Infomotions, Inc.The Fair Maid of Perth St. Valentine's Day / Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832



Author: Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832
Title: The Fair Maid of Perth St. Valentine's Day
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): catharine; glover; perth; clan quhele; simon glover; simon; douglas; patrick charteris; smith; henry; clan chattan
Contributor(s): Methuen and Co. Ltd. [Compiler]
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Identifier: etext7987
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Title: The Fair Maid of Perth

Author: Sir Walter Scott

Release Date: April, 2005  [EBook #7987]
[This file was first posted on June 9, 2003]

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THE FAIR MAID OF PERTH

or

St. Valentine's Day

by Sir Walter Scott, Bart.







INTRODUCTORY.

The ashes here of murder'd kings Beneath my footsteps sleep; And
yonder lies the scene of death, Where Mary learn'd to weep.

CAPTAIN MARJORIBANKS.


Every quarter of Edinburgh has its own peculiar boast, so that the
city together combines within its precincts, if you take the word
of the inhabitants on the subject, as much of historical interest
as of natural beauty. Our claims in behalf of the Canongate are
not the slightest. The Castle may excel us in extent of prospect
and sublimity of site; the Calton had always the superiority of
its unrivalled panorama, and has of late added that of its towers,
and triumphal arches, and the pillars of its Parthenon. The High
Street, we acknowledge, had the distinguished honour of being
defended by fortifications, of which we can show no vestiges. We
will not descend to notice the claims of more upstart districts,
called Old New Town and New New Town, not to mention the favourite
Moray Place, which is the Newest New Town of all. We will not match
ourselves except with our equals, and with our equals in age only,
for in dignity we admit of one. We boast being the court end of the
town, possessing the Palace and the sepulchral remains of monarchs,
and that we have the power to excite, in a degree unknown to the
less honoured quarters of the city, the dark and solemn recollections
of ancient grandeur, which occupied the precincts of our venerable
Abbey from the time of St. David till her deserted halls were once
more made glad, and her long silent echoes awakened, by the visit
of our present gracious sovereign.

My long habitation in the neighbourhood, and the quiet respectability
of my habits, have given me a sort of intimacy with good Mrs. Policy,
the housekeeper in that most interesting part of the old building
called Queen Mary's Apartments. But a circumstance which lately
happened has conferred upon me greater privileges; so that, indeed,
I might, I believe, venture on the exploit of Chatelet, who was
executed for being found secreted at midnight in the very bedchamber
of Scotland's mistress.

It chanced that the good lady I have mentioned was, in the discharge
of her function, showing the apartments to a cockney from London
--not one of your quiet, dull, commonplace visitors, who gape,
yawn, and listen with an acquiescent "umph" to the information doled
out by the provincial cicerone. No such thing: this was the brisk,
alert agent of a great house in the city, who missed no opportunity
of doing business, as he termed it--that is, of putting off the
goods of his employers, and improving his own account of commission.
He had fidgeted through the suite of apartments, without finding
the least opportunity to touch upon that which he considered
as the principal end of his existence. Even the story of Rizzio's
assassination presented no ideas to this emissary of commerce,
until the housekeeper appealed, in support of her narrative, to
the dusky stains of blood upon the floor.

"These are the stains," she said; "nothing will remove them from
the place: there they have been for two hundred and fifty years,
and there they will remain while the floor is left standing--
neither water nor anything else will ever remove them from that
spot."

Now our cockney, amongst other articles, sold Scouring Drops,
as they are called, and a stain of two hundred and fifty years'
standing was interesting to him, not because it had been caused
by the blood of a queen's favourite, slain in her apartment, but
because it offered so admirable an opportunity to prove the efficacy
of his unequalled Detergent Elixir. Down on his knees went our
friend, but neither in horror nor devotion.

"Two hundred and fifty years, ma'am, and nothing take it away? Why,
if it had been five hundred, I have something in my pocket will
fetch it out in five minutes. D'ye see this elixir, ma'am? I will
show you the stain vanish in a moment."

Accordingly, wetting one end of his handkerchief with the all
deterging specific, he began to rub away on the planks, without
heeding the remonstrances of Mrs. Policy. She, good soul, stood
at first in astonishment, like the abbess of St. Bridget's, when a
profane visitant drank up the vial of brandy which had long passed
muster among the relics of the cloister for the tears of the blessed
saint. The venerable guardian of St. Bridget probably expected the
interference of her patroness--she of Holyrood might, perhaps, hope
that David Ruzzio's spectre would arise to prevent the profanation.
But Mrs. Policy stood not long in the silence of horror. She uplifted
her voice, and screamed as loudly as Queen Mary herself when the
dreadful deed was in the act of perpetration--

"Harrow, now out, and walawa!" she cried.

I happened to be taking my morning walk in the adjoining gallery,
pondering in my mind why the kings of Scotland, who hung around me,
should be each and every one painted with a nose like the knocker
of a door, when lo! the walls once more re-echoed with such shrieks
as formerly were as often heard in the Scottish palaces as were
sounds of revelry and music. Somewhat surprised at such an alarm
in a place so solitary, I hastened to the spot, and found the well
meaning traveller scrubbing the floor like a housemaid, while Mrs.
Policy, dragging him by the skirts of the coat, in vain endeavoured
to divert him from his sacrilegious purpose. It cost me some trouble
to explain to the zealous purifier of silk stockings, embroidered
waistcoats, broadcloth, and deal planks that there were such things
in the world as stains which ought to remain indelible, on account
of the associations with which they are connected. Our good friend
viewed everything of the kind only as the means of displaying the
virtue of his vaunted commodity. He comprehended, however, that he
would not be permitted to proceed to exemplify its powers on the
present occasion, as two or three inhabitants appeared, who, like
me, threatened to maintain the housekeeper's side of the question.
He therefore took his leave, muttering that he had always heard the
Scots were a nasty people, but had no idea they carried it so far
as to choose to have the floors of their palaces blood boltered, like
Banquo's ghost, when to remove them would have cost but a hundred
drops of the Infallible Detergent Elixir, prepared and sold by
Messrs. Scrub and Rub, in five shilling and ten shilling bottles,
each bottle being marked with the initials of the inventor, to
counterfeit which would be to incur the pains of forgery.

Freed from the odious presence of this lover of cleanliness, my
good friend Mrs. Policy was profuse in her expressions of thanks;
and yet her gratitude, instead of exhausting itself in these
declarations, according to the way of the world, continues as lively
at this moment as if she had never thanked me at all. It is owing
to her recollection of this piece of good service that I have the
permission of wandering, like the ghost of some departed gentleman
usher, through these deserted halls, sometimes, as the old Irish
ditty expresses it--

Thinking upon things that are long enough ago;

--and sometimes wishing I could, with the good luck of most editors
of romantic narrative, light upon some hidden crypt or massive
antique cabinet, which should yield to my researches an almost
illegible manuscript, containing the authentic particulars of some
of the strange deeds of those wild days of the unhappy Mary.

My dear Mrs. Baliol used to sympathise with me when I regretted
that all godsends of this nature had ceased to occur, and that an
author might chatter his teeth to pieces by the seaside without a
wave ever wafting to him a casket containing such a history as that
of Automates; that he might break his shins in stumbling through
a hundred vaults without finding anything but rats and mice;
and become the tenant of a dozen sets of shabby tenements without
finding that they contained any manuscript but the weekly bill for
board and lodging. A dairymaid of these degenerate days might as
well wash and deck her dairy in hopes of finding the fairy tester
in her shoe.

"It is a sad and too true a tale, cousin," said Mrs. Baliol,
"I am sure we all have occasion to regret the want of these ready
supplements to a failing invention. But you, most of all, have right
to complain that the fairest have not favoured your researches--
you, who have shown the world that the age of chivalry still exists
--you, the knight of Croftangry, who braved the fury of the 'London
'prentice bold,' in behalf of the fair Dame Policy, and the memorial
of Rizzio's slaughter! Is it not a pity, cousin, considering the
feat of chivalry was otherwise so much according to rule--is it
not, I say, a great pity that the lady had not been a little younger,
and the legend a little older?"

"Why, as to the age at which a fair dame loses the benefit of
chivalry, and is no longer entitled to crave boon of brave knight,
that I leave to the statutes of the Order of Errantry; but for the
blood of Rizzio I take up the gauntlet, and maintain against all
and sundry that I hold the stains to be of no modern date, but to
have been actually the consequence and the record of that terrible
assassination."

"As I cannot accept the challenge to the field, fair cousin, I am
contented to require proof."

"The unaltered tradition of the Palace, and the correspondence of
the existing state of things with that tradition."

"Explain, if you please."

"I will. The universal tradition bears that, when Rizzio was
dragged out of the chamber of the Queen, the heat and fury of the
assassins, who struggled which should deal him most wounds, despatched
him at the door of the anteroom. At the door of the apartment,
therefore, the greater quantity of the ill fated minion's blood was
spilled, and there the marks of it are still shown. It is reported
further by historians, that Mary continued her entreaties for his
life, mingling her prayers with screams and exclamations, until
she knew that he was assuredly slain; on which she wiped her eyes
and said, 'I will now study revenge.'"

"All this is granted. But the blood--would it not wash out, or
waste out, think you, in so many years?"

"I am coming to that presently. The constant tradition of the
Palace says, that Mary discharged any measures to be taken to remove
the marks of slaughter, which she had resolved should remain as a
memorial to quicken and confirm her purposed vengeance. But it is
added that, satisfied with the knowledge that it existed, and not
desirous to have the ghastly evidence always under her eye, she
caused a traverse, as it is called (that is, a temporary screen of
boards), to be drawn along the under part of the anteroom, a few
feet from the door, so as to separate the place stained with the
blood from the rest of the apartment, and involve it in considerable
obscurity. Now this temporary partition still exists, and, by
running across and interrupting the plan of the roof and cornices,
plainly intimates that it has been intended to serve some temporary
purpose, since it disfigures the proportions of the room, interferes
with the ornaments of the ceiling, and could only have been put
there for some such purpose as hiding an object too disagreeable
to be looked upon. As to the objection that the bloodstains would
have disappeared in course of time, I apprehend that, if measures
to efface them were not taken immediately after the affair happened
--if the blood, in other words, were allowed to sink into the wood,
the stain would become almost indelible. Now, not to mention that
our Scottish palaces were not particularly well washed in those
days, and that there were no Patent Drops to assist the labours
of the mop, I think it very probable that these dark relics might
subsist for a long course of time, even if Mary had not desired or
directed that they should be preserved, but screened by the traverse
from public sight. I know several instances of similar bloodstains
remaining for a great many years, and I doubt whether, after a certain
time, anything can remove them save the carpenter's plane. If any
seneschal, by way of increasing the interest of the apartments, had,
by means of paint, or any other mode of imitation, endeavoured to
palm upon posterity supposititious stigmata, I conceive that the
impostor would have chosen the Queen's cabinet and the bedroom for
the scene of his trick, placing his bloody tracery where it could
be distinctly seen by visitors, instead of hiding it behind the
traverse in this manner. The existence of the said traverse, or
temporary partition, is also extremely difficult to be accounted
for, if the common and ordinary tradition be rejected. In short,
all the rest of this striking locality is so true to the historical
fact, that I think it may well bear out the additional circumstance
of the blood on the floor."

"I profess to you," answered Mrs. Baliol, "that I am very willing
to be converted to your faith. We talk of a credulous vulgar, without
always recollecting that there is a vulgar incredulity, which, in
historical matters as well as in those of religion, finds it easier
to doubt than to examine, and endeavours to assume the credit of
an esprit fort, by denying whatever happens to be a little beyond
the very limited comprehension of the sceptic. And so, that point
being settled, and you possessing, as we understand, the open
sesamum into these secret apartments, how, if we may ask, do you
intend to avail yourself of your privilege? Do you propose to pass
the night in the royal bedchamber?"

"For what purpose, my dear lady? If to improve the rheumatism, this
east wind may serve the purpose."

"Improve the rheumatism! Heaven forbid! that would be worse than
adding colours to the violet. No, I mean to recommend a night on the
couch of the nose of Scotland, merely to improve the imagination. Who
knows what dreams might be produced by a night spent in a mansion
of so many memories! For aught I know, the iron door of the postern
stair might open at the dead hour of midnight, and, as at the time
of the conspiracy, forth might sally the phantom assassins, with
stealthy step and ghastly look, to renew the semblance of the deed.
There comes the fierce fanatic Ruthven, party hatred enabling him
to bear the armour which would otherwise weigh down a form extenuated
by wasting disease. See how his writhen features show under the
hollow helmet, like those of a corpse tenanted by a demon, whose
vindictive purpose looks out at the flashing eyes, while the visage
has the stillness of death. Yonder appears the tall form of the boy
Darnley, as goodly in person as vacillating in resolution; yonder
he advances with hesitating step, and yet more hesitating purpose,
his childish fear having already overcome his childish passion.
He is in the plight of a mischievous lad who has fired a mine, and
who now, expecting the explosion in remorse and terror, would give
his life to quench the train which his own hand lighted. Yonder--
yonder--But I forget the rest of the worthy cutthroats. Help me
if you can."

"Summon up," said I, "the postulate, George Douglas, the most active
of the gang. Let him arise at your call--the claimant of wealth
which he does not possess, the partaker of the illustrious blood of
Douglas, but which in his veins is sullied with illegitimacy. Paint
him the ruthless, the daring, the ambitious--so nigh greatness,
yet debarred from it; so near to wealth, yet excluded from possessing
it; a political Tantalus, ready to do or dare anything to terminate
his necessities and assert his imperfect claims."

"Admirable, my dear Croftangry! But what is a postulate?"

"Pooh, my dear madam, you disturb the current of my ideas. The
postulate was, in Scottish phrase, the candidate for some benefice
which he had not yet attained. George Douglas, who stabbed Rizzio,
was the postulate for the temporal possessions of the rich abbey
of Arbroath."

"I stand informed. Come, proceed; who comes next?" continued Mrs.
Baliol.

"Who comes next? Yon tall, thin made, savage looking man, with the
petronel in his hand, must be Andrew Ker of Faldonside, a brother's
son, I believe, of the celebrated Sir David Ker of Cessford; his
look and bearing those of a Border freebooter, his disposition
so savage that, during the fray in the cabinet, he presented his
loaded piece at the bosom of the young and beautiful Queen, that
queen also being within a few weeks of becoming a mother."

"Brave, beau cousin! Well, having raised your bevy of phantoms, I
hope you do not intend to send them back to their cold beds to warm
them? You will put them to some action, and since you do threaten
the Canongate with your desperate quill, you surely mean to novelise,
or to dramatise, if you will, this most singular of all tragedies?"

"Worse--that is less interesting--periods of history have been,
indeed, shown up, for furnishing amusement to the peaceable ages
which, have succeeded but, dear lady, the events are too well known
in Mary's days to be used as vehicles of romantic fiction. What
can a better writer than myself add to the elegant and forcible
narrative of Robertson? So adieu to my vision. I awake, like John
Bunyan, 'and behold it is a dream.' Well enough that I awake without
a sciatica, which would have probably rewarded my slumbers had I
profaned Queen Mary's bed by using it as a mechanical resource to
awaken a torpid imagination."

"This will never do, cousin," answered Mrs. Baliol; "you must get
over all these scruples, if you would thrive in the character of a
romantic historian, which you have determined to embrace. What is
the classic Robertson to you? The light which he carried was that
of a lamp to illuminate the dark events of antiquity; yours is a
magic lantern to raise up wonders which never existed. No reader
of sense wonders at your historical inaccuracies, any more than he
does to see Punch in the show box seated on the same throne with
King Solomon in his glory, or to hear him hallooing out to the
patriarch, amid the deluge, 'Mighty hazy weather, Master Noah.'"

"Do not mistake me, my dear madam," said I; "I am quite conscious
of my own immunities as a tale teller. But even the mendacious Mr.
Fag, in Sheridan's Rivals, assures us that, though he never scruples
to tell a lie at his master's command, yet it hurts his conscience
to be found out. Now, this is the reason why I avoid in prudence all
well known paths of history, where every one can read the finger
posts carefully set up to advise them of the right turning; and
the very boys and girls, who learn the history of Britain by way
of question and answer, hoot at a poor author if he abandons the
highway."

"Do not be discouraged, however, cousin Chrystal. There are
plenty of wildernesses in Scottish history, through which, unless
I am greatly misinformed, no certain paths have been laid down from
actual survey, but which are only described by imperfect tradition,
which fills up with wonders and with legends the periods in which
no real events are recognised to have taken place. Even thus, as
Mat Prior says:

"Geographers on pathless downs
Place elephants instead of towns."

"If such be your advice, my dear lady," said I, "the course of my
story shall take its rise upon this occasion at a remote period of
history, and in a province removed from my natural sphere of the
Canongate."

It was under the influence of those feelings that I undertook the
following historical romance, which, often suspended and flung
aside, is now arrived at a size too important to be altogether
thrown away, although there may be little prudence in sending it
to the press.

I have not placed in the mouth of the characters the Lowland Scotch
dialect now spoken, because unquestionably the Scottish of that
day resembled very closely the Anglo Saxon, with a sprinkling of
French or Norman to enrich it. Those who wish to investigate the
subject may consult the Chronicles of Winton and the History of Bruce
by Archdeacon Barbour. But supposing my own skill in the ancient
Scottish were sufficient to invest the dialogue with its peculiarities,
a translation must have been necessary for the benefit of the general
reader. The Scottish dialect may be therefore considered as laid
aside, unless where the use of peculiar words may add emphasis or
vivacity to the composition.

PREFACE.

In continuing the lucubrations of Chrystal Croftangry, it occurred
that, although the press had of late years teemed with works of
various descriptions concerning the Scottish Gad, no attempt had
hitherto been made to sketch their manners, as these might be supposed
to have existed at the period when the statute book, as well as
the page of the chronicler, begins to present constant evidence of
the difficulties to which the crown was exposed, while the haughty
house of Douglas all but overbalanced its authority on the Southern
border, and the North was at the same time torn in pieces by
the yet untamed savageness of the Highland races, and the daring
loftiness to which some of the remoter chieftains still carried
their pretensions.

The well authenticated fact of two powerful clans having deputed
each thirty champions to fight out a quarrel of old standing, in
presence of King Robert III, his brother the Duke of Albany, and
the whole court of Scotland, at Perth, in the year of grace 1396,
seemed to mark with equal distinctness the rancour of these mountain
feuds and the degraded condition of the general government of the
country; and it was fixed upon accordingly as the point on which
the main incidents of a romantic narrative might be made to hinge.
The characters of Robert III, his ambitious brother, and his
dissolute son seemed to offer some opportunities of interesting
contrast; and the tragic fate of the heir of the throne, with its
immediate consequences, might serve to complete the picture of
cruelty and lawlessness.

Two features of the story of this barrier battle on the Inch of Perth
--the flight of one of the appointed champions, and the reckless
heroism of a townsman, that voluntarily offered for a small piece
of coin to supply his place in the mortal encounter--suggested
the imaginary persons, on whom much of the novel is expended. The
fugitive Celt might have been easily dealt with, had a ludicrous
style of colouring been adopted; but it appeared to the Author that
there would be more of novelty, as well as of serious interest,
if he could succeed in gaining for him something of that sympathy
which is incompatible with the total absence of respect. Miss
Baillie had drawn a coward by nature capable of acting as a hero
under the strong impulse of filial affection. It seemed not impossible
to conceive the case of one constitutionally weak of nerve being
supported by feelings of honour and of jealousy up to a certain
point, and then suddenly giving way, under circumstances to which
the bravest heart could hardly refuse compassion.

The controversy as to who really were the clans that figured
in the barbarous conflict of the Inch has been revived since the
publication of the Fair Maid of Perth, and treated in particular
at great length by Mr. Robert Mackay of Thurso, in his very curious
History of the House and Clan of Mackay. Without pretending to say
that he has settled any part of the question in the affirmative,
this gentleman certainly seems to have quite succeeded in proving
that his own worthy sept had no part in the transaction. The Mackays
were in that age seated, as they have since continued to be, in
the extreme north of the island; and their chief at the time was a
personage of such importance, that his name and proper designation
could not have been omitted in the early narratives of the occurrence.
He on one occasion brought four thousand of his clan to the aid of
the royal banner against the Lord of the Isles. This historian is
of opinion that the Clan Quhele of Wyntoun were the Camerons, who
appear to have about that period been often designated as Macewans,
and to have gained much more recently the name of Cameron, i.e.
Wrynose, from a blemish in the physiognomy of some heroic chief
of the line of Lochiel. This view of the case is also adopted by
Douglas in his Baronage, where he frequently mentions the bitter feuds
between Clan Chattan and Clan Kay, and identifies the latter sept
in reference to the events of 1396, with the Camerons. It is perhaps
impossible to clear up thoroughly this controversy, little interesting
in itself, at least to readers on this side of Inverness. The names,
as we have them in Wyntoun, are "Clanwhewyl" and "Clachinya," the
latter probably not correctly transcribed. In the Scoti Chronicon
they are "Clanquhele" and "Clankay. Hector Boece writes Clanchattan"
and "Clankay," in which he is followed by Leslie while Buchanan
disdains to disfigure his page with their Gaelic designations at
all, and merely describes them as two powerful races in the wild
and lawless region beyond the Grampians. Out of this jumble what
Sassenach can pretend dare lucem? The name Clanwheill appears so
late as 1594, in an Act of James VI. Is it not possible that it
may be, after all, a mere corruption of Clan Lochiel?

The reader may not be displeased to have Wyntoun's original rhymes
[bk. ix. chap. xvii.]:


A thousand and thre hundyr yere,
Nynty and sex to mak all clere--
Of thre scor wyld Scottis men,
Thretty agane thretty then,
In felny bolnit of auld fed,
[Boiled with the cruelty of an old feud]
As thare forelderis ware slane to dede.
Tha thre score ware clannys twa,
Clahynnhe Qwhewyl and Clachinyha;
Of thir twa kynnis ware tha men,
Thretty agane thretty then;
And thare thai had than chiftanys twa,
Scha Ferqwharis' son wes ane of tha,
The tother Cristy Johnesone.
A selcouth thing be tha was done.
At Sanct Johnestone besid the Freris,
All thai entrit in barreris
Wyth bow and ax, knyf and swerd,
To deil amang thaim thare last werd.
Thare thai laid on that time sa fast,
Quha had the ware thare at the last
I will noucht say; hot quha best had,
He wes but dout bathe muth and mad.
Fifty or ma ware slane that day,
Sua few wyth lif than past away.

The prior of Lochleven makes no mention either of the evasion of one
of the Gaelic champions, or of the gallantry of the Perth artisan,
in offering to take a share in the conflict. Both incidents, however,
were introduced, no doubt from tradition, by the Continuator of
Fordun [Bower], whose narrative is in these words:


Anno Dom. millesimo trecentesimo nonagesimo sexto, magna pars
borealis Scotiae, trans Alpes, inquietata fuit per duos pestiferos
Cateranos, et eorum sequaces, viz. Scheabeg et suos consanguinarios,
qui Clankay, et Cristi Jonsonem ac suos, qui Clanqwhele dicebantur;
qui nullo pacto vel tractatu pacificari poterant, nullaque
arte regis vel gubernatoris poterant edomari, quoadusque nobilis
et industriosus Dominus David de Lindesay de Crawford, at Dominus
Thomas comes Moraviae, diligentiam et vires apposuerunt, ac inter
partes sic tractaverunt, ut coram domino rege certo die convenirent
apud Perth, et alterutra pars eligeret de progenie sua triginta
personas adversus triginta de parte contraria, cum gladiis tantum,
et arcubus et sagittis, absque deploidibus, vel armaturis aliis,
praeter bipennes; et sic congredientes finem liti ponerant, et terra
pace potiretur. Utrique igitur parti summe placuit contractus, et
die lunae proximo ante festum Sancti Michaelis, apud North insulam
de Perth, coram rege et gubernatore et innumerabili multitudine
comparentes, conflictum acerrimum inierunt; ubi de sexaginta
interfecti sunt omnes, excepto uno ex parte Clankay et undecim
exceptis ex parte altera. Hoc etiam ibi accidit, quod omnes in
procinctu belli constituti, unus eorum locum diffugii considerans, inter
omnes in amnem elabitur, et aquam de Thaya natando transgreditur;
a millenis insequitur, sed nusquam apprehenditur. Stant igitur partes
attonitae, tanquam non ad conflictum progressuri, ob defectum evasi:
noluit enim pars integrum habens numerum sociorum consentire, ut
unus de suis demeretur; nec potuit pars altera quocumque pretio
alterum ad supplendum vicem fugientis inducere. Stupent igitur omnes
haerentes, de damno fugitivi conquerentes. Et cum totum illud opus
cessare putaretur, ecce in medio prorupit unus stipulosus vernaculus,
statura modicus, sed efferus, dicens: Ecce ego! quis me conducet
intrare cum operariis istis ad hunc ludum theatralem? Pro dimidia
enim marca ludum experiar, ultra hoc petens, ut si vivus de
palaestra evasero, victum a quocumque vestrum recipiam dum vixero:
quia, sicut dicitur, "Majorem caritatem nemo habet, quam ut animam
suam ponat suis pro amicis." Quali mercede donabor, qui animam
meam pro inimicis reipublicae et regni pono? Quod petiit, a rege
et diversis magnatibus conceditur. Cum hoc arcus ejus extenditur,
et primo sagittam in partem contrariam transmittit, et unum interficit.
Confestim hinc inde sagittae volitant, bipennes librant, gladios
vibrant, alterutro certant, et veluti carnifices boves in macello,
sic inconsternate ad invicem se trucidant. Sed nec inter tantos
repertus est vel unus, qui, tanquam vecors ant timidus, sive post
tergum alterius declinans, seipsum a tanta caede praetendit excusare.
Iste tamen tyro superveniens finaliter illaesus exivit; et dehinc
multo tempore Boreas quievit, nec ibidem fuit, ut supra, cateranorum
excursus.

The scene is heightened with many florid additions by Boece and
Leslie, and the contending savages in Buchanan utter speeches after
the most approved pattern of Livy.

The devotion of the young chief of Clan Quhele's foster father
and foster brethren in the novel is a trait of clannish fidelity,
of which Highland story furnishes many examples. In the battle of
Inverkeithing, between the Royalists and Oliver Cromwell's troops,
a foster father and seven brave sons are known to have thus sacrificed
themselves for Sir Hector Maclean of Duart; the old man, whenever
one of his boys fell, thrusting forward another to fill his place
at the right hand of the beloved chief, with the very words adopted
in the novel, "Another for Hector!"

Nay, the feeling could outlive generations. The late much
lamented General Stewart of Garth, in his account of the battle of
Killiecrankie, informs us that Lochiel was attended on the field
by the son of his foster brother.

"This faithful adherent followed him like his shadow, ready to
assist him with his sword, or cover him from the shot of the enemy.
Suddenly the chief missed his friend from his side, and, turning
round to look what had become of him, saw him lying on his back
with his breast pierced by an arrow. He had hardly breath, before
he expired, to tell Lochiel that, seeing an enemy, a Highlander
in General Mackay's army, aiming at him with a bow and arrow, he
sprung behind him, and thus sheltered him from instant death. This"
observes the gallant David Stewart, "is a species of duty not often
practised, perhaps, by our aide de camps of the present day."--
Sketches of the Highlanders, vol. i. p. 65.

I have only to add, that the Second Series of Chronicles of the
Canongate, with the chapter introductory which precedes, appeared
in May, 1828, and had a favourable reception.

ABBOTSFORD, Aug. 15, 1831.



CHAPTER I.

"Behold the Tiber," the vain Roman cried,
Viewing the ample Tay from Baiglie's side;
But where's the Scot that would the vaunt repay,
And hail the puny Tiber for the Tay?

Anonymous.


Among all the provinces in Scotland, if an intelligent stranger
were asked to describe the most varied and the most beautiful, it
is probable he would name the county of Perth. A native also of any
other district of Caledonia, though his partialities might lead him
to prefer his native county in the first instance, would certainly
class that of Perth in the second, and thus give its inhabitants
a fair right to plead that, prejudice apart, Perthshire forms the
fairest portion of the Northern kingdom. It is long since Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu, with that excellent taste which characterises her
writings, expressed her opinion that the most interesting district
of every country, and that which exhibits the varied beauties of
natural scenery in greatest perfection, is that where the mountains sink
down upon the champaign, or more level land. The most picturesque,
if not the highest, hills are also to be found in the county of
Perth. The rivers find their way out of the mountainous region by
the wildest leaps, and through the most romantic passes connecting
the Highlands with the Lowlands. Above, the vegetation of a happier
climate and soil is mingled with the magnificent characteristics
of mountain scenery, and woods, groves, and thickets in profusion
clothe the base of the hills, ascend up the ravines, and mingle with
the precipices. It is in such favoured regions that the traveller
finds what the poet Gray, or some one else, has termed beauty lying
in the lap of terror.

From the same advantage of situation, this favoured province
presents a variety of the most pleasing character. Its lakes,
woods, and mountains may vie in beauty with any that the Highland
tour exhibits; while Perthshire contains, amidst this romantic
scenery, and in some places in connexion with it, many fertile and
habitable tracts, which may vie with the richness of merry England
herself. The county has also been the scene of many remarkable exploits
and events, some of historical importance, others interesting to
the poet and romancer, though recorded in popular tradition alone.
It was in these vales that the Saxons of the plain and the Gad of
the mountains had many a desperate and bloody encounter, in which
it was frequently impossible to decide the palm of victory between
the mailed chivalry of the low country and the plaided clans whom
they opposed.

Perth, so eminent for the beauty of its situation, is a place of
great antiquity; and old tradition assigns to the town the importance
of a Roman foundation. That victorious nation, it is said, pretended
to recognise the Tiber in the much more magnificent and navigable
Tay, and to acknowledge the large level space, well known by
the name of the North Inch, as having a near resemblance to their
Campus Martins. The city was often the residence of our monarchs,
who, although they had no palace at Perth, found the Cistercian
convent amply sufficient for the reception of their court. It was
here that James the First, one of the wisest and best of the Scottish
kings, fell a victim to the jealousy of the vengeful aristocracy.
Here also occurred the mysterious conspiracy of Gowrie, the scene
of which has only of late been effaced by the destruction of the
ancient palace in which the tragedy was acted. The Antiquarian
Society of Perth, with just zeal for the objects of their pursuit,
have published an accurate plan of this memorable mansion, with
some remarks upon its connexion with the narrative of the plot,
which display equal acuteness and candour.

One of the most beautiful points of view which Britain, or perhaps
the world, can afford is, or rather we may say was, the prospect
from a spot called the Wicks of Baiglie, being a species of niche
at which the traveller arrived, after a long stage from Kinross,
through a waste and uninteresting country, and from which, as forming
a pass over the summit of a ridgy eminence which he had gradually
surmounted, he beheld, stretching beneath him, the valley of the
Tay, traversed by its ample and lordly stream; the town of Perth,
with its two large meadows, or inches, its steeples, and its towers;
the hills of Moncrieff and Kinnoul faintly rising into picturesque
rocks, partly clothed with woods; the rich margin of the river,
studded with elegant mansions; and the distant view of the huge
Grampian mountains, the northern screen of this exquisite landscape.
The alteration of the road, greatly, it must be owned, to the
improvement of general intercourse, avoids this magnificent point of
view, and the landscape is introduced more gradually and partially
to the eye, though the approach must be still considered as extremely
beautiful. There is still, we believe, a footpath left open, by
which the station at the Wicks of Baiglie may be approached; and
the traveller, by quitting his horse or equipage, and walking a
few hundred yards, may still compare the real landscape with the
sketch which we have attempted to give. But it is not in our power
to communicate, or in his to receive, the exquisite charm which
surprise gives to pleasure, when so splendid a view arises when least
expected or hoped for, and which Chrystal Croftangry experienced
when he beheld, for the first time, the matchless scene.

Childish wonder, indeed, was an ingredient in my delight, for
I was not above fifteen years old; and as this had been the first
excursion which I was permitted to make on a pony of my own, I also
experienced the glow of independence, mingled with that degree of
anxiety which the most conceited boy feels when he is first abandoned
to his own undirected counsels. I recollect pulling up the reins
without meaning to do so, and gazing on the scene before me as if
I had been afraid it would shift like those in a theatre before I
could distinctly observe its different parts, or convince myself
that what I saw was real. Since that hour, and the period is now
more than fifty years past, the recollection of that inimitable
landscape has possessed the strongest influence over my mind,
and retained its place as a memorable thing, when much that was
influential on my own fortunes has fled from my recollection. It
is therefore unnatural that, whilst deliberating on what might be
brought forward for the amusement of the public, I should pitch upon
some narrative connected with the splendid scenery which made so
much impression on my youthful imagination, and which may perhaps
have that effect in setting off the imperfections of the composition
which ladies suppose a fine set of china to possess in heightening
the flavour of indifferent tea.

The period at which I propose to commence is, however, considerably
earlier of the remarkable historical transactions to which I have
already alluded, as the events which I am about to recount occurred
during the last years of the 14th century, when the Scottish
sceptre was swayed by the gentle but feeble hand of John, who, on
being called to the throne, assumed the title of Robert the Third.



CHAPTER II.

A country lip may have the velvet touch;
Though she's no lady, she may please as much.

DRYDEN.


Perth, boasting, as we have already mentioned, so large a portion
of the beauties of inanimate nature, has at no time been without
its own share of those charms which are at once more interesting
and more transient. To be called the Fair Maid of Perth would at
any period have been a high distinction, and have inferred no mean
superiority in beauty, where there were many to claim that much
envied attribute. But, in the feudal times to which we now call
the reader's attention, female beauty was a quality of much higher
importance than it has been since the ideas of chivalry have been
in a great measure extinguished. The love of the ancient cavaliers
was a licensed species of idolatry, which the love of Heaven alone
was theoretically supposed to approach in intensity, and which in
practice it seldom equalled. God and the ladies were familiarly
appealed to in the same breath; and devotion to the fair sex was as
peremptorily enjoined upon the aspirant to the honour of chivalry
as that which was due to Heaven. At such a period in society, the
power of beauty was almost unlimited. It could level the highest
rank with that which was immeasurably inferior.

It was but in the reign preceding that of Robert III. that beauty
alone had elevated a person of inferior rank and indifferent morals
to share the Scottish throne; and many women, less artful or less
fortunate, had risen to greatness from a state of concubinage, for
which the manners of the times made allowance and apology. Such
views might have dazzled a girl of higher birth than Catharine,
or Katie, Glover, who was universally acknowledged to be the most
beautiful young woman of the city or its vicinity, and whose renown,
as the Fair Maid of Perth, had drawn on her much notice from the
young gallants of the royal court, when it chanced to be residing
in or near Perth, insomuch that more than one nobleman of the
highest rank, and most distinguished for deeds of chivalry, were
more attentive to exhibit feats of horsemanship as they passed the
door of old Simon Glover, in what was called Couvrefew, or Curfew,
Street, than to distinguish themselves in the tournaments, where
the noblest dames of Scotland were spectators of their address.
But the glover's daughter--for, as was common with the citizens
and artisans of that early period, her father, Simon, derived his
surname from the trade which he practised--showed no inclination to
listen to any gallantry which came from those of a station highly
exalted above that which she herself occupied, and, though probably
in no degree insensible to her personal charms, seemed desirous to
confine her conquests to those who were within her own sphere of
life. Indeed, her beauty being of that kind which we connect more
with the mind than with the person, was, notwithstanding her natural
kindness and gentleness of disposition, rather allied to reserve
than to gaiety, even when in company with her equals; and the
earnestness with which she attended upon the exercises of devotion
induced many to think that Catharine Glover nourished the private
wish to retire from the world and bury herself in the recesses of
the cloister. But to such a sacrifice, should it be meditated, it
was not to be expected her father, reputed a wealthy man and having
this only child, would yield a willing consent.

In her resolution of avoiding the addresses of the gallant courtiers,
the reigning beauty of Perth was confirmed by the sentiments of
her parent.

"Let them go," he said--"let them go, Catharine, those gallants,
with their capering horses, their jingling spurs, their plumed
bonnets, and their trim mustachios: they are not of our class, nor
will we aim at pairing with them. Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day,
when every bird chooses her mate; but you will not see the linnet
pair with the sparrow hawk, nor the Robin Redbreast with the
kite. My father was an honest burgher of Perth, and could use his
needle as well as I can. Did there come war to the gates of our
fair burgh, down went needles, thread, and shamoy leather, and out
came the good head piece and target from the dark nook, and the
long lance from above the chimney. Show me a day that either he or
I was absent when the provost made his musters! Thus we have led
our lives, my girl, working to win our bread, and fighting to defend
it. I will have no son in law that thinks himself better than me;
and for these lords and knights, I trust thou wilt always remember
thou art too low to be their lawful love, and too high to be their
unlawful loon. And now lay by thy work, lass, for it is holytide
eve, and it becomes us to go to the evening service, and pray that
Heaven may send thee a good Valentine tomorrow."

So the Fair Maid of Perth laid aside the splendid hawking glove
which she was embroidering for the Lady Drummond, and putting on
her holyday kirtle, prepared to attend her father to the Blackfriars
monastery, which was adjacent to Couvrefew Street in which they
lived. On their passage, Simon Glover, an ancient and esteemed burgess
of Perth, somewhat stricken in years and increased in substance,
received from young and old the homage due to his velvet jerkin and
his golden chain, while the well known beauty of Catharine, though
concealed beneath her screen--which resembled the mantilla still
worn in Flanders--called both obeisances and doffings of the
bonnet from young and old.

As the pair moved on arm in arm, they were followed by a tall
handsome young man, dressed in a yeoman's habit of the plainest
kind, but which showed to advantage his fine limbs, as the
handsome countenance that looked out from a quantity of curled
tresses, surmounted by a small scarlet bonnet, became that species
of headdress. He had no other weapon than a staff in his hand, it
not being thought fit that persons of his degree (for he was an
apprentice to the old glover) should appear on the street armed
with sword or dagger, a privilege which the jackmen, or military
retainers of the nobility, esteemed exclusively their own. He attended
his master at holytide, partly in the character of a domestic, or
guardian, should there be cause for his interference; but it was
not difficult to discern, by the earnest attention which he paid
to Catharine Glover, that it was to her, rather than to her father,
that he desired to dedicate his good offices.

Generally speaking, there was no opportunity for his zeal displaying
itself; for a common feeling of respect induced passengers to give
way to the father and daughter.

But when the steel caps, barrets, and plumes of squires, archers,
and men at arms began to be seen among the throng, the wearers of
these warlike distinctions were more rude in their demeanour than
the quiet citizens. More than once, when from chance, or perhaps from
an assumption of superior importance, such an individual took the
wall of Simon in passing, the glover's youthful attendant bristled
up with a look of defiance, and the air of one who sought to
distinguish his zeal in his mistress's service by its ardour. As
frequently did Conachar, for such was the lad's name, receive a
check from his master, who gave him to understand that he did not
wish his interference before he required it.

"Foolish boy," he said, "hast thou not lived long enough in my
shop to know that a blow will breed a brawl; that a dirk will cut
the skin as fast as a needle pierces leather; that I love peace,
though I never feared war, and care not which side of the causeway
my daughter and I walk upon so we may keep our road in peace and
quietness?"

Conachar excused himself as zealous for his master's honour, yet
was scarce able to pacify the old citizen.

"What have we to do with honour?" said Simon Glover. "If thou wouldst
remain in my service, thou must think of honesty, and leave honour
to the swaggering fools who wear steel at their heels and iron on
their shoulders. If you wish to wear and use such garniture, you
are welcome, but it shall not be in my house or in my company."

Conachar seemed rather to kindle at this rebuke than to submit to
it. But a sign from Catharine, if that slight raising of her little
finger was indeed a sign, had more effect than the angry reproof of
his master; and the youth laid aside the military air which seemed
natural to him, and relapsed into the humble follower of a quiet
burgher.

Meantime the little party were overtaken by a tall young man
wrapped in a cloak, which obscured or muffled a part of his face
--a practice often used by the gallants of the time, when they
did not wish to be known, or were abroad in quest of adventures.
He seemed, in short, one who might say to the world around him:
"I desire, for the present, not to be known or addressed in my own
character; but, as I am answerable to myself alone for my actions,
I wear my incognito but for form's sake, and care little whether
you see through it or not."

He came on the right side of Catharine, who had hold of her father's
arm, and slackened his pace as if joining their party.

"Good even to you, goodman."

"The same to your worship, and thanks. May I pray you to pass on?
Our pace is too slow for that of your lordship, our company too
mean for that of your father's son."

"My father's son can best judge of that, old man. I have business
to talk of with you and with my fair St. Catharine here, the
loveliest and most obdurate saint in the calendar."

"With deep reverence, my lord," said the old man, "I would remind
you that this is good St. Valentine's Eve, which is no time for
business, and that I can have your worshipful commands by a serving
man as early as it pleases you to send them."

"There is no time like the present," said the persevering youth,
whose rank seemed to be a kind which set him above ceremony. "I wish
to know whether the buff doublet be finished which I commissioned
some time since; and from you, pretty Catharine (here he sank his
voice to a whisper), I desire to be informed whether your fair
fingers have been employed upon it, agreeably to your promise? But
I need not ask you, for my poor heart has felt the pang of each
puncture that pierced the garment which was to cover it. Traitress,
how wilt thou answer for thus tormenting the heart that loves thee
so dearly?"

"Let me entreat you, my lord," said Catharine, "to forego this wild
talk: it becomes not you to speak thus, or me to listen. We are of
poor rank but honest manners; and the presence of the father ought
to protect the child from such expressions, even from your lordship."

This she spoke so low, that neither her father nor Conachar could
understand what she said.

"Well, tyrant," answered the persevering gallant, "I will plague you
no longer now, providing you will let me see you from your window
tomorrow, when the sun first peeps over the eastern hills, and give
me right to be your Valentine for the year."

"Not so, my lord; my father but now told me that hawks, far less
eagles, pair not with the humble linnet. Seek some court lady, to
whom your favours will be honour; to me--your Highness must permit
me to speak the plain truth--they can be nothing but disgrace."

As they spoke thus, the party arrived at the gate of the church.

"Your lordship will, I trust, permit us here to take leave of you?"
said her father. "I am well aware how little you will alter your
pleasure for the pain and uneasiness you may give to such as us
but, from the throng of attendants at the gate, your lordship may
see that there are others in the church to whom even your gracious
lordship must pay respect."

"Yes--respect; and who pays any respect to me?" said the haughty
young lord. "A miserable artisan and his daughter, too much honoured
by my slightest notice, have the insolence to tell me that my notice
dishonours them. Well, my princess of white doe skin and blue silk,
I will teach you to rue this."

As he murmured thus, the glover and his daughter entered the
Dominican church, and their attendant, Conachar, in attempting to
follow them closely, jostled, it may be not unwillingly, the young
nobleman. The gallant, starting from his unpleasing reverie, and
perhaps considering this as an intentional insult, seized on the
young man by the breast, struck him, and threw him from him. His
irritated opponent recovered himself with difficulty, and grasped
towards his own side, as if seeking a sword or dagger in the place
where it was usually worn; but finding none, he made a gesture of
disappointed rage, and entered the church. During the few seconds
he remained, the young nobleman stood with his arms folded on his
breast, with a haughty smile, as if defying him to do his worst.
When Conachar had entered the church, his opponent, adjusting his
cloak yet closer about his face, made a private signal by holding
up one of his gloves. He was instantly joined by two men, who,
disguised like himself, had waited his motions at a little distance.
They spoke together earnestly, after which the young nobleman retired
in one direction, his friends or followers going off in another.

Simon Glover, before he entered the church, cast a look towards the
group, but had taken his place among the congregation before they
separated themselves. He knelt down with the air of a man who has
something burdensome on his mind; but when the service was ended,
he seemed free from anxiety, as one who had referred himself and
his troubles to the disposal of Heaven. The ceremony of High Mass
was performed with considerable solemnity, a number of noblemen
and ladies of rank being present. Preparations had indeed been made
for the reception of the good old King himself, but some of those
infirmities to which he was subject had prevented Robert III
from attending the service as was his wont. When the congregation
were dismissed, the glover and his beautiful daughter lingered
for some time, for the purpose of making their several shrifts in
the confessionals, where the priests had taken their places for
discharging that part of their duty. Thus it happened that the
night had fallen dark, and the way was solitary, when they returned
along the now deserted streets to their own dwelling.

Most persons had betaken themselves to home and to bed. They who
still lingered in the street were night walkers or revellers, the
idle and swaggering retainers of the haughty nobles, who were much
wont to insult the peaceful passengers, relying on the impunity
which their masters' court favour was too apt to secure them.

It was, perhaps, in apprehension of mischief from some character of
this kind that Conachar, stepping up to the glover, said, "Master,
walk faster--we are dogg'd."

"Dogg'd, sayest thou? By whom and by how many?"

"By one man muffled in his cloak, who follows us like our shadow."

"Then will it never mend my pace along the Couvrefew Street for
the best one man that ever trode it."

"But he has arms," said Conachar.

"And so have we, and hands, and legs, and feet. Why, sure, Conachar,
you are not afraid of one man?"

"Afraid!" answered Conachar, indignant at the insinuation; "you
shall soon know if I am afraid."

"Now you are as far on the other side of the mark, thou foolish
boy: thy temper has no middle course; there is no occasion to make
a brawl, though we do not run. Walk thou before with Catharine,
and I will take thy place. We cannot be exposed to danger so near
home as we are."

The glover fell behind accordingly, and certainly observed a person
keep so close to them as, the time and place considered, justified
some suspicion. When they crossed the street, he also crossed it,
and when they advanced or slackened their pace, the stranger's
was in proportion accelerated or diminished. The matter would have
been of very little consequence had Simon Glover been alone; but
the beauty of his daughter might render her the object of some
profligate scheme, in a country where the laws afforded such slight
protection to those who had not the means to defend themselves.

Conachar and his fair charge having arrived on the threshold
of their own apartment, which was opened to them by an old female
servant, the burgher's uneasiness was ended. Determined, however,
to ascertain, if possible, whether there had been any cause for it,
he called out to the man whose motions had occasioned the alarm,
and who stood still, though he seemed to keep out of reach of the
light. "Come, step forward, my friend, and do not play at bo peep;
knowest thou not, that they who walk like phantoms in the dark are
apt to encounter the conjuration of a quarterstaff? Step forward,
I say, and show us thy shapes, man."

"Why, so I can, Master Glover," said one of the deepest voices that
ever answered question. "I can show my shapes well enough, only I
wish they could bear the light something better."

"Body of me," exclaimed Simon, "I should know that voice! And is
it thou, in thy bodily person, Harry Gow? Nay, beshrew me if thou
passest this door with dry lips. What, man, curfew has not rung
yet, and if it had, it were no reason why it should part father
and son. Come in, man; Dorothy shall get us something to eat, and
we will jingle a can ere thou leave us. Come in, I say; my daughter
Kate will be right glad to see thee."

By this time he had pulled the person, whom he welcomed so cordially,
into a sort of kitchen, which served also upon ordinary occasions
the office of parlour. Its ornaments were trenchers of pewter,
mixed with a silver cup or two, which, in the highest degree of
cleanliness, occupied a range of shelves like those of a beauffet,
popularly called "the bink." A good fire, with the assistance of a
blazing lamp, spread light and cheerfulness through the apartment,
and a savoury smell of some victuals which Dorothy was preparing
did not at all offend the unrefined noses of those whose appetite
they were destined to satisfy.

Their unknown attendant now stood in full light among them, and
though his appearance was neither dignified nor handsome, his face
and figure were not only deserving of attention, but seemed in some
manner to command it. He was rather below the middle stature, but
the breadth of his shoulders, length and brawniness of his arms,
and the muscular appearance of the whole man, argued a most unusual
share of strength, and a frame kept in vigour by constant exercise.
His legs were somewhat bent, but not in a manner which could be
said to approach to deformity, on the contrary, which seemed to
correspond to the strength of his frame, though it injured in some
degree its symmetry.

His dress was of buff hide; and he wore in a belt around his waist
a heavy broadsword, and a dirk or poniard, as if to defend his
purse, which (burgher fashion) was attached to the same cincture.
The head was well proportioned, round, close cropped, and curled
thickly with black hair. There was daring and resolution in the dark
eye, but the other features seemed to express a bashful timidity,
mingled with good humor, and obvious satisfaction at meeting with
his old friends.

Abstracted from the bashful expression, which was that of the moment,
the forehead of Henry Gow, or Smith, for he was indifferently so
called, was high and noble, but the lower part of the face was less
happily formed. The mouth was large, and well furnished with a set
of firm and beautiful teeth, the appearance of which corresponded
with the air of personal health and muscular strength which the
whole frame indicated. A short thick beard, and mustachios which
had lately been arranged with some care, completed the picture.
His age could not exceed eight and twenty.

The family appeared all well pleased with the unexpected appearance
of an old friend. Simon Glover shook his hand again and again,
Dorothy made her compliments, and Catharine herself offered freely
her hand, which Henry held in his massive grasp, as if he designed
to carry it to his lips, but, after a moment's hesitation, desisted,
from fear lest the freedom might be ill taken. Not that there was
any resistance on the part of the little hand which lay passive
in his grasp; but there was a smile mingled with the blush on her
cheek, which seemed to increase the confusion of the gallant.

Her father, on his part, called out frankly, as he saw his friend's
hesitation: "Her lips, man--her lips! and that's a proffer I
would not make to every one who crosses my threshold. But, by good
St. Valentine, whose holyday will dawn tomorrow, I am so glad to
see thee in the bonny city of Perth again that it would be hard to
tell the thing I could refuse thee."

The smith, for, as has been said, such was the craft of this
sturdy artisan, was encouraged modestly to salute the Fair Maid,
who yielded the courtesy with a smile of affection that might
have become a sister, saying, at the same time: "Let me hope that
I welcome back to Perth a repentant and amended man."

He held her hand as if about to answer, then suddenly, as one who
lost courage at the moment, relinquished his grasp; and drawing
back as if afraid of what he had done, his dark countenance glowing
with bashfulness, mixed with delight, he sat down by the fire on
the opposite side from that which Catharine occupied.

"Come, Dorothy, speed thee with the food, old woman; and Conachar
--where is Conachar?"

"He is gone to bed, sir, with a headache," said Catharine, in a
hesitating voice.

"Go, call him, Dorothy," said the old glover; "I will not be used
thus by him: his Highland blood, forsooth, is too gentle to lay
a trencher or spread a napkin, and he expects to enter our ancient
and honourable craft without duly waiting and tending upon his
master and teacher in all matters of lawful obedience. Go, call
him, I say; I will not be thus neglected."

Dorothy was presently heard screaming upstairs, or more probably
up a ladder, to the cock loft, to which the recusant apprentice
had made an untimely retreat; a muttered answer was returned, and
soon after Conachar appeared in the eating apartment. There was a
gloom of deep sullenness on his haughty, though handsome, features,
and as he proceeded to spread the board, and arrange the trenchers,
with salt, spices, and other condiments--to discharge, in short,
the duties of a modern domestic, which the custom of the time imposed
upon all apprentices--he was obviously disgusted and indignant
with the mean office imposed upon him.

The Fair Maid of Perth looked with some anxiety at him, as if
apprehensive that his evident sullenness might increase her father's
displeasure; but it was not till her eyes had sought out his for a
second time that Conachar condescended to veil his dissatisfaction,
and throw a greater appearance of willingness and submission into
the services which he was performing.

And here we must acquaint our reader that, though the private
interchange of looks betwixt Catharine Glover and the young mountaineer
indicated some interest on the part of the former in the conduct
of the latter, it would have puzzled the strictest observer to
discover whether that feeling exceeded in degree what might have
been felt by a young person towards a friend and inmate of the same
age, with whom she had lived on habits of intimacy.

"Thou hast had a long journey, son Henry," said Glover, who had
always used that affectionate style of speech, though no ways akin
to the young artisan; "ay, and hast seen many a river besides Tay,
and many a fair bigging besides St. Johnston."

"But none that I like half so well, and none that are half so
much worth my liking," answered the smith. "I promise you, father,
that, when I crossed the Wicks of Baiglie, and saw the bonny city
lie stretched fairly before me like a fairy queen in romance, whom
the knight finds asleep among a wilderness of flowers, I felt even
as a bird when it folds its wearied wings to stoop down on its own
nest."

"Aha! so thou canst play the maker [old Scottish for poet] yet?"
said the glover. "What, shall we have our ballets and our roundels
again? our lusty carols for Christmas, and our mirthful springs to
trip it round the maypole?"

"Such toys there may be forthcoming, father," said Henry Smith,
"though the blast of the bellows and the clatter of the anvil make
but coarse company to lays of minstrelsy; but I can afford them no
better, since I must mend my fortune, though I mar my verses."

"Right again--my own son just," answered the glover; "and I trust
thou hast made a saving voyage of it?"

"Nay, I made a thriving one, father: I sold the steel habergeon
that you wot of for four hundred marks to the English Warden of the
East Marches, Sir Magnus Redman. He scarce scrupled a penny after
I gave him leave to try a sword dint upon it. The beggardly Highland
thief who bespoke it boggled at half the sum, though it had cost
me a year's labour."

"What dost thou start at, Conachar?" said Simon, addressing himself,
by way of parenthesis, to the mountain disciple; "wilt thou never
learn to mind thy own business, without listening to what is passing
round thee? What is it to thee that an Englishman thinks that cheap
which a Scottishman may hold dear?"

Conachar turned round to speak, but, after a moment's consideration,
looked down, and endeavoured to recover his composure, which had
been deranged by the contemptuous manner in which the smith had
spoken of his Highland customer.

Henry went on without paying any attention to him. "I sold at
high prices some swords and whingers when I was at Edinburgh. They
expect war there; and if it please God to send it, my merchandise
will be worth its price. St. Dunstan make us thankful, for he was
of our craft. In short, this fellow (laying his hand on his purse);
who, thou knowest, father, was somewhat lank and low in condition
when I set out four months since, is now as round and full as a
six weeks' porker."

"And that other leathern sheathed, iron hilted fellow who hangs
beside him," said the glover, "has he been idle all this while?
Come, jolly smith, confess the truth--how many brawls hast thou
had since crossing the Tay?"

"Nay, now you do me wrong, father, to ask me such a question
(glancing a look at Catharine) in such a presence," answered the
armourer: "I make swords, indeed, but I leave it to other people to
use them. No--no, seldom have I a naked sword in my fist, save
when I am turning them on the anvil or grindstone; and they slandered
me to your daughter Catharine, that led her to suspect the quietest
burgess in Perth of being a brawler. I wish the best of them would
dare say such a word at the Hill of Kinnoul, and never a man on
the green but he and I."

"Ay--ay," said the glover, laughing, "we should then have a fine
sample of your patient sufferance. Out upon you, Henry, that you
will speak so like a knave to one who knows thee so well! You look
at Kate, too, as if she did not know that a man in this country
must make his hand keep his head, unless he will sleep in slender
security. Come--come, beshrew me if thou hast not spoiled as many
suits of armour as thou hast made."

"Why, he would be a bad armourer, father Simon, that could not
with his own blow make proof of his own workmanship. If I did not
sometimes cleave a helmet, or strike a point through a harness,
I should not know what strength of fabric to give them; and might
jingle together such pasteboard work as yonder Edinburgh smiths
think not shame to put out of their hands."

"Aha, now would I lay a gold crown thou hast had a quarrel with
some Edinburgh 'burn the wind' upon that very ground?"

["Burn the wind," an old cant term for blacksmith, appears in Burns:

Then burnewin came on like death,
At every chaup, etc.]


"A quarrel! no, father," replied the Perth armourer, "but a measuring
of swords with such a one upon St. Leonard's Crags, for the honour
of my bonny city, I confess. Surely you do not think I would quarrel
with a brother craftsman?"

"Ah, to a surety, no. But how did your brother craftman come off?"

"Why, as one with a sheet of paper on his bosom might come off from
the stroke of a lance; or rather, indeed, he came not off at all,
for, when I left him, he was lying in the Hermit's Lodge daily
expecting death, for which Father Gervis said he was in heavenly
preparation."

"Well, any more measuring of weapons?" said the glover.

"Why, truly, I fought an Englishman at Berwick besides, on the old
question of the supremacy, as they call it--I am sure you would
not have me slack at that debate?--and I had the luck to hurt
him on the left knee."

"Well done for St. Andrew! to it again. Whom next had you to deal
with?" said Simon, laughing at the exploits of his pacific friend.

"I fought a Scotchman in the Torwood," answered Henry Smith, "upon
a doubt which was the better swordsman, which, you are aware, could
not be known or decided without a trial. The poor fellow lost two
fingers."

"Pretty well for the most peaceful lad in Perth, who never touches
a sword but in the way of his profession. Well, anything more to
tell us?"

"Little; for the drubbing of a Highlandman is a thing not worth
mentioning."

"For what didst thou drub him, O man of peace?" inquired the glover.

"For nothing that I can remember," replied the smith, "except his
presenting himself on the south side of Stirling Bridge."

"Well, here is to thee, and thou art welcome to me after all these
exploits. Conachar, bestir thee. Let the cans clink, lad, and thou
shalt have a cup of the nut brown for thyself, my boy."

Conachar poured out the good liquor for his master and for Catharine
with due observance. But that done, he set the flagon on the table
and sat down.

"How now, sirrah! be these your manners? Fill to my guest, the
worshipful Master Henry Smith."

"Master Smith may fill for himself, if he wishes for liquor,"
answered the youthful Celt. "The son of my father has demeaned
himself enough already for one evening."

"That's well crowed for a cockerel," said Henry; "but thou art so
far right, my lad, that the man deserves to die of thirst who will
not drink without a cupbearer."

But his entertainer took not the contumacy of the young apprentice
with so much patience. "Now, by my honest word, and by the best
glove I ever made," said Simon, "thou shalt help him with liquor
from that cup and flagon, if thee and I are to abide under one
roof."

Conachar arose sullenly upon hearing this threat, and, approaching
the smith, who had just taken the tankard in his hand, and was raising
it to his head, he contrived to stumble against him and jostle him
so awkwardly, that the foaming ale gushed over his face, person,
and dress. Good natured as the smith, in spite of his warlike
propensities, really was in the utmost degree, his patience failed
under such a provocation. He seized the young man's throat, being
the part which came readiest to his grasp, as Conachar arose from
the pretended stumble, and pressing it severely as he cast the lad
from him, exclaimed: "Had this been in another place, young gallows
bird, I had stowed the lugs out of thy head, as I have done to some
of thy clan before thee."

Conachar recovered his feet with the activity of a tiger, and
exclaimed: "Never shall you live to make that boast again!" drew a
short, sharp knife from his bosom, and, springing on Henry Smith,
attempted to plunge it into his body over the collarbone, which
must have been a mortal wound. But the object of this violence was
so ready to defend himself by striking up the assailant's hand,
that the blow only glanced on the bone, and scarce drew blood. To
wrench the dagger from the boy's hand, and to secure him with a
grasp like that of his own iron vice, was, for the powerful smith,
the work of a single moment.

Conachar felt himself at once in the absolute power of the formidable
antagonist whom he had provoked; he became deadly pale, as he had
been the moment before glowing red, and stood mute with shame and
fear, until, relieving him from his powerful hold, the smith quietly
said: "It is well for thee that thou canst not make me angry; thou
art but a boy, and I, a grown man, ought not to have provoked thee.
But let this be a warning."

Conachar stood an instant as if about to reply, and then left the
room, ere Simon had collected himself enough to speak. Dorothy was
running hither and thither for salves and healing herbs. Catharine
had swooned at the sight of the trickling blood.

"Let me depart, father Simon," said Henry Smith, mournfully, "I
might have guessed I should have my old luck, and spread strife
and bloodshed where I would wish most to bring peace and happiness.
Care not for me. Look to poor Catharine; the fright of such an
affray hath killed her, and all through my fault."

"Thy fault, my son! It was the fault of yon Highland cateran, whom
it is my curse to be cumbered with; but he shall go back to his
glens tomorrow, or taste the tolbooth of the burgh. An assault upon
the life of his master's guest in his house! It breaks all bonds
between us. But let me see to thy wound."

"Catharine!" repeated the armourer--"look to Catharine."

"Dorothy will see to her," said Simon; "surprise and fear kill not;
skenes and dirks do. And she is not more the daughter of my blood
than thou, my dear Henry, art the son of my affections. Let me see
the wound. The skene occle is an ugly weapon in a Highland hand."

"I mind it no more than the scratch of a wildcat," said the armourer;
"and now that the colour is coming to Catharine's cheek again, you
shall see me a sound man in a moment."

He turned to a corner in which hung a small mirror, and hastily
took from his purse some dry lint to apply to the slight wound he
had received. As he unloosed the leathern jacket from his neck and
shoulders, the manly and muscular form which they displayed was not
more remarkable than the fairness of his skin, where it had not,
as in hands and face, been exposed to the effects of rough weather
and of his laborious trade. He hastily applied some lint to stop
the bleeding; and a little water having removed all other marks
of the fray, he buttoned his doublet anew, and turned again to the
table, where Catharine, still pale and trembling, was, however,
recovered from her fainting fit.

"Would you but grant me your forgiveness for having offended you
in the very first hour of my return? The lad was foolish to provoke
me, and yet I was more foolish to be provoked by such as he. Your
father blames me not, Catharine, and cannot you forgive me?"

"I have no power to forgive," answered Catharine, "what I have no
title to resent. If my father chooses to have his house made the
scene of night brawls, I must witness them--I cannot help myself.
Perhaps it was wrong in me to faint and interrupt, it may be, the
farther progress of a fair fray. My apology is, that I cannot bear
the sight of blood."

"And is this the manner," said her father, "in which you receive my
friend after his long absence? My friend, did I say? Nay, my son.
He escapes being murdered by a fellow whom I will tomorrow clear
this house of, and you treat him as if he had done wrong in dashing
from him the snake which was about to sting him!"

"It is not my part, father," returned the Maid of Perth, "to decide
who had the right or wrong in the present brawl, nor did I see what
happened distinctly enough to say which was assailant, or which
defender. But sure our friend, Master Henry, will not deny that he
lives in a perfect atmosphere of strife, blood, and quarrels. He
hears of no swordsman but he envies his reputation, and must needs
put his valour to the proof. He sees no brawl but he must strike
into the midst of it. Has he friends, he fights with them for love
and honour; has he enemies, he fights with them for hatred and
revenge. And those men who are neither his friends nor foes, he
fights with them because they are on this or that side of a river.
His days are days of battle, and, doubtless, he acts them over
again in his dreams."

"Daughter," said Simon, "your tongue wags too freely. Quarrels and
fights are men's business, not women's, and it is not maidenly to
think or speak of them."

"But if they are so rudely enacted in our presence," said Catharine,
"it is a little hard to expect us to think or speak of anything
else. I will grant you, my father, that this valiant burgess of
Perth is one of the best hearted men that draws breath within its
walls: that he would walk a hundred yards out of the way rather
than step upon a worm; that he would be as loth, in wantonness,
to kill a spider as if he were a kinsman to King Robert, of happy
memory; that in the last quarrel before his departure he fought
with four butchers, to prevent their killing a poor mastiff that
had misbehaved in the bull ring, and narrowly escaped the fate of
the cur that he was protecting. I will grant you also, that the poor
never pass the house of the wealthy armourer but they are relieved
with food and alms. But what avails all this, when his sword makes
as many starving orphans and mourning widows as his purse relieves?"

"Nay, but, Catharine, hear me but a word before going on with a
string of reproaches against my friend, that sound something like
sense, while they are, in truth, inconsistent with all we hear
and see around us. What," continued the glover, "do our King and
our court, our knights and ladies, our abbots, monks, and priests
themselves, so earnestly crowd to see? Is it not to behold the
display of chivalry, to witness the gallant actions of brave knights
in the tilt and tourney ground, to look upon deeds of honour
and glory achieved by arms and bloodshed? What is it these proud
knights do, that differs from what our good Henry Gow works out in
his sphere? Who ever heard of his abusing his skill and strength
to do evil or forward oppression, and who knows not how often it
has been employed as that of a champion in the good cause of the
burgh? And shouldst not thou, of all women, deem thyself honoured
and glorious, that so true a heart and so strong an arm has termed
himself thy bachelor? In what do the proudest dames take their
loftiest pride, save in the chivalry of their knight; and has the
boldest in Scotland done more gallant deeds than my brave son Henry,
though but of low degree? Is he not known to Highland and Lowland
as the best armourer that ever made sword, and the truest soldier
that ever drew one?"

"My dearest father," answered Catharine, "your words contradict
themselves, if you will permit your child to say so. Let us thank
God and the good saints that we are in a peaceful rank of life,
below the notice of those whose high birth, and yet higher pride,
lead them to glory in their bloody works of cruelty, which haughty
and lordly men term deeds of chivalry. Your wisdom will allow that
it would be absurd in us to prank ourselves in their dainty plumes
and splendid garments; why, then, should we imitate their full blown
vices? Why should we assume their hard hearted pride and relentless
cruelty, to which murder is not only a sport, but a subject of
vainglorious triumph? Let those whose rank claims as its right such
bloody homage take pride and pleasure in it; we, who have no share
in the sacrifice, may the better pity the sufferings of the victim.
Let us thank our lowliness, since it secures us from temptation.
But forgive me, father, if I have stepped over the limits of my
duty, in contradicting the views which you entertain, with so many
others, on these subjects."

"Nay, thou hast even too much talk for me, girl," said her father,
somewhat angrily. "I am but a poor workman, whose best knowledge
is to distinguish the left hand glove from the right. But if thou
wouldst have my forgiveness, say something of comfort to my poor
Henry. There he sits, confounded and dismayed with all the preachment
thou hast heaped together; and he, to whom a trumpet sound was
like the invitation to a feast, is struck down at the sound of a
child's whistle."

The armourer, indeed, while he heard the lips that were dearest
to him paint his character in such unfavourable colours, had laid
his head down on the table, upon his folded arms, in an attitude
of the deepest dejection, or almost despair.

"I would to Heaven, my dearest father," answered Catharine, "that
it were in my power to speak comfort to Henry, without betraying
the sacred cause of the truths I have just told you. And I may--
nay, I must have such a commission," she continued with something
that the earnestness with which she spoke and the extreme beauty
of her features caused for the moment to resemble inspiration.

"The truth of Heaven," she said, in a solemn tone, "was never
committed to a tongue, however feeble, but it gave a right to that
tongue to announce mercy, while it declared judgment. Arise, Henry
--rise up, noble minded, good, and generous, though widely mistaken
man. Thy faults are those of this cruel and remorseless age, thy
virtues all thine own."

While she thus spoke, she laid her hand upon the smith's arm, and
extricating it from under his head by a force which, however gentle,
he could not resist, she compelled him to raise towards her his
manly face, and the eyes into which her expostulations, mingled
with other feelings, had summoned tears.

"Weep not," she said, "or rather, weep on, but weep as those who
have hope. Abjure the sins of pride and anger, which most easily
beset thee; fling from thee the accursed weapons, to the fatal and
murderous use of which thou art so easily tempted."

"You speak to me in vain, Catharine," returned the armourer: "I
may, indeed, turn monk and retire from the world, but while I live
in it I must practise my trade; and while I form armour and weapons
for others, I cannot myself withstand the temptation of using them.
You would not reproach me as you do, if you knew how inseparably
the means by which I gain my bread are connected with that warlike
spirit which you impute to me as a fault, though it is the consequence
of inevitable necessity. While I strengthen the shield or corselet
to withstand wounds, must I not have constantly in remembrance the
manner and strength with which they may be dealt; and when I forge
the sword, and temper it for war, is it practicable for me to avoid
the recollection of its use?"

"Then throw from you, my dear Henry," said the enthusiastic girl,
clasping with both her slender hands the nervous strength and
weight of one of the muscular armourer's, which they raised with
difficulty, permitted by its owner, yet scarcely receiving assistance
from his volition--"cast from you, I say, the art which is a
snare to you. Abjure the fabrication of weapons which can only be
useful to abridge human life, already too short for repentance,
or to encourage with a feeling of safety those whom fear might
otherwise prevent from risking themselves in peril. The art of
forming arms, whether offensive or defensive, is alike sinful in
one to whose violent and ever vehement disposition the very working
upon them proves a sin and a snare. Resign utterly the manufacture
of weapons of every description, and deserve the forgiveness of
Heaven, by renouncing all that can lead to the sin which most easily
besets you."

"And what," murmured the armourer, "am I to do for my livelihood,
when I have given over the art of forging arms for which Henry of
Perth is known from the Tay to the Thames?"

"Your art itself," said Catharine, "has innocent and laudable
resources. If you renounce the forging of swords and bucklers,
there remains to you the task of forming the harmless spade, and
the honourable as well as useful ploughshare--of those implements
which contribute to the support of life, or to its comforts. Thou
canst frame locks and bars to defend the property of the weak against
the stouthrief and oppression of the strong. Men will still resort
to thee, and repay thy honest industry--"

But here Catharine was interrupted. Her father had heard her declaim
against war and tournaments with a feeling that, though her doctrine
were new to him, they might not, nevertheless, be entirely erroneous.
He felt, indeed, a wish that his proposed son in law should not
commit himself voluntarily to the hazards which the daring character
and great personal strength of Henry the Smith had hitherto led
him to incur too readily; and so far he would rather have desired
that Catharine's arguments should have produced some effect upon
the mind of her lover, whom he knew to be as ductile when influenced
by his affections as he was fierce and intractable when assailed
by hostile remonstrances or threats. But her arguments interfered
with his views, when he heard her enlarge upon the necessity of his
designed son in law resigning a trade which brought in more ready
income than any at that time practised in Scotland, and more profit
to Henry of Perth in particular than to any armourer in the nation.
He had some indistinct idea that it would not be amiss to convert,
if possible, Henry the Smith from his too frequent use of arms, even
though he felt some pride in being connected with one who wielded
with such superior excellence those weapons, which in that warlike
age it was the boast of all men to manage with spirit. But when he
heard his daughter recommend, as the readiest road to this pacific
state of mind, that her lover should renounce the gainful trade in
which he was held unrivalled, and which, from the constant private
differences and public wars of the time, was sure to afford him a
large income, he could withhold his wrath no longer. The daughter
had scarce recommended to her lover the fabrication of the implements
of husbandry, than, feeling the certainty of being right, of which
in the earlier part of their debate he had been somewhat doubtful,
the father broke in with:

"Locks and bars, plough graith and harrow teeth! and why not
grates and fire prongs, and Culross girdles, and an ass to carry
the merchandise through the country, and thou for another ass to
lead it by the halter? Why, Catharine, girl, has sense altogether
forsaken thee, or dost thou think that in these hard and iron days
men will give ready silver for anything save that which can defend
their own life, or enable them to take that of their enemy? We want
swords to protect ourselves every moment now, thou silly wench,
and not ploughs to dress the ground for the grain we may never see
rise. As for the matter of our daily bread, those who are strong
seize it, and live; those who are weak yield it, and die of hunger.
Happy is the man who, like my worthy son, has means of obtaining
his living otherwise than by the point of the sword which he makes.
Preach peace to him as much as thou wilt, I will never be he will
say thee nay; but as for bidding the first armourer in Scotland
forego the forging of swords, curtal axes, and harness, it is enough
to drive patience itself mad. Out from my sight! and next morning
I prithee remember that, shouldst thou have the luck to see Henry
the Smith, which is more than thy usage of him has deserved, you
see a man who has not his match in Scotland at the use of broadsword
and battle axe, and who can work for five hundred marks a year
without breaking a holyday."

