the kindness of a father,
and, in answer to his inquiries, she blushingly unbosomed herself to
him, as if he had stood to her in that degree of relationship. She
felt, indeed, that he was the patron and the benefactor of him who
was all in this world to her, and she was, from this cause, already
prepared to love and reverence him. He was full of benevolent plans
for the accomplishment of their union, and the furtherance of their
happiness, and he sat with her on the turf-seat at the cottage door,
expounding them to her, with her hand affectionately in his, and
with his face eagerly turned towards her, in the earnestness of his
conversation, till the sun, which shed his parting radiance upon them,
was just about to sink behind the opposite mountain. Even the sound
of a furiously galloping horse, which came thundering towards them,
failed to arouse them from their interesting talk. Suddenly it burst
out from the woodland, foaming and panting upon the green, within a
few yards of the spot where they were sitting together, and a man,
more like a maniac than a rational being, threw himself from the
saddle. His naked sword was gleaming in his hand, ere his feet had
well touched the ground. It was Charley Stewart.

"Traitor!" cried he in a hoarse choking voice, "up and defend thy
vile life!"

"Charley! Charley!" cried Rosa, springing towards him, "harm not a
hair of his head!"

"What! perjured girl!" cried Charley, pushing her from him so rudely,
as to extend her at some distance from him, nearly senseless on the
green; "wouldst thou whet the very edge of my sword against him,
by thy base entreaties for him? Come on, traitor!"

"Stewart, are ye mad?" cried the Knight; "listen to reason."

"Cowardly traitor that thou art, I will listen to nothing from thee,"
cried Charley Stewart, gnashing his teeth and foaming at the mouth
with fury. "Draw and defend thyself; or, by Heaven, I will forthwith
rid thee of thy vile dastard life! draw, I say!"

"Nay, he must be mad!" cried Sir Piers. "Yet I must defend my life,
though it should be to the peril of his."

But Sir Piers, who sought only to protect himself from Charley's
furious assault, accidentally failed in his very first guard. The
weight of his assailant's blow broke through it, and falling upon the
Knight's head, which had then nothing on it but a bonnet, it stretched
him motionless on the sward. Charley Stewart stood for a moment to
look with horror upon his work--the blood was gushing forth from
the wound, and dying the white hair of him who had been his patron
and friend. From that he turned and gazed upon the prostrate figure
of Rosa MacDermot, who still lay in a kind of half-swoon from the
effects of his violence. He felt as if his bursting heart would have
forced its way through his side. Roused from his trance by the screams
of the Widow MacDermot, he heard the galloping of horses approaching,
and, rushing mechanically into the thickest part of the wood, he made
his way towards the mountains, where night soon overtook him. Still he
continued to wander on, however, without fixed intention or direction;
and it was only on finding, at day-break, that he had already fled far
towards the south, that, after having given due way to his affliction,
he resolved to travel towards Edinburgh, to seek his father, where,
as we have already seen, he ultimately arrived, weary and woe-begone.

The next morning, after Charley Stewart's appearance in Edinburgh,
his father, Sir Walter Stewart, aroused him from the deep sleep into
which his fatigue of body had thrown him, and which, as it was nearly
the first he had had since the sad events which had driven him from the
north, even their cruel influence upon his mind could not disturb. In
reply to Sir Walter's inquiries, he gave him a brief statement of
his history and his misfortunes, and his wounded spirit was soothed
by the kind sympathy which Sir Walter manifested towards him.

"Charley," said he, "thy fate hath been a cruel one, truly; but thou
must bestir thee to shake off thy sorrows. Nothing better, as a cure
for melancholy, than action. I have an emprise on hand, that is for
thee the very medicine that thou lackest, and as it may speedily end
with thee in a journey to France, as the esquire of a knight whom
it will do thee much honour to serve, it is, of all others, the very
best chance that could befal thee under present circumstances. But the
morning wears, and we must go to work without farther loss of time."

Sir Walter Stewart having disguised himself, and his son Charley,
in broad slouched hats and cloaks, they sallied forth together. At
the head of the close, they found two hacknies in the High Street,
held by a single groom. They leaped into their saddles, and, without
any inquiry or explanation as to whither they were bound, they rode
forth together, at a gentle pace, from the southern part of the city,
as if they had been bent more upon pleasure than business. They had
not gone farther in that direction than just beyond the Burgh Loch,
a piece of water which then occupied that extent of flat low ground
now known by the name of The Meadows, when Sir Walter turned his
horse's head to the westward, and, spurring forward, he and Charley
galloped together through the woodland, the groves, and the thickets,
which partially covered the Burgh Muir, and gradually sweeping
round at a point considerably to the westward of the Castle rock,
they then pushed forward at a furious pace in a northerly direction,
making straight for that part of the shore of the Firth of Forth,
lying immediately to the westward of the citadel of Leith. That
which is now a continuous town, was then almost a wilderness of sandy
hillocks, which stretched considerably farther into the sea than the
land now does, its waters having since much encroached on that part
of the coast during the lapse of ages. Taking up a position on a
bare elevated spot, Sir Walter looked with anxious eyes towards the
road-stead. There were but few vessels there; but one seemed to be
slowly coming up to her anchorage, with a fair breeze from the east,
but with her sails so curtailed as betokened caution in those on
board. Sir Walter seemed to eye her with peculiar interest for some
time, and then he addressed a rough red-faced pilot, who was standing
below on the beach, beside his boat, watching the vessel stedfastly,
as if he wished to make out what sort of craft she might be.

"Is not that a foreign barque, friend?" demanded Sir Walter.

"Aye, aye, sir," replied the pilot; "she is a furrenner. If I'm
not far mista'en it's the Garron of Burdy, Captain Davy Trummel,
with wine aboard. I think I kenn her rig--and a clever rig it is,
let me tell ye."

"She seems a goodly sea-boat, well fitted to fly quickly over so long
a voyage," replied Sir Walter carelessly.

"That she is, I'll be sworn sir," answered the pilot. "Few in the
trade can match her, I promise ye. But what strange mortals them
French Munseers are after all: why they should call a vessel a Garron,
the which is the swiftest bit of a craft my eyes ever came across, I
can't nowise reasonably comprehend, unless it be out of a mere spirit
of contradiction. But I must call out the lads, and be off to her,
for there's the signal flying for me."

"Thou shalt take me aboard with thee, and have something for thy
guerdon," said Sir Walter. "I would taste this Frenchman's wines,
ere the palates of the good Burghers become acquainted with them."

"Willingly will I do thy pleasure, sir," replied the man; and,
running towards a solitary cottage which stood upon a bank hard by,
he began shouting out, "Jemmy!" and "Harry!" till two lads, who were
his sons and assistants, appeared.

"Thou must tarry here with the horses, till I return from on board,
Charles," said Sir Walter. "This is the very vessel I looked for--the
Garonne of Bordeaux, Captain De Tremouille. He is an old friend of
mine, and I would fain have some talk with him."

Sir Walter was speedily rowed on board by the pilot and his two
sons. The barque took up her proper ground, under the directions which
the helmsman received from the experienced old sailor. The anchor was
let go, and she swung round to her moorings. Charley Stewart passed
a considerable time in walking the horses about ere he saw the boat
leave the barque. At length he beheld it pulling towards the shore,
and Sir Walter again joined him, bearing two large bundles, which were
stowed away behind their saddles, in such a manner as to be covered
by their cloaks as they rode, and following the same circuitous route
which they had taken in their way out, they returned to the city,
and regained the Knight's lodgings without observation.



AN UNWELCOME VISITOR.


Clifford.--Stop one moment, Serjeant. See how the rain has made its
way through the chinks of the window, and deluged the floor.

Serjeant.--Mercy on me, so it has, sir! Well, I'm sure it's no
wonder. Such a blast as that which is rairding without, would drive
it through a stone wall.

Grant.--Call the girl from the kitchen, like a good man.

Serjeant.--Here, lassie!--We're like to be all drowned at this end
of the house. Bring some cloths, will ye, and dish-clouts, and dry
up this deluge here.

Lassie.--Keep us a', siccana sight! But we're no one hair better in
the other end o' the house.

Clifford.--Aye, that's a good girl. Now lay some of these cloths
along the window here. Aye, that will do. I think that ought to make
us water-tight. Now, heap some more wood and peats on the fire before
you go. Thank ye--that's glorious. Now, let the storm howl as it likes.

Grant.--Do go on with your story, Serjeant. You were interrupted in
a most interesting part of it.

Clifford.--"Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!"--I beg your pardon,
Sergeant; pray proceed.

Author.--Aye, pray do proceed. I am anxious to know what Sir Walter
Stewart's plans are, and how he succeeded in carrying them into
effect. This part of the history is well known; but the minuter
details are nowhere told in any book I am acquainted with, and I am
curious to hear them.

Serjeant--(taking a long draught from his punch-jug.)--You shall be
satisfied immediately, sir.



THE LEGEND OF CHARLEY STEWART TÀILLEAR-CRUBACH
CONTINUED.


Soon after his return home, from his visit to the barque Garonne,
Sir Walter Stewart got rid of his disguise, put on a courtier's
attire, and hastened to the Castle, to pay his usual attendance
of ceremony on the King. This he made a point of never neglecting,
notwithstanding the marked curtailment which his private, and more
familiar intercourse with his Majesty had received. Whilst within the
walls of the fortress, he contrived, quietly and without suspicion,
to make himself master of the state of the roster of the officers of
the royal guard. To his no small satisfaction, he discovered that the
captain of the guard, for the next day, was to be a certain individual
of the name of Strang, whom he knew to be a worthless, reckless,
hard-drinking, gaming fellow. He then made all the observations that
circumstances permitted, and, pleased with the information he had
acquired, he returned to his lodging, in order fully to acquaint
Charley with it, as well as with the whole of his plans, and with
the manner in which he proposed to carry them into execution, so as
to make him perfectly comprehend the part which he intended that he
should play in them. To lull all after surmise regarding himself,
as much as possible, he that evening appeared in the apartments of
Sir William Rogers, and bore his share in the performance of the
music that was given there. He then kept his appointment with the
Earl of Huntly, in order to tell him that all was prepared, and,
after a hasty interview, shortened by their apprehensions of being
detected together, a circumstance which might have been ruinous to
their projects, Sir Walter retired to his lodging for the night.

Some little time after guard-mounting, next morning, the bundles which
they had brought from the French vessel were opened, and the Knight,
and his son, proceeded to disguise themselves, by putting on the
attire of French sailors, which they contained; and so perfectly did
Sir Walter succeed in this operation, that his most intimate friend
could not have known him. Wrapped up in cloaks, they then took their
stand within the dark threshold of a deep doorway, that opened from
the obscure entrance of the close where Sir Walter lodged. This was
a position from which they could see every one who passed up or down
the High Street, without a chance of their being themselves seen.

They had not stood long there, until their ears caught the distant, but
unceasing jabber of the French tongue, coming up the High Street. It
came from half a-dozen or more voices at once, all being talkers and
none listeners. The noise grew louder and louder, until Sir Walter,
by stretching out his neck from his lurking-place, espied the captain
or skipper of the French barque, approaching with some eight or ten
of his crew. They came walking along close to the houses on his side
of the way. They carried two small casks of wine, each of them slung
on a pole between two men, who were changed from time to time as
they required relief, whilst another man carried a little runlet on
his shoulders. Sir Walter gave a particular whistle, and in a moment
the whole party turned in under the covered entrance of the close,
and laid down their burdens as if to rest themselves. In an instant,
Sir Walter and Charley Stewart threw off their cloaks, and transferred
them to two of the French sailors, who immediately retired into the
Knight's lodgings, whilst he and his son succeeded to the burdens
they had carried. Having effected this change, Sir Walter held some
private talk with Captain De Tremouille, after which the party moved
on up the street, and so up the Castle-Hill, until they came to the
castle gate. There the French skipper, in broken English, told the
sentinel that he would fain speak a word to the captain of the guard,
for whom he was the bearer of a small present of wine, and he and
his whole party were speedily admitted.

"I do ave von leetil praisaint of vine for you, sare," said the
skipper, boldly addressing the scarlet-visaged captain of the
guard. "Dis leetil cask for your own taste.--De richest vine in
de varld."

"Thou art an especial good fellow, sir," replied the captain, clumsily
returning the exquisite bow which the Frenchman had made him, whilst,
at the same time, he eyed the runlet, and immediately consigned it to
the particular care of one of his own people. "Nothing could possibly
come more opportunely, and I am most grateful for thy courtesy. It
must be confessed that you Frenchmen are the most perfect gentlemen
in the world, and know how to do a thing genteelly."

"Ah, sare, dat is too mosh compliment for me as van Frainchman,"
replied the skipper, with a smile and a bow yet lower than his former
one. "And de compliment is more bettaire dat she come from van so
grait hero as de Capitaine Strang! Admirasion for de fame of him,
did make me ave de grait desire to honnaire myself wid praisant him
vid dis leetil gift, for vitch liberty I do hope he is not offend."

"Offended, my dear fellow!" cried Captain Strang; "thy runlet comes
to me as welcome as the very flowers in May! But how the pest dost
thou chance to know my name, Sir Skipper?"

"De name and de fame of de grat hero, is alvaise know by all men all
over de varld," replied the skipper, with another most obsequious
reverence.

"By St. Andrew, but this is a curious marvel though," said the
captain. "Who would have thought that my name could have been known
in France as a hero! Yet certain it is that I have done some small
deeds in my time, that these French mooshies may have heard of."

"Deeds, Monsieur le Capitaine!" cried De Tremouille, with feigned
astonishment; "Vondaires in battaile! meeracailes in de feelde! van
Achille of Scotlande! But all dat is nossing at all compare to de fame
of Monsieur le Capitaine for his vonderful taste for de good vine! Ven
dey do talk of good vine in France, dey do alvaise say--Aha! dis
is vine fit for de pallait of van Empereur; bot dis 'ere is more
bettaire, dis is fit for de pallait of de famous Scottish hero, de
Capitaine Strang, dat do know good vine more bettaire dan any oder
man in de varld."

"By all the saints, that is wonderful!" said the captain; "and yet
that I can more easily understand. Yes, yes; few people can match
me there. And then, to be sure, these wine-dealers in France must
know some little of those who are judges of the good stuff, and who,
moreover, like myself, do so much to encourage their trade. But hark
ye, Mr. Skipper! what do ye with those other two casks which those
fellows of thine are carrying?"

"Ah hah! dat is von praisant pour de Duc d'Albanie," replied the
skipper.

"Ha!" cried the captain of the guard, with a certain air of suspicion;
"the Duke of Albany, saidst thou? How comest thou to have a present
for the Duke of Albany?"

"Oh yaes, sare!" replied the imperturbable skipper, with great apparent
innocence, "de vine is von cadeau, vat you do call praisant from de
marchand at Bordeaux, vid de expectation dat de squisite taste of him
may make mi Lor Duc to ave mor of him pour de l'argent, and prevail
on de Royal King, his broder, to ave some too also."

"Um--aye," said the captain of the guard, with hesitation; "likely
story enough--though there be but little chance of the King drinking
ought of the Duke's providing, whatever liquor the Duke may by and bye
drink of his Majesty's brewing. But 'twas natural enow in the merchant
to think so, Mooshie. As for the Duke, he is no bad customer to his
own fist, when he is well set with a jolly boon companion, such as
myself for instance. So thou mayest as well leave thy twin-casks in my
charge, friend; and I shall see that they are properly delivered.--At
least," added he, in an under voice, aside, "I shall take care most
conscientiously to deliver them in due time of their contents."

"Tank you--very mosh tank you, sare," replied the skipper. "Mais I
not trobil you. De marchand did ordaire me to see dem in de royal
hand of de Duc heemself. If I not do dat, I most take heem back
again. Jean! François! il faut----"

"Um!--don't be so hasty, man," interrupted the captain of the guard,
by no means willing to lose sight of the casks, and hesitating, and
cogitating within himself, that if the wine was taken back, he would
lose all chance of tasting it; whereas, if it was once lodged with the
Duke, he had a fair prospect of being invited to share in it. "You
Mooshies are as pestilent hasty as a bit of touch paper. Thou shalt
deliver the wine thyself to the Duke. Here, Laurence--the keys of
the Duke's apartments! Now, Mooshie, do thou and three of thy fellows
quickly shoulder the casks and follow me."

The skipper immediately took up one end of the pole that swung one
of the casks, and addressing Sir Walter Stewart by the name of Jean,
he called to him roughly, in French, to take up the other end. Charley
Stewart and a sailor hoisted up the second cask; and so they followed
the captain of the guard up to the Duke's apartments.

When the doors were opened, which gave access to the royal prisoner,
they found the Duke of Albany sitting at a table in conversation with
his chamberlain, his manly and somewhat stern countenance deprived
of much of its wonted bloom and sunshine, from the confinement to
which he had been subjected, and the melancholy anticipations which
possessed his mind, though nothing had as yet been able to overpower
his indomitable resolution. It was only when he arose from his chair,
to ascertain what his visitors came about, that his powerful and
well-proportioned person, and his broad chest, were fully exhibited.

"What is all this?" cried the Duke, somewhat impatiently.

"So please your Highness' Grace, this French Mooshie skipper is the
bearer of a present of that which he states to be very choice wine
of his country's growth," said Captain Strang, with a low obeisance.

"Who can have thus remembered me in my misfortunes?" demanded the Duke.

"Nay," replied Strang, "I question if either the giver of the gift,
or he that hath it in charge, know ought of the position in which
your Royal Highness is now placed. But stand forth, Sir Mooshie,
and tell thine own tale."

"Eh bien," cried the skipper, advancing, and bowing three or four
times to the ground; "Je le----"

"Hold! hold! Mooshie!" interrupted Captain Strang; "none of thine own
outlandish language, dost thou hear? Thou canst speak our tongue well
enow for all purposes, so keep to that, if it so please thee."

"Very vell, Monsieur le Capitaine String," replied the skipper,
with a shrug, and a grimace, that showed his disappointment in being
thus prevented from speaking to the Duke, in a language which would
have veiled all he said from the apprehension of the captain of the
guard--"Very vell, Monsieur le Capitaine; I vill make van attente
to make onderstand de bad Englis of me to his Royal Highness de Duc
d'Albanie.--I ave been send vid dis two cask of vin, as van cadeau
from de marchand Beauvilliers at Bordeaux, to his Highness Royal de
Duc d'Albanie, vid de ope dat de magnifique flaveur of de vine may
please heem, and procure for de marchand van large ordaire from his
Highness Royal, and from his royal broder, his Majesty de King."

"I can promise nothing for his Majesty, friend," replied the Duke;
"but for myself, I would have ye thank Monsieur Beauvilliers from me,
and say to him, that if the wine liketh me well, I shall send him an
order; that is to say, if there be aught of likelihood of my being
alive to drink of it when it comes to hand.--But what sort of wine
is it that thou hast brought me?"

"In dat cask dere is shoise vine of Gascony," said the skipper,
pointing to that which Charley Stewart had helped to bear; "bot,
goot as it is, I am force to tink dat de oder vine, in dis cask,
vill give more plaisir to son Altesse Royale."

"Sir," said Sir Walter, bringing forward the cask, and speaking to the
skipper in French, as if he were merely applying to him for orders,
but in a tone so loud and distinct as to insure that the Duke should
catch every word that fell from him--"do not show surprise at what I
say, or recognise me, if you discover me.--We are all friends. This
cask contains the means of escape, with instructions how you are
to effect it. Let not the captain of the guard depart without an
invitation to supper; the contents of this cask will tell you why."

"Sacre cochon!" cried the skipper, with an angry air, and at the
same time bestowing a smart blow of a rattan on the shoulders of Sir
Walter. "Sacre cochon que vous estes!"

"What did the fellow say to thee, friend skipper?" demanded the
captain of the guard; "and what didst thou say to him?"

"Mine Got! Monsieur le Capitaine String," replied the skipper, "dis
crew of mine is so great idil vans, dat dey vear out de patience
of van Job heemself. I not be come to dis place ardly van moment,
and bifore I decharge my cargo, ven dey must vant to leif me alone,
and to go to run all over de cite, after de dance, and de Scottis
preetee lasses. Be Gar, Monsieur Jean, you sall vork more vork pour
dis, dat I do tell you, mon garçon."

"Fear nothing, sir," said Sir Walter, again in French, and humbly
bowing to the skipper, as if making an earnest and contrite apology
to his master; "act boldly; remember the south-western side--there
thou shalt find friends beyond the walls."

"Aha, Coquin!" cried the skipper; "mais vous avez joué votre role
à merveille----"

"What said the fellow? and what was thine answer to him?" demanded
the captain of the guard again.

"Par bleu, Monsieur le Capitaine String, I ave make heem bon garçon
at last," replied the skipper; "I do ave make heem cry peccavée."

"Was that all?" said the captain, gruffly. "Then come away, Mooshie,
let us clear out of this. Thou and thy fellows have been long enough
here."

"Before thou goest, I would speak with thee, Captain Strang," said the
Duke. "If fame and mine own experience belie thee not, thou art great
in thy judgment of wines. Wilt thou lend me thy company to-night at
supper, that we may taste the stuff which this fellow hath brought me,
of the rare quality of which he makes so great a boast?"

"Your Royal Highness's Grace does me too much honour," replied Strang,
with a most obsequious bow. "My taste is but a poor and uncultivated
taste; but I shall be proud to perfect it under your Royal Highness's
superior judgment and instruction."

"Then let us have supper at four, good captain," said the Duke; "and
as my chamberlain here would fain invite those three poor knaves who
guard the door, to watch for once within side of it, and to partake
of his table, I would have thee see that, at my expense, enough of
the best viands be provided for all."

"Your Highness is too considerate," replied Strang. "Yet, since your
royal will runs so, it shall be obeyed to the letter. The supper shall
be such as shall content you." And then retiring, and shutting and
locking the door upon his prisoners, he descended the outer steps,
muttering to himself,--"The supper may well be a good one indeed,
and thou mayest well eat and drink thy fill; for, if I be not far
mistaken, it may be the last supper thou mayest eat, and the last
wine thou mayest swallow."

The skipper and his party now left the Castle, without farther
question; and as they passed by the mouth of the close where Sir
Walter Stewart lived, on their way down the High Street, the knight
and his son were replaced by the two French sailors, in the same
adroit manner in which the change had been formerly effected; and
they gained their lodgings, and got rid of their disguise, without
having subjected themselves to the least suspicion, whilst the skipper
continued his way out of the city, with the same number of followers
as he had always had with him.

No sooner was the Duke of Albany free from the chance of interruption,
than he and his chamberlain proceeded to wrench up the end of that
cask which Sir Walter Stewart had so ingeniously and so particularly
indicated, as the important one to the royal captive. They found it
altogether devoid of wine; but, to their no small joy, they found
within it a long coil of rope, and a large roll of wax. Their first
care was to replace the rope, and to shut up the cask again, and then
to roll it into the corner, where they set it on end immediately
in rear of that which contained the wine. They then hastily opened
the roll of wax, and discovered that it contained a letter from Sir
Walter, explaining the whole plan for their escape. Having studied this
again and again, so as fully to possess themselves of its contents,
they committed it to the ample fire-place, where it was immediately
consumed, and then they sat down together to resolve and arrange
all the minor parts and details of their plot. Whilst they were so
employed, Captain Strang was unable to resist the devil that tempted
him to taste his little runlet. It was excellent wine. He boldly,
and with great determination, put in the spigot again, and gallantly
retreated from it. But again and again was he drawn to it by an
attraction as strong as that which the loadstone exerts over the
needle. Again and again he drew the spigot, and sipped moderately. He
would have drank deeply, had not economy whispered him that he had
better preserve it for a future opportunity, seeing that he had the
prospect of that night drinking so largely at another's expense. But
still he sipped and sipped from time to time, so that, although far
from drunk when he appeared in the Duke of Albany's apartment--nay,
I may say, far from being even what is usually called half seas
over--he had so whetted his thirst as to be ready to drink oceans;
and the foundation he had laid was quite enough for a superstructure
of perfect intoxication.

As the supper was to be partaken of by him and his people at the Duke's
expense, the captain of the guard had taken especial care to see that
it was a good one. His Royal Highness sat at a small table near the
huge fire-place, with Captain Strang upon his left hand. There they
were first served by the chamberlain, and the three men of the guard,
with all the delicacies they chose to call for; and large beakers
of the new wine being placed before them, the captain gave full way
to his Bacchanalian inclinations. By and bye they began to play at
dice and tables, whilst the chamberlain and his three guests were
supping. Though already not a little affected by the wine he had
swallowed, the captain preserved enough of his cunning and knavish
brains, to enable him to cheat most villainously. This did not escape
the Duke, but he took care not to appear to perceive it--cursed his ill
luck--and went on to lose, much to the satisfaction of his opponent,
whilst the knavish Strang was secretly congratulating himself upon his
own wonderful strength of head, which had so far prevailed over the
comparative weakness of his royal adversary. Meanwhile the chamberlain
was busily employed in supplying the captain, as well as his own
peculiar guests, with wine, in the greatest abundance. By degrees,
Strang became so much elevated, as to lose much of that obsequious
respect with which he had at first treated his royal host.

"Delicious wine!" cried he, smacking his lips, after a long draught
of it, which left his cup empty. "By the holy Virgin, delicious
wine indeed! But--aw--aw--its goodness inflames me--aw--aw--with a
furious desire to taste--aw--aw--to taste, I say, that other cask the
French knave spoke of--aw--aw--that, I mean, which stands yonder,
behind--aw--aw--behind the barrel from which we have--aw--aw--been
tasting; that, I mean--aw--aw--of which the French Mooshie spake
so largely."

The chamberlain darted a look of agony at his master; but the Duke
preserved a perfect composure.

"Thou shalt taste it forthwith, Sir Captain," said the Duke, giving,
at the same time, a private signal to the chamberlain. "Go, use thy
wimble, and bring us a flask of that other wine."

The chamberlain, understanding his master, went to the barrels,
and concealing them as much as he could by stooping over both of
them, he fumbled with the wimble at the second cask; and, whilst he
pretended to fill the can from it, he slyly drew its contents from
the same which had been running all night, and then he poured out
two sparkling goblets, and set them down on the table.

"Well, Sir Captain," said the Duke, after Strang had taken a long
draught of the wine, "what sayest thou to it? Is it as good as that
which thou hast been all night drinking?"

"That which we have been drinking all night--aw--aw--is but as
hog's wash compared to it," cried the captain, his eyes beginning
to goggle in his head, and emphatically dashing his empty cup down
on the table. "No, no--aw--aw--my palate--aw--aw--is--aw--too true
to be deceived that way. This, look ye, is a wine of--aw--aw--of
superior growth, flavour, and body, not to be matched--not to
be--aw--aw--matched, I tell ye--not to be matched."

"It is, indeed, excellent, as thou sayest," replied the Duke--"absolute
nectar!--Come, fill our goblets again."

"By the Rood, but this is--aw--aw--wine indeed!" cried the captain of
the guard again, after emptying his goblet for the second time. "It
grows--aw--aw--better and better--aw--aw."

"I feel it whizzing in my very brain," said the Duke. "I doubt that
thou wilt have but an easy conquest of me now, Sir Captain. But come,
nevertheless, play away, for I will have my revenge."

"What, ho, Sir Chamberlain," cried the captain, getting more and
more inebriated, and becoming, at the same time, still more and
more convinced of his own strength of brain and sobriety, and
his superiority, in these respects, over the Duke, exemplified,
as it was, by his still farther gains. "What ho!--aw--aw--more
wine--more wine and--aw--aw--from the same cask, dost thou hear,
Sir Chamberlain--aw--aw--from the self-same virtuous cask. Why the
fiend did'st thou not draw from that cask--aw--aw--at first? Come,
wine, I tell thee!--aw--aw--aw--pour us out more of that nectar; my
throat--aw--aw--is parched, and--aw--aw--the more I drink--aw--aw--the
more I would drink. Wine!--aw--aw--wine, I say, Sir Chamberlain!"

The chamberlain spared not to fill and refill his goblet, nor was he
less assiduous in filling those of the three men of the guard, until
overcome by the soporific effects of the oceans of wine which they
poured down, combined with those arising from the overwhelming heat
of the rousing fire that had been purposely kept up, an irresistible
drowsiness fell upon the captain and his men, and they, one after
another, dropped into a deep sleep. The Duke, and his chamberlain,
now armed themselves with knives from the table, and self-preservation
having steeled up their minds to this bloody alternative, they sprang
upon their defenceless victims. The work of death was speedy; all were
despatched in a few moments. The keys were taken from the captain's
girdle-belt. The corpses were piled one over the other in the huge
fire-place, and more fuel was heaped upon them, in order to consume
them. The coil of rope was secured. The doors were opened with the
greatest caution, and, having slipped silently down the outer stair,
they stole away to a lonely corner of the rampart, on the south-western
side of the fortress, where the height and precipitous nature of
the rock had been supposed to have rendered sentinels unnecessary;
and where, though the descent might be more dangerous in itself,
than at many other points in the vicinity, there was less risk of
their being surprised and frustrated in their attempt.

At the foot of the Castle rock, under that part of the walls which
I have now indicated, Sir Walter Stewart, and his son Charles, had
been waiting impatiently ever since the day-light had disappeared. The
night was starry, but there was little moon. That they might the better
observe the walls, they climbed up the steep rock, immediately below
the point where they knew that the attempt was likely to be made,
till they came to the perpendicular part of the cliff, under the base
of which they silently lay down to watch the event. After long and
tedious expectation, during which they were often deceived by their
fancy, they at length perceived a dark looking object getting over the
top of the wall of the rampart, directly above them. They watched it
with intense anxiety, as it began slowly to descend on them, till, as
it neared them, they could distinguish it to be a human being, and the
figure slowly grew upon their sight. The head and shoulders of another
man thrust over the wall above, seemed anxiously to watch the success
of him who was lowering himself. For a moment the descending figure
rested on the narrow ledge of the rock at the foundation of the wall,
and then it again began to come down gently over the perpendicular
face of the cliff, until it was within some ten or fifteen feet of
them. Their hope was now high, when all at once the figure seemed to
be arrested in its progress downward, and swung to and fro for a time.

"What stops you?" demanded Sir Walter Stewart, in a distinct but
subdued voice.

"If this be all the rope, it is too short," said the person above
them, in the same tone; "I have nothing now for it, but to take my
chance and drop."

"Fear not!" said Sir Walter; "we shall try to catch thee in our
cloaks. Now! drop boldly!"

"Now then!" said the man in the air.

But although the united strength of Sir Walter Stewart and his son
enabled them so to receive him, as to save him from utter destruction,
the shock of his fall was so great, as to crush both of them down,
and it was with difficulty that they prevented him and themselves
from rolling down the rocky slope below them.

"How fares it with thee?" demanded Sir Walter.

"But indifferent well," replied the other, unable to rise, and
manifestly in great pain. "I fear I have broken my thigh-bone."

"Holy Saint Andrew, what a misfortune!" exclaimed Sir Walter Stewart.

"Call it not a misfortune," said the attached and devoted
chamberlain. "It was good that I tried it before the Duke, else might
this accident have happened to him, and that indeed would have been
a misfortune."

"What hath happened?" demanded a faint voice, that came from the Duke,
whose head and shoulders still appeared over the wall above.

"A small accident, but not a fatal one," replied the chamberlain. "I
am down; but beware, my gracious master, the rope is too short."

"How much may it want?" demanded the Duke.

"About four or five ells, or so;" replied Sir Walter.

"Tarry till I return then," said the Duke again. "But, hush! I must
hide. Here come the rounds."

The tramp of feet, and the clink of arms, now came faintly on
their ears, as they lay, drawn in as much as possible, under the
rock. Voices, too, were heard, but at such a distance above them, that
they could not tell whether they uttered sounds of jocularity, or of
strife and contention. At last they passed away--but whether the royal
duke had been detected or not, they had no means of knowing. A very
considerable time elapsed, during which their eyes were fixed intently,
and most anxiously, on that part of the top of the wall whence the
head of the royal captive had last been seen to disappear. The pain
of the chamberlain's fractured limb was excruciating, yet to him it
was as nothing, compared to the agony of that suspense which was
suffered by the whole three who waited for the result. At length,
to their inexpressible relief, they beheld the Duke's figure getting
over the wall above them,--and down he came, slowly and gradually,
till his toes touched the rocky ground on which they stood. Warm,
though not loud, were the congratulations he received, and heartfelt
were the thanks which he poured out upon his preservers--and deep
was the grief which he uttered for the painful accident which had
befallen his faithful servant. They learned from his Highness, that
ere the rounds had approached near enough to observe him, he had laid
himself down at length on the ground, within the deep shadow that
prevailed under the wall; that they had passed within a few yards of
him, talking and joking with each other, and most fortunately without
observing him. They were no sooner fairly gone to the other parts of
the walls, than he had stolen back to his prison, cut his blankets
into ropes, and by this means supplied what was wanting of the length
of that which had been furnished to him.