The daughter, on hearing her father speak thus peremptorily, made
a low obeisance, and, without further goodnight, withdrew to the
chamber which was her usual sleeping apartment.



CHAPTER III.

Whence cometh Smith, be he knight, lord, or squire,
But from the smith that forged in the fire?

VERSTEGAN.


The armourer's heart swelled big with various and contending
sensations, so that it seemed as if it would burst the leathern
doublet under which it was shrouded. He arose, turned away his
head, and extended his hand towards the glover, while he averted
his face, as if desirous that his emotion should not be read upon
his countenance.

"Nay, hang me if I bid you farewell, man," said Simon, striking the
flat of his hand against that which the armourer expanded towards
him. "I will shake no hands with you for an hour to come at least.
Tarry but a moment, man, and I will explain all this; and surely
a few drops of blood from a scratch, and a few silly words from a
foolish wench's lips, are not to part father and son when they have
been so long without meeting? Stay, then, man, if ever you would
wish for a father's blessing and St. Valentine's, whose blessed
eve this chances to be."

The glover was soon heard loudly summoning Dorothy, and, after some
clanking of keys and trampling up and down stairs, Dorothy appeared
bearing three large rummer cups of green glass, which were then
esteemed a great and precious curiosity, and the glover followed with
a huge bottle, equal at least to three quarts of these degenerate
days.

"Here is a cup of wine, Henry, older by half than I am myself; my
father had it in a gift from stout old Crabbe, the Flemish engineer,
who defended Perth so stoutly in the minority of David the Second.
We glovers could always do something in war, though our connexion
with it was less than yours who work in steel and iron. And my
father had pleased old Crabbe, some other day I will tell you how,
and also how long these bottles were concealed under ground, to
save them from the reiving Southron. So I will empty a cup to the
soul's health of my honoured father--May his sins be forgiven
him! Dorothy, thou shalt drink this pledge, and then be gone to
thy cock loft. I know thine ears are itching, girl, but I have that
to say which no one must hear save Henry Smith, the son of mine
adoption."

Dorothy did not venture to remonstrate, but, taking off her glass,
or rather her goblet, with good courage, retired to her sleeping
apartment, according to her master's commands.

The two friends were left alone.

"It grieves me, friend Henry," said Simon, filling at the same time
his own glass and his guest's--"it grieves me from my soul that
my daughter retains this silly humor; but also methinks, thou
mightst mend it. Why wouldst thou come hither clattering with thy
sword and dagger, when the girl is so silly that she cannot bear
the sight of these? Dost thou not remember that thou hadst a sort
of quarrel with her even before thy last departure from Perth,
because thou wouldst not go like other honest quiet burghers, but
must be ever armed, like one of the rascally jackmen that wait on
the nobility? Sure it is time enough for decent burgesses to arm at
the tolling of the common bell, which calls us out bodin in effeir
of war."

"Why, my good father, that was not my fault; but I had no sooner
quitted my nag than I run hither to tell you of my return, thinking,
if it were your will to permit me, that I would get your advice
about being Mistress Catharine's Valentine for the year; and then
I heard from Mrs. Dorothy that you were gone to hear mass at the
Black Friars. So I thought I would follow thither, partly to hear
the same mass with you, and partly--Our Lady and St. Valentine
forgive me!--to look upon one who thinks little enough of me. And,
as you entered the church, methought I saw two or three dangerous
looking men holding counsel together, and gazing at you and at
her, and in especial Sir John Ramorny, whom I knew well enough,
for all his disguise, and the velvet patch over his eye, and his
cloak so like a serving man's; so methought, father Simon, that, as
you were old, and yonder slip of a Highlander something too young
to do battle, I would even walk quietly after you, not doubting,
with the tools I had about me, to bring any one to reason that might
disturb you in your way home. You know that yourself discovered
me, and drew me into the house, whether I would or no; otherwise, I
promise you, I would not have seen your daughter till I had donn'd
the new jerkin which was made at Berwick after the latest cut;
nor would I have appeared before her with these weapons, which she
dislikes so much. Although, to say truth, so many are at deadly feud
with me for one unhappy chance or another, that it is as needful
for me as for any man in Scotland to go by night with weapons about
me."

"The silly wench never thinks of that," said Simon Glover: "she
never has sense to consider, that in our dear native land of Scotland
every man deems it his privilege and duty to avenge his own wrong.
But, Harry, my boy, thou art to blame for taking her talk so much
to heart. I have seen thee bold enough with other wenches, wherefore
so still and tongue tied with her?"

"Because she is something different from other maidens, father
Glover--because she is not only more beautiful, but wiser, higher,
holier, and seems to me as if she were made of better clay than we
that approach her. I can hold my head high enough with the rest
of the lasses round the maypole; but somehow, when I approach
Catharine, I feel myself an earthly, coarse, ferocious creature,
scarce worthy to look on her, much less to contradict the precepts
which she expounds to me."

"You are an imprudent merchant, Harry Smith," replied Simon, "and
rate too high the goods you wish to purchase. Catharine is a good
girl, and my daughter; but if you make her a conceited ape by your
bashfulness and your flattery, neither you nor I will see our wishes
accomplished."

"I often fear it, my good father," said the smith; "for I feel how
little I am deserving of Catharine."

"Feel a thread's end!" said the glover; "feel for me, friend Smith
--for Catharine and me. Think how the poor thing is beset from
morning to night, and by what sort of persons, even though windows
be down and doors shut. We were accosted today by one too powerful
to be named--ay, and he showed his displeasure openly, because I
would not permit him to gallant my daughter in the church itself,
when the priest was saying mass. There are others scarce less
reasonable. I sometimes wish that Catharine were some degrees less
fair, that she might not catch that dangerous sort of admiration, or
somewhat less holy, that she might sit down like an honest woman,
contented with stout Henry Smith, who could protect his wife against
every sprig of chivalry in the court of Scotland."

"And if I did not," said Henry, thrusting out a hand and arm which
might have belonged to a giant for bone and muscle, "I would I may
never bring hammer upon anvil again! Ay, an it were come but that
length, my fair Catharine should see that there is no harm in a man
having the trick of defence. But I believe she thinks the whole
world is one great minster church, and that all who live in it
should behave as if they were at an eternal mass."

"Nay, in truth," said the father, "she has strange influence over
those who approach her; the Highland lad, Conachar, with whom I
have been troubled for these two or three years, although you may
see he has the natural spirit of his people, obeys the least sign
which Catharine makes him, and, indeed, will hardly be ruled by
any one else in the house. She takes much pains with him to bring
him from his rude Highland habits."

Here Harry Smith became uneasy in his chair, lifted the flagon,
set it down, and at length exclaimed: "The devil take the young
Highland whelp and his whole kindred! What has Catharine to do to
instruct such a fellow as he? He will be just like the wolf cub
that I was fool enough to train to the offices of a dog, and every
one thought him reclaimed, till, in an ill hour, I went to walk on
the hill of Moncrieff, when he broke loose on the laird's flock, and
made a havoc that I might well have rued, had the laird not wanted
a harness at the time. And I marvel that you, being a sensible man,
father Glover, will keep this Highland young fellow--a likely
one, I promise you--so nigh to Catharine, as if there were no
other than your daughter to serve him for a schoolmistress."

"Fie, my son--fie; now you are jealous," said Simon, "of a poor
young fellow who, to tell you the truth, resides here because he
may not so well live on the other side of the hill."

"Ay--ay, father Simon," retorted the smith, who had all the narrow
minded feelings of the burghers of his time, "an it were not for
fear of offence, I would say that you have even too much packing
and peiling with yonder loons out of burgh."

"I must get my deer hides, buckskins, kidskins, and so forth
somewhere, my good Harry, and Highlandmen give good bargains."

"They can afford them," replied Henry, drily, "for they sell nothing
but stolen gear."

"Well--well, be that as it may, it is not my business where they
get the bestial, so I get the hides. But as I was saying, there
are certain considerations why I am willing to oblige the father of
this young man, by keeping him here. And he is but half a Highlander
neither, and wants a thought of the dour spirit of a 'glune amie'
after all, I have seldom seen him so fierce as he showed himself
but now."

"You could not, unless he had killed his man," replied the smith,
in the same dry tone.

"Nevertheless, if you wish it, Harry, I'll set all other respects
aside, and send the landlouper to seek other quarters tomorrow
morning."

"Nay, father," said the smith, "you cannot suppose that Harry
Gow cares the value of a smithy dander for such a cub as yonder
cat-a-mountain? I care little, I promise you, though all his clan
were coming down the Shoegate with slogan crying and pipes playing:
I would find fifty blades and bucklers would send them back faster
than they came. But, to speak truth, though it is a fool's speech
too, I care not to see the fellow so much with Catharine. Remember,
father Glover, your trade keeps your eyes and hands close employed,
and must have your heedful care, even if this lazy lurdane wrought
at it, which you know yourself he seldom does."

"And that is true," said Simon: "he cuts all his gloves out for
the right hand, and never could finish a pair in his life."

"No doubt, his notions of skin cutting are rather different," said
Henry. "But with your leave, father, I would only say that, work
he or be he idle, he has no bleared eyes, no hands seared with the
hot iron, and welked by the use of the fore hammer, no hair rusted
in the smoke, and singed in the furnace, like the hide of a badger,
rather than what is fit to be covered with a Christian bonnet. Now,
let Catharine be as good a wench as ever lived, and I will uphold
her to be the best in Perth, yet she must see and know that these
things make a difference betwixt man and man, and that the difference
is not in my favour."

"Here is to thee, with all my heart, son Harry," said the old man,
filling a brimmer to his companion and another to himself; "I see
that, good smith as thou art, thou ken'st not the mettle that women
are made of. Thou must be bold, Henry; and bear thyself not as if
thou wert going to the gallows lee, but like a gay young fellow, who
knows his own worth and will not be slighted by the best grandchild
Eve ever had. Catharine is a woman like her mother, and thou thinkest
foolishly to suppose they are all set on what pleases the eye.
Their ear must be pleased too, man: they must know that he whom
they favour is bold and buxom, and might have the love of twenty,
though he is suing for theirs. Believe an old man, woman walk more
by what others think than by what they think themselves, and when
she asks for the boldest man in Perth whom can she hear named but
Harry Burn-the-wind? The best armourer that ever fashioned weapon
on anvil? Why, Harry Smith again. The tightest dancer at the maypole?
Why, the lusty smith. The gayest troller of ballads? Why, who but
Harry Gow? The best wrestler, sword and buckler player, the king of
the weapon shawing, the breaker of mad horses, the tamer of wild
Highlandmen? Evermore it is thee--thee--no one but thee. And
shall Catharine prefer yonder slip of a Highland boy to thee? Pshaw!
she might as well make a steel gauntlet out of kid's leather. I
tell thee, Conachar is nothing to her, but so far as she would fain
prevent the devil having his due of him, as of other Highlandmen.
God bless her, poor thing, she would bring all mankind to better
thoughts if she could."

"In which she will fail to a certainty," said the smith, who, as
the reader may have noticed, had no goodwill to the Highland race.
"I will wager on Old Nick, of whom I should know something, he being
indeed a worker in the same element with myself, against Catharine
on that debate: the devil will have the tartan, that is sure enough."

"Ay, but Catharine," replied the glover, "hath a second thou knowest
little of: Father Clement has taken the young reiver in hand, and
he fears a hundred devils as little as I do a flock of geese."

"Father Clement!" said the smith. "You are always making some new
saint in this godly city of St. Johnston. Pray, who, for a devil's
drubber, may he be? One of your hermits that is trained for the
work like a wrestler for the ring, and brings himself to trim by
fasting and penance, is he not?"

"No, that is the marvel of it," said Simon: "Father Clement eats,
drinks, and lives much like other folks--all the rules of the
church, nevertheless, strictly observed."

"Oh, I comprehend!--a buxom priest that thinks more of good living
than of good life, tipples a can on Fastern's Eve, to enable him
to face Lent, has a pleasant in principio, and confesses all the
prettiest women about the town?"

"You are on the bow hand still, smith. I tell you, my daughter
and I could nose out either a fasting hypocrite or a full one. But
Father Clement is neither the one nor the other."

"But what is he then, in Heaven's name?"

"One who is either greatly better than half his brethren of St.
Johnston put together, or so much worse than the worst of them, that
it is sin and shame that he is suffered to abide in the country."

"Methinks it were easy to tell whether he be the one or the other,"
said the smith.

"Content you, my friend," said Simon, "with knowing that, if you
judge Father Clement by what you see him do and hear him say, you
will think of him as the best and kindest man in the world, with a
comfort for every man's grief, a counsel for every man's difficulty,
the rich man's surest guide, and the poor man's best friend. But if
you listen to what the Dominicans say of him, he is--Benedicite!
--(here the glover crossed himself on brow and bosom)--a foul
heretic, who ought by means of earthly flames to be sent to those
which burn eternally."

The smith also crossed himself, and exclaimed: "St. Mary! father
Simon, and do you, who are so good and prudent that you have been
called the Wise Glover of Perth, let your daughter attend the
ministry of one who--the saints preserve us!--may be in league
with the foul fiend himself! Why, was it not a priest who raised
the devil in the Meal Vennel, when Hodge Jackson's house was blown
down in the great wind? Did not the devil appear in the midst of
the Tay, dressed in a priest's scapular, gambolling like a pellack
amongst the waves, the morning when our stately bridge was swept
away?"

"I cannot tell whether he did or no," said the glover; "I only know
I saw him not. As to Catharine, she cannot be said to use Father
Clement's ministry, seeing her confessor is old Father Francis
the Dominican, from whom she had her shrift today. But women will
sometimes be wilful, and sure enough she consults with Father
Clement more than I could wish; and yet when I have spoken with
him myself, I have thought him so good and holy a man that I could
have trusted my own salvation with him. There are bad reports of
him among the Dominicans, that is certain. But what have we laymen
to do with such things, my son? Let us pay Mother Church her dues,
give our alms, confess and do our penances duly, and the saints
will bear us out."

"Ay, truly; and they will have consideration," said the smith, "for
any rash and unhappy blow that a man may deal in a fight, when his
party was on defence, and standing up to him; and that's the only
creed a man can live upon in Scotland, let your daughter think
what she pleases. Marry, a man must know his fence, or have a short
lease of his life, in any place where blows are going so rife.
Five nobles to our altar have cleared me for the best man I ever
had misfortune with."

"Let us finish our flask, then," said the old glover; "for I
reckon the Dominican tower is tolling midnight. And hark thee, son
Henry; be at the lattice window on our east gable by the very peep
of dawn, and make me aware thou art come by whistling the smith's
call gently. I will contrive that Catharine shall look out at the
window, and thus thou wilt have all the privileges of being a gallant
Valentine through the rest of the year; which, if thou canst not
use to thine own advantage, I shall be led to think that, for all
thou be'st covered with the lion's hide, nature has left on thee
the long ears of the ass."

"Amen, father," said the armourer, "a hearty goodnight to you; and
God's blessing on your roof tree, and those whom it covers. You
shall hear the smith's call sound by cock crowing; I warrant I put
sir chanticleer to shame."

So saying, he took his leave; and, though completely undaunted,
moved through the deserted streets like one upon his guard, to his
own dwelling, which was situated in the Mill Wynd, at the western
end of Perth.



CHAPTER IV.

What's all this turmoil crammed into our parts?
Faith, but the pit-a-pat of poor young hearts.

DRYDEN.


The sturdy armourer was not, it may be believed, slack in keeping
the appointment assigned by his intended father in law. He went
through the process of his toilet with more than ordinary care,
throwing, as far as he could, those points which had a military
air into the shade. He was far too noted a person to venture to go
entirely unarmed in a town where he had indeed many friends, but
also, from the character of many of his former exploits, several
deadly enemies, at whose hands, should they take him at advantage,
he knew he had little mercy to expect. He therefore wore under his
jerkin a "secret," or coat of chain mail, made so light and flexible
that it interfered as little with his movements as a modern under
waistcoat, yet of such proof as he might safely depend upon, every
ring of it having been wrought and joined by his own hands. Above
this he wore, like others of his age and degree, the Flemish hose
and doublet, which, in honour of the holy tide, were of the best
superfine English broadcloth, light blue in colour, slashed out
with black satin, and passamented (laced, that is) with embroidery
of black silk. His walking boots were of cordovan leather; his
cloak of good Scottish grey, which served to conceal a whinger, or
couteau de chasse, that hung at his belt, and was his only offensive
weapon, for he carried in his hand but a rod of holly. His black
velvet bonnet was lined with steel, quilted between the metal and
his head, and thus constituted a means of defence which might safely
be trusted to.

Upon the whole, Henry had the appearance, to which he was well
entitled, of a burgher of wealth and consideration, assuming, in
his dress, as much consequence as he could display without stepping
beyond his own rank, and encroaching on that of the gentry. Neither
did his frank and manly deportment, though indicating a total
indifference to danger, bear the least resemblance to that of the
bravoes or swashbucklers of the day, amongst whom Henry was sometimes
unjustly ranked by those who imputed the frays in which he was so
often engaged to a quarrelsome and violent temper, resting upon a
consciousness of his personal strength and knowledge of his weapon.
On the contrary, every feature bore the easy and good-humoured
expression of one who neither thought of inflicting mischief nor
dreaded it from others.

Having attired himself in his best, the honest armourer next placed
nearest to his heart (which throbbed at its touch) a little gift
which he had long provided for Catharine Glover, and which his
quality of Valentine would presently give him the title to present,
and her to receive, without regard to maidenly scruples. It was a
small ruby cut into the form of a heart, transfixed with a golden
arrow, and was inclosed in a small purse made of links of the
finest work in steel, as if it had been designed for a hauberk to
a king. Round the verge of the purse were these words:

Loves darts
Cleave hearts
Through mail shirts.

This device had cost the armourer some thought, and he was much
satisfied with his composition, because it seemed to imply that
his skill could defend all hearts saving his own.

He wrapped himself in his cloak, and hastened through the still
silent streets, determined to appear at the window appointed a
little before dawn.

With this purpose he passed up the High Street, and turned down
the opening where St. John's Church now stands, in order to proceed
to Curfew Street; when it occurred to him, from the appearance of
the sky, that he was at least an hour too early for his purpose,
and that it would be better not to appear at the place of rendezvous
till nearer the time assigned. Other gallants were not unlikely
to be on the watch as well as himself about the house of the Fair
Maid of Perth; and he knew his own foible so well as to be sensible
of the great chance of a scuffle arising betwixt them.

"I have the advantage," he thought, "by my father Simon's friendship;
and why should I stain my fingers with the blood of the poor
creatures that are not worthy my notice, since they are so much
less fortunate than myself? No--no, I will be wise for once, and
keep at a distance from all temptation to a broil. They shall have
no more time to quarrel with me than just what it may require for
me to give the signal, and for my father Simon to answer it. I
wonder how the old man will contrive to bring her to the window? I
fear, if she knew his purpose, he would find it difficult to carry
it into execution."

While these lover-like thoughts were passing through his brain,
the armourer loitered in his pace, often turning his eyes eastward,
and eyeing the firmament, in which no slight shades of grey were
beginning to flicker, to announce the approach of dawn, however
distant, which, to the impatience of the stout armourer, seemed
on that morning to abstain longer than usual from occupying her
eastern barbican. He was now passing slowly under the wall of St.
Anne's Chapel (not failing to cross himself and say an ace, as he
trode the consecrated ground), when a voice, which seemed to come
from behind one of the flying buttresses of the chapel, said, "He
lingers that has need to run."

"Who speaks?" said the armourer, looking around him, somewhat
startled at an address so unexpected, both in its tone and tenor.

"No matter who speaks," answered the same voice. "Do thou make
great speed, or thou wilt scarce make good speed. Bandy not words,
but begone."

"Saint or sinner, angel or devil," said Henry, crossing himself,
"your advice touches me but too dearly to be neglected. St. Valentine
be my speed!"

So saying, he instantly changed his loitering pace to one with which
few people could have kept up, and in an instant was in Couvrefew
Street. He had not made three steps towards Simon Glover's, which
stood in the midst of the narrow street, when two men started from
under the houses on different sides, and advanced, as it were by
concert, to intercept his passage. The imperfect light only permitted
him to discern that they wore the Highland mantle.

"Clear the way, cateran," said the armourer, in the deep stern
voice which corresponded with the breadth of his chest.

They did not answer, at least intelligibly; but he could see that
they drew their swords, with the purpose of withstanding him by
violence. Conjecturing some evil, but of what kind he could not
anticipate, Henry instantly determined to make his way through
whatever odds, and defend his mistress, or at least die at her
feet. He cast his cloak over his left arm as a buckler, and advanced
rapidly and steadily to the two men. The nearest made a thrust at
him, but Henry Smith, parrying the blow with his cloak, dashed his
arm in the man's face, and tripping him at the same time, gave him
a severe fall on the causeway; while almost at the same instant
he struck a blow with his whinger at the fellow who was upon his
right hand, so severely applied, that he also lay prostrate by his
associate. Meanwhile, the armourer pushed forward in alarm, for
which the circumstance of the street being guarded or defended
by strangers who conducted themselves with such violence afforded
sufficient reason. He heard a suppressed whisper and a bustle
under the glover's windows--those very windows from which he had
expected to be hailed by Catharine as her Valentine. He kept to
the opposite side of the street, that he might reconnoitre their
number and purpose. But one of the party who were beneath the window,
observing or hearing him, crossed the street also, and taking him
doubtless for one of the sentinels, asked, in a whisper, "What
noise was yonder, Kenneth? why gave you not the signal?"

"Villain," said Henry, "you are discovered, and you shall die the
death."

As he spoke thus, he dealt the stranger a blow with his weapon,
which would probably have made his words good, had not the man,
raising his arm, received on his hand the blow meant for his head.
The wound must have been a severe one, for he staggered and fell
with a deep groan.

Without noticing him farther, Henry Smith sprung forward upon
a party of men who seemed engaged in placing a ladder against the
lattice window in the gable. Henry did not stop ether to count their
numbers or to ascertain their purpose. But, crying the alarm word
of the town, and giving the signal at which the burghers were wont
to collect, he rushed on the night walkers, one of whom was in the
act of ascending the ladder. The smith seized it by the rounds,
threw it down on the pavement, and placing his foot on the body
of the man who had been mounting, prevented him from regaining his
feet. His accomplices struck fiercely at Henry, to extricate their
companion. But his mail coat stood him in good stead, and he repaid
their blows with interest, shouting aloud, "Help--help, for bonny
St. Johnston! Bows and blades, brave citizens! bows and blades!
they break into our houses under cloud of night."

These words, which resounded far through the streets, were accompanied
by as many fierce blows, dealt with good effect among those whom
the armourer assailed. In the mean time, the inhabitants of the
district began to awaken and appear on the street in their shirts,
with swords and targets, and some of them with torches. The assailants
now endeavoured to make their escape, which all of them effected
excepting the man who had been thrown down along with the ladder.
Him the intrepid armourer had caught by the throat in the scuffle,
and held as fast as the greyhound holds the hare. The other wounded
men were borne off by their comrades.

"Here are a sort of knaves breaking peace within burgh," said Henry
to the neighbours who began to assemble; "make after the rogues.
They cannot all get off, for I have maimed some of them: the blood
will guide you to them."

"Some Highland caterans," said the citizens; "up and chase,
neighbours!"

"Ay, chase--chase! leave me to manage this fellow," continued
the armourer.

The assistants dispersed in different directions, their lights
flashing and their cries resounding through the whole adjacent
district.

In the mean time the armourer's captive entreated for freedom, using
both promises and threats to obtain it. "As thou art a gentleman,"
he said, "let me go, and what is past shall be forgiven."

"I am no gentleman," said Henry--"I am Hal of the Wynd, a burgess
of Perth; and I have done nothing to need forgiveness."

"Villain, then hast done thou knowest not what! But let me go, and
I will fill thy bonnet with gold pieces."

"I shall fill thy bonnet with a cloven head presently," said the
armourer, "unless thou stand still as a true prisoner."

"What is the matter, my son Harry?" said Simon, who now appeared
at the window. "I hear thy voice in another tone than I expected.
What is all this noise; and why are the neighbours gathering to
the affray?"

"There have been a proper set of limmers about to scale your
windows, father Simon; but I am like to prove godfather to one of
them, whom I hold here, as fast as ever vice held iron."

"Hear me, Simon Glover," said the prisoner; "let me but speak one
word with you in private, and rescue me from the gripe of this iron
fisted and leaden pated clown, and I will show thee that no harm
was designed to thee or thine, and, moreover, tell thee what will
much advantage thee."

"I should know that voice," said Simon Glover, who now came to the
door with a dark lantern in his hand. "Son Smith, let this young
man speak with me. There is no danger in him, I promise you. Stay
but an instant where you are, and let no one enter the house, either
to attack or defend. I will be answerable that this galliard meant
but some St. Valentine's jest."

So saying, the old man pulled in the prisoner and shut the door,
leaving Henry a little surprised at the unexpected light in which
his father-in-law had viewed the affray.

"A jest!" he said; "it might have been a strange jest, if they had
got into the maiden's sleeping room! And they would have done so,
had it not been for the honest friendly voice from betwixt the
buttresses, which, if it were not that of the blessed saint--
though what am I that the holy person should speak to me?--could
not sound in that place without her permission and assent, and for
which I will promise her a wax candle at her shrine, as long as my
whinger; and I would I had had my two handed broadsword instead,
both for the sake of St. Johnston and of the rogues, for of a
certain those whingers are pretty toys, but more fit for a boy's
hand than a man's. Oh, my old two handed Trojan, hadst thou been
in my hands, as thou hang'st presently at the tester of my bed,
the legs of those rogues had not carried their bodies so clean off
the field. But there come lighted torches and drawn swords. So ho
--stand! Are you for St. Johnston? If friends to the bonny burgh,
you are well come."

"We have been but bootless hunters," said the townsmen. "We followed
by the tracks of the blood into the Dominican burial ground, and
we started two fellows from amongst the tombs, supporting betwixt
them a third, who had probably got some of your marks about him,
Harry. They got to the postern gate before we could overtake them,
and rang the sanctuary bell; the gate opened, and in went they.
So they are safe in girth and sanctuary, and we may go to our cold
beds and warm us."

"Ay," said one of the party, "the good Dominicans have always some
devout brother of their convent sitting up to open the gate of the
sanctuary to any poor soul that is in trouble, and desires shelter
in the church."

"Yes, if the poor hunted soul can pay for it," said another "but,
truly, if he be poor in purse as well as in spirit, he may stand
on the outside till the hounds come up with him."

A third, who had been poring for a few minutes upon the ground
by advantage of his torch, now looked upwards and spoke. He was a
brisk, forward, rather corpulent little man, called Oliver Proudfute,
reasonably wealthy, and a leading man in his craft, which was that
of bonnet makers; he, therefore, spoke as one in authority.

"Canst tell us, jolly smith"--for they recognised each other by
the lights which were brought into the streets--"what manner of
fellows they were who raised up this fray within burgh?"

"The two that I first saw," answered the armourer, "seemed to me,
as well as I could observe them, to have Highland plaids about
them."

"Like enough--like enough," answered another citizen, shaking
his head. "It's a shame the breaches in our walls are not repaired,
and that these landlouping Highland scoundrels are left at liberty
to take honest men and women out of their beds any night that is
dark enough."

"But look here, neighbours," said Oliver Proudfute, showing a bloody
hand which he had picked up from the ground; "when did such a hand
as this tie a Highlandman's brogues? It is large, indeed, and bony,
but as fine as a lady's, with a ring that sparkles like a gleaming
candle. Simon Glover has made gloves for this hand before now, if
I am not much mistaken, for he works for all the courtiers."

The spectators here began to gaze on the bloody token with various
comments.

"If that is the case," said one, "Harry Smith had best show a
clean pair of heels for it, since the justiciar will scarce think
the protecting a burgess's house an excuse for cutting off a
gentleman's hand. There be hard laws against mutilation."

"Fie upon you, that you will say so, Michael Webster," answered
the bonnet maker; "are we not representatives and successors of
the stout old Romans, who built Perth as like to their own city as
they could? And have we not charters from all our noble kings and
progenitors, as being their loving liegemen? And would you have us
now yield up our rights, privileges, and immunities, our outfang
and infang, our handhaband, our back bearand, and our blood suits,
and amerciaments, escheats, and commodities, and suffer an honest
burgess's house to be assaulted without seeking for redress? No,
brave citizens, craftsmen, and burgesses, the Tay shall flow back
to Dunkeld before we submit to such injustice!"

"And how can we help it?" said a grave old man, who stood leaning
on a two handed sword. "What would you have us do?"

"Marry, Bailie Craigdallie, I wonder that you, of all men, ask the
question. I would have you pass like true men from this very place
to the King's Grace's presence, raise him from his royal rest, and
presenting to him the piteous case of our being called forth from
our beds at this season, with little better covering than these
shirts, I would show him this bloody token, and know from his Grace's
own royal lips whether it is just and honest that his loving lieges
should be thus treated by the knights and nobles of his deboshed
court. And this I call pushing our cause warmly."

"Warmly, sayst thou?" replied the old burgess; "why, so warmly,
that we shall all die of cold, man, before the porter turn a key to
let us into the royal presence. Come, friends, the night is bitter,
we have kept our watch and ward like men, and our jolly smith hath
given a warning to those that would wrong us, which shall be worth
twenty proclamations of the king. Tomorrow is a new day; we will
consult on this matter on this self same spot, and consider what
measures should be taken for discovery and pursuit of the villains.
And therefore let us dismiss before the heart's blood freeze in
our veins."

"Bravo--bravo, neighbour Craigdallie! St. Johnston for ever!"

Oliver Proudfute would still have spoken; for he was one of those
pitiless orators who think that their eloquence can overcome all
inconveniences in time, place, and circumstances. But no one would
listen, and the citizens dispersed to their own houses by the light
of the dawn, which began now to streak the horizon.

They were scarce gone ere the door of the glover's house opened,
and seizing the smith by the hand, the old man pulled him in.

"Where is the prisoner?" demanded the armourer.

"He is gone--escaped--fled--what do I know of him?" said the
glover. "He got out at the back door, and so through the little
garden. Think not of him, but come and see the Valentine whose
honour and life you have saved this morning."

"Let me but sheathe my weapon," said the smith, "let me but wash
my hands."

"There is not an instant to lose, she is up and almost dressed.
Come on, man. She shall see thee with thy good weapon in thy hand,
and with villain's blood on thy fingers, that she may know what is
the value of a true man's service. She has stopped my mouth overlong
with her pruderies and her scruples. I will have her know what a
brave man's love is worth, and a bold burgess's to boot."



CHAPTER V.

Up! lady fair, and braid thy hair,
And rouse thee in the breezy air,
Up! quit thy bower, late wears the hour,
Long have the rooks caw'd round the tower.

JOANNA BAILLIE.


Startled from her repose by the noise of the affray, the Fair Maid
of Perth had listened in breathless terror to the sounds of violence
and outcry which arose from the street. She had sunk on her knees
to pray for assistance, and when she distinguished the voices of
neighbours and friends collected for her protection, she remained in
the same posture to return thanks. She was still kneeling when her
father almost thrust her champion, Henry Smith, into her apartment;
the bashful lover hanging back at first, as if afraid to give
offence, and, on observing her posture, from respect to her devotion.

"Father," said the armourer, "she prays; I dare no more speak to
her than to a bishop when he says mass."

"Now, go thy ways, for a right valiant and courageous blockhead,"
said her father--and then speaking to his daughter, he added,
"Heaven is best thanked, my daughter, by gratitude shown to our
fellow creatures. Here comes the instrument by whom God has rescued
thee from death, or perhaps from dishonour worse than death. Receive
him, Catharine, as thy true Valentine, and him whom I desire to
see my affectionate son."

"Not thus--father," replied Catharine. "I can see--can speak
to no one now. I am not ungrateful--perhaps I am too thankful to
the instrument of our safety; but let me thank the guardian saint
who sent me this timely relief, and give me but a moment to don my
kirtle."

"Nay, God-a-mercy, wench, it were hard to deny thee time to busk thy
body clothes, since the request is the only words like a woman that
thou hast uttered for these ten days. Truly, son Harry, I would my
daughter would put off being entirely a saint till the time comes
for her being canonised for St. Catherine the Second."

"Nay, jest not, father; for I will swear she has at least one
sincere adorer already, who hath devoted himself to her pleasure,
so far as sinful man may. Fare thee well, then, for the moment,
fair maiden," he concluded, raising his voice, "and Heaven send
thee dreams as peaceful as thy waking thoughts. I go to watch thy
slumbers, and woe with him that shall intrude on them!"

"Nay, good and brave Henry, whose warm heart is at such variance
with thy reckless hand, thrust thyself into no farther quarrels
tonight; but take the kindest thanks, and with these, try to assume
the peaceful thoughts which you assign to me. Tomorrow we will
meet, that I may assure you of my gratitude. Farewell."

"And farewell, lady and light of my heart!" said the armourer,
and, descending the stair which led to Catharine's apartment, was
about to sally forth into the street, when the glover caught him
by the arm.

"I shall like the ruffle of tonight," said he, "better than I
ever thought to do the clashing of steel, if it brings my daughter
to her senses, Harry, and teaches her what thou art worth. By St.
Macgrider! I even love these roysterers, and am sorry for that poor
lover who will never wear left handed chevron again. Ay! he has
lost that which he will miss all the days of his life, especially
when he goes to pull on his gloves; ay, he will pay but half a fee
to my craft in future. Nay, not a step from this house tonight,"
he continued "Thou dost not leave us, I promise thee, my son."

"I do not mean it. But I will, with your permission, watch in the
street. The attack may be renewed."

"And if it be," said Simon, "thou wilt have better access to drive
them back, having the vantage of the house. It is the way of fighting
which suits us burghers best--that of resisting from behind stone
walls. Our duty of watch and ward teaches us that trick; besides,
enough are awake and astir to ensure us peace and quiet till morning.
So come in this way."

So saying, he drew Henry, nothing loth, into the same apartment
where they had supped, and where the old woman, who was on foot,
disturbed as others had been by the nocturnal affray, soon roused
up the fire.

"And now, my doughty son," said the glover, "what liquor wilt thou
pledge thy father in?"

Henry Smith had suffered himself to sink mechanically upon a seat
of old black oak, and now gazed on the fire, that flashed back a
ruddy light over his manly features. He muttered to himself half
audibly: "Good Henry--brave Henry. Ah! had she but said, dear
Henry!"

"What liquors be these?" said the old glover, laughing. "My cellar
holds none such; but if sack, or Rhenish, or wine of Gascony can
serve, why, say the word and the flagon foams, that is all."

"The kindest thanks," said the armourer, still musing, "that's more
than she ever said to me before--the kindest thanks--what may
not that stretch to?"

"It shall stretch like kid's leather, man," said the glover, "if
thou wilt but be ruled, and say what thou wilt take for thy morning's
draught."

"Whatever thou wilt, father," answered the armourer, carelessly,
and relapsed into the analysis of Catharine's speech to him. "She
spoke of my warm heart; but she also spoke of my reckless hand.
What earthly thing can I do to get rid of this fighting fancy?
Certainly I were best strike my right hand off, and nail it to the
door of a church, that it may never do me discredit more."

"You have chopped off hands enough for one night," said his friend,
setting a flagon of wine on the table. "Why dost thou vex thyself,
man? She would love thee twice as well did she not see how thou
doatest upon her. But it becomes serious now. I am not to have the
risk of my booth being broken and my house plundered by the hell
raking followers of the nobles, because she is called the Fair Maid
of Perth, an't please ye. No, she shall know I am her father, and
will have that obedience to which law and gospel give me right.
I will have her thy wife, Henry, my heart of gold--thy wife, my
man of mettle, and that before many weeks are over. Come--come,
here is to thy merry bridal, jolly smith."

The father quaffed a large cup, and filled it to his adopted son,
who raised it slowly to his head; then, ere it had reached his
lips, replaced it suddenly on the table and shook his head.

"Nay, if thou wilt not pledge me to such a health, I know no one
who will," said Simon. "What canst thou mean, thou foolish lad? Here
has a chance happened, which in a manner places her in thy power,
since from one end of the city to the other all would cry fie on
her if she should say thee nay. Here am I, her father, not only
consenting to the cutting out of the match, but willing to see you
two as closely united together as ever needle stitched buckskin.
And with all this on thy side--fortune, father, and all--thou
lookest like a distracted lover in a ballad, more like to pitch
thyself into the Tay than to woo a lass that may be had for the
asking, if you can but choose the lucky minute."

"Ay, but that lucky minute, father? I question much if Catharine
ever has such a moment to glance on earth and its inhabitants as
might lead her to listen to a coarse ignorant borrel man like me.
I cannot tell how it is, father; elsewhere I can hold up my head
like another man, but with your saintly daughter I lose heart and
courage, and I cannot help thinking that it would be well nigh robbing
a holy shrine if I could succeed in surprising her affections. Her
thoughts are too much fitted for Heaven to be wasted on such a one
as I am."

"E'en as you like, Henry," answered the glover. "My daughter is
not courting you any more than I am--a fair offer is no cause
offend; only if you think that I will give in to her foolish notions
of a convent, take it with you that I will never listen to them.
I love and honour the church," he said, crossing himself, "I pay
her rights duly and cheerfully--tithes and alms, wine and wax,
I pay them as justly, I say, as any man in Perth of my means doth
--but I cannot afford the church my only and single ewe lamb that
I have in the world. Her mother was dear to me on earth, and is now
an angel in Heaven. Catharine is all I have to remind me of her I
have lost; and if she goes to the cloister, it shall be when these
old eyes are closed for ever, and not sooner. But as for you, friend
Gow, I pray you will act according to your own best liking, I want
to force no wife on you, I promise you."

"Nay, now you beat the iron twice over," said Henry. "It is thus
we always end, father, by your being testy with me for not doing
that thing in the world which would make me happiest, were I to
have it in my power. Why, father, I would the keenest dirk I ever
forged were sticking in my heart at this moment if there is one
single particle in it that is not more your daughter's property than
my own. But what can I do? I cannot think less of her, or more of
myself, than we both deserve; and what seems to you so easy and
certain is to me as difficult as it would be to work a steel hauberk
out of bards of flax. But here is to you, father," he added, in a
more cheerful tone; "and here is to my fair saint and Valentine,
as I hope your Catharine will be mine for the season. And let me
not keep your old head longer from the pillow, but make interest
with your featherbed till daybreak; and then you must be my guide
to your daughter's chamber door, and my apology for entering it,
to bid her good morrow, for the brightest that the sun will awaken,
in the city or for miles round."

"No bad advice, my son," said the honest glover, "But you, what will
you do? Will you lie down beside me, or take a part of Conachar's
bed?"

"Neither," answered Harry Gow; "I should but prevent your rest, and
for me this easy chair is worth a down bed, and I will sleep like
a sentinel, with my graith about me." As he spoke, he laid his hand
on his sword.

"Nay, Heaven send us no more need of weapons. Goodnight, or rather
good morrow, till day peep; and the first who wakes calls up the
other."

Thus parted the two burghers. The glover retired to his bed, and,
it is to be supposed, to rest. The lover was not so fortunate. His
bodily frame easily bore the fatigue which he had encountered in
the course of the night, but his mind was of a different and more
delicate mould. In one point of view, he was but the stout burgher
of his period, proud alike of his art in making weapons and wielding
them when made; his professional jealousy, personal strength, and
skill in the use of arms brought him into many quarrels, which
had made him generally feared, and in some instances disliked. But
with these qualities were united the simple good nature of a child,
and at the same time an imaginative and enthusiastic temper, which
seemed little to correspond with his labours at the forge or his
combats in the field. Perhaps a little of the hare brained and
ardent feeling which he had picked out of old ballads, or from
the metrical romances, which were his sole source of information
or knowledge, may have been the means of pricking him on to some
of his achievements, which had often a rude strain of chivalry in
them; at least, it was certain that his love to the fair Catharine
had in it a delicacy such as might have become the squire of low
degree, who was honoured, if song speaks truth, with the smiles of
the King of Hungary's daughter. His sentiments towards her were
certainly as exalted as if they had been fixed upon an actual
angel, which made old Simon, and others who watched his conduct,
think that his passion was too high and devotional to be successful
with maiden of mortal mould. They were mistaken, however. Catharine,
coy and reserved as she was, had a heart which could feel and
understand the nature and depth of the armourer's passion; and
whether she was able to repay it or not, she had as much secret
pride in the attachment of the redoubted Henry Gow as a lady of
romance may be supposed to have in the company of a tame lion, who
follows to provide for and defend her. It was with sentiments of
the most sincere gratitude that she recollected, as she awoke at
dawn, the services of Henry during the course of the eventful night,
and the first thought which she dwelt upon was the means of making
him understand her feelings.

Arising hastily from bed, and half blushing at her own purpose
--"I have been cold to him, and perhaps unjust; I will not be
ungrateful," she said to herself, "though I cannot yield to his
suit. I will not wait till my father compels me to receive him
as my Valentine for the year: I will seek him out, and choose him
myself. I have thought other girls bold when they did something
like this; but I shall thus best please my father, and but discharge
the rites due to good St. Valentine by showing my gratitude to this
brave man."

Hastily slipping on her dress, which, nevertheless, was left a good
deal more disordered than usual, she tripped downstairs and opened
the door of the chamber, in which, as she had guessed, her lover
had passed the hours after the fray. Catharine paused at the door,
and became half afraid of executing her purpose, which not only
permitted but enjoined the Valentines of the year to begin their
connexion with a kiss of affection. It was looked upon as a peculiarly
propitious omen if the one party could find the other asleep, and
awaken him or her by performance of this interesting ceremony.

Never was a fairer opportunity offered for commencing this mystic
tie than that which now presented itself to Catharine. After many
and various thoughts, sleep had at length overcome the stout armourer
in the chair in which he had deposited himself. His features, in
repose, had a more firm and manly cast than Catharine had thought,
who, having generally seen them fluctuating between shamefacedness
and apprehension of her displeasure, had been used to connect with
them some idea of imbecility.

"He looks very stern," she said; "if he should be angry? And then
when he awakes--we are alone--if I should call Dorothy--if
I should wake my father? But no! it is a thing of custom, and done
in all maidenly and sisterly love and honour. I will not suppose
that Henry can misconstrue it, and I will not let a childish
bashfulness put my gratitude to sleep."

So saying, she tripped along the floor of the apartment with a
light, though hesitating, step; and a cheek crimsoned at her own
purpose; and gliding to the chair of the sleeper, dropped a kiss
upon his lips as light as if a rose leaf had fallen on them. The
slumbers must have been slight which such a touch could dispel,
and the dreams of the sleeper must needs have been connected with
the cause of the interruption, since Henry, instantly starting up,
caught the maiden in his arms, and attempted to return in ecstasy
the salute which had broken his repose. But Catharine struggled
in his embrace; and as her efforts implied alarmed modesty rather
than maidenly coyness, her bashful lover suffered her to escape a
grasp from which twenty times her strength could not have extricated
her.

"Nay, be not angry, good Henry," said Catharine, in the kindest tone,
to her surprised lover. "I have paid my vows to St. Valentine, to
show how I value the mate which he has sent me for the year. Let
but my father be present, and I will not dare to refuse thee the
revenge you may claim for a broken sleep."

"Let not that be a hinderance," said the old glover, rushing in
ecstasy into the room; "to her, smith--to her: strike while the
iron is hot, and teach her what it is not to let sleeping dogs lie
still."

Thus encouraged, Henry, though perhaps with less alarming vivacity,
again seized the blushing maiden in his arms, who submitted with a
tolerable grace to receive repayment of her salute, a dozen times
repeated, and with an energy very different from that which had
provoked such severe retaliation. At length she again extricated
herself from her lover's arms, and, as if frightened and repenting
what she had done, threw herself into a seat, and covered her face
with her hands.

"Cheer up, thou silly girl," said her father, "and be not ashamed
that thou hast made the two happiest men in Perth, since thy old
father is one of them. Never was kiss so well bestowed, and meet it
is that it should be suitably returned. Look up, my darling! look
up, and let me see thee give but one smile. By my honest word, the
sun that now rises over our fair city shows no sight that can give
me greater pleasure. What," he continued, in a jocose tone, "thou
thoughtst thou hadst Jamie Keddie's ring, and couldst walk invisible?
but not so, my fairy of the dawning. Just as I was about to rise,
I heard thy chamber door open, and watched thee downstairs, not to
protect thee against this sleepy headed Henry, but to see with my
own delighted eyes my beloved girl do that which her father most
wished. Come, put down these foolish hands, and though thou blushest
a little, it will only the better grace St. Valentine's morn, when
blushes best become a maiden's cheek."

As Simon Glover spoke, he pulled away, with gentle violence, the
hands which hid his daughter's face. She blushed deeply indeed, but
there was more than maiden's shame in her face, and her eyes were
fast filling with tears.

"What! weeping, love?" continued her father; "nay--nay, this is
more than need. Henry, help me to comfort this little fool."

Catharine made an effort to collect herself and to smile, but the
smile was of a melancholy and serious cast.

"I only meant to say, father," said the Fair Maid of Perth, with
continued exertion, "that in choosing Henry Gow for my Valentine,
and rendering to him the rights and greeting of the morning, according
to wonted custom, I meant but to show my gratitude to him for his
manly and faithful service, and my obedience to you. But do not lead
him to think--and, oh, dearest father, do not yourself entertain
an idea--that I meant more than what the promise to be his faithful
and affectionate Valentine through the year requires of me."

"Ay--ay----ay--ay, we understand it all," said Simon, in the
soothing tone which nurses apply to children. "We understand what
the meaning is; enough for once--enough for once. Thou shalt not
be frightened or hurried. Loving, true, and faithful Valentines
are ye, and the rest as Heaven and opportunity shall permit. Come,
prithee, have done: wring not thy tiny hands, nor fear farther
persecution now. Thou hast done bravely, excellently. And now, away
to Dorothy, and call up the old sluggard; we must have a substantial
breakfast, after a night of confusion and a morning of joy, and
thy hand will be needed to prepare for us some of these delicate
cakes which no one can make but thyself; and well hast thou a right
to the secret, seeing who taught it thee. Ah! health to the soul
of thy dearest mother," he added, with a sigh; "how blythe would
she have been to see this happy St. Valentine's morning!"

Catharine took the opportunity of escape which was thus given her,
and glided from the room. To Henry it seemed as if the sun had
disappeared from the heaven at midday, and left the world in sudden
obscurity. Even the high swelled hopes with which the late incident
had filled him began to quail, as he reflected upon her altered
demeanour--the tears in her eyes, the obvious fear which occupied
her features, and the pains she had taken to show, as plainly as
delicacy would permit, that the advances which she had made to him
were limited to the character with which the rites of the day had
invested him. Her father looked on his fallen countenance with
something like surprise and displeasure.

"In the name of good St. John, what has befallen you, that makes you
look as grave as an owl, when a lad of your spirit, having really
such a fancy for this poor girl as you pretend, ought to be as
lively as a lark?"

"Alas, father!" replied the crestfallen lover, "there is that
written on her brow which says she loves me well enough to be my
Valentine, especially since you wish it, but not well enough to be
my wife."

"Now, a plague on thee for a cold, downhearted goosecap," answered
the father. "I can read a woman's brow as well, and better, than
thou, and I can see no such matter on hers. What, the foul fiend,
man! there thou wast lying like a lord in thy elbow chair, as sound
asleep as a judge, when, hadst thou been a lover of any spirit,
thou wouldst have been watching the east for the first ray of the
sun. But there thou layest, snoring I warrant, thinking nought
about her, or anything else; and the poor girl rises at peep of
day, lest any one else should pick up her most precious and vigilant
Valentine, and wakes thee with a grace which--so help me, St.
Macgrider!--would have put life in an anvil; and thou awakest
to hone, and pine, and moan, as if she had drawn a hot iron across
thy lips! I would to St. John she had sent old Dorothy on the
errand, and bound thee for thy Valentine service to that bundle
of dry bones, with never a tooth in her head. She were fittest
Valentine in Perth for so craven a wooer."

"As to craven, father," answered the smith, "there are twenty good
cocks, whose combs I have plucked, can tell thee if I am craven or
no. And Heaven knows that I would give my good land, held by burgess'
tenure, with smithy, bellows, tongs, anvil, and all, providing
it would make your view of the matter the true one. But it is not
of her coyness or her blushes that I speak; it is of the paleness
which so soon followed the red, and chased it from her cheeks; and
it is of the tears which succeeded. It was like the April showers
stealing upon and obscuring the fairest dawning that ever beamed
over the Tay."

"Tutti taitti," replied the glover; "neither Rome nor Perth were
built in a day. Thou hast fished salmon a thousand times, and
mightst have taken a lesson. When the fish has taken the fly, to
pull a hard strain on the line would snap the tackle to pieces,
were it made of wire. Ease your hand, man, and let him rise; take
leisure, and in half an hour thou layest him on the bank. There is
a beginning as fair as you could wish, unless you expect the poor
wench to come to thy bedside as she did to thy chair; and that is
not the fashion of modest maidens. But observe me; after we have
had our breakfast, I will take care thou hast an opportunity to
speak thy mind; only beware thou be neither too backward nor press
her too hard. Give her line enough, but do not slack too fast, and
my life for yours upon the issue."

"Do what I can, father," answered Henry, "you will always lay the
blame on me--either that I give too much head or that I strain
the tackle. I would give the best habergeon I ever wrought, that
the difficulty in truth rested with me, for there were then the
better chance of its being removed. I own, however, I am but an ass
in the trick of bringing about such discourse as is to the purpose
for the occasion."

"Come into the booth with me, my son, and I will furnish thee with
a fitting theme. Thou knowest the maiden who ventures to kiss a
sleeping man wins of him a pair of gloves. Come to my booth; thou
shalt have a pair of delicate kid skin that will exactly suit her
hand and arm. I was thinking of her poor mother when I shaped them,"
added honest Simon, with a sigh; "and except Catharine, I know not
the woman in Scotland whom they would fit, though I have measured
most of the high beauties of the court. Come with me, I say, and
thou shalt be provided with a theme to wag thy tongue upon, providing
thou hast courage and caution to stand by thee in thy wooing."



CHAPTER VI.

Never to man shall Catharine give her hand.

Taming of the Shrew.


The breakfast was served, and the thin soft cakes, made of flour
and honey according to the family receipt, were not only commended
with all the partiality of a father and a lover, but done liberal
justice to in the mode which is best proof of cake as well
as pudding. They talked, jested, and laughed. Catharine, too, had
recovered her equanimity where the dames and damsels of the period
were apt to lose theirs--in the kitchen, namely, and in the
superintendence of household affairs, in which she was an adept. I
question much if the perusal of Seneca for as long a period would
have had equal effect in composing her mind.

Old Dorothy sat down at the board end, as was the homespun fashion
of the period; and so much were the two men amused with their own
conversation, and Catharine occupied either in attending to them
or with her own reflections, that the old woman was the first who
observed the absence of the boy Conachar.

"It is true," said the master glover; "go call him, the idle Highland
loon. He was not seen last night during the fray neither, at least
I saw him not. Did any of you observe him?"

The reply was negative; and Henry's observation followed:

"There are times when Highlanders can couch like their own deer--
ay, and run from danger too as fast. I have seen them do so myself,
for the matter of that."

"And there are times," replied Simon, "when King Arthur and his
Round Table could not make stand against them. I wish, Henry, you
would speak more reverently of the Highlanders. They are often in
Perth, both alone and in numbers, and you ought to keep peace with
them so long as they will keep peace with you."

An answer of defiance rose to Henry's lips, but he prudently
suppressed it. "Why, thou knowest, father," he said, smiling,
"that we handicrafts best love the folks we live by; now, my craft
provides for valiant and noble knights, gentle squires and pages,
stout men at arms, and others that wear the weapons which we make. It
is natural I should like the Ruthvens, the Lindsays, the Ogilvys,
the Oliphants, and so many others of our brave and noble neighbours,
who are sheathed in steel of my making, like so many paladins,
better than those naked, snatching mountaineers, who are ever doing
us wrong, especially since no five of each clan have a rusty shirt
of mail as old as their brattach; and that is but the work of the
clumsy clan smith after all, who is no member of our honourable
mystery, but simply works at the anvil, where his father wrought
before him. I say, such people can have no favour in the eyes of
an honest craftsman."

"Well--well," answered Simon; "I prithee let the matter rest even
now, for here comes the loitering boy, and, though it is a holyday
morn, I want no more bloody puddings."

The youth entered accordingly. His face was pale, his eyes red,
and there was an air of discomposure about his whole person. He
sat down at the lower end of the table, opposite to Dorothy, and
crossed himself, as if preparing for his morning's meal. As he
did not help himself to any food, Catharine offered him a platter
containing some of the cakes which had met with such general approbation.
At first he rejected her offered kindness rather sullenly; but on
her repeating the offer with a smile of goodwill, he took a cake in
his hand, broke it, and was about to eat a morsel, when the effort
to swallow seemed almost too much for him; and though he succeeded,
he did not repeat it.

"You have a bad appetite for St. Valentine's morning, Conachar,"
said his good humoured master; "and yet I think you must have slept
soundly the night before, since I conclude you were not disturbed
by the noise of the scuffle. Why, I thought a lively glune amie
would have been at his master's side, dirk in hand, at the first
sound of danger which arose within a mile of us."

"I heard but an indistinct noise," said the youth, his face glowing
suddenly like a heated coal, "which I took for the shout of some
merry revellers; and you are wont to bid me never open door or
window, or alarm the house, on the score of such folly."

"Well--well," said Simon; "I thought a Highlander would have known
better the difference betwixt the clash of swords and the twanging
on harps, the wild war cry and the merry hunt's up. But let it
pass, boy; I am glad thou art losing thy quarrelsome fashions. Eat
thy breakfast, any way, as I have that to employ thee which requires
haste."

"I have breakfasted already, and am in haste myself. I am for the
hills. Have you any message to my father?"

"None," replied the glover, in some surprise; "but art thou beside
thyself, boy? or what a vengeance takes thee from the city, like
the wing of the whirlwind?"

"My warning has been sudden," said Conachar, speaking with difficulty;
but whether arising from the hesitation incidental to the use of a
foreign language, or whether from some other cause, could not easily
be distinguished. "There is to be a meeting--a great hunting--"
Here he stopped.

"And when are you to return from this blessed hunting?" said the
master; "that is, if I may make so bold as to ask."

"I cannot exactly answer," replied the apprentice. "Perhaps never,
if such be my father's pleasure," continued Conachar, with assumed
indifference.

"I thought," said Simon Glover, rather seriously, "that all this
was to be laid aside, when at earnest intercession I took you under
my roof. I thought that when I undertook, being very loth to do so,
to teach you an honest trade, we were to hear no more of hunting,
or hosting, or clan gatherings, or any matters of the kind?"

"I was not consulted when I was sent hither," said the lad, haughtily.
"I cannot tell what the terms were."

"But I can tell you, sir Conachar," said the glover, angrily, "that
there is no fashion of honesty in binding yourself to an honest
craftsman, and spoiling more hides than your own is worth; and
now, when you are of age to be of some service, in taking up the
disposal of your time at your pleasure, as if it were your own
property, not your master's."

"Reckon with my father about that," answered Conachar; "he will
pay you gallantly--a French mutton for every hide I have spoiled,
and a fat cow or bullock for each day I have been absent."

"Close with him, friend Glover--close with him," said the armourer,
drily. "Thou wilt be paid gallantly at least, if not honestly.
Methinks I would like to know how many purses have been emptied
to fill the goat skin sporran that is to be so free to you of its
gold, and whose pastures the bullocks have been calved in that are
to be sent down to you from the Grampian passes."

"You remind me, friend," said the Highland youth, turning haughtily
towards the smith, "that I have also a reckoning to hold with you."

"Keep at arm's length, then," said Henry, extending his brawny arm:
"I will have no more close hugs--no more bodkin work, like last
night. I care little for a wasp's sting, yet I will not allow the
insect to come near me if I have warning."

Conachar smiled contemptuously. "I meant thee no harm," he said.
"My father's son did thee but too much honour to spill such churl's
blood. I will pay you for it by the drop, that it may be dried up,
and no longer soil my fingers."

"Peace, thou bragging ape!" said the smith: "the blood of a true
man cannot be valued in gold. The only expiation would be that thou
shouldst come a mile into the Low Country with two of the strongest
galloglasses of thy clan; and while I dealt with them, I would
leave thee to the correction of my apprentice, little Jankin."

Here Catharine interposed. "Peace," she said, "my trusty Valentine,
whom I have a right to command; and peace you, Conachar, who ought
to obey me as your master's daughter. It is ill done to awaken
again on the morrow the evil which has been laid to sleep at night."

"Farewell, then, master," said Conachar, after another look of scorn
at the smith, which he only answered with a laugh--"farewell! and
I thank you for your kindness, which has been more than I deserve.
If I have at times seemed less than thankful, it was the fault of
circumstances, and not of my will. Catharine--" He cast upon the
maiden a look of strong emotion, in which various feelings were
blended. He hesitated, as if to say something, and at length turned
away with the single word "farewell."

Five minutes afterwards, with Highland buskins on his feet and a
small bundle in his hand, he passed through the north gate of Perth,
and directed his course to the Highlands.

"There goes enough of beggary and of pride for a whole Highland
clan," said Henry. "He talks as familiarly of gold pieces as I would
of silver pennies, and yet I will be sworn that the thumb of his
mother's worsted glove might hold the treasure of the whole clan."

"Like enough," said the glover, laughing at the idea; "his mother
was a large boned woman, especially in the fingers and wrist."

"And as for cattle," continued Henry, "I reckon his father and
brothers steal sheep by one at a time."

"The less we say of them the better," said the glover, becoming
again grave. "Brothers he hath none; his father is a powerful man
--hath long hands--reaches as far as he can, and hears farther
than it is necessary to talk of him."

"And yet he hath bound his only son apprentice to a glover in
Perth?" said Henry. "Why, I should have thought the gentle craft,
as it is called, of St. Crispin would have suited him best; and
that, if the son of some great Mac or O was to become an artisan,
it could only be in the craft where princes set him the example."

This remark, though ironical, seemed to awaken our friend Simon's
sense of professional dignity, which was a prevailing feeling that
marked the manners of the artisans of the time.

"You err, son Henry," he replied, with much gravity: "the glovers'
are the more honourable craft of the two, in regard they provide
for the accommodation of the hands, whereas the shoemakers and
cordwainers do but work for the feet."

"Both equally necessary members of the body corporate," said Henry,
whose father had been a cordwainer.

"It may be so, my son," said the glover; "but not both alike
honourable. Bethink you, that we employ the hands as pledges of
friendship and good faith, and the feet have no such privilege.
Brave men fight with their hands; cowards employ their feet in
flight. A glove is borne aloft; a shoe is trampled in the mire.
A man greets a friend with his open hand; he spurns a dog, or one
whom he holds as mean as a dog, with his advanced foot. A glove
on the point of a spear is a sign and pledge of faith all the wide
world over, as a gauntlet flung down is a gage of knightly battle;
while I know no other emblem belonging to an old shoe, except that
some crones will fling them after a man by way of good luck, in
which practice I avow myself to entertain no confidence."

"Nay," said the smith, amused with his friend's eloquent pleading
for the dignity of the art he practised, "I am not the man, I
promise you, to disparage the glover's mystery. Bethink you, I am
myself a maker of gauntlets. But the dignity of your ancient craft
removes not my wonder, that the father of this Conachar suffered his
son to learn a trade of any kind from a Lowland craftsman, holding
us, as they do, altogether beneath their magnificent degree, and
a race of contemptible drudges, unworthy of any other fate than to
be ill used and plundered, as often as these bare breeched dunnie
wassals see safety and convenience for doing so."

"Ay," answered the glover, "but there were powerful reasons for--
for--" he withheld something which seemed upon his lips, and went
on: "for Conachar's father acting as he did. Well, I have played
fair with him, and I do not doubt but he will act honourably by me.
But Conachar's sudden leave taking has put me to some inconvenience.
He had things under his charge. I must look through the booth."

"Can I help you, father?" said Henry Gow, deceived by the earnestness
of his manner.

"You!--no," said Simon, with a dryness which made Henry so sensible
of the simplicity of his proposal, that he blushed to the eyes at
his own dulness of comprehension, in a matter where love ought to
have induced him to take his cue easily up.

"You, Catharine," said the glover, as he left the room, "entertain
your Valentine for five minutes, and see he departs not till my
return. Come hither with me, old Dorothy, and bestir thy limbs in
my behalf."

He left the room, followed by the old woman; and Henry Smith remained
with Catharine, almost for the first time in his life, entirely
alone. There was embarrassment on the maiden's part, and awkwardness
on that of the lover, for about a minute; when Henry, calling up
his courage, pulled the gloves out of his pocket with which Simon
had supplied him, and asked her to permit one who had been so highly
graced that morning to pay the usual penalty for being asleep at the
moment when he would have given the slumbers of a whole twelvemonth
to be awake for a single minute.

"Nay, but," said Catharine, "the fulfilment of my homage to St.
Valentine infers no such penalty as you desire to pay, and I cannot
therefore think of accepting them."

"These gloves," said Henry, advancing his seat insidiously towards
Catharine as he spoke, "were wrought by the hands that are dearest
to you; and see--they are shaped for your own."

He extended them as he spoke, and taking her arm in his robust
hand, spread the gloves beside it to show how well they fitted.

"Look at that taper arm," he said, "look at these small fingers;
think who sewed these seams of silk and gold, and think whether
the glove and the arm which alone the glove can fit ought to remain
separate, because the poor glove has had the misfortune to be for
a passing minute in the keeping of a hand so swart and rough as
mine."

"They are welcome as coming from my father," said Catharine; "and
surely not less so as coming from my friend (and there was an
emphasis on the word), as well as my Valentine and preserver."

"Let me aid to do them on," said the smith, bringing himself yet
closer to her side; "they may seem a little over tight at first,
and you may require some assistance."

"You are skilful in such service, good Henry Gow," said the maiden,
smiling, but at the same time drawing farther from her lover.

"In good faith, no," said Henry, shaking his head: "my experience
has been in donning steel gauntlets on mailed knights, more than
in fitting embroidered gloves upon maidens."

"I will trouble you then no further, and Dorothy shall aid me,
though there needs no assistance; my father's eye and fingers are
faithful to his craft: what work he puts through his hands is always
true to the measure."

"Let me be convinced of it," said the smith--"let me see that
these slender gloves actually match the hands they were made for."

"Some other time, good Henry," answered the maiden, "I will wear
the gloves in honour of St. Valentine, and the mate he has sent
me for the season. I would to Heaven I could pleasure my father as
well in weightier matters; at present the perfume of the leather
harms the headache I have had since morning."

"Headache, dearest maiden!" echoed her lover.

"If you call it heartache, you will not misname it," said Catharine,
with a sigh, and proceeded to speak in a very serious tone.

"Henry," she said, "I am going perhaps to be as bold as I gave you
reason to think me this morning; for I am about to speak the first
upon a subject on which, it may well be, I ought to wait till I had
to answer you. But I cannot, after what has happened this morning,
suffer my feelings towards you to remain unexplained, without the
possibility of my being greatly misconceived. Nay, do not answer
till you have heard me out. You are brave, Henry, beyond most men,
honest and true as the steel you work upon--"

"Stop--stop, Catharine, for mercy's sake! You never said so much
that was good concerning me, save to introduce some bitter censure,
of which your praises were the harbingers. I am honest, and so
forth, you would say, but a hot brained brawler, and common sworder
or stabber."

"I should injure both myself and you in calling you such. No, Henry,
to no common stabber, had he worn a plume in his bonnet and gold
spurs on his heels, would Catharine Glover have offered the little
grace she has this day voluntarily done to you. If I have at times
dwelt severely upon the proneness of your spirit to anger, and of
your hand to strife, it is because I would have you, if I could
so persuade you, hate in yourself the sins of vanity and wrath by
which you are most easily beset. I have spoken on the topic more
to alarm your own conscience than to express my opinion. I know as
well as my father that, in these forlorn and desperate days, the
whole customs of our nation, nay, of every Christian nation, may
be quoted in favour of bloody quarrels for trifling causes, of the
taking deadly and deep revenge for slight offences, and the slaughter
of each other for emulation of honour, or often in mere sport. But
I knew that for all these things we shall one day be called into
judgment; and fain would I convince thee, my brave and generous
friend, to listen oftener to the dictates of thy good heart, and
take less pride in the strength and dexterity of thy unsparing
arm."

"I am--I am convinced, Catharine" exclaimed Henry: "thy words
shall henceforward be a law to me. I have done enough, far too much,
indeed, for proof of my bodily strength and courage; but it is only
from you, Catharine, that I can learn a better way of thinking.
Remember, my fair Valentine, that my ambition of distinction in
arms, and my love of strife, if it can be called such, do not fight
even handed with my reason and my milder dispositions, but have
their patrons and sticklers to egg them on. Is there a quarrel,
and suppose that I, thinking on your counsels, am something loth
to engage in it, believe you I am left to decide between peace or
war at my own choosing? Not so, by St. Mary! there are a hundred
round me to stir me on. 'Why, how now, Smith, is thy mainspring
rusted?' says one. 'Jolly Henry is deaf on the quarrelling ear this
morning!' says another. 'Stand to it, for the honour of Perth,'
says my lord the Provost. 'Harry against them for a gold noble,'
cries your father, perhaps. Now, what can a poor fellow do, Catharine,
when all are hallooing him on in the devil's name, and not a soul
putting in a word on the other side?"

"Nay, I know the devil has factors enough to utter his wares,"
said Catharine; "but it is our duty to despise such idle arguments,
though they may be pleaded even by those to whom we owe much love
and honour."

"Then there are the minstrels, with their romaunts and ballads, which
place all a man's praise in receiving and repaying hard blows. It
is sad to tell, Catharine, how many of my sins that Blind Harry
the Minstrel hath to answer for. When I hit a downright blow, it
is not--so save me--to do any man injury, but only to strike
as William Wallace struck."

The minstrel's namesake spoke this in such a tone of rueful seriousness,
that Catharine could scarce forbear smiling; but nevertheless she
assured him that the danger of his own and other men's lives ought
not for a moment to be weighed against such simple toys.

"Ay, but," replied Henry, emboldened by her smiles, "methinks now
the good cause of peace would thrive all the better for an advocate.
Suppose, for example, that, when I am pressed and urged to lay
hand on my weapon, I could have cause to recollect that there was
a gentle and guardian angel at home, whose image would seem to
whisper, 'Henry, do no violence; it is my hand which you crimson
with blood. Henry, rush upon no idle danger; it is my breast which
you expose to injury;' such thoughts would do more to restrain my
mood than if every monk in Perth should cry, 'Hold thy hand, on
pain of bell, book, and candle.'"

"If such a warning as could be given by the voice of sisterly
affection can have weight in the debate," said Catharine, "do think
that, in striking, you empurple this hand, that in receiving wounds
you harm this heart."

The smith took courage at the sincerely affectionate tone in which
these words were delivered.

"And wherefore not stretch your regard a degree beyond these cold
limits? Why, since you are so kind and generous as to own some
interest in the poor ignorant sinner before you, should you not
at once adopt him as your scholar and your husband? Your father
desires it, the town expects it, glovers and smiths are preparing
their rejoicings, and you, only you, whose words are so fair and
so kind, you will not give your consent."

"Henry," said Catharine, in a low and tremulous voice, "believe me
I should hold it my duty to comply with my father's commands, were
there not obstacles invincible to the match which he proposes."

"Yet think--think but for a moment. I have little to say for
myself in comparison of you, who can both read and write. But then
I wish to hear reading, and could listen to your sweet voice for
ever. You love music, and I have been taught to play and sing as
well as some minstrels. You love to be charitable, I have enough to
give, and enough to keep, as large a daily alms as a deacon gives
would never be missed by me. Your father gets old for daily toil;
he would live with us, as I should truly hold him for my father also.
I would be as chary of mixing in causeless strife as of thrusting
my hand into my own furnace; and if there came on us unlawful
violence, its wares would be brought to an ill chosen market."

"May you experience all the domestic happiness which you can
conceive, Henry, but with some one more happy than I am!"

So spoke, or rather so sobbed, the Fair Maiden of Perth, who seemed
choking in the attempt to restrain her tears.

"You hate me, then?" said the lover, after a pause.

"Heaven is my witness, no."

"Or you love some other better?"

"It is cruel to ask what it cannot avail you to know. But you are
entirely mistaken."

"Yon wildcat, Conachar, perhaps?" said Henry. "I have marked his
looks--"

"You avail yourself of this painful situation to insult me, Henry,
though I have little deserved it. Conachar is nothing to me, more
than the trying to tame his wild spirit by instruction might lead
me to take some interest in a mind abandoned to prejudices and
passions, and therein, Henry, not unlike your own."

"It must then be some of these flaunting silkworm sirs about the
court," said the armourer, his natural heat of temper kindling
from disappointment and vexation--"some of those who think they
carry it off through the height of their plumed bonnets and the
jingle of their spurs. I would I knew which it was that, leaving his
natural mates, the painted and perfumed dames of the court, comes
to take his prey among the simple maidens of the burgher craft. I
would I knew but his name and surname!"

"Henry Smith," said Catharine, shaking off the weakness which
seemed to threaten to overpower her a moment before, "this is the
language of an ungrateful fool, or rather of a frantic madman. I
have told you already, there was no one who stood, at the beginning
of this conference, more high in my opinion than he who is now losing
ground with every word he utters in the tone of unjust suspicion
and senseless anger. You had no title to know even what I have
told you, which, I pray you to observe, implies no preference to
you over others, though it disowns any preference of another to
you. It is enough you should be aware that there is as insuperable
an objection to what you desire as if an enchanter had a spell over
my destiny."

"Spells may be broken by true men," said, the smith. "I would it
were come to that. Thorbiorn, the Danish armourer, spoke of a spell
he had for making breastplates, by singing a certain song while the
iron was heating. I told him that his runic rhymes were no proof
against the weapons which fought at Loncarty--what farther came
of it it is needless to tell, but the corselet and the wearer,
and the leech who salved his wound, know if Henry Gow can break a
spell or no."

Catharine looked at him as if about to return an answer little
approving of the exploit he had vaunted, which the downright smith
had not recollected was of a kind that exposed him to her frequent
censure. But ere she had given words to her thoughts, her father
thrust his head in at the door.

"Henry," he said, "I must interrupt your more pleasing affairs, and
request you to come into my working room in all speed, to consult
about certain matters deeply affecting the weal of the burgh."