Altogether unmindful of his own safety, the Duke of Albany's first
desire was to provide for the proper care of his maimed chamberlain. It
was with no small difficulty that they got him conveyed down the
craggy slope, and when they reached the valley below, they halted,
and held a consultation as to what was best to be done with him. The
chamberlain himself proposed that they should carry him to the house of
a friend of his own, near at hand, where he knew he would be concealed,
and well cared for, and where he thought he could remain in safety
until his broken limb should be so effectually cured as to enable
him to make his escape.

"I will carry thee thither myself," said the Duke of Albany. "I can by
no means flee hence, until I am assured of the safety of a servant,
who hath ever been so devotedly faithful to me, and who is now,
by the perversity of my fate, to be so painfully separated from me,
when I most need his friendship."

"Nay, I do entreat your Royal Highness to flee without a moment's
delay," said Sir Walter Stewart; "every moment is precious to
you. Leave him to me, and, trust me, I will take every care of him."

"Nay, I cannot consent to that," said the Duke. "Thou must not be
seen nor suspected to have had aught to do in this matter. Thou hast
already periled thyself enough. The house he speaks of is but a little
farther along this hollow way, I will carry him thither myself."

Sir Walter yielded to reason. They assisted the Duke to carry the
chamberlain to a conveniently short distance from the house in
question, the sufferer was then hoisted on his royal master's back,
who speedily bore him safely into his place of concealment.

"Now," said Sir Walter to the Duke, when he had again joined them,
a little way on beyond the house, "your Royal Highness must fly with
all haste to the sea-side. This young man, who is a son of mine,
will guide you to the spot where you will find a boat, which is ready
waiting to convey you to the vessel that is prepared to carry you to
France. He must supply the loss of your faithful chamberlain. Take
him with you, my lord, and let him return to me when it may suit your
convenience to part with him."

"He shall be mine especial esquire," said the Duke.--"Would I had a
station to put him into, worthier of son of thine, and of one of his
own apparent merits."

"Your Royal Highness is too kind," said Sir Walter. "Yet is the lad no
disgrace to me, as I trust that you may find that he will prove none
to you. May Saint Andrew give you safety and a prosperous breeze!--And
here, Charley, take this ring as a pledge of a father's affection,
and let the sight of it be ever to thee as a monitor to make thee do
thy duty like a man."

Their parting was now warm, but brief. The Duke and his new attendant
reached the sea-side in safety. Sir Walter, who had hastened around
the shores of the North Loch, and climbed the Calton Hill, waited
impatiently upon its summit till the first dawn of day-break. Then it
was that he rejoiced to descry the white sail of the French barque,
swoln by a merry and favourable breeze, pressing gallantly down the
Firth, and he continued to watch it, until it was lost amidst the
ruddy haze of the sunrise. He then walked slowly down the eastern slope
of the hill, towards Holyrood, and, making a wide circuit, he passed
between Arthur Seat and Salisbury Craigs, through the hollow wooded
valley, which, though now devoid of trees, is still well known by
the name of the Hunter's Bog, and then, turning his steps towards the
southern gates of the city, he muffled himself well up in his cloak,
and entered it, unnoticed, amid the crowds of market people who were
passing inwards at the Port of the Kirk of Field; and so he gained
his lodging without observation. There he soon afterwards heard of
the astonishment, mortification, and dismay, which had possessed the
King on learning this strange event, which he could not bring himself
to believe until he went to see, with his own eyes, the half-consumed
corpses of the captain of the guard and his men, and the rope which
still hung dangling over the wall of the castle.

Sir Walter Stewart seemed to remain altogether unsuspected of any share
in the escape of the Duke of Albany, though every one was agreed in
believing that his Royal Highness must have been aided from without
the walls. But whether it was that ideal suspicion that conscience of
itself begets, or whether there really were some grounds for it, the
Knight could not help feeling persuaded that the King looked colder
than ever upon him. He failed not, however, on that account, to pay
his duties at court most unremittingly, though, frequent as were his
visits there, they were comparatively small in number to those which
he paid to the house of Sir William Rogers, where he now worshipped,
more fervently than ever, at the shrine of that enchantress, the
fair Juliet Manvers. He now found himself so irretrievably the
captive of her charms, that he had for some time ceased to struggle
in her net, and it was not long after the escape of Albany, that he
sought an audience of King James, that he might humbly communicate
his contemplated nuptials to him, and crave his royal leave for their
consummation, as well as for his retirement for a time from court, that
he might carry his lady to visit his own territories in Stradawn, of
which he was to make her the mistress. From all that had lately passed,
he was not much surprised that the King received his communication
with apparent satisfaction, but he was very much astonished to find,
that it procured for him the sudden and unexpected restoration of all
that familiar cordiality of manner, which he had formerly, for so long
a period, been in the constant habit of receiving from his Majesty.

"What!--marry!" cried the King. "And is this really so?--and a long
attachment saidst thou?"

"An attachment that has grown since first we met, so please your
gracious Majesty," replied Sir Walter.

"Strange!" said the King, as if pondering within himself--"strange
that all this should have escaped me. And yet, now I think on't,
I might have seen it.--We have done thee but scrimp justice, Sir
Walter Stewart, but now, be assured, that we wish thee joy with all
our heart. Thou hast indeed chosen a lovely bride. We--yea, and our
Queen too--shall honour the wedding with our presence; and thy fair
and accomplished lady shall not lack such royal gifts, as may befit
us to bestow, and thy wife to receive.--Trust me, that this wise step
of thine hath much relieved--nay, we would say that it hath given us
unfeigned joy."

Thus reassured of the King's favour, though from what cause he could
not by any means divine, Sir Walter Stewart was happy. His marriage
took place with great pomp of circumstances, in presence of King James
and his Queen. Some months passed quickly and pleasantly away over
the heads of the newly-married couple, who were especially detained
at court, from one week to another, by the royal mandate,--and I need
not tell you, that the lady basked with peculiar delight under the
sunshiny smiles that fell upon her from the royal pair. Cochran was
the only one about court who had reason to be dissatisfied with the
match, seeing that he had himself shewn pretensions to Juliet Manvers,
and had been in no little degree encouraged by her. But whether real
or feigned, he manifested an especial cordiality towards Sir Walter,
and he availed himself of every possible opportunity of frequenting
his society, and that of his lady. To the lady, indeed, he was at
all times most particularly attentive, so much so, in fact, that
Sir Walter hardly relished his uncalled for complaisance. Moreover,
he thought he began to detect a certain relaxation of that earnest
desire to please him, which, for her own purposes, Juliet had so long
displayed towards him before their union. She had now less occasion
for dissimulation, since her object was gained, and so it happened,
that on more occasions than one, when impelled by the humour of the
moment beyond the full restraint of her dissimulative powers, she had
unveiled enough of her real character to make him doubt, whether her
acceptance of him as her husband had been altogether the result of a
disinterested affection for him. The seeds of unhappiness were thus
thickly sown within his breast, and they began to vegetate so fast,
that he at length came to the sudden resolution of carrying off his
wife to his castle of Drummin.

"If thou art resolved to quit our court for a season," said King
James, when Sir Walter made his intentions known to his Majesty,
"thou hast our royal permission, most unwillingly granted to thee,
so to do. But say, what sort of habitation hast thou in the north?"

"'Tis but a rude dwelling, so please your Majesty," replied Sir Walter;
"and somewhat the worse perhaps for the warfare which hath been waged
against it by time and weather."

"Then shalt thou take Cochran, our architect, thither with thee,
to plan and to order its amendment," replied the King.--"'Twas but
the other day we were talking of thy concerns together, when he
voluntarily offered to yield thee his best services."

"'Twas kind of him," said Sir Walter, biting his lips, "but I can in
nowise think of so troubling him.--Indeed, for the present, I cannot
well brook the expense of building, and I must e'en remain as I am
for a time."

"That shall be no hindrance to thee, Stewart," said the King. "The
stream of our royal bounty hath been untowardly diverted from thee
for a time; it behooves us now to refresh thy parched roots, so that
thou mayest again raise thy drooping head. The means shall be found
from our royal treasury for thy building, and Cochran shall go with
thee to Drummin--so let us think no more of this matter, seeing I
have so settled it."

Willingly would Sir Walter Stewart have dispensed with this most
prominent mark of royal favour, but it was now impossible to decline
it. Cochran received his Majesty's command, to hold himself in
readiness to accompany Sir Walter Stewart and his lady to Stradawn,
with secret delight, though he appeared to do so with that servile
submission merely, with which he always bowed to the royal will, and
for which he made himself ample amends by the arrogance with which
he domineered over others. To Sir Walter Stewart he took especial
care to be always smiling, pleasant, and accommodating; and although
he complained, upon this occasion, that this northern journey was a
severe obstruction to the prosecution of those architectural plans
on which he pretended to rest his fame, he went down to Drummin with
the intention of spinning out his visit to as great a length as he
could decently make it extend.

Sir Walter Stewart, for his part, had no sooner fairly set his foot
on his own threshold, than a thousand recollections connected with
the tower of Drummin, and its neighbouring scenery, crowded upon
his mind. This return to the abode of his early days, recalled the
remembrance of his young affections, and the contrast which thus
arose, in spite of him, between those which he felt persuaded were
bestowed on a creature who was innocent, natural, and true, and those
which the sacrament of the holy church now demanded of him, as due to
her whom he had so much reason to fear might turn out to be artful,
artificial, and false, awakened certain unpleasant qualms within him,
that he had failed to make that reparation to Alice Asher, which he
once had it in his power to have made; and that now, by some strange
witchery and infatuation, he had been led to shut the door against
that, and his own peace of mind, by one rash and irrevocable act. A
direful dread now fell upon him, that he was about to be severely
punished for his neglect of one, whose only sin might, with more
justice, have been said to have been his--as it was incurred for him,
and whose devotion to him, and whose whole conduct since her first and
only error, had so well merited a different treatment at his hands. He
could not trust his mind to think how much happier he might have now
been with her. Nor did the image of his gallant Charley fail to haunt
his imagination, and to fill him with self-reproaches. Now it was that
his soul winced under the wholesome, though sharp stings of conscience,
and the fair visions of ambition, which had so continually flitted
through his brain, lost their sunshine, and disappeared for a time,
amid the dull and damp mists of self-dissatisfaction that settled
down upon it. He felt that though the trial must necessarily be a
painful one, it might probably be productive of a certain degree
of after-relief to him, if he could procure an interview with Alice
Asher. A vow existed between them--a vow that she had extracted from
him, immediately previous to the birth of Charley Stewart, that they
should never again meet, except in the event of an approach to her on
the part of Sir Walter, for the purpose of offering her his hand in
marriage. That, alas, was a reason which he could not urge now! But,
on the ground of having to speak to her on the subject of her son,
he sent for the good priest who was her confessor, and procured
from him a dispensation from their mutual vow, so far as to admit
of one short meeting between them. It took place; and, as you may
easily imagine, their conference was of the tenderest, though purest
description. It had more in it of tears than of smiles. Reproaches
were there, it is true; but they came not from the meek, penitent,
and forgiving Alice Asher; they were numerously and largely heaped by
Sir Walter Stewart on his own devoted head. The parting was a scene
which I could not venture to describe; and far less could I convey
to you the slightest notion of that accumulation of anguish which
choked up the heart of Sir Walter, after having had this opportunity
of more truly and perfectly knowing the full value of that gentle
and devoted spirit, the innocent confidence of whose youth he had
so abused, and whom he had so recklessly excluded from his bosom,
in order to take home thither that cold and selfish heart which now
legally possessed it. Full of such agonizing thoughts as these, he had
as yet got but a short way on his return from the dwelling of Alice,
when his musing walk was suddenly broken in upon by Cochran, who came
unexpectedly out upon him from a side-path that emerged from the wood,
into that along which he was then going.

"That cottage, so prettily perched up yonder among the wood, on the
brow of the hill you have this moment descended, belongs doubtless
to some favourite forester of thine, Sir Walter," said Cochran;
"marry, the fellow is lodged in a palace, compared to those dens,
scarcely fit for swine, in which the rude and savage inhabitants
of this northern wilderness are seen to burrow themselves, like
urchins, and which are hardly to be distinguished from the sterile
and heath-covered soil on which they stand."

"It is a neat cottage," replied Sir Walter hastily; and, immediately
changing the subject, he went on talking rapidly, and at random,
until he got rid of Cochran, on their arrival at Drummin; and, from
the very dread of all farther impertinent questioning, he threw himself
upon a horse, and rode away up the valley, under the pretence of some
urgent business, and with the vain hope of shaking off his griefs.

"Now," said Cochran, as he freely entered the Lady Stradawn's private
apartment; "Now, I can tell thee, that my suspicions are this very
day verified. Now thou mayst have no grudge that thou hast at last
restored to me some of that love, which was mine of right, and which
should have always been mine, had not the scrannel pipe of this Sir
Walter so unfairly whistled it from me."

"What wouldst thou insinuate?" demanded the lady, in some degree
of surprise.

"I would only delicately hint, that thy husband Sir Walter is more
in tune with another, than with thee," replied Cochran, with a coarse
laugh. "I have told thee so before, and now I have proof of the truth
of what I told thee."

"Proof, saidst thou?" cried the lady keenly. "What proof, I pray thee?"

"Did I not tell thee I had found him out?" said Cochran. "Did I not
tell thee that he visits the cottage that stands on the brow of
the wooded hill yonder? I have this day proved that I was right,
for I dogged his steps thither, saw him enter it, and watched him
patiently, for two good hours, till he again issued forth. Nay, I know
more. I know that she who inhabits it is an ancient sweetheart of his;
but though an ancient lover, she is young,--aye! and moreover she is
beautiful; for as I hovered about the place some two or three days ago,
I chanced to get such a glimpse of her, as satisfied me of all that."

"Base villain!" cried the lady, in a rage; "I will be revenged of him,
and of her too.--But," added she, again assuming the command of her
feelings, "I shall take mine own time."

"Thou canst not be too speedy with thy vengeance as regards thy
husband, if thou wouldst have me to help thee," said Cochran,
with a vulgar leer--"for, hark ye!--a secret in thine ear--I must go
to-morrow--my time hath been long enough uselessly wasted here,--thanks
to thine obduracy; and then this building is so far advanced towards
completion, as hardly longer to require my master eye, so that little
apology now remains for me for longer stay. Nor do I now will it much,
seeing that it is of none effect; so I shall e'en hasten back to the
court, to look after this earldom of Mar, which the King hath been
talking of bestowing upon me, as a successor, much more worthy of it,
than his traitorous brother who held it. 'Tis well for me to be on
the spot; yet couldst thou but think of giving me back that love,
of which this false Sir Walter so wickedly robbed me, I might still
contrive to stay awhile to help thee to thy revenge."

"My vengeance must be deeply satiated ere any such passion as love can
find room in this heart of mine," said the lady, with eyes that darted
lightnings. "At this moment it is overcharged with hate, which nothing
can diminish till it is poured out in one vast flood of vengeance on
those who have produced it. Go then, my good lord, for to that title
thy fortune doth now most securely lead; go--and push it boldly on
to the pinnacle of that glory to which it so clearly points. When
we meet again, we may have better will, as well as better leisure,
to unfold our mutual thoughts and wishes. Meanwhile, believe that mine
are ever for thy welfare, and for that honourable advancement to thee,
to which the elegance of thy person, as well as thy superiority in
mind and manners, doth so well and amply entitle thee."

"Thanks, lady! thy discernment is great and penetrating!" cried
Cochran, whose vanity was so blown up by her extravagant praises
of him, that, ere she wist, he, by way of an act of gallantry, and
in a manner quite suited to the vulgarity of his character, threw
his great coarse arms around her delicate neck, and snatched a rude
embrace. But though it brought the colour indignantly into her face,
she had too much cunning to resent it.

When Sir Walter Stewart returned home that evening, Cochran told him
that he could be his guest no longer, seeing that he had received
certain communications from his Majesty, which demanded his immediate
departure from Drummin for the court. Sir Walter was by no means much
afflicted at this intelligence. He exerted himself, however, to do
Cochran all manner of hospitality, and to shew him every kindness, and
every mark of respect in his power, ere he went. He arose early next
morning, therefore, to perform the last duties of a host to a parting
guest, and, after Cochran and his escort were mounted, he walked by
the side of the architect's horse, talking with him by way of civil
convoy, for more than a mile of the road, as in those days it was the
usual custom of all hosts to do. As they were going up a little hill
above Drummin, called the Calton, they espied a hawk perched upon the
very top of a tall tree. Sir Walter had a birding piece in his hand,
with which he had been for some time wont to practise.

"There is a fine fair shot for thee to try thy new-fangled weapon
against, Sir Walter," said Cochran, pointing to the hawk; "I wager
thee five gold pieces that thou canst not bring him down."

"The distance is great," said Sir Walter, pointing his piece at the
bird; "but I accept your wager."

"He is safe," said Cochran.

"No!" cried Sir Walter exultingly, after discharging his piece, the
bullet from which brought the bird fluttering to the ground. "He's
gone, an' he were a king!"

"A good shot, truly!" said Cochran, treasuring up Sir Walter's
careless expression for his own future use and purpose. "Marry,
but that is a dangerous piece of thine, Sir Knight. Take good care
how you handle it, else may it perchance do thee a mischief. But I
will keep thee no longer trudging thus by my horse's side; so again
I bid thee commend me to thy lady." And so saying, he rode away more
abruptly than might have very well beseemed any man of better breeding.

Cochran finished his journey to Stirling, where the King then was,
and immediately presented himself at court. He was gratified by the
reception he met with from James, who manifested no little joy at
the return of his creature. But all mankind are misers, when taking
account of the favours of the great, on whom they depend. Unmindful
of the large ones they receive themselves, they look only with envious
eyes on those, however small, that may be bestowed upon others. Thus it
was with the unrighteous Haman, and thus it was with Cochran; for, all
the kindness which the King showed to him, in this his first interview,
became as nothing, when weighed against the eagerness which his Majesty
manifested in his inquiries after Sir Walter Stewart. These were as
gall and verjuice to Cochran. In vain did he try to make trifling and
oblique insinuations against the Knight of Stradawn, his royal master
was in no humour to listen to them at the time, and they were each of
them in succession lost to his ear, in the eagerness with which he
put his next question. James put question after question as to all
the particulars of his occupation at Drummin, as well as regarding
the progress of the work, and it was only when he had come down to
the day of his departure, that the insidious favourite contrived to
catch the royal attention, by relating the story of the birding-piece.

"Sir Walter Stewart is undoubtedly a pretty gentleman, and of
very various accomplishment," said Cochran, "Aye, and few know his
qualifications better than he does himself."

"He knows not his own accomplishments better than we do," replied
the King, in rather a dissatisfied tone.

"Pardon me," replied Cochran, obsequiously, "I never ventured to say
that he was vain of them. But your Majesty's perception and judgment
are unrivalled. Yet much as you have seen and observed of Sir Walter
Stewart, I may venture to question, whether you have chanced to
witness aught of his great skill and marvellous accuracy of eye in
shooting with a birding-piece?"

"A birding-piece!" exclaimed the King, "we knew not that he ever used
any such new-fashioned tool."

"He hath not used it till of late," said Cochran; "but it would seem
that he hath lost no time in perfecting himself in the use of it,
now that he hath taken it in hand. Your Majesty would be surprised to
behold how expertly he can employ it. The last shot I saw him make
with it was just as we were about to part, and it astonished me and
all those who were in my company."

"We shall ourselves see him use this strange weapon, the very first
visit he may make to court," said the King. "But what of this famous
shot of his?"

"So please your Majesty, a sparrow-hawk sat on the very top of a
straight upright pine tree, of immense height. He was perched there
so proudly and confidently in his lofty position, and, as he thought,
so safely too, that he looked down as carelessly on our cavalcade
below as if he had been the weather-cock on the needle point of some
lofty church-spire.--'There's a shot for you, Sir Walter,' said I,
and I straightway offered to gage five gold unicorns that he could
do nought against it.--'I take thy wager,' said he; and with that
he raised his piece, and without saying a word more, he presented it
at the over-confident bird, and, to the astonishment of all present,
down it came tumbling.--'He's gone!' cried he."

"Aye, and your gold was gone too," interrupted James, laughing
heartily.

"Nay, your Majesty, I minded not my gold," replied the wily Cochran;
"and had but these words of his been all the speech he uttered,
I had been well contented to have lost a larger wager."

"What said he else?" demanded James.

"So please your most gracious Majesty, I had rather leave the rest
unsaid," replied Cochran, with great affectation of discretion.

"Nay, but we would hear it all from thee," cried the King, impatiently.

"If your most gracious Majesty commands, your faithful servant must
obey," replied Cochran. "Yet true as mine ears are wont to be to
their office, I could hardly believe that I heard the words which
they then conveyed to me."

"We would have thee keep us no longer in suspense," cried the
King. "What words did Sir Walter Stewart utter?"

"As the bird fell," replied Cochran, with a gravity and a seriousness
of aspect that would have seemed to imply a heavy charge against the
Knight of Stradawn, "As the bird fell, Sir Walter, as I have already
signified to your Majesty, exclaimed, 'He's gone!' and then turning
aside, he added, in a somewhat lower voice, 'He's gone!--Would he
were the King!' So, and please your Majesty, did mine ears report
his words."

"Ha!" exclaimed James, with an air of great dissatisfaction, "Ar't sure
that he so spake? From all that thou hast seen, as well as heard at
Drummin, it would seem to us that both thine eyes and thine ears have
been wonderfully sharp to pick up evil against Sir Walter Stewart. Was
it likely that he should have thus wantonly spouted forth foul treason
in the ears of so many witnesses, some of whom it would appear were
sufficiently willing to report to us whatever might be turned to his
prejudice?--Go to, sir! I like not this! Those accurate ears of thine
must have failed of their honest duty for once. Or if, for some object
of thine own, thou hadst wilfully misinterpreted that which they did
truly hear, we can tell thee that thou hast not hit thy mark with the
same skill or success that Sir Walter Stewart did his. But we shall
judge of him in person, and that right speedily, for already hath he
received our royal command, borne to him by an especial messenger, to
present himself at court by a certain day, in order to be present at
the grand tournament which it is our royal will to hold, that we may
for once essay to bring our sullen and iron-sinewed nobles around us."

"I humbly crave your Majesty's most gracious pardon," said Cochran,
much abashed, and with a cringing reverence. "Your Majesty's matchless
wisdom hath put this matter into so clear a light, that I begin to
believe that my doubts--I mean the strong doubts I entertained of
it at the time--were correct, and that the words must have some how
or other come to mine ear awry. I appeal to all the Saints, and to
the blessed Virgin to boot, that I would rather hide than publish
aught against any one so much in your Majesty's favour as Sir Walter
Stewart would seem to be, especially one for whom I have, as I may say,
so high a respect, and regard, and admiration."

"We are satisfied," replied the King. "'Tis clear, that in this
instance thine ears have deceived thee. None but one demented
could have so spoken in such hearing; and Sir Walter Stewart is no
madman. But we would talk no more of this. We would now confer with
thee as to those plans at which we last looked ere thou wentest.----"

"I will go seek them straightway, your most gracious Majesty," replied
Cochran, and making more than ordinarily low and fawning obeisances,
he gladly retired to breathe more freely, and to recover from the
alarm of that danger which his very unwonted imprudence had brought
upon him, and which had so nearly hurled him into the very pit which
he had digged for another.

But we must now return to Drummin.----Though the----



AN OLD FRIEND WITH A NEW FACE.


Grant.--Who, in the name of wonder, can that be, who knocks so loudly
at the outer door, in this lone place, at such an hour?

Serjeant.--Some belated drover, I'll warrant. What an awful night
the poor man has had to travel in!

Clifford.--If there be, as philosophers say, no happiness equal
to that of being relieved from misery, I think that he who knocks,
whoever he may be, is to be envied for the sudden transition he is
about to make from all the horrors of night, rain, tempest, and bogs,
and swollen burns, to the comforts of this room, such as they are,
and especially to this glorious fire.

Author.--What a time they are losing in letting him in!

Serjeant.--I suspect they will have enough ado to get the door opened,
without being knocked down by the blast.

Author.--They have let him in at last. Whoever he may be, we must
make room for the poor fellow at our fireside.

Grant.--Certainly; I'll go and bring him in here: nay, I see I need
not, for here he comes.

Clifford.--What a figure the poor man is! He looks like a newly landed
river-god, or like Behemoth himself, come forth from the mighty deeps.

Serjeant.--Whoever he may be, his own father could not know him, were
he to see him at this moment, with his whole clothes so bedraggled,
and that face of his so clatched up with moss-dirt, that not a feature
of it can be seen.

Clifford.--He is like a moving peat-bog, I declare.

Author.--Bless me, how the poor wretch shivers!

Serjeant.--He shakes as if he had an ague-fit.

Clifford.--'Tis absolutely like an earthquake shaking the globe.--Here,
sir; pray swallow some of this warm punch--it will bring life into you.

Stranger--(in a perfect palsy of cold.)--Och! it's most reveeving
indeed, though the taste of it is just altogether poisoned with the
moss that's in my mouth.

Clifford--(with astonishment.)--Mr. Macpherson!

Author.--Is it possible?

Grant.--Where, in the name of all goodness, can you have dropped from,
my worthy sir?

Clifford.--Though we know not where he has dropped from, we may see
plainly enough, from the foul streams that drop from him, that he has
dropped himself, head over heels, into some black peat-hag. Here--get
towels, that we may rub the dirt out of his eyes.

Dominie.--Ech, sirs! give me another drop of yon comfortable stuff,
and let me see a bit glisk of the fire.--Aye.--Hech me! I'm much the
better of that.

Clifford.--Sit down here, sir. Sit down in this chair close to the
fire; but first take off that streaming coat of thine. It reminds me
of some of those vast black Highland mosses, the very drainings of
which give origin to some dozen of rivers. Now, take another pull at
this hot stuff, and then tell us your adventures if you can.

Dominie.--Oh, dear me, that is good! Why, gentlemen, my story is
short, though my way has been long and weary enough. The fack is,
that when I got to my brother Ewan's house, I found that he was away
to the low country to make some bargain about the buying of a stock
of iron, and that he was not to be home again for a fortnight. You
may believe I was much disappointed at this intelligence, after
the long tramp I had all the way from Caithness, to come and see
him. But it would appear, that my letter to him must have somehow
miscarried. Be that as it may, I had no sooner been satisfied that I
had no chance of seeing Ewan for a time, than my heart began to yearn
after those with whom I had so lately and so sorrowfully parted. So,
thinks I to myself, I'll just take my foot in my hand, and after the
gentlemen. I'll catch them at Inchrory. If the night had been good
and clear, I should have been here good two hours ago. But on came
the tempest; and the wind, and the rain, and the darkness together,
so bamboozled and dumbfounded me, that, as I was fighting along with
might and main, I fell souse over head and ears into a deep peat-pot,


    Instabilis tellus, innabilis unda,


out of which it is the mercy of Providence that I was at length able to
swatter, after dooking and diving in it like a wild-duck for the better
part of a quarter of an hour, till I was nearly drowned in clean mud.

Clifford.--Clean mud, Mr. Macpherson! The mud you have been in would
seem to me to have been anything but clean.

Dominie.--True, Mr. Clifford; but I used a phrase of our vernacular,
meaning that there was nothing else there but mud--a truth I can speak
to by having gone faithfully throughout every corner of the big hole
into which I fell without finding any.--Clean, truly!--such a fearsome
sight I am!--I declare I am worse than Serjeant John Smith must have
been, when he fell into the moss-hole about the time of the battle
of Culloden.--Would you like to hear that story, gentlemen?

Clifford.--Much, Mr. Macpherson, but not now, for several
reasons. First, we must contrive to get you into dry clothes of some
sort, to prevent your dying of cold or fever; secondly, you must
have something to eat before you are permitted to talk; and thirdly,
there is another Serjeant, one Serjeant Archy Stewart, who is at this
moment on duty, and who was in the middle of a long story when your
appearance interrupted him. We must have that out first; but, in my
capacity of secretary, I shall take care to book you for producing
your Serjeant John Smith, when his time comes in the roster.

Dominie.--Eh, I'm sorry that I should have stopped the flow of my
friend Serjeant Archy's narration.

Clifford.--How could it have been otherwise, my good man? Why, what
flow could have possibly stood against such a flow as that which now
streams from your wet garments, Mr. Macpherson? You have already made
a lake in the room.

Dominie.--Keep me, so I have!

Serjeant.--Here lassie! Bring cloths and swab up the floor.

Clifford.--You had better not sit longer in that condition,
Mr. Macpherson; come away with me up to the garret, where we are to
sleep, and then I shall go and see what I can prevail on Mrs. Shaw
to do for you, to rig you out.

There was a waggish twinkle in Clifford's eye, as he left the room with
Mr. Macpherson. They were not long gone, and when they did return, our
young friend appeared leading in the Dominie, clad in a short-gown, and
a blue flannel petticoat, both belonging to our hostess. The Scottish
garment called the short-gown, is a sort of loose jacket, covering
one half the person only, and when tied tight round the waist, it is
admirably calculated to show off the mould of a handsome woman to the
best advantage. On the present occasion, it was with some difficulty
confined round the bulky Dominie, by a red cotton handkerchief, so
as fully to display his shape; and as the petticoat reached but a
little way below his knees, it exhibited the full proportions of his
Herculean legs, enlarged as they were by a pair of the thickest grey
worsted hose, and brogues of enormous size, accidentally left there
by a Highland drover. Over his head was placed one of Mrs. Shaw's
tartan shawls, which Clifford had recommended to be tied under his
chin, as a precaution against toothache, to which he declared himself
to be frequently a martyr. Such a woman, as the Dominie appeared to
make, is never to be seen on the face of this earth, except in some
exaggerated specimen of those marine, or rather amphibious animals,
to be found on the sea-coasts of Britain, and which are called bathing
women. We were all so much taken by surprise with his appearance,
that to control our laughter was a matter of utter impossibility.

Clifford.--Gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you the great Princess
Rustifusti.

Dominie--(striding in like a Grenadier.)--Truly, gentlemen, I am
ashamed to appear among you in this unbecoming disguise. But my worthy
and kind friend Mr. Clifford is so careful of me--mercy on me, what
would my boys say if they beheld me?

Grant.--They would be astonished, no doubt, Mr. Macpherson. But come,
sit down--here is something comfortable for you to eat. I am sure
you must require food by this time.

Dominie.--I must honestly confess to you that I am downright ravenous.

Clifford.--Nay, now, do not disgrace the delicate feminine character
which you are at present supporting, by eating like a masculine
creature.

Dominie.--Masculine, feminine, or neuter, I am so famished, that
I must eat liker, I fear, unto a male wolf, than a delicate leddy,
such as fortune has this night forced me to represent.

Clifford.--Nay, then, if that be your way, I must cease to be your
chaperon. So do you take charge of your own delicate self, and go on,
if you must do so, to disgrace the lovely sex to which you now belong,
by your immoderate eating and drinking, whilst I call upon Serjeant
Archy Stewart to proceed with his narrative.



THE LEGEND OF CHARLEY STEWART TÀILLEAR-CRUBACH
CONTINUED.


Although the jealous dreamings of King James had led him rather to
desire the absence of Sir Walter Stewart from his court, whilst the
Knight was yet a bachelor, he was no sooner fairly married, than all
such fancies were dissipated from the royal mind. The renewed enjoyment
in Sir Walter's society, which the monarch had experienced, previous
to the departure of the newly married pair for Stradawn, only served to
render the after absence of his favourite the more insufferable, and he
soon began to weary for the return of so accomplished a companion. Sir
Walter had sufficient opportunity of being rendered sensible of the
satisfactory alteration in the King's manner towards him, before
he left the court; but, notwithstanding all this, he was in no small
degree surprised, as well as delighted, with the arrival of the special
messenger, who was the bearer of the royal command for him, to attend
his Majesty at the tournament, which reached him the very day after
Cochran had left him. Sir Walter being one of the best equestrians
of his time, he was naturally extremely fond of horses. His great
passion was to possess himself of the most beautiful steeds that could
possibly be procured, and he spared neither pains nor expense in the
gratification of this knight-like fancy. Some time before the period we
are now speaking of, he chanced to have acquired some piebald horses,
which were of a white colour, marked in a very extraordinary manner
with large patches of a sort of bluish tinge. This circumstance led
him to indulge the whim of collecting more of the same description,
and having, from time to time, procured individual animals, from all
quarters, and a considerable addition to their numbers having recently
arrived, he now at length found himself enabled to mount a large troop
of his attendants on creatures of a similar description, and of the
most exquisite symmetry of form. Prepared as he thus happened to be,
the news of the tournament gave him particular gratification. His
heart exulted, and his mind was all agog, at the prospect of such an
opportunity of making so marvellous a display, before a more numerous,
as well as more experienced, collection of eyes, than his own glens
could afford him. Accordingly, he began to busy himself, without loss
of time, in making those arrangements, which were necessary to enable
him to appear with that degree of splendour, which he always wished to
exhibit on such occasions. Mr. Jonathan Junkins, and all the tailors
for many miles round, were put in requisition to make rich housings,
and footmantles of scarlet cloth for the saddles, and everything
else was got up in a proportionable style of splendour. But let us
not imagine that this, his so minute attention to such fopperies,
should lower Sir Walter Stewart in our opinion, for we must remember,
that all such trifles, being integral parts of chivalry, assumed the
greatest importance in the eyes of every knight. For many reasons,
Sir Walter Stewart felt no great desire to take his wife with him to
court, but he could find no good plea for leaving her behind. Amongst
other preparations, therefore, the lady's horse litter required to
be new furbished up, seeing that she was now in a condition that
made riding somewhat dangerous; but so great was the expedition used
by all hands, that by the day previous to that fixed for departure,
all the horses were duly trained, and all their equipments, as well
as those for the men-at-arms, and all other things necessary for his
expedition, were in the highest order.