Henry, making his obeisance to Catharine, left the apartment upon
her father's summons. Indeed, it was probably in favour of their
future friendly intercourse, that they were parted on this occasion
at the turn which the conversation seemed likely to take. For, as
the wooer had begun to hold the refusal of the damsel as somewhat
capricious and inexplicable after the degree of encouragement
which, in his opinion, she had afforded; Catharine, on the other
hand, considered him rather as an encroacher upon the grace which
she had shown him than one whose delicacy rendered him deserving
of such favour. But there was living in their bosoms towards each
other a reciprocal kindness, which, on the termination of the
dispute, was sure to revive, inducing the maiden to forget her
offended delicacy, and the lover his slighted warmth of passion.



CHAPTER VII.

This quarrel may draw blood another day.

Henry IV. Part I.


The conclave of citizens appointed to meet for investigating the
affray of the preceding evening had now assembled. The workroom
of Simon Glover was filled to crowding by personages of no little
consequence, some of whom wore black velvet cloaks, and gold chains
around their necks. They were, indeed, the fathers of the city;
and there were bailies and deacons in the honoured number. There
was an ireful and offended air of importance upon every brow as they
conversed together, rather in whisper than aloud or in detail.
Busiest among the busy, the little important assistant of the previous
night, Oliver Proudfute by name, and bonnet maker by profession,
was bustling among the crowd, much after the manner of the seagull,
which flutters, screams, and sputters most at the commencement of
a gale of wind, though one can hardly conceive what the bird has
better to do than to fly to its nest and remain quiet till the gale
is over.

Be that as it may, Master Proudfute was in the midst of the crowd,
his fingers upon every one's button and his mouth in every man's
ear, embracing such as were near to his own stature, that he might
more closely and mysteriously utter his sentiments; and standing
on tiptoe, and supporting himself by the cloak collars of tall men,
that he might dole out to them also the same share of information.
He felt himself one of the heroes of the affair, being conscious of
the dignity of superior information on the subject as an eyewitness,
and much disposed to push his connexion with the scuffle a few
points beyond the modesty of truth. It cannot be said that his
communications were in especial curious and important, consisting
chiefly of such assertions as these:

"It is all true, by St. John! I was there and saw it myself--was
the first to run to the fray; and if it had not been for me and
another stout fellow, who came in about the same time, they had
broken into Simon Glover's house, cut his throat, and carried his
daughter off to the mountains. It is too evil usage--not to be
suffered, neighbour Crookshank; not to be endured, neighbour Glass;
not to be borne, neighbours Balneaves, Rollock, and Chrysteson.
It was a mercy that I and that stout fellow came in, was it not,
neighbour and worthy Bailie Craigdallie?"

These speeches were dispersed by the busy bonnet maker into sundry
ears. Bailie Craigdallie, a portly guild brother, the same who
had advised the prorogation of their civic council to the present
place and hour, a big, burly, good looking man, shook the deacon
from his cloak with pretty much the grace with which a large horse
shrugs off the importunate fly that has beset him for ten minutes,
and exclaimed, "Silence, good citizens; here comes Simon Glover,
in whom no man ever saw falsehood. We will hear the outrage from
his own mouth."

Simon being called upon to tell his tale, did so with obvious
embarrassment, which he imputed to a reluctance that the burgh
should be put in deadly feud with any one upon his account. It
was, he dared to say, a masking or revel on the part of the young
gallants about court; and the worst that might come of it would
be, that he would put iron stanchions on his daughter's window, in
case of such another frolic.

"Why, then, if this was a mere masking or mummery," said Craigdallie,
"our townsman, Harry of the Wind, did far wrong to cut off a
gentleman's hand for such a harmless pleasantry, and the town may
be brought to a heavy fine for it, unless we secure the person of
the mutilator."

"Our Lady forbid!" said the glover. "Did you know what I do,
you would be as much afraid of handling this matter as if it were
glowing iron. But, since you will needs put your fingers in the
fire, truth must be spoken. And come what will, I must say, that the
matter might have ended ill for me and mine, but for the opportune
assistance of Henry Gow, the armourer, well known to you all."

"And mine also was not awanting," said Oliver Proudfute, "though I
do not profess to be utterly so good a swordsman as our neighbour
Henry Gow. You saw me, neighbour Glover, at the beginning of the
fray?"

"I saw you after the end of it, neighbour," answered the glover,
drily.

"True--true; I had forgot you were in your house while the blows
were going, and could not survey who were dealing them."

"Peace, neighbour Proudfute--I prithee, peace," said Craigdallie,
who was obviously tired of the tuneless screeching of the worthy
deacon.

"There is something mysterious here," said the bailie; "but I think
I spy the secret. Our friend Simon is, as you all know, a peaceful
man, and one that will rather sit down with wrong than put a friend,
or say a neighbourhood, in danger to seek his redress. Thou, Henry,
who art never wanting where the burgh needs a defender, tell us
what thou knowest of this matter."

Our smith told his story to the same purpose which we have already
related; and the meddling maker of bonnets added as before, "And
thou sawest me there, honest smith, didst thou not?"

"Not I, in good faith, neighbour," answered Henry; "but you are a
little man, you know, and I might overlook you."

This reply produced a laugh at Oliver's expense, who laughed for
company, but added doggedly, "I was one of the foremost to the
rescue for all that."

"Why, where wert thou, then, neighbour?" said the smith; "for I
saw you not, and I would have given the worth of the best suit of
armour I ever wrought to have seen as stout a fellow as thou at my
elbow."

"I was no farther off, however, honest smith; and whilst thou wert
laying on blows as if on an anvil, I was parrying those that the
rest of the villains aimed at thee behind thy back; and that is
the cause thou sawest me not."

"I have heard of smiths of old time who had but one eye," said
Henry; "I have two, but they are both set in my forehead, and so
I could not see behind my back, neighbour."

"The truth is, however," persevered Master Oliver, "there I was,
and I will give Master Bailie my account of the matter; for the
smith and I were first up to the fray."

"Enough at present," said the bailie, waving to Master Proudfute
an injunction of silence. "The precognition of Simon Glover and
Henry Gow would bear out a matter less worthy of belief. And now,
my masters, your opinion what should be done. Here are all our
burgher rights broken through and insulted, and you may well fancy
that it is by some man of power, since no less dared have attempted
such an outrage. My masters, it is hard on flesh and blood to submit
to this. The laws have framed us of lower rank than the princes
and nobles, yet it is against reason to suppose that we will suffer
our houses to be broken into, and the honour of our women insulted,
without some redress."

"It is not to be endured!" answered the citizens, unanimously.

Here Simon Glover interfered with a very anxious and ominous
countenance. "I hope still that all was not meant so ill as it
seemed to us, my worthy neighbours; and I for one would cheerfully
forgive the alarm and disturbance to my poor house, providing the
Fair City were not brought into jeopardy for me. I beseech you to
consider who are to be our judges that are to hear the case, and
give or refuse redress. I speak among neighbours and friends, and
therefore I speak openly. The King, God bless him! is so broken
in mind and body, that he will but turn us over to some great
man amongst his counsellors who shall be in favour for the time.
Perchance he will refer us to his brother the Duke of Albany, who
will make our petition for righting of our wrongs the pretence for
squeezing money out of us."

"We will none of Albany for our judge!" answered the meeting with
the same unanimity as before.

"Or perhaps," added Simon, "he will bid the Duke of Rothsay take
charge of it; and the wild young prince will regard the outrage as
something for his gay companions to scoff at, and his minstrels to
turn into song."

"Away with Rothsay! he is too gay to be our judge," again exclaimed
the citizens.

Simon, emboldened by seeing he was reaching the point he aimed at,
yet pronouncing the dreaded name with a half whisper, next added,
"Would you like the Black Douglas better to deal with?"

There was no answer for a minute. They looked on each other with
fallen countenances and blanched lips.

But Henry Smith spoke out boldly, and in a decided voice, the
sentiments which all felt, but none else dared give words to: "The
Black Douglas to judge betwixt a burgher and a gentleman, nay, a
nobleman, for all I know or care! The black devil of hell sooner!
You are mad, father Simon, so much as to name so wild a proposal."

There was again a silence of fear and uncertainty, which was at
length broken by Bailie Craigdallie, who, looking very significantly
to the speaker, replied, "You are confident in a stout doublet,
neighbour Smith, or you would not talk so boldly."

"I am confident of a good heart under my doublet, such as it is,
bailie," answered the undaunted Henry; "and though I speak but little,
my mouth shall never be padlocked by any noble of them all."

"Wear a thick doublet, good Henry, or do not speak so loud," reiterated
the bailie in the same significant tone. "There are Border men in
the town who wear the bloody heart on their shoulder. But all this
is no rede. What shall we do?"

"Short rede, good rede," said the smith. "Let us to our provost,
and demand his countenance and assistance."

A murmur of applause went through the party, and Oliver Proudfute
exclaimed, "That is what I have been saying for this half hour,
and not one of ye would listen to me. 'Let us go to our provost,'
said I. 'He is a gentleman himself, and ought to come between the
burgh and the nobles in all matters."

"Hush, neighbours--hush; be wary what you say or do," said a thin
meagre figure of a man, whose diminutive person seemed still more
reduced in size, and more assimilated to a shadow, by his efforts
to assume an extreme degree of humility, and make himself, to suit
his argument, look meaner yet, and yet more insignificant, than
nature had made him.

"Pardon me," said he; "I am but a poor pottingar. Nevertheless, I
have been bred in Paris, and learned my humanities and my cursus
medendi as well as some that call themselves learned leeches. Methinks
I can tent this wound, and treat it with emollients. Here is our
friend Simon Glover, who is, as you all know, a man of worship.
Think you he would not be the most willing of us all to pursue harsh
courses here, since his family honour is so nearly concerned? And
since he blenches away from the charge against these same revellers,
consider if he may not have some good reason more than he cares
to utter for letting the matter sleep. It is not for me to put
my finger on the sore; but, alack! we all know that young maidens
are what I call fugitive essences. Suppose now, an honest maiden
--I mean in all innocence--leaves her window unlatched on St.
Valentine's morn, that some gallant cavalier may--in all honesty, I
mean--become her Valentine for the season, and suppose the gallant
be discovered, may she not scream out as if the visit were unexpected,
and--and--bray all this in a mortar, and then consider, will
it be a matter to place the town in feud for?"

The pottingar delivered his opinion in a most insinuating manner;
but he seemed to shrink into something less than his natural tenuity
when he saw the blood rise in the old cheek of Simon Glover, and
inflame to the temples the complexion of the redoubted smith.

The last, stepping forward, and turning a stern look on the alarmed
pottingar, broke out as follows: "Thou walking skeleton! thou
asthmatic gallipot! thou poisoner by profession! if I thought that
the puff of vile breath thou hast left could blight for the tenth
part of a minute the fair fame of Catharine Glover, I would pound
thee, quacksalver! in thine own mortar, and beat up thy wretched
carrion with flower of brimstone, the only real medicine in thy
booth, to make a salve to rub mangy hounds with!"

"Hold, son Henry--hold!" cried the glover, in a tone of authority,
"no man has title to speak of this matter but me. Worshipful Bailie
Craigdallie, since such is the construction that is put upon my
patience, I am willing to pursue this riot to the uttermost; and
though the issue may prove that we had better have been patient,
you will all see that my Catharine hath not by any lightness or
folly of hers afforded grounds for this great scandal."

The bailie also interposed. "Neighbour Henry," said he, "we came
here to consult, and not to quarrel. As one of the fathers of the
Fair City, I command thee to forego all evil will and maltalent
you may have against Master Pottingar Dwining."

"He is too poor a creature, bailie," said Henry Gow, "for me to
harbour feud with--I that could destroy him and his booth with
one blow of my forehammer."

"Peace, then, and hear me," said the official. "We all are as much
believers in the honour of the Fair Maiden of Perth as in that of
our Blessed Lady." Here he crossed himself devoutly. "But touching
our appeal to our provost, are you agreed, neighbours, to put matter
like this into our provost's hand, being against a powerful noble,
as is to be feared?"

"The provost being himself a nobleman," squeaked the pottingar, in
some measure released from his terror by the intervention of the
bailie. "God knows, I speak not to the disparagement of an honourable
gentleman, whose forebears have held the office he now holds for
many years--"

"By free choice of the citizens of Perth," said the smith, interrupting
the speaker with the tones of his deep and decisive voice.

"Ay, surely," said the disconcerted orator, "by the voice of the
citizens. How else? I pray you, friend Smith, interrupt me not. I
speak to our worthy and eldest bailie, Craigdallie, according to
my poor mind. I say that, come amongst us how he will, still this
Sir Patrick Charteris is a nobleman, and hawks will not pick hawks'
eyes out. He may well bear us out in a feud with the Highlandmen,
and do the part of our provost and leader against them; but whether
he that himself wears silk will take our part against broidered
cloak and cloth of gold, though he may do so against tartan and
Irish frieze, is something to be questioned. Take a fool's advice.
We have saved our Maiden, of whom I never meant to speak harm, as
truly I knew none. They have lost one man's hand, at least, thanks
to Harry Smith--"

"And to me," added the little important bonnet maker.

"And to Oliver Proudfute, as he tells us," continued the pottingar,
who contested no man's claim to glory provided he was not himself
compelled to tread the perilous paths which lead to it. "I say,
neighbours, since they have left a hand as a pledge they will never
come in Couvrefew Street again, why, in my simple mind, we were
best to thank our stout townsman, and the town having the honour
and these rakehells the loss, that we should hush the matter up
and say no more about it."

These pacific counsels had their effect with some of the citizens,
who began to nod and look exceedingly wise upon the advocate
of acquiescence, with whom, notwithstanding the offence so lately
given, Simon Glover seemed also to agree in opinion. But not so
Henry Smith, who, seeing the consultation at a stand, took up the
speech in his usual downright manner.

"I am neither the oldest nor the richest among you, neighbours, and
I am not sorry for it. Years will come, if one lives to see them;
and I can win and spend my penny like another, by the blaze of the
furnace and the wind of the bellows. But no man ever saw me sit down
with wrong done in word or deed to our fair town, if man's tongue
and man's hand could right it. Neither will I sit down with this
outrage, if I can help it. I will go to the provost myself, if no
one will go with me; he is a knight, it is true, and a gentleman
of free and true born blood, as we all know, since Wallace's time,
who settled his great grandsire amongst us. But if he were the
proudest nobleman in the land, he is the Provost of Perth, and for
his own honour must see the freedoms and immunities of the burgh
preserved--ay, and I know he will. I have made a steel doublet
for him, and have a good guess at the kind of heart that it was
meant to cover."

"Surely," said Bailie Craigdallie, "it would be to no purpose
to stir at court without Sir Patrick Charteris's countenance: the
ready answer would be, 'Go to your provost, you borrel loons.'
So, neighbours and townsmen, if you will stand by my side, I and
our pottingar Dwining will repair presently to Kinfauns, with Sim
Glover, the jolly smith, and gallant Oliver Proudfute, for witnesses
to the onslaught, and speak with Sir Patrick Charteris, in name of
the fair town."

"Nay," said the peaceful man of medicine, "leave me behind, I pray
you: I lack audacity to speak before a belted knight."

"Never regard that, neighbour, you must go," said Bailie Craigdallie.
"The town hold me a hot headed carle for a man of threescore; Sim
Glover is the offended party; we all know that Harry Gow spoils
more harness with his sword than he makes with his hammer and our
neighbour Proudfute, who, take his own word, is at the beginning
and end of every fray in Perth, is of course a man of action. We
must have at least one advocate amongst us for peace and quietness;
and thou, pottingar, must be the man. Away with you, sirs, get your
boots and your beasts--horse and hattock, I say, and let us meet
at the East Port; that is, if it is your pleasure, neighbours, to
trust us with the matter."

"There can be no better rede, and we will all avouch it," said the
citizens. "If the provost take our part, as the Fair Town hath a
right to expect, we may bell the cat with the best of them."

"It is well, then, neighbours," answered the bailie; "so said,
so shall be done. Meanwhile, I have called the whole town council
together about this hour, and I have little doubt," looking around
the company, "that, as so many of them who are in this place have
resolved to consult with our provost, the rest will be compliant to
the same resolution. And, therefore, neighbours, and good burghers
of the Fair City of Perth, horse and hattock, as I said before,
and meet me at the East Port."

A general acclamation concluded the sitting of this species of
privy council, or Lords of the Articles; and they dispersed, the
deputation to prepare for the journey, and the rest to tell their
impatient wives and daughters of the measures they had taken
to render their chambers safe in future against the intrusion of
gallants at unseasonable hours.

While nags are saddling, and the town council debating, or rather
putting in form what the leading members of their body had already
adopted, it may be necessary, for the information of some readers,
to state in distinct terms what is more circuitously intimated in
the course of the former discussion.

It was the custom at this period, when the strength of the feudal
aristocracy controlled the rights, and frequently insulted the
privileges, of the royal burghs of Scotland, that the latter, where
it was practicable, often chose their provost, or chief magistrate,
not out of the order of the merchants, shopkeepers, and citizens,
who inhabited the town itself, and filled up the roll of the ordinary
magistracy, but elected to that preeminent state some powerful
nobleman, or baron, in the neighbourhood of the burgh, who was
expected to stand their friend at court in such matters as concerned
their common weal, and to lead their civil militia to fight, whether
in general battle or in private feud, reinforcing them with his
own feudal retainers. This protection was not always gratuitous.
The provosts sometimes availed themselves of their situation to an
unjustifiable degree, and obtained grants of lands and tenements
belonging to the common good, or public property of the burgh,
and thus made the citizens pay dear for the countenance which they
afforded. Others were satisfied to receive the powerful aid of
the townsmen in their own feudal quarrels, with such other marks
of respect and benevolence as the burgh over which they presided
were willing to gratify them with, in order to secure their active
services in case of necessity. The baron, who was the regular
protector of a royal burgh, accepted such freewill offerings without
scruple, and repaid them by defending the rights of the town by
arguments in the council and by bold deeds in the field.

The citizens of the town, or, as they loved better to call it, the
Fair City, of Perth, had for several generations found a protector
and provost of this kind in the knightly family of Charteris,
Lords of Kinfauns, in the neighbourhood of the burgh. It was scarce
a century (in the time of Robert III) since the first of this
distinguished family had settled in the strong castle which now
belonged to them, with the picturesque and fertile scenes adjoining
to it. But the history of the first settler, chivalrous and romantic
in itself, was calculated to facilitate the settlement of an alien
in the land in which his lot was cast. We relate it as it is given
by an ancient and uniform tradition, which carries in it great
indications of truth, and is warrant enough, perhaps, for it
insertion in graver histories than the present.

During the brief career of the celebrated patriot Sir William
Wallace, and when his arms had for a time expelled the English
invaders from his native country, he is said to have undertaken a
voyage to France, with a small band of trusty friends, to try what
his presence (for he was respected through all countries for his
prowess) might do to induce the French monarch to send to Scotland
a body of auxiliary forces, or other assistance, to aid the Scots
in regaining their independence.

The Scottish Champion was on board a small vessel, and steering
for the port of Dieppe, when a sail appeared in the distance, which
the mariners regarded, first with doubt and apprehension, and at
last with confusion and dismay. Wallace demanded to know what was
the cause of their alarm. The captain of the ship informed him that
the tall vessel which was bearing down, with the purpose of boarding
that which he commanded, was the ship of a celebrated rover, equally
famed for his courage, strength of body, and successful piracies.
It was commanded by a gentleman named Thomas de Longueville, a
Frenchman by birth, but by practice one of those pirates who called
themselves friends to the sea and enemies to all who sailed upon
that element. He attacked and plundered vessels of all nations,
like one of the ancient Norse sea kings, as they were termed,
whose dominion was upon the mountain waves. The master added that
no vessel could escape the rover by flight, so speedy was the bark
he commanded; and that no crew, however hardy, could hope to resist
him, when, as was his usual mode of combat, he threw himself on
board at the head of his followers.

Wallace smiled sternly, while the master of the ship, with alarm
in his countenance and tears in his eyes, described to him the
certainty of their being captured by the Red Rover, a name given
to De Longueville, because he usually displayed the blood red flag,
which he had now hoisted.

"I will clear the narrow seas of this rover," said Wallace.

Then calling together some ten or twelve of his own followers, Boyd,
Kerlie, Seton, and others, to whom the dust of the most desperate
battle was like the breath of life, he commanded them to arm
themselves, and lie flat upon the deck, so as to be out of sight.
He ordered the mariners below, excepting such as were absolutely
necessary to manage the vessel; and he gave the master instructions,
upon pain of death, so to steer as that, while the vessel had an
appearance of attempting to fly, he should in fact permit the Red
Rover to come up with them and do his worst. Wallace himself then
lay down on the deck, that nothing might be seen which could intimate
any purpose of resistance. In a quarter of an hour De Longueville's
vessel ran on board that of the Champion, and the Red Rover, casting
out grappling irons to make sure of his prize, jumped on the deck
in complete armour, followed by his men, who gave a terrible shout,
as if victory had been already secured. But the armed Scots started
up at once, and the rover found himself unexpectedly engaged with
men accustomed to consider victory as secure when they were only
opposed as one to two or three. Wallace himself rushed on the pirate
captain, and a dreadful strife began betwixt them with such fury
that the others suspended their own battle to look on, and seemed
by common consent to refer the issue of the strife to the fate of
the combat between the two chiefs. The pirate fought as well as
man could do; but Wallace's strength was beyond that of ordinary
mortals. He dashed the sword from the rover's hand, and placed him
in such peril that, to avoid being cut down, he was fain to close
with the Scottish Champion in hopes of overpowering him in the grapple.
In this also he was foiled. They fell on the deck, locked in each
other's arms, but the Frenchman fell undermost; and Wallace, fixing
his grasp upon his gorget, compressed it so closely, notwithstanding
it was made of the finest steel, that the blood gushed from his
eyes, nose, and month, and he was only able to ask for quarter by
signs. His men threw down their weapons and begged for mercy when
they saw their leader thus severely handled. The victor granted them
all their lives, but took possession of their vessel, and detained
them prisoners.

When he came in sight of the French harbour, Wallace alarmed the
place by displaying the rover's colours, as if De Longueville was
coming to pillage the town. The bells were rung backward, horns
were blown, and the citizens were hurrying to arms, when the scene
changed. The Scottish Lion on his shield of gold was raised above
the piratical flag, and announced that the Champion of Scotland was
approaching, like a falcon with his prey in his clutch. He landed
with his prisoner, and carried him to the court of France, where,
at Wallace's request, the robberies which the pirate had committed
were forgiven, and the king even conferred the honour of knighthood
on Sir Thomas de Longueville, and offered to take him into his
service. But the rover had contracted such a friendship for his
generous victor, that he insisted on uniting his fortunes with
those of Wallace, with whom he returned to Scotland, and fought by
his side in many a bloody battle, where the prowess of Sir Thomas
de Longueville was remarked as inferior to that of none, save of
his heroic conqueror. His fate also was more fortunate than that of
his patron. Being distinguished by the beauty as well as strength
of his person, he rendered himself so acceptable to a young lady,
heiress of the ancient family of Charteris, that she chose him
for her husband, bestowing on him with her hand the fair baronial
Castle of Kinfauns, and the domains annexed to it. Their descendants
took the name of Charteris, as connecting themselves with their
maternal ancestors, the ancient proprietors of the property, though
the name of Thomas de Longueville was equally honoured amongst
them; and the large two handed sword with which he mowed the ranks
of war was, and is still, preserved among the family muniments.
Another account is, that the family name of De Longueville himself
was Charteris. The estate afterwards passed to a family of Blairs,
and is now the property of Lord Gray.

These barons of Kinfauns, from father to son, held, for several
generations, the office of Provost of Perth, the vicinity of the
castle and town rendering it a very convenient arrangement for
mutual support. The Sir Patrick of this history had more than once
led out the men of Perth to battles and skirmishes with the restless
Highland depredators, and with other enemies, foreign and domestic.
True it is, he used sometimes to be weary of the slight and frivolous
complaints unnecessarily brought before him, and in which he was
requested to interest himself. Hence he had sometimes incurred the
charge of being too proud as a nobleman, or too indolent as a man
of wealth, and one who was too much addicted to the pleasures of
the field and the exercise of feudal hospitality, to bestir himself
upon all and every occasion when the Fair Town would have desired
his active interference. But, notwithstanding that this occasioned
some slight murmuring, the citizens, upon any serious cause of
alarm, were wont to rally around their provost, and were warmly
supported by him both in council and action.



CHAPTER VIII.

Within the bounds of Annandale
The gentle Johnstones ride;
They have been there a thousand years,
A thousand more they'll bide.

Old Ballad.


The character and quality of Sir Patrick Charteris, the Provost of
Perth, being such as we have sketched in the last chapter, let us
now return to the deputation which was in the act of rendezvousing
at the East Port, in order to wait upon that dignitary with their
complaints at Kinfauns.

And first appeared Simon Glover, on a pacing palfrey, which had
sometimes enjoyed the honour of bearing the fairer person as well
as the lighter weight of his beautiful daughter. His cloak was
muffled round the lower part of his face, as a sign to his friends
not to interrupt him by any questions while he passed through the
streets, and partly, perhaps, on account of the coldness of the
weather. The deepest anxiety was seated on his brow, as if the more
he meditated on the matter he was engaged in, the more difficult
and perilous it appeared. He only greeted by silent gestures his
friends as they came to the rendezvous.

A strong black horse, of the old Galloway breed, of an under size,
and not exceeding fourteen hands, but high shouldered, strong
limbed, well coupled, and round barrelled, bore to the East Port
the gallant smith. A judge of the animal might see in his eye a
spark of that vicious temper which is frequently the accompaniment
of the form that is most vigorous and enduring; but the weight, the
hand, and the seat of the rider, added to the late regular exercise
of a long journey, had subdued his stubbornness for the present.
He was accompanied by the honest bonnet maker, who being, as the
reader is aware, a little round man, and what is vulgarly called
duck legged, had planted himself like a red pincushion (for he
was wrapped in a scarlet cloak, over which he had slung a hawking
pouch), on the top of a great saddle, which he might be said rather
to be perched upon than to bestride. The saddle and the man were
girthed on the ridge bone of a great trampling Flemish mare, with
a nose turned up in the air like a camel, a huge fleece of hair at
each foot, and every hoof full as large in circumference as a frying
pan. The contrast between the beast and the rider was so extremely
extraordinary, that, whilst chance passengers contented themselves
with wondering how he got up, his friends were anticipating with
sorrow the perils which must attend his coming down again; for the
high seated horseman's feet did not by any means come beneath the
laps of the saddle. He had associated himself to the smith, whose
motions he had watched for the purpose of joining him; for it
was Oliver Proudfute's opinion that men of action showed to most
advantage when beside each other; and he was delighted when some wag
of the lower class had gravity enough to cry out, without laughing
outright: "There goes the pride of Perth--there go the slashing
craftsmen, the jolly Smith of the Wynd and the bold bonnet maker!"

It is true, the fellow who gave this all hail thrust his tongue
in his cheek to some scapegraces like himself; but as the bonnet
maker did not see this byplay, he generously threw him a silver
penny to encourage his respect for martialists. This munificence
occasioned their being followed by a crowd of boys, laughing and
hallooing, until Henry Smith, turning back, threatened to switch
the foremost of them--a resolution which they did not wait to
see put in execution.

"Here are we the witnesses," said the little man on the large horse,
as they joined Simon Glover at the East Port; "but where are they
that should back us? Ah, brother Henry! authority is a load for an
ass rather than a spirited horse: it would but clog the motions of
such young fellows as you and me."

"I could well wish to see you bear ever so little of that same
weight, worthy Master Proudfute," replied Henry Gow, "were it but
to keep you firm in the saddle; for you bounce aloft as if you were
dancing a jig on your seat, without any help from your legs."

"Ay--ay; I raise myself in my stirrups to avoid the jolting. She
is cruelly hard set this mare of mine; but she has carried me in
field and forest, and through some passages that were something
perilous, so Jezabel and I part not. I call her Jezabel, after the
Princess of Castile."

"Isabel, I suppose you mean," answered the smith.

"Ay--Isabel, or Jezabel--all the same, you know. But here comes
Bailie Craigdallie at last, with that poor, creeping, cowardly
creature the pottingar. They have brought two town officers with
their partizans, to guard their fair persons, I suppose. If there
is one thing I hate more than another, it is such a sneaking varlet
as that Dwining."

"Have a care he does not hear you say so," said the smith, "I tell
thee, bonnet maker, that there is more danger in yonder slight
wasted anatomy than in twenty stout fellows like yourself."

"Pshaw! Bully Smith, you are but jesting with me," said Oliver,
softening his voice, however, and looking towards the pottingar,
as if to discover in what limb or lineament of his wasted face and
form lay any appearance of the menaced danger; and his examination
reassuring him, he answered boldly: "Blades and bucklers, man, I
would stand the feud of a dozen such as Dwining. What could he do
to any man with blood in his veins?"

"He could give him a dose of physic," answered the smith drily.

They had no time for further colloquy, for Bailie Craigdallie
called to them to take the road to Kinfauns, and himself showed
the example. As they advanced at a leisurely pace, the discourse
turned on the reception which they were to expect from their provost,
and the interest which he was likely to take in the aggression which
they complained of. The glover seemed particularly desponding, and
talked more than once in a manner which implied a wish that they
would yet consent to let the matter rest. He did not speak out very
plainly, however, fearful, perhaps, of the malignant interpretation
which might be derived from any appearance of his flinching from
the assertion of his daughter's reputation. Dwining seemed to agree
with him in opinion, but spoke more cautiously than in the morning.

"After all," said the bailie, "when I think of all the propines
and good gifts which have passed from the good town to my Lord
Provost's, I cannot think he will be backward to show himself. More
than one lusty boat, laden with Bordeaux wine, has left the South
Shore to discharge its burden under the Castle of Kinfauns. I have
some right to speak of that, who was the merchant importer."

"And," said Dwining, with his squeaking voice, "I could speak
of delicate confections, curious comfits, loaves of wastel bread,
and even cakes of that rare and delicious condiment which men call
sugar, that have gone thither to help out a bridal banquet, or
a kirstening feast, or suchlike. But, alack, Bailie Craigdallie,
wine is drunk, comfits are eaten, and the gift is forgotten when
the flavour is past away. Alas! neighbour, the banquet of last
Christmas is gone like the last year's snow."

"But there have been gloves full of gold pieces," said the magistrate.

"I should know that who wrought them," said Simon, whose professional
recollections still mingled with whatever else might occupy his
mind. "One was a hawking glove for my lady. I made it something
wide. Her ladyship found no fault, in consideration of the intended
lining."

"Well, go to," said Bailie Craigdallie, "the less I lie; and if
these are not to the fore, it is the provost's fault, and not the
town's: they could neither be eat nor drunk in the shape in which
he got them."

"I could speak of a brave armour too," said the smith; "but, cogan
na schie! [Peace or war, I care not!] as John Highlandman says--
I think the knight of Kinfauns will do his devoir by the burgh in
peace or war; and it is needless to be reckoning the town's good
deeds till we see him thankless for them."

"So say I," cried our friend Proudfute, from the top of his mare.
"We roystering blades never bear so base a mind as to count for
wine and walnuts with a friend like Sir Patrick Charteris. Nay,
trust me, a good woodsman like Sir Patrick will prize the right
of hunting and sporting over the lands of the burgh as an high
privilege, and one which, his Majesty the King's Grace excepted,
is neither granted to lord nor loon save to our provost alone."

As the bonnet maker spoke, there was heard on the left hand the
cry of, "So so--waw waw--haw," being the shout of a falconer
to his hawk.

"Methinks yonder is a fellow using the privilege you mention, who,
from his appearance, is neither king nor provost," said the smith.

"Ay, marry, I see him," said the bonnet maker, who imagined the
occasion presented a prime opportunity to win honour. "Thou and I,
jolly smith, will prick towards him and put him to the question."

"Have with you, then," cried the smith; and his companion spurred
his mare and went off, never doubting that Gow was at his heels.

But Craigdallie caught Henry's horse by the reins. "Stand fast by
the standard," he said; "let us see the luck of our light horseman.
If he procures himself a broken pate he will be quieter for the
rest of the day."

"From what I already see," said the smith, "he may easily come by
such a boon. Yonder fellow, who stops so impudently to look at us,
as if he were engaged in the most lawful sport in the world--I
guess him, by his trotting hobbler, his rusty head piece with the
cock's feather, and long two handed sword, to be the follower of
some of the southland lords--men who live so near the Southron,
that the black jack is never off their backs, and who are as free
of their blows as they are light in their fingers."

Whilst they were thus speculating on the issue of the rencounter
the valiant bonnet maker began to pull up Jezabel, in order that
the smith, who he still concluded was close behind, might overtake
him, and either advance first or at least abreast of himself. But
when he saw him at a hundred yards distance, standing composedly
with the rest of the group, the flesh of the champion, like that
of the old Spanish general, began to tremble, in anticipation of
the dangers into which his own venturous spirit was about to involve
it. Yet the consciousness of being countenanced by the neighbourhood
of so many friends, the hopes that the appearance of such odds
must intimidate the single intruder, and the shame of abandoning
an enterprise in which he had volunteered, and when so many persons
must witness his disgrace, surmounted the strong inclination which
prompted him to wheel Jezabel to the right about, and return to
the friends whose protection he had quitted, as fast as her legs
could carry them. He accordingly continued his direction towards
the stranger, who increased his alarm considerably by putting his
little nag in motion, and riding to meet him at a brisk trot. On
observing this apparently offensive movement, our hero looked over
his left shoulder more than once, as if reconnoitring the ground
for a retreat, and in the mean while came to a decided halt. But the
Philistine was upon him ere the bonnet maker could decide whether
to fight or fly, and a very ominous looking Philistine he was. His
figure was gaunt and lathy, his visage marked by two or three ill
favoured scars, and the whole man had much the air of one accustomed
to say, "Stand and deliver," to a true man.

This individual began the discourse by exclaiming, in tones as
sinister as his looks, "The devil catch you for a cuckoo, why do
you ride across the moor to spoil my sport?"

"Worthy stranger," said our friend, in the tone of pacific
remonstrance, "I am Oliver Proudfute, a burgess of Perth, and a
man of substance; and yonder is the worshipful Adam Craigdallie,
the oldest bailie of the burgh, with the fighting Smith of the Wynd,
and three or four armed men more, who desire to know your name,
and how you come to take your pleasure over these lands belonging
to the burgh of Perth; although, natheless, I will answer for
them, it is not their wish to quarrel with a gentleman, or stranger
for any accidental trespass; only it is their use and wont not to
grant such leave, unless it is duly asked; and--and--therefore
I desire to know your name, worthy sir."

The grim and loathly aspect with which the falconer had regarded
Oliver Proudfute during his harangue had greatly disconcerted him,
and altogether altered the character of the inquiry which, with
Henry Gow to back him, he would probably have thought most fitting
for the occasion.

The stranger replied to it, modified as it was, with a most
inauspicious grin, which the scars of his visage made appear still
more repulsive. "You want to know my name? My name is the Devil's
Dick of Hellgarth, well known in Annandale for a gentle Johnstone.
I follow the stout Laird of Wamphray, who rides with his kinsman
the redoubted Lord of Johnstone, who is banded with the doughty
Earl of Douglas; and the earl and the lord, and the laird and I,
the esquire, fly our hawks where we find our game, and ask no man
whose ground we ride over."

"I will do your message, sir," replied Oliver Proudfute, meekly
enough; for he began to be very desirous to get free of the embassy
which he had so rashly undertaken, and was in the act of turning
his horse's head, when the Annandale man added:

"And take you this to boot, to keep you in mind that you met the
Devil's Dick, and to teach you another time to beware how you spoil
the sport of any one who wears the flying spur on his shoulder."

With these words he applied two or three smart blows of his riding
rod upon the luckless bonnet maker's head and person. Some of them
lighted upon Jezabel, who, turning sharply round, laid her rider
upon the moor, and galloped back towards the party of citizens.

Proudfute, thus overthrown, began to cry for assistance in no very
manly voice, and almost in the same breath to whimper for mercy;
for his antagonist, dismounting almost as soon as he fell, offered
a whinger, or large wood knife, to his throat, while he rifled the
pockets of the unlucky citizen, and even examined his hawking bag,
swearing two or three grisly oaths, that he would have what it
contained, since the wearer had interrupted his sport. He pulled
the belt rudely off, terrifying the prostrate bonnet maker still
more by the regardless violence which he used, as, instead of taking
the pains to unbuckle the strap, he drew till the fastening gave
way. But apparently it contained nothing to his mind. He threw it
carelessly from him, and at the same time suffered the dismounted
cavalier to rise, while he himself remounted his hobbler, and looked
towards the rest of Oliver's party, who were now advancing.

When they had seen their delegate overthrown, there was some laughter;
so much had the vaunting humor of the bonnet maker prepared his
friends to rejoice when, as Henry Smith termed it, they saw the
Oliver meet with a Rowland. But when the bonnet maker's adversary
was seen to bestride him, and handle him in the manner described,
the armourer could hold out no longer.

"Please you, good Master Bailie, I cannot endure to see our
townsman beaten and rifled, and like to be murdered before us all.
It reflects upon the Fair Town, and if it is neighbour Proudfute's
misfortune, it is our shame. I must to his rescue."

"We will all go to his rescue," answered Bailie Craigdallie; "but
let no man strike without order from me. We have more feuds on our
hands, it is to be feared, than we have strength to bring to good
end. And therefore I charge you all, more especially you, Henry
of the Wynd, in the name of the Fair City, that you make no stroke
but in self defence."

They all advanced, therefore, in a body; and the appearance of
such a number drove the plunderer from his booty. He stood at gaze,
however, at some distance, like the wolf, which, though it retreats
before the dogs, cannot be brought to absolute flight.

Henry, seeing this state of things, spurred his horse and advanced
far before the rest of the party, up towards the scene of Oliver
Proudfute's misfortune. His first task was to catch Jezabel by
the flowing rein, and his next to lead her to meet her discomfited
master, who was crippling towards him, his clothes much soiled
with his fall, his eyes streaming with tears, from pain as well as
mortification, and altogether exhibiting an aspect so unlike the
spruce and dapper importance of his ordinary appearance, that the
honest smith felt compassion for the little man, and some remorse
at having left him exposed to such disgrace. All men, I believe,
enjoy an ill natured joke. The difference is, that an ill natured
person can drink out to the very dregs the amusement which it
affords, while the better moulded mind soon loses the sense of the
ridiculous in sympathy for the pain of the sufferer.

"Let me pitch you up to your saddle again, neighbour," said the
smith, dismounting at the same time, and assisting Oliver to scramble
into his war saddle, as a monkey might have done.

"May God forgive you, neighbour Smith, for not backing of me! I
would not have believed in it, though fifty credible witnesses had
sworn it of you."

Such were the first words, spoken in sorrow more than anger, by
which the dismayed Oliver vented his feelings.

"The bailie kept hold of my horse by the bridle; and besides,"
Henry continued, with a smile, which even his compassion could not
suppress, "I thought you would have accused me of diminishing your
honour, if I brought you aid against a single man. But cheer up!
the villain took foul odds of you, your horse not being well at
command."

"That is true--that is true," said Oliver, eagerly catching at
the apology.

"And yonder stands the faitour, rejoicing at the mischief he has
done, and triumphing in your overthrow, like the king in the romance,
who played upon the fiddle whilst a city was burning. Come thou
with me, and thou shalt see how we will handle him. Nay, fear not
that I will desert thee this time."

So saying, he caught Jezabel by the rein, and galloping alongside
of her, without giving Oliver time to express a negative, he rushed
towards the Devil's Dick, who had halted on the top of a rising
ground at some distance. The gentle Johnstone, however, either
that he thought the contest unequal, or that he had fought enough
for the day, snapping his fingers and throwing his hand out with
an air of defiance, spurred his horse into a neighbouring bog,
through which he seemed to flutter like a wild duck, swinging
his lure round his head, and whistling to his hawk all the while,
though any other horse and rider must have been instantly bogged
up to the saddle girths.

"There goes a thoroughbred moss trooper," said the smith. "That
fellow will fight or flee as suits his humor, and there is no use
to pursue him, any more than to hunt a wild goose. He has got your
purse, I doubt me, for they seldom leave off till they are full
handed."

"Ye--ye--yes," said Proudfute, in a melancholy tone, "he has got
my purse; but there is less matter since he hath left the hawking
bag."

"Nay, the hawking bag had been an emblem of personal victory, to
be sure--a trophy, as the minstrels call it."

"There is more in it than that, friend," said Oliver, significantly.

"Why, that is well, neighbour: I love to hear you speak in your own
scholarly tone again. Cheer up, you have seen the villain's back,
and regained the trophies you had lost when taken at advantage."

"Ah, Henry Gow--Henry Gow--" said the bonnet maker, and stopped
short with a deep sigh, nearly amounting to a groan.

"What is the matter?" asked his friend--"what is it you vex
yourself about now?"

"I have some suspicion, my dearest friend, Henry Smith, that the
villain fled for fear of you, not of me."

"Do not think so," replied the armourer: "he saw two men and fled,
and who can tell whether he fled for one or the other? Besides,
he knows by experience your strength and activity: we all saw how
you kicked and struggled when you were on the ground."

"Did I?" said poor Proudfute. "I do not remember it, but I know
it is my best point: I am a strong dog in the loins. But did they
all see it?"

"All as much as I," said the smith, smothering an inclination to
laughter.

"But thou wilt remind them of it?"

"Be assured I will," answered Henry, "and of thy desperate rally
even now. Mark what I say to Bailie Craigdallie, and make the best
of it."

"It is not that I require any evidence in thy favour, for I am as
brave by nature as most men in Perth; but only--" Here the man of
valour paused.

"But only what?" inquired the stout armourer.

"But only I am afraid of being killed. To leave my pretty wife and
my young family, you know, would be a sad change, Smith. You will
know this when it is your own case, and will feel abated in courage."

"It is like that I may," said the armourer, musing.

"Then I am so accustomed to the use of arms, and so well breathed,
that few men can match me. It's all here," said the little man,
expanding his breast like a trussed fowl, and patting himself with
his hands--"here is room for all the wind machinery."

"I dare say you are long breathed--long winded; at least your
speech bewrays--"

"My speech! You are a wag--But I have got the stern post of a
dromond brought up the river from Dundee."

"The stern post of a Drummond!" exclaimed the armourer; "conscience,
man, it will put you in feud with the whole clan--not the least
wrathful in the country, as I take it."

"St. Andrew, man, you put me out! I mean a dromond--that is, a
large ship. I have fixed this post in my yard, and had it painted
and carved something like a soldan or Saracen, and with him I breathe
myself, and will wield my two handed sword against him, thrust or
point, for an hour together."

"That must make you familiar with the use of your weapon," said
the smith.

"Ay, marry does it; and sometimes I will place you a bonnet--an
old one, most likely--on my soldan's head, and cleave it with
such a downright blow that in troth, the infidel has but little of
his skull remaining to hit at."

"That is unlucky, for you will lose your practice," said Henry.
"But how say you, bonnet maker? I will put on my head piece and
corselet one day, and you shall hew at me, allowing me my broadsword
to parry and pay back? Eh, what say you?"

"By no manner of means, my dear friend. I should do you too much
evil; besides, to tell you the truth, I strike far more freely at
a helmet or bonnet when it is set on my wooden soldan; then I am
sure to fetch it down. But when there is a plume of feathers in it
that nod, and two eyes gleaming fiercely from under the shadow of
the visor, and when the whole is dancing about here and there, I
acknowledge it puts out my hand of fence."

"So, if men would but stand stock still like your soldan, you would
play the tyrant with them, Master Proudfute?"

"In time, and with practice, I conclude I might," answered Oliver.
"But here we come up with the rest of them. Bailie Craigdallie
looks angry, but it is not his kind of anger that frightens me."

You are to recollect, gentle reader, that as soon as the bailie
and those who attended him saw that the smith had come up to the
forlorn bonnet maker, and that the stranger had retreated, they gave
themselves no trouble about advancing further to his assistance,
which they regarded as quite ensured by the presence of the redoubted
Henry Gow. They had resumed their straight road to Kinfauns, desirous
that nothing should delay the execution of their mission. As some
time had elapsed ere the bonnet maker and the smith rejoined the
party, Bailie Craigdallie asked them, and Henry Smith in particular,
what they meant by dallying away precious time by riding uphill
after the falconer.

"By the mass, it was not my fault, Master Bailie," replied the
smith. "If ye will couple up an ordinary Low Country greyhound
with a Highland wolf dog, you must not blame the first of them for
taking the direction in which it pleases the last to drag him on.
It was so, and not otherwise, with my neighbour Oliver Proudfute.
He no sooner got up from the ground, but he mounted his mare like
a flash of lightning, and, enraged at the unknightly advantage which
yonder rascal had taken of his stumbling horse, he flew after him
like a dromedary. I could not but follow, both to prevent a second
stumble and secure our over bold friend and champion from the chance
of some ambush at the top of the hill. But the villain, who is a
follower of some Lord of the Marches, and wears a winged spur for
his cognizance, fled from our neighbour like fire from flint."

The senior bailie of Perth listened with surprise to the legend
which it had pleased Gow to circulate; for, though not much caring
for the matter, he had always doubted the bonnet maker's romancing
account of his own exploits, which hereafter he must hold as in
some degree orthodox.

The shrewd old glover looked closer into the matter. "You will
drive the poor bonnet maker mad," he whispered to Henry, "and set
him a-ringing his clapper as if he were a town bell on a rejoicing
day, when for order and decency it were better he were silent."

"Oh, by Our Lady, father," replied the smith, "I love the poor
little braggadocio, and could not think of his sitting rueful and
silent in the provost's hall, while all the rest of them, and in
especial that venomous pottingar, were telling their mind."

"Thou art even too good natured a fellow, Henry," answered Simon.
"But mark the difference betwixt these two men. The harmless little
bonnet maker assumes the airs of a dragon, to disguise his natural
cowardice; while the pottingar wilfully desires to show himself
timid, poor spirited, and humble, to conceal the danger of his temper.
The adder is not the less deadly that he creeps under a stone. I
tell thee, son Henry, that, for all his sneaking looks and timorous
talking, this wretched anatomy loves mischief more than he fears
danger. But here we stand in front of the provost's castle; and a
lordly place is Kinfauns, and a credit to the city it is, to have
the owner of such a gallant castle for its chief magistrate."

"A goodly fortalice, indeed," said the smith, looking at the broad
winding Tay, as it swept under the bank on which the castle stood,
like its modern successor, and seemed the queen of the valley,
although, on the opposite side of the river, the strong walls of
Elcho appeared to dispute the pre-eminence. Elcho, however, was
in that age a peaceful nunnery, and the walls with which it was
surrounded were the barriers of secluded vestals, not the bulwarks
of an armed garrison.

"'Tis a brave castle," said the armourer, again looking at the
towers of Kinfauns, "and the breastplate and target of the bonny
course of the Tay. It were worth lipping a good blade, before wrong
were offered to it."

The porter of Kinfauns, who knew from a distance the persons and
characters of the party, had already opened the courtyard gate
for their entrance, and sent notice to Sir Patrick Charteris that
the eldest bailie of Perth, with some other good citizens, were
approaching the castle. The good knight, who was getting ready for
a hawking party, heard the intimation with pretty much the same
feelings that the modern representative of a burgh hears of the
menaced visitation of a party of his worthy electors, at a time
rather unseasonable for their reception. That is, he internally
devoted the intruders to Mahound and Termagaunt, and outwardly gave
orders to receive them with all decorum and civility; commanded
the sewers to bring hot venison steaks and cold baked meats into
the knightly hall with all despatch, and the butler to broach his
casks, and do his duty; for if the Fair City of Perth sometimes
filled his cellar, her citizens were always equally ready to assist
at emptying his flagons.

The good burghers were reverently marshalled into the hall, where the
knight, who was in a riding habit, and booted up to the middle of
his thighs, received them with a mixture of courtesy and patronising
condescension; wishing them all the while at the bottom of the Tay,
on account of the interruption their arrival gave to his proposed
amusement of the morning. He met them in the midst of the hall,
with bare head and bonnet in hand, and some such salutation as the
following:

"Ha, my Master Eldest Bailie, and you, worthy Simon Glover, fathers
of the Fair City, and you, my learned pottingar, and you, stout
smith, and my slashing bonnet maker too, who cracks more skulls
than he covers, how come I to have the pleasure of seeing so many
friends so early? I was thinking to see my hawks fly, and your
company will make the sport more pleasant--(Aside, I trust in
Our Lady they may break their necks!)--that is, always, unless
the city have any commands to lay on me. Butler Gilbert, despatch,
thou knave. But I hope you have no more grave errand than to try
if the malvoisie holds its flavour?"

The city delegates answered to their provost's civilities by
inclinations and congees, more or less characteristic, of which the
pottingar's bow was the lowest and the smith's the least ceremonious.
Probably he knew his own value as a fighting man upon occasion. To
the general compliment the elder bailie replied.

"Sir Patrick Charteris, and our noble Lord Provost," said Craigdallie,
gravely, "had our errand been to enjoy the hospitality with which
we have been often regaled here, our manners would have taught us
to tarry till your lordship had invited us, as on other occasions.
And as to hawking, we have had enough on't for one morning; since
a wild fellow, who was flying a falcon hard by on the moor, unhorsed
and cudgelled our worthy friend Oliver Bonnet Maker, or Proudfute,
as some men call him, merely because he questioned him, in your
honour's name, and the town of Perth's, who or what he was that
took so much upon him."

"And what account gave he of himself?" said the provost. "By St.
John! I will teach him to forestall my sport!"

"So please your lordship," said the bonnet maker, "he did take
me at disadvantage. But I got on horseback again afterwards, and
pricked after him gallantly. He calls himself Richard the Devil."

"How, man! he that the rhymes and romances are made on?" said the
provost. "I thought that smaik's name had been Robert."

"I trow they be different, my lord. I only graced this fellow with
the full title, for indeed he called himself the Devil's Dick, and
said he was a Johnstone, and a follower of the lord of that name.
But I put him back into the bog, and recovered my hawking bag,
which he had taken when I was at disadvantage."

Sir Patrick paused for an instant. "We have heard," said he, "of
the Lord of Johnstone, and of his followers. Little is to be had
by meddling with them. Smith, tell me, did you endure this?"

"Ay, faith did I, Sir Patrick, having command from my betters not
to help."

"Well, if thou satst down with it," said the provost, "I see not
why we should rise up; especially as Master Oliver Proudfute, though
taken at advantage at first, has, as he has told us; recovered
his reputation and that of the burgh. But here comes the wine at
length. Fill round to my good friends and guests till the wine leap
over the cup. Prosperity to St. Johnston, and a merry welcome to
you all, my honest friends! And now sit you to eat a morsel, for
the sun is high up, and it must be long since you thrifty men have
broken your fast."

"Before we eat, my Lord Provost," said the bailie, "let us tell you
the pressing cause of our coming, which as yet we have not touched
upon."

"Nay, prithee, bailie," said the provost, "put it off till thou hast
eaten. Some complaint against the rascally jackmen and retainers
of the nobles, for playing at football on the streets of the burgh,
or some such goodly matter."

"No, my lord," said Craigdallie, stoutly and firmly. "It is the
jackmen's masters of whom we complain, for playing at football with
the honour of our families, and using as little ceremony with our
daughters' sleeping chambers as if they were in a bordel at Paris.
A party of reiving night walkers--courtiers and men of rank, as
there is but too much reason to believe--attempted to scale the
windows of Simon Glover's house last night; they stood in their
defence with drawn weapons when they were interrupted by Henry
Smith, and fought till they were driven off by the rising of the
citizens."

"How!" said Sir Patrick, setting down the cup which he was about
to raise to his head. "Cock's body, make that manifest to me, and,
by the soul of Thomas of Longueville, I will see you righted with
my best power, were it to cost me life and land. Who attests this?
Simon Glover, you are held an honest and a cautious man--do you
take the truth of this charge upon your conscience?"

"My lord," said Simon, "understand I am no willing complainer in
this weighty matter. No damage has arisen, save to the breakers of
the peace themselves. I fear only great power could have encouraged
such lawless audacity; and I were unwilling to put feud between my
native town and some powerful nobleman on my account. But it has
been said that, if I hang back in prosecuting this complaint, it
will be as much as admitting that my daughter expected such a visit,
which is a direct falsehood. Therefore, my lord, I will tell your
lordship what happened, so far as I know, and leave further proceeding
to your wisdom."

He then told, from point to point, all that he had seen of the
attack.

Sir Patrick Charteris, listening with much attention, seemed
particularly struck with the escape of the man who had been made
prisoner.

"Strange," he said, "that you did not secure him when you had him.
Did you not look at him so as to know him again?"

"I had but the light of a lantern, my Lord Provost; and as to
suffering him to escape, I was alone," said the glover, "and old.
But yet I might have kept him, had I not heard my daughter shriek
in the upper room; and ere I had returned from her chamber the man
had escaped through the garden."

"Now, armourer, as a true man and a good soldier," said Sir Patrick,
"tell me what you know of this matter."

Henry Gow, in his own decided style, gave a brief but clear narrative
of the whole affair.

Honest Proudfute being next called upon, began his statement with
an air of more importance. "Touching this awful and astounding
tumult within the burgh, I cannot altogether, it is true, say with
Henry Gow that I saw the very beginning. But it will not be denied
that I beheld a great part of the latter end, and especially that
I procured the evidence most effectual to convict the knaves."

"And what is it, man?" said Sir Patrick Charteris. "Never lose time
fumbling and prating about it. What is it?"

"I have brought your lordship, in this pouch, what one of the rogues
left behind him," said the little man. "It is a trophy which, in
good faith and honest truth, I do confess I won not by the blade,
but I claim the credit of securing it with that presence of mind
which few men possess amidst flashing torches and clashing weapons.
I secured it, my lord, and here it is."

So saying, he produced, from the hawking pouch already mentioned,
the stiffened hand which had been found on the scene of the skirmish.

"Nay, bonnet maker," said the provost, "I'll warrant thee man enough
to secure a rogue's hand after it is cut from the body. What do
you look so busily for in your bag?"

"There should have been--there was--a ring, my lord, which was
on the knave's finger. I fear I have been forgetful, and left it
at home, for I took it off to show to my wife, as she cared not to
look upon the dead hand, as women love not such sights. But yet I
thought I had put it on the finger again. Nevertheless, it must,
I bethink me, be at home. I will ride back for it, and Henry Smith
will trot along with me."

"We will all trot with thee," said Sir Patrick Charteris, "since I
am for Perth myself. Look you, honest burghers and good neighbours
of Perth; you may have thought me unapt to be moved by light
complaints and trivial breaches of your privileges, such as small
trespasses on your game, the barons' followers playing football in
the street, and suchlike. But, by the soul of Thomas of Longueville,
you shall not find Patrick Charteris slothful in a matter of this
importance. This hand," he continued, holding up the severed joint,
"belongs to one who hath worked no drudgery. We will put it in a
way to be known and claimed of the owner, if his comrades of the
revel have but one spark of honour in them. Hark you, Gerard; get
me some half score of good men instantly to horse, and let them take
jack and spear. Meanwhile, neighbours, if feud arise out of this,
as is most likely, we must come to each other's support. If my poor
house be attacked, how many men will you bring to my support?"

The burghers looked at Henry Gow, to whom they instinctively turned
when such matters were discussed.

"I will answer," said he, "for fifty good fellows to be assembled
ere the common bell has rung ten minutes; for a thousand, in the
space of an hour."

"It is well," answered the gallant provost; "and in the case of
need, I will come to aid the Fair City with such men as I can make.
And now, good friends, let us to horse."



CHAPTER IX.

If I know how to manage these affairs,
Thus thrust disorderly upon my hands,
Never believe me--

Richard II.


It was early in the afternoon of St. Valentine's Day that the prior
of the Dominicans was engaged in discharge of his duties as confessor
to a penitent of no small importance. This was an elderly man, of
a goodly presence, a florid and healthful cheek, the under part of
which was shaded by a venerable white beard, which descended over
his bosom. The large and clear blue eyes, with the broad expanse
of brow, expressed dignity; but it was of a character which seemed
more accustomed to receive honours voluntarily paid than to enforce
them when they were refused. The good nature of the expression was
so great as to approach to defenceless simplicity or weakness of
character, unfit, it might be inferred, to repel intrusion or subdue
resistance. Amongst the grey locks of this personage was placed a
small circlet or coronet of gold, upon a blue fillet. His beads,
which were large and conspicuous, were of native gold, rudely
enough wrought, but ornamented with Scottish pearls of rare size
and beauty. These were his only ornaments; and a long crimson robe
of silk, tied by a sash of the same colour, formed his attire.
His shrift being finished, he arose heavily from the embroidered
cushion upon which he kneeled during his confession, and, by
the assistance of a crutch headed staff of ebony, moved, lame and
ungracefully, and with apparent pain, to a chair of state, which,
surmounted by a canopy, was placed for his accommodation by the
chimney of the lofty and large apartment.

This was Robert, third of that name, and the second of the ill
fated family of Stuart who filled the throne of Scotland. He had
many virtues, and was not without talent; but it was his great
misfortune that, like others of his devoted line, his merits
were not of a kind suited to the part which he was called upon to
perform in life. The king of so fierce a people as the Scots then
were ought to have been warlike, prompt, and active, liberal in
rewarding services, strict in punishing crimes, one whose conduct
should make him feared as well as beloved. The qualities of Robert
the Third were the reverse of all these. In youth he had indeed seen
battles; but, without incurring disgrace, he had never manifested the
chivalrous love of war and peril, or the eager desire to distinguish
himself by dangerous achievements, which that age expected from
all who were of noble birth and had claims to authority.

Besides, his military career was very short. Amidst the tumult of
a tournament, the young Earl of Carrick, such was then his title,
received a kick from the horse of Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith,
in consequence of which he was lame for the rest of his life, and
absolutely disabled from taking share either in warfare or in the
military sports and tournaments which were its image. As Robert
had never testified much predilection for violent exertion, he did
not probably much regret the incapacities which exempted him from
these active scenes. But his misfortune, or rather its consequences,
lowered him in the eyes of a fierce nobility and warlike people.
He was obliged to repose the principal charge of his affairs now
in one member, now in another, of his family, sometimes with the
actual rank, and always with the power, of lieutenant general of
the kingdom. His paternal affection would have induced him to use
the assistance of his eldest son, a young man of spirit and talent,
whom in fondness he had created Duke of Rothsay, in order to give
him the present possession of a dignity next to that of the throne.
But the young prince's head was too giddy, and his hand too feeble to
wield with dignity the delegated sceptre. However fond of power,
pleasure was the Prince's favourite pursuit; and the court was
disturbed, and the country scandalised, by the number of fugitive
amours and extravagant revels practised by him who should have set
an example of order and regularity to the youth of the kingdom.

The license and impropriety of the Duke of Rothsay's conduct was
the more reprehensible in the public view, that he was a married
person; although some, over whom his youth, gaiety, grace, and good
temper had obtained influence, were of opinion that an excuse for
his libertinism might be found in the circumstances of the marriage
itself. They reminded each other that his nuptials were entirely
conducted by his uncle, the Duke of Albany, by whose counsels the
infirm and timid King was much governed at the time, and who had
the character of managing the temper of his brother and sovereign,
so as might be most injurious to the interests and prospects of the
young heir. By Albany's machinations the hand of the heir apparent
was in a manner put up to sale, as it was understood publicly that
the nobleman in Scotland who should give the largest dower to his
daughter might aspire to raise her to the bed of the Duke of Rothsay.

In the contest for preference which ensued, George Earl of Dunbar
and March, who possessed, by himself or his vassals, a great part
of the eastern frontier, was preferred to other competitors; and
his daughter was, with the mutual goodwill of the young couple,
actually contracted to the Duke of Rothsay.

But there remained a third party to be consulted, and that was
no other than the tremendous Archibald Earl of Douglas, terrible
alike from the extent of his lands, from the numerous offices and
jurisdictions with which he was invested, and from his personal
qualities of wisdom and valour, mingled with indomitable pride, and
more than the feudal love of vengeance. The Earl was also nearly
related to the throne, having married the eldest daughter of the
reigning monarch.

After the espousals of the Duke of Rothsay with the Earl of
March's daughter, Douglas, as if he had postponed his share in the
negotiation to show that it could not be concluded with any one but
himself, entered the lists to break off the contract. He tendered
a larger dower with his daughter Marjory than the Earl of March
had proffered; and, secured by his own cupidity and fear of the
Douglas, Albany exerted his influence with the timid monarch till
he was prevailed upon to break the contract with the Earl of March,
and wed his son to Marjory Douglas, a woman whom Rothsay could
not love. No apology was offered to the Earl of March, excepting
that the espousals betwixt the Prince and Elizabeth of Dunbar had
not been approved by the States of Parliament, and that till such
ratification the contract was liable to be broken off. The Earl
deeply resented the wrong done to himself and his daughter, and was
generally understood to study revenge, which his great influence
on the English frontier was likely to place within his power.

In the mean time, the Duke of Rothsay, incensed at the sacrifice of
his hand and his inclinations to this state intrigue, took his own
mode of venting his displeasure, by neglecting his wife, contemning
his formidable and dangerous father in law, and showing little
respect to the authority of the King himself, and none whatever
to the remonstrances of Albany, his uncle, whom he looked upon as
his confirmed enemy.

Amid these internal dissensions of his family, which extended
themselves through his councils and administration, introducing
everywhere the baneful effects of uncertainty and disunion, the
feeble monarch had for some time been supported by the counsels of
his queen, Annabella, a daughter of the noble house of Drummond,
gifted with a depth of sagacity and firmness of mind which exercised
some restraint over the levities of a son who respected her, and
sustained on many occasions the wavering resolution of her royal
husband. But after her death the imbecile sovereign resembled
nothing so much as a vessel drifted from her anchors, and tossed
about amidst contending currents. Abstractedly considered, Robert
might be said to doat upon his son, to entertain respect and awe
for the character of his brother Albany, so much more decisive
than his own, to fear the Douglas with a terror which was almost
instinctive; and to suspect the constancy of the bold but fickle
Earl of March. But his feelings towards these various characters
were so mixed and complicated, that from time to time they showed
entirely different from what they really were; and according to
the interest which had been last exerted over his flexible mind,
the King would change from an indulgent to a strict and even cruel
father, from a confiding to a jealous brother, or from a benignant
and bountiful to a grasping and encroaching sovereign. Like the
chameleon, his feeble mind reflected the colour of that firmer character
upon which at the time he reposed for counsel and assistance. And
when he disused the advice of one of his family, and employed the
counsel of another, it was no unwonted thing to see a total change
of measures, equally disrespectable to the character of the King
and dangerous to the safety of the state.

It followed as a matter of course that the clergy of the Catholic
Church acquired influence over a man whose intentions were so
excellent, but whose resolutions were so infirm. Robert was haunted,
not only with a due sense of the errors he had really committed,
but with the tormenting apprehensions of those peccadilloes which
beset a superstitious and timid mind. It is scarce necessary,
therefore, to add, that the churchmen of various descriptions had
no small influence over this easy tempered prince, though, indeed,
theirs was, at that period, an influence from which few or none
escaped, however resolute and firm of purpose in affairs of a temporal
character. We now return from this long digression, without which
what we have to relate could not perhaps have been well understood.

The King had moved with ungraceful difficulty to the cushioned chair
which, under a state or canopy, stood prepared for his accommodation,
and upon which he sank down with enjoyment, like an indolent man,
who had been for some time confined to a constrained position. When
seated, the gentle and venerable looks of the good old man showed
benevolence. The prior, who now remained standing opposite to the
royal seat, with an air of deep deference which cloaked the natural
haughtiness of his carriage, was a man betwixt forty and fifty years
of age, but every one of whose hairs still retained their natural
dark colour. Acute features and a penetrating look attested the
talents by which the venerable father had acquired his high station
in the community over which he presided; and, we may add, in the
councils of the kingdom, in whose service they were often exercised.
The chief objects which his education and habits taught him to
keep in view were the extension of the dominion and the wealth of
the church, and the suppression of heresy, both of which he endeavoured
to accomplish by all the means which his situation afforded him.
But he honoured his religion by the sincerity of his own belief,
and by the morality which guided his conduct in all ordinary
situations. The faults of the Prior Anselm, though they led him
into grievous error, and even cruelty, were perhaps rather those
of his age and profession; his virtues were his own.

"These things done," said the King, "and the lands I have mentioned
secured by my gift to this monastery, you are of opinion, father,
that I stand as much in the good graces of our Holy Mother Church
as to term myself her dutiful son?"

"Surely, my liege," said the prior; "would to God that all her
children brought to the efficacious sacrament of confession as
deep a sense of their errors, and as much will to make amends for
them. But I speak these comforting words, my liege, not to Robert
King of Scotland, but only to my humble and devout penitent, Robert
Stuart of Carrick."

"You surprise me, father," answered the King: "I have little check
on my conscience for aught that I have done in my kingly office,
seeing that I use therein less mine own opinion than the advice of
the most wise counsellors."

"Even therein lieth the danger, my liege," replied the prior. "The
Holy Father recognises in your Grace, in every thought, word, and
action, an obedient vassal of the Holy Church. But there are perverse
counsellors, who obey the instinct of their wicked hearts, while
they abuse the good nature and ductility of their monarch, and,
under colour of serving his temporal interests, take steps which
are prejudicial to those that last to eternity."

King Robert raised himself upright in his chair, and assumed an air
of authority, which, though it well became him, he did not usually
display.

"Prior Anselm," he said, "if you have discovered anything in my
conduct, whether as a king or a private individual, which may call
down such censures as your words intimate, it is your duty to speak
plainly, and I command you to do so."

"My liege, you shall be obeyed," answered the prior, with an inclination
of the body. Then raising himself up, and assuming the dignity of
his rank in the church, he said, "Hear from me the words of our Holy
Father the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, to whom have descended
the keys, both to bind and to unloose. 'Wherefore, O Robert of
Scotland, hast thou not received into the see of St. Andrews Henry
of Wardlaw, whom the Pontiff hath recommended to fill that see?
Why dost thou make profession with thy lips of dutiful service to
the Church, when thy actions proclaim the depravity and disobedience
of thy inward soul? Obedience is better than sacrifice."

"Sir prior," said the monarch, bearing himself in a manner not
unbecoming his lofty rank, "we may well dispense with answering
you upon this subject, being a matter which concerns us and the
estates of our kingdom, but does not affect our private conscience."

"Alas," said the prior, "and whose conscience will it concern at
the last day? Which of your belted lords or wealthy burgesses will
then step between their king and the penalty which he has incurred
by following of their secular policy in matters ecclesiastical?
Know, mighty king, that, were all the chivalry of thy realm drawn
up to shield thee from the red levin bolt, they would be consumed
like scorched parchment before the blaze of a furnace."

"Good father prior," said the King, on whose timorous conscience this
kind of language seldom failed to make an impression, "you surely
argue over rigidly in this matter. It was during my last indisposition,
while the Earl of Douglas held, as lieutenant general, the regal
authority in Scotland, that the obstruction to the reception of
the Primate unhappily arose. Do not, therefore, tax me with what
happened when I was unable to conduct the affairs of the kingdom,
and compelled to delegate my power to another."

"To your subject, sire, you have said enough," replied the prior.
"But, if the impediment arose during the lieutenancy of the Earl
of Douglas, the legate of his Holiness will demand wherefore it
has not been instantly removed, when the King resumed in his royal
hands the reins of authority? The Black Douglas can do much--
more perhaps than a subject should have power to do in the kingdom
of his sovereign; but he cannot stand betwixt your Grace and your
own conscience, or release you from the duties to the Holy Church
which your situation as a king imposes upon you."

"Father," said Robert, somewhat impatiently, "you are over peremptory
in this matter, and ought at least to wait a reasonable season,
until we have time to consider of some remedy. Such disputes have
happened repeatedly in the reigns of our predecessors; and our royal
and blessed ancestor, St. David, did not resign his privileges as
a monarch without making a stand in their defence, even though he
was involved in arguments with the Holy Father himself."

"And therein was that great and good king neither holy nor saintly,"
said the prior "and therefore was he given to be a rout and a spoil
to his enemies, when he raised his sword against the banners of
St. Peter, and St. Paul, and St. John of Beverley, in the war, as
it is still called, of the Standard. Well was it for him that, like
his namesake, the son of Jesse, his sin was punished upon earth,
and not entered against him at the long and dire day of accounting."

"Well, good prior--well--enough of this for the present. The
Holy See shall, God willing, have no reason to complain of me.
I take Our Lady to witness, I would not for the crown I wear take
the burden of wronging our Mother Church. We have ever feared that
the Earl of Douglas kept his eyes too much fixed on the fame and
the temporalities of this frail and passing life to feel altogether
as he ought the claims that refer to a future world."

"It is but lately," said the prior, "that he hath taken up forcible
quarters in the monastery of Aberbrothock, with his retinue of a
thousand followers; and the abbot is compelled to furnish him with
all he needs for horse and man, which the Earl calls exercising the
hospitality which he hath a right to expect from the foundation to
which his ancestors were contributors. Certain, it were better to
return to the Douglas his lands than to submit to such exaction,
which more resembles the masterful license of Highland thiggers and
sorners [sturdy beggars], than the demeanour of a Christian baron."

"The Black Douglasses," said the King, with a sigh, "are a race
which will not be said nay. But, father prior, I am myself, it
may be, an intruder of this kind; for my sojourning hath been long
among you, and my retinue, though far fewer than the Douglas's,
are nevertheless enough to cumber you for their daily maintenance;
and though our order is to send out purveyors to lessen your charge
as much as may be, yet if there be inconvenience, it were fitting
we should remove in time."

"Now, Our Lady forbid!" said the prior, who, if desirous of power,
had nothing meanly covetous in his temper, but was even magnificent
in his generous kindness; "certainly the Dominican convent can
afford to her sovereign the hospitality which the house offers to
every wanderer of whatever condition who will receive it at the
hands of the poor servants of our patron. No, my royal liege; come
with ten times your present train, they shall neither want a grain
of oats, a pile of straw, a morsel of bread, nor an ounce of food
which our convent can supply them. It is one thing to employ the
revenues of the church, which are so much larger than monks ought
to need or wish for, in the suitable and dutiful reception of your
royal Majesty, and another to have it wrenched from us by the hands
of rude and violent men, whose love of rapine is only limited by
the extent of their power."

"It is well, good prior," said the King; "and now to turn our
thoughts for an instant from state affairs, can thy reverence inform
us how the good citizens of Perth have begun their Valentine's Day?
Gallantly, and merrily, and peacefully; I hope."

"For gallantly, my liege, I know little of such qualities. For
peacefully, there were three or four men, two cruelly wounded,
came this morning before daylight to ask the privilege of girth and
sanctuary, pursued by a hue and cry of citizens in their shirts,
with clubs, bills, Lochaber axes, and two handed swords, crying 'Kill
and slay,' each louder than another. Nay, they were not satisfied
when our porter and watch told them that those they pursued had
taken refuge in the galilee of the church, but continued for some
minutes clamouring and striking upon the postern door, demanding
that the men who had offended should be delivered up to them. I
was afraid their rude noise might have broken your Majesty's rest,
and raised some surprise."