Sir Walter Stewart retired to rest that night with the intention
of being up with the earliest dawn, that he might himself see that
nothing had been forgotten. Upon reaching his lady's apartment,
he found no one with her but her page, English Tomkins, as he was
familiarly called. This was a boy of great beauty of countenance,
and of an intelligence of eye very superior to that which his years
might have promised. He had followed the lady from England, and he
was so strongly attached to his mistress, that, if he was at all deep
in her confidence, he had prudence enough to keep all that he knew,
strictly secret from every one with whom his situation brought him
into contact. To all, except to her, he was reserved and distant,
to an extent much beyond that, which might have been looked for
from the natural carelessness and ingenuousness of youth, and even
the good-humoured freedom which Sir Walter used with him, was never
successful in breaking through the parchment case in which he seemed
to wrap himself up. He was a most impenetrable youth, and no long
time elapsed after the Knight's marriage, before Sir Walter began
to look upon the boy with a certain jealousy, and dislike, which he
could neither account for nor overcome.

"Do it thine own way," said the lady to him with so great earnestness
in her communication with him, that she perceived not Sir Walter's
entrance. "Do it thine own way, I tell thee, boy; but see that it
be done, and that surely, and secretly too--for I could have no will
to leave Drummin, and no heart to enjoy the pleasures of the Court,
unless I knew that this was done ere I went."

"What may this be, upon which so much of thy happiness
depends?" demanded Sir Walter Stewart, advancing.

"Holy Virgin, what a start you gave me!" cried the lady; "such puerile
tricks are hardly worthy of thee."

"What tricks?" asked the Knight, with utter simplicity.

"Such boyish tricks, I tell thee," said the lady, smoothing her
angry countenance, and throwing over it a playful smile, and at the
same time gently tapping his cheek, as if in the most perfect good
humour. "I mean such boyish tricks as that which thou hast now used,
by stealing thus to my chamber, and secreting thyself, that thou
mightest startle me for thine idle amusement."

"Credit me, I am no such idle boy as thou wouldst suppose," said Sir
Walter, gravely; "I have been guilty of no such silly conduct. I came,
as I am ever wont to do, without either the intent or the thought
of surprising thee. Nay, I knew not that I had done so, until thou
didst utter that scream of surprise."

"Well, well, I believe thee," said the lady; "and if thou hadst
stolen upon my privacy, thou couldst have gained nothing that would
have amounted to treason, seeing that I was but cautioning Tomkins
here, as to how he should execute a small deed of charity for me,
ere we go to-morrow, which I could ill brook the neglect of. Now,
boy, thou may'st go," continued the lady; "And see that thou doest
my bidding to the very letter."

"Your commands shall be strictly obeyed, lady," said the boy, bowing
as he retired.

The apartment in which the Knight and his lady slept had a window
in it which looked down the vale, formed by the combined waters of
the Aven and the Livat. A faint but glowing red light shot through
this window towards morning, and falling upon Sir Walter Stewart's
eyes, gradually unsealed their lids from the deep sleep in which
they were closed. He started up at this appearance of approaching
sunrise--hurried on his clothes, and hastened down stairs to the
court-yard. There he found the men-at-arms, who had the watch, all
at their posts; but none of the grooms, or the others whom he had
expected to have found already busied with their preparations, were as
yet astir. Having expressed his surprise at their laziness, he learned
from those on guard, that it yet wanted two good hours of day. Being
unwilling to retire again to his chamber, he walked forth beyond the
walls, to the terrace on which the castle stands; and he had no sooner
got there, than the cause of this his premature disturbance was made
sufficiently manifest to him, for his eyes were immediately caught,
and his attention fearfully arrested, by a column of fire that shot
up from the cottage of Alice Asher, and inflamed the very clouds above.

Giving one loud shout of alarm to the people within the castle walls,
he staid not for them, but rushed franticly down the green slope,
and crossing a rustic foot-bridge that spanned the river Livat,
immediately under the fortalice, he flew towards the wooded hill,
too accurately guided through the obscurity of the night, by the
conflagration, the light from which blazed in his eyes. But whilst it
thus served to direct him towards its object, it had also the effect
of dazzling his vision; so that, in the furious precipitation of his
speed, he ran against some living being that was coming hurriedly
in the opposite direction. Whatever it might be, his force was so
tremendous, that he drove it aside from the path, like a ball from
a bat, and then rolling forwards on the ground himself, and over and
over, he lay for some moments senseless upon the grass. But, having
soon afterwards recovered himself, he sprang again to his legs, and,
his whole thoughts being absorbed at the moment by his agonizing
anxiety for Alice Asher's safety, he stopped not to enquire what had
become of the individual who had produced his accident, but rushed
on again towards the burning house, on which he still kept his eyes
fixed. Long ere he gained the foot of the hill on which it stood,
a momentary depression of the flame, followed by an equally sudden
and very great increase of it, told him that the roof had fallen in,
and that, if the inmates had not already fled for safety, they must
now be beyond all reach of assistance. Yet still he paused not; but,
doubling his speed, he rushed breathless up through the wood on the
side of the hill, and at length arrived at the cottage.

What a sad spectacle did it now present! The walls alone were
standing, like a huge grate, in which the inflammable materials of the
heather-thatched roof, and the furniture, and interior wood-work, were
rapidly consuming. The roses and woodbines that crept over the walls,
or trailed in rude luxuriance over the porch, were now shrivelled
up and scorched by the intense heat within, nay, even the shrubs and
flowers that grew around, were dried up and killed by it.

"Oh, Holy Virgin Mother, she is gone! she is gone!" cried Sir Walter,
giving way to a paroxysm of grief.

And now people came running together from the nearest cottages. Eagerly
did he enquire of all he met for some information, regarding Alice
Asher; but no one could tell him aught of her. The men from the Castle
came crowding up the hill, bearing buckets of water. These were now
useless. But still Sir Walter called on those who carried them to
exert themselves, and, urged by his commands, they ran to and from
a neighbouring pool, bearing water, and pouring it over the sinking
flames, till they were finally extinguished, at least so far, that
they were enabled to rake amid the red-hot embers with long poles,
without danger to themselves. With what torturing anxiety did Sir
Walter Stewart stand, in the hope that no human remains would be found,
by which circumstance he expected to satisfy himself that Alice Asher
had escaped. But, alas! they had not searched far, when they found
a body, or rather a half-consumed skeleton, in so fearful a state of
mutilation, that although its size left no doubt that it was that of
a woman, it was quite impossible to guess at the person. Sir Walter
was frantic. But still hope lingered within his bosom. Alice had a
servant maid in the house. This skeleton was nearer, as he thought,
to the size of the woman, than to that of the mistress. Besides,
these remains were found in a part of the house which this attendant
inhabited. No doubt was left that they were hers; and Sir Walter's
heart expanded with the temporary relief which it experienced.

But the search went on. And now Sir Walter Stewart's heart again
fluttered betwixt torturing hope and fear,--till,--oh, wretched
and bitterly afflicting sight! in that part of the cottage which
Alice Asher more particularly occupied, another half-consumed body
was found. This was also that of a woman; and, as it corresponded
accurately to the size of her about whose fate he was so unhappily
interested, every spark of hope was at once extinguished within
him. His brain whirled in strange and bewildering confusion. He
gasped for breath, and seemed to swallow down liquid fire; all
consciousness left him for a time; and he sank down on an adjacent
bank in a temporary fainting fit.

I shall not attempt to describe the flood of strong and resistless
feeling to which Sir Walter Stewart, resolute as he might be, was
compelled to give way, when his senses fully returned to him. Those who
were around him respected them in silence. The sun soon afterwards
arose upon the melancholy scene; and then it was that the brave
Knight's countenance was observed by all, to bear powerfully-written
testimony of the deep grief that had been at work upon it. Making a
strong and manly effort to subdue his affliction, he gave orders to
his people to see that the remains, now so revolting to look upon,
should be properly attended to; and, despatching a confidential person
to the priest who had acted as father-confessor to Alice Asher, he
besought him to do all that might be requisite to ensure that the
last sad duties should be decently and reverentially paid, and every
religious rite duly performed to her, whose life of contrition, and
penitence, for a sin which he felt to have been his alone, had so
fair a prospect of reconciling her to her Maker. And, having made
these arrangements, he slowly and silently, and with a sorrowful,
heavy, and lacerated heart, bent his steps back to Drummin.

When Sir Walter Stewart, and those who were with him, had reached
the place where he had been so unaccountably thrown down, he was
surprised to see a human figure lying a few yards off the footpath,
with the head and shoulders crammed into a thicket. On approaching
it, the dress at once informed him that it was his lady's page,
English Tomkins. Having ordered some of his people to pull him forth
from the bushes in which he was half hid, and to raise him up, he
was discovered to be quite dead;--and his death was at once seen to
have been occasioned, by his head having come against the thick and
knotty trunk of an oak, which grew up from amidst the black thorns
and honeysuckles, so that his skull had been dreadfully fractured,
and instant extermination of life had ensued.

"Jesus have mercy on me!" cried Sir Walter, with great feeling. "I have
been the innocent cause of this poor boy's death, by running against
him in the dark;" and having said so, he proceeded to explain to his
people the circumstances which had produced and attended the accident.

"Methinks he hardly merits to be much wailed for, Sir Knight, unless
thou canst say that these strange articles can have been innocently
carried by him," said one of the attendants, pulling, at the same
time, from the bosom of the corpse, a small bundle of matches, and a
tinder-box, with a flint and steel.--"Marry, these would seem to say,
that he had been better employed had he been in his bed."

"What do I see?" cried Sir Walter Stewart, filled with horror, and
greatly agitated.--"What! was it murder then?--murder of the most
horrible description? Oh, holy Mother of God, can there be such
villainy upon earth?"

"What shall we do with this wretched carcass?" demanded one of
the people.

"Oh, most unlucky accident!" cried Sir Walter, without heeding
him.--"Would that I had but caught him in life! But, alas! strong as
suspicion is against him, his secret has died with him! We cannot now
wrench forth the truth from him either by spring or by screw. He is
gone to his account, before that Judge, at whose tribunal all secrets
must appear. Yet, bear him along with you, and see that you take
especial care to preserve those dumb instances of his hellish art,
till I may require thee to produce them."

Sir Walter Stewart now left his people to carry the body at their
own leisure, and shot away ahead of them, at a pace so furious, as to
correspond with the violence of those various stormy feelings which
then agitated him. On reaching Drummin, he hurried directly to his
lady's chamber, where he found her putting the last finish to her
travelling dress.

"Madam!" said he to her bower-woman, in a voice which sufficiently
betrayed the disturbed state of his mind; "my lady will dispense with
thine attendance for a brief space--we would be private."

"What strange conduct is this, Sir Walter?" demanded the lady after
her attendant was gone, whilst her voice and manner might have led
any one to believe, that she too was not altogether well at ease. "Why
shouldst thou have thus sent Jane so rudely forth, when she hath yet
so much to pack and to prepare?"

"Because I would fain have some private converse with thee, lady," said
the Knight solemnly.--"Dost thou usually send forth thy page Tomkins
on errands of charity so very early as several hours before sunrise?"

"No!--No!" replied the lady in a voice of hesitation. "Such are not
indeed,--no, they are not his usual hours to be sent on such errands;
but--but--the boy had some distance to go. And then--and--and--and
then he hath so much to do ere we depart, that--that--But I wonder
much that he is not returning by this time!"

"He is returning now!" said Sir Walter, looking hard and somewhat
sternly at her.--"But canst thou tell me what he did with a tinder-box,
flint, and steel, and matches, concealed in his bosom?"

"Flint--flint--flint and steel saidst thou?" cried the lady,
considerably agitated. "How can I say aught about it? Boys are ever
full of tricks, and so, I doubt not, is Tomkins. But what hath he
told thee himself? Didst thou not question him?"

"As yet he hath told us nothing," replied the Knight, ambiguously.

"Then all is yet right!" cried the lady, from an energetic impulse
of satisfaction, which she could not control.

"What is right?" demanded Sir Walter, sternly.

"I would say that--that--that if the boy hath confessed no evil, then
'tis most likely that no evil hath been done."

"Yea," replied Sir Walter, gravely, and with deep feeling, "but the
direst evil hath been done--a deed which is hardly to be matched
in cruelty--the firing of the house, and the burning to death of an
innocent lady and her woman!"

"An innocent lady!" exclaimed his wife, again forgetting herself for
a moment. "But thou canst not suspect this boy of having done so foul
a deed?"

"Most strongly do I suspect him," replied Sir Walter.

"Nay, nay, 'tis impossible," said the lady. "What could prompt him
to so horrible an act?"

"What could prompt him!" exclaimed Sir Walter, "nothing, methinks, in
his own bosom; but canst thou not guess who could have prompted him?"

"Nay, nay, how could I guess?" said the lady, in great trepidation.

"Lady!" said Sir Walter, with great solemnity, after having seated
her in one chair, and drawn one for himself close to her, where he
sat for some moments looking steadily into her pallid and agitated
countenance. "Lady! are these the charitable errands on which thou
art wont to send this boy?"

"What mean ye, Sir Walter?" demanded the lady, in a state of trembling
and alarm which she could not conceal. "The boy hath not basely
accused me of aught."

"Sir Walter, your pardon!" said Jane, the lady's bower woman, bursting
at that moment most inopportunely into the room, "Ronald would fain
know what you would have done with the corpse of poor Tomkins?"

"The corpse of Tomkins!" cried the lady, starting up, and clapping her
hands together, in an ecstacy of joy, which she could not hide. "Then
the boy is no longer alive!"

"He was found dead, it seems, my lady," said the maid, "and his corpse
hath this moment been brought in by Ronald and the rest. 'Tis fearsome
to look upon him. He hath got a deadly contusion and gash on his head."

"Alas, poor boy!" cried the lady, wiping her dry eyes with her pocket
handkerchief, and mustering up all the symptoms of sorrow she could
command. "Who can have murdered him? I shall never again meet with
so faithful a page!"

"Faithful, indeed, madam," said Sir Walter, after showing the maid
again out of the room, "faithful, indeed, readily to execute those
most wicked and murderous orders with which thou didst charge him."

"Nay, nay, this is too much, Sir Walter," replied the lady, now
gaining full boldness and command of herself, from having been thus
unexpectedly certified that her page was dead, and that he could now
tell no tales; "how canst thou dare to insinuate any thing against me?"

"Madam," said Sir Walter, in a hollow tone, and with considerable
agitation of manner, "would it were so that thou couldst with truth
speak thus boldly. But, alas! the words I heard thee utter last night
to the page--the horrible catastrophe of this morning--the place
where it pleased Providence that he should meet with his accidental
death--the direction in which he was running when he received it,
and the implements of destruction which were found in his bosom,
can leave no rational doubt in my mind as to the person who conceived
and directed this most cruel tragedy; and though evidence may be yet
lacking to bring the crime fully home to thee, yet, convinced and
satisfied as I am of the justice of this charge against thee, I can
no longer suffer the head of so foul a murderess to rest upon this
bosom. I leave thee to the stings of thine own conscience, and to that
repentance which they may produce, believing that God, in his own good
time, will make the truth appear, so that thou mayst be made to expiate
thy guilt," and so saying, Sir Walter Stewart left the apartment.

"Leave me to my conscience!" cried the lady, with a laugh of derision,
after the door was closed, "my conscience will sit easy enough within
me, I trow, since my good fortune hath thus got me so innocently rid
of mine instrument, after he had so well worked my will."

Sir Walter's heart was torn by a thousand afflictions. He felt that he
would be better any where else than at Drummin. Having now no reliance
in the fidelity of his wife, he resolved to leave her behind him,
and having hastily packed up the important charters of his lands,
and some other valuables, he added them to his other baggage. The time
now left was just sufficient to enable him to obey the King's command,
to present himself before him on a certain day. His people were all
waiting in readiness in the court-yard. Without more thought he flung
himself into the saddle, with a bleeding heart. He was distracted by
his feelings, but giving the word "forward!" he dashed through the
gateway at a furious pace, and his troop of men-at-arms and attendants
went thundering after him.