"My rest might have been broken," said the monarch; "but that
sounds of violence should have occasioned surprise--Alas! reverend
father, there is in Scotland only one place where the shriek of
the victim and threats of the oppressor are not heard, and that,
father, is--the grave."

The prior stood in respectful silence, sympathising with the
feelings of a monarch whose tenderness of heart suited so ill with
the condition and manners of his people.

"And what became of the fugitives?" asked Robert, after a minute's
pause.

"Surely, sire," said the prior, "they were dismissed, as they
desired to be, before daylight; and after we had sent out to be
assured that no ambush of their enemies watched them in the vicinity,
they went their way in peace."

"You know nothing," inquired the King, "who the men were, or the
cause of their taking refuge with you?"

"The cause," said the prior, "was a riot with the townsmen; but how
arising is not known to us. The custom of our house is to afford
twenty-four hours of uninterrupted refuge in the sanctuary of St.
Dominic, without asking any question at the poor unfortunates who
have sought relief there. If they desire to remain for a longer
space, the cause of their resorting to sanctuary must be put upon
the register of the convent; and, praised be our holy saint, many
persons escape the weight of the law by this temporary protection,
whom, did we know the character of their crimes, we might have found
ourselves obliged to render up to their pursuers and persecutors."

As the prior spoke, a dim idea occurred to the monarch, that
the privilege of sanctuary thus peremptorily executed must prove
a severe interruption to the course of justice through his realm.
But he repelled the feeling, as if it had been a suggestion of
Satan, and took care that not a single word should escape to betray
to the churchman that such a profane thought had ever occupied his
bosom; on the contrary, he hasted to change the subject.

"The sun," he said, "moves slowly on the index. After the painful
information you have given me, I expected the Lords of my Council
ere now, to take order with the ravelled affairs of this unhappy
riot. Evil was the fortune which gave me rule over a people among
whom it seems to me I am in my own person the only man who desires
rest and tranquillity!"

"The church always desires peace and tranquillity," added the
prior, not suffering even so general a proposition to escape the
poor king's oppressed mind without insisting on a saving clause
for the church's honour.

"We meant nothing else," said Robert. "But, father prior, you will
allow that the church, in quelling strife, as is doubtless her
purpose, resembles the busy housewife, who puts in motion the dust
which she means to sweep away."

To this remark the prior would have made some reply, but the door
of the apartment was opened, and a gentleman usher announced the
Duke of Albany.



CHAPTER X.

Gentle friend,
Chide not her mirth, who was sad yesterday,
And may be so tomorrow.

JOANNA BAILLIE.


The Duke of Albany was, like his royal brother, named Robert. The
Christian name of the latter had been John until he was called to
the throne; when the superstition of the times observed that the
name had been connected with misfortune in the lives and reigns
of John of England, John of France, and John Baliol of Scotland.
It was therefore agreed that, to elude the bad omen, the new king
should assume the name of Robert, rendered dear to Scotland by
the recollections of Robert Bruce. We mention this to account for
the existence of two brothers of the same Christian name in one
family, which was not certainly an usual occurrence, more than at
the present day.

Albany, also an aged man, was not supposed to be much more disposed
for warlike enterprise than the King himself. But if he had not
courage, he had wisdom to conceal and cloak over his want of that
quality, which, once suspected, would have ruined all the plans
which his ambition had formed. He had also pride enough to supply,
in extremity, the want of real valour, and command enough over
his nerves to conceal their agitation. In other respects, he was
experienced in the ways of courts, calm, cool, and crafty, fixing
upon the points which he desired to attain, while they were yet far
removed, and never losing sight of them, though the winding paths
in which he trode might occasionally seem to point to a different
direction. In his person he resembled the King, for he was noble and
majestic both in stature and countenance. But he had the advantage
of his elder brother, in being unencumbered with any infirmity,
and in every respect lighter and more active. His dress was rich
and grave, as became his age and rank, and, like his royal brother,
he wore no arms of any kind, a case of small knives supplying at
his girdle the place usually occupied by a dagger in absence of a
sword.

At the Duke's entrance the prior, after making an obeisance,
respectfully withdrew to a recess in the apartment, at some distance
from the royal seat, in order to leave the conversation of the
brothers uncontrolled by the presence of a third person. It is
necessary to mention, that the recess was formed by a window; placed
in the inner front of the monastic buildings, called the palace,
from its being the frequent residence of the Kings of Scotland,
but which was, unless on such occasions, the residence of the prior
or abbot. The window was placed over the principal entrance to the
royal apartments, and commanded a view of the internal quadrangle
of the convent, formed on the right hand by the length of the
magnificent church, on the left by a building containing the range
of cellars, with the refectory, chapter house, and other conventual
apartments rising above them, for such existed altogether independent
of the space occupied by King Robert and his attendants; while
a fourth row of buildings, showing a noble outward front to the
rising sun, consisted of a large hospitium, for the reception of
strangers and pilgrims, and many subordinate offices, warehouses,
and places of accommodation, for the ample stores which supplied the
magnificent hospitality of the Dominican fathers. A lofty vaulted
entrance led through this eastern front into the quadrangle, and
was precisely opposite to the window at which Prior Anselm stood,
so that he could see underneath the dark arch, and observe the
light which gleamed beneath it from the eastern and open portal;
but, owing to the height to which he was raised, and the depth of
the vaulted archway, his eye could but indistinctly reach the opposite
and extended portal. It is necessary to notice these localities.

We return to the conversation between the princely relatives.

"My dear brother," said the King, raising the Duke of Albany, as
he stooped to kiss his hand--"my dear, dear brother, wherefore
this ceremonial? Are we not both sons of the same Stuart of Scotland
and of the same Elizabeth More?"

"I have not forgot that it is so," said Albany, arising; "but I
must not omit, in the familiarity of the brother, the respect that
is due to the king."

"Oh, true--most true, Robin," answered the King. "The throne is
like a lofty and barren rock, upon which flower or shrub can never
take root. All kindly feelings, all tender affections, are denied
to a monarch. A king must not fold a brother to his heart--he
dare not give way to fondness for a son."

"Such, in some respects, is the doom of greatness, sire," answered
Albany; "but Heaven, who removed to some distance from your Majesty's
sphere the members of your own family, has given you a whole people
to be your children."

"Alas! Robert," answered the monarch, "your heart is better framed
for the duties of a sovereign than mine. I see from the height at
which fate has placed me that multitude whom you call my children.
I love them, I wish them well; but they are many, and they are
distant from me. Alas! even the meanest of them has some beloved
being whom he can clasp to his heart, and upon whom he can lavish
the fondness of a father. But all that a king can give to a people
is a smile, such as the sun bestows on the snowy peaks of the Grampian
mountains, as distant and as ineffectual. Alas, Robin! our father
used to caress us, and if he chid us it was with a tone of kindness;
yet he was a monarch as well as I, and wherefore should not I be
permitted, like him, to reclaim my poor prodigal by affection as
well as severity?"

"Had affection never been tried, my liege," replied Albany, in
the tone of one who delivers sentiments which he grieves to utter,
"means of gentleness ought assuredly to be first made use of. Your
Grace is best judge whether they have been long enough persevered
in, and whether those of discouragement and restraint may not prove
a more effectual corrective. It is exclusively in your royal power
to take what measures with the Duke of Rothsay you think will be
most available to his ultimate benefit, and that of the kingdom."

"This is unkind, brother," said the King: "you indicate the painful
path which you would have me pursue, yet you offer me not your
support in treading it."

"My support your Grace may ever command," replied Albany; "but would
it become me, of all men on earth, to prompt to your Grace severe
measures against your son and heir? Me, on whom, in case of failure
--which Heaven forefend!--of your Grace's family, this fatal
crown might descend? Would it not be thought and said by the fiery
March and the haughty Douglas, that Albany had sown dissension between
his royal brother and the heir to the Scottish throne, perhaps to
clear the way for the succession of his own family? No, my liege,
I can sacrifice my life to your service, but I must not place my
honour in danger."

"You say true, Robin.--you say very true," replied the King,
hastening to put his own interpretation upon his brother's words.
"We must not suffer these powerful and dangerous lords to perceive
that there is aught like discord in the royal family. That must be
avoided of all things: and therefore we will still try indulgent
measures, in hopes of correcting the follies of Rothsay. I behold
sparks of hope in him, Robin, from time to time, that are well
worth cherishing. He is young--very young--a prince, and in the
heyday of his blood. We will have patience with him, like a good
rider with a hot tempered horse. Let him exhaust this idle humor,
and no one will be better pleased with him than yourself. You have
censured me in your kindness for being too gentle, too retired;
Rothsay has no such defects."

"I will pawn my life he has not," replied Albany, drily.

"And he wants not reflection as well as spirit," continued the poor
king, pleading the cause of his son to his brother. "I have sent
for him to attend council today, and we shall see how he acquits
himself of his devoir. You yourself allow, Robin, that the Prince
wants neither shrewdness nor capacity for affairs, when he is in
the humor to consider them."

"Doubtless, he wants neither, my liege," replied Albany, "when he
is in the humor to consider them."

"I say so," answered the King; "and am heartily glad that you agree
with me, Robin, in giving this poor hapless young man another trial.
He has no mother now to plead his cause with an incensed father.
That must be remembered, Albany."

"I trust," said Albany, "the course which is most agreeable to your
Grace's feelings will also prove the wisest and the best."

The Duke well saw the simple stratagem by which the King was
endeavouring to escape from the conclusions of his reasoning, and
to adopt, under pretence of his sanction, a course of proceeding
the reverse of what it best suited him to recommend. But though
he saw he could not guide his brother to the line of conduct he
desired, he would not abandon the reins, but resolved to watch for
a fitter opportunity of obtaining the sinister advantages to which
new quarrels betwixt the King and Prince were soon, he thought,
likely to give rise.

In the mean time, King Robert, afraid lest his brother should
resume the painful subject from which he had just escaped, called
aloud to the prior of the Dominicans, "I hear the trampling of
horse. Your station commands the courtyard, reverend father. Look
from the window, and tell us who alights. Rothsay, is it not?"

"The noble Earl of March, with his followers," said the prior.

"Is he strongly accompanied?" said the King. "Do his people enter
the inner gate?"

At the same moment, Albany whispered the King, "Fear nothing, the
Brandanes of your household are under arms."

The King nodded thanks, while the prior from the window answered
the question he had put. "The Earl is attended by two pages,
two gentlemen, and four grooms. One page follows him up the main
staircase, bearing his lordship's sword. The others halt in the
court, and--Benedicite, how is this? Here is a strolling glee
woman, with her viol, preparing to sing beneath the royal windows,
and in the cloister of the Dominicans, as she might in the yard of
an hostelrie! I will have her presently thrust forth."

"Not so, father," said the King. "Let me implore grace for the poor
wanderer. The joyous science, as they call it, which they profess,
mingles sadly with the distresses to which want and calamity condemn
a strolling race; and in that they resemble a king, to whom all men
cry, 'All hail!' while he lacks the homage and obedient affection
which the poorest yeoman receives from his family. Let the wanderer
remain undisturbed, father; and let her sing if she will to the
yeomen and troopers in the court; it will keep them from quarrelling
with each other, belonging, as they do, to such unruly and hostile
masters."

So spoke the well meaning and feeble minded prince, and the prior
bowed in acquiescence. As he spoke, the Earl of March entered the
hall of audience, dressed in the ordinary riding garb of the time,
and wearing his poniard. He had left in the anteroom the page of
honour who carried his sword. The Earl was a well built, handsome
man, fair complexioned, with a considerable profusion of light
coloured hair, and bright blue eyes, which gleamed like those of
a falcon. He exhibited in his countenance, otherwise pleasing, the
marks of a hasty and irritable temper, which his situation as a high
and powerful feudal lord had given him but too many opportunities
of indulging.

"I am glad to see you, my Lord of March," said the King, with a
gracious inclination of his person. "You have been long absent from
our councils."

"My liege," answered March with a deep reverence to the King, and
a haughty and formal inclination to the Duke of Albany, "if I have
been absent from your Grace's councils, it is because my place
has been supplied by more acceptable, and, I doubt not, abler,
counsellors. And now I come but to say to your Highness, that the
news from the English frontier make it necessary that I should
return without delay to my own estates. Your Grace has your wise
and politic brother, my Lord of Albany, with whom to consult, and
the mighty and warlike Earl of Douglas to carry your counsels into
effect. I am of no use save in my own country; and thither, with
your Highness's permission, I am purposed instantly to return, to
attend my charge, as Warden of the Eastern Marches."

"You will not deal so unkindly with us, cousin," replied the gentle
monarch. "Here are evil tidings on the wind. These unhappy Highland
clans are again breaking into general commotion, and the tranquillity
even of our own court requires the wisest of our council to advise,
and the bravest of our barons to execute, what may be resolved
upon. The descendant of Thomas Randolph will not surely abandon
the grandson of Robert Bruce at such a period as this?"

"I leave with him the descendant of the far famed James of Douglas,"
answered March. "It is his lordship's boast that he never puts
foot in stirrup but a thousand horse mount with him as his daily
lifeguard, and I believe the monks of Aberbrothock will swear to
the fact. Surely, with all the Douglas's chivalry, they are fitter
to restrain a disorderly swarm of Highland kerne than I can be to
withstand the archery of England and power of Henry Hotspur? And
then, here is his Grace of Albany, so jealous in his care of your
Highness's person, that he calls your Brandanes to take arms when a
dutiful subject like myself approaches the court with a poor half
score of horse, the retinue of the meanest of the petty barons
who own a tower and a thousand acres of barren heath. When such
precautions are taken where there is not the slightest chance of
peril--since I trust none was to be apprehended from me--your
royal person will surely be suitably guarded in real danger."

"My Lord of March," said the Duke of Albany, "the meanest of the
barons of whom you speak put their followers in arms even when they
receive their dearest and nearest friends within the iron gate of
their castle; and, if it please Our Lady, I will not care less for
the King's person than they do for their own. The Brandanes are the
King's immediate retainers and household servants, and an hundred
of them is but a small guard round his Grace, when yourself, my
lord, as well as the Earl of Douglas, often ride with ten times
the number."

"My Lord Duke," replied March, "when the service of the King
requires it, I can ride with ten times as many horse as your Grace
has named; but I have never done so either traitorously to entrap
the King nor boastfully to overawe other nobles."

"Brother Robert," said the King, ever anxious to be a peacemaker,
"you do wrong even to intimate a suspicion of my Lord of March. And
you, cousin of March, misconstrue my brother's caution. But hark
--to divert this angry parley--I hear no unpleasing touch of
minstrelsy. You know the gay science, my Lord of March, and love
it well. Step to yonder window, beside the holy prior, at whom we
make no question touching secular pleasures, and you will tell us
if the music and play be worth listening to. The notes are of France,
I think. My brother of Albany's judgment is not worth a cockle shell
in such matters, so you, cousin, must report your opinion whether
the poor glee maiden deserves recompense. Our son and the Douglas
will presently be here, and then, when our council is assembled,
we will treat of graver matters."

With something like a smile on his proud brow, March withdrew into
the recess of the window, and stood there in silence beside the
prior, like one who, while he obeyed the King's command, saw through
and despised the timid precaution which it implied, as an attempt
to prevent the dispute betwixt Albany and himself. The tune, which
was played upon a viol, was gay and sprightly in the commencement,
with a touch of the wildness of the troubadour music. But, as it
proceeded, the faltering tones of the instrument, and of the female
voice which accompanied it, became plaintive and interrupted, as
if choked by the painful feelings of the minstrel.

The offended earl, whatever might be his judgment in such matters
on which the King had complimented him, paid, it may be supposed,
little attention to the music of the female minstrel. His proud
heart was struggling between the allegiance he owed his sovereign,
as well as the love he still found lurking in his bosom for the
person of his well natured king, and a desire of vengeance arising
out of his disappointed ambition, and the disgrace done to him by
the substitution of Marjory Douglas to be bride of the heir apparent,
instead of his betrothed daughter. March had the vices and virtues
of a hasty and uncertain character, and even now, when he came to
bid the King adieu, with the purpose of renouncing his allegiance
as soon as he reached his own feudal territories, he felt unwilling,
and almost unable, to resolve upon a step so criminal and so full
of peril. It was with such dangerous cogitations that he was occupied
during the beginning of the glee maiden's lay; but objects which
called his attention powerfully, as the songstress proceeded, affected
the current of his thoughts, and riveted them on what was passing
in the courtyard of the monastery. The song was in the Provencal
dialect, well understood as the language of poetry in all the
courts of Europe, and particularly in Scotland. It was more simply
turned, however, than was the general cast of the sirventes, and
rather resembled the lai of a Norman minstrel. It may be translated
thus:

The Lay of Poor Louise.

Ah, poor Louise!  The livelong day
She roams from cot to castle gay;
And still her voice and viol say,
Ah, maids, beware the woodland way;
Think on Louise.

Ah, poor Louise!  The sun was high;
It smirch'd her cheek, it dimm'd her eye.
The woodland walk was cool and nigh,
Where birds with chiming streamlets vie
To cheer Louise.

Ah, poor Louise!  The savage bear
Made ne'er that lovely grove his lair;
The wolves molest not paths so fair.
But better far had such been there
For poor Louise.

Ah, poor Louise!  In woody wold
She met a huntsman fair and bold;
His baldrick was of silk and gold,
And many a witching tale he told
To poor Louise.

Ah, poor Louise!  Small cause to pine
Hadst thou for treasures of the mine;
For peace of mind, that gift divine,
And spotless innocence, were thine.
Ah, poor Louise!

Ah, poor Louise!  Thy treasure's reft.
I know not if by force or theft,
Or part by violence, part by gift;
But misery is all that's left
To poor Louise,

Let poor Louise some succour have!
She will not long your bounty crave,
Or tire the gay with warning stave;
For Heaven has grace, and earth a grave
For poor Louise.

The song was no sooner finished than, anxious lest the dispute
should be revived betwixt his brother and the Earl of March, King
Robert called to the latter, "What think you of the minstrelsy, my
lord? Methinks, as I heard it even at this distance, it was a wild
and pleasing lay."

"My judgment is not deep my lord; but the singer may dispense with
my approbation, since she seems to have received that of his Grace
of Rothsay, the best judge in Scotland."

"How!" said the King in alarm; "is my son below?"

"He is sitting on horseback by the glee maiden," said March, with
a malicious smile on his cheek, "apparently as much interested by
her conversation as her music."

"How is this, father prior?" said the King.

But the prior drew back from the lattice. "I have no will to see,
my lord, things which it would pain me to repeat."

"How is all this?" said the King, who coloured deeply, and seemed
about to rise from his chair; but changed his mind, as if unwilling,
perhaps, to look upon some unbecoming prank of the wild young
prince, which he might not have had heart to punish with necessary
severity. The Earl of March seemed to have a pleasure in informing
him of that of which doubtless he desired to remain ignorant.

"My liege," he cried, "this is better and better. The glee maiden
has not only engaged the ear of the Prince of Scotland, as well as
of every groom and trooper in the courtyard, but she has riveted
the attention of the Black Douglas, whom we have not known as a
passionate admirer of the gay science. But truly, I do not wonder
at his astonishment, for the Prince has honoured the fair professor
of song and viol with a kiss of approbation."

"How!" cried the King, "is David of Rothsay trifling with a glee
maiden, and his wife's father in presence? Go, my good father
abbot, call the Prince here instantly. Go, my dearest brother--"
And when they had both left the room, the King continued, "Go,
good cousin of March; there will be mischief, I am assured of it.
I pray you go, cousin, and second my lord prior's prayers with my
commands."

"You forget, my liege," said March, with the voice of a deeply
offended person, "the father of Elizabeth of Dunbar were but an
unfit intercessor between the Douglas and his royal son in law."

"I crave your pardon, cousin," said the gentle old man. "I own you
have had some wrong; but my Rothsay will be murdered--I must go
myself."

But, as he arose precipitately from his chair, the poor king missed
a footstep, stumbled, and fell heavily to the ground, in such a
manner that, his head striking the corner of the seat from which
he had risen, he became for a minute insensible. The sight of the
accident at once overcame March's resentment and melted his heart.
He ran to the fallen monarch, and replaced him in his seat, using,
in the tenderest and most respectful manner, such means as seemed
most fit to recall animation.

Robert opened his eyes, and gazed around with uncertainty. "What
has happened?--are we alone?--who is with us?"

"Your dutiful subject, March," replied the Earl.

"Alone with the Earl of March!" repeated the King, his still disturbed
intellect receiving some alarm from the name of a powerful chief
whom he had reason to believe he had mortally offended.

"Yes, my gracious liege, with poor George of Dunbar, of whom many
have wished your Majesty to think ill, though he will be found
truer to your royal person at the last than they will."

"Indeed, cousin, you have had too much wrong; and believe me, we
shall strive to redress--"

"If your Grace thinks so, it may yet be righted," interrupted the
Earl, catching at the hopes which his ambition suggested: "the
Prince and Marjory Douglas are nearly related--the dispensation
from Rome was informally granted--their marriage cannot be lawful
--the Pope, who will do much for so godly a prince, can set aside
this unchristian union, in respect of the pre-contract. Bethink you
well, my liege," continued the Earl, kindling with a new train of
ambitious thoughts, to which the unexpected opportunity of pleading
his cause personally had given rise--"bethink you how you choose
betwixt the Douglas and me. He is powerful and mighty, I grant.
But George of Dunbar wears the keys of Scotland at his belt, and
could bring an English army to the gates of Edinburgh ere Douglas
could leave the skirts of Carintable to oppose them. Your royal
son loves my poor deserted girl, and hates the haughty Marjory of
Douglas. Your Grace may judge the small account in which he holds
her by his toying with a common glee maiden even in the presence
of her father."

The King had hitherto listened to the Earl's argument with the
bewildered feelings of a timid horseman, borne away by an impetuous
steed, whose course he can neither arrest nor direct. But the last
words awakened in his recollection the sense of his son's immediate
danger.

"Oh, ay, most true--my son--the Douglas! Oh, my dear cousin,
prevent blood, and all shall be as you will. Hark, there is a tumult
--that was the clash of arms!"

"By my coronet, by my knightly faith, it is true!" said the Earl,
looking from the window upon the inner square of the convent, now
filled with armed men and brandished weapons, and resounding with
the clash of armour. The deep vaulted entrance was crowded with
warriors at its farthest extremity, and blows seemed to be in the
act of being exchanged betwixt some who were endeavouring to shut
the gate and others who contended to press in.

"I will go instantly," said the Earl of March, "and soon quell this
sudden broil. Humbly I pray your Majesty to think on what I have
had the boldness to propose."

"I will--I will, fair cousin," said the King, scarce knowing to
what he pledged himself; "do but prevent tumult and bloodshed!"



CHAPTER XI

Fair is the damsel, passing fair;
Sunny at distance gleams her smile;
Approach--the cloud of woful care
Hangs trembling in her eye the while.

Lucinda, a Ballad.


We must here trace a little more correctly the events which had
been indistinctly seen from the window of the royal apartments,
and yet more indistinctly reported by those who witnessed them. The
glee maiden, already mentioned, had planted herself where a rise
of two large broad steps, giving access to the main gateway of
the royal apartments, gained her an advantage of a foot and a half
in height over those in the court, of whom she hoped to form an
audience. She wore the dress of her calling, which was more gaudy
than rich, and showed the person more than did the garb of other
females. She had laid aside an upper mantle, and a small basket
which contained her slender stock of necessaries; and a little
French spaniel dog sat beside them, as their protector. An azure
blue jacket, embroidered with silver, and sitting close to the
person, was open in front, and showed several waistcoats of different
coloured silks, calculated to set off the symmetry of the shoulders
and bosom, and remaining open at the throat. A small silver chain
worn around her neck involved itself amongst these brilliant
coloured waistcoats, and was again produced from them; to display
a medal of the same metal, which intimated, in the name of some
court or guild of minstrels, the degree she had taken in the gay
or joyous science. A cmall scrip, suspended over her shoulders by
a blue silk riband; hung on her left side.

Her sunny complexion, snow white teeth, brilliant black eyes, and
raven locks marked her country lying far in the south of France,
and the arch smile and dimpled chin bore the same character. Her
luxuriant raven locks, twisted around a small gold bodkin, were
kept in their position by a net of silk and gold. Short petticoats,
deep laced with silver, to correspond with the jacket, red stockings
which were visible so high as near the calf of the leg, and buskins
of Spanish leather, completed her adjustment, which, though far
from new, had been saved as an untarnished holiday suit, which much
care had kept in good order. She seemed about twenty-five years
old; but perhaps fatigue and wandering had anticipated the touch
of time in obliterating the freshness of early youth.

We have said the glee maiden's manner was lively, and we may add
that her smile and repartee were ready. But her gaiety was assumed,
as a quality essentially necessary to her trade, of which it was
one of the miseries, that the professors were obliged frequently
to cover an aching heart with a compelled smile. This seemed to be
the case with Louise, who, whether she was actually the heroine of
her own song, or whatever other cause she might have for sadness,
showed at times a strain of deep melancholy thought, which interfered
with and controlled the natural flow of lively spirits which the
practice of the joyous science especially required. She lacked also,
even in her gayest sallies, the decided boldness and effrontery of
her sisterhood, who were seldom at a loss to retort a saucy jest,
or turn the laugh against any who interrupted or interfered with
them.

It may be here remarked, that it was impossible that this class of
women, very numerous in that age, could bear a character generally
respectable. They were, however, protected by the manners of the
time; and such were the immunities they possessed by the rights of
chivalry, that nothing was more rare than to hear of such errant
damsels sustaining injury or wrong, and they passed and repassed
safely, where armed travellers would probably have encountered a
bloody opposition. But though licensed and protected in honour of
their tuneful art, the wandering minstrels, male or female, like
similar ministers to the public amusement, the itinerant musicians,
for instance, and strolling comedians of our own day, led a life
too irregular and precarious to be accounted a creditable part of
society. Indeed, among the stricter Catholics, the profession was
considered as unlawful.

Such was the damsel who, with viol in hand, and stationed on the slight
elevation we have mentioned, stepped forward to the bystanders and
announced herself as a mistress of the gay science, duly qualified
by a brief from a Court of Love and Music held at Aix, in Provence,
under the countenance of the flower of chivalry, the gallant Count
Aymer; who now prayed that the cavaliers of merry Scotland, who were
known over the wide world for bravery and courtesy, would permit
a poor stranger to try whether she could afford them any amusement
by her art. The love of song was like the love of fight, a common
passion of the age, which all at least affected, whether they
were actually possessed by it or no; therefore the acquiescence in
Louise's proposal was universal. At the same time, an aged, dark
browed monk who was among the bystanders thought it necessary to
remind the glee maiden that, since she was tolerated within these
precincts, which was an unusual grace, he trusted nothing would be
sung or said inconsistent with the holy character of the place.

The glee maiden bent her head low, shook her sable locks, and
crossed herself reverentially, as if she disclaimed the possibility
of such a transgression, and then began the song of "Poor Louise."
which we gave at length in the last chapter.

Just as she commenced, she was stopped by a cry of "Room--room
--place for the Duke of Rothsay!"

"Nay, hurry no man on my score," said a gallant young cavalier, who
entered on a noble Arabian horse, which he managed with exquisite
grace, though by such slight handling of the reins, such imperceptible
pressure of the limbs and sway of the body, that to any eye save
that of an experienced horseman the animal seemed to be putting
forth his paces for his own amusement, and thus gracefully bearing
forward a rider who was too indolent to give himself any trouble
about the matter.

The Prince's apparel, which was very rich, was put on with slovenly
carelessness. His form, though his stature was low, and his limbs
extremely slight, was elegant in the extreme; and his features no
less handsome. But there was on his brow a haggard paleness, which
seemed the effect of care or of dissipation, or of both these
wasting causes combined. His eyes were sunk and dim, as from late
indulgence in revelry on the preceding evening, while his cheek
was inflamed with unnatural red, as if either the effect of the
Bacchanalian orgies had not passed away from the constitution,
or a morning draught had been resorted to, in order to remove the
effects of the night's debauchery.

Such was the Duke of Rothsay, and heir of the Scottish crown, a
sight at once of interest and compassion. All unbonneted and made
way for him, while he kept repeating carelessly, "No haste--
no haste: I shall arrive soon enough at the place I am bound for.
How's this--a damsel of the joyous science? Ay, by St. Giles!
and a comely wench to boot. Stand still, my merry men; never was
minstrelsy marred for me. A good voice, by the mass! Begin me that
lay again, sweetheart."

Louise did not know the person who addressed her; but the general
respect paid by all around, and the easy and indifferent manner in
which it was received, showed her she was addressed by a man of
the highest quality. She recommenced her lay, and sung her best
accordingly; while the young duke seemed thoughtful and rather
affected towards the close of the ditty. But it was not his habit
to cherish such melancholy affections.

"This is a plaintive ditty, my nut brown maid," said he, chucking
the retreating glee maiden under the chin, and detaining her
by the collar of her dress, which was not difficult, as he sat on
horseback so close to the steps on which she stood. "But I warrant
me you have livelier notes at will, ma bella tenebrosa; ay, and
canst sing in bower as well as wold, and by night as well as day."

"I am no nightingale, my lord," said Louise, endeavouring to escape
a species of gallantry which ill suited the place and circumstances
--a discrepancy to which he who addressed it to her seemed
contemptuously indifferent.

"What hast thou there, darling?" he added, removing his hold from
her collar to the scrip which she carried.

Glad was Louise to escape his grasp, by slipping the knot of the
riband, and leaving the little bag in the Prince's hand, as, retiring
back beyond his reach, she answered, "Nuts, my lord, of the last
season."

The Prince pulled out a handful of nuts accordingly. "Nuts, child!
they will break thine ivory teeth, hurt thy pretty voice," said
Rothsay, cracking one with his teeth, like a village schoolboy.

"They are not the walnuts of my own sunny clime, my lord," said
Louise; "but they hang low, and are within the reach of the poor."

"You shall have something to afford you better fare, poor wandering
ape," said the Duke, in a tone in which feeling predominated more
than in the affected and contemptuous gallantry of his first address
to the glee maiden.

At this moment, as he turned to ask an attendant for his purse,
the Prince encountered the stern and piercing look of a tall black
man, seated on a powerful iron grey horse, who had entered the
court with attendants while the Duke of Rothsay was engaged with
Louise, and now remained stupefied and almost turned to stone by
his surprise and anger at this unseemly spectacle. Even one who had
never seen Archibald Earl of Douglas, called the Grim, must have
known him by his swart complexion, his gigantic frame, his buff
coat of bull's hide, and his air of courage, firmness, and sagacity,
mixed with indomitable pride. The loss of an eye in battle, though
not perceptible at first sight, as the ball of the injured organ
remained similar to the other, gave yet a stern, immovable glare
to the whole aspect.

The meeting of the royal son in law with his terrible stepfather
[father in law] was in circumstances which arrested the attention
of all present; and the bystanders waited the issue with silence
and suppressed breath, lest they should lose any part of what was
to ensue.

When the Duke of Rothsay saw the expression which occupied the
stern features of Douglas, and remarked that the Earl did not make
the least motion towards respectful, or even civil, salutation, he
seemed determined to show him how little respect he was disposed
to pay to his displeased looks. He took his purse from his chamberlain.

"Here, pretty one," he said, "I give thee one gold piece for the
song thou hast sung me, another for the nuts I have stolen from
thee, and a third for the kiss thou art about to give me. For know,
my pretty one, that when fair lips, and thine for fault of better
may be called so, make sweet music for my pleasure, I am sworn to
St. Valentine to press them to mine."

"My song is recompensed nobly," said Louise, shrinking back; "my
nuts are sold to a good market; farther traffic, my lord, were
neither befitting you nor beseeming me."

"What! you coy it, my nymph of the highway?" said the Prince,
contemptuously. "Know damsel, that one asks you a grace who is
unused to denial."

"It is the Prince of Scotland--the Duke of Rothsay," said the
courtiers around, to the terrified Louise, pressing forward the
trembling young woman; "you must not thwart his humor."

"But I cannot reach your lordship," she said, timidly, "you sit so
high on horseback."

"If I must alight," said Rothsay, "there shall be the heavier
penalty. What does the wench tremble for? Place thy foot on the toe
of my boot, give me hold of thy hand. Gallantly done!" He kissed
her as she stood thus suspended in the air, perched upon his foot
and supported by his hand; saying, "There is thy kiss, and there
is my purse to pay it; and to grace thee farther, Rothsay will wear
thy scrip for the day."

He suffered the frightened girl to spring to the ground, and
turned his looks from her to bend them contemptuously on the Earl
of Douglas, as if he had said, "All this I do in despite of you
and of your daughter's claims."

"By St. Bride of Douglas!" said the Earl, pressing towards the
Prince, "this is too much, unmannered boy, as void of sense as
honour! You know what considerations restrain the hand of Douglas,
else had you never dared--"

"Can you play at spang cockle, my lord?" said the Prince, placing
a nut on the second joint of his forefinger, and spinning it off
by a smart application of the thumb. The nut struck on Douglas's
broad breast, who burst out into a dreadful exclamation of wrath,
inarticulate, but resembling the growl of a lion in depth and
sternness of expression.

"I cry your pardon, most mighty lord," said the Duke of Rothsay,
scornfully, while all around trembled; "I did not conceive my
pellet could have wounded you, seeing you wear a buff coat. Surely,
I trust, it did not hit your eye?"

The prior, despatched by the King, as we have seen in the last
chapter, had by this time made way through the crowd, and laying
hold on Douglas's rein, in a manner that made it impossible for
him to advance, reminded him that the Prince was the son of his
sovereign; and the husband of his daughter.

"Fear not, sir prior," said Douglas. "I despise the childish boy
too much to raise a finger against him. But I will return insult
for insult. Here, any of you who love the Douglas, spurn me this
quean from the monastery gates; and let her be so scourged that
she may bitterly remember to the last day of her life how she gave
means to an unrespective boy to affront the Douglas."

Four or five retainers instantly stepped forth to execute commands
which were seldom uttered in vain, and heavily would Louise have
atoned for an offence of which she was alike the innocent, unconscious,
and unwilling instrument, had not the Duke of Rothsay interfered.

"Spurn the poor glee woman!" he said, in high indignation; "scourge
her for obeying my commands! Spurn thine own oppressed vassals,
rude earl--scourge thine own faulty hounds; but beware how you
touch so much as a dog that Rothsay hath patted on the head, far
less a female whose lips he hath kissed!"

Before Douglas could give an answer, which would certainly have been
in defiance, there arose that great tumult at the outward gate of
the monastery, already noticed, and men both on horseback and on
foot began to rush headlong in, not actually fighting with each
other, but certainly in no peaceable manner.

One of the contending parties, seemingly, were partizans of
Douglas, known by the cognizance of the bloody heart; the other
were composed of citizens of the town of Perth. It appeared they
had been skirmishing in earnest when without the gates, but, out of
respect to the sanctified ground, they lowered their weapons when
they entered, and confined their strife to a war of words and mutual
abuse.

The tumult had this good effect, that it forced asunder, by the
weight and press of numbers, the Prince and Douglas, at a moment
when the levity of the former and the pride of the latter were
urging both to the utmost extremity. But now peacemakers interfered
on all sides. The prior and the monks threw themselves among the
multitude, and commanded peace in the name of Heaven, and reverence
to their sacred walls, under penalty of excommunication; and their
expostulations began to be listened to. Albany, who was despatched
by his royal brother at the beginning of the fray, had not arrived
till now on the scene of action. He instantly applied himself to
Douglas, and in his ear conjured him to temper his passion.

"By St. Bride of Douglas, I will be avenged!" said the Earl. "No
man shall brook life after he has passed an affront on Douglas."

"Why, so you may be avenged in fitting time," said Albany; "but
let it not be said that, like a peevish woman, the Great Douglas
could choose neither time nor place for his vengeance. Bethink you,
all that we have laboured at is like to be upset by an accident.
George of Dunbar hath had the advantage of an audience with the old
man; and though it lasted but five minutes, I fear it may endanger
the dissolution of your family match, which we brought about with so
much difficulty. The authority from Rome has not yet been obtained."

"A toy!" answered Douglas, haughtily; "they dare not dissolve it."

"Not while Douglas is at large, and in possession of his power,"
answered Albany. "But, noble earl, come with me, and I will show
you at what disadvantage you stand."

Douglas dismounted, and followed his wily accomplice in silence.
In a lower hall they saw the ranks of the Brandanes drawn up, well
armed in caps of steel and shirts of mail. Their captain, making
an obeisance to Albany, seemed to desire to address him.

"What now, MacLouis?" said the Duke.

"We are informed the Duke of Rothsay has been insulted, and I can
scarce keep the Brandanes within door."

"Gallant MacLouis," said Albany, "and you, my trusty Brandanes,
the Duke of Rothsay, my princely nephew, is as well as a hopeful
gentleman can be. Some scuffle there has been, but all is appeased."

He continued to draw the Earl of Douglas forward. "You see,
my lord," he said in his ear, "that, if the word 'arrest' was to
be once spoken, it would be soon obeyed, and you are aware your
attendants are few for resistance."

Douglas seemed to acquiesce in the necessity of patience for the
time. "If my teeth," he said, "should bite through my lips, I will
be silent till it is the hour to speak out."

George of March, in the meanwhile, had a more easy task of pacifying
the Prince. "My Lord of Rothsay," he said, approaching him with
grave ceremony, "I need not tell you that you owe me something for
reparation of honour, though I blame not you personally for the
breach of contract which has destroyed the peace of my family. Let
me conjure you, by what observance your Highness may owe an injured
man, to forego for the present this scandalous dispute."

"My lord, I owe you much," replied Rothsay; "but this haughty and
all controlling lord has wounded mine honour."

"My lord, I can but add, your royal father is ill--hath swooned
with terror for your Highness's safety."

"Ill!" replied the Prince--"the kind, good old man swooned, said
you, my Lord of March? I am with him in an instant."

The Duke of Rothsay sprung from his saddle to the ground, and was
dashing into the palace like a greyhound, when a feeble grasp was
laid on his cloak, and the faint voice of a kneeling female exclaimed,
"Protection, my noble prince!--protection for a helpless stranger!"

"Hands off, stroller!" said the Earl of March, thrusting the
suppliant glee maiden aside.

But the gentler prince paused. "It is true," he said, "I have
brought the vengeance of an unforgiving devil upon this helpless
creature. O Heaven! what a life, is mine, so fatal to all who approach
me! What to do in the hurry? She must not go to my apartments. And
all my men are such born reprobates. Ha! thou at mine elbow, honest
Harry Smith? What dost thou here?"

"There has been something of a fight, my lord," answered our
acquaintance the smith, "between the townsmen and the Southland
loons who ride with the Douglas; and we have swinged them as far
as the abbey gate."

"I am glad of it--I am glad of it. And you beat the knaves fairly?"

"Fairly, does your Highness ask?" said Henry. "Why, ay! We were
stronger in numbers, to be sure; but no men ride better armed than
those who follow the Bloody Heart. And so in a sense we beat them
fairly; for, as your Highness knows, it is the smith who makes the
man at arms, and men with good weapons are a match for great odds."

While they thus talked, the Earl of March, who had spoken with
some one near the palace gate, returned in anxious haste. "My Lord
Duke!--my Lord Duke! your father is recovered, and if you haste
not speedily, my Lord of Albany and the Douglas will have possession
of his royal ear."

"And if my royal father is recovered," said the thoughtless Prince,
"and is holding, or about to hold, counsel with my gracious uncle
and the Earl of Douglas, it befits neither your lordship nor me to
intrude till we are summoned. So there is time for me to speak of
my little business with mine honest armourer here."

"Does your Highness take it so?" said the Earl, whose sanguine
hopes of a change of favour at court had been too hastily excited,
and were as speedily checked. "Then so let it be for George of
Dunbar."

He glided away with a gloomy and displeased aspect; and thus out
of the two most powerful noblemen in Scotland, at a time when the
aristocracy so closely controlled the throne, the reckless heir
apparent had made two enemies--the one by scornful defiance and
the other by careless neglect. He heeded not the Earl of March's
departure, however, or rather he felt relieved from his importunity.

The Prince went on in indolent conversation with our armourer,
whose skill in his art had made him personally known to many of
the great lords about the court.

"I had something to say to thee, Smith. Canst thou take up a fallen
link in my Milan hauberk?"

"As well, please your Highness, as my mother could take up a stitch
in the nets she wove. The Milaner shall not know my work from his
own."

"Well, but that was not what I wished of thee just now," said the
Prince, recollecting himself: "this poor glee woman, good Smith,
she must be placed in safety. Thou art man enough to be any woman's
champion, and thou must conduct her to some place of safety."

Henry Smith was, as we have seen, sufficiently rash and daring when
weapons were in question. But he had also the pride of a decent
burgher, and was unwilling to place himself in what might be thought
equivocal circumstances by the sober part of his fellow citizens.

"May it please your Highness," he said, "I am but a poor craftsman.
But, though my arm and sword are at the King's service and your
Highness's, I am, with reverence, no squire of dames. Your Highness
will find, among your own retinue, knights and lords willing enough
to play Sir Pandarus of Troy; it is too knightly a part for poor
Hal of the Wynd."

"Umph--hah!" said the Prince. "My purse, Edgar." (His attendant
whispered him.) "True--true, I gave it to the poor wench. I know
enough of your craft, sir smith, and of craftsmen in general, to
be aware that men lure not hawks with empty hands; but I suppose
my word may pass for the price of a good armour, and I will pay it
thee, with thanks to boot, for this slight service."

"Your Highness may know other craftsmen," said the smith; "but,
with reverence, you know not Henry Gow. He will obey you in making
a weapon, or in wielding one, but he knows nothing of this petticoat
service."

"Hark thee, thou Perthshire mule," said the Prince, yet smiling,
while he spoke, at the sturdy punctilio of the honest burgher; "the
wench is as little to me as she is to thee. But in an idle moment,
as you may learn from those about thee, if thou sawest it not thyself,
I did her a passing grace, which is likely to cost the poor wretch
her life. There is no one here whom I can trust to protect her
against the discipline of belt and bowstring, with which the Border
brutes who follow Douglas will beat her to death, since such is
his pleasure."

"If such be the case, my liege, she has a right to every honest
man's protection; and since she wears a petticoat--though I would
it were longer and of a less fanciful fashion--I will answer
for her protection as well as a single man may. But where am I to
bestow her?"

"Good faith, I cannot tell," said the Prince. "Take her to Sir John
Ramorny's lodging. But, no--no--he is ill at ease, and besides,
there are reasons; take her to the devil if thou wilt, but place
her in safety, and oblige David of Rothsay."

"My noble Prince," said the smith, "I think, always with reverence,
that I would rather give a defenceless woman to the care of the
devil than of Sir John Ramorny. But though the devil be a worker in
fire like myself, yet I know not his haunts, and with aid of Holy
Church hope to keep him on terms of defiance. And, moreover, how
I am to convey her out of this crowd, or through the streets, in
such a mumming habit may be well made a question."

"For the leaving the convent," said the Prince, "this good monk"
(seizing upon the nearest by his cowl)--"Father Nicholas or
Boniface--"

"Poor brother Cyprian, at your Highness's command," said the father.

"Ay--ay, brother Cyprian," continued the Prince--"yes. Brother
Cyprian shall let you out at some secret passage which he knows
of, and I will see him again to pay a prince's thanks for it."

The churchman bowed in acquiescence, and poor Louise, who, during
this debate, had looked from the one speaker to the other, hastily
said, "I will not scandalise this good man with my foolish garb:
I have a mantle for ordinary wear."

"Why, there, Smith, thou hast a friar's hood and a woman's mantle
to shroud thee under. I would all my frailties were as well shrouded.
Farewell, honest fellow; I will thank thee hereafter."

Then, as if afraid of farther objection on the smith's part, he
hastened into the palace.

Henry Gow remained stupefied at what had passed, and at finding
himself involved in a charge at once inferring much danger and
an equal risk of scandal, both which, joined to a principal share
which he had taken, with his usual forwardness, in the fray,
might, he saw, do him no small injury in the suit he pursued most
anxiously. At the same time, to leave a defenceless creature to the
ill usage of the barbarous Galwegians and licentious followers of
the Douglas was a thought which his manly heart could not brook
for an instant.

He was roused from his reverie by the voice of the monk, who,
sliding out his words with the indifference which the holy fathers
entertained, or affected, towards all temporal matters, desired
them to follow him. The smith put himself in motion, with a sigh
much resembling a groan, and, without appearing exactly connected
with the monk's motions, he followed him into a cloister, and through
a postern door, which, after looking once behind him, the priest
left ajar. Behind them followed Louise, who had hastily assumed
her small bundle, and, calling her little four legged companion,
had eagerly followed in the path which opened an escape from what
had shortly before seemed a great and inevitable danger.



CHAPTER XII.

Then up and spak the auld gudewife,
And wow! but she was grim:
"Had e'er your father done the like,
It had been ill for him."

Lucky Trumbull.


The party were now, by a secret passage, admitted within the church,
the outward doors of which, usually left open, had been closed
against every one in consequence of the recent tumult, when the
rioters of both parties had endeavoured to rush into it for other
purposes than those of devotion. They traversed the gloomy aisles,
whose arched roof resounded to the heavy tread of the armourer,
but was silent under the sandalled foot of the monk, and the light
step of poor Louise, who trembled excessively, as much from fear
as cold. She saw that neither her spiritual nor temporal conductor
looked kindly upon her. The former was an austere man, whose aspect
seemed to hold the luckless wanderer in some degree of horror, as
well as contempt; while the latter, though, as we have seen, one
of the best natured men living, was at present grave to the pitch
of sternness, and not a little displeased with having the part
he was playing forced upon him, without, as he was constrained to
feel, a possibility of his declining it.

His dislike at his task extended itself to the innocent object of
his protection, and he internally said to himself, as he surveyed
her scornfully: "A proper queen of beggars to walk the streets of
Perth with, and I a decent burgher! This tawdry minion must have as
ragged a reputation as the rest of her sisterhood, and I am finely
sped if my chivalry in her behalf comes to Catharine's ears. I had
better have slain a man, were he the best in Perth; and, by hammer
and nails, I would have done it on provocation, rather than convoy
this baggage through the city."

Perhaps Louise suspected the cause of her conductor's anxiety, for
she said, timidly and with hesitation: "Worthy sir, were it not
better I should stop one instant in that chapel and don my mantle?"

"Umph, sweetheart, well proposed," said the armourer; but the monk
interfered, raising at the same time the finger of interdiction.

"The chapel of holy St. Madox is no tiring room for jugglers and
strollers to shift their trappings in. I will presently show thee
a vestiary more suited to thy condition."

The poor young woman hung down her humbled head, and turned from
the chapel door which she had approached with the deep sense of self
abasement. Her little spaniel seemed to gather from his mistress's
looks and manner that they were unauthorised intruders on the holy
ground which they trode, and hung his ears, and swept the pavement
with his tail, as he trotted slowly and close to Louise's heels.

The monk moved on without a pause. They descended a broad flight of
steps, and proceeded through a labyrinth of subterranean passages,
dimly lighted. As they passed a low arched door, the monk turned
and said to Louise, with the same stern voice as before: "There,
daughter of folly--there is a robing room, where many before you
have deposited their vestments."

Obeying the least signal with ready and timorous acquiescence, she
pushed the door open, but instantly recoiled with terror. It was
a charnel house, half filled with dry skulls and bones.

"I fear to change my dress there, and alone. But, if you, father,
command it, be it as you will."

"Why, thou child of vanity, the remains on which thou lookest are
but the earthly attire of those who, in their day, led or followed
in the pursuit of worldly pleasure. And such shalt thou be, for all
thy mincing and ambling, thy piping and thy harping--thou, and
all such ministers of frivolous and worldly pleasure, must become
like these poor bones, whom thy idle nicety fears and loathes to
look upon."

"Say not with idle nicety, reverend father," answered the glee
maiden, "for, Heaven knows, I covet the repose of these poor bleached
relics; and if, by stretching my body upon them, I could, without
sin, bring my state to theirs, I would choose that charnel heap for
my place of rest beyond the fairest and softest couch in Scotland."

"Be patient, and come on," said the monk, in a milder tone, "the
reaper must not leave the harvest work till sunset gives the signal
that the day's toil is over."

They walked forward. Brother Cyprian, at the end of a long gallery,
opened the door of a small apartment, or perhaps a chapel, for it
was decorated with a crucifix, before which burned four lamps. All
bent and crossed themselves; and the priest said to the minstrel
maiden, pointing to the crucifix, "What says that emblem?"

"That HE invites the sinner as well as the righteous to approach."

"Ay, if the sinner put from him his sin," said the monk, whose
tone of voice was evidently milder. "Prepare thyself here for thy
journey."

Louise remained an instant or two in the chapel, and presently
reappeared in a mantle of coarse grey cloth, in which she had closely
muffled herself, having put such of her more gaudy habiliments as
she had time to take off in the little basket which had before held
her ordinary attire.

The monk presently afterwards unlocked a door which led to the
open air. They found themselves in the garden which surrounded the
monastery of the Dominicans.

"The southern gate is on the latch, and through it you can pass
unnoticed," said the monk. "Bless thee, my son; and bless thee too,
unhappy child. Remembering where you put off your idle trinkets,
may you take care how you again resume them!"

"Alas, father!" said Louise, "if the poor foreigner could supply
the mere wants of life by any more creditable occupation, she has
small wish to profess her idle art. But--"

But the monk had vanished; nay, the very door though which she had
just passed appeared to have vanished also, so curiously was it
concealed beneath a flying buttress, and among the profuse ornaments
of Gothic architecture.

"Here is a woman let out by this private postern, sure enough,"
was Henry's reflection. "Pray Heaven the good fathers never let
any in! The place seems convenient for such games at bo peep. But,
Benedicite, what is to be done next? I must get rid of this quean
as fast as I can; and I must see her safe. For let her be at heart
what she may, she looks too modest, now she is in decent dress, to
deserve the usage which the wild Scot of Galloway, or the devil's
legion from the Liddel, are like to afford her."

Louise stood as if she waited his pleasure which way to go. Her
little dog, relieved by the exchange of the dark, subterranean
vault for the open air, sprung in wild gambols through the walks,
and jumped upon its mistress, and even, though more timidly, circled
close round the smith's feet, to express its satisfaction to him
also, and conciliate his favour.

"Down, Charlot--down!" said the glee maiden. "You are glad to
get into the blessed sunshine; but where shall we rest at night,
my poor Charlot?"

"And now, mistress," said the smith, not churlishly, for it was
not in his nature, but bluntly, as one who is desirous to finish
a disagreeable employment, "which way lies your road?"

Louise looked on the ground and was silent. On being again urged to
say which way she desired to be conducted, she again looked down,
and said she could not tell.

"Come--come," said Henry, "I understand all that: I have been
a galliard--a reveller in my day, but it's best to be plain. As
matters are with me now, I am an altered man for these many, many
months; and so, my quean, you and I must part sooner than perhaps
a light o' love such as you expected to part with--a likely young
fellow."

Louise wept silently, with her eyes still cast on the ground, as
one who felt an insult which she had not a right to complain of.
At length, perceiving that her conductor was grown impatient, she
faltered out, "Noble sir--"

"Sir is for a knight," said the impatient burgher, "and noble is
for a baron. I am Harry of the Wynd, an honest mechanic, and free
of my guild."

"Good craftsman, then," said the minstrel woman, "you judge me harshly,
but not without seeming cause. I would relieve you immediately of
my company, which, it may be, brings little credit to good men,
did I but know which way to go."

"To the next wake or fair, to be sure," said Henry, roughly, having
no doubt that this distress was affected for the purpose of palming
herself upon him, and perhaps dreading to throw himself into the way
of temptation; "and that is the feast of St. Madox, at Auchterarder.
I warrant thou wilt find the way thither well enough."

"Aftr--Auchter--" repeated the glee maiden, her Southern tongue
in vain attempting the Celtic accentuation. "I am told my poor
plays will not be understood if I go nearer to yon dreadful range
of mountains."

"Will you abide, then, in Perth?"

"But where to lodge?" said the wanderer.

"Why, where lodged you last night?" replied the smith. "You know
where you came from, surely, though you seem doubtful where you
are going?"

"I slept in the hospital of the convent. But I was only admitted
upon great importunity, and I was commanded not to return."

"Nay, they will never take you in with the ban of the Douglas
upon you, that is even too true. But the Prince mentioned Sir John
Ramorny's; I can take you to his lodgings through bye streets, though
it is short of an honest burgher's office, and my time presses."

"I will go anywhere; I know I am a scandal and incumbrance. There
was a time when it was otherwise. But this Ramorny, who is he?"

"A courtly knight, who lives a jolly bachelor's life, and is master
of the horse, and privado, as they say, to the young prince."

"What! to the wild, scornful young man who gave occasion to yonder
scandal? Oh, take me not thither, good friend. Is there no Christian
woman who would give a poor creature rest in her cowhouse or barn
for one night? I will be gone with early daybreak. I will repay
her richly. I have gold; and I will repay you, too, if you will
take me where I may be safe from that wild reveller, and from the
followers of that dark baron, in whose eye was death."

"Keep your gold for those who lack it, mistress," said Henry, "and
do not offer to honest hands the money that is won by violing, and
tabouring, and toe tripping, and perhaps worse pastimes. I tell you
plainly, mistress, I am not to be fooled. I am ready to take you
to any place of safety you can name, for my promise is as strong
as an iron shackle. But you cannot persuade me that you do not know
what earth to make for. You are not so young in your trade as not
to know there are hostelries in every town, much more in a city
like Perth, where such as you may be harboured for your money, if
you cannot find some gulls, more or fewer, to pay your lawing. If
you have money, mistress, my care about you need be the less; and
truly I see little but pretence in all that excessive grief, and
fear of being left alone, in one of your occupation."

Having thus, as he conceived, signified that he was not to be
deceived by the ordinary arts of a glee maiden, Henry walked a few
paces sturdily, endeavouring to think he was doing the wisest and
most prudent thing in the world. Yet he could not help looking back
to see how Louise bore his departure, and was shocked to observe
that she had sunk upon a bank, with her arms resting on her knees
and her head on her arms, in a situation expressive of the utmost
desolation.

The smith tried to harden his heart. "It is all a sham," he said:
"the gouge knows her trade, I'll be sworn, by St. Ringan."

At the instant something pulled the skirts of his cloak; and looking
round, he saw the little spaniel, who immediately, as if to plead
his mistress's cause, got on his hind legs and began to dance,
whimpering at the same time, and looking back to Louise, as if to
solicit compassion for his forsaken owner.

"Poor thing," said the smith, "there may be a trick in this too,
for thou dost but as thou art taught. Yet, as I promised to protect
this poor creature, I must not leave her in a swoon, if it be one,
were it but for manhood's sake."

Returning, and approaching his troublesome charge, he was at once
assured, from the change of her complexion, either that she was
actually in the deepest distress, or had a power of dissimulation
beyond the comprehension of man--or woman either.

"Young woman," he said, with more of kindness than he had hitherto
been able even to assume, "I will tell you frankly how I am placed.
This is St. Valentine's Day, and by custom I was to spend it with
my fair Valentine. But blows and quarrels have occupied all the
morning, save one poor half hour. Now, you may well understand
where my heart and my thoughts are, and where, were it only in mere
courtesy, my body ought to be."

The glee maiden listened, and appeared to comprehend him.

"If you are a true lover, and have to wait upon a chaste Valentine,
God forbid that one like me should make a disturbance between you!
Think about me no more. I will ask of that great river to be my
guide to where it meets the ocean, where I think they said there
was a seaport; I will sail from thence to La Belle France, and will
find myself once more in a country in which the roughest peasant
would not wrong the poorest female."

"You cannot go to Dundee today," said the smith. "The Douglas
people are in motion on both sides of the river, for the alarm of
the morning has reached them ere now; and all this day, and the
next, and the whole night which is between, they will gather to
their leader's standard, like Highlandmen at the fiery cross. Do
you see yonder five or six men who are riding so wildly on the other
side of the river? These are Annandale men: I know them by the
length of their lances, and by the way they hold them. An Annandale
man never slopes his spear backwards, but always keeps the point
upright, or pointed forward."

"And what of them?" said the glee maiden. "They are men at arms
and soldiers. They would respect me for my viol and my helplessness."

"I will say them no scandal," answered the smith. "If you were in
their own glens, they would use you hospitably, and you would have
nothing to fear; but they are now on an expedition. All is fish
that comes to their net. There are amongst them who would take
your life for the value of your gold earrings. Their whole soul
is settled in their eyes to see prey, and in their hands to grasp
it. They have no ears either to hear lays of music or listen
to prayers for mercy. Besides, their leader's order is gone forth
concerning you, and it is of a kind sure to be obeyed. Ay, great
lords are sooner listened to if they say, 'Burn a church,' than if
they say, 'Build one.'"

"Then," said the glee woman, "I were best sit down and die."

"Do not say so," replied the smith. "If I could but get you a
lodging for the night, I would carry you the next morning to Our
Lady's Stairs, from whence the vessels go down the river for Dundee,
and would put you on board with some one bound that way, who should
see you safely lodged where you would have fair entertainment and
kind usage."

"Good--excellent--generous man!" said the glee maiden, "do this,
and if the prayers and blessings of a poor unfortunate should ever
reach Heaven, they will rise thither in thy behalf. We will meet at
yonder postern door, at whatever time the boats take their departure."

"That is at six in the morning, when the day is but young."

"Away with you, then, to your Valentine; and if she loves you, oh,
deceive her not!"

"Alas, poor damsel! I fear it is deceit hath brought thee to this
pass. But I must not leave you thus unprovided. I must know where
you are to pass the night."

"Care not for that," replied Louise: "the heavens are clear--
there are bushes and boskets enough by the river side--Charlot
and I can well make a sleeping room of a green arbour for one night;
and tomorrow will, with your promised aid, see me out of reach of
injury and wrong. Oh, the night soon passes away when there is hope
for tomorrow! Do you still linger, with your Valentine waiting for
you? Nay, I shall hold you but a loitering lover, and you know what
belongs to a minstrel's reproaches."

"I cannot leave you, damsel," answered the armourer, now completely
melted. "It were mere murder to suffer you to pass the night exposed
to the keenness of a Scottish blast in February. No--no, my word
would be ill kept in this manner; and if I should incur some risk
of blame, it is but just penance for thinking of thee, and using
thee, more according to my own prejudices, as I now well believe,
than thy merits. Come with me, damsel; thou shalt have a sure and
honest lodging for the night, whatsoever may be the consequence.
It would be an evil compliment to my Catharine, were I to leave a
poor creature to be starved to death, that I might enjoy her company
an hour sooner."

So saying, and hardening himself against all anticipations of the
ill consequences or scandal which might arise from such a measure,
the manly hearted smith resolved to set evil report at defiance,
and give the wanderer a night's refuge in his own house. It must
be added, that he did this with extreme reluctance, and in a sort
of enthusiasm of benevolence.

Ere our stout son of Vulcan had fixed his worship on the Fair Maid
of Perth, a certain natural wildness of disposition had placed him
under the influence of Venus, as well as that of Mars; and it was
only the effect of a sincere attachment which had withdrawn him
entirely from such licentious pleasures. He was therefore justly
jealous of his newly acquired reputation for constancy, which his
conduct to this poor wanderer must expose to suspicion; a little
doubtful, perhaps, of exposing himself too venturously to temptation;
and moreover in despair to lose so much of St. Valentine's Day,
which custom not only permitted, but enjoined him to pass beside
his mate for the season. The journey to Kinfauns, and the various
transactions which followed, had consumed the day, and it was now
nearly evensong time.

As if to make up by a speedy pace for the time he was compelled to
waste upon a subject so foreign to that which he had most at heart,
he strode on through the Dominicans' gardens, entered the town, and
casting his cloak around the lower part of his face, and pulling down
his bonnet to conceal the upper, he continued the same celerity of
movement through bye streets and lanes, hoping to reach his own house
in the Wynd without being observed. But when he had continued his
rate of walking for ten minutes, he began to be sensible it might
be too rapid for the young woman to keep up with him. He accordingly
looked behind him with a degree of angry impatience, which soon
turned into compunction, when he saw that she was almost utterly
exhausted by the speed which she had exerted.

"Now, marry, hang me up for a brute," said Henry to himself. "Was
my own haste ever so great, could it give that poor creature wings?
And she loaded with baggage too! I am an ill nurtured beast, that
is certain, wherever women are in question; and always sure to do
wrong when I have the best will to act right.

"Hark thee, damsel; let me carry these things for thee. We shall
make better speed that I do so."

Poor Louise would have objected, but her breath was too much
exhausted to express herself; and she permitted her good natured
guardian to take her little basket, which, when the dog beheld,
he came straight before Henry, stood up, and shook his fore paws,
whining gently, as if he too wanted to be carried.

"Nay, then, I must needs lend thee a lift too," said the smith,
who saw the creature was tired:

"Fie, Charlot!" said Louise; "thou knowest I will carry thee myself."

She endeavoured to take up the little spaniel, but it escaped
from her; and going to the other side of the smith, renewed its
supplication that he would take it up.

"Charlot's right," said the smith: "he knows best who is ablest to
bear him. This lets me know, my pretty one, that you have not been
always the bearer of your own mail: Charlot can tell tales."

So deadly a hue came across the poor glee maiden's countenance as
Henry spoke, that he was obliged to support her, lest she should
have dropped to the ground. She recovered again, however, in an
instant or two, and with a feeble voice requested her guide would
go on.

"Nay--nay," said Henry, as they began to move, "keep hold of my
cloak, or my arm, if it helps you forward better. A fair sight we
are; and had I but a rebeck or a guitar at my back, and a jackanapes
on my shoulder, we should seem as joyous a brace of strollers as
ever touched string at a castle gate.

"Snails!" he ejaculated internally, "were any neighbour to meet
me with this little harlotry's basket at my back, her dog under
my arm, and herself hanging on my cloak, what could they think
but that I had turned mumper in good earnest? I would not for the
best harness I ever laid hammer on, that any of our long tongued
neighbours met me in this guise; it were a jest would last from
St. Valentine's Day to next Candlemas."

Stirred by these thoughts, the smith, although at the risk of
making much longer a route which he wished to traverse as swiftly as
possible, took the most indirect and private course which he could
find, in order to avoid the main streets, still crowded with people,
owing to the late scene of tumult and agitation. But unhappily his
policy availed him nothing; for, in turning into an alley, he met
a man with his cloak muffled around his face, from a desire like
his own to pass unobserved, though the slight insignificant figure,
the spindle shanks, which showed themselves beneath the mantle,
and the small dull eye that blinked over its upper folds, announced
the pottingar as distinctly as if he had carried his sign in front
of his bonnet. His unexpected and most unwelcome presence overwhelmed
the smith with confusion. Ready evasion was not the property of his
bold, blunt temper; and knowing this man to be a curious observer,
a malignant tale bearer, and by no means well disposed to himself in
particular, no better hope occurred to him than that the worshipful
apothecary would give him some pretext to silence his testimony
and secure his discretion by twisting his neck round.

But, far from doing or saying anything which could warrant such
extremities, the pottingar, seeing himself so close upon his stalwart
townsman that recognition was inevitable, seemed determined it
should be as slight as possible; and without appearing to notice
anything particular in the company or circumstances in which they
met, he barely slid out these words as he passed him, without even
a glance towards his companion after the first instant of their
meeting: "A merry holiday to you once more, stout smith. What!
thou art bringing thy cousin, pretty Mistress Joan Letham, with her
mail, from the waterside--fresh from Dundee, I warrant? I heard
she was expected at the old cordwainer's."

As he spoke thus, he looked neither right nor left, and exchanging
a "Save you!" with a salute of the same kind which the smith rather
muttered than uttered distinctly, he glided forward on his way like
a shadow.

"The foul fiend catch me, if I can swallow that pill," said Henry
Smith, "how well soever it may be gilded. The knave has a shrewd
eye for a kirtle, and knows a wild duck from a tame as well as e'er
a man in Perth. He were the last in the Fair City to take sour
plums for pears, or my roundabout cousin Joan for this piece of
fantastic vanity. I fancy his bearing was as much as to say, 'I
will not see what you might wish me blind to'; and he is right to
do so, as he might easily purchase himself a broken pate by meddling
with my matters, and so he will be silent for his own sake. But whom
have we next? By St. Dunstan, the chattering, bragging, cowardly
knave, Oliver Proudfute!"

It was, indeed, the bold bonnet maker whom they next encountered,
who, with his cap on one side, and trolling the ditty of--

"Thou art over long at the pot, Tom, Tom,"

--gave plain intimation that he had made no dry meal.

"Ha! my jolly smith," he said, "have I caught thee in the manner?
What, can the true steel bend? Can Vulcan, as the minstrel says,
pay Venus back in her own coin? Faith, thou wilt be a gay Valentine
before the year's out, that begins with the holiday so jollily."

"Hark ye, Oliver," said the displeased smith, "shut your eyes and
pass on, crony. And hark ye again, stir not your tongue about what
concerns you not, as you value having an entire tooth in your head."

"I betray counsel? I bear tales, and that against my brother
martialist? I would not tell it even to my timber soldan! Why, I
can be a wild galliard in a corner as well as thou, man. And now
I think on't, I will go with thee somewhere, and we will have a
rouse together, and thy Dalilah shall give us a song. Ha! said I
not well?"

"Excellently," said Henry, longing the whole time to knock his
brother martialist down, but wisely taking a more peaceful way
to rid himself of the incumbrance of his presence--"excellently
well! I may want thy help, too, for here are five or six of the
Douglasses before us: they will not fail to try to take the wench
from a poor burgher like myself, so I will be glad of the assistance
of a tearer such as thou art."

"I thank ye--I thank ye," answered the bonnet maker; "but were
I not better run and cause ring the common bell, and get my great
sword?"

"Ay, ay, run home as fast as you can, and say nothing of what you
have seen."

"Who, I? Nay, fear me not. Pah! I scorn a tale bearer."

"Away with you, then. I hear the clash of armour."

This put life and mettle into the heels of the bonnet maker, who,
turning his back on the supposed danger, set off at a pace which
the smith never doubted would speedily bring him to his own house.

"Here is another chattering jay to deal with," thought the smith;
"but I have a hank over him too. The minstrels have a fabliau of
a daw with borrowed feathers--why, this Oliver is The very bird,
and, by St. Dunstan, if he lets his chattering tongue run on at
my expense, I will so pluck him as never hawk plumed a partridge.
And this he knows."

As these reflections thronged on his mind, he had nearly reached
the end of his journey, and, with the glee maiden still hanging on
his cloak, exhausted, partly with fear, partly with fatigue, he at
length arrived at the middle of the wynd, which was honoured with
his own habitation, and from which, in the uncertainty that then
attended the application of surnames, he derived one of his own
appellatives. Here, on ordinary days, his furnace was seen to blaze,
and four half stripped knaves stunned the neighbourhood with the
clang of hammer and stithy. But St. Valentine's holiday was an
excuse for these men of steel having shut the shop, and for the
present being absent on their own errands of devotion or pleasure.
The house which adjoined to the smithy called Henry its owner;
and though it was small, and situated in a narrow street, yet, as
there was a large garden with fruit trees behind it, it constituted
upon the whole a pleasant dwelling. The smith, instead of knocking or
calling, which would have drawn neighbours to doors and windows,
drew out a pass key of his own fabrication, then a great and
envied curiosity, and opening the door of his house, introduced
his companion into his habitation.

The apartment which received Henry and the glee maiden was the
kitchen, which served amongst those of the smith's station for the
family sitting room, although one or two individuals, like Simon
Glover, had an eating room apart from that in which their victuals
were prepared. In the corner of this apartment, which was arranged
with an unusual attention to cleanliness, sat an old woman, whose
neatness of attire, and the precision with which her scarlet plaid
was drawn over her head, so as to descend to her shoulders on
each side, might have indicated a higher rank than that of Luckie
Shoolbred, the smith's housekeeper. Yet such and no other was her
designation; and not having attended mass in the morning, she was
quietly reposing herself by the side of the fire, her beads, half
told, hanging over her left arm; her prayers, half said, loitering
upon her tongue; her eyes, half closed, resigning themselves to
slumber, while she expected the return of her foster son, without
being able to guess at what hour it was likely to happen. She
started up at the sound of his entrance, and bent her eye upon
his companion, at first with a look of the utmost surprise, which
gradually was exchanged for one expressive of great displeasure.

"Now the saints bless mine eyesight, Henry Smith!" she exclaimed,
very devoutly.

"Amen, with all my heart. Get some food ready presently, good nurse,
for I fear me this traveller hath dined but lightly."

"And again I pray that Our Lady would preserve my eyesight from
the wicked delusions of Satan!"

"So be it, I tell you, good woman. But what is the use of all this
pattering and prayering? Do you not hear me? or will you not do as
I bid you?"

"It must be himself, then, whatever is of it! But, oh! it is more
like the foul fiend in his likeness, to have such a baggage hanging
upon his cloak. Oh, Harry Smith, men called you a wild lad for
less things; but who would ever have thought that Harry would have
brought a light leman under the roof that sheltered his worthy
mother, and where his own nurse has dwelt for thirty years?"

"Hold your peace, old woman, and be reasonable," said the smith.
"This glee woman is no leman of mine, nor of any other person that
I know of; but she is going off for Dundee tomorrow by the boats,
and we must give her quarters till then."

"Quarters!" said the old woman. "You may give quarters to such cattle
if you like it yourself, Harry Wynd; but the same house shall not
quarter that trumpery quean and me, and of that you may assure
yourself."

"Your mother is angry with me," said Louise, misconstruing
the connexion of the parties. "I will not remain to give her any
offence. If there is a stable or a cowhouse, an empty stall will
be bed enough for Charlot and me."

"Ay--ay, I am thinking it is the quarters you are best used to,"
said Dame Shoolbred.

"Harkye, Nurse Shoolbred," said the smith. "You know I love you
for your own sake and for my mother's; but by St. Dunstan, who was
a saint of my own craft, I will have the command of my own house;
and if you leave me without any better reason but your own nonsensical
suspicions, you must think how you will have the door open to you
when you return; for you shall have no help of mine, I promise
you."

"Aweel, my bairn, and that will never make me risk the honest name
I have kept for sixty years. It was never your mother's custom,
and it shall never be mine, to take up with ranters, and jugglers,
and singing women; and I am not so far to seek for a dwelling, that
the same roof should cover me and a tramping princess like that."

With this the refractory gouvernante began in great hurry to adjust
her tartan mantle for going abroad, by pulling it so forwards as
to conceal the white linen cap, the edges of which bordered her
shrivelled but still fresh and healthful countenance. This done,
she seized upon a staff, the trusty companion of her journeys,
and was fairly trudging towards the door, when the smith stepped
between her and the passage.

"Wait at least, old woman, till we have cleared scores. I owe you
for fee and bountith."

"An' that's e'en a dream of your own fool's head. What fee or
bountith am I to take from the son of your mother, that fed, clad,
and bielded me as if I had been a sister?"

"And well you repay it, nurse, leaving her only child at his utmost
need."

This seemed to strike the obstinate old woman with compunction.
She stopped and looked at her master and the minstrel alternately;
then shook her head, and seemed about to resume her motion towards
the door.

"I only receive this poor wanderer under my roof," urged the smith,
"to save her from the prison and the scourge."

"And why should you save her?" said the inexorable Dame Shoolbred.
"I dare say she has deserved them both as well as ever thief deserved
a hempen collar."

"For aught I know she may or she may not. But she cannot deserve to
be scourged to death, or imprisoned till she is starved to death;
and that is the lot of them that the Black Douglas bears mal-talent
against."

"And you are going to thraw the Black Douglas for the cake of
a glee woman? This will be the worst of your feuds yet. Oh, Henry
Gow, there is as much iron in your head as in your anvil!"

"I have sometimes thought this myself; Mistress Shoolbred; but if
I do get a cut or two on this new argument, I wonder who is to cure
them, if you run away from me like a scared wild goose? Ay, and,
moreover, who is to receive my bonny bride, that I hope to bring
up the wynd one of these days?"

"Ah, Harry--Harry," said the old woman, shaking her head, "this
is not the way to prepare an honest man's house for a young bride:
you should be guided by modesty and discretion, and not by chambering
and wantonness."

"I tell you again, this poor creature is nothing to me. I wish her
only to be safely taken care of; and I think the boldest Borderman
in Perth will respect the bar of my door as much as the gate of
Carlisle Castle. I am going down to Sim Glover's; I may stay there
all night, for the Highland cub is run back to the hills, like
a wolf whelp as he is, and so there is a bed to spare, and father
Simon will make me welcome to the use of it. You will remain with
this poor creature, feed her, and protect her during the night,
and I will call on her before day; and thou mayst go with her to
the boat thyself an thou wilt, and so thou wilt set the last eyes
on her at the same time I shall."

"There is some reason in that," said Dame Shoolbred; "though why
you should put your reputation in risk for a creature that would
find a lodging for a silver twopence and less matter is a mystery
to me."

"Trust me with that, old woman, and be kind to the girl."

"Kinder than she deserves, I warrant you; and truly, though I
little like the company of such cattle, yet I think I am less like
to take harm from her than you--unless she be a witch, indeed,
which may well come to be the case, as the devil is very powerful
with all this wayfaring clanjamfray."

"No more a witch than I am a warlock," said the honest smith: "a
poor, broken hearted thing, that, if she hath done evil, has dreed
a sore weird for it. Be kind to her. And you, my musical damsel, I
will call on you tomorrow morning, and carry you to the waterside.
This old woman will treat you kindly if you say nothing to her but
what becomes honest ears."

The poor minstrel had listened to this dialogue without understanding
more than its general tendency; for, though she spoke English well,
she had acquired the language in England itself; and the Northern
dialect was then, as now, of a broader and harsher character. She
saw, however, that she was to remain with the old lady, and meekly
folding her arms on her bosom, bent her head with humility. She next
looked towards the smith with a strong expression of thankfulness,
then, raising her eyes to heaven, took his passive hand, and seemed
about to kiss the sinewy fingers in token of deep and affectionate
gratitude.

But Dame Shoolbred did not give license to the stranger's mode of
expressing her feelings. She thrust in between them, and pushing
poor Louise aside, said, "No--no, I'll have none of that work.
Go into the chimney nook, mistress, and when Harry Smith's gone,
if you must have hands to kiss, you shall kiss mine as long as
you like. And you, Harry, away down to Sim Glover's, for if pretty
Mistress Catharine hears of the company you have brought home, she
may chance to like them as little as I do. What's the matter now?
is the man demented? are you going out without your buckler, and
the whole town in misrule?"

"You are right, dame," said the armourer; and, throwing the buckler
over his broad shoulders, he departed from his house without abiding
farther question.



CHAPTER XIII.

How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years.

BYRON.


We must now leave the lower parties in our historical drama, to
attend to the incidents which took place among those of a higher
rank and greater importance.

We pass from the hut of an armourer to the council room of a monarch,
and resume our story just when, the tumult beneath being settled,
the angry chieftains were summoned to the royal presence. They
entered, displeased with and lowering upon each other, each so
exclusively filled with his own fancied injuries as to be equally
unwilling and unable to attend to reason or argument. Albany alone,
calm and crafty, seemed prepared to use their dissatisfaction for
his own purposes, and turn each incident as it should occur to the
furtherance of his own indirect ends.

The King's irresolution, although it amounted even to timidity,
did not prevent his assuming the exterior bearing becoming his
situation. It was only when hard pressed, as in the preceding scene,
that he lost his apparent composure. In general, he might be driven
from his purpose, but seldom from his dignity of manner. He received
Albany, Douglas, March, and the prior, those ill assorted members
of his motley council, with a mixture of courtesy and loftiness,
which reminded each haughty peer that he stood in the presence of
his sovereign, and compelled him to do the beseeming reverence.

Having received their salutations, the King motioned them to be
seated; and they were obeying his commands when Rothsay entered. He
walked gracefully up to his father, and, kneeling at his footstool,
requested his blessing. Robert, with an aspect in which fondness
and sorrow were ill disguised, made an attempt to assume a look of
reproof, as he laid his hand on the youth's head and said, with a
sigh, "God bless thee, my thoughtless boy, and make thee a wiser
man in thy future years!"

"Amen, my dearest father!" said Rothsay, in a tone of feeling such
as his happier moments often evinced. He then kissed the royal hand,
with the reverence of a son and a subject; and, instead of taking
a place at the council board, remained standing behind the King's
chair, in such a position that he might, when he chose, whisper
into his father's ear.

The King next made a sign to the prior of St. Dominic to take his
place at the table, on which there were writing materials, which,
of all the subjects present, Albany excepted, the churchman was alone
able to use. The King then opened the purpose of their meeting by
saying, with much dignity:

"Our business, my lords, respected these unhappy dissensions in the
Highlands, which, we learn by our latest messengers, are about to
occasion the waste and destruction of the country, even within a
few miles of this our own court. But, near as this trouble is, our
ill fate, and the instigations of wicked men, have raised up one
yet nearer, by throwing strife and contention among the citizens
of Perth and those attendants who follow your lordships and others
our knights and nobles. I must first, therefore, apply to yourselves,
my lords, to know why our court is disturbed by such unseemly
contendings, and by what means they ought to be repressed? Brother
of Albany, do you tell us first your sentiments on this matter."

"Sir, our royal sovereign and brother," said the Duke, "being in
attendance on your Grace's person when the fray began, I am not
acquainted with its origin."

"And for me," said the Prince, "I heard no worse war cry than
a minstrel wench's ballad, and saw no more dangerous bolts flying
than hazel nuts."

"And I," said the Earl of March, "could only perceive that the
stout citizens of Perth had in chase some knaves who had assumed the
Bloody Heart on their shoulders. They ran too fast to be actually
the men of the Earl of Douglas."

Douglas understood the sneer, but only replied to it by one of
those withering looks with which he was accustomed to intimate his
mortal resentment. He spoke, however, with haughty composure.

"My liege," he said, "must of course know it is Douglas who must
answer to this heavy charge, for when was there strife or bloodshed
in Scotland, but there were foul tongues to asperse a Douglas or
a Douglas's man as having given cause to them? We have here goodly
witnesses. I speak not of my Lord of Albany, who has only said
that he was, as well becomes him, by your Grace's side. And I say
nothing of my Lord of Rothsay, who, as befits his rank, years,
and understanding, was cracking nuts with a strolling musician.
He smiles. Here he may say his pleasure; I shall not forget a tie
which he seems to have forgotten. But here is my Lord of March,
who saw my followers flying before the clowns of Perth. I can tell
that earl that the followers of the Bloody Heart advance or retreat
when their chieftain commands and the good of Scotland requires."

"And I can answer--" exclaimed the equally proud Earl of March,
his blood rushing into his face, when the King interrupted him.

"Peace! angry lords," said the King, "and remember in whose presence
you stand. And you, my Lord of Douglas, tell us, if you can, the
cause of this mutiny, and why your followers, whose general good
services we are most willing to acknowledge, were thus active in
private brawl."

"I obey, my lord," said Douglas, slightly stooping a head that seldom
bent. "I was passing from my lodgings in the Carthusian convent,
through the High Street of Perth, with a few of my ordinary retinue,
when I beheld some of the baser sort of citizens crowding around
the Cross, against which there was nailed this placard, and that
which accompanies it."

He took from a pocket in the bosom of his buff coat a human hand
and a piece of parchment. The King was shocked and agitated.

"Read," he said, "good father prior, and let that ghastly spectacle
be removed."

The prior read a placard to the following purpose:

"Inasmuch as the house of a citizen of Perth was assaulted last
night, being St. Valentine's Eve, by a sort of disorderly night
walkers, belonging to some company of the strangers now resident
in the Fair City; and whereas this hand was struck from one of the
lawless limmers in the fray that ensued, the provost and magistrates
have directed that it should be nailed to the Cross, in scorn and
contempt of those by whom such brawl was occasioned. And if any
one of knightly degree shall say that this our act is wrongfully
done, I, Patrick Charteris of Kinfauns, knight, will justify this
cartel in knightly weapons, within the barrace; or, if any one of
meaner birth shall deny what is here said, he shall be met with by
a citizen of the Fair City of Perth, according to his degree. And
so God and St. John protect the Fair City!"

"You will not wonder, my lord," resumed Douglas, "that, when
my almoner had read to me the contents of so insolent a scroll, I
caused one of my squires to pluck down a trophy so disgraceful to
the chivalry and nobility of Scotland. Where upon, it seems some of
these saucy burghers took license to hoot and insult the hindmost
of my train, who wheeled their horses on them, and would soon have
settled the feud, but for my positive command that they should follow
me in as much peace as the rascally vulgar would permit. And thus
they arrived here in the guise of flying men, when, with my command
to repel force by force, they might have set fire to the four
corners of this wretched borough, and stifled the insolent churls,
like malicious fox cubs in a burning brake of furze."

There was a silence when Douglas had done speaking, until the Duke
of Rothsay answered, addressing his father:

"Since the Earl of Douglas possesses the power of burning the town
where your Grace holds your court, so soon as the provost and he
differ about a night riot, or the terms of a cartel, I am sure we
ought all to be thankful that he has not the will to do so."

"The Duke of Rothsay," said Douglas, who seemed resolved to maintain
command of his temper, "may have reason to thank Heaven in a more
serious tone than he now uses that the Douglas is as true as he is
powerful. This is a time when the subjects in all countries rise
against the law: we have heard of the insurgents of the Jacquerie
in France; and of Jack Straw, and Hob Miller, and Parson Ball, among
the Southron; and we may be sure there is fuel enough to catch such
a flame, were it spreading to our frontiers. When I see peasants
challenging noblemen, and nailing the hands of the gentry to their
city cross, I will not say I fear mutiny--for that would be false
--but I foresee, and will stand well prepared for, it."

"And why does my Lord Douglas say," answered the Earl of March, "that
this cartel has been done by churls? I see Sir Patrick Charteris's
name there, and he, I ween, is of no churl's blood. The Douglas
himself, since he takes the matter so warmly, might lift Sir
Patrick's gauntlet without soiling of his honour."

"My Lord of March," replied Douglas, "should speak but of what he
understands. I do no injustice to the descendant of the Red Rover,
when I say he is too slight to be weighed with the Douglas. The
heir of Thomas Randolph might have a better claim to his answer."

"And, by my honour, it shall not miss for want of my asking the
grace," said the Earl of March, pulling his glove off.

"Stay, my lord," said the King. "Do us not so gross an injury as
to bring your feud to mortal defiance here; but rather offer your
ungloved hand in kindness to the noble earl, and embrace in token
of your mutual fealty to the crown of Scotland."

"Not so, my liege," answered March; "your Majesty may command me
to return my gauntlet, for that and all the armour it belongs to
are at your command, while I continue to hold my earldom of the
crown of Scotland; but when I clasp Douglas, it must be with a mailed
hand. Farewell, my liege. My counsels here avail not, nay, are so
unfavourably received, that perhaps farther stay were unwholesome
for my safety. May God keep your Highness from open enemies and
treacherous friends! I am for my castle of Dunbar, from whence I
think you will soon hear news. Farewell to you, my Lords of Albany
and Douglas; you are playing a high game, look you play it fairly.
Farewell, poor thoughtless prince, who art sporting like a fawn
within spring of a tiger! Farewell, all--George of Dunbar sees
the evil he cannot remedy. Adieu, all."

The King would have spoken, but the accents died on his tongue, as
he received from Albany a look cautioning him to forbear. The Earl
of March left the apartment, receiving the mute salutations of the
members of the council whom he had severally addressed, excepting
from Douglas alone, who returned to his farewell speech a glance
of contemptuous defiance.

"The recreant goes to betray us to the Southron," he said; "his
pride rests on his possessing that sea worn hold which can admit
the English into Lothian [the castle of Dunbar]. Nay, look not
alarmed, my liege, I will hold good what I say. Nevertheless, it
is yet time. Speak but the word, my liege--say but 'Arrest him,'
and March shall not yet cross the Earn on his traitorous journey."

"Nay, gallant earl," said Albany, who wished rather that the two
powerful lords should counterbalance each other than that one should
obtain a decisive superiority, "that were too hasty counsel. The
Earl of March came hither on the King's warrant of safe conduct,
and it may not consist with my royal brother's honour to break it.
Yet, if your lordship can bring any detailed proof--"

Here they were interrupted by a flourish of trumpets.

"His Grace of Albany is unwontedly scrupulous today," said Douglas;
"but it skills not wasting words--the time is past--these are
March's trumpets, and I warrant me he rides at flight speed so soon
as he passes the South Port. We shall hear of him in time; and if
it be as I have conjectured, he shall be met with though all England
backed his treachery."

"Nay, let us hope better of the noble earl," said the King, no way
displeased that the quarrel betwixt March and Douglas had seemed
to obliterate the traces of the disagreement betwixt Rothsay and
his father in law; "he hath a fiery, but not a sullen, temper. In
some things he has been--I will not say wronged, but disappointed
--and something is to be allowed to the resentment of high blood
armed with great power. But thank Heaven, all of us who remain are
of one sentiment, and, I may say, of one house; so that, at least,
our councils cannot now be thwarted with disunion. Father prior,
I pray you take your writing materials, for you must as usual be
our clerk of council. And now to business, my lords; and our first
object of consideration must be this Highland cumber."

"Between the Clan Chattan and the Clan Quhele," said the prior,
"which, as our last advices from our brethren at Dunkeld inform
us, is ready to break out into a more formidable warfare than has
yet taken place between these sons of Belial, who speak of nothing
else than of utterly destroying one another. Their forces are
assembling on each side, and not a man claiming in the tenth degree
of kindred but must repair to the brattach of his tribe, or stand
to the punishment of fire and sword. The fiery cross hath flitted
about like a meteor in every direction, and awakened strange and
unknown tribes beyond the distant Moray Firth--may Heaven and
St. Dominic be our protection! But if your lordships cannot find
remedy for evil, it will spread broad and wide, and the patrimony
of the church must in every direction be exposed to the fury of
these Amalekites, with whom there is as little devotion to Heaven
as there is pity or love to their neighbour--may Our Lady be our
guard! We hear some of them are yet utter heathens, and worship
Mahound and Termagaunt."

"My lords and kinsmen," said Robert, "ye have heard the urgency of
this case, and may desire to know my sentiments before you deliver
what your own wisdom shall suggest. And, in sooth, no better remedy
occurs to me than to send two commissioners, with full power from
us to settle such debates as be among them, and at the same time to
charge them, as they shall be answerable to the law, to lay down
their arms, and forbear all practices of violence against each
other."

"I approve of your Grace's proposal," said Rothsay; "and I trust
the good prior will not refuse the venerable station of envoy upon
this peacemaking errand. And his reverend brother, the abbot of the
Carthusian convent, must contend for an honour which will certainly
add two most eminent recruits to the large army of martyrs, since
the Highlanders little regard the distinction betwixt clerk and
layman in the ambassadors whom you send to them."

"My royal Lord of Rothsay," said the prior, "if I am destined to the
blessed crown of martyrdom, I shall be doubtless directed to the
path by which I am to attain it. Meantime, if you speak in jest,
may Heaven pardon you, and give you light to perceive that it were
better buckle on your arms to guard the possessions of the church,
so perilously endangered, than to employ your wit in taunting her
ministers and servants."

"I taunt no one, father prior," said the youth, yawning; "Nor have
I much objection to taking arms, excepting that they are a somewhat
cumbrous garb, and in February a furred mantle is more suiting to
the weather than a steel corselet. And it irks me the more to put
on cold harness in this nipping weather, that, would but the church
send a detachment of their saints--and they have some Highland
ones well known in this district, and doubtless used to the climate
--they might fight their own battles, like merry St. George of
England. But I know not how it is, we hear of their miracles when
they are propitiated, and of their vengeance if any one trespasses
on their patrimonies, and these are urged as reasons for extending
their lands by large largesses; and yet, if there come down but a
band of twenty Highlanders, bell, book, and candle make no speed,
and the belted baron must be fain to maintain the church in possession
of the lands which he has given to her, as much as if he himself
still enjoyed the fruits of them."

"Son David," said the King, "you give an undue license to your
tongue."

"Nay, Sir, I am mute," replied the Prince. "I had no purpose to
disturb your Highness, or displease the father prior, who, with
so many miracles at his disposal, will not face, as it seems, a
handful of Highland caterans."

"We know," said the prior, with suppressed indignation, "from what
source these vile doctrines are derived, which we hear with horror
from the tongue that now utters them. When princes converse with
heretics, their minds and manners are alike corrupted. They show
themselves in the streets as the companions of maskers and harlots,
and in the council as the scorners of the church and of holy things."

"Peace, good father!" said the King. "Rothsay shall make amends
for what he has idly spoken. Alas! let us take counsel in friendly
fashion, rather than resemble a mutinous crew of mariners in a
sinking vessel, when each is more intent on quarrelling with his
neighbours than in assisting the exertions of the forlorn master
for the safety of the ship. My Lord of Douglas, your house has
been seldom to lack when the crown of Scotland desired either wise
counsel or manly achievement; I trust you will help us in this
strait."

"I can only wonder that the strait should exist, my lord," answered
the haughty Douglas. "When I was entrusted with the lieutenancy
of the kingdom, there were some of these wild clans came down from
the Grampians. I troubled not the council about the matter, but
made the sheriff, Lord Ruthven, get to horse with the forces of the
Carse--the Hays, the Lindsays, the Ogilvies, and other gentlemen.
By St. Bride! When it was steel coat to frieze mantle, the thieves
knew what lances were good for, and whether swords had edges or no.
There were some three hundred of their best bonnets, besides that
of their chief, Donald Cormac, left on the moor of Thorn and in
Rochinroy Wood; and as many were gibbeted at Houghmanstares, which
has still the name from the hangman work that was done there. This
is the way men deal with thieves in my country; and if gentler
methods will succeed better with these Earish knaves, do not blame
Douglas for speaking his mind. You smile, my Lord of Rothsay. May
I ask how I have a second time become your jest, before I have
replied to the first which you passed on me?"

"Nay, be not wrathful, my good Lord of Douglas," answered the
Prince; "I did but smile to think how your princely retinue would
dwindle if every thief were dealt with as the poor Highlanders at
Houghmanstares."

The King again interfered, to prevent the Earl from giving an angry
reply.

"Your lordship," said he to Douglas, "advises wisely that we should
trust to arms when these men come out against our subjects on the
fair and level plan; but the difficulty is to put a stop to their
disorders while they continue to lurk within their mountains.
I need not tell you that the Clan Chattan and the Clan Quhele are
great confederacies, consisting each of various tribes, who are
banded together, each to support their own separate league, and who
of late have had dissensions which have drawn blood wherever they
have met, whether individually or in bands. The whole country is
torn to pieces by their restless feuds."

"I cannot see the evil of this," said the Douglas: "the ruffians
will destroy each other, and the deer of the Highlands will increase
as the men diminish. We shall gain as hunters the exercise we lose
as warriors."

"Rather say that the wolves will increase as the men diminish,"
replied the King.

"I am content," said Douglas: "better wild wolves than wild caterans.
Let there be strong forces maintained along the Earish frontier,
to separate the quiet from the disturbed country. Confine the fire
of civil war within the Highlands; let it spend its uncontrolled
fury, and it will be soon burnt out for want of fuel. The survivors
will be humbled, and will be more obedient to a whisper of your
Grace's pleasure than their fathers, or the knaves that now exist,
have, been to your strictest commands."

"This is wise but ungodly counsel," said the prior, shaking his
head; "I cannot take it upon my conscience to recommend it. It
is wisdom, but it is the wisdom of Achitophel, crafty at once and
cruel."

"My heart tells me so," said the King, laying his hand on his
breast--"my heart tells me that it will be asked of me at the
awful day, 'Robert Stuart, where are the subjects I have given
thee?' It tells me that I must account for them all, Saxon and Gael,
Lowland, Highland, and Border man; that I will not be required to
answer for those alone who have wealth and knowledge, but for those
also who were robbers because they were poor, and rebels because
they were ignorant."

"Your Highness speaks like a Christian king," said the prior; "but
you bear the sword as well as the sceptre, and this present evil
is of a kind which the sword must cure."

"Hark ye, my lords," said the Prince, looking up as if a gay thought
had suddenly struck him. "Suppose we teach these savage mountaineers
a strain of chivalry? It were no hard matter to bring these two
great commanders, the captain of the Clan Chattan and the chief
of the no less doughty race of the Clan Quhele, to defy each other
to mortal combat. They might fight here in Perth--we would lend
them horse and armour; thus their feud would be stanched by the
death of one, or probably both, of the villains, for I think both
would break their necks in the first charge; my father's godly
desire of saving blood would be attained; and we should have the
pleasure of seeing such a combat between two savage knights, for the
first time in their lives wearing breeches and mounted on horses,
as has not been heard of since the days of King Arthur."

"Shame upon you, David!" said the King. "Do you make the distress
of your native country, and the perplexity of our councils, a
subject for buffoonery?"

"If you will pardon me, royal brother," said Albany, "I think that,
though my princely nephew hath started this thought in a jocular
manner, there may be something wrought out of it, which might
greatly remedy this pressing evil."

"Good brother," replied the King, "it is unkind to expose Rothsay's
folly by pressing further his ill timed jest. We know the Highland
clans have not our customs of chivalry, nor the habit or mode of
doing battle which these require."

"True, your Grace," answered Albany; "yet I speak not in scorn,
but in serious earnest. True, the mountaineers have not our forms
and mode of doing battle in the lists, but they have those which
are as effectual to the destruction of human life, and so that the
mortal game is played, and the stake won and lost, what signifies
it whether these Gael fight with sword and lance, as becomes belted
knights, or with sandbags, like the crestless churls of England, or
butcher each other with knives and skenes, in their own barbarous
fashion? Their habits, like our own, refer all disputed rights and
claims to the decision of battle. They are as vain, too, as they
are fierce; and the idea that these two clans would be admitted
to combat in presence of your Grace and of your court will readily
induce them to refer their difference to the fate of battle, even
were such rough arbitrement less familiar to their customs, and
that in any such numbers as shall be thought most convenient. We
must take care that they approach not the court, save in such a
fashion and number that they shall not be able to surprise us; and
that point being provided against, the more that shall be admitted
to combat upon either side, the greater will be the slaughter among
their bravest and most stirring men, and the more the chance of
the Highlands being quiet for some time to come."

"This were a bloody policy, brother," said the King; "and again I
say, that I cannot bring my conscience to countenance the slaughter
of these rude men, that are so little better than so many benighted
heathens."

"And are their lives more precious," asked Albany, "than those of
nobles and gentlemen who by your Grace's license are so frequently
admitted to fight in barrace, either for the satisfying of disputes
at law or simply to acquire honour?"

The King, thus hard pressed, had little to say against a custom so
engrafted upon the laws of the realm and the usages of chivalry as
the trial by combat; and he only replied: "God knows, I have never
granted such license as you urge me with unless with the greatest
repugnance; and that I never saw men have strife together to the
effusion of blood, but I could have wished to appease it with the
shedding of my own."

"But, my gracious lord," said the prior, "it seems that, if we
follow not some such policy as this of my Lord of Albany, we must
have recourse to that of the Douglas; and, at the risk of the dubious
event of battle, and with the certainty of losing many excellent
subjects, do, by means of the Lowland swords, that which these wild
mountaineers will otherwise perform with their own hand. What says
my Lord of Douglas to the policy of his Grace of Albany?"

"Douglas," said the haughty lord, "never counselled that to be done
by policy which might be attained by open force. He remains by his
opinion, and is willing to march at the head of his own followers,
with those of the barons of Perth shire and the Carse, and either
bring these Highlanders to reason or subjection, or leave the body
of a Douglas among their savage wildernesses."

"It is nobly spoken, my Lord of Douglas," said Albany; "and
well might the King rely upon thy undaunted heart and the courage
of thy resolute followers. But see you not how soon you may be
called elsewhere, where your presence and services are altogether
indispensable to Scotland and her monarch? Marked you not the gloomy
tone in which the fiery March limited his allegiance and faith to
our sovereign here present to that space for which he was to remain
King Robert's vassal? And did not you yourself suspect that he was
plotting a transference of his allegiance to England? Other chiefs,
of subordinate power and inferior fame, may do battle with the
Highlanders; but if Dunbar admit the Percies and their Englishmen
into our frontiers, who will drive them back if the Douglas be
elsewhere?"

"My sword," answered Douglas, "is equally at the service of his
Majesty on the frontier or in the deepest recesses of the Highlands.
I have seen the backs of the proud Percy and George of Dunbar ere
now, and I may see them again. And, if it is the King's pleasure I
should take measures against this probable conjunction of stranger
and traitor, I admit that, rather than trust to an inferior or
feebler hand the important task of settling the Highlands, I would
be disposed to give my opinion in favour of the policy of my Lord
of Albany, and suffer those savages to carve each other's limbs,
without giving barons and knights the trouble of hunting them down."

"My Lord of Douglas," said the Prince, who seemed determined to
omit no opportunity to gall his haughty father in law, "does not
choose to leave to us Lowlanders even the poor crumbs of honour
which might be gathered at the expense of the Highland kerne, while
he, with his Border chivalry, reaps the full harvest of victory over
the English. But Percy hath seen men's backs as well as Douglas;
and I have known as great wonders as that he who goes forth to seek
such wool should come back shorn."

"A phrase," said Douglas, "well becoming a prince who speaks of
honour with a wandering harlot's scrip in his bonnet, by way of
favor."

"Excuse it, my lord," said Rothsay: "men who have matched unfittingly
become careless in the choice of those whom they love par amours.
The chained dog must snatch at the nearest bone."

"Rothsay, my unhappy son!" exclaimed the King, "art thou mad? or
wouldst thou draw down on thee the full storm of a king and father's
displeasure?"

"I am dumb," returned the Prince, "at your Grace's command."

"Well, then, my Lord of Albany," said the King, "since such is
your advice, and since Scottish blood must flow, how, I pray you,
are we to prevail on these fierce men to refer their quarrel to
such a combat as you propose?"

"That, my liege," said Albany, "must be the result of more mature
deliberation. But the task will not be difficult. Gold will be
needful to bribe some of the bards and principal counsellors and
spokesmen. The chiefs, moreover, of both these leagues must be made
to understand that, unless they agree to this amicable settlement
--"

"Amicable, brother!" said the King, with emphasis.

"Ay, amicable, my liege," replied his brother, "since it is better
the country were placed in peace, at the expense of losing a score
or two of Highland kernes, than remain at war till as many thousands
are destroyed by sword, fire, famine, and all the extremities of
mountain battle. To return to the purpose: I think that the first
party to whom the accommodation is proposed will snatch at it
eagerly; that the other will be ashamed to reject an offer to rest
the cause on the swords of their bravest men; that the national
vanity, and factious hate to each other, will prevent them from
seeing our purpose in adopting such a rule of decision; and that
they will be more eager to cut each other to pieces than we can be
to halloo them on. And now, as our counsels are finished, so far
as I can aid, I will withdraw."

"Stay yet a moment," said the prior, "for I also have a grief
to disclose, of a nature so black and horrible, that your Grace's
pious heart will hardly credit its existence, and I state it
mournfully, because, as certain as that I am an unworthy servant of
St. Dominic, it is the cause of the displeasure of Heaven against
this poor country, by which our victories are turned into defeat,
our gladness into mourning, our councils distracted with disunion,
and our country devoured by civil war."

"Speak, reverend prior," said the King; "assuredly, if the cause
of such evils be in me or in my house, I will take instant care to
their removal."

He uttered these words with a faltering voice, and eagerly waited
for the prior's reply, in the dread, no doubt, that it might implicate
Rothsay in some new charge of folly or vice. His apprehensions
perhaps deceived him, when he thought he saw the churchman's eye
rest for a moment on the Prince, before he said, in a solemn tone,
"Heresy, my noble and gracious liege--heresy is among us. She
snatches soul after soul from the congregation, as wolves steal
lambs from the sheep fold."

"There are enough of shepherds to watch the fold," answered the Duke
of Rothsay. "Here are four convents of regular monks alone around
this poor hamlet of Perth, and all the secular clergy besides.
Methinks a town so well garrisoned should be fit to keep out an
enemy."

"One traitor in a garrison, my lord," answered the prior, "can do
much to destroy the security of a city which is guarded by legions;
and if that one traitor is, either from levity, or love of novelty,
or whatever other motive, protected and fostered by those who should
be most eager to expel him from the fortress, his opportunities of
working mischief will be incalculably increased."

"Your words seem to aim at some one in this presence, father
prior," said the Douglas; "if at me, they do me foul wrong. I am
well aware that the abbot of Aberbrothock hath made some ill advised
complaints, that I suffered not his beeves to become too many for
his pastures, or his stock of grain to burst the girnels of the
monastery, while my followers lacked beef and their horses corn.
But bethink you, the pastures and cornfields which produced that
plenty were bestowed by my ancestors on the house of Aberbrothock,
surely not with the purpose that their descendant should starve in
the midst of it; and neither will he, by St. Bride! But for heresy
and false doctrine," he added, striking his large hand heavily on
the council table, "who is it that dare tax the Douglas? I would
not have poor men burned for silly thoughts; but my hand and sword
are ever ready to maintain the Christian faith."

"My lord, I doubt it not," said the prior; "so hath it ever been
with your most noble house. For the abbot's complaints, they may
pass to a second day. But what we now desire is a commission to some
noble lord of state, joined to others of Holy Church, to support
by strength of hand, if necessary, the inquiries which the reverend
official of the bounds, and other grave prelates, my unworthy self
being one, are about to make into the cause of the new doctrines,
which are now deluding the simple, and depraving the pure and precious
faith, approved by the Holy Father and his reverend predecessors."

"Let the Earl of Douglas have a royal commission to this effect,"
said Albany; "and let there be no exception whatever from his
jurisdiction, saving the royal person. For my own part, although
conscious that I have neither in act nor thought received or
encouraged a doctrine which Holy Church hath not sanctioned, yet I
should blush to claim an immunity under the blood royal of Scotland,
lest I should seem to be seeking refuge against a crime so horrible."

"I will have nought to do with it," said Douglas: "to march against
the English, and the Southron traitor March, is task enough for
me. Moreover, I am a true Scotsman, and will not give way to aught
that may put the Church of Scotland's head farther into the Roman
yoke, or make the baron's coronet stoop to the mitre and cowl. Do
you, therefore, most noble Duke of Albany, place your own name in
the commission; and I pray your Grace so to mitigate the zeal of
the men of Holy Church who may be associated with you, that there
be no over zealous dealings; for the smell of a fagot on the Tay
would bring back the Douglas from the walls of York."

The Duke hastened to give the Earl assurance that the commission
should be exercised with lenity and moderation.

"Without a question," said King Robert, "the commission must be
ample; and did it consist with the dignity of our crown, we would
not ourselves decline its jurisdiction. But we trust that, while
the thunders of the church are directed against the vile authors
of these detestable heresies, there shall be measures of mildness
and compassion taken with the unfortunate victims of their delusions."

"Such is ever the course of Holy Church, my lord," said the prior
of St. Dominic's.

"Why, then, let the commission be expedited with due care, in name
of our brother Albany, and such others as shall be deemed convenient,"
said the King. "And now once again let us break up our council; and,
Rothsay, come thou with me, and lend me thine arm; I have matter
for thy private ear."

"Ho, la!" here exclaimed the Prince, in the tone in which he would
have addressed a managed horse.

"What means this rudeness, boy?" said the King; "wilt thou never
learn reason and courtesy?"

"Let me not be thought to offend, my liege," said the Prince; "but
we are parting without learning what is to be done in the passing
strange adventure of the dead hand, which the Douglas hath so
gallantly taken up. We shall sit but uncomfortably here at Perth,
if we are at variance with the citizens."

"Leave that to me," said Albany. "With some little grant of lands
and money, and plenty of fair words, the burghers may be satisfied
for this time; but it were well that the barons and their followers,
who are in attendance on the court, were warned to respect the
peace within burgh."

"Surely, we would have it so," said the King; "let strict orders
be given accordingly."

"It is doing the churls but too much grace," said the Douglas; "but
be it at your Highness's pleasure. I take leave to retire."

"Not before you taste a flagon of Gascon wine, my lord?" said the
King.

"Pardon," replied the Earl, "I am not athirst, and I drink not
for fashion, but either for need or for friendship." So saying, he
departed.

The King, as if relieved by his absence, turned to Albany, and
said: "And now, my lord, we should chide this truant Rothsay of
ours; yet he hath served us so well at council, that we must receive
his merits as some atonement for his follies."

"I am happy to hear it," answered Albany, with a countenance of
pity and incredulity, as if he knew nothing of the supposed services.

"Nay, brother, you are dull," said the King, "for I will not think
you envious. Did you not note that Rothsay was the first to suggest
the mode of settling the Highlands, which your experience brought
indeed into better shape, and which was generally approved of; and
even now we had broken up, leaving a main matter unconsidered, but
that he put us in mind of the affray with the citizens?"

"I nothing doubt, my liege," said the Duke of Albany, with the
acquiescence which he saw was expected, "that my royal nephew will
soon emulate his father's wisdom."

"Or," said the Duke of Rothsay, "I may find it easier to borrow
from another member of my family that happy and comfortable cloak
of hypocrisy which covers all vices, and then it signifies little
whether they exist or not."

"My lord prior," said the Duke, addressing the Dominican, "we will
for a moment pray your reverence's absence. The King and I have
that to say to the Prince which must have no further audience, not
even yours."

The Dominican bowed and withdrew.

When the two royal brothers and the Prince were left together,
the King seemed in the highest degree embarrassed and distressed,
Albany sullen and thoughtful, while Rothsay himself endeavoured
to cover some anxiety under his usual appearance of levity. There
was a silence of a minute. At length Albany spoke.

"Royal brother," he said, "my princely nephew entertains with so
much suspicion any admonition coming from my mouth, that I must
pray your Grace yourself to take the trouble of telling him what
it is most fitting he should know."

"It must be some unpleasing communication indeed, which my Lord of
Albany cannot wrap up in honied words," said the Prince.

"Peace with thine effrontery, boy," answered the King, passionately.
"You asked but now of the quarrel with the citizens. Who caused
that quarrel, David? What men were those who scaled the window of
a peaceful citizen and liege man, alarmed the night with torch and
outcry, and subjected our subjects to danger and affright?"

"More fear than danger, I fancy," answered the Prince; "but how
can I of all men tell who made this nocturnal disturbance?"

"There was a follower of thine own there," continued the King--
"a man of Belial, whom I will have brought to condign punishment."

"I have no follower, to my knowledge, capable of deserving your
Highness's displeasure," answered the Prince.

"I will have no evasions, boy. Where wert thou on St. Valentine's
Eve?"

"It is to be hoped that I was serving the good saint, as a man of
mould might," answered the young man, carelessly.

"Will my royal nephew tell us how his master of the horse was
employed upon that holy eve?" said the Duke of Albany.

"Speak, David; I command thee to speak," said the King.

"Ramorny was employed in my service, I think that answer may satisfy
my uncle."

"But it will not satisfy me," said the angry father. "God knows,
I never coveted man's blood, but that Ramorny's head I will have,
if law can give it. He has been the encourager and partaker of all
thy numerous vices and follies. I will take care he shall be so no
more. Call MacLouis, with a guard."

"Do not injure an innocent man," interposed the Prince, desirous at
every sacrifice to preserve his favourite from the menaced danger:
"I pledge my word that Ramorny was employed in business of mine,
therefore could not be engaged in this brawl."

"False equivocator that thou art!" said the King, presenting to the
Prince a ring, "behold the signet of Ramorny, lost in the infamous
affray! It fell into the hands of a follower of the Douglas, and
was given by the Earl to my brother. Speak not for Ramorny, for
he dies; and go thou from my presence, and repent the flagitious
counsels which could make thee stand before me with a falsehood in
thy mouth. Oh, shame, David--shame! as a son thou hast lied to
thy father, as a knight to the head of thy order."

The Prince stood mute, conscience struck, and self convicted. He
then gave way to the honourable feelings which at bottom he really
possessed, and threw himself at his father's feet.

"The false knight," he said, "deserves degradation, the disloyal
subject death; but, oh! let the son crave from the father pardon
for the servant who did not lead him into guilt, but who reluctantly
plunged himself into it at his command. Let me bear the weight of
my own folly, but spare those who have been my tools rather than
my accomplices. Remember, Ramorny was preferred to my service by
my sainted mother."

"Name her not, David, I charge thee," said the King; "she is happy
that she never saw the child of her love stand before her doubly
dishonoured by guilt and by falsehood."

"I am indeed unworthy to name her," said the Prince; "and yet, my
dear father, in her name I must petition for Ramorny's life."

"If I might offer my counsel," said the Duke of Albany, who saw
that a reconciliation would soon take place betwixt the father and
son, "I would advise that Ramorny be dismissed from the Prince's
household and society, with such further penalty as his imprudence
may seem to merit. The public will be contented with his disgrace,
and the matter will be easily accommodated or stifled, so that his
Highness do not attempt to screen his servant."

"Wilt thou, for my sake, David," said the King, with a faltering
voice and the tear in his eye, "dismiss this dangerous man?--for
my sake, who could not refuse thee the heart out of my bosom?"

"It shall be done, my father--done instantly," the Prince replied;
and seizing the pen, he wrote a hasty dismissal of Ramorny from his
service, and put it into Albany's hands. "I would I could fulfil all
your wishes as easily, my royal father," he added, again throwing
himself at the King's feet, who raised him up and fondly folded
him in his arms.

Albany scowled, but was silent; and it was not till after the space
of a minute or two that he said: "This matter being so happily
accommodated, let me ask if your Majesty is pleased to attend the
evensong service in the chapel?"

"Surely," said the King. "Have I not thanks to pay to God, who has
restored union to my family? You will go with us, brother?"

"So please your Grace to give me leave of absence--no," said the
Duke. "I must concert with the Douglas and others the manner in
which we may bring these Highland vultures to our lure."

Albany retired to think over his ambitious projects, while the
father and son attended divine service, to thank God for their
happy reconciliation.



CHAPTER XIV.

Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndesay,
Will you go the Hielands wi' me?
Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndesay,
My bride and my darling to be?

Old Ballad.


A former chapter opened in the royal confessional; we are now to
introduce our readers to a situation somewhat similar, though the
scene and persons were very different. Instead of a Gothic and darkened
apartment in a monastery, one of the most beautiful prospects in
Scotland lay extended beneath the hill of Kinnoul, and at the foot
of a rock which commanded the view in every direction sat the Fair
Maid of Perth, listening in an attitude of devout attention to the
instructions of a Carthusian monk, in his white gown and scapular,
who concluded his discourse with prayer, in which his proselyte
devoutly joined.

When they had finished their devotions, the priest sat for some
time with his eyes fixed on the glorious prospect, of which even
the early and chilly season could not conceal the beauties, and it
was some time ere he addressed his attentive companion.

"When I behold," he said at length, "this rich and varied land,
with its castles, churches, convents, stately palaces, and fertile
fields, these extensive woods, and that noble river, I know
not, my daughter, whether most to admire the bounty of God or the
ingratitude of man. He hath given us the beauty and fertility of
the earth, and we have made the scene of his bounty a charnel house
and a battlefield. He hath given us power over the elements, and
skill to erect houses for comfort and defence, and we have converted
them into dens for robbers and ruffians."

"Yet, surely, my father, there is room for comfort," replied
Catharine, "even in the very prospect we look upon. Yonder four
goodly convents, with their churches, and their towers, which tell
the citizens with brazen voice that they should think on their
religious duties; their inhabitants, who have separated themselves
from the world, its pursuits and its pleasures, to dedicate themselves
to the service of Heaven--all bear witness that, if Scotland be
a bloody and a sinful land, she is yet alive and sensible to the
claims which religion demands of the human race."

"Verily, daughter," answered the priest, "what you say seems truth;
and yet, nearly viewed, too much of the comfort you describe will
be found delusive. It is true, there was a period in the Christian
world when good men, maintaining themselves by the work of their
hands, assembled together, not that they might live easily or sleep
softly, but that they might strengthen each other in the Christian
faith, and qualify themselves to be teachers of the Word to the
people. Doubtless there are still such to be found in the holy
edifices on which we now look. But it is to be feared that the love
of many has waxed cold. Our churchmen have become wealthy, as well
by the gifts of pious persons as by the bribes which wicked men
have given in their ignorance, imagining that they can purchase that
pardon by endowments to the church which Heaven has only offered
to sincere penitents. And thus, as the church waxeth rich, her
doctrines have unhappily become dim and obscure, as a light is
less seen if placed in a lamp of chased gold than beheld through
a screen of glass. God knows, if I see these things and mark them,
it is from no wish of singularity or desire to make myself a teacher
in Israel; but because the fire burns in my bosom, and will not
permit me to be silent. I obey the rules of my order, and withdraw not
myself from its austerities. Be they essential to our salvation, or
be they mere formalities, adopted to supply the want of real penitence
and sincere devotion, I have promised, nay, vowed, to observe them;
and they shall be respected by me the more, that otherwise I might
be charged with regarding my bodily ease, when Heaven is my witness
how lightly I value what I may be called on to act or suffer, if
the purity of the church could be restored, or the discipline of
the priesthood replaced in its primitive simplicity."

"But, my father," said Catharine, "even for these opinions men
term you a Lollard and a Wickliffite, and say it is your desire
to destroy churches and cloisters, and restore the religion of
heathenesse."

"Even so, my daughter, am I driven to seek refuge in hills and
rocks, and must be presently contented to take my flight amongst
the rude Highlanders, who are thus far in a more gracious state
than those I leave behind me, that theirs are crimes of ignorance,
not of presumption. I will not omit to take such means of safety
and escape from their cruelty as Heaven may open to me; for, while
such appear, I shall account it a sign that I have still a service
to accomplish. But when it is my Master's pleasure, He knows how
willingly Clement Blair will lay down a vilified life upon earth,
in humble hope of a blessed exchange hereafter. But wherefore dost
thou look northward so anxiously, my child? Thy young eyes are
quicker than mine--dost thou see any one coming?"

"I look, father, for the Highland youth, Conachar, who will be thy
guide to the hills, where his father can afford thee a safe, if
a rude, retreat. This he has often promised, when we spoke of you
and of your lessons. I fear he is now in company where he will soon
forget them."

"The youth hath sparkles of grace in him," said Father Clement;
"although those of his race are usually too much devoted to their
own fierce and savage customs to endure with patience either the
restraints of religion or those of the social law. Thou hast never
told me, daughter, how, contrary to all the usages either of the
burgh or of the mountains, this youth came to reside in thy father's
house?"

"All I know touching that matter," said Catharine, "is, that his
father is a man of consequence among those hill men, and that he
desired as a favour of my father, who hath had dealings with them
in the way of his merchandise, to keep this youth for a certain
time, and that it is only two days since they parted, as Conachar
was to return home to his own mountains."

"And why has my daughter," demanded the priest, "maintained such a
correspondence with this Highland youth, that she should know how
to send for him when she desired to use his services in my behalf?
Surely, this is much influence for a maiden to possess over such
a wild colt as this youthful mountaineer."

Catharine blushed, and answered with hesitation: "If I have had any
influence with Conachar, Heaven be my witness, I have only exerted
it to enforce upon his fiery temper compliance with the rules of
civil life. It is true, I have long expected that you, my father,
would be obliged to take to flight, and I therefore had agreed
with him that he should meet me at this place as soon as he should
receive a message from me with a token, which I yesterday despatched.
The messenger was a lightfooted boy of his own clan, whom he used
sometimes to send on errands into the Highlands."

"And am I then to understand, daughter, that this youth, so fair
to the eye, was nothing more dear to you than as you desired to
enlighten his mind and reform his manners?"

"It is so, my father, and no otherwise," answered Catharine; "and
perhaps I did not do well to hold intimacy with him, even for his
instruction and improvement. But my discourse never led farther."

"Then have I been mistaken, my daughter; for I thought I had seen
in thee of late some change of purpose, and some wishful regards
looking back to this world, of which you were at one time resolved
to take leave."

Catharine hung down her head and blushed more deeply than ever as
she said: "Yourself, father, were used to remonstrate against my
taking the veil."

"Nor do I now approve of it, my child," said the priest. "Marriage
is an honourable state, appointed by Heaven as the regular means
of continuing the race of man; and I read not in the Scriptures
what human inventions have since affirmed concerning the superior
excellence of a state of celibacy. But I am jealous of thee,
my child, as a father is of his only daughter, lest thou shouldst
throw thyself away upon some one unworthy of thee. Thy parent, I
know, less nice in thy behalf than I am, countenances the addresses
of that fierce and riotous reveller whom they call Henry of the
Wynd. He is rich it may be; but a haunter of idle and debauched
company--a common prizefighter, who has shed human blood like
water. Can such a one be a fit mate for Catharine Glover? And yet
report says they are soon to be united."

The Fair Maid of Perth's complexion changed from red to pale, and
from pale to red, as she hastily replied: "I think not of him;
though it is true some courtesies have passed betwixt us of late,
both as he is my father's friend and as being according to the
custom of the time, my Valentine."

"Your Valentine, my child!" said Father Clement. "And can your
modesty and prudence have trifled so much with the delicacy of your
sex as to place yourself in such a relation to such a man as this
artificer? Think you that this Valentine, a godly saint and Christian
bishop, as he is said to have been, ever countenanced a silly and
unseemly custom, more likely to have originated in the heathen
worship of Flora or Venus, when mortals gave the names of deities
to their passions; and studied to excite instead of restraining
them?"

"Father," said Catharine, in a tone of more displeasure than she had
ever before assumed to the Carthusian, "I know not upon what ground
you tax me thus severely for complying with a general practice,
authorised by universal custom and sanctioned by my father's
authority. I cannot feel it kind that you put such misconstruction
upon me."

"Forgive me, daughter," answered the priest, mildly, "if I have
given you offence. But this Henry Gow, or Smith, is a forward,
licentious man, to whom you cannot allow any uncommon degree
of intimacy and encouragement, without exposing yourself to worse
misconstruction--unless, indeed, it be your purpose to wed him,
and that very shortly."

"Say no more of it, my father," said Catharine. "You give me more
pain than you would desire to do; and I may be provoked to answer
otherwise than as becomes me. Perhaps I have already had cause
enough to make me repent my compliance with an idle custom. At any
rate, believe that Henry Smith is nothing to me, and that even the
idle intercourse arising from St. Valentine's Day is utterly broken
off."

"I am rejoiced to hear it, my daughter," replied the Carthusian,
"and must now prove you on another subject, which renders me most
anxious on your behalf. You cannot your self be ignorant of it,
although I could wish it were not necessary to speak of a thing
so dangerous, even, before these surrounding rocks, cliffs, and
stones. But it must be said. Catharine, you have a lover in the
highest rank of Scotland's sons of honour?"

"I know it, father," answered Catharine, composedly. "I would it
were not so."

"So would I also," said the priest, "did I see in my daughter only
the child of folly, which most young women are at her age, especially
if possessed of the fatal gift of beauty. But as thy charms, to
speak the language of an idle world, have attached to thee a lover
of such high rank, so I know that thy virtue and wisdom will maintain
the influence over the Prince's mind which thy beauty hath acquired."

"Father," replied Catharine, "the Prince is a licentious gallant,
whose notice of me tends only to my disgrace and ruin. Can you,
who seemed but now afraid that I acted imprudently in entering into
an ordinary exchange of courtesies with one of my own rank, speak
with patience of the sort of correspondence which the heir of
Scotland dares to fix upon me? Know that it is but two nights since
he, with a party of his debauched followers, would have carried
me by force from my father's house, had I not been rescued by that
same rash spirited Henry Smith, who, if he be too hasty in venturing
on danger on slight occasion, is always ready to venture his life
in behalf of innocence or in resistance of oppression. It is well
my part to do him that justice."

"I should know something of that matter," said the monk, "since
it was my voice that sent him to your assistance. I had seen the
party as I passed your door, and was hastening to the civil power
in order to raise assistance, when I perceived a man's figure coming
slowly towards me. Apprehensive it might be one of the ambuscade,
I stepped behind the buttresses of the chapel of St. John, and
seeing from a nearer view that it was Henry Smith, I guessed which
way he was bound, and raised my voice, in an exhortation which made
him double his speed."

"I am beholden to you, father," said Catharine; "but all this, and
the Duke of Rothsay's own language to me, only show that the Prince
is a profligate young man, who will scruple no extremities which
may promise to gratify an idle passion, at whatever expense to its
object. His emissary, Ramorny, has even had the insolence to tell
me that my father shall suffer for it if I dare to prefer being the
wife of an honest man to becoming the loose paramour of a married
prince. So I see no other remedy than to take the veil, or run
the risk of my own ruin and my poor father's. Were there no other
reason, the terror of these threats, from a man so notoriously
capable of keeping his word, ought as much to prevent my becoming
the bride of any worthy man as it should prohibit me from unlatching
his door to admit murderers. Oh, good father, what a lot is mine!
and how fatal am I likely to prove to my affectionate parent, and
to any one with whom I might ally my unhappy fortunes!"

"Be yet of good cheer, my daughter," said the monk; "there is comfort
for thee even in this extremity of apparent distress. Ramorny is a
villain, and abuses the ear of his patron. The Prince is unhappily
a dissipated and idle youth; but, unless my grey hairs have been
strangely imposed on, his character is beginning to alter. He hath
been awakened to Ramorny's baseness, and deeply regrets having
followed his evil advice. I believe, nay, I am well convinced, that
his passion for you has assumed a nobler and purer character, and
that the lessons he has heard from me on the corruptions of the
church and of the times will, if enforced from your lips, sink
deeply into his heart, and perhaps produce fruits for the world to
wonder as well as rejoice at. Old prophecies have said that Rome
shall fall by the speech of a woman."

"These are dreams, father," said Catharine--"the visions of one
whose thoughts are too much on better things to admit his thinking
justly upon the ordinary affairs of Perth. When we have looked long
at the sun, everything else can only be seen indistinctly."

"Thou art over hasty, my daughter," said Clement, "and thou shalt
be convinced of it. The prospects which I am to open to thee were
unfit to be exposed to one of a less firm sense of virtue, or a
more ambitious temper. Perhaps it is not fit that, even to you, I
should display them; but my confidence is strong in thy wisdom and
thy principles. Know, then, that there is much chance that the Church
of Rome will dissolve the union which she has herself formed, and
release the Duke of Rothsay from his marriage with Marjory Douglas."

Here he paused.

"And if the church hath power and will to do this," replied the
maiden, "what influence can the divorce of the Duke from his wife
produce on the fortunes of Catharine Glover?"

She looked at the priest anxiously as she spoke, and he had some
apparent difficulty in framing his reply, for he looked on the
ground while he answered her.

"What did beauty do for Catharine Logie? Unless our fathers have
told us falsely, it raised her to share the throne of David Bruce."

"Did she live happy or die regretted, good father?" asked Catharine,
in the same calm and steady tone.

"She formed her alliance from temporal, and perhaps criminal,
ambition," replied Father Clement; "and she found her reward in
vanity and vexation of spirit. But had she wedded with the purpose
that the believing wife should convert the unbelieving, or confirm
the doubting, husband, what then had been her reward? Love and
honour upon earth, and an inheritance in Heaven with Queen Margaret
and those heroines who have been the nursing mothers of the church."

Hitherto Catharine had sat upon a stone beside the priest's feet, and
looked up to him as she spoke or listened; but now, as if animated
by calm, yet settled, feelings of disapprobation, she rose up,
and, extending her hand towards the monk as she spoke, addressed
him with a countenance and voice which might have become a cherub,
pitying, and even as much as possible sparing, the feelings of the
mortal whose errors he is commissioned to rebuke.

"And is it even so?" she said, "and can so much of the wishes,
hopes, and prejudices of this vile world affect him who may be
called tomorrow to lay down his life for opposing the corruptions
of a wicked age and backsliding priesthood? Can it be the severely
virtuous Father Clement who advises his child to aim at, or even to
think of, the possession of a throne and a bed which cannot become
vacant but by an act of crying injustice to the present possessor?
Can it be the wise reformer of the church who wishes to rest a
scheme, in itself so unjust, upon a foundation so precarious? Since
when is it, good father, that the principal libertine has altered
his morals so much, to be likely to court in honourable fashion
the daughter of a Perth artisan? Two days must have wrought this
change; for only that space has passed since he was breaking into
my father's house at midnight, with worse mischief in his mind than
that of a common robber. And think you that, if Rothsay's heart
could dictate so mean a match, he could achieve such a purpose
without endangering both his succession and his life, assailed by
the Douglas and March at the same time, for what they must receive
as an act of injury and insult to both their houses? Oh! Father
Clement, where was your principle, where your prudence, when they
suffered you to be bewildered by so strange a dream, and placed
the meanest of your disciples in the right thus to reproach you?"

The old man's eyes filled with tears, as Catharine, visibly and
painfully affected by what she had said, became at length silent.

"By the mouths of babes and sucklings," he said, "hath He rebuked
those who would seem wise in their generation. I thank Heaven,
that hath taught me better thoughts than my own vanity suggested,
through the medium of so kind a monitress. Yes, Catharine, I must
not hereafter wonder or exclaim when I see those whom I have hitherto
judged too harshly struggling for temporal power, and holding all
the while the language of religious zeal. I thank thee, daughter,
for thy salutary admonition, and I thank Heaven that sent it by
thy lips, rather than those of a stern reprover."

Catharine had raised her head to reply, and bid the old man, whose
humiliation gave her pain, be comforted, when her eyes were arrested
by an object close at hand. Among the crags and cliffs which
surrounded this place of seclusion, there were two which stood in
such close contiguity, that they seemed to have been portions of
the same rock, which, rendered by lightning or by an earthquake,
now exhibited a chasm of about four feet in breadth, betwixt the
masses of stone. Into this chasm an oak tree had thrust itself,
in one of the fantastic frolics which vegetation often exhibits in
such situations. The tree, stunted and ill fed, had sent its roots
along the face of the rock in all directions to seek for supplies,
and they lay like military lines of communication, contorted, twisted,
and knotted like the immense snakes of the Indian archipelago.
As Catharine's look fell upon the curious complication of knotty
branches and twisted roots, she was suddenly sensible that two large
eyes were visible among them, fixed and glaring at her, like those
of a wild animal in ambush. She started, and, without speaking,
pointed out the object to her companion, and looking herself with
more strict attention, could at length trace out the bushy red hair
and shaggy beard, which had hitherto been concealed by the drooping
branches and twisted roots of the tree.

When he saw himself discovered, the Highlander, for such he proved,
stepped forth from his lurking place, and, stalking forward,
displayed a colossal person, clothed in a purple, red, and green
checked plaid, under which he wore a jacket of bull's hide. His
bow and arrows were at his back, his head was bare, and a large
quantity of tangled locks, like the glibbs of the Irish, served
to cover the head, and supplied all the purposes of a bonnet. His
belt bore a sword and dagger, and he had in his hand a Danish pole
axe, more recently called a Lochaber axe. Through the same rude
portal advanced, one by one, four men more, of similar size, and
dressed and armed in the same manner.

Catharine was too much accustomed to the appearance of the inhabitants
of the mountains so near to Perth to permit herself to be alarmed,
as another Lowland maiden might have been on the same occasion. She
saw with tolerable composure these gigantic forms arrange themselves
in a semicircle around and in front of the monk and herself, all
bending upon them in silence their large fixed eyes, expressing,
as far as she could judge, a wild admiration of her beauty. She
inclined her head to them, and uttered imperfectly the usual words
of a Highland salutation. The elder and leader of the party returned
the greeting, and then again remained silent and motionless. The
monk told his beads; and even Catharine began to have strange fears
for her personal safety, and anxiety to know whether they were to
consider themselves at personal freedom. She resolved to make the
experiment, and moved forward as if to descend the hill; but when
she attempted to pass the line of Highlanders, they extended their
poleaxes betwixt each other, so as effectually to occupy each
opening through which she could have passed.

Somewhat disconcerted, yet not dismayed, for she could not conceive
that any evil was intended, she sat down upon one of the scattered
fragments of rock, and bade the monk, standing by her side, be of
good courage.

"If I fear," said Father Clement, "it is not for myself; for whether
I be brained with the axes of these wild men, like an ox when, worn
out by labour, he is condemned to the slaughter, or whether I am
bound with their bowstrings, and delivered over to those who will
take my life with more cruel ceremony, it can but little concern
me, if they suffer thee, dearest daughter, to escape uninjured."

"We have neither of us," replied the Maiden of Perth, "any cause
for apprehending evil; and here comes Conachar to assure us of it."

Yet, as she spoke, she almost doubted her own eyes; so altered
were the manner and attire of the handsome, stately, and almost
splendidly dressed youth who, springing like a roebuck from a cliff
of considerable height, lighted just in front of her. His dress
was of the same tartan worn by those who had first made their
appearance, but closed at the throat and elbows with a necklace
and armlets of gold. The hauberk which he wore over his person was
of steel, but so clearly burnished that it shone like silver. His
arms were profusely ornamented, and his bonnet, besides the eagle's
feather marking the quality of chief, was adorned with a chain of
gold, wrapt several times around it, and secured by a large clasp,
glistening with pearls. His brooch, by which the tartan mantle, or
plaid, as it is now called, was secured on the shoulder, was also
of gold, large and curiously carved. He bore no weapon in his hand,
excepting a small sapling stick with a hooked head. His whole
appearance and gait, which used formerly to denote a sullen feeling
of conscious degradation, was now bold, forward, and haughty; and
he stood before Catharine with smiling confidence, as if fully
conscious of his improved appearance, and waiting till she should
recognise him.

"Conachar," said Catharine, desirous to break this state of suspense,
"are these your father's men?"

"No, fair Catharine," answered the young man. "Conachar is no more,
unless in regard to the wrongs he has sustained, and the vengeance
which they demand. I am Ian Eachin MacIan, son to the chief of the
Clan Quhele. I have moulted my feathers, as you see, when I changed
my name. And for these men, they are not my father's followers,
but mine. You see only one half of them collected: they form a band
consisting of my foster father and eight sons, who are my bodyguard,
and the children of my belt, who breathe but to do my will. But
Conachar," he added, in a softer tone of voice, "lives again so
soon as Catharine desires to see him; and while he is the young
chief of the Clan Quhele to all others, he is to her as humble and
obedient as when he was Simon Glover's apprentice. See, here is the
stick I had from you when we nutted together in the sunny braes of
Lednoch, when autumn was young in the year that is gone. I would
not exchange it, Catharine, for the truncheon of my tribe."

While Eachin thus spoke, Catharine began to doubt in her own mind
whether she had acted prudently in requesting the assistance of a
bold young man, elated, doubtless, by his sudden elevation from a
state of servitude to one which she was aware gave him extensive
authority over a very lawless body of adherents.

"You do not fear me, fair Catharine?" said the young chief, taking
her hand. "I suffered my people to appear before you for a few
minutes, that I might see how you could endure their presence; and
methinks you regarded them as if you were born to be a chieftain's
wife."

"I have no reason to fear wrong from Highlanders," said Catharine,
firmly; "especially as I thought Conachar was with them. Conachar
has drunk of our cup and eaten of our bread; and my father has
often had traffic with Highlanders, and never was there wrong or
quarrel betwixt him and them."

"No?" replied Hector, for such is the Saxon equivalent for Eachin,
"what! never when he took the part of the Gow Chrom (the bandy
legged smith) against Eachin MacIan? Say nothing to excuse it, and
believe it will be your own fault if I ever again allude to it. But
you had some command to lay upon me; speak, and you shall be obeyed."

Catharine hastened to reply; for there was something in the young
chief's manner and language which made her desire to shorten the
interview.

"Eachin," she said, "since Conachar is no longer your name, you
ought to be sensible that in claiming, as I honestly might, a service
from my equal, I little thought that I was addressing a person of
such superior power and consequence. You, as well as I, have been
obliged to the religious instruction of this good man. He is now
in great danger: wicked men have accused him with false charges,
and he is desirous to remain in safety and concealment till the
storm shall pass away."

"Ha! the good clerk Clement! Ay, the worthy clerk did much for me,
and more than my rugged temper was capable to profit by. I will
be glad to see any one in the town of Perth persecute one who hath
taken hold of MacIan's mantle!"

"It may not be safe to trust too much to that," said Catharine. "I
nothing doubt the power of your tribe; but when the Black Douglas
takes up a feud, he is not to be scared by the shaking of a Highland
plaid."

The Highlander disguised his displeasure at this speech with a
forced laugh.

"The sparrow," he said, "that is next the eye seems larger than the
eagle that is perched on Bengoile. You fear the Douglasses most,
because they sit next to you. But be it as you will. You will not
believe how wide our hills, and vales, and forests extend beyond
the dusky barrier of yonder mountains, and you think all the world
lies on the banks of the Tay. But this good clerk shall see hills
that could hide him were all the Douglasses on his quest--ay,
and he shall see men enough also to make them glad to get once more
southward of the Grampians. And wherefore should you not go with
the good man? I will send a party to bring him in safety from Perth,
and we will set up the old trade beyond Loch Tay--only no more
cutting out of gloves for me. I will find your father in hides, but
I will not cut them, save when they are on the creatures' backs."

"My father will come one day and see your housekeeping, Conachar
--I mean, Hector. But times must be quieter, for there is feud
between the townspeople and the followers of the noblemen, and
there is speech of war about to break out in the Highlands."

"Yes, by Our Lady, Catharine! and were it not for that same Highland
war, you should nor thus put off your Highland visit, my pretty
mistress. But the race of the hills are no longer to be divided
into two nations. They will fight like men for the supremacy, and
he who gets it will deal with the King of Scotland as an equal, not
as a superior. Pray that the victory may fall to MacIan, my pious
St. Catharine, for thou shalt pray for one who loves thee dearly."

"I will pray for the right," said Catharine; "or rather, I will
pray that there be peace on all sides. Farewell, kind and excellent
Father Clement. Believe I shall never forget thy lessons; remember
me in thy prayers. But how wilt thou be able to sustain a journey
so toilsome?"

"They shall carry him if need be," said Hector, "if we go far
without finding a horse for him. But you, Catharine--it is far
from hence to Perth. Let me attend you thither as I was wont."

"If you were as you were wont, I would not refuse your escort. But
gold brooches and bracelets are perilous company, when the Liddesdale
and Annandale lancers are riding as throng upon the highway as the
leaves at Hallowmass; and there is no safe meeting betwixt Highland
tartans and steel jackets."

She hazarded this remark, as she somewhat suspected that, in
casting his slough, young Eachin had not entirely surmounted the
habits which he had acquired in his humbler state, and that, though
he might use bold words, he would not be rash enough to brave the
odds of numbers, to which a descent into the vicinity of the city
would be likely to expose him. It appeared that she judged correctly;
for, after a farewell, in which she compounded for the immunity of
her lips by permitting him to kiss her hand, she returned towards
Perth, and could obtain at times, when she looked back, an occasional
glance of the Highlanders, as, winding through the most concealed
and impracticable paths, they bent their way towards the North.

She felt in part relieved from her immediate anxiety, as the
distance increased betwixt her and these men, whose actions were
only directed by the will of their chief, and whose chief was a
giddy and impetuous boy. She apprehended no insult on her return
to Perth from the soldiery of any party whom she might meet; for
the rules of chivalry were in those days a surer protection to
a maiden of decent appearance than an escort of armed men, whose
cognizance might not be acknowledged as friendly by any other
party whom they might chance to encounter. But more remote dangers
pressed on her apprehension. The pursuit of the licentious Prince was
rendered formidable by threats which his unprincipled counsellor,
Ramorny, had not shunned to utter against her father, if
she persevered in her coyness. These menaces, in such an age, and
from such a character, were deep grounds for alarm; nor could she
consider the pretensions to her favour which Conachar had scarce
repressed during his state of servitude, and seemed now to avow
boldly, as less fraught with evil, since there had been repeated
incursions of the Highlanders into the very town of Perth, and
citizens had, on more occasions than one, been made prisoners and
carried off from their own houses, or had fallen by the claymore
in the very streets of their city. She feared, too, her father's
importunity on behalf of the smith, of whose conduct on St.
Valentine's Day unworthy reports had reached her; and whose suit,
had he stood clear in her good opinion, she dared not listen to,
while Ramorny's threats of revenge upon her father rung on her ear.
She thought on these various dangers with the deepest apprehension,
and an earnest desire to escape from them and herself, by taking
refuge in the cloister; but saw no possibility of obtaining her
father's consent to the only course from which she expected peace
and protection.

In the course of these reflections, we cannot discover that she
very distinctly regretted that her perils attended her because she
was the Fair Maid of Perth. This was one point which marked that
she was not yet altogether an angel; and perhaps it was another
that, in despite of Henry Smith's real or supposed delinquencies,
a sigh escaped from her bosom when she thought upon St. Valentine's
dawn.



CHAPTER XV.

Oh, for a draught of power to steep
The soul of agony in sleep!

Bertha.


We have shown the secrets of the confessional; those of the sick
chamber are not hidden from us. The darkened apartment, where salves
and medicines showed that the leech had been busy in his craft, a
tall thin form lay on a bed, arrayed in a nightgown belted around
him, with pain on his brow, and a thousand stormy passions agitating
his bosom. Everything in the apartment indicated a man of opulence
and of expense. Henbane Dwining, the apothecary, who seemed to have
the care of the patient, stole with a crafty and catlike step from
one corner of the room to another, busying himself with mixing
medicines and preparing dressings. The sick man groaned once or
twice, on which the leech, advancing to his bedside, asked whether
these sounds were a token of the pain of his body or of the distress
of his mind.

"Of both, thou poisoning varlet," said Sir John Ramorny, "and of
being encumbered with thy accursed company."

"If that is all, I can relieve your knighthood of one of these
ills by presently removing myself elsewhere. Thanks to the feuds
of this boisterous time, had I twenty hands, instead of these two
poor servants of my art (displaying his skinny palms), there is
enough of employment for them--well requited employment, too,
where thanks and crowns contend which shall best pay my services;
while you, Sir John, wreak upon your chirurgeon the anger you ought
only to bear against the author of your wound."

"Villain, it is beneath me to reply to thee," said the patient;
"but every word of thy malignant tongue is a dirk, inflicting wounds
which set all the medicines of Arabia at defiance."

"Sir John, I understand you not; but if you give way to these
tempestuous fits of rage, it is impossible but fever and inflammation
must be the result."

"Why then dost thou speak in a sense to chafe my blood? Why dost
thou name the supposition of thy worthless self having more hands
than nature gave thee, while I, a knight and gentleman, am mutilated
like a cripple?"

"Sir John," replied the chirurgeon, "I am no divine, nor a mainly
obstinate believer in some things which divines tell us. Yet I may
remind you that you have been kindly dealt with; for if the blow
which has done you this injury had lighted on your neck, as it was
aimed, it would have swept your head from your shoulders, instead
of amputating a less considerable member."

"I wish it had, Dwining--I wish it had lighted as it was addressed.
I should not then have seen a policy which had spun a web so fine
as mine burst through by the brute force of a drunken churl. I
should not have been reserved to see horses which I must not mount,
lists which I must no longer enter, splendours which I cannot hope
to share, or battles which I must not take part in. I should not,
with a man's passions for power and for strife, be set to keep place
among the women, despised by them, too, as a miserable, impotent
cripple, unable to aim at obtaining the favour of the sex."

"Supposing all this to be so, I will yet pray of your knighthood
to remark," replied Dwining, still busying himself with arranging
the dressings of the wounds, "that your eyes, which you must have
lost with your head, may, being spared to you, present as rich a
prospect of pleasure as either ambition, or victory in the list or
in the field, or the love of woman itself, could have proposed to
you."

"My sense is too dull to catch thy meaning, leech," replied Ramorny.
"What is this precious spectacle reserved to me in such a shipwreck?"

"The dearest that mankind knows," replied Dwining; and then, in
the accent of a lover who utters the name of his beloved mistress,
and expresses his passion for her in the very tone of his voice,
he added the word "REVENGE!"

The patient had raised himself on his couch to listen with some
anxiety for the solution of the physician's enigma. He laid himself
down again as he heard it explained, and after a short pause asked,
"In what Christian college learned you this morality, good Master
Dwining?"

"In no Christian college," answered his physician; "for, though it
is privately received in most, it is openly and manfully adopted
in none. But I have studied among the sages of Granada, where the
fiery souled Moor lifts high his deadly dagger as it drops with his
enemy's blood, and avows the doctrine which the pallid Christian
practises, though coward-like he dare not name it."

"Thou art then a more high souled villain than I deemed thee," said
Ramorny.

"Let that pass," answered Dwining. "The waters that are the stillest
are also the deepest; and the foe is most to be dreaded who never
threatens till he strikes. You knights and men at arms go straight to
your purpose with sword in hand. We who are clerks win our access
with a noiseless step and an indirect approach, but attain our
object not less surely."

"And I," said the knight, "who have trod to my revenge with a mailed
foot, which made all echo around it, must now use such a slipper
as thine--ha?"

"He who lacks strength," said the wily mediciner, "must attain his
purpose by skill."

"And tell me sincerely, mediciner, wherefore thou wouldst read me
these devil's lessons? Why wouldst thou thrust me faster or farther
on to my vengeance than I may seem to thee ready to go of my own
accord? I am old in the ways of the world, man; and I know that
such as thou do not drop words in vain, or thrust themselves upon
the dangerous confidence of men like me save with the prospect of
advancing some purpose of their own. What interest hast thou in
the road, whether peaceful or bloody, which I may pursue on these
occurrents?"

"In plain dealing, sir knight, though it is what I seldom use,"
answered the leech, "my road to revenge is the same with yours."

"With mine, man?" said Ramorny, with a tone of scornful surprise.
"I thought it had been high beyond thy reach. Thou aim at the same
revenge with Ramorny?"

"Ay, truly," replied Dwining, "for the smithy churl under whose
blow you have suffered has often done me despite and injury. He
has thwarted me in counsel and despised me in action. His brutal
and unhesitating bluntness is a living reproach to the subtlety of
my natural disposition. I fear him, and I hate him."