Sir Walter Stewart was received in the kindest manner by both the King
and Queen. He was earnestly asked, especially by James, why he had
not brought his lady with him. As he could not tell the whole truth,
without making a deadly accusation against her, which he had no means
of proving, he was compelled to say that he had left her somewhat
indisposed, an answer that produced some good humoured raillery
from James, delivered in his wonted familiar manner, and left him,
for the time at least, sufficiently well satisfied.

The tournament took place in that beautiful tilting-ground, in the
rocky valley, close under the south-eastern side of the crag upon
which Stirling Castle stands, and which is still pointed out by the
citizens of the ancient town, as the place which was so used in those
old times. Though few or none of the discontented nobles appeared,
it was yet a very glorious spectacle. The singularity and grandeur of
Sir Walter Stewart's retinue, and their whole appearance, mounted as
they were upon the piebald horses, so richly caparisoned, presented
by far the finest feature of the royal procession, and swallowed up
every other theme of conversation. He was now perhaps the only one
to whom it gave but little pleasure, heavy as his heart then was.

"We would know from our Queen, who, in her mind, was the prettiest
gentleman that appeared at the show to-day," said the King, after
all was over, and that he was in private with her.

"How can your Majesty hesitate one moment in coming to a judgment
upon so plain and palpable a question?" demanded the Queen, with great
animation. "The ornament of the procession and pageant was undoubtedly
Sir Walter Stewart. Who was there who came within an hundred degrees of
him? The number of his attendants--the beauty of the animals on which
they were mounted--creatures that would seem to have been conjured
forth out of the land of faery itself--creatures that moved as if
formed out of the rarer elements of nature--and then the splendour
of their housings--and, above all, the rich and tasteful dress of
the handsome and elegant owner of so much bravery, who is so full of
grace and skill in the management of his steed, that he bore off the
applause of all eyes and the love of all hearts! But what moves you,
my sovereign Lord? Methinks that something hath displeased you?"

"Your praises of Sir Walter Stewart would seem to us to be something
extravagant," said the King, considerably disturbed. "Was there no one
else there who might have demanded a like portion of your approbation?"

"If your Majesty would have an honest answer from me, I must reply,--no
one," said the Queen. "Even the gorgeous and glittering retinue
of Cochran, the budding Earl of Mar, who takes upon him as if your
Majesty had already dubbed him by that title, was but as gilded clay
compared to the well conceived arrangements of the accomplished Sir
Walter Stewart, who outshone all others."

"All others saidst thou, Margaret? Didst thou not think that we
ourselves were of as fair a presence and appearance as thy minion Sir
Walter Stewart?" demanded the King, with a pettish and perturbed air
and manner.

"Nay, my liege Lord," replied the Queen, very much distressed to
discover that she had thus so innocently offended her husband. "In
speaking thus of Sir Walter Stewart, I never dreamed of bringing
your royal person, or your royal retinue, into comparison with those
of any subject, even with those of Sir Walter Stewart himself,
whose individual splendour, was but as a part of that glorious
magnificence which was all thine own. Do me not the injustice to
judge me so harshly, or so hardly. Could you for one moment suppose
that I could compare Sir Walter Stewart to thee, my royal liege
and husband? Believe me, that although Sir Walter Stewart is much
esteemed by me for his numerous merits, yet he is no minion of mine,
and it were equally cruel and unjust in any one to call him so."

"'Tis at least well to hear thee say so," replied the King, in a sort
of half satisfied tone,--and then turning coldly away, he left the
apartment, with such an air and manner, that Queen Margaret burst
into tears, which it required some thinking and reasoning within
herself to enable her to dry up.

Now it was that the facile mind of King James, became prepared to
imbibe all the villainies which the designing Cochran could pour into
it. Nay, his Majesty became the voluntary and the willing victim of
them. He sent for Cochran, made him recapitulate all the particulars
of the story of the hawk, shot with the birding-piece, together with
that expression of Sir Walter's which he had formerly so repudiated,
but which he now listened to and received as most true and convincing;
and the royal ears being thus so unexpectedly open to him, Cochran
now scrupled not to tell the King, that, to his certain knowledge,
Sir Walter was faithless to his wife. To this story James listened with
anxious attention and interest. He remembered the strange combination
of Venus with the other planets, and he shuddered at the recollection,
as he put it beside his Queen's declared approbation of Sir Walter
Stewart. His Majesty's manner towards the Knight became again estranged
and cold, and his treatment of him unkind; and this being quickly
observed by those sordid and selfish wretches, who, with the sagacity
of the sharks that follow a diseased ship, or the rats that leave
one that is no longer sea-worthy, are ever ready to watch and catch
at such signs of a courtier's decaying influence, a regular bond of
union was formed against him by all but Sir William Rogers, who could
by no means be brought to see that he could benefit his niece by the
ruin of her husband. This plot went on, for some considerable time,
without producing the slightest suspicion on the part of Sir Walter
Stewart, though he could not fail to be sufficiently sensible of the
King's alienation from him.

He was sitting one night alone in his lodgings, when one, in the habit
of a serving-man, was announced to him, as craving for a private
audience of him, that he might deliver a particular message to him
from a gentleman of the court. Having ordered him to be admitted, he
was surprised to see enter a person who appeared to be a stranger to
him, with a light handsome figure, but having a nose of most unnatural
length, hugeness, and redness. He examined him narrowly, yet he still
remained satisfied that he had never seen any such person before;
but they were no sooner left alone, than the stranger began to speak,
and Sir Walter recognised him immediately.

"Trust me, Stewart, it is not without some personal risk that I have
thus adventured to hold communication with thee," said the stranger.

"Ramsay!" exclaimed Sir Walter Stewart, in amazement. "In such
a disguise as this, I should never have discovered thee, but for
thy voice."

"Then must I take care to keep that under," said Ramsay, in a half
whisper. "But time is precious. Thy life is sought for! To-morrow,
nay, even an hour hence, all attempt to escape may be unavailing,
and I, even I, may suffer for this my attempt to save a friend."

"I well know the danger that attends such a duty," said Sir Walter,
"and I would not for worlds that thou shouldst incur it."

"Aye, there thou hast said it," replied Ramsay. "I know well enough
what thou wouldst hint at,--thy service to Albany! Nay, start not! Thy
secret will never be the worse for me. But, nevertheless, that is
one of the suspicions that is harboured against thee."

"Suspicions!" exclaimed Sir Walter, "What suspicions?"

"In the first place, the King hath taken up a jealousy against thee
regarding the Queen," replied Ramsay. "Then some strange story hath
reached his ears from Cochran, who, by the way, hath been this day
created Earl of Mar, regarding some treasonable words thou didst drop
in his hearing in the shooting of a hawk with a birding-piece. Besides
this, Torfefan, the master of fence, hath said, that thou didst
once step in to save the Earl of Huntly from his just vengeance,
for speaking treasonably of the King and his courtiers; whence it
is argued, that thou art in secret league with the discontented
nobles. This is corroborated by that rascal, Hommil, the tailor,
who says he was with Torfefan at the time. To this accusation,
touching thy consorting with the nobles, Andrew, the Astrologer,
bears his support, for he says that he one night found thee and the
Earl in deep conference, alone in the hostel. And, finally, as I have
already hinted, thou art, somehow or other, shrewdly suspected of
having aided in, if not contrived the escape of the Duke of Albany
from Edinburgh Castle. But besides all this, Sir William Rogers, who
hath been long thy friend, hath at last gone over to those who are
malecontent with thee, because he hath had letters from his niece,
complaining that she had been disgracefully and cruelly treated by
thee, and that, too, but a few days before she gave birth to thy son
and heir; and that, in consequence of this thine evil treatment of her,
she hath applied for divorce from thee. But what is all this, and why
should I waste time in such a recapitulation of forgeries? Thy life,
my dear Stewart, is sought for! Ere to-morrow's dawn thou wilt be a
prisoner, and how soon afterwards thou mayest be numbered with the
dead, the fate of the last Mar may teach thee. Fly then, my dear
friend, for thy life! I dare not tarry here longer. Get into thy
saddle with all manner of haste, and see that thou sparest not thy
spurs! And so God give thee good speed till we meet in better times."

Ramsay gave him a warm embrace, and then hurried out of the room and
the house. And Sir Walter Stewart, after packing up his writings
and other valuables, cautiously and quietly summoned his people,
and, getting into their saddles, they rode slowly out of the gate
of the town, and across the ancient bridge over the river Forth,
the guards readily believing them when they said they were bound on
the King's business. But they no sooner found themselves on the wide
and flat carse-lands to the north of the river Forth, than they made
the hoofs of their steeds thunder across them with the rapid sweep
of a whirlwind. Nor was this more than necessary either, for the
distant shouts of people, and the trampling of horses in pursuit,
were heard behind them. But the darkness of that night enabled them to
throw them off, and, by forced journies, they in a few days reached
Huntly Castle, where they were joyfully and hospitably received by
Sir Walter's friend the Earl. Although the people who pursued them
very soon returned without success, they were enabled to carry back
certain information as to Sir Walter Stewart's place of retreat;
and this was no sooner known, than the newly made Earl of Mar, armed
with the Royal authority, dispatched an especial messenger, upon a
fleet horse, to go directly to Drummin, as the bearer of certain royal
letters to the Lady of Stradawn, together with a private communication
from himself, which was conceived in these terms:--


    "To the Lady Juliet Manvers, once called the Lady Stradawn, these,
    with speed.

    "Most beauteous Lady, and my soul's idol! Thou wilt herewith
    receive the dispensation of his Holiness Pope Sixtus the Fourth,
    annulling thy marriage with that traitor, Sir Walter Stewart of
    Stradawn, so that thou mayest now look forward to be speedily
    raised to the high title and dignity of Countess of Mar, as
    well as to those yet more elevated honours, to which the growing
    edifice of my fortunes may yet uplift thee. But enough of this
    for the present. All will depend on thine own brave and steady
    deportment. Thou hast herewith sent thee, moreover, the King's
    royal letters, strictly enjoining thee to defend the Castle of
    Drummin against all comers, and to hold it for his sovereign
    Majesty; and, above all, on no account to admit the traitor, Sir
    Walter Stewart, within its walls; the which, seeing that I built
    and repaired them, I full well know, are stout enough to resist
    any engine which he or others may be able to bring against them,
    when defended by so bold a heart as thine. To aid thee in this,
    and to enable thee to control the rebellious vassals of the Strath,
    a picked body of men are already on their march, and will be with
    thee in a very few days after these presents come to thy hand. So
    use thine authority like one who is destined to the great honours
    that await thee, and thus show thyself worthy of him who is the
    architect of thy fortunes,--who is thy devoted adorer and slave,
    the deeply love-stricken

        "Mar."


Of all this the gallant Sir Walter knew nothing, save that the
proclamation of his being declared traitor, and the public annunciation
of the dissolution of his marriage had been so generally diffused,
that they came to him through the thousand mouths of common fame.

It was this last piece of intelligence, that made him gather up
his strength, from that dejection to which he had for sometime been
disposed to yield. The very thought that his alliance with this now
detested woman, was thus severed and annihilated for ever, gave him
new life. But, alas! the recollection that she to whose wrongs, to
whose sorrows, and to whose penitence, he would now have wished to
have held out the right hand of consolation, was now no longer in life
to receive it, gave him fresh pangs of grief and despondency. He was
resolved, however, to proceed to dispossess the murderess from the
hearth of his fathers, and to take possession of his own fortress,
in defiance of the King's proclamation, being well aware that the same
stout hands, and sharp claymores, in Stradawn, which had ever proved
so faithful to him, would still enable him, if once in possession of
his little place of strength, to laugh at all the King's heralds and
parchments throughout broad Scotland.

It was after a long and tedious march, that Sir Walter Stewart
and his followers were seen winding up the valley of the Aven, one
beautiful afternoon. The shouts of the thinly scattered population,
rang through the woods from cottage to cottage, as the news spread
that their own knight and chieftain was returning. All turned out,
and crowded after him, to welcome himself, to talk with their
friends in the ranks of his retinue, and to glut their eyes with
the splendid pageant presented to them by his gallant array, and his
richly caparisoned piebald horses. The castle arose before them upon
its level and elevated green terrace, and his troop was moving slowly
forward to ford the river Livat, where it runs in a broad and shallow
stream, along the base of the promontory on which the fortress stands,
when they, and especially their horses, were suddenly startled by
the loud roar of a falconet, fired from the walls, the echo from
which ran thundering along the faces of the neighbouring mountains,
whilst the bullet discharged from it whistled over their heads, and
went crashing through the boughs of a great tree behind them. A small
plump of spears appeared immediately afterwards without the walls, and
ranged themselves along the edge of the terrace above. But although
somewhat surprised by these warlike and hostile demonstrations,
Sir Walter moved boldly onwards to the river side.

"Whosoever thou beest, thou hast already had one warning," cried a loud
and hoarse voice from amid the spearmen on the terrace. "I bid thee
beware of a second, till we know something of thee and of thy folk."

"We would hold parley," replied the Knight. "Friends, ye know not
whom ye war against. Is Sir Walter Stewart to be held as an enemy
before his own Castle of Drummin?"

"We know naught of Sir Walter," shouted the other. "We know not Sir
Walter Stewart, nay, nor any other Stewart, save our liege lord and
master, James Stewart, the third of that name, King of Scotland,
in whose name we bid thee be warned and keep off."

"Who is he who so rudely challenges the Castle of Drummin?" exclaimed
a shrill woman's voice from the walls. "If any one would have peaceful
speech of us, let him advance with a moderate escort till he comes
within earshot."

"By'r Lady, I would have thee beware, Sir Knight," said Ronald,
the especial esquire of Sir Walter's body. "If thou art bold enough
to go nearer, thou mayest come within something more than earshot. I
will advance and hold parley with them, and I shall be safe enow too,
for they will see that they can make nothing by any deed of traitorie
done against such an one as me."

"No, no, Ronald; I will take my chance," said Sir Walter in a
melancholy tone. "My life is now but of little value to me. Let you
and one more go with me, and let the rest stand fast here till we
return to them."

Sir Walter Stewart and his two attendants now separated from their
party--forded the river, and rode their horses up the steep diagonal
path that led up to the terrace on the promontory, whilst the plump of
spearmen were called in, and the gates closed. On the outer wall of
the barbican stood the lady of Stradawn, with her baby in her arms,
and surrounded by a group of faces which were altogether strange to
the Knight, or those who were with him.

"How comes it, lady, that I, Sir Walter Stewart, the rightful owner of
this castle of Drummin, should be thus delayed in entering within mine
own walls?" demanded the Knight. "Give orders that instant entrance
may be yielded to me and mine, that there may be no unseemly warring
and blood between those who, if no longer one flesh, were at least
once so united by the holy church."

"I no longer know Sir Walter Stewart!" cried the lady, in a lofty and
imperious tone and manner. "I had indeed once the misfortune to be
linked to him, of which union behold the sad fruits in this wretched
babe! But my duty to my Sovereign, as well as my duty to the Earl of
Mar, who is soon to be my husband, requires that I should now know
him no longer, save as a traitor to his King, as well as a traitor
to me--alike disloyal to both. Begone, then! This fortalice is now
held by me for James Third, King of Scotland, and entrance herein
thou shalt never have, whilst I live to bar thee out."

"Lady, thou art bold," replied Sir Walter, coolly, "but remember,
that stoutly garrisoned and well provisioned as thou doubtless art,
we can soon raise willing hearts and hands enew in Stradawn, to force
thee to a speedy surrender."

"Thou shalt do so then at the price of the murder of this thy
child!" exclaimed the lady, lifting up the poor little innocent on
high. "If but a single arrow be discharged against us, the tender flesh
of this thy babe shall be the clout that shall receive it--and if but
one burning brand be thrown, this shall be the very first food given
to the conflagration. It is thy child. I hate it as being thine. No
mother's feelings, therefore, shall hinder me from using its little
body as the bulwark of our safety, and as the rampart of our security!"

"Fiend that thou art!" cried Sir Walter. "Let not harm fall on the
innocent babe of thy womb! Give me but my child, and I shall retire
and leave thee scaithless, and to such peace as thy guilty soul may
command. Oh, harm not the babe, but let me clasp it in these arms!"

"Ha, ha, ha! a pretty nurse thou wouldst have me provide for the
urchin!" cried the lady, bitterly. "No, no, its body is our most potent
shield, I tell thee, and thou shalt never win in here, till thou hast
opened thy bloody way through the portal of its little heart. Shoot,
if thou wilt, then, for this shall be thy mark."