"And you hope to hind an active coadjutor in me?" said Ramorny, in
the same supercilious tone as before. "But know, the artisan fellow
is too low in degree to be to me either the object of hatred or
of fear. Yet he shall not escape. We hate not the reptile that has
stung us, though we might shake it off the wound, and tread upon it.
I know the ruffian of old as a stout man at arms, and a pretender,
as I have heard, to the favour of the scornful puppet whose beauties,
forsooth, spurred us to our wise and hopeful attempt. Fiends that
direct this nether world, by what malice have ye decided that the
hand which has couched a lance against the bosom of a prince should
be struck off like a sapling by the blow of a churl, and during the
turmoil of a midnight riot? Well, mediciner, thus far our courses
hold together, and I bid thee well believe that I will crush for
thee this reptile mechanic. But do not thou think to escape me
when that part of my revenge is done which will be most easily and
speedily accomplished."

"Not, it may be, altogether so easily accomplished," said the
apothecary; "for if your knighthood will credit me, there will be
found small ease or security in dealing with him. He is the strongest,
boldest, and most skilful swordsman in Perth and all the country
around it."

"Fear nothing; he shall be met with had he the strength of Sampson.
But then, mark me! Hope not thou to escape my vengeance, unless
thou become my passive agent in the scene which is to follow. Mark
me, I say once more. I have studied at no Moorish college, and lack
some of thy unbounded appetite for revenge, but yet I will have
my share of vengeance. Listen to me, mediciner, while I shall thus
far unfold myself; but beware of treachery, for, powerful as thy
fiend is, thou hast taken lessons from a meaner devil than mine.
Hearken--the master whom I have served through vice and virtue,
with too much zeal for my own character, perhaps, but with unshaken
fidelity to him--the very man, to soothe whose frantic folly
I have incurred this irreparable loss, is, at the prayer of his
doating father, about to sacrifice me, by turning me out of his
favour, and leaving me at the mercy of the hypocritical relative
with whom he seeks a precarious reconciliation at my expense. If
he perseveres in this most ungrateful purpose, thy fiercest Moors,
were their complexion swarthy as the smoke of hell, shall blush
to see their revenge outdone. But I will give him one more chance
for honour and safety before my wrath shall descend on him in
unrelenting and unmitigated fury. There, then, thus far thou hast
my confidence. Close hands on our bargain. Close hands, did I say?
Where is the hand that should be the pledge and representative of
Ramorny's plighted word? Is it nailed on the public pillory, or
flung as offal to the houseless dogs, who are even now snarling
over it? Lay thy finger on the mutilated stump, then, and swear
to be a faithful actor in my revenge, as I shall be in yours. How
now, sir leech look you pale--you, who say to death, stand back
or advance, can you tremble to think of him or to hear him named? I
have not mentioned your fee, for one who loves revenge for itself
requires no deeper bribe; yet, if broad lands and large sums
of gold can increase thy zeal in a brave cause, believe me, these
shall not be lacking."

"They tell for something in my humble wishes," said Dwining: "the
poor man in this bustling world is thrust down like a dwarf in a
crowd, and so trodden under foot; the rich and powerful rise like
giants above the press, and are at ease, while all is turmoil around
them."

"Then shalt thou arise above the press, mediciner, as high as gold
can raise thee. This purse is weighty, yet it is but an earnest of
thy guerdon."

"And this Smith, my noble benefactor," said the leech, as he pouched
the gratuity--"this Henry of the Wynd, or what ever is his name
--would not the news that he hath paid the penalty of his action
assuage the pain of thy knighthood's wound better than the balm of
Mecca with which I have salved it?"

"He is beneath the thoughts of Ramorny; and I have no more resentment
against him than I have ill will at the senseless weapon which he
swayed. But it is just thy hate should be vented upon him. Where
is he chiefly to be met with?"

"That also I have considered," said Dwining. "To make the attempt
by day in his own house were too open and dangerous, for he hath
five servants who work with him at the stithy, four of them strong
knaves, and all loving to their master. By night were scarce less
desperate, for he hath his doors strongly secured with bolt of
oak and bar of iron, and ere the fastenings of his house could be
forced, the neighbourhood would rise to his rescue, especially as
they are still alarmed by the practice on St. Valentine's Even."

"Oh, ay, true, mediciner," said Ramorny, "for deceit is thy nature
even with me: thou knewest my hand and signet, as thou said'st,
when that hand was found cast out on the street, like the disgusting
refuse of a shambles--why, having such knowledge, went'st thou
with these jolterheaded citizens to consult that Patrick Charteris,
whose spurs should be hacked off from his heels for the communion
which he holds with paltry burghers, and whom thou brought'st here
with the fools to do dishonour to the lifeless hand, which, had it
held its wonted place, he was not worthy to have touched in peace
or faced in war?"

"My noble patron, as soon as I had reason to know you had been the
sufferer, I urged them with all my powers of persuasion to desist
from prosecuting the feud; but the swaggering smith, and one or
two other hot heads, cried out for vengeance. Your knighthood must
know this fellow calls himself bachelor to the Fair Maiden of Perth,
and stands upon his honour to follow up her father's quarrel; but
I have forestalled his market in that quarter, and that is something
in earnest of revenge."

"How mean you by that, sir leech?" said the patient.

"Your knighthood shall conceive," said the mediciner, "that this
smith doth not live within compass, but is an outlier and a galliard.
I met him myself on St. Valentine's Day, shortly after the affray
between the townsfolk and the followers of Douglas. Yes, I met him
sneaking through the lanes and bye passages with a common minstrel
wench, with her messan and her viol on his one arm and her buxom
self hanging upon the other. What thinks your honour? Is not this
a trim squire, to cross a prince's love with the fairest girl
in Perth, strike off the hand of a knight and baron, and become
gentleman usher to a strolling glee woman, all in the course of
the same four and twenty hours?"

"Marry, I think the better of him that he has so much of a gentleman's
humour, clown though he be," said Ramorny. "I would he had been a
precisian instead of a galliard, and I should have had better heart
to aid thy revenge. And such revenge!--revenge on a smith--in
the quarrel of a pitiful manufacturer of rotten cheverons! Pah! And
yet it shall be taken in full. Thou hast commenced it, I warrant
me, by thine own manoeuvres."

"In a small degree only," said the apothecary. "I took care that
two or three of the most notorious gossips in Curfew street, who
liked not to hear Catharine called the Fair Maid of Perth, should
be possessed of this story of her faithful Valentine. They opened
on the scent so keenly, that, rather than doubt had fallen on the
tale, they would have vouched for it as if their own eyes had seen
it. The lover came to her father's within an hour after, and your
worship may think what a reception he had from the angry glover, for
the damsel herself would not be looked upon. And thus your honour
sees I had a foretaste of revenge. But I trust to receive the
full draught from the hands of your lordship, with whom I am in a
brotherly league, which--"

"Brotherly!" said the knight, contemptuously. "But be it so, the
priests say we are all of one common earth. I cannot tell, there
seems to me some difference; but the better mould shall keep faith
with the baser, and thou shalt have thy revenge. Call thou my page
hither."

A young man made his appearance from the anteroom upon the physician's
summons.

"Eviot," said the knight, "does Bonthron wait? and is he sober?"

"He is as sober as sleep can make him after a deep drink," answered
the page.

"Then fetch him hither, and do thou shut the door."

A heavy step presently approached the apartment, and a man entered,
whose deficiency of height seemed made up in breadth of shoulders
and strength of arm.

"There is a man thou must deal upon, Bonthron," said the knight. The
man smoothed his rugged features and grinned a smile of satisfaction.

"That mediciner will show thee the party. Take such advantage of
time, place, and circumstance as will ensure the result; and mind
you come not by the worst, for the man is the fighting Smith of
the Wynd."

"It Will be a tough job," growled the assassin; "for if I miss my
blow, I may esteem myself but a dead man. All Perth rings with the
smith's skill and strength."

"Take two assistants with thee," said the knight.

"Not I," said Bonthron. "If you double anything, let it be the
reward."

"Account it doubled," said his master; "but see thy work be thoroughly
executed."

"Trust me for that, sir knight: seldom have I failed."

"Use this sage man's directions," said the wounded knight, pointing
to the physician. "And hark thee, await his coming forth, and drink
not till the business be done."

"I will not," answered the dark satellite; "my own life depends on
my blow being steady and sure. I know whom I have to deal with."

"Vanish, then, till he summons you, and have axe and dagger in
readiness."

Bonthron nodded and withdrew.

"Will your knighthood venture to entrust such an act to a single
hand?" said the mediciner, when the assassin had left the room.
"May I pray you to remember that yonder party did, two nights since,
baffle six armed men?"

"Question me not, sir mediciner: a man like Bonthron, who knows
time and place, is worth a score of confused revellers. Call Eviot;
thou shalt first exert thy powers of healing, and do not doubt that
thou shalt, in the farther work, be aided by one who will match
thee in the art of sudden and unexpected destruction."

The page Eviot again appeared at the mediciner's summons, and at
his master's sign assisted the chirurgeon in removing the dressings
from Sir John Ramorny's wounded arm. Dwining viewed the naked stump
with a species of professional satisfaction, enhanced, no doubt,
by the malignant pleasure which his evil disposition took in the
pain and distress of his fellow creatures. The knight just turned
his eye on the ghastly spectacle, and uttered, under the pressure
of bodily pain or mental agony, a groan which he would fain have
repressed.

"You groan, sir," said the leech, in his soft, insinuating tone
of voice, but with a sneer of enjoyment, mixed with scorn, curling
upon his lip, which his habitual dissimulation could not altogether
disguise--"you groan; but be comforted. This Henry Smith knows
his business: his sword is as true to its aim as his hammer to the
anvil. Had a common swordsman struck this fatal blow, he had harmed
the bone and damaged the muscles, so that even my art might not
have been able to repair them. But Henry Smith's cut is clean,
and as sure as that with which my own scalpel could have made the
amputation. In a few days you will be able, with care and attention
to the ordinances of medicine, to stir abroad."

"But my hand--the loss of my hand--"

"It may be kept secret for a time," said the mediciner. "I have
possessed two or three tattling fools, in deep confidence, that
the hand which was found was that of your knighthood's groom, Black
Quentin, and your knighthood knows that he has parted for Fife, in
such sort as to make it generally believed."

"I know well enough," said Ramorny, "that the rumour may stifle
the truth for a short time. But what avails this brief delay?"

"It may be concealed till your knighthood retires for a time from
the court, and then, when new accidents have darkened the recollection
of the present stir, it may be imputed to a wound received from
the shivering of a spear, or from a crossbow bolt. Your slave will
find a suitable device, and stand for the truth of it."

"The thought maddens me," said Ramorny, with another groan of mental
and bodily agony; "yet I see no better remedy."

"There is none other," said the leech, to whose evil nature his
patron's distress was delicious nourishment. "In the mean while, it
is believed you are confined by the consequences of some bruises,
aiding the sense of displeasure at the Prince's having consented
to dismiss you from his household at the remonstrance of Albany,
which is publicly known."

"Villain, thou rack'st me!" exclaimed the patient.

"Upon the whole, therefore," said Dwining, "your knighthood has
escaped well, and, saving the lack of your hand, a mischance beyond
remedy, you ought rather to rejoice than complain; for no barber
chirurgeon in France or England could have more ably performed the
operation than this churl with one downright blow."

"I understand my obligation fully," said Ramorny, struggling with
his anger, and affecting composure; "and if Bonthron pays him not
with a blow equally downright, and rendering the aid of the leech
unnecessary, say that John of Ramorny cannot requite an obligation."

"That is spoke like yourself, noble knight!" answered the mediciner.
"And let me further say, that the operator's skill must have been
vain, and the hemorrhage must have drained your life veins, but
for the bandages, the cautery, and the styptics applied by the good
monks, and the poor services of your humble vassal, Henbane Dwining."

"Peace," exclaimed the patient, "with thy ill omened voice and
worse omened name! Methinks, as thou mentionest the tortures I have
undergone, my tingling nerves stretch and contract themselves as
if they still actuated the fingers that once could clutch a dagger."

"That," explained the leech, "may it please your knighthood, is
a phenomenon well known to our profession. There have been those
among the ancient sages who have thought that there still remained
a sympathy between the severed nerves and those belonging to the
amputated limb; and that the several fingers are seen to quiver
and strain, as corresponding with the impulse which proceeds from
their sympathy with the energies of the living system. Could we
recover the hand from the Cross, or from the custody of the Black
Douglas, I would be pleased to observe this wonderful operation of
occult sympathies. But, I fear me, one might as safely go to wrest
the joint from the talons of an hungry eagle."

"And thou mayst as safely break thy malignant jests on a wounded
lion as on John of Ramorny," said the knight, raising himself
in uncontrollable indignation. "Caitiff, proceed to thy duty;
and remember, that if my hand can no longer clasp a dagger, I can
command an hundred."

"The sight of one drawn and brandished in anger were sufficient,"
said Dwining, "to consume the vital powers of your chirurgeon. But
who then," he added in a tone partly insinuating, partly jeering
--"who would then relieve the fiery and scorching pain which my
patron now suffers, and which renders him exasperated even with
his poor servant for quoting the rules of healing, so contemptible,
doubtless, compared with the power of inflicting wounds?"

Then, as daring no longer to trifle with the mood of his dangerous
patient, the leech addressed himself seriously to salving the
wound, and applied a fragrant balm, the odour of which was diffused
through the apartment, while it communicated a refreshing coolness,
instead of the burning heat--a change so gratifying to the fevered
patient, that, as he had before groaned with agony, he could not
now help sighing for pleasure, as he sank back on his couch to
enjoy the ease which the dressing bestowed.

"Your knightly lordship now knows who is your friend," said Dwining;
"had you yielded to a rash impulse, and said, 'Slay me this worthless
quacksalver,' where, within the four seas of Britain, would you
have found the man to have ministered to you as much comfort?"

"Forget my threats, good leech," said Ramorny, "and beware how you
tempt me. Such as I brook not jests upon our agony. See thou keep
thy scoffs, to pass upon misers [that is, miserable persons, as
used in Spenser and other writers of his time, though the sense is
now restricted to those who are covetous] in the hospital."

Dwining ventured to say no more, but poured some drops from a phial
which he took from his pocket into a small cup of wine allayed with
water.

"This draught," said the man of art, "is medicated to produce a
sleep which must not be interrupted."

"For how long will it last?" asked the knight.

"The period of its operation is uncertain--perhaps till morning."

"Perhaps for ever," said the patient. "Sir mediciner, taste me that
liquor presently, else it passes not my lips."

The leech obeyed him, with a scornful smile. "I would drink the
whole with readiness; but the juice of this Indian gum will bring
sleep on the healthy man as well as upon the patient, and the
business of the leech requires me to be a watcher."

"I crave your pardon, sir leech," said Ramorny, looking downwards,
as if ashamed to have manifested suspicion.

"There is no room for pardon where offence must not be taken,"
answered the mediciner. "An insect must thank a giant that he does
not tread on him. Yet, noble knight, insects have their power of
harming as well as physicians. What would it have cost me, save a
moment's trouble, so to have drugged that balm, as should have made
your arm rot to the shoulder joint, and your life blood curdle in
your veins to a corrupted jelly? What is there that prevented me
to use means yet more subtle, and to taint your room with essences,
before which the light of life twinkles more and more dimly, till
it expires, like a torch amidst the foul vapours of some subterranean
dungeon? You little estimate my power, if you know not that these
and yet deeper modes of destruction stand at command of my art.
But a physician slays not the patient by whose generosity he lives,
and far less will he the breath of whose nostrils is the hope
of revenge destroy the vowed ally who is to favour his pursuit of
it. Yet one word; should a necessity occur for rousing yourself--
for who in Scotland can promise himself eight hours' uninterrupted
repose?--then smell at the strong essence contained in this
pouncet box. And now, farewell, sir knight; and if you cannot think
of me as a man of nice conscience, acknowledge me at least as one
of reason and of judgment."

So saying, the mediciner left the room, his usual mean and shuffling
gait elevating itself into something more noble, as conscious of
a victory over his imperious patient.

Sir John Ramorny remained sunk in unpleasing reflections until he
began to experience the incipient effects of his soporific draught.
He then roused himself for an instant, and summoned his page.

"Eviot! what ho! Eviot! I have done ill to unbosom myself so far
to this poisonous quacksalver. Eviot!"

The page entered.

"Is the mediciner gone forth?"

"Yes, so please your knighthood."

"Alone or accompanied?"

"Bonthron spoke apart with him, and followed him almost immediately
--by your lordship's command, as I understood him."

"Lackaday, yes! he goes to seek some medicaments; he will return
anon. If he be intoxicated, see he comes not near my chamber, and
permit him not to enter into converse with any one. He raves when
drink has touched his brain. He was a rare fellow before a Southron
bill laid his brain pan bare; but since that time he talks gibberish
whenever the cup has crossed his lips. Said the leech aught to you,
Eviot?"

"Nothing, save to reiterate his commands that your honour be not
disturbed."

"Which thou must surely obey," said the knight. "I feel the summons
to rest, of which I have been deprived since this unhappy wound.
At least, if I have slept it has been but for a snatch. Aid me to
take off my gown, Eviot."

"May God and the saints send you good rest, my lord," said the page,
retiring after he had rendered his wounded master the assistance
required.

As Eviot left the room, the knight, whose brain was becoming more
and more confused, muttered over the page's departing salutation.

"God--saints--I have slept sound under such a benison. But now,
methinks if I awake not to the accomplishment of my proud hopes
of power and revenge, the best wish for me is, that the slumbers
which now fall around my head were the forerunners of that sleep
which shall return my borrowed powers to their original nonexistence
--I can argue it no farther."

Thus speaking, he fell into a profound sleep.



CHAPTER XVI.

On Fastern's E'en when we war fou.

Scots Song.


The night which sunk down on the sickbed of Ramorny was not doomed
to be a quiet one. Two hours had passed since curfew bell, then
rung at seven o'clock at night, and in those primitive times all
were retired to rest, excepting such whom devotion, or duty, or
debauchery made watchers; and the evening being that of Shrovetide,
or, as it was called in Scotland, Fastern's E'en, the vigils of
gaiety were by far the most frequented of the three.

The common people had, throughout the day, toiled and struggled
at football; the nobles and gentry had fought cocks, and hearkened
to the wanton music of the minstrel; while the citizens had gorged
themselves upon pancakes fried in lard, and brose, or brewis--the
fat broth, that is, in which salted beef had been boiled, poured
upon highly toasted oatmeal, a dish which even now is not ungrateful
to simple, old fashioned Scottish palates. These were all exercises
and festive dishes proper to the holiday. It was no less a solemnity
of the evening that the devout Catholic should drink as much good
ale and wine as he had means to procure; and, if young and able, that
he should dance at the ring, or figure among the morrice dancers,
who, in the city of Perth, as elsewhere, wore a peculiarly fantastic
garb, and distinguished themselves by their address and activity.
All this gaiety took place under the prudential consideration
that the long term of Lent, now approaching, with its fasts and
deprivations, rendered it wise for mortals to cram as much idle
and sensual indulgence as they could into the brief space which
intervened before its commencement.

The usual revels had taken place, and in most parts of the city were
succeeded by the usual pause. A particular degree of care had been
taken by the nobility to prevent any renewal of discord betwixt
their followers and the citizens of the town, so that the revels
had proceeded with fewer casualties than usual, embracing only three
deaths and certain fractured limbs, which, occurring to individuals
of little note, were not accounted worth inquiring into. The carnival
was closing quietly in general, but in some places the sport was
still kept up.

One company of revellers, who had been particularly noticed and
applauded, seemed unwilling to conclude their frolic. The entry, as
it was called, consisted of thirteen persons, habited in the same
manner, having doublets of chamois leather sitting close to their
bodies, curiously slashed and laced. They wore green caps with silver
tassels, red ribands, and white shoes, had bells hung at their
knees and around their ankles, and naked swords in their hands. This
gallant party, having exhibited a sword dance before the King, with
much clashing of weapons and fantastic interchange of postures, went
on gallantly to repeat their exhibition before the door of Simon
Glover, where, having made a fresh exhibition of their agility,
they caused wine to be served round to their own company and the
bystanders, and with a loud shout drank to the health of the Fair
Maid of Perth. This summoned old Simon to the door of his habitation,
to acknowledge the courtesy of his countrymen, and in his turn
to send the wine around in honour of the Merry Morrice Dancers of
Perth.

"We thank thee, father Simon," said a voice, which strove to drown
in an artificial squeak the pert, conceited tone of Oliver Proudfute.
"But a sight of thy lovely daughter had been more sweet to us young
bloods than a whole vintage of Malvoisie."

"I thank thee, neighbours, for your goodwill," replied the glover.
"My daughter is ill at ease, and may not come forth into the cold
night air; but if this gay gallant, whose voice methinks I should
know, will go into my poor house, she will charge him with thanks
for the rest of you."

"Bring them to us at the hostelrie of the Griffin," cried the
rest of the ballet to their favoured companion; "for there will we
ring in Lent, and have another rouse to the health of the lovely
Catharine."

"Have with you in half an hour," said Oliver, "and see who will
quaff the largest flagon, or sing the loudest glee. Nay, I will be
merry in what remains of Fastern's Even, should Lent find me with
my mouth closed for ever."

"Farewell, then," cried his mates in the morrice--"fare well,
slashing bonnet maker, till we meet again."

The morrice dancers accordingly set out upon their further progress,
dancing and carolling as they went along to the sound of four
musicians, who led the joyous band, while Simon Glover drew their
coryphaeus into his house, and placed him in a chair by his parlour
fire.

"But where is your daughter?" said Oliver. "She is the bait for us
brave blades."

"Why, truly, she keeps her apartment, neighbour Oliver; and, to
speak plainly, she keeps her bed."

"Why, then will I upstairs to see her in her sorrow; you have marred
my ramble, Gaffer Glover, and you owe me amends--a roving blade
like me; I will not lose both the lass and the glass. Keeps her
bed, does she?

"My dog and I we have a trick
To visit maids when they are sick;
When they are sick and like to die,
Oh, thither do come my dog and I.

"And when I die, as needs must hap,
Then bury me under the good ale tap;
With folded arms there let me lie
Cheek for jowl, my dog and I."

"Canst thou not be serious for a moment, neighbour Proudfute?" said
the glover; "I want a word of conversation with you."

"Serious!" answered his visitor; "why, I have been serious all
this day: I can hardly open my mouth, but something comes out about
death, a burial, or suchlike--the most serious subjects that I
wot of."

"St. John, man!" said the glover, "art then fey?"

"No, not a whit: it is not my own death which these gloomy fancies
foretell. I have a strong horoscope, and shall live for fifty years
to come. But it is the case of the poor fellow--the Douglas man,
whom I struck down at the fray of St. Valentine's: he died last
night; it is that which weighs on my conscience, and awakens sad
fancies. Ah, father Simon, we martialists, that have spilt blood
in our choler, have dark thoughts at times; I sometimes wish that
my knife had cut nothing but worsted thrums."

"And I wish," said Simon, "that mine had cut nothing but buck's
leather, for it has sometimes cut my own fingers. But thou mayst
spare thy remorse for this bout: there was but one man dangerously
hurt at the affray, and it was he from whom Henry Smith hewed the
hand, and he is well recovered. His name is Black Quentin, one of
Sir John Ramorny's followers. He has been sent privately back to
his own country of Fife."

"What, Black Quentin? Why, that is the very man that Henry and I,
as we ever keep close together, struck at in the same moment, only
my blow fell somewhat earlier. I fear further feud will come of
it, and so does the provost. And is he recovered? Why, then, I will
be jovial, and since thou wilt not let me see how Kate becomes her
night gear, I will back to the Griffin to my morrice dancers."

"Nay, stay but one instant. Thou art a comrade of Henry Wynd, and
hast done him the service to own one or two deeds and this last
among others. I would thou couldst clear him of other charges with
which fame hath loaded him."

"Nay, I will swear by the hilt of my sword they are as false as
hell, father Simon. What--blades and targets! shall not men of
the sword stick together?"

"Nay, neighbour bonnet maker, be patient; thou mayst do the smith
a kind turn, an thou takest this matter the right way. I have chosen
thee to consult with anent this matter--not that I hold thee the
wisest head in Perth, for should I say so I should lie."

"Ay--ay," answered the self satisfied bonnet maker; "I know where
you think my fault lies: you cool heads think we hot heads are
fools--I have heard men call Henry Wynd such a score of times."

"Fool enough and cool enough may rhyme together passing well," said
the glover; "but thou art good natured, and I think lovest this
crony of thine. It stands awkwardly with us and him just now,"
continued Simon. "Thou knowest there hath been some talk of marriage
between my daughter Catharine and Henry Gow?"

"I have heard some such song since St. Valentine's Morn. Ah! he
that shall win the Fair Maid of Perth must be a happy man; and yet
marriage spoils many a pretty fellow. I myself somewhat regret--"

"Prithee, truce with thy regrets for the present, man," interrupted
the glover, somewhat peevishly. "You must know, Oliver, that some
of these talking women, who I think make all the business of the
world their own, have accused Henry of keeping light company with
glee women and suchlike. Catharine took it to heart; and I held my
child insulted, that he had not waited upon her like a Valentine,
but had thrown himself into unseemly society on the very day when,
by ancient custom, he might have had an opportunity to press his
interest with my daughter. Therefore, when he came hither late on
the evening of St. Valentine's, I, like a hasty old fool, bid him
go home to the company he had left, and denied him admittance. I
have not seen him since, and I begin to think that I may have been
too rash in the matter. She is my only child, and the grave should
have her sooner than a debauchee, But I have hitherto thought I
knew Henry Gow as if he were my son. I cannot think he would use
us thus, and it may be there are means of explaining what is laid
to his charge. I was led to ask Dwining, who is said to have saluted
the smith while he was walking with this choice mate. If I am to
believe his words, this wench was the smith's cousin, Joan Letham.
But thou knowest that the potter carrier ever speaks one language
with his visage and another with his tongue. Now, thou, Oliver, hast
too little wit--I mean, too much honesty--to belie the truth,
and as Dwining hinted that thou also hadst seen her--"

"I see her, Simon Glover! Will Dwining say that I saw her?"

"No, not precisely that; but he says you told him you had met the
smith thus accompanied."

"He lies, and I will pound him into a gallipot!" said Oliver
Proudfute.

"How! Did you never tell him, then, of such a meeting?"

"What an if I did?" said the bonnet maker. "Did not he swear that
he would never repeat again to living mortal what I communicated to
him? and therefore, in telling the occurrent to you, he hath made
himself a liar."

"Thou didst not meet the smith, then," said Simon, "with such a
loose baggage as fame reports?"

"Lackaday, not I; perhaps I did, perhaps I did not. Think, father
Simon--I have been a four years married man, and can you expect
me to remember the turn of a glee woman's ankle, the trip of her
toe, the lace upon her petticoat, and such toys? No, I leave that
to unmarried wags, like my gossip Henry."

"The upshot is, then," said the glover, much vexed, "you did meet
him on St. Valentine's Day walking the public streets--"

"Not so, neighbour; I met him in the most distant and dark lane
in Perth, steering full for his own house, with bag and baggage,
which, as a gallant fellow, he carried in his arms, the puppy dog
on one and the jilt herself--and to my thought she was a pretty
one--hanging upon the other."

"Now, by good St. John," said the glover, "this infamy would make
a Christian man renounce his faith, and worship Mahound in very
anger! But he has seen the last of my daughter. I would rather
she went to the wild Highlands with a barelegged cateran than wed
with one who could, at such a season, so broadly forget honour and
decency. Out upon him!"

"Tush--tush! father Simon," said the liberal minded bonnet maker,
"you consider not the nature of young blood. Their company was not
long, for--to speak truth, I did keep a little watch on him--I
met him before sunrise, conducting his errant damsel to the Lady's
Stairs, that the wench might embark on the Tay from Perth; and I
know for certainty, for I made inquiry, that she sailed in a gabbart
for Dundee. So you see it was but a slight escape of youth."

"And he came here," said Simon, bitterly, "beseeching for admittance
to my daughter, while he had his harlot awaiting him at home! I had
rather he had slain a score of men! It skills not talking, least
of all to thee, Oliver Proudfute, who, if thou art not such a one
as himself, would fain be thought so. But--"

"Nay, think not of it so seriously," said Oliver, who began to
reflect on the mischief his tattling was likely to occasion to his
friend, and on the consequences of Henry Gow's displeasure, when
he should learn the disclosure which he had made rather in vanity
of heart than in evil intention.

"Consider," he continued, "that there are follies belonging to
youth. Occasion provokes men to such frolics, and confession wipes
them off. I care not if I tell thee that, though my wife be as
goodly a woman as the city has, yet I myself--"

"Peace, silly braggart," said the glover in high wrath; "thy loves
and thy battles are alike apocryphal. If thou must needs lie, which
I think is thy nature, canst thou invent no falsehood that may at
least do thee some credit? Do I not see through thee, as I could
see the light through the horn of a base lantern? Do I not know,
thou filthy weaver of rotten worsted, that thou durst no more cross
the threshold of thy own door, if thy wife heard of thy making such
a boast, than thou darest cross naked weapons with a boy of twelve
years old, who has drawn a sword for the first time of his life?
By St. John, it were paying you for your tale bearing trouble to
send thy Maudie word of thy gay brags."

The bonnet maker, at this threat, started as if a crossbow bolt
had whizzed past his head when least expected. And it was with
a trembling voice that he replied: "Nay, good father Glover, thou
takest too much credit for thy grey hairs. Consider, good neighbour,
thou art too old for a young martialist to wrangle with. And in
the matter of my Maudie, I can trust thee, for I know no one who
would be less willing than thou to break the peace of families."

"Trust thy coxcomb no longer with me," said the incensed glover;
"but take thyself, and the thing thou call'st a head, out of my
reach, lest I borrow back five minutes of my youth and break thy
pate!"

"You have had a merry Fastern's Even, neighbour," said the bonnet
maker, "and I wish you a quiet sleep; we shall meet better friends
tomorrow."

"Out of my doors tonight!" said the glover. "I am ashamed so idle
a tongue as thine should have power to move me thus."

"Idiot--beast--loose tongued coxcomb," he exclaimed, throwing
himself into a chair, as the bonnet maker disappeared; "that a
fellow made up of lies should not have had the grace to frame one
when it might have covered the shame of a friend! And I--what am
I, that I should, in my secret mind, wish that such a gross insult
to me and my child had been glossed over? Yet such was my opinion
of Henry, that I would have willingly believed the grossest figment
the swaggering ass could have invented. Well, it skills not thinking
of it. Our honest name must be maintained, though everything else
should go to ruin."

While the glover thus moralised on the unwelcome confirmation of
the tale he wished to think untrue, the expelled morrice dancer had
leisure, in the composing air of a cool and dark February night,
to meditate on the consequences of the glover's unrestrained anger.

"But it is nothing," he bethought himself, "to the wrath of Henry
Wynd, who hath killed a man for much less than placing displeasure
betwixt him and Catharine, as well as her fiery old father. Certainly
I were better have denied everything. But the humour of seeming a
knowing gallant, as in truth I am, fairly overcame me. Were I best
go to finish the revel at the Griffin? But then Maudie will rampauge
on my return--ay, and this being holiday even, I may claim a
privilege. I have it: I will not to the Griffin--I will to the
smith's, who must be at home, since no one hath seen him this day
amid the revel. I will endeavour to make peace with him, and offer
my intercession with the glover. Harry is a simple, downright fellow,
and though I think he is my better in a broil, yet in discourse I
can turn him my own way. The streets are now quiet, the night, too,
is dark, and I may step aside if I meet any rioters. I will to the
smith's, and, securing him for my friend, I care little for old
Simon. St. Ringan bear me well through this night, and I will clip
my tongue out ere it shall run my head into such peril again! Yonder
old fellow, when his blood was up, looked more like a carver of
buff jerkins than a clipper of kid gloves."

With these reflections, the puissant Oliver walked swiftly, yet with
as little noise as possible, towards the wynd in which the smith,
as our readers are aware, had his habitation. But his evil fortune
had not ceased to pursue him. As he turned into the High, or
principal, Street, he heard a burst of music very near him, followed
by a loud shout.

"My merry mates, the morrice dancers," thought he; "I would know
old Jeremy's rebeck among an hundred. I will venture across the
street ere they pass on; if I am espied, I shall have the renown
of some private quest, which may do me honour as a roving blade."

With these longings for distinction among the gay and gallant,
combated, however, internally, by more prudential considerations,
the bonnet maker made an attempt to cross the street. But the
revellers, whoever they might be, were accompanied by torches, the
flash of which fell upon Oliver, whose light coloured habit made
him the more distinctly visible. The general shout of "A prize--
a prize" overcame the noise of the minstrel, and before the bonnet
maker could determine whether it were better to stand or fly, two
active young men, clad in fantastic masking habits, resembling
wild men, and holding great clubs, seized upon him, saying, in a
tragical tone: "Yield thee, man of bells and bombast--yield thee,
rescue or no rescue, or truly thou art but a dead morrice dancer."

"To whom shall I yield me?" said the bonnet maker, with a faltering
voice; for, though he saw he had to do with a party of mummers
who were afoot for pleasure, yet he observed at the same time that
they were far above his class, and he lost the audacity necessary
to support his part in a game where the inferior was likely to come
by the worst.

"Dost thou parley, slave?" answered one of the maskers; "and must
I show thee that thou art a captive, by giving thee incontinently
the bastinado?"

"By no means, puissant man of Ind," said the bonnet maker; "lo, I
am conformable to your pleasure."

"Come, then," said those who had arrested him--"come and do homage
to the Emperor of Mimes, King of Caperers, and Grand Duke of the
Dark Hours, and explain by what right thou art so presumptuous as
to prance and jingle, and wear out shoe leather, within his dominions
without paying him tribute. Know'st thou not thou hast incurred
the pains of high treason?"

"That were hard, methinks," said poor Oliver, "since I knew not that
his Grace exercised the government this evening. But I am willing
to redeem the forfeit, if the purse of a poor bonnet maker may, by
the mulct of a gallon of wine, or some such matter."

"Bring him before the emperor," was the universal cry; and the
morrice dancer was placed before a slight, but easy and handsome,
figure of a young man, splendidly attired, having a cincture and tiara
of peacock's feathers, then brought from the East as a marvellous
rarity; a short jacket and under dress of leopard's skin fitted
closely the rest of his person, which was attired in flesh coloured
silk, so as to resemble the ordinary idea of an Indian prince. He
wore sandals, fastened on with ribands of scarlet silk, and held
in his hand a sort of fan, such as ladies then used, composed of
the same feathers, assembled into a plume or tuft.

"What mister wight have we here," said the Indian chief, "who dares
to tie the bells of a morrice on the ankles of a dull ass? Hark
ye, friend, your dress should make you a subject of ours, since our
empire extends over all Merryland, including mimes and minstrels
of every description. What, tongue tied? He lacks wine; minister
to him our nutshell full of sack."

A huge calabash full of sack was offered to the lips of the
supplicant, while this prince of revellers exhorted him:

"Crack me this nut, and do it handsomely, and without wry faces."

But, however Oliver might have relished a moderate sip of the same
good wine, he was terrified at the quantity he was required to deal
with. He drank a draught, and then entreated for mercy.

"So please your princedom, I have yet far to go, and if I were to
swallow your Grace's bounty, for which accept my dutiful thanks,
I should not be able to stride over the next kennel."

"Art thou in case to bear thyself like a galliard? Now, cut
me a caper--ha! one--two--three--admirable. Again--give
him the spur (here a satellite of the Indian gave Oliver a slight
touch with his sword). Nay, that is best of all: he sprang like a
cat in a gutter. Tender him the nut once more; nay, no compulsion,
he has paid forfeit, and deserves not only free dismissal but
reward. Kneel down--kneel, and arise Sir Knight of the Calabash!
What is thy name? And one of you lend me a rapier."

"Oliver, may it please your honour--I mean your principality."

"Oliver, man. Nay, then thou art one of the 'douze peers' already,
and fate has forestalled our intended promotion. Yet rise up, sweet
Sir Oliver Thatchpate, Knight of the honourable order of the Pumpkin
--rise up, in the name of nonsense, and begone about thine own
concerns, and the devil go with thee!"

So saying, the prince of the revels bestowed a smart blow with the
flat of the weapon across the bonnet maker's shoulders, who sprung
to his feet with more alacrity of motion than he had hitherto
displayed, and, accelerated by the laugh and halloo which arose
behind him, arrived at the smith's house before he stopped, with
the same speed with which a hunted fox makes for his den.

It was not till the affrighted bonnet maker had struck a blow on
the door that he recollected he ought to have bethought himself
beforehand in what manner he was to present himself before Henry,
and obtain his forgiveness for his rash communications to Simon
Glover. No one answered to his first knock, and, perhaps, as these
reflections arose in the momentary pause of recollection which
circumstances permitted, the perplexed bonnet maker might have
flinched from his purpose, and made his retreat to his own premises,
without venturing upon the interview which he had purposed. But a
distant strain of minstrelsy revived his apprehensions of falling
once more into the hands of the gay maskers from whom he had escaped,
and he renewed his summons on the door of the smith's dwelling
with a hurried, though faltering, hand. He was then appalled by
the deep, yet not unmusical, voice of Henry Gow, who answered from
within: "Who calls at this hour, and what is it that you want?"

"It is I--Oliver Proudfute," replied the bonnet maker; "I have
a merry jest to tell you, gossip Henry."

"Carry thy foolery to some other market. I am in no jesting humour,"
said Henry. "Go hence; I will see no one tonight."

"But, gossip--good gossip," answered the martialist with out, "I
am beset with villains, and beg the shelter of your roof!"

"Fool that thou art!" replied Henry; "no dunghill cock, the most
recreant that has fought this Fastern's Eve, would ruffle his
feathers at such a craven as thou!"

At this moment another strain of minstrelsy, and, as the bonnet
maker conceited, one which approached much nearer, goaded his
apprehensions to the uttermost; and in a voice the tones of which
expressed the undisguised extremity of instant fear he exclaimed:

"For the sake of our old gossipred, and for the love of Our Blessed
Lady, admit me, Henry, if you would not have me found a bloody
corpse at thy door, slain by the bloody minded Douglasses!"

"That would be a shame to me," thought the good natured smith, "and
sooth to say, his peril may be real. There are roving hawks that
will strike at a sparrow as soon as a heron."

With these reflections, half muttered, half spoken, Henry undid
his well fastened door, proposing to reconnoitre the reality of the
danger before he permitted his unwelcome guest to enter the house.
But as he looked abroad to ascertain how matters stood, Oliver
bolted in like a scared deer into a thicket, and harboured himself
by the smith's kitchen fire before Henry could look up and down the
lane, and satisfy himself there were no enemies in pursuit of the
apprehensive fugitive. He secured his door, therefore, and returned
into the kitchen, displeased that he had suffered his gloomy solitude
to be intruded upon by sympathising with apprehensions which he
thought he might have known were so easily excited as those of his
timid townsman.

"How now!" he said, coldly enough, when he saw the bonnet maker
calmly seated by his hearth. "What foolish revel is this, Master
Oliver? I see no one near to harm you."

"Give me a drink, kind gossip," said Oliver: "I am choked with the
haste I have made to come hither."

"I have sworn," said Henry, "that this shall be no revel night in
this house: I am in my workday clothes, as you see, and keep fast,
as I have reason, instead of holiday. You have had wassail enough
for the holiday evening, for you speak thick already. If you wish
more ale or wine you must go elsewhere."

"I have had overmuch wassail already," said poor Oliver, "and have
been well nigh drowned in it. That accursed calabash! A draught of
water, kind gossip--you will not surely let me ask for that in
vain? or, if it is your will, a cup of cold small ale."

"Nay, if that be all," said Henry, "it shall not be lacking. But
it must have been much which brought thee to the pass of asking
for either."

So saying, he filled a quart flagon from a barrel that stood nigh,
and presented it to his guest. Oliver eagerly accepted it, raised
it to his head with a trembling hand, imbibed the contents with
lips which quivered with emotion, and, though the potation was as
thin as he had requested, so much was he exhausted with the combined
fears of alarm and of former revelry, that, when he placed the
flagon on the oak table, he uttered a deep sigh of satisfaction,
and remained silent.

"Well, now you have had your draught, gossip," said the smith,
"what is it you want? Where are those that threatened you? I could
see no one."

"No--but there were twenty chased me into the wynd," said Oliver.
"But when they saw us together, you know they lost the courage that
brought all of them upon one of us."

"Nay, do not trifle, friend Oliver," replied his host; "my mood
lies not that way."

"I jest not, by St. John of Perth. I have been stayed and foully
outraged (gliding his hand sensitively over the place affected) by
mad David of Rothsay, roaring Ramorny, and the rest of them. They
made me drink a firkin of Malvoisie."

"Thou speakest folly, man. Ramorny is sick nigh to death, as the
potter carrier everywhere reports: they and he cannot surely rise
at midnight to do such frolics."

"I cannot tell," replied Oliver; "but I saw the party by torchlight,
and I can make bodily oath to the bonnets I made for them since
last Innocents'. They are of a quaint device, and I should know my
own stitch."

"Well, thou mayst have had wrong," answered Henry. "If thou art
in real danger, I will cause them get a bed for thee here. But you
must fill it presently, for I am not in the humour of talking."

"Nay, I would thank thee for my quarters for a night, only my Maudie
will be angry--that is, not angry, for that I care not for--
but the truth is, she is overanxious on a revel night like this,
knowing my humour is like thine for a word and a blow."

"Why, then, go home," said the smith, "and show her that her treasure
is in safety, Master Oliver; the streets are quiet, and, to speak
a blunt word, I would be alone."

"Nay, but I have things to speak with thee about of moment," replied
Oliver, who, afraid to stay, seemed yet unwilling to go. "There has
been a stir in our city council about the affair of St. Valentine's
Even. The provost told me not four hours since, that the Douglas
and he had agreed that the feud should be decided by a yeoman on
either party and that our acquaintance, the Devil's Dick, was to
wave his gentry, and take up the cause for Douglas and the nobles,
and that you or I should fight for the Fair City. Now, though I am
the elder burgess, yet I am willing, for the love and kindness we
have always borne to each other, to give thee the precedence, and
content myself with the humbler office of stickler."

Henry Smith, though angry, could scarce forbear a smile.

"If it is that which breaks thy quiet, and keeps thee out of thy
bed at midnight, I will make the matter easy. Thou shalt not lose
the advantage offered thee. I have fought a score of duels--far,
far too many. Thou hast, I think, only encountered with thy wooden
soldan: it were unjust--unfair--unkind--in me to abuse thy
friendly offer. So go home, good fellow, and let not the fear of
losing honour disturb thy slumbers. Rest assured that thou shalt
answer the challenge, as good right thou hast, having had injury
from this rough rider."

"Gramercy, and thank thee kindly," said Oliver much embarrassed
by his friend's unexpected deference; "thou art the good friend I
have always thought thee. But I have as much friendship for Henry
Smith as he for Oliver Proudfute. I swear by St. John, I will
not fight in this quarrel to thy prejudice; so, having said so, I
am beyond the reach of temptation, since thou wouldst not have me
mansworn, though it were to fight twenty duels."

"Hark thee," said the smith, "acknowledge thou art afraid, Oliver:
tell the honest truth, at once, otherwise I leave thee to make the
best of thy quarrel."

"Nay, good gossip," replied the bonnet maker, "thou knowest I am
never afraid. But, in sooth, this is a desperate ruffian; and as
I have a wife--poor Maudie, thou knowest--and a small family,
and thou--"

"And I," interrupted Henry, hastily, "have none, and never shall
have."

"Why, truly, such being the case, I would rather thou fought'st
this combat than I."

"Now, by our halidome, gossip," answered the smith, "thou art
easily gored! Know, thou silly fellow, that Sir Patrick Charteris,
who is ever a merry man, hath but jested with thee. Dost thou
think he would venture the honour of the city on thy head, or that
I would yield thee the precedence in which such a matter was to
be disputed? Lackaday, go home, let Maudie tie a warm nightcap on
thy head, get thee a warm breakfast and a cup of distilled waters,
and thou wilt be in ease tomorrow to fight thy wooden dromond,
or soldan, as thou call'st him, the only thing thou wilt ever lay
downright blow upon."

"Ay, say'st thou so, comrade?" answered Oliver, much relieved, yet
deeming it necessary to seem in part offended. "I care not for thy
dogged humour; it is well for thee thou canst not wake my patience
to the point of falling foul. Enough--we are gossips, and this
house is thine. Why should the two best blades in Perth clash with
each other? What! I know thy rugged humour, and can forgive it.
But is the feud really soldered up?"

"As completely as ever hammer fixed rivet," said the smith. "The
town hath given the Johnstone a purse of gold, for not ridding
them of a troublesome fellow called Oliver Proudfute, when he had
him at his mercy; and this purse of gold buys for the provost the
Sleepless Isle, which the King grants him, for the King pays all
in the long run. And thus Sir Patrick gets the comely inch which is
opposite to his dwelling, and all honour is saved on both sides,
for what is given to the provost is given, you understand, to
the town. Besides all this, the Douglas hath left Perth to march
against the Southron, who, men say, are called into the marches by
the false Earl of March. So the Fair City is quit of him and his
cumber."

"But, in St. John's name, how came all that about," said Oliver,
"and no one spoken to about it?"

"Why, look thee, friend Oliver, this I take to have been the case.
The fellow whom I cropped of a hand is now said to have been a
servant of Sir John Ramorny's, who hath fled to his motherland of
Fife, to which Sir John himself is also to be banished, with full
consent of every honest man. Now, anything which brings in Sir John
Ramorny touches a much greater man--I think Simon Glover told as
much to Sir Patrick Charteris. If it be as I guess, I have reason
to thank Heaven and all the saints I stabbed him not upon the ladder
when I made him prisoner."

"And I too thank Heaven and all the saints, most devoutly," said
Oliver. "I was behind thee, thou knowest, and--"

"No more of that, if thou be'st wise. There are laws against
striking princes," said the smith: "best not handle the horseshoe
till it cools. All is hushed up now."

"If this be so," said Oliver, partly disconcerted, but still more
relieved, by the intelligence he received from his better informed
friend, "I have reason to complain of Sir Patrick Charteris for
jesting with the honour of an honest burgess, being, as he is,
provost of our town."

"Do, Oliver; challenge him to the field, and he will bid his yeoman
loose his dogs on thee. But come, night wears apace, will you be
shogging?"

"Nay, I had one word more to say to thee, good gossip. But first,
another cup of your cold ale."

"Pest on thee for a fool! Thou makest me wish thee where told liquors
are a scarce commodity. There, swill the barrelful an thou wilt."

Oliver took the second flagon, but drank, or rather seemed to drink,
very slowly, in order to gain time for considering how he should
introduce his second subject of conversation, which seemed rather
delicate for the smith's present state of irritability. At length,
nothing better occurred to him than to plunge into the subject at
once, with, "I have seen Simon Glover today, gossip."

"Well," said the smith, in a low, deep, and stern tone of voice,
"and if thou hast, what is that to me?"

"Nothing--nothing," answered the appalled bonnet maker. "Only
I thought you might like to know that he questioned me close if
I had seen thee on St. Valentine's Day, after the uproar at the
Dominicans', and in what company thou wert."

"And I warrant thou told'st him thou met'st me with a glee woman
in the mirk loaning yonder?"

"Thou know'st, Henry, I have no gift at lying; but I made it all
up with him."

"As how, I pray you?" said the smith.

"Marry, thus: 'Father Simon,' said I, 'you are an old man, and know
not the quality of us, in whose veins youth is like quicksilver.
You think, now, he cares about this girl,' said I, 'and, perhaps,
that he has her somewhere here in Perth in a corner? No such matter;
I know,' said I, 'and I will make oath to it, that she left his
house early next morning for Dundee.' Ha! have I helped thee at
need?"

"Truly, I think thou hast, and if anything could add to my grief
and vexation at this moment, it is that, when I am so deep in the
mire, an ass like thee should place his clumsy hoof on my head, to
sink me entirely. Come, away with thee, and mayst thou have such
luck as thy meddling humour deserves; and then I think, thou wilt
be found with a broken neck in the next gutter. Come, get you out,
or I will put you to the door with head and shoulders forward."

"Ha--ha!" exclaimed Oliver, laughing with some constraint, "thou
art such a groom! But in sadness, gossip Henry, wilt thou not take
a turn with me to my own house, in the Meal Vennel?"

"Curse thee, no," answered the smith.

"I will bestow the wine on thee if thou wilt go," said Oliver.

"I will bestow the cudgel on thee if thou stay'st," said Henry.

"Nay, then, I will don thy buff coat and cap of steel, and walk
with thy swashing step, and whistling thy pibroch of 'Broken Bones
at Loncarty'; and if they take me for thee, there dare not four of
them come near me."

"Take all or anything thou wilt, in the fiend's name! only be gone."

"Well--well, Hal, we shall meet when thou art in better humour,"
said Oliver, who had put on the dress.

"Go; and may I never see thy coxcombly face again."

Oliver at last relieved his host by swaggering off, imitating as well
as he could the sturdy step and outward gesture of his redoubted
companion, and whistling a pibroch composed on the rout of the Danes
at Loncarty, which he had picked up from its being a favourite of
the smith's, whom he made a point of imitating as far as he could.
But as the innocent, though conceited, fellow stepped out from the
entrance of the wynd, where it communicated with the High Street,
he received a blow from behind, against which his headpiece was no
defence, and he fell dead upon the spot, an attempt to mutter the
name of Henry, to whom he always looked for protection, quivering
upon his dying tongue.



CHAPTER XVII.

Nay, I will fit you for a young prince.

Falstaff.


We return to the revellers, who had, half an hour before, witnessed,
with such boisterous applause, Oliver's feat of agility, being the
last which the poor bonnet maker was ever to exhibit, and at the
hasty retreat which had followed it, animated by their wild shout.
After they had laughed their fill, they passed on their mirthful
path in frolic and jubilee, stopping and frightening some of the
people whom they met, but, it must be owned, without doing them
any serious injury, either in their persons or feelings. At length,
tired with his rambles, their chief gave a signal to his merry men
to close around him.

"We, my brave hearts and wise counsellors, are," he said, "the
real king over all in Scotland that is worth commanding. We sway
the hours when the wine cup circulates, and when beauty becomes
kind, when frolic is awake, and gravity snoring upon his pallet. We
leave to our vice regent, King Robert, the weary task of controlling
ambitious nobles, gratifying greedy clergymen, subduing wild
Highlanders, and composing deadly feuds. And since our empire is
one of joy and pleasure, meet it is that we should haste with all
our forces to the rescue of such as own our sway, when they chance,
by evil fortune, to become the prisoners of care and hypochondriac
malady. I speak in relation chiefly to Sir John, whom the vulgar
call Ramorny. We have not seen him since the onslaught of Curfew
Street, and though we know he was somedeal hurt in that matter, we
cannot see why he should not do homage in leal and duteous sort.
Here, you, our Calabash King at arms, did you legally summon Sir
John to his part of this evening's revels?"

"I did, my lord."

"And did you acquaint him that we have for this night suspended
his sentence of banishment, that, since higher powers have settled
that part, we might at least take a mirthful leave of an old friend?"

"I so delivered it, my lord," answered the mimic herald.

"And sent he not a word in writing, he that piques himself upon
being so great a clerk?"

"He was in bed, my lord, and I might not see him. So far as I
hear, he hath lived very retired, harmed with some bodily bruises,
malcontent with your Highness's displeasure, and doubting insult
in the streets, he having had a narrow escape from the burgesses,
when the churls pursued him and his two servants into the Dominican
convent. The servants, too, have been removed to Fife, lest they
should tell tales."

"Why, it was wisely done," said the Prince, who, we need not inform
the intelligent reader, had a better title to be so called than
arose from the humours of the evening--"it was prudently done
to keep light tongued companions out of the way. But St. John's
absenting himself from our solemn revels, so long before decreed,
is flat mutiny and disclamation of allegiance. Or, if the knight
be really the prisoner of illness and melancholy, we must ourself
grace him with a visit, seeing there can be no better cure for those
maladies than our own presence, and a gentle kiss of the calabash.
Forward, ushers, minstrels, guard, and attendants! Bear on high
the great emblem of our dignity. Up with the calabash, I say, and
let the merry men who carry these firkins, which are to supply
the wine cup with their life blood, be chosen with regard to their
state of steadiness. Their burden is weighty and precious, and if
the fault is not in our eyes, they seem to us to reel and stagger
more than were desirable. Now, move on, sirs, and let our minstrels
blow their blythest and boldest."

On they went with tipsy mirth and jollity, the numerous torches
flashing their red light against the small windows of the narrow
streets, from whence nightcapped householders, and sometimes their
wives to boot, peeped out by stealth to see what wild wassail
disturbed the peaceful streets at that unwonted hour. At length
the jolly train halted before the door of Sir John Ramorny's house,
which a small court divided from the street.

Here they knocked, thundered, and halloo'd, with many denunciations
of vengeance against the recusants who refused to open the gates.
The least punishment threatened was imprisonment in an empty
hogshead, within the massamore [principal dungeon] of the Prince
of Pastimes' feudal palace, videlicet, the ale cellar. But Eviot,
Ramorny's page, heard and knew well the character of the intruders
who knocked so boldly, and thought it better, considering his
master's condition, to make no answer at all, in hopes that the
revel would pass on, than to attempt to deprecate their proceedings,
which he knew would be to no purpose. His master's bedroom looking
into a little garden, his page hoped he might not be disturbed
by the noise; and he was confident in the strength of the outward
gate, upon which he resolved they should beat till they tired
themselves, or till the tone of their drunken humour should change.
The revellers accordingly seemed likely to exhaust themselves in
the noise they made by shouting and beating the door, when their
mock prince (alas! too really such) upbraided them as lazy and dull
followers of the god of wine and of mirth.

"Bring forward," he said, "our key, yonder it lies, and apply it
to this rebellious gate."

The key he pointed at was a large beam of wood, left on one side
of the street, with the usual neglect of order characteristic of
a Scottish borough of the period.

The shouting men of Ind instantly raised it in their arms, and,
supporting it by their united strength, ran against the door with
such force, that hasp, hinge, and staple jingled, and gave fair
promise of yielding. Eviot did not choose to wait the extremity of
this battery: he came forth into the court, and after some momentary
questions for form's sake, caused the porter to undo the gate, as
if he had for the first time recognised the midnight visitors.

"False slave of an unfaithful master," said the Prince, "where is
our disloyal subject, Sir John Ramorny, who has proved recreant to
our summons?"

"My lord," said Eviot, bowing at once to the real and to the assumed
dignity of the leader, "my master is just now very much indisposed:
he has taken an opiate--and--your Highness must excuse me if
I do my duty to him in saying, he cannot be spoken with without
danger of his life."

"Tush! tell me not of danger, Master Teviot--Cheviot--Eviot
--what is it they call thee? But show me thy master's chamber,
or rather undo me the door of his lodging, and I will make a good
guess at it myself. Bear high the calabash, my brave followers,
and see that you spill not a drop of the liquor, which Dan Bacchus
has sent for the cure of all diseases of the body and cares of the
mind. Advance it, I say, and let us see the holy rind which incloses
such precious liquor."

The Prince made his way into the house accordingly, and, acquainted
with its interior, ran upstairs, followed by Eviot, in vain imploring
silence, and, with the rest of the rabble rout, burst into the room
of the wounded master of the lodging.

He who has experienced the sensation of being compelled to sleep
in spite of racking bodily pains by the administration of a strong
opiate, and of having been again startled by noise and violence
out of the unnatural state of insensibility in which he had been
plunged by the potency of the medicine, may be able to imagine
the confused and alarmed state of Sir John Ramorny's mind, and the
agony of his body, which acted and reacted upon each other. If we
add to these feelings the consciousness of a criminal command, sent
forth and in the act of being executed, it may give us some idea
of an awakening to which, in the mind of the party, eternal sleep
would be a far preferable doom. The groan which he uttered as the
first symptom of returning sensation had something in it so terrific,
that even the revellers were awed into momentary silence; and as,
from the half recumbent posture in which he had gone to sleep,
he looked around the room, filled with fantastic shapes, rendered
still more so by his disturbed intellects, he muttered to himself:

"It is thus, then, after all, and the legend is true! These are
fiends, and I am condemned for ever! The fire is not external,
but I feel it--I feel it at my heart--burning as if the seven
times heated furnace were doing its work within!"

While he cast ghastly looks around him, and struggled to recover
some share of recollection, Eviot approached the Prince, and, falling
on his knees, implored him to allow the apartment to be cleared.

"It may," he said, "cost my master his life."

"Never fear, Cheviot," replied the Duke of Rothsay; "were he at
the gates of death, here is what should make the fiends relinquish
their prey. Advance the calabash, my masters."

"It is death for him to taste it in his present state," said Eviot:
"if he drinks wine he dies."

"Some one must drink it for him--he shall be cured vicariously;
and may our great Dan Bacchus deign to Sir John Ramorny the comfort,
the elevation of heart, the lubrication of lungs, and lightness of
fancy, which are his choicest gifts, while the faithful follower,
who quaffs in his stead, shall have the qualms, the sickness, the
racking of the nerves, the dimness of the eyes, and the throbbing
of the brain, with which our great master qualifies gifts which
would else make us too like the gods. What say you, Eviot? will
you be the faithful follower that will quaff in your lord's behalf,
and as his representative? Do this, and we will hold ourselves
contented to depart, for, methinks, our subject doth look something
ghastly."

"I would do anything in my slight power," said Eviot, "to save my
master from a draught which may be his death, and your Grace from
the sense that you had occasioned it. But here is one who will
perform the feat of goodwill, and thank your Highness to boot."

"Whom have we here?" said the Prince, "a butcher, and I think fresh
from his office. Do butchers ply their craft on Fastern's Eve? Foh,
how he smells of blood!"

This was spoken of Bonthron, who, partly surprised at the tumult in
the house, where he had expected to find all dark and silent, and
partly stupid through the wine which the wretch had drunk in great
quantities, stood in the threshold of the door, staring at the scene
before him, with his buff coat splashed with blood, and a bloody
axe in his hand, exhibiting a ghastly and disgusting spectacle to
the revellers, who felt, though they could not tell why, fear as
well as dislike at his presence.

As they approached the calabash to this ungainly and truculent
looking savage, and as he extended a hand soiled as it seemed with
blood, to grasp it, the Prince called out:

"Downstairs with him! let not the wretch drink in our presence;
find him some other vessel than our holy calabash, the emblem of
our revels: a swine's trough were best, if it could be come by.
Away with him! let him be drenched to purpose, in atonement for
his master's sobriety. Leave me alone with Sir John Ramorny and
his page; by my honour, I like not yon ruffian's looks."

The attendants of the Prince left the apartment, and Eviot alone
remained.

"I fear," said the Prince, approaching the bed in different form
from that which he had hitherto used--"I fear, my dear Sir John,
that this visit has been unwelcome; but it is your own fault.
Although you know our old wont, and were your self participant of
our schemes for the evening, you have not come near us since St.
Valentine's; it is now Fastern's Even, and the desertion is flat
disobedience and treason to our kingdom of mirth and the statutes
of the calabash."

Ramorny raised his head, and fixed a wavering eye upon the Prince;
then signed to Eviot to give him something to drink. A large cup
of ptisan was presented by the page, which the sick man swallowed
with eager and trembling haste. He then repeatedly used the
stimulating essence left for the purpose by the leech, and seemed
to collect his scattered senses.

"Let me feel your pulse, dear Ramorny," said the Prince; "I know
something of that craft. How! Do your offer me the left hand, Sir
John? that is neither according to the rules of medicine nor of
courtesy."

"The right has already done its last act in your Highness's service,"
muttered the patient in a low and broken tone.

"How mean you by that?" said the Prince. "I am aware thy follower,
Black Quentin, lost a hand; but he can steal with the other as
much as will bring him to the gallows, so his fate cannot be much
altered."

"It is not that fellow who has had the loss in your Grace's service:
it is I, John of Ramorny."

"You!" said the Prince; "you jest with me, or the opiate still
masters your reason."

"If the juice of all the poppies in Egypt were blended in one
draught," said Ramorny, "it would lose influence over me when I
look upon this." He drew his right arm from beneath the cover of
the bedclothes, and extending it towards the Prince, wrapped as it
was in dressings, "Were these undone and removed," he said, "your
Highness would see that a bloody stump is all that remains of a hand
ever ready to unsheath the sword at your Grace's slightest bidding."

Rothsay started back in horror. "This," he said, "must be avenged!"

"It is avenged in small part," said Ramorny--"that is, I thought
I saw Bonthron but now; or was it that the dream of hell that first
arose in my mind when I awakened summoned up an image so congenial?
Eviot, call the miscreant--that is, if he is fit to appear."

Eviot retired, and presently returned with Bonthron, whom he had
rescued from the penance, to him no unpleasing infliction, of a
second calabash of wine, the brute having gorged the first without
much apparent alteration in his demeanour.

"Eviot," said the Prince, "let not that beast come nigh me. My soul
recoils from him in fear and disgust: there is something in his
looks alien from my nature, and which I shudder at as at a loathsome
snake, from which my instinct revolts."

"First hear him speak, my lord," answered Ramorny; "unless a wineskin
were to talk, nothing could use fewer words. Hast thou dealt with
him, Bonthron?"

The savage raised the axe which he still held in his hand, and
brought it down again edgeways.

"Good. How knew you your man? the night, I am told, is dark."

"By sight and sound, garb, gait, and whistle."

"Enough, vanish! and, Eviot, let him have gold and wine to his
brutish contentment. Vanish! and go thou with him."

"And whose death is achieved?" said the Prince, released from the
feelings of disgust and horror under which he suffered while the
assassin was in presence. "I trust this is but a jest! Else must
I call it a rash and savage deed. Who has had the hard lot to be
butchered by that bloody and brutal slave?"

"One little better than himself," said the patient, "a wretched
artisan, to whom, however, fate gave the power of reducing Ramorny
to a mutilated cripple--a curse go with his base spirit! His
miserable life is but to my revenge what a drop of water would be
to a furnace. I must speak briefly, for my ideas again wander: it
is only the necessity of the moment which keeps them together; as
a thong combines a handful of arrows. You are in danger, my lord
--I speak it with certainty: you have braved Douglas, and offended
your uncle, displeased your father, though that were a trifle, were
it not for the rest."

"I am sorry I have displeased my father," said the Prince, entirely
diverted from so insignificant a thing as the slaughter of an
artisan by the more important subject touched upon, "if indeed it
be so. But if I live, the strength of the Douglas shall be broken,
and the craft of Albany shall little avail him!"

"Ay--if--if. My lord," said Ramorny, "with such opposites as
you have, you must not rest upon if or but; you must resolve at
once to slay or be slain."

"How mean you, Ramorny? Your fever makes you rave" answered the
Duke of Rothsay.

"No, my lord," said Ramorny, "were my frenzy at the highest, the
thoughts that pass through my mind at this moment would qualify it.
It may be that regret for my own loss has made me desperate, that
anxious thoughts for your Highness's safety have made me nourish
bold designs; but I have all the judgment with which Heaven has
gifted me, when I tell you that, if ever you would brook the Scottish
crown, nay, more, if ever you would see another St. Valentine's
Day, you must--"

"What is it that I must do, Ramorny?" said the Prince, with an air
of dignity; "nothing unworthy of myself, I hope?"

"Nothing, certainly, unworthy or misbecoming a prince of Scotland,
if the bloodstained annals of our country tell the tale truly;
but that which may well shock the nerves of a prince of mimes and
merry makers."

"Thou art severe, Sir John Ramorny," said the Duke of Rothsay,
with an air of displeasure; "but thou hast dearly bought a right
to censure us by what thou hast lost in our cause."

"My Lord of Rothsay," said the knight, "the chirurgeon who dressed
this mutilated stump told me that the more I felt the pain his
knife and brand inflicted, the better was my chance of recovery.
I shall not, therefore, hesitate to hurt your feelings, while by
doing so I may be able to bring you to a sense of what is necessary
for your safety. Your Grace has been the pupil of mirthful folly
too long; you must now assume manly policy, or be crushed like a
butterfly on the bosom of the flower you are sporting on."

"I think I know your cast of morals, Sir John: you are weary of
merry folly--the churchmen call it vice--and long for a little
serious crime. A murder, now, or a massacre, would enhance the
flavour of debauch, as the taste of the olive gives zest to wine.
But my worst acts are but merry malice: I have no relish for the
bloody trade, and abhor to see or hear of its being acted even
on the meanest caitiff. Should I ever fill the throne, I suppose,
like my father before me, I must drop my own name, and be dubbed
Robert, in honour of the Bruce; well, an if it be so, every Scots
lad shall have his flag on in one hand and the other around his
lass's neck, and manhood shall be tried by kisses and bumpers, not
by dirks and dourlachs; and they shall write on my grave, 'Here
lies Robert, fourth of his name. He won not battles like Robert the
First. He rose not from a count to a king like Robert the Second.
He founded not churches like Robert the Third, but was contented
to live and die king of good fellows!' Of all my two centuries of
ancestors, I would only emulate the fame of--

"Old King Coul,
Who had a brown bowl."

"My gracious lord," said Ramorny, "let me remind you that your joyous
revels involve serious evils. If I had lost this hand in fighting
to attain for your Grace some important advantage over your too
powerful enemies, the loss would never have grieved me. But to be
reduced from helmet and steel coat to biggin and gown in a night
brawl--"

"Why, there again now, Sir John," interrupted the reckless Prince.
"How canst thou be so unworthy as to be for ever flinging thy bloody
hand in my face, as the ghost of Gaskhall threw his head at Sir
William Wallace? Bethink thee, thou art more unreasonable than Fawdyon
himself; for wight Wallace had swept his head off in somewhat a
hasty humour, whereas I would gladly stick thy hand on again, were
that possible. And, hark thee, since that cannot be, I will get thee
such a substitute as the steel hand of the old knight of Carslogie,
with which he greeted his friends, caressed his wife, braved his
antagonists, and did all that might be done by a hand of flesh and
blood, in offence or defence. Depend on it, John Ramorny, we have
much that is superfluous about us. Man can see with one eye, hear
with one ear, touch with one hand, smell with one nostril; and why
we should have two of each, unless to supply an accidental loss or
injury, I for one am at a loss to conceive."

Sir John Ramorny turned from the Prince with a low groan.

"Nay, Sir John;" said the Duke, "I am quite serious. You know the
truth touching the legend of Steel Hand of Carslogie better than
I, since he was your own neighbour. In his time that curious engine
could only be made in Rome; but I will wager an hundred marks with
you that, let the Perth armourer have the use of it for a pattern,
Henry of the Wynd will execute as complete an imitation as all the
smiths in Rome could accomplish, with all the cardinals to bid a
blessing on the work."

"I could venture to accept your wager, my lord," answered Ramorny,
bitterly, "but there is no time for foolery. You have dismissed me
from your service, at command of your uncle?"

"At command of my father," answered the Prince.

"Upon whom your uncle's commands are imperative," replied Ramorny.
"I am a disgraced man, thrown aside, as I may now fling away my
right hand glove, as a thing useless. Yet my head might help you,
though my hand be gone. Is your Grace disposed to listen to me for
one word of serious import, for I am much exhausted, and feel my
force sinking under me?"

"Speak your pleasure," said the Prince; "thy loss binds me to hear
thee, thy bloody stump is a sceptre to control me. Speak, then,
but be merciful in thy strength of privilege."

"I will be brief for mine own sake as well as thine; indeed, I
have but little to say. Douglas places himself immediately at the
head of his vassals. He will assemble, in the name of King Robert,
thirty thousand Borderers, whom he will shortly after lead into
the interior, to demand that the Duke of Rothsay receive, or rather
restore, his daughter to the rank and privileges of his Duchess.
King Robert will yield to any conditions which may secure peace.
What will the Duke do?"

"The Duke of Rothsay loves peace," said the Prince, haughtily;
"but he never feared war. Ere he takes back yonder proud peat to
his table and his bed, at the command of her father, Douglas must
be King of Scotland."

"Be it so; but even this is the less pressing peril, especially as
it threatens open violence, for the Douglas works not in secret."

"What is there which presses, and keeps us awake at this late
hour? I am a weary man, thou a wounded one, and the very tapers
are blinking, as if tired of our conference."

"Tell me, then, who is it that rules this kingdom of Scotland?"
said Ramorny.

"Robert, third of the name," said the Prince, raising his bonnet
as he spoke; "and long may he sway the sceptre!"

"True, and amen," answered Ramorny; "but who sways King Robert,
and dictates almost every measure which the good King pursues?"

"My Lord of Albany, you would say," replied the Prince. "Yes, it
is true my father is guided almost entirely by the counsels of his
brother; nor can we blame him in our consciences, Sir John Ramorny,
for little help hath he had from his son."

"Let us help him now, my lord," said Ramorny. "I am possessor of
a dreadful secret: Albany hath been trafficking with me, to join
him in taking your Grace's life! He offers full pardon for the
past, high favour for the future."

"How, man--my life? I trust, though, thou dost only mean my
kingdom? It were impious! He is my father's brother--they sat on
the knees of the same father--lay in the bosom of the same mother.
Out on thee, man, what follies they make thy sickbed believe!"

"Believe, indeed!" said Ramorny. "It is new to me to be termed
credulous. But the man through whom Albany communicated his
temptations is one whom all will believe so soon as he hints at
mischief--even the medicaments which are prepared by his hands
have a relish of poison."

"Tush! such a slave would slander a saint," replied the Prince.
"Thou art duped for once, Ramorny, shrewd as thou art. My uncle
of Albany is ambitious, and would secure for himself and for his
house a larger portion of power and wealth than he ought in reason
to desire. But to suppose he would dethrone or slay his brother's
son--Fie, Ramorny! put me not to quote the old saw, that evil
doers are evil dreaders. It is your suspicion, not your knowledge,
which speaks."

"Your Grace is fatally deluded. I will put it to an issue. The Duke
of Albany is generally hated for his greed and covetousness. Your
Highness is, it may be, more beloved than--"

Ramorny stopped, the Prince calmly filled up the blank: "More
beloved than I am honoured. It is so I would have it, Ramorny."

"At least," said Ramorny, "you are more beloved than you are feared,
and that is no safe condition for a prince. But give me your honour
and knightly word that you will not resent what good service I
shall do in your behalf, and lend me your signet to engage friends
in your name, and the Duke of Albany shall not assume authority in
this court till the wasted hand which once terminated this stump
shall be again united to the body, and acting in obedience to the
dictates of my mind."

"You would not venture to dip your hands in royal blood?" said the
Prince sternly.

"Fie, my lord, at no rate. Blood need not be shed; life may, nay,
will, be extinguished of itself. For want of trimming it with fresh
oil, or screening it from a breath of wind, the quivering light
will die in the socket. To suffer a man to die is not to kill him."

"True--I had forgot that policy. Well, then, suppose my uncle
Albany does not continue to live--I think that must be the phrase
--who then rules the court of Scotland?"

"Robert the Third, with consent, advice, and authority of the
most mighty David, Duke of Rothsay, Lieutenant of the Kingdom, and
alter ego; in whose favour, indeed, the good King, wearied with
the fatigues and troubles of sovereignty, will, I guess, be well
disposed to abdicate. So long live our brave young monarch, King
David the Third!

"Ille manu fortis
Anglis ludebit in hortis."

"And our father and predecessor," said Rothsay, "will he continue
to live to pray for us, as our beadsman, by whose favour he holds
the privilege of laying his grey hairs in the grave as soon, and
no earlier, than the course of nature permits, or must he also
encounter some of those negligences in consequence of which men
cease to continue to live, and can change the limits of a prison,
or of a convent resembling one, for the dark and tranquil cell,
where the priests say that the wicked cease from troubling and the
weary are at rest?"

"You speak in jest, my lord," replied Ramorny: "to harm the good
old King were equally unnatural and impolitic."

"Why shrink from that, man, when thy whole scheme," answered the
Prince, in stern displeasure, "is one lesson of unnatural guilt,
mixed with short sighted ambition? If the King of Scotland can
scarcely make head against his nobles, even now when he can hold up
before them an unsullied and honourable banner, who would follow a
prince that is blackened with the death of an uncle and the imprisonment
of a father? Why, man, thy policy were enough to revolt a heathen
divan, to say nought of the council of a Christian nation. Thou wert
my tutor, Ramorny, and perhaps I might justly upbraid thy lessons
and example for some of the follies which men chide in me. Perhaps,
if it had not been for thee, I had not been standing at midnight
in this fool's guise (looking at his dress), to hear an ambitious
profligate propose to me the murder of an uncle, the dethronement
of the best of fathers. Since it is my fault as well as thine that
has sunk me so deep in the gulf of infamy, it were unjust that thou
alone shouldst die for it. But dare not to renew this theme to me,
on peril of thy life! I will proclaim thee to my father--to Albany
--to Scotland--throughout its length and breadth. As many market
crosses as are in the land shall have morsels of the traitor's
carcass, who dare counsel such horrors to the heir of Scotland. Well
hope I, indeed, that the fever of thy wound, and the intoxicating
influence of the cordials which act on thy infirm brain, have this
night operated on thee, rather than any fixed purpose."

"In sooth, my lord," said Ramorny, "if I have said any thing which
could so greatly exasperate your Highness, it must have been by
excess of zeal, mingled with imbecility of understanding. Surely
I, of all men, am least likely to propose ambitious projects with
a prospect of advantage to myself! Alas! my only future views must
be to exchange lance and saddle for the breviary and the confessional.
The convent of Lindores must receive the maimed and impoverished
knight of Ramorny, who will there have ample leisure to meditate
upon the text, 'Put not thy faith in princes.'"

"It is a goodly purpose," said the Prince, "and we will not be
lacking to promote it. Our separation, I thought, would have been
but for a time. It must now be perpetual. Certainly, after such
talk as we have held, it were meet that we should live asunder. But
the convent of Lindores, or what ever other house receives thee,
shall be richly endowed and highly favoured by us. And now, Sir
John of Ramorny, sleep--sleep--and forget this evil omened
conversation, in which the fever of disease and of wine has rather,
I trust, held colloquy than your own proper thoughts. Light to the
door, Eviot."

A call from Eviot summoned the attendants of the Prince, who had
been sleeping on the staircase and hall, exhausted by the revels
of the evening.

"Is there none amongst you sober?" said the Duke of Rothsay,
disgusted by the appearance of his attendants.

"Not a man--not a man," answered the followers, with a drunken
shout, "we are none of us traitors to the Emperor of Merry makers!"

"And are all of you turned into brutes, then?" said the Prince.

"In obedience and imitation of your Grace," answered one fellow;
"or, if we are a little behind your Highness, one pull at the
pitcher will--"

"Peace, beast!" said the Duke of Rothsay. "Are there none of you
sober, I say?"

"Yes, my noble liege," was the answer; "here is one false brother,
Watkins the Englishman."

"Come hither then, Watkins, and aid me with a torch; give me a cloak,
too, and another bonnet, and take away this trumpery," throwing
down his coronet of feathers. "I would I could throw off all my
follies as easily. English Wat, attend me alone, and the rest of
you end your revelry, and doff your mumming habits. The holytide
is expended, and the fast has begun."

"Our monarch has abdicated sooner than usual this night," said one
of the revel rout; but as the Prince gave no encouragement, such
as happened for the time to want the virtue of sobriety endeavoured
to assume it as well as they could, and the whole of the late
rioters began to adopt the appearance of a set of decent persons,
who, having been surprised into intoxication, endeavoured to
disguise their condition by assuming a double portion of formality
of behaviour. In the interim the Prince, having made a hasty reform
in his dress, was lighted to the door by the only sober man of the
company, but, in his progress thither, had well nigh stumbled over
the sleeping bulk of the brute Bonthron.

"How now! is that vile beast in our way once more?" he said in
anger and disgust. "Here, some of you, toss this caitiff into the
horse trough; that for once in his life he may be washed clean."

While the train executed his commands, availing themselves of a
fountain which was in the outer court, and while Bonthron underwent
a discipline which he was incapable of resisting, otherwise than by
some inarticulate groans and snorts, like, those of a dying boar,
the Prince proceeded on his way to his apartments, in a mansion
called the Constable's lodgings, from the house being the property
of the Earls of Errol. On the way, to divert his thoughts from the
more unpleasing matters, the Prince asked his companion how he came
to be sober, when the rest of the party had been so much overcome
with liquor.

"So please your honour's Grace," replied English Wat, "I confess
it was very familiar in me to be sober when it was your Grace's
pleasure that your train should be mad drunk; but in respect they
were all Scottishmen but myself, I thought it argued no policy in
getting drunken in their company, seeing that they only endure me
even when we are all sober, and if the wine were uppermost, I might
tell them a piece of my mind, and be paid with as many stabs as
there are skenes in the good company."

"So it is your purpose never to join any of the revels of our
household?"

"Under favour, yes; unless it be your Grace's pleasure that the
residue of your train should remain one day sober, to admit Will
Watkins to get drunk without terror of his life."

"Such occasion may arrive. Where dost thou serve, Watkins?"

"In the stable, so please you."

"Let our chamberlain bring thee into the household, as a yeoman
of the night watch. I like thy favour, and it is something to have
one sober fellow in the house, although he is only such through the
fear of death. Attend, therefore, near our person; and thou shalt
find sobriety a thriving virtue."

Meantime a load of care and fear added to the distress of Sir John
Ramorny's sick chamber. His reflections, disordered as they were
by the opiate, fell into great confusion when the Prince, in whose
presence he had suppressed its effect by strong resistance, had left
the apartment. His consciousness, which he had possessed perfectly
during the interview, began to be very much disturbed. He felt
a general sense that he had incurred a great danger, that he had
rendered the Prince his enemy, and that he had betrayed to him
a secret which might affect his own life. In this state of mind
and body, it was not strange that he should either dream, or else
that his diseased organs should become subject to that species of
phantasmagoria which is excited by the use of opium. He thought
that the shade of Queen Annabella stood by his bedside, and demanded
the youth whom she had placed under his charge, simple, virtuous,
gay, and innocent.

"Thou hast rendered him reckless, dissolute, and vicious," said
the shade of pallid Majesty. "Yet I thank thee, John of Ramorny,
ungrateful to me, false to thy word, and treacherous to my hopes.
Thy hate shall counteract the evil which thy friendship has done to
him. And well do I hope that, now thou art no longer his counsellor,
a bitter penance on earth may purchase my ill fated child pardon
and acceptance in a better world."

Ramorny stretched out his arms after his benefactress, and
endeavoured to express contrition and excuse; but the countenance
of the apparition became darker and sterner, till it was no longer
that of the late Queen, but presented the gloomy and haughty aspect
of the Black Douglas; then the timid and sorrowful face of King
Robert, who seemed to mourn over the approaching dissolution of
his royal house; and then a group of fantastic features, partly
hideous, partly ludicrous, which moped, and chattered, and twisted
themselves into unnatural and extravagant forms, as if ridiculing
his endeavour to obtain an exact idea of their lineaments.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A purple land, where law secures not life.

BYRON.


The morning of Ash Wednesday arose pale and bleak, as usual at
this season in Scotland, where the worst and most inclement weather
often occurs in the early spring months. It was a severe day of
frost, and the citizens had to sleep away the consequences of the
preceding holiday's debauchery. The sun had therefore risen for an
hour above the horizon before there was any general appearance of
life among the inhabitants of Perth, so that it was some time after
daybreak when a citizen, going early to mass, saw the body of the
luckless Oliver Proudfute lying on its face across the kennel in
the manner in which he had fallen under the blow; as our readers
will easily imagine, of Anthony Bonthron, the "boy of the belt"--
that is the executioner of the pleasure--of John of Ramorny.

This early citizen was Allan Griffin, so termed because he
was master of the Griffin Inn; and the alarm which he raised soon
brought together first straggling neighbours, and by and by a
concourse of citizens. At first from the circumstance of the well
known buff coat and the crimson feather in the head piece, the
noise arose that it was the stout smith that lay there slain. This
false rumour continued for some time, for the host of the Griffin,
who himself had been a magistrate, would not permit the body to
be touched or stirred till Bailie Craigdallie arrived, so that the
face was not seen..

"This concerns the Fair City, my friends," he said, "and if it is
the stout Smith of the Wynd who lies here, the man lives not in
Perth who will not risk land and life to avenge him. Look you, the
villains have struck him down behind his back, for there is not a
man within ten Scotch miles of Perth, gentle or simple, Highland
or Lowland, that would have met him face to face with such evil
purpose. Oh, brave men of Perth! the flower of your manhood has
been cut down, and that by a base and treacherous hand."

A wild cry of fury arose from the people, who were fast assembling.

"We will take him on our shoulders," said a strong butcher, "we
will carry him to the King's presence at the Dominican convent"

"Ay--ay," answered a blacksmith, "neither bolt nor bar shall keep
us from the King, neither monk nor mass shall break our purpose.
A better armourer never laid hammer on anvil!"

"To the Dominicans--to the Dominicans!" shouted the assembled
people.

"Bethink you, burghers," said another citizen, "our king is a good
king and loves us like his children. It is the Douglas and the Duke
of Albany that will not let good King Robert hear the distresses
of his people."

"Are we to be slain in our own streets for the King's softness of
heart?" said the butcher. "The Bruce did otherwise. If the King
will not keep us, we will keep ourselves. Ring the bells backward,
every bell of them that is made of metal. Cry, and spare not, St.
Johnston's hunt is up!"

"Ay," cried another citizen, "and let us to the holds of Albany
and the Douglas, and burn them to the ground. Let the fires tell
far and near that Perth knew how to avenge her stout Henry Gow. He
has fought a score of times for the Fair City's right; let us show
we can once to avenge his wrong. Hally ho! brave citizens, St.
Johnston's hunt is up!"

This cry, the well known rallying word amongst the inhabitants of
Perth, and seldom heard but on occasions of general uproar, was
echoed from voice to voice; and one or two neighbouring steeples,
of which the enraged citizens possessed themselves, either by consent
of the priests or in spite of their opposition, began to ring out
the ominous alarm notes, in which, as the ordinary succession of
the chimes was reversed, the bells were said to be rung backward.

Still, as the crowd thickened, and the roar waxed more universal
and louder, Allan Griffin, a burly man with a deep voice, and well
respected among high and low, kept his station as he bestrode the
corpse, and called loudly to the multitude to keep back and wait
the arrival of the magistrates.

"We must proceed by order in this matter, my masters, we must have
our magistrates at our head. They are duly chosen and elected in
our town hall, good men and true every one; we will not be called
rioters, or idle perturbators of the king's peace. Stand you still,
and make room, for yonder comes Bailie Craigdallie, ay, and honest
Simon Glover, to whom the Fair City is so much bounden. Alas--alas!
my kind townsmen, his beautiful daughter was a bride yesternight;
this morning the Fair Maid of Perth is a widow before she has been
a wife."

This new theme of sympathy increased the rage and sorrow of the
crowd the more, as many women now mingled with them, who echoed
back the alarm cry to the men.

"Ay--ay, St. Johnston's hunt is up! For the Fair Maid of Perth
and the brave Henry Gow! Up--up, every one of you, spare not
for your skin cutting! To the stables!--to the stables! When the
horse is gone the man at arms is useless--cut off the grooms and
yeomen; lame, maim, and stab the horses; kill the base squires and
pages. Let these proud knights meet us on their feet if they dare!"

"They dare not--they dare not," answered the men; "their strength
is their horses and armour; and yet the haughty and ungrateful
villains have slain a man whose skill as an armourer was never
matched in Milan or Venice. To arms!--to arms, brave burghers!
St. Johnston's hunt is up!"

Amid this clamour, the magistrates and superior class of inhabitants
with difficulty obtained room to examine the body, having with them
the town clerk to take an official protocol, or, as it is still
called, a precognition, of the condition in which it was found.
To these delays the multitude submitted, with a patience and order
which strongly marked the national character of a people whose
resentment has always been the more deeply dangerous, that they
will, without relaxing their determination of vengeance, submit
with patience to all delays which are necessary to ensure its
attainment. The multitude, therefore, received their magistrates
with a loud cry, in which the thirst of revenge was announced,
together with the deferential welcome to the patrons by whose
direction they expected to obtain it in right and legal fashion.

While these accents of welcome still rung above the crowd, who
now filled the whole adjacent streets, receiving and circulating a
thousand varying reports, the fathers of the city caused the body
to be raised and more closely examined; when it was instantly
perceived, and the truth publicly announced, that not the armourer
of the Wynd, so highly and, according to the esteemed qualities of
the time, so justly popular among his fellow citizens, but a man
of far less general estimation, though not without his own value
in society, lay murdered before them--the brisk bonnet maker,
Oliver Proudfute. The resentment of the people had so much turned
upon the general opinion that their frank and brave champion,
Henry Gow, was the slaughtered person, that the contradiction of
the report served to cool the general fury, although, if poor Oliver
had been recognised at first, there is little doubt that the cry
of vengeance would have been as unanimous, though not probably so
furious, as in the case of Henry Wynd. The first circulation of
the unexpected intelligence even excited a smile among the crowd,
so near are the confines of the ludicrous to those of the terrible.

"The murderers have without doubt taken him for Henry Smith,"
said Griffin, "which must have been a great comfort to him in the
circumstances."

But the arrival of other persons on the scene soon restored its
deeply tragic character.



CHAPTER XIX.

Who's that that rings the bell? Diablos, ho!
The town will rise.

Othello, Act II. Scene III.


The wild rumours which flew through the town, speedily followed by
the tolling of the alarm bells spread general consternation. The
nobles and knights, with their followers, gathered in different
places of rendezvous, where a defence could best be maintained; and
the alarm reached the royal residence where the young prince was
one of the first to appear, to assist, if necessary, in the defence
of the old king. The scene of the preceding night ran in his
recollection; and, remembering the bloodstained figure of Bonthron,
he conceived, though indistinctly, that the ruffian's action had
been connected with this uproar. The subsequent and more interesting
discourse with Sir John Ramorny had, however, been of such an
impressive nature as to obliterate all traces of what he had vaguely
heard of the bloody act of the assassin, excepting a confused
recollection that some one or other had been slain. It was chiefly
on his father's account that he had assumed arms with his household
train, who, clad in bright armour, and bearing lances in their
hands, made now a figure very different from that of the preceding
night, when they appeared as intoxicated Bacchanalians. The kind
old monarch received this mark of filial attachment with tears of
gratitude, and proudly presented his son to his brother Albany,
who entered shortly afterwards. He took them each by the hand.

"Now are we three Stuarts," he said, "as inseparable as the holy
trefoil; and, as they say the wearer of that sacred herb mocks at
magical delusion, so we, while we are true to each other, may set
malice and enmity at defiance."

The brother and son kissed the kind hand which pressed theirs,
while Robert III expressed his confidence in their affection. The
kiss of the youth was, for the time, sincere; that of the brother
was the salute of the apostate Judas.

In the mean time the bell of St. John's church alarmed, amongst
others, the inhabitants of Curfew Street. In the house of Simon
Glover, old Dorothy Glover, as she was called (for she also took
name from the trade she practised, under her master's auspices),
was the first to catch the sound. Though somewhat deaf upon ordinary
occasions, her ear for bad news was as sharp as a kite's scent for
carrion; for Dorothy, otherwise an industrious, faithful, and even
affectionate creature, had that strong appetite for collecting and
retailing sinister intelligence which is often to be marked in the
lower classes. Little accustomed to be listened to, they love the
attention which a tragic tale ensures to the bearer, and enjoy,
perhaps, the temporary equality to which misfortune reduces those
who are ordinarily accounted their superiors. Dorothy had no sooner
possessed herself of a slight packet of the rumours which were
flying abroad than she bounced into her master's bedroom, who had
taken the privilege of age and the holytide to sleep longer than
usual.

"There he lies, honest man," said Dorothy, half in a screeching
and half in a wailing tone of sympathy--"there he lies; his best
friend slain, and he knowing as little about it as the babe new
born, that kens not life from death."

"How now!" said the glover, starting up out of his bed. "What is
the matter, old woman? Is my daughter well?"

"Old woman!" said Dorothy, who, having her fish hooked, chose to
let him play a little. "I am not so old," said she, flouncing out
of the room, "as to bide in the place till a man rises from his
naked bed--"

And presently she was heard at a distance in the parlour beneath,
melodiously singing to the scrubbing of her own broom.

"Dorothy--screech owl--devil--say but my daughter is well!"

"I am well, my father," answered the Fair Maid of Perth, speaking
from her bedroom, "perfectly well, but what, for Our Lady's sake,
is the matter? The bells ring backward, and there is shrieking and
crying in the streets."

"I will presently know the cause. Here, Conachar, come speedily
and tie my points. I forgot--the Highland loon is far beyond
Fortingall. Patience, daughter, I will presently bring you news."

"Ye need not hurry yourself for that, Simon Glover," quoth the
obdurate old woman; "the best and the worst of it may be tauld
before you could hobble over your door stane. I ken the haill story
abroad; 'for,' thought I, 'our goodman is so wilful that he'll be
for banging out to the tuilzie, be the cause what it like; and sae
I maun e'en stir my shanks, and learn the cause of all this, or he
will hae his auld nose in the midst of it, and maybe get it nipt
off before he knows what for.'"

"And what is the news, then, old woman?" said the impatient glover,
still busying himself with the hundred points or latchets which
were the means of attaching the doublet to the hose.

Dorothy suffered him to proceed in his task till she conjectured
it must be nearly accomplished; and foresaw that; if she told not
the secret herself, her master would be abroad to seek in person
for the cause of the disturbance. She, therefore, halloo'd out:
"Aweel--aweel, ye canna say it is me fault, if you hear ill news
before you have been at the morning mass. I would have kept it from
ye till ye had heard the priest's word; but since you must hear
it, you have e'en lost the truest friend that ever gave hand to
another, and Perth maun mourn for the bravest burgher that ever
took a blade in hand!"

"Harry Smith! Harry Smith!" exclaimed the father and the daughter
at once.

"Oh, ay, there ye hae it at last," said Dorothy; "and whose fault
was it but your ain? ye made such a piece of work about his companying
with a glee woman, as if he had companied with a Jewess!"

Dorothy would have gone on long enough, but her master exclaimed to
his daughter, who was still in her own apartment: "It is nonsense,
Catharine--all the dotage of an old fool. No such thing has happened.
I will bring you the true tidings in a moment," and snatching up
his staff, the old man hurried out past Dorothy and into the street,
where the throng of people were rushing towards the High Street.

Dorothy, in the mean time, kept muttering to herself: "Thy father
is a wise man, take his ain word for it. He will come next by some
scathe in the hobbleshow, and then it will be, 'Dorothy, get the
lint,' and 'Dorothy, spread the plaster;' but now it is nothing
but nonsense, and a lie, and impossibility, that can come out of
Dorothy's mouth. Impossible! Does auld Simon think that Harry Smith's
head was as hard as his stithy, and a haill clan of Highlandmen
dinging at him?"

Here she was interrupted by a figure like an angel, who came wandering
by her with wild eye, cheek deadly pale, hair dishevelled, and an
apparent want of consciousness, which terrified the old woman out
of her discontented humour.

"Our Lady bless my bairn!" said she. "What look you sae wild for?"

"Did you not say some one was dead?" said Catharine, with a frightful
uncertainty of utterance, as if her organs of speech and hearing
served her but imperfectly.

"Dead, hinny! Ay--ay, dead eneugh; ye'll no hae him to gloom at
ony mair."

"Dead!" repeated Catharine, still with the same uncertainty of
voice and manner. "Dead--slain--and by Highlanders?"

"I'se warrant by Highlanders, the lawless loons. Wha is it else
that kills maist of the folks about, unless now and than when the
burghers take a tirrivie, and kill ane another, or whiles that
the knights and nobles shed blood? But I'se uphauld it's been the
Highlandmen this bout. The man was no in Perth, laird or loon, durst
have faced Henry Smith man to man. There's been sair odds against
him; ye'll see that when it's looked into."

"Highlanders!" repeated Catharine, as if haunted by some idea which
troubled her senses. "Highlanders! Oh, Conachar--Conachar!"

"Indeed, and I dare say you have lighted on the very man, Catharine.
They quarrelled, as you saw, on the St. Valentine's Even, and had
a warstle. A Highlandman has a long memory for the like of that.
Gie him a cuff at Martinmas, and his cheek will be tingling at
Whitsunday. But what could have brought down the lang legged loons
to do their bloody wark within burgh?"

"Woe's me, it was I," said Catharine--"it was I brought the
Highlanders down--I that sent for Conachar--ay, they have lain
in wait--but it was I that brought them within reach of their
prey. But I will see with my own eyes--and then--something we
will do. Say to my father I will be back anon."

"Are ye distraught, lassie?" shouted Dorothy, as Catharine made past
her towards the street door. "You would not gang into the street
with the hair hanging down your haffets in that guise, and you kenn'd
for the Fair Maid of Perth? Mass, but she's out in the street, come
o't what like, and the auld Glover will be as mad as if I could
withhold her, will she nill she, flyte she fling she. This is a
brave morning for an Ash Wednesday! What's to be done? If I were
to seek my master among the multitude, I were like to be crushed
beneath their feet, and little moan made for the old woman. And
am I to run after Catharine, who ere this is out of sight, and far
lighter of foot than I am? so I will just down the gate to Nicol
Barber's, and tell him a' about it."

While the trusty Dorothy was putting her prudent resolve into
execution, Catharine ran through the streets of Perth in a manner
which at another moment would have brought on her the attention
of every one who saw her hurrying on with a reckless impetuosity
wildly and widely different from the ordinary decency and composure
of her step and manner, and without the plaid, scarf, or mantle
which "women of good," of fair character and decent rank, universally
carried around them, when they went abroad. But, distracted as the
people were, every one inquiring or telling the cause of the tumult,
and most recounting it different ways, the negligence of her dress
and discomposure of her manner made no impression on any one;
and she was suffered to press forward on the path she had chosen
without attracting more notice than the other females who, stirred
by anxious curiosity or fear, had come out to inquire the cause of
an alarm so general--it might be to seek for friends for whose
safety they were interested.

As Catharine passed along, she felt all the wild influence of
the agitating scene, and it was with difficulty she forbore from
repeating the cries of lamentation and alarm which were echoed
around her. In the mean time, she rushed rapidly on, embarrassed
like one in a dream, with a strange sense of dreadful calamity,
the precise nature of which she was unable to define, but which
implied the terrible consciousness that the man who loved her so
fondly, whose good qualities she so highly esteemed, and whom she
now felt to be dearer than perhaps she would before have acknowledged
to her own bosom, was murdered, and most probably by her means.
The connexion betwixt Henry's supposed death and the descent of
Conachar and his followers, though adopted by her in a moment of
extreme and engrossing emotion, was sufficiently probable to have
been received for truth, even if her understanding had been at
leisure to examine its credibility. Without knowing what she sought
except the general desire to know the worst of the dreadful report,
she hurried forward to the very spot which of all others her feelings
of the preceding day would have induced her to avoid.

Who would, upon the evening of Shrovetide, have persuaded the
proud, the timid, the shy, the rigidly decorous Catharine Glover
that before mass on Ash Wednesday she should rush through the
streets of Perth, making her way amidst tumult and confusion, with
her hair unbound and her dress disarranged, to seek the house of
that same lover who, she had reason to believe, had so grossly and
indelicately neglected and affronted her as to pursue a low and
licentious amour? Yet so it was; and her eagerness taking, as if
by instinct, the road which was most free, she avoided the High
Street, where the pressure was greatest, and reached the wynd by
the narrow lanes on the northern skirt of the town, through which
Henry Smith had formerly escorted Louise. But even these comparatively
lonely passages were now astir with passengers, so general was the
alarm. Catharine Glover made her way through them, however, while
such as observed her looked on each other and shook their heads in
sympathy with her distress. At length, without any distinct idea
of her own purpose, she stood before her lover's door and knocked
for admittance.

The silence which succeeded the echoing of her hasty summons increased
the alarm which had induced her to take this desperate measure.

"Open--open, Henry!" she cried. "Open, if you yet live! Open, if
you would not find Catharine Glover dead upon your threshold!"

As she cried thus frantically to ears which she was taught to
believe were stopped by death, the lover she invoked opened the
door in person, just in time to prevent her sinking on the ground.
The extremity of his ecstatic joy upon an occasion so unexpected
was qualified only by the wonder which forbade him to believe it
real, and by his alarm at the closed eyes, half opened and blanched
lips, total absence of complexion, and apparently total cessation
of breathing.

Henry had remained at home, in spite of the general alarm, which
had reached his ears for a considerable time, fully determined to
put himself in the way of no brawls that he could avoid; and it was
only in compliance with a summons from the magistrates, which, as
a burgher, he was bound to obey, that, taking his sword and a spare
buckler from the wall, he was about to go forth, for the first time
unwillingly, to pay his service, as his tenure bound him.

"It is hard," he said, "to be put forward in all the town feuds,
when the fighting work is so detestable to Catharine. I am sure
there are enough of wenches in Perth that say to their gallants,
'Go out, do your devoir bravely, and win your lady's grace'; and
yet they send not for their lovers, but for me, who cannot do the
duties of a man to protect a minstrel woman, or of a burgess who
fights for the honour of his town, but this peevish Catharine uses
me as if I were a brawler and bordeller!"

Such were the thoughts which occupied his mind, when, as he opened
his door to issue forth, the person dearest to his thoughts, but
whom he certainly least expected to see, was present to his eyes,
and dropped into his arms.

His mixture of surprise, joy, and anxiety did not deprive him of
the presence of mind which the occasion demanded. To place Catharine
Glover in safety, and recall her to herself was to be thought
of before rendering obedience to the summons of the magistrates,
however pressingly that had been delivered. He carried his lovely
burden, as light as a feather, yet more precious than the same
quantity of purest gold, into a small bedchamber which had been
his mother's. It was the most fit for an invalid, as it looked into
the garden, and was separated from the noise of the tumult.

"Here, Nurse--Nurse Shoolbred--come quick--come for death
and life--here is one wants thy help!"

Up trotted the old dame. "If it should but prove any one that will
keep thee out of the scuffle," for she also had been aroused by
the noise; but what was her astonishment when, placed in love and
reverence on the bed of her late mistress, and supported by the
athletic arms of her foster son, she saw the apparently lifeless
form of the Fair Maid of Perth.

"Catharine Glover!" she said; "and, Holy Mother, a dying woman, as
it would seem!"

"Not so, old woman," said her foster son: "the dear heart throbs
--the sweet breath comes and returns! Come thou, that may aid her
more meetly than I--bring water--essences--whatever thy old
skill can devise. Heaven did not place her in my arms to die, but
to live for herself and me!"

With an activity which her age little promised, Nurse Shoolbred
collected the means of restoring animation; for, like many women
of the period, she understood what was to be done in such cases,
nay, possessed a knowledge of treating wounds of an ordinary
description, which the warlike propensities of her foster son kept
in pretty constant exercise.

"Come now," she said, "son Henry, unfold your arms from about
my patient, though she is worth the pressing, and set thy hands
at freedom to help me with what I want. Nay, I will not insist on
your quitting her hand, if you will beat the palm gently, as the
fingers unclose their clenched grasp."

"I beat her slight, beautiful hand!" said Henry; "you were as well
bid me beat a glass cup with a forehammer as tap her fair palm with
my horn hard fingers. But the fingers do unfold, and we will find
a better way than beating"; and he applied his lips to the pretty
hand, whose motion indicated returning sensation. One or two deep
sighs succeeded, and the Fair Maid of Perth opened her eyes, fixed
them on her lover, as he kneeled by the bedside, and again sunk
back on the pillow. As she withdrew not her hand from her lover's
hold or from his grasp, we must in charity believe that the return
to consciousness was not so complete as to make her aware that he
abused the advantage, by pressing it alternately to his lips and
his bosom. At the same time we are compelled to own that the blood
was colouring in her cheek, and that her breathing was deep and
regular, for a minute or two during this relapse.

The noise at the door began now to grow much louder, and Henry was
called for by all his various names of Smith. Gow, and Hal of the
Wynd, as heathens used to summon their deities by different epithets.
At last, like Portuguese Catholics when exhausted with entreating
their saints, the crowd without had recourse to vituperative
exclamations.

"Out upon you, Henry! You are a disgraced man, man sworn to your
burgher oath, and a traitor to the Fair City, unless you come
instantly forth!"

It would seem that nurse Shoolbred's applications were now so far
successful that Catharine's senses were in some measure restored;
for, turning her face more towards that of her lover than her former
posture permitted, she let her right hand fall on his shoulder,
leaving her left still in his possession, and seeming slightly to
detain him, while she whispered: "Do not go, Henry--stay with
me; they will kill thee, these men of blood."

It would seem that this gentle invocation, the result of finding
the lover alive whom she expected to have only recognised as a
corpse, though it was spoken so low as scarcely to be intelligible,
had more effect to keep Henry Wynd in his present posture than
the repeated summons of many voices from without had to bring him
downstairs.

"Mass, townsmen," cried one hardy citizen to his companions, "the
saucy smith but jests with us! Let us into the house, and bring
him out by the lug and the horn."

"Take care what you are doing," said a more cautious assailant.
"The man that presses on Henry Gow's retirement may go into his
house with sound bones, but will return with ready made work for
the surgeon. But here comes one has good right to do our errand to
him, and make the recreant hear reason on both sides of his head."

The person of whom this was spoken was no other than Simon Glover
himself. He had arrived at the fatal spot where the unlucky bonnet
maker's body was lying, just in time to discover, to his great
relief, that when it was turned with the face upwards by Bailie
Craigdallie's orders, the features of the poor braggart Proudfute
were recognised, when the crowd expected to behold those of their
favorite champion, Henry Smith. A laugh, or something approaching
to one, went among those who remembered how hard Oliver had struggled
to obtain the character of a fighting man, however foreign to
his nature and disposition, and remarked now that he had met with
a mode of death much better suited to his pretensions than to his
temper. But this tendency to ill timed mirth, which savoured of the
rudeness of the times, was at once hushed by the voice, and cries,
and exclamations of a woman who struggled through the crowd,
screaming at the same time, "Oh, my husband--my husband!"

Room was made for the sorrower, who was followed by two or three
female friends. Maudie Proudfute had been hitherto only noticed
as a good looking, black haired woman, believed to be "dink" and
disdainful to those whom she thought meaner or poorer than herself,
and lady and empress over her late husband, whom she quickly
caused to lower his crest when she chanced to hear him crowing out
of season. But now, under the influence of powerful passion, she
assumed a far more imposing character.

"Do you laugh," she said, "you unworthy burghers of Perth, because
one of your own citizens has poured his blood into the kennel? or
do you laugh because the deadly lot has lighted on my husband? How
has he deserved this? Did he not maintain an honest house by his own
industry, and keep a creditable board, where the sick had welcome
and the poor had relief? Did he not lend to those who wanted, stand
by his neighbours as a friend, keep counsel and do justice like a
magistrate?"

"It is true--it is true," answered the assembly; "his blood is
our blood as much as if it were Henry Gow's."

"You speak truth, neighbours," said Bailie Craigdallie; "and this
feud cannot be patched up as the former was: citizen's blood must
not flow unavenged down our kennels, as if it were ditch water, or
we shall soon see the broad Tay crimsoned with it. But this blow
was never meant for the poor man on whom it has unhappily fallen.
Every one knew what Oliver Proudfute was, how wide he would speak,
and how little he would do. He has Henry Smith's buff coat, target,
and head piece. All the town know them as well as I do: there is
no doubt on't. He had the trick, as you know, of trying to imitate
the smith in most things. Some one, blind with rage, or perhaps
through liquor, has stricken the innocent bonnet maker, whom no
man either hated or feared, or indeed cared either much or little
about, instead of the stout smith, who has twenty feuds upon his
hands."

"What then, is to be done, bailie?" cried the multitude.

"That, my friends, your magistrates will determine for you, as we
shall instantly meet together when Sir Patrick Charteris cometh
here, which must be anon. Meanwhile, let the chirurgeon Dwining
examine that poor piece of clay, that he may tell us how he came by
his fatal death; and then let the corpse be decently swathed in a
clean shroud, as becomes an honest citizen, and placed before the
high altar in the church of St. John, the patron of the Fair City.
Cease all clamour and noise, and every defensible man of you, as
you would wish well to the Fair Town, keep his weapons in readiness,
and be prepared to assemble on the High Street at the tolling of
the common bell from the townhouse, and we will either revenge the
death of our fellow citizen, or else we shall take such fortune
as Heaven will send us. Meanwhile avoid all quarrelling With the
knights and their followers till we know the innocent from the
guilty. But wherefore tarries this knave Smith? He is ready enough
in tumults when his presence is not wanted, and lags he now when
his presence may serve the Fair City? What ails him, doth any one
know? Hath he been upon the frolic last Fastern's Even?"

"Rather he is sick or sullen, Master Bailie," said one of the city's
mairs, or sergeants; "for though he is within door, as his knaves
report, yet he will neither answer to us nor admit us."

"So please your worship, Master Bailie," said Simon Glover, "I will
go myself to fetch Henry Smith. I have some little difference to
make up with him. And blessed be Our Lady, who hath so ordered it
that I find him alive, as a quarter of an hour since I could never
have expected!"

"Bring the stout smith to the council house," said the bailie, as
a mounted yeoman pressed through the crowd and whispered in his ear,
"Here is a good fellow who says the Knight of Kinfauns is entering
the port."

Such was the occasion of Simon Glover presenting himself at the
house of Henry Gow at the period already noticed.

Unrestrained by the considerations of doubt and hesitation which
influenced others, he repaired to the parlour; and having overheard
the bustling of Dame Shoolbred, he took the privilege of intimacy
to ascend to the bedroom, and, with the slight apology of "I
crave your pardon, good neighbour," he opened the door and entered
the apartment, where a singular and unexpected sight awaited him.
At the sound of his voice, May Catharine experienced a revival
much speedier than Dame Shoolbred's restoratives had been able to
produce, and the paleness of her complexion changed into a deep
glow of the most lovely red. She pushed her lover from her with
both her hands, which, until this minute, her want of consciousness,
or her affection, awakened by the events of the morning, had well
nigh abandoned to his caresses. Henry Smith, bashful as we know
him, stumbled as he rose up; and none of the party were without a
share of confusion, excepting Dame Shoolbred, who was glad to make
some pretext to turn her back to the others, in order that she
might enjoy a laugh at their expense, which she felt herself utterly
unable to restrain, and in which the glover, whose surprise, though
great, was of short duration, and of a joyful character, sincerely
joined.

"Now, by good St. John," he said, "I thought I had seen a sight
this morning that would cure me of laughter, at least till Lent was
over; but this would make me curl my cheek if I were dying. Why,
here stands honest Henry Smith, who was lamented as dead, and toll'd
out for from every steeple in town, alive, merry, and, as it seems
from his ruddy complexion, as like to live as any man in Perth.
And here is my precious daughter, that yesterday would speak of
nothing but the wickedness of the wights that haunt profane sports
and protect glee maidens. Ay, she who set St. Valentine and St.
Cupid both at defiance--here she is, turned a glee maiden herself,
for what I can see! Truly, I am glad to see that you, my good Dame
Shoolbred, who give way to no disorder, have been of this loving
party."

"You do me wrong, my dearest father," said Catharine, as if about
to weep. "I came here with far different expectations than you
suppose. I only came because--because--"

"Because you expected to find a dead lover," said her father, and
you have found a living one, who can receive the tokens of your
regard, and return them. Now, were it not a sin, I could find in my
heart to thank Heaven that thou hast been surprised at last into
owning thyself a woman. Simon Glover is not worthy to have an
absolute saint for his daughter. Nay, look not so piteously, nor
expect condolence from me! Only I will try not to look merry, if
you will be pleased to stop your tears, or confess them to be tears
of joy."

"If I were to die for such a confession," said poor Catharine, "I
could not tell what to call them. Only believe, dear father, and
let Henry believe, that I would never have come hither; unless--
unless--"

"Unless you had thought that Henry could not come to you," said
her father. "And now, shake hands in peace and concord, and agree
as Valentines should. Yesterday was Shrovetide, Henry; We will hold
that thou hast confessed thy follies, hast obtained absolution,
and art relieved of all the guilt thou stoodest charged with."

"Nay touching that, father Simon," said the smith, "now that you
are cool enough to hear me, I can swear on the Gospels, and I can
call my nurse, Dame Shoolbred, to witness--"

"Nay--nay," said the glover, "but wherefore rake up differences
which should all be forgotten?"

"Hark ye, Simon!--Simon Glover!" This was now echoed from beneath.

"True, son Smith," said the glover, seriously, "we have other work
in hand. You and I must to the council instantly. Catharine shall
remain here with Dame Shoolbred, who will take charge of her till
we return; and then, as the town is in misrule, we two, Harry, will
carry her home, and they will be bold men that cross us."

"Nay, my dear father," said Catharine, with a smile, "now you are
taking Oliver Proudfute's office. That doughty burgher is Henry's
brother at arms."

Her father's countenance grew dark.

"You have spoke a stinging word, daughter; but you know not what
has happened. Kiss him, Catharine, in token of forgiveness."

"Not so," said Catharine; "I have done him too much grace already.
When he has seen the errant damsel safe home, it will be time enough
to claim his reward."

"Meantime," said Henry, "I will claim, as your host, what you will
not allow me on other terms."

He folded the fair maiden in his arms, and was permitted to take
the salute which she had refused to bestow.

As they descended the stair together, the old man laid his hand
on the smith's shoulder, and said: "Henry, my dearest wishes are
fulfilled; but it is the pleasure of the saints that it should be
in an hour of difficulty and terror."

"True," said the smith; "but thou knowest, father, if our riots be
frequent at Perth, at least they seldom last long."

Then, opening a door which led from the house into the smithy,
"here, comrades," he cried, "Anton, Cuthbert, Dingwell, and Ringen!
Let none of you stir from the place till I return. Be as true as
the weapons I have taught you to forge: a French crown and a Scotch
merrymaking for you, if you obey my command. I leave a mighty
treasure in your charge. Watch the doors well, let little Jannekin
scout up and down the wynd, and have your arms ready if any one
approaches the house. Open the doors to no man till father Glover
or I return: it concerns my life and happiness."

The strong, swarthy giants to whom he spoke answered: "Death to
him who attempts it!"

"My Catharine is now as safe," said he to her father, "as if twenty
men garrisoned a royal castle in her cause. We shall pass most
quietly to the council house by walking through the garden."

He led the way through a little orchard accordingly, where the
birds, which had been sheltered and fed during the winter by the
good natured artisan, early in the season as it was, were saluting
the precarious smiles of a February sun with a few faint and
interrupted attempts at melody.

"Hear these minstrels, father," said the smith; "I laughed at them
this morning in the bitterness of my heart, because the little
wretches sung, with so much of winter before them. But now, methinks,
I could bear a blythe chorus, for I have my Valentine as they have
theirs; and whatever ill may lie before me for tomorrow, I am today
the happiest man in Perth, city or county, burgh or landward."

"Yet I must allay your joy," said the old glover, "though, Heaven
knows, I share it. Poor Oliver Proudfute, the inoffensive fool
that you and I knew so well, has been found this morning dead in
the streets."

"Only dead drunk, I trust?" said the smith; "nay, a candle and a
dose of matrimonial advice will bring him to life again."

"No, Henry--no. He is slain--slain with a battle axe or some
such weapon."

"Impossible!" replied the smith; "he was light footed enough, and
would not for all Perth have trusted to his hands, when be could
extricate himself by his heels."

"No choice was allowed him. The blow was dealt in the very back of
his head; he who struck must have been a shorter man than himself,
and used a horseman's battle axe, or some such weapon, for a Lochaber
axe must have struck the upper part of his head. But there he lies
dead, brained, I may say, by a most frightful wound."

"This is inconceivable," said Henry Wynd. "He was in my house
at midnight, in a morricer's habit; seemed to have been drinking,
though not to excess. He told me a tale of having been beset by
revellers, and being in danger; but, alas! you know the man--I
deemed it was a swaggering fit, as he sometimes took when he was
in liquor; and, may the Merciful Virgin forgive me! I let him go
without company, in which I did him inhuman wrong. Holy St. John
be my witness! I would have gone with any helpless creature; and
far more with him, with whom I have so often sat at the same board
and drunken of the same cup. Who, of the race of man, could have
thought of harming a creature so simple and so unoffending, excepting
by his idle vaunts?"

"Henry, he wore thy head piece, thy buff coat; thy target. How came
he by these?"

"Why, he demanded the use of them for the night, and I was ill
at ease, and well pleased to be rid of his company, having kept
no holiday, and being determined to keep none, in respect of our
misunderstanding."

"It is the opinion of Bailie Craigdallie and all our sagest
counsellors that the blow was intended for yourself, and that it
becomes you to prosecute the due vengeance of our fellow citizen,
who received the death which was meant for you."

The smith was for some time silent. They had now left the garden,
and were walking in a lonely lane, by which they meant to approach
the council house of the burgh without being exposed to observation
or idle inquiry.

"You are silent, my son, yet we two have much to speak of," said
Simon Glover. "Bethink thee that this widowed woman, Maudlin,
if she should see cause to bring a charge against any one for the
wrong done to her and her orphan children, must support it by a
champion, according to law and custom; for, be the murderer who he
may, we know enough of these followers of the nobles to be assured
that the party suspected will appeal to the combat, in derision,
perhaps, of we whom they will call the cowardly burghers. While we
are men with blood in our veins, this must not be, Henry Wynd."

"I see where you would draw me, father," answered Henry, dejectedly,
"and St. John knows I have heard a summons to battle as willingly
as war horse ever heard the trumpet. But bethink you, father, how
I have lost Catharine's favour repeatedly, and have been driven
well nigh to despair of ever regaining it, for being, if I may say
so, even too ready a man of my hands. And here are all our quarrels
made up, and the hopes that seemed this morning removed beyond
earthly prospect have become nearer and brighter than ever; and
must I with the dear one's kiss of forgiveness on my lips, engage
in a new scene of violence, which you are well aware will give her
the deepest offence?"

"It is hard for me to advise you, Henry," said Simon; "but this I
must ask you: Have you, or have you not, reason to think that this
poor unfortunate Oliver has been mistaken for you?"

"I fear it too much," said Henry. "He was thought something like
me, and the poor fool had studied to ape my gestures and manner
of walking, nay the very airs which I have the trick of whistling,
that he might increase a resemblance which has cost him dear. I
have ill willers enough, both in burgh and landward, to owe me a
shrewd turn; and he, I think, could have none such."

"Well, Henry, I cannot say but my daughter will be offended. She
has been much with Father Clement, and has received notions about
peace and forgiveness which methinks suit ill with a country
where the laws cannot protect us, unless we have spirit to protect
ourselves. If you determine for the combat, I will do my best to
persuade her to look on the matter as the other good womanhood in
the burgh will do; and if you resolve to let the matter rest--
the man who has lost his life for yours remaining unavenged, the
widow and the orphans without any reparation for the loss of a
husband and father--I will then do you the justice to think that
I, at least, ought not to think the worse of you for your patience,
since it was adopted for love of my child. But, Henry, we must in
that case remove ourselves from bonny St. Johnston, for here we
will be but a disgraced family."

Henry groaned deeply, and was silent for an instant, then replied:
"I would rather be dead than dishonoured, though I should never see
her again! Had it been yester evening, I would have met the best
blade among these men at arms as blythely as ever I danced at
a maypole. But today, when she had first as good as said, 'Henry
Smith, I love thee!' Father Glover; it is very hard. Yet it is all
my own fault. This poor unhappy Oliver! I ought to have allowed
him the shelter of my roof, when he prayed me in his agony of fear;
or; had I gone with him, I should then have prevented or shared his
fate. But I taunted him, ridiculed him, loaded him with maledictions,
though the saints know they were uttered in idle peevishness of
impatience. I drove him out from my doors, whom I knew so helpless,
to take the fate which was perhaps intended for me. I must avenge
him, or be dishonoured for ever. See, father, I have been called
a man hard as the steel I work in. Does burnished steel ever drop
tears like these? Shame on me that I should shed them!"

"It is no shame, my dearest son," said Simon; "thou art as kind as
brave, and I have always known it. There is yet a chance for us.
No one may be discovered to whom suspicion attaches, and where none
such is found, the combat cannot take place. It is a hard thing
to wish that the innocent blood may not be avenged. But if the
perpetrator of this foul murder be hidden for the present, thou
wilt be saved from the task of seeking that vengeance which Heaven
doubtless will take at its own proper time."

As they spoke thus, they arrived at the point of the High Street
where the council house was situated. As they reached the door,
and made their way through the multitude who thronged the street,
they found the avenues guarded by a select party of armed burghers,
and about fifty spears belonging to the Knight of Kinfauns, who,
with his allies the Grays, Blairs, Moncrieffs, and others, had
brought to Perth a considerable body of horse, of which these were
a part. So soon as the glover and smith presented themselves, they
were admitted to the chamber in which the magistrates were assembled.



CHAPTER XX.

A woman wails for justice at the gate,
A widow'd woman, wan and desolate.

Bertha.


The council room of Perth presented a singular spectacle. In a
gloomy apartment, ill and inconveniently lighted by two windows of
different form and of unequal size, were assembled, around a large
oaken table, a group of men, of whom those who occupied the higher
seats were merchants, that is, guild brethren, or shopkeepers,
arrayed in decent dresses becoming their station, but most of them
bearing, like, the Regent York, "signs of war around their aged
necks"--gorgets, namely, and baldricks, which sustained their
weapons. The lower places around the table were occupied by mechanics
and artisans, the presidents, or deacons, as they were termed, of
the working classes, in their ordinary clothes, somewhat better
arranged than usual. These, too, wore pieces of armour of various
descriptions. Some had the blackjack, or doublets covered with
small plates of iron of a lozenge shape, which, secured through the
upper angle, hung in rows above each [other], and which, swaying
with the motion of the wearer's person, formed a secure defence
to the body. Others had buff coats, which, as already mentioned,
could resist the blow of a sword, and even a lance's point, unless
propelled with great force. At the bottom of the table, surrounded
as it was with this varied assembly, sat Sir Louis Lundin; no
military man, but a priest and parson of St. John's, arrayed in
his canonical dress, and having his pen and ink before him. He was
town clerk of the burgh, and, like all the priests of the period (who
were called from that circumstance the Pope's knights), received
the honourable title of Dominus, contracted into Dom, or Dan,
or translated into Sir, the title of reverence due to the secular
chivalry.

On an elevated seat at the head of the council board was placed
Sir Patrick Charteris, in complete armour brightly burnished--
a singular contrast to the motley mixture of warlike and peaceful
attire exhibited by the burghers, who were only called to arms
occasionally. The bearing of the provost, while it completely
admitted the intimate connexion which mutual interests had created
betwixt himself, the burgh, and the magistracy, was at the same
time calculated to assert the superiority which, in virtue of gentle
blood and chivalrous rank, the opinions of the age assigned to him
over the members of the assembly in which he presided. Two squires
stood behind him, one of them holding the knight's pennon, and
another his shield, bearing his armorial distinctions, being a
hand holding a dagger, or short sword, with the proud motto, "This
is my charter." A handsome page displayed the long sword of his
master, and another bore his lance; all which chivalrous emblems
and appurtenances were the more scrupulously exhibited, that the
dignitary to whom they belonged was engaged in discharging the office
of a burgh magistrate. In his own person the Knight of Kinfauns
appeared to affect something of state and stiffness which did not
naturally pertain to his frank and jovial character.

"So you are come at length, Henry Smith and Simon Glover," said the
provost. "Know that you have kept us waiting for your attendance.
Should it so chance again while we occupy this place, we will lay
such a fine on you as you will have small pleasure in paying. Enough
--make no excuses. They are not asked now, and another time they
will not be admitted. Know, sirs, that our reverend clerk hath
taken down in writing, and at full length, what I will tell you in
brief, that you may see what is to be required of you, Henry Smith,
in particular. Our late fellow citizen, Oliver Proudfute, hath
been found dead in the High Street, close by the entrance into the
wynd. It seemeth he was slain by a heavy blow with a short axe,
dealt from behind and at unawares; and the act by which he fell
can only be termed a deed of foul and forethought murder. So much
for the crime. The criminal can only be indicated by circumstances.
It is recorded in the protocol of the Reverend Sir Louis Lundin,
that divers well reported witnesses saw our deceased citizen,
Oliver Proudfute, till a late period accompanying the entry of the
morrice dancers, of whom he was one, as far as the house of Simon
Glover, in Curfew Street, where they again played their pageant.
It is also manifested that at this place he separated from the rest
of the band, after some discourse with Simon Glover, and made an
appointment to meet with the others of his company at the sign of
the Griffin, there to conclude the holiday. Now, Simon, I demand of
you whether this be truly stated, so far as you know? and further,
what was the purport of the defunct Oliver Proudfute's discourse
with you?"

"My Lord Provost and very worshipful Sir Patrick," answered Simon
Glover, "you and this honourable council shall know that, touching
certain reports which had been made of the conduct of Henry Smith,
some quarrel had arisen between myself and another of my family
and the said Smith here present. Now, this our poor fellow citizen,
Oliver Proudfute, having been active in spreading these reports,
as indeed his element lay in such gossipred, some words passed
betwixt him and me on the subject; and, as I think, he left me
with the purpose of visiting Henry Smith, for he broke off from
the morrice dancers, promising, as it seems, to meet them, as your
honour has said, at the sign of the Griffin, in order to conclude
the evening. But what he actually did, I know not, as I never again
saw him in life."

"It is enough," said Sir Patrick, "and agrees with all that we
have heard. Now, worthy sirs, we next find our poor fellow citizen
environed by a set of revellers and maskers who had assembled
in the High Street, by whom he was shamefully ill treated, being
compelled to kneel down in the street, and there to quaff huge
quantities of liquor against his inclination, until at length he
escaped from them by flight. This violence was accomplished with
drawn swords, loud shouts, and imprecations, so as to attract the
attention of several persons, who, alarmed by the tumult, looked
out from their windows, as well as of one or two passengers, who,
keeping aloof from the light of the torches, lest they also had been
maltreated, beheld the usage which our fellow citizen received in
the High Street of the burgh. And although these revellers were
disguised, and used vizards, yet their disguises were well known,
being a set of quaint masking habits prepared some weeks ago
by command of Sir John Ramorny, Master of the Horse to his Royal
Highness the Duke of Rothsay, Prince Royal of Scotland."

A low groan went through the assembly.

"Yes, so it is, brave burghers," continued Sir Patrick; "our inquiries
have led us into conclusions both melancholy and terrible. But as
no one can regret the point at which they seem likely to arrive
more than I do, so no man living can dread its consequences less.
It is even so, various artisans employed upon the articles have
described the dresses prepared for Sir John Ramorny's mask as being
exactly similar to those of the men by whom Oliver Proudfute was
observed to be maltreated. And one mechanic, being Wingfield the
feather dresser, who saw the revellers when they had our fellow
citizen within their hands, remarked that they wore the cinctures
and coronals of painted feathers which he himself had made by the
order of the Prince's master of horse.

"After the moment of his escape from these revellers, we lose all
trace of Oliver' but we can prove that the maskers went to Sir
John Ramorny's, where they were admitted, after some show of delay.
It is rumoured that thou, Henry Smith, sawest our unhappy fellow
citizen after he had been in the hands of these revellers. What is
the truth of the matter?"

"He came to my house in the wynd," said Henry, "about half an hour
before midnight; and I admitted him, something unwillingly, as he
had been keeping carnival while I remained at home; and 'There is
ill talk,' says the proverb, 'betwixt a full man and a fasting.'"

"And in which plight seemed he when thou didst admit him?" said
the provost.

"He seemed," answered the smith, "out of breath, and talked repeatedly
of having been endangered by revellers. I paid but small regard,
for he was ever a timorous, chicken spirited, though well meaning,
man, and I held that he was speaking more from fancy than reality.
But I shall always account it for foul offence in myself that I
did not give him my company, which he requested; and if I live, I
will found masses for his soul, in expiation of my guilt."

"Did he describe those from whom he received the injury?" said the
provost.

"Revellers in masking habits," replied Henry.

"And did he intimate his fear of having to do with them on his
return?" again demanded Sir Patrick.

"He alluded particularly to his being waylaid, which I treated as
visionary, having been able to see no one in the lane."

"Had he then no help from thee of any kind whatsoever?" said the
provost.

"Yes, worshipful," replied the smith; "he exchanged his morrice
dress for my head piece, buff coat, and target, which I hear were
found upon his body; and I have at home his morrice cap and bells,
with the jerkin and other things pertaining. He was to return my
garb of fence, and get back his own masking suit this day, had the
saints so permitted."

"You saw him not then afterwards?"

"Never, my lord."

"One word more," said the provost. "Have you any reason to think
that the blow which slew Oliver Proudfute was meant for another
man?"

"I have," answered the smith; "but it is doubtful, and may be dangerous
to add such a conjecture, which is besides only a supposition."

"Speak it out, on your burgher faith and oath. For whom, think you,
was the blow meant?"

"If I must speak," replied Henry, "I believe Oliver Proudfute
received the fate which was designed for myself; the rather that,
in his folly, Oliver spoke of trying to assume my manner of walking,
as well as my dress."

"Have you feud with any one, that you form such an idea?" said Sir
Patrick Charteris.

"To my shame and sin be it spoken, I have feud with Highland and
Lowland, English and Scot, Perth and Angus. I do not believe poor
Oliver had feud with a new hatched chicken. Alas! he was the more
fully prepared for a sudden call!"

"Hark ye, smith," said the provost, "answer me distinctly: Is there
cause of feud between the household of Sir John Ramorny and yourself?"

"To a certainty, my lord, there is. It is now generally said that
Black Quentin, who went over Tay to Fife some days since, was the
owner of the hand which was found in Couvrefew Street upon the eve
of St. Valentine. It was I who struck off that hand with a blow
of my broadsword. As this Black Quentin was a chamberlain of Sir
John, and much trusted, it is like there must be feud between me
and his master's dependants."

"It bears a likely front, smith," said Sir Patrick Charteris. "And
now, good brothers and wise magistrates, there are two suppositions,
each of which leads to the same conclusion. The maskers who seized
our fellow citizen, and misused him in a manner of which his body
retains some slight marks, may have met with their former prisoner
as he returned homewards, and finished their ill usage by taking
his life. He himself expressed to Henry Gow fears that this would
be the case. If this be really true, one or more of Sir John
Ramorny's attendants must have been the assassins. But I think it
more likely that one or two of the revellers may have remained on
the field, or returned to it, having changed perhaps their disguise,
and that to those men (for Oliver Proudfute, in his own personal
appearance, would only have been a subject of sport) his apparition
in the dress, and assuming, as he proposed to do, the manner, of
Henry Smith, was matter of deep hatred; and that, seeing him alone,
they had taken, as they thought, a certain and safe mode to rid
themselves of an enemy so dangerous as all men know Henry Wynd
is accounted by those that are his unfriends. The same train of
reasoning, again, rests the guilt with the household of Sir John
Ramorny. How think you, sirs? Are we not free to charge the crime
upon them?"

The magistrates whispered together for several minutes, and then
replied by the voice of Bailie Craigdallie: "Noble knight, and our
worthy provost, we agree entirely in what your wisdom has spoken
concerning this dark and bloody matter; nor do we doubt your sagacity
in tracing to the fellowship and the company of John Ramorny of
that ilk the villainy which hath been done to our deceased fellow
citizen, whether in his own character and capacity or as mistaking
him for our brave townsman, Henry of the Wynd. But Sir John, in his
own behalf, and as the Prince's master of the horse, maintains an
extensive household; and as, of course, the charge will be rebutted
by a denial, we would ask how we shall proceed in that case.
It is true, could we find law for firing the lodging, and putting
all within it to the sword; the old proverb of 'Short rede, good
rede,' might here apply; for a fouler household of defiers of God,
destroyers of men, and debauchers of women are nowhere sheltered
than are in Ramorny's band. But I doubt that this summary mode of
execution would scarce be borne out by the laws; and no tittle of
evidence which I have heard will tend to fix the crime on any single
individual or individuals."

Before the provost could reply, the town clerk arose, and, stroking
his venerable beard, craved permission to speak, which was instantly
granted.

"Brethren," he said, "as well in our fathers' time as ours; hath
God, on being rightly appealed to, condescended to make manifest
the crimes of the guilty and the innocence of those who may have
been rashly accused. Let us demand from our sovereign lord, King
Robert, who, when the wicked do not interfere to pervert his good
intentions, is as just and clement a prince as our annals can show
in their long line, in the name of the Fair City, and of all the
commons in Scotland, that he give us, after the fashion of our
ancestors, the means of appealing to Heaven for light upon this
dark murder, we will demand the proof by 'bier right,' often granted
in the days of our sovereign's ancestors, approved of by bulls and
decretals, and administered by the great Emperor Charlemagne in
France, by King Arthur in Britain, and by Gregory the Great, and
the mighty Achaius, in this our land of Scotland."

"I have heard of the bier right, Sir Louis," quoth the provost,
"and I know we have it in our charters of the Fair City; but I am
something ill learned in the ancient laws, and would pray you to
inform us more distinctly of its nature."

"We will demand of the King," said Sir Louis Lundin, "my advice being
taken, that the body of our murdered fellow citizen be transported
into the High Church of St. John, and suitable masses said for
the benefit of his soul and for the discovery of his foul murder.
Meantime, we shall obtain an order that Sir John Ramorny give up
a list of such of his household as were in Perth in the course of
the night between Fastern's Even and this Ash Wednesday, and become
bound to present them on a certain day and hour, to be early named,
in the High Church of St. John, there one by one to pass before the
bier of our murdered fellow citizen, and in the form prescribed to
call upon God and His saints to bear witness that he is innocent
of the acting, art or part, of the murder. And credit me, as has
been indeed proved by numerous instances, that, if the murderer
shall endeavour to shroud himself by making such an appeal, the
antipathy which subsists between the dead body and the hand which
dealt the fatal blow that divorced it from the soul will awaken
some imperfect life, under the influence of which the veins of the
dead man will pour forth at the fatal wounds the blood which has
been so long stagnant in the veins. Or, to speak more certainly,
it is the pleasure of Heaven, by some hidden agency which we cannot
comprehend, to leave open this mode of discovering the wickedness
of him who has defaced the image of his Creator."

"I have heard this law talked of," said Sir Patrick, "and it was
enforced in the Bruce's time. This surely is no unfit period to seek,
by such a mystic mode of inquiry, the truth to which no ordinary
means can give us access, seeing that a general accusation of Sir
John's household would full surely be met by a general denial. Yet
I must crave farther of Sir Louis, our reverend town clerk, how we
shall prevent the guilty person from escaping in the interim?"

"The burghers will maintain a strict watch upon the wall, drawbridges
shall be raised and portcullises lowered, from sunset to sunrise,
and strong patrols maintained through the night. This guard the
burghers will willingly maintain, to secure against the escape of
the murderer of their townsman."

The rest of the counsellors acquiesced, by word, sign, and look,
in this proposal.

"Again," said the provost, "what if any one of the suspected
household refuse to submit to the ordeal of bier right?"

"He may appeal to that of combat," said the reverend city scribe,
"with an opponent of equal rank; because the accused person must
have his choice, in the appeal to the judgment of God, by what
ordeal he will be tried. But if he refuses both, he must be held
as guilty, and so punished."

The sages of the council unanimously agreed with the opinion of
their provost and town clerk, and resolved, in all formality, to
petition the King, as a matter of right, that the murder of their
fellow citizen should be inquired into according to this ancient
form, which was held to manifest the truth, and received as matter
of evidence in case of murder so late as towards the end of the
17th century. But before the meeting dissolved, Bailie Craigdallie
thought it meet to inquire who was to be the champion of Maudie,
or Magdalen, Proudfute and her two children.

"There need be little inquiry about that," said Sir Patrick Charteris;
"we are men, and wear swords, which should be broken over the head
of any one amongst us who will not draw it in behalf of the widow
and orphans of our murdered fellow citizen, and in brave revenge
of his death. If Sir John Ramorny shall personally resent the
inquiry, Patrick Charteris of Kinfauns will do battle with him to
the outrance, whilst horse and man may stand, or spear and blade
hold together. But in case the challenger be of yeomanly degree,
well wot I that Magdalen Proudfute may choose her own champion
among the bravest burghers of Perth, and shame and dishonour were
it to the Fair City for ever could she light upon one who were
traitor and coward enough to say her nay! Bring her hither, that
she may make her election."

Henry Smith heard this with a melancholy anticipation that
the poor woman's choice would light upon him, and that his recent
reconciliation with his mistress would be again dissolved, by his
being engaged in a fresh quarrel, from which there lay no honourable
means of escape, and which, in any other circumstances, he would
have welcomed as a glorious opportunity of distinguishing himself,
both in sight of the court and of the city. He was aware that,
under the tuition of Father Clement, Catharine viewed the ordeal
of battle rather as an insult to religion than an appeal to the
Deity, and did not consider it as reasonable that superior strength
of arm or skill of weapon should be resorted to as the proof of
moral guilt or innocence. He had, therefore, much to fear from her
peculiar opinions in this particular, refined as they were beyond
those of the age she lived in.

While he thus suffered under these contending feelings, Magdalen,
the widow of the slaughtered man, entered the court, wrapt in a deep
mourning veil, and followed and supported by five or six women of
good (that is, of respectability) dressed in the same melancholy
attire. One of her attendants held an infant in her arms, the last
pledge of poor Oliver's nuptial affections. Another led a little
tottering creature of two years, or thereabouts, which looked with
wonder and fear, sometimes on the black dress in which they had
muffled him, and sometimes on the scene around him.

The assembly rose to receive the melancholy group, and saluted them
with an expression of the deepest sympathy, which Magdalen, though
the mate of poor Oliver, returned with an air of dignity, which she
borrowed, perhaps, from the extremity of her distress. Sir Patrick
Charteris then stepped forward, and with the courtesy of a knight
to a female, and of a protector to an oppressed and injured widow,
took the poor woman's hand, and explained to her briefly by what
course the city had resolved to follow out the vengeance due for
her husband's slaughter.

Having, with a softness and gentleness which did not belong to his
general manner, ascertained that the unfortunate woman perfectly
understood what was meant, he said aloud to the assembly: "Good
citizens of Perth, and freeborn men of guild and craft, attend to
what is about to pass, for it concerns your rights and privileges.
Here stands Magdalen Proudfute, desirous to follow forth the revenge
due for the death of her husband, foully murdered, as she sayeth,
by Sir John Ramorny, Knight, of that Ilk, and which she offers
to prove, by the evidence of bier right, or by the body of a man.
Therefore, I, Patrick Charteris, being a belted knight and freeborn
gentleman, offer myself to do battle in her just quarrel, whilst
man and horse may endure, if any one of my degree shall lift my
glove. How say you, Magdalen Proudfute, will you accept me for your
champion?"

The widow answered with difficulty: "I can desire none nobler."

Sir Patrick then took her right hand in his, and, kissing her
forehead, for such was the ceremony, said solemnly: "So may God
and St. John prosper me at my need, as I will do my devoir as your
champion, knightly, truly, and manfully. Go now, Magdalen, and
choose at your will among the burgesses of the Fair City, present
or absent, any one upon whom you desire to rest your challenge,
if he against whom you bring plaint shall prove to be beneath my
degree."

All eyes were turned to Henry Smith, whom the general voice
had already pointed out as in every respect the fittest to act as
champion on the occasion. But the widow waited not for the general
prompting of their looks. As soon as Sir Patrick had spoken, she
crossed the floor to the place where, near the bottom of the table,
the armourer stood among the men of his degree, and took him by
the hand.

"Henry Gow, or Smith," she said, "good burgher and draftsman, my
--my--"

"Husband," she would have said, but the word would not come forth:
she was obliged to change the expression.

"He who is gone, loved and prized you over all men; therefore meet
it is that thou shouldst follow out the quarrel of his widow and
orphans."

If there had been a possibility, which in that age there was not,
of Henry's rejecting or escaping from a trust for which all men
seemed to destine him, every wish and idea of retreat was cut off
when the widow began to address him; and a command from Heaven could
hardly have made a stronger impression than did the appeal of the
unfortunate Magdalen. Her allusion to his intimacy with the deceased
moved him to the soul. During Oliver's life, doubtless, there had
been a strain of absurdity in his excessive predilection for Henry,
which, considering how very different they were in character, had
in it something ludicrous. But all this was now forgotten, and Henry,
giving way to his natural ardour, only remembered that Oliver had
been his friend and intimate--a man who had loved and honoured
him as much as he was capable of entertaining such sentiments for
any one, and, above all, that there was much reason to suspect that
the deceased had fallen victim to a blow meant for Henry himself.

It was, therefore, with an alacrity which, the minute before, he
could scarce have commanded, and which seemed to express a stern
pleasure, that, having pressed his lips to the cold brow of the
unhappy Magdalen, the armourer replied:

"I, Henry the Smith, dwelling in the Wynd of Perth, good man and
true, and freely born, accept the office of champion to this widow
Magdalen and these orphans, and will do battle in their quarrel to
the death, with any man whomsoever of my own degree, and that so
long as I shall draw breath. So help me at my need God and good
St. John!"

There arose from the audience a half suppressed cry, expressing
the interest which the persons present took in the prosecution of
the quarrel, and their confidence in the issue.

Sir Patrick Charteris then took measures for repairing to the
King's presence, and demanding leave to proceed with inquiry into
the murder of Oliver Proudfute, according to the custom of bier
right, and, if necessary, by combat.

He performed this duty after the town council had dissolved,
in a private interview between himself and the King, who heard of
this new trouble with much vexation, and appointed next morning,
after mass, for Sir Patrick and the parties interested to attend
his pleasure in council. In the mean time, a royal pursuivant was
despatched to the Constable's lodgings, to call over the roll of Sir
John Ramorny's attendants, and charge him, with his whole retinue,
under high penalties, to abide within Perth until the King's pleasure
should be farther known.



CHAPTER XXI.

In God's name, see the lists and all things fit;
There let them end it--God defend the right!

Henry IV. Part II.


In the same council room of the conventual palace of the Dominicans,
King Robert was seated with his brother Albany, whose affected
austerity of virtue, and real art and dissimulation, maintained
so high an influence over the feeble minded monarch. It was indeed
natural that one who seldom saw things according to their real forms
and outlines should view them according to the light in which they
were presented to him by a bold, astucious man, possessing the
claim of such near relationship.

Ever anxious on account of his misguided and unfortunate son,
the King was now endeavouring to make Albany coincide in opinion
with him in exculpating Rothsay from any part in the death of the
bonnet maker, the precognition concerning which had been left by
Sir Patrick Charteris for his Majesty's consideration.

"This is an unhappy matter, brother Robin," he said--"a most
unhappy occurrence, and goes nigh to put strife and quarrel betwixt
the nobility and the commons here, as they have been at war together
in so many distant lands. I see but one cause of comfort in the
matter, and that is, that Sir John Ramorny having received his
dismissal from the Duke of Rothsay's family, it cannot be said that
he or any of his people who may have done this bloody deed--if
it has truly been done by them--have been encouraged or hounded
out upon such an errand by my poor boy. I am sure, brother, you
and I can bear witness how readily, upon my entreaties, he agreed
to dismiss Ramorny from his service, on account of that brawl in
Curfew Street."

"I remember his doing so," said Albany; "and well do I hope that
the connexion betwixt the Prince and Ramorny has not been renewed
since he seemed to comply with your Grace's wishes."

"Seemed to comply! The connexion renewed!" said the King. "What mean
you by these expressions, brother? Surely, when David promised to
me that, if that unhappy matter of Curfew Street were but smothered
up and concealed, he would part with Ramorny, as he was a counsellor
thought capable of involving him in similar fooleries, and would
acquiesce in our inflicting on him either exile or such punishment
as it should please us to impose--surely you cannot doubt that he
was sincere in his professions, and would keep his word? Remember
you not that, when you advised that a heavy fine should be levied
upon his estate in Fife in lieu of banishment, the Prince himself
seemed to say that exile would be better for Ramorny, and even for
himself?"

"I remember it well, my royal brother. Nor, truly, could I have
suspected Ramorny of having so much influence over the Prince, after
having been accessory to placing him in a situation so perilous,
had it not been for my royal kinsman's own confession, alluded to
by your Grace, that, if suffered to remain at court, he might still
continue to influence his conduct. I then regretted I had advised
a fine in place of exile. But that time is passed, and now new
mischief has occurred, fraught with much peril to your Majesty, as
well as to your royal heir, and to the whole kingdom."

"What mean you, Robin?" said the weak minded King. "By the tomb of
our parents! by the soul of Bruce, our immortal ancestor! I entreat
thee, my dearest brother, to take compassion on me. Tell me what
evil threatens my son, or my kingdom?"

The features of the King, trembling with anxiety, and his eyes
brimful of tears, were bent upon his brother, who seemed to assume
time for consideration ere he replied.

"My lord, the danger lies here. Your Grace believed that the Prince
had no accession to this second aggression upon the citizens of
Perth--the slaughter of this bonnet making fellow, about whose
death they clamour, as a set of gulls about their comrade, when
one of the noisy brood is struck down by a boor's shaft."

"Their lives," said the King, "are dear to themselves and their
friends, Robin."

"Truly, ay, my liege; and they make them dear to us too, ere we
can settle with the knaves for the least blood wit. But, as I said,
your Majesty thinks the Prince had no share in this last slaughter;
I will not attempt to shake your belief in that delicate point, but
will endeavour to believe along with you. What you think is rule
for me, Robert of Albany will never think otherwise than Robert of
broad Scotland."

"Thank you, thank you," said the King, taking his brother's hand.
"I knew I might rely that your affection would do justice to poor
heedless Rothsay, who exposes himself to so much misconstruction
that he scarcely deserves the sentiments you feel for him."