"Oh, fiend! Oh, demon, in woman's shape!" cried Sir Walter, in
anguish. "How was I ever inveigled into thy toils! Terribly, indeed,
am I punished for the sins of my youth! But thou wilt yet meet with
thy reward! Fiend that thou art, I say thou shalt----"

"Nay, then, thou shalt have thy reward, and that straightway!" cried
the lady, interrupting him. "Shoot, archers! let him have his reward,
promptly and powerfully delivered from your well-strung bows!--Shoot,
I say, archers!"

A flight of arrows instantly came whizzing about them. Several of
these rang upon their mail-shirts, others slightly wounded their
horses, but one found its way through a faulty link, to the very
heart of Sir Walter Stewart's second attendant, who fell lifeless
from his horse. Again came the arrows thick upon them, their barbed
points prying about them, as it were, like wasps, as if in search
of any weaker part or interval, through which they might most easily
and certainly sting them to death. There was no time to be lost. The
faithful Ronald seized Sir Walter Stewart's rein, and urging on the
Knight's horse and his own at full speed, he gallopped straight off
along the terrace, and so he succeeded in placing his master entirely
beyond all hazard, ere yet the bewilderment of his keen and poignant
feelings permitted him very well to know what had befallen him. And
then, leading his horse in a slanting direction, down the steep
and grassy slope, and across the river, they joined their party,
and drew off under several ineffectual discharges of the ill-served
and ill-directed falconet.

With a heart depressed by grief and mortification, Sir Walter Stewart
had now nothing left for it, but to return on his way to Huntly
Castle. As he moved down the valley, the roofless walls of poor
Alice Asher's cottage arrested his eyes, rising bare and blackened
from among the wood, on the brow of the isolated hill where they
stood. The whole of the harrowing scene of that murderous burning
recurred to his recollection. His soul was filled with affliction,
and his heart became heavy, and sank within him, from the poignant
admonitions of that conscience, which plainly and honestly told him,
that if he had sown more honourable and virtuous conduct in his youth,
he might now have been reaping pure and unalloyed happiness, instead
of that misery, which threatened to cling to him, like a poisoned
garment, to the end of his days. He felt that he had blighted the
spring of his own life: that all sunshine had departed from him for
ever; and that all now before him was dark and chilling winter. The
only hope he could dare to cherish now, was that of obtaining mercy,
through the merits of a blessed Saviour, and a deep and heartfelt
repentance. Giving way to the full indulgence of such thoughts as
these, his heart began to sicken at the world. In sorrow and in
silence he pursued his way towards Huntly Castle; and, long ere he
had reached the residence of his friend the Earl, he had taken up
his firm and unalterable resolution.

Acting upon this, he craved a private interview with the Earl that very
evening; and, having retired to his apartment with him, he unfolded
his mind fully to his friendly ear--gave over to him the charge of
all his papers and charters, and prepared every thing for executing a
deed, by which his Lordship was made sole trustee over his estates,
for the behoof of his infant son, with full powers to manage and
direct all matters belonging to them, and, at the same time, making
the Earl himself heir of all, in the event of the child's death. Some
days afterwards, he put the last formal signature and seal to all
this,--not without great, but vain expostulation on the part of Lord
Huntly,--and, having done so, he declared his fixed determination to
depart the very next morning for the Continent, where he had resolved
to bury himself for ever within the cloisters of a monastery.

That night, previous to Sir Walter Stewart's departure, was a
melancholy one for the two friends; and their parting next morning
was still more sad.

The Knight's horses and attendants were already drawn up in the
court-yard, and the Earl's men were thronging around them to bid
them farewell, when a horseman rode into it, bearing a woman on a pad
behind his saddle. The lady was veiled, and muffled up in a mantle;
but, though the form was sufficiently light and delicate, and that
of the youth also much more compact and athletic than gross or heavy,
the good grey steed that bore this double weight, showed unequivocal
symptoms of the long, rapid, and distressing journey he had undergone.

"Ha! we are yet in time?" cried the young man in a tone of
enquiry. "Sir Walter Stewart is still here, is he not?"

"He is still here; but he is on the very eve of his departure for
a foreign land," replied the esquire, in a grave and pensive tone
and manner.

"I would fain speak a few words to him," said the youth, lighting down,
and then lifting the lady from her pillion.

"I fear that may hardly be," said the esquire; "these last minutes of
parting converse between Sir Walter Stewart and the Earl of Huntly,
are, I warrant me, every one of them worth a purse of gold."

"So are they all the more valuable to me for the doing of mine errand,"
said the youth, with an air of command, which seemed naturally to
belong to him. "Here, take this ring, so please thee. Take it to Sir
Walter Stewart, and say that its owner bides without, and would fain
have a short audience of him ere he goes."

"I will do your bidding, fair sir," said the squire, courteously;
"though I know not well how mine embassage may be received; for, if
I mistake not, the Earl and the Knight are shut up alone together in
deep and important conference."

The esquire was in the right. The parting moments of these friends were
precious, and occupied in most interesting talk. The Earl of Huntly
had been using them in pouring out all his eloquence to induce Sir
Walter Stewart, even yet, at this the eleventh hour, to abandon his
resolution of going into a monastery, and to prevail on him to remain
at home, and to resume the rights and the control of his estates. He
urged it upon him, that he owed it to his country, as well as to his
own just vengeance against Cochran, and the King's other favourites,
to join with him and the rest of the nobles in the plots which they
were hatching for their destruction.

"It will be a sweet revenge for thee," said the Earl; "a most sweet
revenge, I say, for thee, to have James suing to thee for mercy,
for the lives of those very minions who have so conspired together
for thy ruin."

"Nay, press me not, dear Huntly," replied Sir Walter Stewart;
"though the King hath been blind and fickle, yet I cannot forget his
long-exerted kindness to me. And as for vengeance, I trust that the
exercise to which I have subjected my soul for these last few nights,
hath conjured all such unholy and unchristian passions forth from my
bosom. But to extinguish in thee all farther vain hope that I may be
brought to yield to thy friendly entreaty, I will now tell thee that
I last night took a solemn vow, on my knees, with mine eyes upon the
blessed crucifix, and my right hand upon the open Evangile, that I
would henceforth flee from the world, and dedicate myself to God."

"With such a vow upon thee," replied Huntly--"With a vow so solemnly
taken, I can urge thee no more."

"Then let my parting words entreat thee not to harm the King," said
Sir Walter Stewart. "Harm not the King, and hurt not one hair of the
head of Ramsay of Balmain, for he is a gentleman, and my very dear
friend, and one indeed to whose friendly warning I have owed my life!"

"There is no intention of hurting James," said Huntly, coldly;
"and as for Ramsay, thou hast said enough, in these last few words
of thine, to make me sacrifice my life to save him, if he should be
brought into peril."

"Thanks, thanks, my noble friend," said Sir Walter, "this promise of
thine gives me comfort in the certainty of Ramsay's safety."

"Who knocks there?" cried Lord Huntly. "Did I not say that we must
be private?"

"A messenger with some errand of moment for Sir Walter Stewart,"
replied the Squire.

"Come in, and tell us who and what he may be," replied Lord Huntly.

"He desired me to deliver this ring into Sir Walter's own hand,"
said the Squire, entering and presenting it to the Knight.

"Ha!" cried the Knight, the moment he threw his eyes on it, "give him
entrance without a moment's delay. My Lord, this is my boy Charley
Stewart, who went abroad in the service of the royal Duke of Albany. I
thank the saints that he is alive! I rejoice that I shall once more
behold him, for I feared that something fatal had befallen him. It is
well that he hath thus come, so opportunely, else, in my bewilderment,
he might have lost his share of that which he hath so well deserved
at my hands."

"It is well, indeed, that he hath come, then," replied the Earl, "for,
if I mistake not, he is a young man worthy of the stock he hath sprung
from. The Duke of Albany, I remember, spoke well of him from France,
some little time after his arrival there."

"His Highness vouchsafed to do so," replied Sir Walter. "But it is so
long since, that now I burn to behold the boy once more, and to see,
with mine own eyes, what improvement foreign nurture hath done on him."

"And I," said the Earl, "am especially curious to hear how his royal
master the Duke hath sped, and whether he may yet talk of returning
to his country, and trusting his person to the protection of the
Scottish nobles. But here comes the youth."

"Charley, my boy!--my son! thank God that thou art alive! I rejoice
to behold thee again once more!" cried Sir Walter, hurrying forward to
embrace him, with deep emotion. "I am glad, most glad, thou art come!"

"Your blessing, father!" cried Charley, who having entered the room
with the veiled lady on his arm, quitted her at the door, and rushed
forward to meet and to throw himself on his knees before Sir Walter.

"Thou hast it, boy!" replied the Knight, raising him up, and clasping
him tenderly to his breast. "Thou hast it most sincerely. Recent
melancholy events have now made thee doubly dear to me. But say,
why is it that I have heard nought of thee for so long a time? Why
is it that thou wert as silent in thy communication as if thou hadst
been dead? Often did I of late seek tidings of thee of De Tremouille,
but so much in vain did I seek them, that I more than half believed
that some fatal calamity had befallen thee. Come, say how hath it
fared with thee and thy royal master, and where, and wherefore,
hast thou left him?"

"With your leave, dear father, and that of this noble Earl," replied
Charley, "I shall hastily run over the outline of our history.--A
fair wind bore us to France, where we were soon transported to
Paris. There we were well received, and well lodged, at the sign of
the Cock, in the street of St. Martin, and all manner of expenses were
defrayed from the French treasury, for the Duke and his attendants,
to the number of twelve persons. We lived a merry life, mingling
in all the shows and pageants of the French court, and proving our
horsemanship with the French cavaliers, with no manner of disgrace
on my humble part, and with great honour on the part of my royal
master. But soon after this, some paltry jealousies and suspicions
broke out against us, fostered, no doubt, by certain Scots, who
had the secret ear of the King of France, and the secret authority
of James of Scotland. Prudence led the royal Duke to travel in the
provinces for a time, and under the disguise of an errant knight,
he wandered about, with me as his esquire, doing feats of arms every
where. Then it was that De Tremouille could report nothing of me,
for I was altogether in disguise, doing the most agreeable service
to my high and most kind master."

"How camest thou to leave so good and honourable a service
then?" demanded the Knight.

"Simply on this ground," replied Charley. "A certain correspondence
began to arise between my royal master and Edward of England. Whilst
this was going on, the Duke, who always showed most kindly towards me,
took me one day into his private apartment, and told me in confidential
secrecy, that a certain treaty was on foot between him and the English
king, with the intent of their uniting to make war upon Scotland. I
was largely promised wealth and honours if I would follow his Highness
to England. But, albeit that I should have been fain to have followed
him all over the world, I could in nowise bring myself to fight against
the country of my birth, or against that country which held my father,
and whose king I held to be my father's friend--that country which
held her--a--a--that country, I mean, which was a--dear to me from
many a tender recollection--and that country, above all, which held
my much loved and most affectionate and most revered mother."

"Poor, kind, and amiable boy!" murmured Sir Walter Stewart, groaning
deeply, "little knowest thou what a shock thou hast yet to receive!"

"I could not fight against such a land," continued Charley, without
observing this scarcely audible interruption. "And on my so declaring
this, and setting forth my reasons before my royal master, he kindly,
and, as he was pleased to say, with regret, gave me his princely
licence to depart; and as he had little to bestow, he honoured me by
putting this massive gold chain around my neck, and I parted from him,
after receiving his gracious thanks for the fidelity of my services,
and with many friendly commendations on the Duke's part to you. I left
him in the more honourable, yet not more faithful, hands, of Monipeny
and Concressault, who are now with him. Having taken ship and reached
the shores of Scotland, I made the best of my way to my native Strath,
and there, learning that thou hadst but recently left it, I hasted,
with all speed, to follow thee hither."

"Thou hast well judged, and well acted, my dear boy!" said the Knight,
embracing him. "By mine honour, but thou dost prove, by thy words,
that thy head hath gained as much in solid sense as thy person and
manners have gathered in strength and grace. My Lord of Huntly,
since Charley hath thus, by God's mercy, turned up alive, thou must
now see done for him, that which I, in such a case provided, as I
already told thee. To thee then I leave it to see him duly enfeoffed
in the place and lands of Kilmaichly, on a part of which he was born,
and this I have bestowed upon him and his heirs in property for ever."

"Be assured I shall see this desire of thine most strictly executed,"
said Lord Huntly.

"Thanks, thanks, most gracious father!" cried Charles Stewart, throwing
himself again upon Sir Walter's neck. "Yet would I consider it a far
greater boon, to be allowed to follow thee in whatever emprise thou
mayst now be bound to."

"That which I am boune after, boy, is too solemn for thy years,"
replied Sir Walter Stewart, gravely. "Thou art as yet too young to
quit the haunts of men, and sins hast thou but few to drive thee
thence, unless mine be visited upon thee. But, hold! thou wouldst
seem to have a fair companion there. Tell me, I pray thee, hast thou
brought a French wife with thee? Alas, rash youth, thou knowest not
what perils are to be found within the silken meshes of the toils of
matrimony! Hath not thine own past experience of the fickle nature
of woman cured thee of love?"

"Nay, nay, my good and honoured father," replied Charley, "so far
as I am concerned, I have learned, to my great joy, though to my sad
remorse and contrition, that woman's love, when pure and virtuous, is
inextinguishable by all the storms and tides of adverse fate. My Rosa
was true, and she yet lives for me and me alone, and I was the rash
insane tool of one who was more an evil spirit than a woman. Thanks
be to God, too, that I have not the crime of murder on my conscience,
for I have learned that my benefactor, Sir Piers Gordon, yet lives."

"Sir Piers Gordon!" exclaimed Huntly, in surprise, "Art thou then
the youth who had so nearly deprived me of so valuable a kinsman and
dependant? Trust me, young man, had the blow been fatal, I could not
easily have forgiven thee."

"My Lord, I could never have forgiven myself," said Charley. "But now
I hope to prove to Sir Piers my gratitude, as well as my penitence,
if he will vouchsafe to pardon me, and to receive me again into
his friendship."

"I think thou mayest safely reckon upon him," said Huntly, "especially
with my intercession for thee."

"Is this thy Rosa, then, boy?" demanded Sir Walter Stewart, pointing
to the veiled lady. "And is she already thy wedded wife? Why all
this mystery? Lead her hither, that we may see and become acquainted
with her."

"It is not Rosa," replied Charley, solemnly, as he retired to the
farther part of the room, and led forward the lady trembling beneath
her veil. "It is not Rosa, nor is Rosa as yet my wife. She whom I
would now introduce to you is no wife, nor hath she ever been bound
by any such holy ties--yet would she crave thy blessing, and one kind
word of comfort from thee," and with this he gently removed the veil
from her head.

"Holy Virgin, and sacred ministers of Almighty Providence, what
do I behold!" exclaimed Sir Walter Stewart, in amazement, "Alice
Asher!--and in life! My beloved Alice, can it indeed be thee?" and
then rushing forward to embrace her, he cried--"It is, it is my Alice!"

"Oh! this more than repays me for a life of wretchedness," said Alice,
weeping, and warmly responding to his emotions. "A mother's pride,
which I have in my boy, would not let me remain behind him; and
the priest gave me licence. I wished to behold him in his father's
arms, and my fond and foolish heart hath been gratified beyond its
deserts. May blessings be showered down upon thee for what thou hast
done!" continued she, sinking on her knees before him, "May blessings
here, and eternal happiness hereafter, be thy portion!"

"Rise, my fair, my beloved, my much injured Alice!" cried the Knight,
raising her gently up, and again tenderly embracing her. "This is
indeed a day of joy! But tell me how it is that mine eyes thus gladly
behold thee, when they have now so long wept for thy supposed death
by that murderous and traitorous fire?"

"Providence interfered to save my worthless life," replied Alice. "It
so happened, that, on the very evening before the burning, I chanced
to go up into Glen-Livat to visit the good widow MacDermot and her
daughter Rosa, whose society was always balm to me, and especially
so because their favourite talk was ever of mine absent Charley. As
I was thus going away from home, my serving-maiden took in a girl,
a friend of hers, to be company for her loneliness, and thus, both
these innocent creatures perished, whilst I escaped. But the ways of
Heaven are inscrutable. Thus it was that two half-consumed corpses
were discovered, which led to the belief of my death; and then it
was that terror for the Lady of Drummin made me dread to contradict
the rumour, and compelled me to live in concealment."

"Enough it is that thou art yet alive, my beloved Alice!" cried Sir
Walter Stewart, carried altogether away by the wildest feelings of
joy. "Dearest, we shall yet be happy!--Thou shalt yet be----"

"Oh, say!--speak!" said Alice, greatly agitated. "What--what wouldst
thou say?"

"What--what have I said?" continued Sir Walter, sinking in tone and
manner into those of deep despondency. "What!--said I that we should
yet be happy?--that thou shouldst yet be my wife. Alas!--no, no,
no--I forgot. It cannot be. My vow--my vow--my solemn vow, already
registered in Heaven! Would that I had known all this ere I had made
it! Would that I had but known that thou wer't still alive! But now,
even these regrets and repinings become sinful. The hand of Providence
is in it, and God's holy will be done. The vow--the solemn vow which I
recorded in Heaven must be fulfilled. Alice, dearest of human beings,
I cannot now be thine! I have henceforth dedicated myself to the
service of the Most High. I depart this very day to make good my vow,
by throwing myself into a foreign monastery."

"The will of the Lord be done!" said Alice Asher, in a hollow voice
of intense suffering, whilst, pale and trembling, she bowed her
head and sank into a chair, where a deluge of tears gave vent to
her emotions. "The will of the Lord be done! And why should it be
otherwise? I have more than deserved all those sufferings and trials,
which God, in his justice and wisdom, hath been pleased to bring upon
me, and why should I wickedly murmur? As thou sayest, the finger of
God is in it. May he sanctify his chastisement for our salvation,
and so let me cheerfully kiss the rod of his fatherly correction."

"Angel that thou art!" cried Sir Walter, greatly moved. "Oh, what
wouldst thou not have been, but for me, villain that I was! Thy sin
was mine. On my head must fall the whole of thy guilt. Thou wert young
and pure, as a creature of heaven. On my head must fall all the wrath
of an offended God; and mine, therefore, must be the penance. Return
then to resume thine innocent and peaceful life. Thou hast a firm and
able protector in thy son, whose strong arm, and upright heart, shall
shield thee from all harm. In due time, he must marry Rosa MacDermot,
and thou mayst yet live happily to see thy grandchildren growing up,
like goodly plants, around thee. Pray for me in thy private hours of
converse with the Almighty, that he may yet extend his mercy to me,
a repentant sinner. My orisons shall never cease to rise for thee. And
now, this last holy kiss, may, without guilt, be permitted to us. May
God for ever bless and preserve thee! And--now--now--farewell for
ever!"

Alice flew into his arms with a frantic hysterical laugh; and after
a long, a silent, and a last embrace, Sir Walter Stewart, gently
unfolding himself from her, rushed with a broken heart from the
apartment, followed by his son and Lord Huntly, leaving Alice Asher,
who sank helpless into a chair, pale, motionless, and silent, as if
death had suddenly fallen upon her. The Knight sprang into his saddle;
Huntly silently but warmly squeezed his hand; Charley Stewart embraced
his manly limb, as he put his foot into the stirrup--and his father
stooped from his seat, and tenderly kissed his brow, and blessed him,
ere he dashed his spur-rowels into the sides of his steed, and galloped
out of the court-yard, with his followers behind him.

Let us now return to the Castle of Drummin.--On that very night in
which the depressed and repentant Sir Walter was solemnly dedicating
himself, at Huntly Castle, to the service of God, she who had been his
lady retired to rest in her chamber, with her infant child placed in
a cradle beside her couch. A lamp, which burned on a table near her,
enabled her to read over again the letter which she had received
from Cochran, the new Earl of Mar; and, after she had done so, she
laid her head back upon the pillow to ruminate upon its contents,
and to resign herself to the enjoyment of those visions of ambition
to which it had given birth. By degrees, sleep overpowered her, and
her waking thoughts began gradually to resolve themselves into wild,
floating, and ill-connected dreams. After many strange and abrupt
changes, she imagined that she was led to the altar by the Earl of
Mar. Both were dressed in all the pomp that befitted the rank of
such a bridegroom and bride. The King and Queen were present; and all
things were prepared for the nuptial ceremony. But, when the marriage
service proceeded, both the Earl and Lady made vain and ineffectual
efforts to join hands. As she struggled to accomplish this, she
suddenly perceived, that the gorgeous golden collar which surrounded
the Earl's neck, was changed into a halter of horse hair. She stared
with wonder upon him; and, as she did so, his coarse, ruddy features
became pale, and fixed, and corpse-like, and he was lifted slowly
from before her, as if some powerful and unseen hand had raised him
from the ground by the halter, until he disappeared altogether from
her sight. She struggled fearfully. The priests, the King, and the
Queen, and the other personages who were present at the bridal, faded
away before her. Her heart grew cold within her from fear and very
loneliness. Suddenly the candles on the altar, and the other lights
in the church, blazed up miraculously, till their pointed flames
were blunted and flattened on the vaulted roof. She endeavoured to
shriek aloud, but no utterance could she give to her voice, whilst
horrid laughter echoed through the surrounding aisles, and demoniac
faces mocked and gibbered at her from behind the massive pillars. A
complete and most unaccountable change immediately took place; and she
beheld a burning cottage before her. Screams were heard from within
the walls, and she would have fain shut her eyes from the sight,
and stopped her ears from the sound; but she could do neither. She
was in an agony which no human tongue can describe. At length, the
figure of a woman, of angelic beauty and expression of countenance,
and ethereal airiness of form, shot upwards, as if borne to heaven
by the rising column of fire. The screams continued from within the
burning walls. They pierced her ears horribly, and the flames darted
around her on all sides, scorching her face and hands, and setting
fire to her garments; and still all her efforts were vain to move
herself from the spot, so as to withdraw from their influence. Half
suffocated, she struggled and toiled to escape from them; and being
at last awakened by her efforts, she was, for one moment, conscious
that she was in the midst of a real conflagration. In that one moment
was concentrated the whole remorse of her wicked life--and it was
terrible! She heard the cries of her perishing babe; and being herself
so choked as to be unable for exertion, she speedily became an easy
and helpless prey to the devouring element. The drapery of her bed,
which she had put aside in order to read the letter, had fallen back
into its place; and having thus caught fire from the lamp, the flames
had thence communicated to the cradle and to the bed; and by the time
the alarm of the conflagration had been given throughout the Castle,
and traced to its source, the lady and her innocent babe, and every
thing within the apartment, had been consumed to ashes.

After such an occurrence as this, it may easily be conceived that
the gates of Drummin were thrown open to the Earl of Huntly, the
moment he appeared with a strong force before it. He staid but a few
days there, to arrange such business as his new possessions demanded
of him. The most prominent and important part of this was, to see
Charles Stewart regularly infeoffed in his property of Kilmaichly,
after which he bestowed knighthood upon him; and having accomplished
all this, the Earl hastened southwards, to lend his powerful aid in
perfecting those plots which were then ripening among the discontented
nobles, and which terminated with the summary execution of Cochran,
and the other minions of King James the Third, over the Bridge of
Lauder. That the life or person of Ramsay were preserved untouched,
may have been in a great measure owing to the last parting injunctions
of his friend Sir Walter Stewart.

The new Knight of Kilmaichly quickly proceeded to build himself a
suitable dwelling, and that was no sooner in a habitable state, than he
brought that courtship, which he began with Rosa MacDermot, before she
was carried off from the harvest-rig by the eagle, to a proper period,
by a mutual submission of the parties to that holy yoke, which was
imposed upon them by the priest, who then lived at Dounan. The poor old
Howlet's prophecy was thus verified, by Rosa MacDermot thus becoming
a landed lady, and marrying a man with a knight's spurs at his heels,
and this, too, precisely according to the happy interpretation which
the Lady Kilmaichly had herself put upon it. Among the few people who
were bidden to the marriage, and certainly one who was by no means the
least happy or jovial among the company, was the good old knight Sir
Piers Gordon. Nor was his niece, the Lady Marcella, absent, though,
strange to say, she was very much metamorphosed from what she once
was. Some time after those events, which caused the flight of Charley
Stewart to Edinburgh, and which deprived her of all farther hope of
him, she was one day riding with her uncle's retainers, when they
fell in accidentally with a party of Catteranes. She charged them
boldly at the head of her people, and, in the midst of the mellée,
she had one eye scooped out by the point of a lance, and half of her
nose, and a considerable portion of one cheek, carried off by the
slash of a claymore, and, had it not been for the intrepidity of an
honest, stalwart, broad-shouldered, and wide-chested man-at-arms,
who came to her rescue, beat off the enemy single-handed, and then
carried her off in his brawny arms, it is probable that she might have
died gloriously upon the battlefield. Recovering from her wounds,
the bravery of this hero touched her heart; and, notwithstanding
the loss of so many of her charms, the bold yeoman, declaring that
there was quite enough left of her to make a very fine woman still,
and being altogether undeterred by her Amazonian temper, he had no
scruple in buckling with the heiress of Sir Piers Gordon. Although a
good-natured fellow, he was by no means a man to be bullied. A very
great reformation was therefore speedily worked upon her disposition;
and by the time she appeared as a guest at the marriage of Sir Charles
Stewart of Kilmaichly, she exhibited the countenance of a gorgon,
with a temper and spirit subdued and gentle as those of a lamb.

I have little to add now, gentlemen, to this true history, except to
recount to you a very curious occurrence, that took place soon after
Sir Charles Stewart and his lady were married, and comfortably settled
at Kilmaichly, and which threatened to interrupt the peacefulness of
their lives for a time. A dispute arose between Sir Charles's people
and those of the Laird of Ballindalloch, about the march between
the farm of Ballanluig, belonging to Kilmaichly, and Craigroy,
which was the property of his powerful neighbour. The House of
Ballindalloch being likely to prove too strong for him, in a matter
which he foresaw must probably be determined by the arm of force,
the prudent Sir Charles took the precaution to send a messenger into
Athol, to his father's relative, the Laird of Fincastle, craving
his aid. To his no small comfort, his petition was readily granted,
and Fincastle sent him sixty well-armed men, and a capital piper,
to stir up their souls to battle. Sir Charles being now in every
respect a match for his opponent, turned out bravely to make good
his plea, whilst Ballindalloch came with an equal force to dispute
the point. Each of the two parties reached its respective ground at
night, with the intent of joining battle by the earliest dawn. That
of Sir Charles Stewart took up its position in and about a kiln,
whilst Ballindalloch's little army was similarly posted at or near
a house at no great distance. Both sides were breathing horrid war,
and anticipating dreadful slaughter, when daylight should enable them
to see each other, for the night was dark as pitch. Some time before
daybreak, the lightning flashed, and a fearful peal of thunder crashed
suddenly over their heads, so that every man present was stricken with
awe. A water-spout then broke upon the hills, and came down upon them
so tremendously, as to produce a roaring noise, as if a sea had been
descending upon them. Both sides were appalled, and sinking in terror
upon their knees, they remained in that position until the morning
dawned. By that time the sky had cleared, and the sun rose smiling,
and then it was, that they beheld by his light, that a large and
frightful ravine had been cut out between them, by the water-spout,
where nothing of the sort had existed before. Both parties felt that
Providence had interfered to settle their dispute, and to save the
effusion of human blood. Accordingly the two leaders at once agreed,
that the ravine thus strangely and miraculously opened, by the sudden
descent of this transient torrent, from the hills, should be the march
between their properties in all time coming; and thus, they who came
to the ground as deadly foes, separated as sworn brethren and allies.

Thus it seemed, that Heaven itself had ruled, that peace should be
secured to those who so well merited it, and who so well knew how
to enjoy it; and the felicity of Sir Charles Stewart and his lady
was complete. Years rolled on, and still the sunshine of their
countenances, aye, and the sunshine of the faces of their merry
children, would often conjure up an angelic smile of gratitude,
upon the pale and pensive features of Alice Asher. Nor were the
grateful feelings of this highly favoured family expended in barren
expressions, for all around them were loud in praise of their
hospitality, benevolence, and charity.

In the course of some generations Kilmaichly fell to an heiress,
and the Laird of Ballindalloch having married her, she carried the
estate into that family where it now remains.



THE AUTHOR FLOORED.


It is not very easy to tell how we all bestowed ourselves after
Serjeant Archy Stewart's story of Tàillear-Crubach, but it was no
sooner brought to a close, than each of us proceeded to exert his
own ingenuity, in making up a bed for himself. Some things there were
indeed resembling beds in an upper room, but those who occupied them
were perhaps not much more fortunate than those who chose a dry, and
tolerably even corner of the floor, and there disposed of themselves,
rolled up in their plaids. My own experience tells me, that sweeter,
sounder, or more refreshing repose is nowhere to be enjoyed, than on
such a bed as this, especially after fatigue; and the great proof of
its excellence, upon the present occasion, was, that five minutes did
not elapse, ere we had all succeeded in our courtship of that sleep
which our day's walk, and the lateness of the hour, had conspired
to make it no very difficult matter for us to woo. Next morning, the
roaring of the Aven, now turbid and discoloured, and flowing wide over
the haughs, the rain still drizzling on, and the wet air and gloomy
sky, and the plashy footing on the meadow where Clifford ventured out
to experiment and explore, whilst we stood clustered within the door,
with our heads out, to mark his proceedings, very speedily made us
draw them back again, with a determined resolution to see a fairer
promise of weather, before we should venture to thrust them forth to
tempt our fate in travel.

Clifford (mincing his steps on tiptoe through a flock of ducklings
rejoicing clamorously in the wet.)--Fine weather for you young
gentlemen, indeed! Well, if the day will neither fish nor walk, we
may be thankful that we are well provisioned with food both for the
body and the mind.

Dominie.--That is a great consolation indeed, Mr. Clifford, and leaves
us little to be pitied.

Clifford.--Come, then, let us have breakfast; and, after that, let
us resume our sitting of last night, and, since we cannot budge out,
let us spend the day rationally, with legends and cigars, at Inchrory.

Author.--Pray, Mr. Serjeant, what is supposed to be the origin of
the name of Inchrory?

Sergeant.--Why, sir, the place was so called from a certain Rory
Mackenzie of Turfearabrad, or Fairburn, as it is called in modern
language, who, about the sixteen hundred or so, was wont to drive
great herds of cattle from his place in Ross-shire to the south
country markets, by this way up Glen-Aven. His story is a sad one.

Grant.--Pray let us have it, Archy.

Serjeant.--With your leave, sir, I'll rather tell it to you on our
way up the glen, when we come near to the place where the cruel deed
was done. You will be the better able to understand some of its most
important circumstances.

Author.--You are right, Serjeant.

Clifford (taking out his tablets.)--Well, Mr. Serjeant, I'll book
you for it, at all events.--Rory Mackenzie of Turfearabrad.

Serjeant.--I'll not forget it, sir. But, in the meanwhile, gentlemen,
I may tell you, that as this Rory Mackenzie used to bring his beasts
up this glen, which, as I formerly mentioned, was so full of woods at
that time as to make an open patch of pasture a thing of great value,
he was so tempted by the fineness and richness of the grass on the
meadow that lies hereabouts, all produced, as you will naturally see,
from the marly matter brought down upon it by the streams from the
hill, that he used to make a regular practice of lodging himself and
his animals here for some days, in order to rest and refresh them for
their journey; and so, at last, the place got its name from him. But
there was no house here in his day.

Dominie.--We have vurra great reason to be thankful, Serjeant, that
we have so good a house over our heads now, then.

Clifford.--House! why in such weather, a house like this in the
wilderness is as good as a palace in a city. Soldier though I be,
I by no means envy Rory, the laird of Turfearabrad, his sylvan
bivouacks. What think you, Mr. Serjeant?

Serjeant.--Troth, sir, I can lie out when I am obliged to do it. But
I am grown old enough now to think, that, in an ill day, the nearer to
the fire-side the better, and still better is it in an ill night. What
say you to that, Mr. Macpherson?

Dominie.--If my last night's scramble hither, and the deep mud of that
filthy peat pot into which I fell, has not convinced me of that truth,
Serjeant, I must be a stubborn bubo indeed.

Clifford.--Truth is generally found at the bottom of a well, but
to find it, as you seem to have done, at the bottom of a peat pot,
is a new discovery, Mr. Macpherson.

Clifford (after all are done with breakfast.)--Come, then, gentlemen,
shall we adjourn to the fire, and commence our sitting?

Grant.--Allons!

Author.--Now, my good woman, take away these things, and make the
room a little tidy, and then bring us plenty of peats.

Clifford.--Aye, that will do.

Grant.--Who is to be story-teller?

Clifford.--Mr. Macpherson is the man. Now then, Mr. Macpherson,
your Serjeant John Smith is the first for duty. He may mount guard
as speedily as you please.

Dominie.--He shall obey the captain's orders without a moment's delay.



                         END OF VOLUME SECOND.





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