Albany had such an immovable constancy of purpose, that he was able
to return the fraternal pressure of the King's hand, while tearing
up by the very roots the hopes of the indulgent, fond old man.

"But, alas!" the Duke continued, with a sigh, "this burly, intractable
Knight of Kinfauns, and his brawling herd of burghers, will not
view the matter as we do. They have the boldness to say that this
dead fellow had been misused by Rothsay and his fellows, who were
in the street in mask and revel, stopping men and women, compelling
them to dance, or to drink huge quantities of wine, with other
follies needless to recount; and they say that the whole party
repaired in Sir John Ramorny's, and broke their way into the house
in order to conclude their revel there, thus affording good reason
to judge that the dismissal of Sir John from the Prince's service
was but a feigned stratagem to deceive the public. And hence they
urge that, if ill were done that night by Sir John Ramorny or his
followers, much it is to be thought that the Duke of Rothsay must
have at least been privy to, if he did not authorise, it."

"Albany, this is dreadful!" said the King. "Would they make
a murderer of my boy? would they pretend my David would soil his
hands in Scottish blood without having either provocation or purpose?
No--no, they will not invent calumnies so broad as these, for
they are flagrant and incredible."

"Pardon, my liege," answered the Duke of Albany; "they say the
cause of quarrel which occasioned the riot in Curfew Street, and,
its consequences, were more proper to the Prince than to Sir John,
since none suspects, far less believes, that that hopeful enterprise
was conducted for the gratification of the knight of Ramorny."

"Thou drivest me mad, Robin!" said the King.

"I am dumb," answered his brother; "I did but speak my poor mind
according to your royal order."

"Thou meanest well, I know," said the King; "but, instead of tearing
me to pieces with the display of inevitable calamities, were it
not kinder, Robin, to point me out some mode to escape from them?"

"True, my liege; but as the only road of extrication is rough and
difficult, it is necessary your Grace should be first possessed with
the absolute necessity of using it, ere you hear it even described.
The chirurgeon must first convince his patient of the incurable
condition of a shattered member, ere he venture to name amputation,
though it be the only remedy."

The King at these words was roused to a degree of alarm and indignation
greater than his brother had deemed he could be awakened to.

"Shattered and mortified member, my Lord of Albany! amputation
the only remedy! These are unintelligible words, my lord. If thou
appliest them to our son Rothsay, thou must make them good to the
letter, else mayst thou have bitter cause to rue the consequence."

"You construe me too literally, my royal liege," said Albany. "I
spoke not of the Prince in such unbeseeming terms, for I call Heaven
to witness that he is dearer to me as the son of a well beloved
brother than had he been son of my own. But I spoke in regard to
separating him from the follies and vanities of life, which holy
men say are like to mortified members, and ought, like them, to be
cut off and thrown from us, as things which interrupt our progress
in better things."

"I understand--thou wouldst have this Ramorny, who hath been
thought the instrument of my son's follies, exiled from court," said
the relieved monarch, "until these unhappy scandals are forgotten,
and our subjects are disposed to look upon our son with different
and more confiding eyes."

"That were good counsel, my liege; but mine went a little--a very
little--farther. I would have the Prince himself removed for some
brief period from court."

"How, Albany! part with my child, my firstborn, the light of my
eyes, and--wilful as he is--the darling of my heart! Oh, Robin!
I cannot, and I will not."

"Nay, I did but suggest, my lord; I am sensible of the wound such
a proceeding must inflict on a parent's heart, for am I not myself
a father?" And he hung his head, as if in hopeless despondency.

"I could not survive it, Albany. When I think that even our own
influence over him, which, sometimes forgotten in our absence, is
ever effectual whilst he is with us, is by your plan to be entirely
removed, what perils might he not rush upon? I could not sleep
in his absence--I should hear his death groan in every breeze;
and you, Albany, though you conceal it better, would be nearly as
anxious."

Thus spoke the facile monarch, willing to conciliate his brother
and cheat himself, by taking it for granted that an affection, of
which there were no traces, subsisted betwixt the uncle and nephew.

"Your paternal apprehensions are too easily alarmed, my lord," said
Albany. "I do not propose to leave the disposal of the Prince's
motions to his own wild pleasure. I understand that the Prince
is to be placed for a short time under some becoming restraint--
that he should be subjected to the charge of some grave counsellor,
who must be responsible both for his conduct and his safety, as a
tutor for his pupil."

"How! a tutor, and at Rothsay's age!" exclaimed the' King; "he
is two years beyond the space to which our laws limit the term of
nonage."

"The wiser Romans," said Albany, "extended it for four years after
the period we assign; and, in common sense, the right of control
ought to last till it be no longer necessary, and so the time ought
to vary with the disposition. Here is young Lindsay, the Earl of
Crawford, who they say gives patronage to Ramorny on this appeal.
He is a lad of fifteen, with the deep passions and fixed purpose
of a man of thirty; while my royal nephew, with much more amiable
and noble qualities both of head and heart, sometimes shows, at
twenty-three years of age, the wanton humours of a boy, towards
whom restraint may be kindness. And do not be discouraged that it
is so, my liege, or angry with your brother for telling the truth;
since the best fruits are those that are slowest in ripening, and
the best horses such as give most trouble to the grooms who train
them for the field or lists."

The Duke stopped, and, after suffering King Robert to indulge
for two or three minutes in a reverie which he did not attempt to
interrupt, he added, in a more lively tone: "But, cheer up, my noble
liege; perhaps the feud may be made up without farther fighting or
difficulty. The widow is poor, for her husband, though he was much
employed, had idle and costly habits. The matter may be therefore
redeemed for money, and the amount of an assythment may be recovered
out of Ramorny's estate."

"Nay, that we will ourselves discharge," said King Robert, eagerly
catching at the hope of a pacific termination of this unpleasing
debate. "Ramorny's prospects will be destroyed by his being sent
from court and deprived of his charge in Rothsay's household, and
it would be ungenerous to load a falling man. But here comes our
secretary, the prior, to tell us the hour of council approaches.
Good morrow, my worthy father."

"Benedicite, my royal liege," answered the abbot.

"Now, good father," continued the King, "without waiting for Rothsay,
whose accession to our counsels we will ourselves guarantee, proceed
we to the business of our kingdom. What advices have you from the
Douglas?"

"He has arrived at his castle of Tantallon, my liege, and has sent
a post to say, that, though the Earl of March remains in sullen
seclusion in his fortress of Dunbar, his friends and followers
are gathering and forming an encampment near Coldingham, Where it
is supposed they intend to await the arrival of a large force of
English, which Hotspur and Sir Ralph Percy are assembling on the
English frontier."

"That is cold news," said the King; "and may God forgive George of
Dunbar!"

The Prince entered as he spoke, and he continued: "Ha! thou art
here at length, Rothsay; I saw thee not at mass."

"I was an idler this morning," said the Prince, "having spent a
restless and feverish night."

"Ah, foolish boy!" answered the King; "hadst thou not been over
restless on Fastern's Eve, thou hadst not been feverish on the
night of Ash Wednesday."

"Let me not interrupt your praying, my liege," said the Prince,
lightly. "Your Grace Was invoking Heaven in behalf of some one--
an enemy doubtless, for these have the frequent advantage of your
orisons."

"Sit down and be at peace, foolish youth!" said his father, his eye
resting at the same time on the handsome face and graceful figure
of his favourite son. Rothsay drew a cushion near to his father's
feet, and threw himself carelessly down upon it, while the King
resumed.

"I was regretting that the Earl of March, having separated warm
from my hand with full assurance that he should receive compensation
for everything which he could complain of as injurious, should
have been capable of caballing with Northumberland against his own
country. Is it possible he could doubt our intentions to make good
our word?"

"I will answer for him--no," said the Prince. "March never doubted
your Highness's word. Marry, he may well have made question whether
your learned counsellors would leave your Majesty the power of
keeping it."

Robert the Third had adopted to a great extent the timid policy
of not seeming to hear expressions which, being heard, required,
even in his own eyes, some display of displeasure. He passed on,
therefore, in his discourse, without observing his son's speech,
but in private Rothsay's rashness augmented the displeasure which
his father began to entertain against him.

"It is well the Douglas is on the marches," said the King. "His
breast, like those of his ancestors, has ever been the best bulwark
of Scotland."

"Then woe betide us if he should turn his back to the enemy," said
the incorrigible Rothsay.

"Dare you impeach the courage of Douglas?" replied the King,
extremely chafed.

"No man dare question the Earl's courage," said Rothsay, "it is as
certain as his pride; but his luck may be something doubted."

"By St. Andrew, David," exclaimed his father, "thou art like a
screech owl, every word thou sayest betokens strife and calamity."

"I am silent, father," answered the youth.

"And what news of our Highland disturbances?" continued the King,
addressing the prior.

"I trust they have assumed a favourable aspect," answered the
clergyman. "The fire which threatened the whole country is likely
to be drenched out by the blood of some forty or fifty kerne; for
the two great confederacies have agreed, by solemn indenture of
arms, to decided their quarrel with such weapons as your Highness
may name, and in your royal presence, in such place as shall be
appointed, on the 30th of March next to come, being Palm Sunday;
the number of combatants being limited to thirty on each side; and
the fight to be maintained to extremity, since they affectionately make
humble suit and petition to your Majesty that you will parentally
condescend to waive for the day your royal privilege of interrupting
the combat, by flinging down of truncheon or crying of 'Ho!' until
the battle shall be utterly fought to an end."

"The wild savages!" exclaimed the King, "would they limit our best
and dearest royal privilege, that of putting a stop to strife,
and crying truce to battle? Will they remove the only motive which
could bring me to the butcherly spectacle of their combat? Would
they fight like men, or like their own mountain wolves?"

"My lord," said Albany, "the Earl of Crawford and I had presumed,
without consulting you, to ratify that preliminary, for the adoption
of which we saw much and pressing reason."

"How! the Earl of Crawford!" said the King. "Methinks he is a young
counsellor on such grave occurrents."

"He is," replied Albany, "notwithstanding his early years, of such
esteem among his Highland neighbours, that I could have done little
with them but for his aid and influence."

"Hear this, young Rothsay!" said the King reproachfully to his
heir.

"I pity Crawford, sire," replied the Prince. "He has too early lost
a father whose counsels would have better become such a season as
this."

The King turned next towards Albany with a look of triumph, at the
filial affection which his son displayed in his reply.

Albany proceeded without emotion. "It is not the life of these
Highlandmen, but their death, which is to be profitable to this
commonwealth of Scotland; and truly it seemed to the Earl of Crawford
and myself most desirable that the combat should be a strife of
extermination."

"Marry," said the Prince, "if such be the juvenile policy of Lindsay,
he will be a merciful ruler some ten or twelve years hence! Out
upon a boy that is hard of heart before he has hair upon his lip!
Better he had contented himself with fighting cocks on Fastern's
Even than laying schemes for massacring men on Palm Sunday, as if
he were backing a Welsh main, where all must fight to death."

"Rothsay is right, Albany," said the King: "it were unlike a Christian
monarch to give way in this point. I cannot consent to see men
battle until they are all hewn down like cattle in the shambles.
It would sicken me to look at it, and the warder would drop from
my hand for mere lack of strength to hold it."

"It would drop unheeded," said Albany. "Let me entreat your Grace
to recollect, that you only give up a royal privilege which,
exercised, would win you no respect, since it would receive no
obedience. Were your Majesty to throw down your warder when the
war is high, and these men's blood is hot, it would meet no more
regard than if a sparrow should drop among a herd of battling wolves
the straw which he was carrying to his nest. Nothing will separate
them but the exhaustion of slaughter; and better they sustain
it at the hands of each other than from the swords of such troops
as might attempt to separate them at your Majesty's commands. An
attempt to keep the peace by violence would be construed into an
ambush laid for them; both parties would unite to resist it, the
slaughter would be the same, and the hoped for results of future
peace would be utterly disappointed."

"There is even too much truth in what you say, brother Robin,"
replied the flexible King. "To little purpose is it to command
what I cannot enforce; and, although I have the unhappiness to do
so each day of my life, it were needless to give such a very public
example of royal impotency before the crowds who may assemble to
behold this spectacle. Let these savage men, therefore, work their
bloody will to the uttermost upon each other: I will not attempt
to forbid what I cannot prevent them from executing. Heaven help
this wretched country! I will to my oratory and pray for her, since
to aid her by hand and head is alike denied to me. Father prior,
I pray the support of your arm."

"Nay, but, brother," said Albany, "forgive me if I remind you that
we must hear the matter between the citizens of Perth and Ramorny,
about the death of a townsman--"

"True--true," said the monarch, reseating himself; "more violence
--more battle. Oh, Scotland! Scotland! if the best blood of thy
bravest children could enrich thy barren soil, what land on earth
would excel thee in fertility! When is it that a white hair is
seen on the beard of a Scottishman, unless he be some wretch like
thy sovereign, protected from murder by impotence, to witness the
scenes of slaughter to which he cannot put a period? Let them come
in, delay them not. They are in haste to kill, and, grudge each
other each fresh breath of their Creator's blessed air. The demon
of strife and slaughter hath possessed the whole land!"

As the mild prince threw himself back on his seat with an air of
impatience and anger not very usual with him, the door at the lower
end of the room was unclosed, and, advancing from the gallery into
which it led (where in perspective was seen a guard of the Bute
men, or Brandanes, under arms), came, in mournful procession, the
widow of poor Oliver, led by Sir Patrick Charteris, with as much
respect as if she had been a lady of the first rank. Behind them
came two women of good, the wives of magistrates of the city, both
in mourning garments, one bearing the infant and the other leading
the elder child. The smith followed in his best attire, and
wearing over his buff coat a scarf of crape. Bailie Craigdallie and
a brother magistrate closed the melancholy procession, exhibiting
similar marks of mourning.

The good King's transitory passion was gone the instant he looked
at the pallid countenance of the sorrowing widow, and beheld
the unconsciousness of the innocent orphans who had sustained so
great a loss, and when Sir Patrick Charteris had assisted Magdalen
Proudfute to kneel down and, still holding her hand, kneeled himself
on one knee, it was with a sympathetic tone that King Robert asked
her name and business. She made no answer, but muttered something,
looking towards her conductor.

"Speak for the poor woman, Sir Patrick Charteris," said the King,
"and tell us the cause of her seeking our presence."

"So please you, my liege," answered Sir Patrick, rising up, "this
woman, and these unhappy orphans, make plaint to your Highness
upon Sir John Ramorny of Ramorny, Knight, that by him, or by some
of his household, her umquhile husband, Oliver Proudfute, freeman
and burgess of Perth, was slain upon the streets of the city on
the eve of Shrove Tuesday or morning of Ash Wednesday."

"Woman," replied the King, with much kindness, "thou art gentle by
sex, and shouldst be pitiful even by thy affliction; for our own
calamity ought to make us--nay, I think it doth make us--merciful
to others. Thy husband hath only trodden the path appointed to us
all."

"In his case," said the widow, "my liege must remember it has been
a brief and a bloody one."

"I agree he hath had foul measure. But since I have been unable
to protect him, as I confess was my royal duty, I am willing, in
atonement, to support thee and these orphans, as well or better than
you lived in the days of your husband; only do thou pass from this
charge, and be not the occasion of spilling more life. Remember,
I put before you the choice betwixt practising mercy and pursuing
vengeance, and that betwixt plenty and penury."

"It is true, my liege, we are poor," answered the widow, with unshaken
firmness "but I and my children will feed with the beasts of the
field ere we live on the price of my husband's blood. I demand the
combat by my champion, as you are belted knight and crowned king."

"I knew it would be so!" said the King, aside to Albany. "In Scotland
the first words stammered by an infant and the last uttered by
a dying greybeard are 'combat--blood--revenge.' It skills not
arguing farther. Admit the defendants."

Sir John Ramorny entered the apartment. He was dressed in a long
furred robe, such as men of quality wore when they were unarmed.
Concealed by the folds of drapery, his wounded arm was supported by
a scarf or sling of crimson silk, and with the left arm he leaned
on a youth, who, scarcely beyond the years of boyhood, bore on his
brow the deep impression of early thought and premature passion.
This was that celebrated Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, who, in his
after days, was known by the epithet of the Tiger Earl, and who
ruled the great and rich valley of Strathmore with the absolute
power and unrelenting cruelty of a feudal tyrant. Two or three
gentlemen, friends of the Earl, or of his own, countenanced Sir
John Ramorny by their presence on this occasion. The charge was
again stated, and met by a broad denial on the part of the accused;
and in reply, the challengers offered to prove their assertion by
an appeal to the ordeal of bier right.

"I am not bound," answered Sir John Ramorny, "to submit to this
ordeal, since I can prove, by the evidence of my late royal master,
that I was in my own lodgings, lying on my bed, ill at ease, while
this provost and these bailies pretend I was committing a crime
to which I had neither will nor temptation. I can therefore be no
just object of suspicion."

"I can aver," said the Prince, "that I saw and conversed with Sir
John Ramorny about some matters concerning my own household on the
very night when this murder was a-doing. I therefore know that he
was ill at ease, and could not in person commit the deed in question.
But I know nothing of the employment of his attendants, and will
not take it upon me to say that some one of them may not have been
guilty of the crime now charged on them."

Sir John Ramorny had, during the beginning of this speech, looked
round with an air of defiance, which was somewhat disconcerted by
the concluding sentence of Rothsay's speech.

"I thank your Highness," he said, with a smile, "for your cautious
and limited testimony in my behalf. He was wise who wrote, 'Put
not your faith in princes.'"

"If you have no other evidence of your innocence, Sir John Ramorny,"
said the King, "we may not, in respect to your followers, refuse
to the injured widow and orphans, the complainers, the grant of
a proof by ordeal of bier right, unless any of them should prefer
that of combat. For yourself, you are, by the Prince's evidence,
freed from the attaint."

"My liege," answered Sir John, "I can take warrant upon myself for
the innocence of my household and followers."

"Why, so a monk or a woman might speak," said Sir Patrick Charteris.
"In knightly language, wilt thou, Sir John de Ramorny, do battle
with me in the behalf of thy followers?"

"The provost of Perth had not obtained time to name the word
combat," said Ramorny, "ere I would have accepted it. But I am not
at present fit to hold a lance."

"I am glad of it, under your favour, Sir John. There will be the
less bloodshed," said the King. "You must therefore produce your
followers according to your steward's household book, in the great
church of St. John, that, in presence of all whom it may concern,
they may purge themselves of this accusation. See that every man
of them do appear at the time of high mass, otherwise your honour
may be sorely tainted."

"They shall attend to a man," said Sir John Ramorny.

Then bowing low to the King, he directed himself to the young Duke
of Rothsay, and, making a deep obeisance, spoke so as to be heard
by him alone. "You have used me generously, my lord! One word of
your lips could have ended this controversy, and you have refused
to speak it."

"On my life," whispered the Prince, "I spake as far as the extreme
verge of truth and conscience would permit. I think thou couldst
not expect I should frame lies for thee; and after all, John, in my
broken recollections of that night, I do bethink me of a butcherly
looking mute, with a curtal axe, much like such a one as may have
done yonder night job. Ha! have I touched you, sir knight?"

Ramorny made no answer, but turned as precipitately as if some one
had pressed suddenly on his wounded arm, and regained his lodgings
with the Earl of Crawford; to whom, though disposed for anything
rather than revelry, he was obliged to offer a splendid collation,
to acknowledge in some degree his sense of the countenance which
the young noble had afforded him.



CHAPTER XXII.

In pottingry he wrocht great pyne;
He murdreit mony in medecyne.

DUNBAR.


When, after an entertainment the prolonging of which was like torture
to the wounded knight, the Earl of Crawford at length took horse,
to go to his distant quarters in the Castle of Dupplin, where he
resided as a guest, the Knight of Ramorny retired into his sleeping
apartment, agonized by pains of body and anxiety of mind. Here he
found Henbane Dwining, on whom it was his hard fate to depend for
consolation in both respects. The physician, with his affectation
of extreme humility, hoped he saw his exalted patient merry and
happy.

"Merry as a mad dog," said Ramorny, "and happy as the wretch whom
the cur hath bitten, and who begins to feel the approach of the
ravening madness! That ruthless boy, Crawford, saw my agony, and
spared not a single carouse. I must do him justice, forsooth! If I
had done justice to him and to the world, I had thrown him out of
window and cut short a career which, if he grew up as he has begun,
will prove a source of misery to all Scotland, but especially to
Tayside. Take heed as thou undoest the ligatures, chirurgeon, the
touch of a fly's wing on that raw glowing stump were like a dagger
to me."

"Fear not, my noble patron," said the leech, with a chuckling laugh
of enjoyment, which he vainly endeavoured to disguise under a tone
of affected sensibility. "We will apply some fresh balsam, and--
he, he, he!--relieve your knightly honour of the irritation which
you sustain so firmly."

"Firmly, man!" said Ramorny, grinning with pain; "I sustain it as
I would the scorching flames of purgatory. The bone seems made of
red hot iron; thy greasy ointment will hiss as it drops upon the
wound. And yet it is December's ice, compared to the fever fit of
my mind!"

"We will first use our emollients upon the body, my noble patron,"
said Dwining; "and then, with your knighthood's permission; your
servant will try his art on the troubled mind; though I fain hope
even the mental pain also may in some degree depend on the irritation
of the wound, and that, abated as I trust the corporeal pangs will
soon be, perhaps the stormy feelings of the mind may subside of
themselves."

"Henbane Dwining," said the patient, as he felt the pain of his
wound assuaged, "thou art a precious and invaluable leech, but some
things are beyond thy power. Thou canst stupify my bodily cause of
this raging agony, but thou canst not teach me to bear the score
of the boy whom I have brought up--whom I loved, Dwining--for
I did love him--dearly love him! The worst of my ill deeds have
been to flatter his vices; and he grudged me a word of his mouth,
when a word would have allayed this cumber! He smiled, too--I saw
him smile--when yon paltry provost, the companion and patron of
wretched burghers, defied me, whom this heartless prince knew to
be unable to bear arms. Ere I forget or forgive it, thou thyself
shalt preach up the pardoning of injuries! And then the care for
tomorrow! Think'st thou, Henbane Dwining, that, in very reality,
the Wounds of the slaughtered corpse will gape and shed tears of
fresh blood at the murderer's approach?"

"I cannot tell, my lord, save by report," said Dwining, "which
avouches the fact."

"The brute Bonthron," said Ramorny, "is startled at the apprehension
of such a thing, and speaking of being rather willing to stand the
combat. What think'st thou? He is a fellow of steel."

"It is the armourer's trade to deal with steel," replied Dwining.

"Were Bonthron to fall, it would little grieve me," said Ramorny;
"though I should miss an useful hand."

"I well believe your lordship will not sorrow as for that you lost
in Curfew Street. Excuse my pleasantry, he, he! But what are the
useful properties of this fellow Bonthron?"

"Those of a bulldog," answered the knight, "he worries without
barking."

"You have no fear of his confessing?" said the physician.

"Who can tell what the dread of approaching death may do?" replied
the patient. "He has already shown a timorousness entirely alien
from his ordinary sullenness of nature; he, that would scarce wash
his hands after he had slain a man, is now afraid to see a dead
body bleed."

"Well," said the leech, "I must do something for him if I can,
since it was to further my revenge that he struck yonder downright
blow, though by ill luck it lighted not where it was intended."

"And whose fault was that, timid villain," said Ramorny, "save
thine own, who marked a rascal deer for a buck of the first head?"

"Benedicite, noble sir," replied the mediciner; "would you have me,
who know little save of chamber practice, be as skilful of woodcraft
as your noble self, or tell hart from hind, doe from roe, in a glade
at midnight? I misdoubted me little when I saw the figure run past
us to the smith's habitation in the wynd, habited like a morrice
dancer; and yet my mind partly misgave me whether it was our man,
for methought he seemed less of stature. But when he came out again,
after so much time as to change his dress, and swaggered onward
with buff coat and steel cap, whistling after the armourer's wonted
fashion, I do own I was mistaken super totam materiem, and loosed
your knighthood's bulldog upon him, who did his devoir most duly,
though he pulled down the wrong deer. Therefore, unless the accursed
smith kill our poor friend stone dead on the spot, I am determined,
if art may do it, that the ban dog Bonthron shall not miscarry."

"It will put thine art to the test, man of medicine," said Ramorny;
"for know that, having the worst of the combat, if our champion
be not killed stone dead in the lists, he will be drawn forth of
them by the heels, and without further ceremony knitted up to the
gallows, as convicted of the murder; and when he hath swung there
like a loose tassel for an hour or so, I think thou wilt hardly
take it in hand to cure his broken neck."

"I am of a different opinion, may it please your knighthood,"
answered Dwining, gently. "I will carry him off from the very foot
of the gallows into the land of faery, like King Arthur, or Sir
Huon of Bordeaux, or Ugero the Dane; or I will, if I please, suffer
him to dangle on the gibbet for a certain number of minutes, or
hours, and then whisk him away from the sight of all, with as much
ease as the wind wafts away the withered leaf."

"This is idle boasting, sir leech," replied Ramorny. "The whole
mob of Perth will attend him to the gallows, each more eager than
another to see the retainer of a nobleman die, for the slaughter
of a cuckoldly citizen. There will be a thousand of them round the
gibbet's foot."

"And were there ten thousand," said Dwining, "shall I, who am
a high clerk, and have studied in Spain, and Araby itself, not be
able to deceive the eyes of this hoggish herd of citizens, when
the pettiest juggler that ever dealt in legerdemain can gull even
the sharp observation of your most intelligent knighthood? I tell
you, I will put the change on them as if I were in possession of
Keddie's ring."

"If thou speakest truth," answered the knight, "and I think thou
darest not palter with me on such a theme, thou must have the aid
of Satan, and I will have nought to do with him. I disown and defy
him."

Dwining indulged in his internal chuckling laugh when he heard his
patron testify his defiance of the foul fiend, and saw him second
it by crossing himself. He composed himself, however, upon observing
Ramorny's aspect become very stern, and said, with tolerable gravity,
though a little interrupted by the effort necessary to suppress
his mirthful mood:

"Confederacy, most devout sir--confederacy is the soul of jugglery.
But--he, he, he!--I have not the honour to be--he, he!--an
ally of the gentleman of whom you speak--in whose existence I am
--he, he!--no very profound believer, though your knightship,
doubtless, hath better opportunities of acquaintance."

"Proceed, rascal, and without that sneer, which thou mayst otherwise
dearly pay for."

"I will, most undaunted," replied Dwining. "Know that I have my
confederate too, else my skill were little worth."

"And who may that be, pray you?"

"Stephen Smotherwell, if it like your honour, lockman of this Fair
City. I marvel your knighthood knows him not."

"And I marvel thy knaveship knows him not on professional
acquaintance," replied Ramorny; "but I see thy nose is unslit, thy
ears yet uncropped, and if thy shoulders are scarred or branded,
thou art wise for using a high collared jerkin."

"He, he! your honour is pleasant," said the mediciner. "It is not
by personal circumstances that I have acquired the intimacy of
Stephen Smotherwell, but on account of a certain traffic betwixt
us, in which an't please you, I exchange certain sums of silver
for the bodies, heads, and limbs of those who die by aid of friend
Stephen."

"Wretch!" exclaimed the knight with horror, "is it to compose charms
and forward works of witchcraft that you trade for these miserable
relics of mortality?"

"He, he, he! No, an it please your knighthood," answered the
mediciner, much amused with the ignorance of his patron; "but we,
who are knights of the scalpel, are accustomed to practise careful
carving of the limbs of defunct persons, which we call dissection,
whereby we discover, by examination of a dead member, how to deal
with one belonging to a living man, which hath become diseased through
injury or otherwise. Ah! if your honour saw my poor laboratory,
I could show you heads and hands, feet and lungs, which have been
long supposed to be rotting in the mould. The skull of Wallace,
stolen from London Bridge; the head of Sir Simon Fraser [the famous
ancestor of the Lovats, slain at Halidon Hill (executed in London
in 1306)], that never feared man; the lovely skull of the fair Katie
Logie [(should be Margaret Logie), the beautiful mistress of David
II]. Oh, had I but had the fortune to have preserved the chivalrous
hand of mine honoured patron!"

Out upon thee, slave! Thinkest thou to disgust me with thy catalogue
of horrors? Tell me at once where thy discourse drives. How can
thy traffic with the hangdog executioner be of avail to serve me,
or to help my servant Bonthron?"

"Nay, I do not recommend it to your knighthood, save in an extremity,"
replied Dwining. "But we will suppose the battle fought and our cock
beaten. Now we must first possess him with the certainty that, if
unable to gain the day, we will at least save him from the hangman,
provided he confess nothing which can prejudice your knighthood's
honour."

"Ha! ay, a thought strikes me," said Ramorny. "We can do more
than this, we can place a word in Bonthron's mouth that will be
troublesome enough to him whom I am bound to curse for being the
cause of my misfortune. Let us to the ban dog's kennel, and explain
to him what is to be done in every view of the question. If we can
persuade him to stand the bier ordeal, it may be a mere bugbear,
and in that case we are safe. If he take the combat, he is fierce
as a baited bear, and may, perchance, master his opponent; then
we are more than safe, we are avenged. If Bonthron himself is
vanquished, we will put thy device in exercise; and if thou canst
manage it cleanly; we may dictate his confession, take the advantage
of it, as I will show thee on further conference, and make a giant
stride towards satisfaction for my wrongs. Still there remains
one hazard. Suppose our mastiff mortally wounded in the lists, who
shall prevent his growling out some species of confession different
from what we would recommend?"

"Marry, that can his mediciner," said Dwining. "Let me wait on
him, and have the opportunity to lay but a finger on his wound,
and trust me he shall betray no confidence."

"Why, there's a willing fiend, that needs neither pushing nor
prompting!" said Ramorny.

"As I trust I shall need neither in your knighthood's service."

"We will go indoctrinate our agent," continued the knight. "We shall
find him pliant; for, hound as he is, he knows those who feed from
those who browbeat him; and he holds a late royal master of mine
in deep hate for some injurious treatment and base terms which he
received at his hand. I must also farther concert with thee the
particulars of thy practice, for saving the ban dog from the hands
of the herd of citizens."

We leave this worthy pair of friends to their secret practices, of
which we shall afterwards see the results. They were, although of
different qualities, as well matched for device and execution of
criminal projects as the greyhound is to destroy the game which
the slowhound raises, or the slowhound to track the prey which
the gazehound discovers by the eye. Pride and selfishness were the
characteristics of both; but, from the difference of rank, education,
and talents, they had assumed the most different appearance in the
two individuals.

Nothing could less resemble the high blown ambition of the favourite
courtier, the successful gallant, and the bold warrior than the
submissive, unassuming mediciner, who seemed even to court and
delight in insult; whilst, in his secret soul, he felt himself
possessed of a superiority of knowledge, a power both of science
and of mind, which placed the rude nobles of the day infinitely
beneath him. So conscious was Henbane Dwining of this elevation,
that, like a keeper of wild beasts, he sometimes adventured, for
his own amusement, to rouse the stormy passions of such men as
Ramorny, trusting, with his humble manner, to elude the turmoil he
had excited, as an Indian boy will launch his light canoe, secure
from its very fragility, upon a broken surf, in which the boat
of an argosy would be assuredly dashed to pieces. That the feudal
baron should despise the humble practitioner in medicine was a
matter of course; but Ramorny felt not the less the influence which
Dwining exercised over him, and was in the encounter of their wits
often mastered by him, as the most eccentric efforts of a fiery
horse are overcome by a boy of twelve years old, if he has been
bred to the arts of the manege. But the contempt of Dwining for
Ramorny was far less qualified. He regarded the knight, in comparison
with himself, as scarcely rising above the brute creation; capable,
indeed, of working destruction, as the bull with his horns or the
wolf with his fangs, but mastered by mean prejudices, and a slave
to priest craft, in which phrase Dwining included religion of every
kind. On the whole, he considered Ramorny as one whom nature had
assigned to him as a serf, to mine for the gold which he worshipped,
and the avaricious love of which was his greatest failing, though
by no means his worst vice. He vindicated this sordid tendency in
his own eyes by persuading himself that it had its source in the
love of power.

"Henbane Dwining," he said, as he gazed in delight upon the hoards
which he had secretly amassed, and which he visited from time to
time, "is no silly miser that doats on those pieces for their golden
lustre: it is the power with which they endow the possessor which
makes him thus adore them. What is there that these put not within
your command? Do you love beauty, and are mean, deformed, infirm,
and old? Here is a lure the fairest hawk of them all will stoop to.
Are you feeble, weak, subject to the oppression of the powerful?
Here is that will arm in your defence those more mighty than the
petty tyrant whom you fear. Are you splendid in your wishes, and
desire the outward show of opulence? This dark chest contains many
a wide range of hill and dale, many a fair forest full of game, the
allegiance of a thousand vassals. Wish you for favour in courts,
temporal or spiritual? The smiles of kings, the pardon of popes and
priests for old crimes, and the indulgence which encourages priest
ridden fools to venture on new ones--all these holy incentives
to vice may be purchased for gold. Revenge itself, which the gods
are said to reserve to themselves, doubtless because they envy
humanity so sweet a morsel--revenge itself is to be bought by it.
But it is also to be won by superior skill, and that is the nobler
mode of reaching it. I will spare, then, my treasure for other uses,
and accomplish my revenge gratis; or rather I will add the luxury
of augmented wealth to the triumph of requited wrongs."

Thus thought Dwining, as, returned from his visit to Sir John Ramorny,
he added the gold he had received for his various services to the
mass of his treasure; and, having gloated over the whole for a minute
or two, turned the key on his concealed treasure house, and walked
forth on his visits to his patients, yielding the wall to every
man whom he met and bowing and doffing his bonnet to the poorest
burgher that owned a petty booth, nay, to the artificers who gained
their precarious bread by the labour of their welked hands.

"Caitiffs," was the thought of his heart while he did such obeisance
--"base, sodden witted mechanics! did you know what this key
could disclose, what foul weather from heaven would prevent your
unbonneting? what putrid kennel in your wretched hamlet would be
disgusting enough to make you scruple to fall down and worship the
owner of such wealth? But I will make you feel my power, though it
suits my honour to hide the source of it. I will be an incubus to
your city, since you have rejected me as a magistrate. Like the
night mare, I will hag ride ye, yet remain invisible myself. This
miserable Ramorny, too, he who, in losing his hand, has, like a
poor artisan, lost the only valuable part of his frame, he heaps
insulting language on me, as if anything which he can say had power
to chafe a constant mind like mine! Yet, while he calls me rogue,
villain, and slave, he acts as wisely as if he should amuse himself
by pulling hairs out of my head while my hand had hold of his heart
strings. Every insult I can pay back instantly by a pang of bodily
pain or mental agony, and--he, he!--I run no long accounts with
his knighthood, that must be allowed."

While the mediciner was thus indulging his diabolical musing,
and passing, in his creeping manner, along the street, the cry of
females was heard behind him.

"Ay, there he is, Our Lady be praised!--there is the most helpful
man in Perth," said one voice.

"They may speak of knights and kings for redressing wrongs, as
they call it; but give me worthy Master Dwining the potter carrier,
cummers," replied another.

At the same moment, the leech was surrounded and taken hold of by
the speakers, good women of the Fair City.

"How now, what's the matter?" said Dwining, "whose cow has calved?"

"There is no calving in the case," said one of the women, "but a
poor fatherless wean dying; so come awa' wi' you, for our trust is
constant in you, as Bruce said to Donald of the Isles."

"Opiferque per orbem dicor," said Henbane Dwining. "What is the
child dying of?"

"The croup--the croup," screamed one of the gossips; "the innocent
is rouping like a corbie."

"Cynanche trachealis--that disease makes brief work. Show me the
house instantly," continued the mediciner, who was in the habit of
exercising his profession liberally, not withstanding his natural
avarice, and humanely, in spite of his natural malignity. As we
can suspect him of no better principle, his motive most probably
may have been vanity and the love of his art.

He would nevertheless have declined giving his attendance in the
present case had he known whither the kind gossips were conducting
him, in time sufficient to frame an apology. But, ere he guessed
where he was going, the leech was hurried into the house of the
late Oliver Proudfute, from which he heard the chant of the women
as they swathed and dressed the corpse of the umquhile bonnet maker
for the ceremony of next morning, of which chant the following
verses may be received as a modern imitation:

Viewless essence, thin and bare,
Well nigh melted into air,
Still with fondness hovering near
The earthly form thou once didst wear,

Pause upon thy pinion's flight;
Be thy course to left or right,
Be thou doom'd to soar or sink,
Pause upon the awful brink.

To avenge the deed expelling
Thee untimely from thy dwelling,
Mystic force thou shalt retain
O'er the blood and o'er the brain.

When the form thou shalt espy
That darken'd on thy closing eye,
When the footstep thou shalt hear
That thrill'd upon thy dying ear,

Then strange sympathies shall wake,
The flesh shall thrill, the nerves shall quake,
The wounds renew their clotter'd flood,
And every drop cry blood for blood!

Hardened as he was, the physician felt reluctance to pass the threshold
of the man to whose death he had been so directly, though, so far
as the individual was concerned, mistakingly, accessory.

"Let me pass on, women," he said, "my art can only help the living
--the dead are past our power."

"Nay, but your patient is upstairs--the youngest orphan"--
Dwining was compelled to go into the house. But he was surprised
when, the instant he stepped over the threshold, the gossips, who
were busied with the dead body, stinted suddenly in their song,
while one said to the others:

"In God's name, who entered? That was a large gout of blood."

"Not so," said another voice, "it is a drop of the liquid balm."

"Nay, cummer, it was blood. Again I say, who entered the house even
now?"

One looked out from the apartment into the little entrance, where
Dwining, under pretence of not distinctly seeing the trap ladder
by which he was to ascend into the upper part of this house of
lamentation, was delaying his progress purposely, disconcerted with
what had reached him of the conversation.

"Nay, it is only worthy Master Henbane Dwining," answered one of
the sibyls.

"Only Master Dwining," replied the one who had first spoken, in a
tone of acquiescence--"our best helper in need! Then it must have
been balm sure enough."

"Nay," said the other, "it may have been blood nevertheless; for
the leech, look you, when the body was found, was commanded by the
magistrates to probe the wound with his instruments, and how could
the poor dead corpse know that that was done with good purpose?"

"Ay, truly, cummer; and as poor Oliver often mistook friends for
enemies while he was in life, his judgment cannot be thought to
have mended now."

Dwining heard no more, being now forced upstairs into a species
of garret, where Magdalen sat on her widowed bed, clasping to her
bosom her infant, which, already black in the face and uttering
the gasping, crowing sound which gives the popular name to the
complaint, seemed on the point of rendering up its brief existence.
A Dominican monk sat near the bed, holding the other child in his
arms, and seeming from time to time to speak a word or two of spiritual
consolation, or intermingle some observation on the child's disorder.

The mediciner cast upon the good father a single glance, filled
With that ineffable disdain which men of science entertain against
interlopers. His own aid was instant and efficacious: he snatched the
child from the despairing mother, stripped its throat, and opened
a vein, which, as it bled freely, relieved the little patient
instantaneously. In a brief space every dangerous symptom disappeared,
and Dwining, having bound up the vein, replaced the infant in the
arms of the half distracted mother.

The poor woman's distress for her husband's loss, which had been
suspended during the extremity of the child's danger, now returned
on Magdalen with the force of an augmented torrent, which has borne
down the dam dike that for a while interrupted its waves.

"Oh, learned sir," she said, "you see a poor woman of her that you
once knew a richer. But the hands that restored this bairn to my
arms must not leave this house empty. Generous, kind Master Dwining,
accept of his beads; they are made of ebony and silver. He aye liked
to have his things as handsome as any gentleman, and liker he was
in all his ways to a gentleman than any one of his standing, and
even so came of it."

With these words, in a mute passion of grief she pressed to her
breast and to her lips the chaplet of her deceased husband, and
proceeded to thrust it into Dwining's hands.

"Take it," she said, "for the love of one who loved you well. Ah,
he used ever to say, if ever man could be brought back from the
brink of the grave, it must be by Master Dwining's guidance. And
his ain bairn is brought back this blessed day, and he is lying
there stark and stiff, and kens naething of its health and sickness!
Oh, woe is me, and walawa! But take the beads, and think on his
puir soul, as you put them through your fingers, he will be freed
from purgatory the sooner that good people pray to assoilzie him."

"Take back your beads, cummer; I know no legerdemain, can do no
conjuring tricks," said the mediciner, who, more moved than perhaps
his rugged nature had anticipated, endeavoured to avoid receiving
the ill omened gift. But his last words gave offence to the churchman,
whose presence he had not recollected when he uttered them.

"How now, sir leech!" said the Dominican, "do you call prayers for
the dead juggling tricks? I know that Chaucer, the English maker,
says of you mediciners, that your study is but little on the Bible.
Our mother, the church, hath nodded of late, but her eyes are now
opened to discern friends from foes; and be well assured--"

"Nay, reverend father," said Dwining, "you take me at too great
advantage. I said I could do no miracles, and was about to add
that, as the church certainly could work such conclusions, those
rich beads should be deposited in your hands, to be applied as they
may best benefit the soul of the deceased."

He dropped the beads into the Dominican's hand, and escaped from
the house of mourning.

"This was a strangely timed visit," he said to himself, when he
got safe out of doors. "I hold such things cheap as any can; yet,
though it is but a silly fancy, I am glad I saved the squalling
child's life. But I must to my friend Smotherwell, whom I have no
doubt to bring to my purpose in the matter of Bonthron; and thus
on this occasion I shall save two lives, and have destroyed only
one."



CHAPTER XXIII.

Lo! where he lies embalmed in gore,
His wound to Heaven cries:
The floodgates of his blood implore
For vengeance from the skies.

Uranus and Psyche.


The High Church of St. John in Perth, being that of the patron
saint of the burgh, had been selected by the magistrates as that
in which the community was likely to have most fair play for the
display of the ordeal. The churches and convents of the Dominicans,
Carthusians, and others of the regular clergy had been highly endowed
by the King and nobles, and therefore it was the universal cry of
the city council that "their ain good auld St. John," of whose good
graces they thought themselves sure, ought to be fully confided
in, and preferred to the new patrons, for whom the Dominicans,
Carthusians, Carmelites, and others had founded newer seats around
the Fair City. The disputes between the regular and secular clergy
added to the jealousy which dictated this choice of the spot in
which Heaven was to display a species of miracle, upon a direct
appeal to the divine decision in a case of doubtful guilt; and the
town clerk was as anxious that the church of St. John should be
preferred as if there had been a faction in the body of saints for
and against the interests of the beautiful town of Perth.

Many, therefore, were the petty intrigues entered into and disconcerted
for the purpose of fixing on the church. But the magistrates,
considering it as a matter touching in a close degree the honour
of the city, determined, with judicious confidence in the justice
and impartiality of their patron, to confide the issue to the
influence of St. John.

It was, therefore, after high mass had been performed with the
greatest solemnity of which circumstances rendered the ceremony
capable, and after the most repeated and fervent prayers had been
offered to Heaven by the crowded assembly, that preparations were
made for appealing to the direct judgment of Heaven on the mysterious
murder of the unfortunate bonnet maker.

The scene presented that effect of imposing solemnity which the
rites of the Catholic Church are so well qualified to produce.
The eastern window, richly and variously painted, streamed down a
torrent of chequered light upon the high altar. On the bier placed
before it were stretched the mortal remains of the murdered man,
his arms folded on his breast, and his palms joined together, with
the fingers pointed upwards, as if the senseless clay was itself
appealing to Heaven for vengeance against those who had violently
divorced the immortal spirit from its mangled tenement.

Close to the bier was placed the throne which supported Robert
of Scotland and his brother Albany. The Prince sat upon a lower
stool, beside his father--an arrangement which occasioned some
observation, as, Albany's seat being little distinguished from that
of the King, the heir apparent, though of full age, seemed to be
degraded beneath his uncle in the sight of the assembled people of
Perth. The bier was so placed as to leave the view of the body it
sustained open to the greater part of the multitude assembled in
the church.

At the head of the bier stood the Knight of Kinfauns, the challenger,
and at the foot the young Earl of Crawford, as representing the
defendant. The evidence of the Duke of Rothsay in expurgation,
as it was termed, of Sir John Ramorny, had exempted him from the
necessity of attendance as a party subjected to the ordeal; and his
illness served as a reason for his remaining at home. His household,
including those who, though immediately in waiting upon Sir John,
were accounted the Prince's domestics, and had not yet received
their dismissal, amounted to eight or ten persons, most of them
esteemed men of profligate habits, and who might therefore be
deemed capable, in the riot of a festival evening, of committing
the slaughter of the bonnet maker. They were drawn up in a row on
the left side of the church, and wore a species of white cassock,
resembling the dress of a penitentiary. All eyes being bent on
them, several of this band seemed so much disconcerted as to excite
among the spectators strong prepossessions of their guilt. The real
murderer had a countenance incapable of betraying him--a sullen,
dark look, which neither the feast nor wine cup could enliven, and
which the peril of discovery and death could not render dejected.

We have already noticed the posture of the dead body. The face
was bare, as were the breast and arms. The rest of the corpse was
shrouded in a winding sheet of the finest linen, so that, if blood
should flow from any place which was covered, it could not fail to
be instantly manifest.

High mass having been performed, followed by a solemn invocation
to the Deity, that He would be pleased to protect the innocent, and
make known the guilty, Eviot, Sir John Ramorny's page, was summoned
to undergo the ordeal. He advanced with an ill assured step. Perhaps
he thought his internal consciousness that Bonthron must have been
the assassin might be sufficient to implicate him in the murder,
though he was not directly accessory to it. He paused before the
bier; and his voice faltered, as he swore by all that was created
in seven days and seven nights, by heaven, by hell, by his part of
paradise, and by the God and author of all, that he was free and
sackless of the bloody deed done upon the corpse before which he
stood, and on whose breast he made the sign of the cross, in evidence
of the appeal. No consequences ensued. The body remained stiff as
before, the curdled wounds gave no sign of blood.

The citizens looked on each other with faces of blank disappointment.
They had persuaded themselves of Eviot's guilt, and their suspicions
had been confirmed by his irresolute manner. Their surprise at his
escape was therefore extreme. The other followers of Ramorny took
heart, and advanced to take the oath with a boldness which increased
as one by one they performed the ordeal, and were declared, by the
voice of the judges, free and innocent of every suspicion attaching
to them on account of the death of Oliver Proudfute.

But there was one individual who did not partake that increasing
confidence. The name of "Bonthron--Bonthron!" sounded three times
through the aisles of the church; but he who owned it acknowledged
the call no otherwise than by a sort of shuffling motion with his
feet, as if he had been suddenly affected with a fit of the palsy.

"Speak, dog," whispered Eviot, "or prepare for a dog's death!"

But the murderer's brain was so much disturbed by the sight before
him, that the judges, beholding his deportment, doubted whether to
ordain him to be dragged before the bier or to pronounce judgment
in default; and it was not until he was asked for the last time
whether he would submit to the ordeal, that he answered, with his
usual brevity:

"I will not; what do I know what juggling tricks may be practised
to take a poor man's life? I offer the combat to any man who says
I harmed that dead body."

And, according to usual form, he threw his glove upon the floor of
the church.

Henry Smith stepped forward, amidst the murmured applauses of his
fellow citizens, which even the august presence could not entirely
suppress; and, lifting the ruffian's glove, which he placed in his
bonnet, laid down his own in the usual form, as a gage of battle.
But Bonthron raised it not.

"He is no match for me," growled the savage, "nor fit to lift my
glove. I follow the Prince of Scotland, in attending on his master
of horse. This fellow is a wretched mechanic."

Here the Prince interrupted him. "Thou follow me, caitiff! I discharge
thee from my service on the spot. Take him in hand, Smith, and beat
him as thou didst never thump anvil! The villain is both guilty
and recreant. It sickens me even to look at him; and if my royal
father will be ruled by me, he will give the parties two handsome
Scottish axes, and we will see which of them turns out the best
fellow before the day is half an hour older."

This was readily assented to by the Earl of Crawford and Sir Patrick
Charteris, the godfathers of the parties, who, as the combatants
were men of inferior rank, agreed that they should fight in steel
caps, buff jackets, and with axes, and that as soon as they could
be prepared for the combat.

The lists were appointed in the Skinners' Yards--a neighbouring
space of ground, occupied by the corporation from which it had
the name, and who quickly cleared a space of about thirty feet
by twenty-five for the combatants. Thither thronged the nobles,
priests, and commons--all excepting the old King, who, detesting
such scenes of blood, retired to his residence, and devolved the
charge of the field upon the Earl of Errol, Lord High Constable,
to whose office it more particularly belonged. The Duke of Albany
watched the whole proceeding with a close and wary eye. His nephew
gave the scene the heedless degree of notice which corresponded
with his character.

When the combatants appeared in the lists, nothing could be more
striking than the contrast betwixt the manly, cheerful countenance
of the smith, whose sparkling bright eye seemed already beaming
with the victory he hoped for, and the sullen, downcast aspect of
the brutal Bonthron, who looked as if he were some obscene bird,
driven into sunshine out of the shelter of its darksome haunts.
They made oath severally, each to the truth of his quarrel--a
ceremony which Henry Gow performed with serene and manly confidence,
Bonthron with a dogged resolution, which induced the Duke of Rothsay
to say to the High Constable: "Didst thou ever, my dear Errol,
behold such a mixture of malignity, cruelty, and I think fear, as
in that fellow's countenance?"

"He is not comely," said the Earl, "but a powerful knave as I have
seen."

"I'll gage a hogshead of wine with you, my good lord, that he
loses the day. Henry the armourer is as strong as he, and much more
active; and then look at his bold bearing! There is something in
that other fellow that is loathsome to look upon. Let them yoke
presently, my dear Constable, for I am sick of beholding him."

The High Constable then addressed the widow, who, in her deep weeds,
and having her children still beside her, occupied a chair within
the lists: "Woman, do you willingly accept of this man, Henry the
Smith, to do battle as your champion in this cause?"

"I do--I do, most willingly," answered Magdalen Proudfute; "and
may the blessing of God and St. John give him strength and fortune,
since he strikes for the orphan and fatherless!"

"Then I pronounce this a fenced field of battle," said the Constable
aloud. "Let no one dare, upon peril of his life, to interrupt
this combat by word, speech, or look. Sound trumpets, and fight,
combatants!"

The trumpets flourished, and the combatants, advancing from the
opposite ends of the lists, with a steady and even pace, looked at
each other attentively, well skilled in judging from the motion of
the eye the direction in which a blow was meditated. They halted
opposite to, and within reach of, each other, and in turn made
more than one feint to strike, in order to ascertain the activity
and vigilance of the opponent. At length, whether weary of these
manoeuvres, or fearing lest in a contest so conducted his unwieldy
strength would be foiled by the activity of the smith, Bonthron
heaved up his axe for a downright blow, adding the whole strength
of his sturdy arms to the weight of the weapon in its descent. The
smith, however, avoided the stroke by stepping aside; for it was
too forcible to be controlled by any guard which he could have
interposed. Ere Bonthron recovered guard, Henry struck him a sidelong
blow on the steel headpiece, which prostrated him on the ground.

"Confess, or die," said the victor, placing his foot on the body
of the vanquished, and holding to his throat the point of the axe,
which terminated in a spike or poniard.

"I will confess," said the villain, glaring wildly upwards on the
sky. "Let me rise."

"Not till you have yielded," said Harry Smith.

"I do yield," again murmured Bonthron, and Henry proclaimed aloud
that his antagonist was defeated.

The Dukes of Rothsay and Albany, the High Constable, and the
Dominican prior now entered the lists, and, addressing Bonthron,
demanded if he acknowledged himself vanquished.

"I do," answered the miscreant.

"And guilty of the murder of Oliver Proudfute?"

"I am; but I mistook him for another."

"And whom didst thou intend to slay?" said the prior. "Confess, my
son, and merit thy pardon in another world for with this thou hast
little more to do."

"I took the slain man," answered the discomfited combatant, "for
him whose hand has struck me down, whose foot now presses me."

"Blessed be the saints!" said the prior; "now all those who
doubt the virtue of the holy ordeal may have their eyes opened to
their error. Lo, he is trapped in the snare which he laid for the
guiltless."

"I scarce ever saw the man," said the smith. "I never did wrong
to him or his. Ask him, an it please your reverence, why he should
have thought of slaying me treacherously."

"It is a fitting question," answered the prior. "Give glory where
it is due, my son, even though it is manifested by thy shame. For
what reason wouldst thou have waylaid this armourer, who says he
never wronged thee?"

"He had wronged him whom I served," answered Bonthron, "and I
meditated the deed by his command."

"By whose command?" asked the prior.

Bonthron was silent for an instant, then growled out: "He is too
mighty for me to name."

"Hearken, my son," said the churchman; "tarry but a brief hour, and
the mighty and the mean of this earth shall to thee alike be empty
sounds. The sledge is even now preparing to drag thee to the place
of execution. Therefore, son, once more I charge thee to consult
thy soul's weal by glorifying Heaven, and speaking the truth. Was
it thy master, Sir John Ramorny, that stirred thee to so foul a
deed?"

"No," answered the prostrate villain, "it was a greater than he."
And at the same time he pointed with his finger to the Prince.

"Wretch!" said the astonished Duke of Rothsay; "do you dare to hint
that I was your instigator?"

"You yourself, my lord," answered the unblushing ruffian.

"Die in thy falsehood, accursed slave!" said the Prince; and,
drawing his sword, he would have pierced his calumniator, had not
the Lord High Constable interposed with word and action.

"Your Grace must forgive my discharging mine office: this caitiff
must be delivered into the hands of the executioner. He is unfit
to be dealt with by any other, much less by your Highness."

"What! noble earl," said Albany aloud, and with much real or affected
emotion, "would you let the dog pass alive from hence, to poison
the people's ears with false accusations against the Prince of
Scotland? I say, cut him to mammocks upon the spot!"

"Your Highness will pardon me," said the Earl of Errol; "I must
protect him till his doom is executed."

"Then let him be gagged instantly," said Albany. "And you, my
royal nephew, why stand you there fixed in astonishment? Call your
resolution up--speak to the prisoner--swear--protest by all
that is sacred that you knew not of this felon deed. See how the
people look on each other and whisper apart! My life on't that
this lie spreads faster than any Gospel truth. Speak to them, royal
kinsman, no matter what you say, so you be constant in denial."

"What, sir," said Rothsay, starting from his pause of surprise and
mortification, and turning haughtily towards his uncle; "would you
have me gage my royal word against that of an abject recreant? Let
those who can believe the son of their sovereign, the descendant
of Bruce, capable of laying ambush for the life of a poor mechanic,
enjoy the pleasure of thinking the villain's tale true."

"That will not I for one," said the smith, bluntly. "I never
did aught but what was in honour towards his royal Grace the Duke
of Rothsay, and never received unkindness from him in word, look,
or deed; and I cannot think he would have given aim to such base
practice."

"Was it in honour that you threw his Highness from the ladder in
Curfew Street upon Fastern's [St. Valentine's] Even?" said Bonthron;
"or think you the favour was received kindly or unkindly?"

This was so boldly said, and seemed so plausible, that it shook
the smith's opinion of the Prince's innocence.

"Alas, my lord," said he, looking sorrowfully towards Rothsay,
"could your Highness seek an innocent fellow's life for doing his
duty by a helpless maiden? I would rather have died in these lists
than live to hear it said of the Bruce's heir!"

"Thou art a good fellow, Smith," said the Prince; "but I cannot expect
thee to judge more wisely than others. Away with that convict to
the gallows, and gibbet him alive an you will, that he may speak
falsehood and spread scandal on us to the last prolonged moment of
his existence!"

So saying, the Prince turned away from the lists, disdaining to
notice the gloomy looks cast towards him, as the crowd made slow
and reluctant way for him to pass, and expressing neither surprise
nor displeasure at a deep, hollow murmur, or groan, which accompanied
his retreat. Only a few of his own immediate followers attended
him from the field, though various persons of distinction had come
there in his train. Even the lower class of citizens ceased to
follow the unhappy Prince, whose former indifferent reputation had
exposed him to so many charges of impropriety and levity, and around
whom there seemed now darkening suspicions of the most atrocious
nature.

He took his slow and thoughtful way to the church of the Dominicans;
but the ill news, which flies proverbially fast, had reached his
father's place of retirement before he himself appeared. On entering
the palace and inquiring for the King, the Duke of Rothsay was
surprised to be informed that he was in deep consultation with the
Duke of Albany, who, mounting on horseback as the Prince left the
lists, had reached the convent before him. He was about to use
the privilege of his rank and birth to enter the royal apartment,
when MacLouis, the commander of the guard of Brandanes, gave him
to understand, in the most respectful terms, that he had special
instructions which forbade his admittance.

"Go at least, MacLouis, and let them know that I wait their
pleasure," said the Prince. "If my uncle desires to have the credit
of shutting the father's apartment against the son, it will gratify
him to know that I am attending in the outer hall like a lackey."

"May it please you," said MacLouis, with hesitation, "if your
Highness would consent to retire just now, and to wait awhile in
patience, I will send to acquaint you when the Duke of Albany goes;
and I doubt not that his Majesty will then admit your Grace to his
presence. At present, your Highness must forgive me, it is impossible
you can have access."

"I understand you, MacLouis; but go, nevertheless, and obey my
commands."

The officer went accordingly, and returned with a message that the
King was indisposed, and on the point of retiring to his private
chamber; but that the Duke of Albany would presently wait upon the
Prince of Scotland.

It was, however, a full half hour ere the Duke of Albany appeared
--a period of time which Rothsay spent partly in moody silence,
and partly in idle talk with MacLouis and the Brandanes, as the
levity or irritability of his temper obtained the ascendant.

At length the Duke came, and with him the lord High Constable,
whose countenance expressed much sorrow and embarrassment.

"Fair kinsman," said the Duke of Albany, "I grieve to say that it
is my royal brother's opinion that it will be best, for the honour
of the royal family, that your Royal Highness do restrict yourself
for a time to the seclusion of the High Constable's lodgings, and
accept of the noble Earl here present for your principal, if not
sole, companion until the scandals which have been this day spread
abroad shall be refuted or forgotten."

"How is this, my lord of Errol?" said the Prince in astonishment.
"Is your house to be my jail, and is your lordship to be my jailer?"

"The saints forbid, my lord," said the Earl of Errol "but it is my
unhappy duty to obey the commands of your father, by considering
your Royal Highness for some time as being under my ward."

"The Prince--the heir of Scotland, under the ward of the High
Constable! What reason can be given for this? is the blighting
speech of a convicted recreant of strength sufficient to tarnish
my royal escutcheon?"

"While such accusations are not refuted and denied, my kinsman,"
said the Duke of Albany, "they will contaminate that of a monarch."

"Denied, my lord!" exclaimed the Prince; "by whom are they asserted,
save by a wretch too infamous, even by his own confession, to be
credited for a moment, though a beggar's character, not a prince's,
were impeached? Fetch him hither, let the rack be shown to him;
you will soon hear him retract the calumny which he dared to assert!"

"The gibbet has done its work too surely to leave Bonthron sensible
to the rack," said the Duke of Albany. "He has been executed an
hour since."

"And why such haste, my lord?" said the Prince; "know you it looks
as if there were practice in it to bring a stain on my name?"

"The custom is universal, the defeated combatant in the ordeal
of battle is instantly transferred from the lists to the gallows.
And yet, fair kinsman," continued the Duke of Albany, "if you had
boldly and strongly denied the imputation, I would have judged
right to keep the wretch alive for further investigation; but as
your Highness was silent, I deemed it best to stifle the scandal
in the breath of him that uttered it."

"St. Mary, my lord, but this is too insulting! Do you, my uncle
and kinsman, suppose me guilty of prompting such an useless and.
unworthy action as that which the slave confessed?"

"It is not for me to bandy question with your Highness, otherwise
I would ask whether you also mean to deny the scarce less unworthy,
though less bloody, attack upon the house in Couvrefew Street? Be
not angry with me, kinsman; but, indeed, your sequestering yourself
for some brief space from the court, were it only during the King's
residence in this city, where so much offence has been given, is
imperiously demanded."

Rothsay paused when he heard this exhortation, and, looking at the
Duke in a very marked manner, replied:

"Uncle, you are a good huntsman. You have pitched your toils with
much skill, but you would have been foiled, not withstanding, had
not the stag rushed among the nets of free will. God speed you, and
may you have the profit by this matter which your measures deserve.
Say to my father, I obey his arrest. My Lord High Constable, I wait
only your pleasure to attend you to your lodgings. Since I am to
lie in ward, I could not have desired a kinder or more courteous
warden."

The interview between the uncle and nephew being thus concluded,
the Prince retired with the Earl of Errol to his apartments; the
citizens whom they met in the streets passing to the further side
when they observed the Duke of Rothsay, to escape the necessity of
saluting one whom they had been taught to consider as a ferocious
as well as unprincipled libertine. The Constable's lodgings received
the owner and his princely guest, both glad to leave the streets,
yet neither feeling easy in the situation which they occupied with
regard to each other within doors.

We must return to the lists after the combat had ceased, and when
the nobles had withdrawn. The crowds were now separated into two
distinct bodies. That which made the smallest in number was at the
same time the most distinguished for respectability, consisting of
the better class of inhabitants of Perth, who were congratulating the
successful champion and each other upon the triumphant conclusion
to which they had brought their feud with the courtiers. The
magistrates were so much elated on the occasion, that they entreated
Sir Patrick Charteris's acceptance of a collation in the town hall.
To this Henry, the hero of the day, was of course invited, or he
was rather commanded to attend. He listened to the summons with
great embarrassment, for it may be readily believed his heart was
with Catharine Glover. But the advice of his father Simon decided
him. That veteran citizen had a natural and becoming deference for
the magistracy of the Fair City; he entertained a high estimation
of all honours which flowed from such a source, and thought that
his intended son in law would do wrong not to receive them with
gratitude.

"Thou must not think to absent thyself from such a solemn occasion,
son Henry," was his advice. "Sir Patrick Charteris is to be there
himself, and I think it will be a rare occasion for thee to gain
his goodwill. It is like he may order of thee a new suit of harness;
and I myself heard worthy Bailie Craigdallie say there was a talk
of furbishing up the city's armoury. Thou must not neglect the good
trade, now that thou takest on thee an expensive family."

"Tush, father Glover," answered the embarrassed victor, "I lack no
custom; and thou knowest there is Catharine, who may wonder at my
absence, and have her ear abused once more by tales of glee maidens
and I wot not what."

"Fear not for that," said the glover, "but go, like an obedient
burgess, where thy betters desire to have thee. I do not deny that
it will cost thee some trouble to make thy peace with Catharine
about this duel; for she thinks herself wiser in such matters than
king and council, kirk and canons, provost and bailies. But I will
take up the quarrel with her myself, and will so work for thee, that,
though she may receive thee tomorrow with somewhat of a chiding,
it shall melt into tears and smiles, like an April morning, that
begins with a mild shower. Away with thee, then, my son, and be
constant to the time, tomorrow morning after mass."

The smith, though reluctantly, was obliged to defer to the reasoning
of his proposed father in law, and, once determined to accept the
honour destined for him by the fathers of the city, he extricated
himself from the crowd, and hastened home to put on his best
apparel; in which he presently afterwards repaired to the council
house, where the ponderous oak table seemed to bend under the massy
dishes of choice Tay salmon and delicious sea fish from Dundee,
being the dainties which the fasting season permitted, whilst
neither wine, ale, nor metheglin were wanting to wash them down.
The waits, or minstrels of the burgh, played during the repast,
and in the intervals of the music one of them recited With great
emphasis a long poetical account of the battle of Blackearnside,
fought by Sir William Wallace and his redoubted captain and friend,
Thomas of Longueville, against the English general Seward--a
theme perfectly familiar to all the guests, who, nevertheless, more
tolerant than their descendants, listened as if it had all the zest
of novelty. It was complimentary to the ancestor of the Knight of
Kinfauns, doubtless, and to other Perthshire families, in passages
which the audience applauded vociferously, whilst they pledged
each other in mighty draughts to the memory of the heroes who had
fought by the side of the Champion of Scotland. The health of Henry
Wynd was quaffed with repeated shouts, and the provost announced
publicly, that the magistrates were consulting how they might best
invest him with some distinguished privilege or honorary reward, to
show how highly his fellow citizens valued his courageous exertions.

"Nay, take it not thus, an it like your worships," said the smith,
with his usual blunt manner, "lest men say that valour must be
rare in Perth when they reward a man for fighting for the right of
a forlorn widow. I am sure there are many scores of stout burghers
in the town who would have done this day's dargue as well or better
than I. For, in good sooth, I ought to have cracked yonder fellow's
head piece like an earthen pipkin--ay, and would have done it,
too, if it had not been one which I myself tempered for Sir John
Ramorny. But, an the Fair City think my service of any worth, I
will conceive it far more than acquitted by any aid which you may
afford from the common good to the support of the widow Magdalen
and her poor orphans."

"That may well be done," said Sir Patrick Charteris, "and yet leave
the Fair City rich enough to pay her debts to Henry Wynd, of which
every man of us is a better judge than him self, who is blinded with
an unavailing nicety, which men call modesty. And if the burgh be
too poor for this, the provost will bear his share. The Rover's
golden angels have not all taken flight yet."

The beakers were now circulated, under the name of a cup of comfort
to the widow, and anon flowed around once more to the happy memory
of the murdered Oliver, now so bravely avenged. In short, it was
a feast so jovial that all agreed nothing was wanting to render
it perfect but the presence of the bonnet maker himself, whose
calamity had occasioned the meeting, and who had usually furnished
the standing jest at such festive assemblies. Had his attendance
been possible, it was drily observed by Bailie Craigdallie, he
would certainly have claimed the success of the day, and vouched
himself the avenger of his own murder.

At the sound of the vesper bell the company broke up, some of the
graver sort going to evening prayers, where, with half shut eyes
and shining countenances, they made a most orthodox and edifying
portion of a Lenten congregation; others to their own homes, to tell
over the occurrences of the fight and feast, for the information
of the family circle; and some, doubtless, to the licensed freedoms
of some tavern, the door of which Lent did not keep so close shut
as the forms of the church required. Henry returned to the wynd,
warm with the good wine and the applause of his fellow citizens,
and fell asleep to dream of perfect happiness and Catharine Glover.

We have said that, when the combat was decided, the spectators
were divided into two bodies. Of these, when the more respectable
portion attended the victor in joyous procession, much the greater
number, or what might be termed the rabble, waited upon the subdued
and sentenced Bonthron, who was travelling in a different direction,
and for a very opposite purpose. Whatever may be thought of the
comparative attractions of the house of mourning and of feasting
under other circumstances, there can be little doubt which will
draw most visitors, when the question is, whether we would witness
miseries which we are not to share, or festivities of which we are
not to partake. Accordingly, the tumbril in which the criminal was
conveyed to execution was attended by far the greater proportion
of the inhabitants of Perth.

A friar was seated in the same car with the murderer, to whom he
did not hesitate to repeat, under the seal of confession, the same
false asseveration which he had made upon the place of combat, which
charged the Duke of Rothsay with being director of the ambuscade by
which the unfortunate bonnet maker had suffered. The same falsehood
he disseminated among the crowd, averring, with unblushing effrontery,
to those who were nighest to the car, that he owed his death to
his having been willing to execute the Duke of Rothsay's pleasure.
For a time he repeated these words, sullenly and doggedly, in the
manner of one reciting a task, or a liar who endeavours by reiteration
to obtain a credit for his words which he is internally sensible
they do not deserve. But when he lifted up his eyes, and beheld
in the distance the black outline of a gallows, at least forty
feet high, with its ladder and its fatal cord, rising against the
horizon, he became suddenly silent, and the friar could observe
that he trembled very much.

"Be comforted, my son," said the good priest, "you have confessed
the truth, and received absolution. Your penitence will be accepted
according to your sincerity; and though you have been a man of bloody
hands and cruel heart, yet, by the church's prayers, you shall be
in due time assoilzied from the penal fires of purgatory."

These assurances were calculated rather to augment than to diminish
the terrors of the culprit, who was agitated by doubts whether the
mode suggested for his preservation from death would to a certainty
be effectual, and some suspicion whether there was really any
purpose of employing them in his favour, for he knew his master
well enough to be aware of the indifference with which he would
sacrifice one who might on some future occasion be a dangerous
evidence against him.

His doom, however, was sealed, and there was no escaping from it.
They slowly approached the fatal tree, which was erected on a bank
by the river's side, about half a mile from the walls of the city
--a site chosen that the body of the wretch, which was to remain
food for the carrion crows, might be seen from a distance in every
direction. Here the priest delivered Bonthron to the executioner,
by whom he was assisted up the ladder, and to all appearance despatched
according to the usual forms of the law. He seemed to struggle for
life for a minute, but soon after hung still and inanimate. The
executioner, after remaining upon duty for more than half an hour,
as if to permit the last spark of life to be extinguished, announced
to the admirers of such spectacles that the irons for the permanent
suspension of the carcass not having been got ready, the concluding
ceremony of disembowelling the dead body and attaching it finally
to the gibbet would be deferred till the next morning at sunrise.

Notwithstanding the early hour which he had named, Master Smotherwell
had a reasonable attendance of rabble at the place of execution,
to see the final proceedings of justice with its victim. But great
was the astonishment and resentment of these amateurs to find that
the dead body had been removed from the gibbet. They were not,
however, long at a loss to guess the cause of its disappearance.
Bonthron had been the follower of a baron whose estates lay in Fife,
and was himself a native of that province. What was more natural
than that some of the Fife men, whose boats were frequently plying
on the river, should have clandestinely removed the body of their
countryman from the place of public shame? The crowd vented their
rage against Smotherwell for not completing his job on the preceding
evening; and had not he and his assistant betaken themselves to
a boat, and escaped across the Tay, they would have run some risk
of being pelted to death. The event, however, was too much in the
spirit of the times to be much wondered at. Its real cause we shall
explain in the following chapter.



CHAPTER XXIV.

Let gallows gape for dogs, let men go free.

Henry V.


The incidents of a narrative of this kind must be adapted to each
other, as the wards of a key must tally accurately with those of
the lock to which it belongs. The reader, however gentle, will not
hold himself obliged to rest satisfied with the mere fact that such
and such occurrences took place, which is, generally speaking, all
that in ordinary life he can know of what is passing around him;
but he is desirous, while reading for amusement, of knowing the
interior movements occasioning the course of events. This is a
legitimate and reasonable curiosity; for every man hath a right to
open and examine the mechanism of his own watch, put together for
his proper use, although he is not permitted to pry into the interior
of the timepiece which, for general information, is displayed on
the town steeple.

It would be, therefore, uncourteous to leave my readers under any
doubt concerning the agency which removed the assassin Bonthron from
the gallows--an event which some of the Perth citizens ascribed
to the foul fiend himself, while others were content to lay it
upon the natural dislike of Bonthron's countrymen of Fife to see
him hanging on the river side, as a spectacle dishonourable to
their province.

About midnight succeeding the day when the execution had taken place,
and while the inhabitants of Perth were deeply buried in slumber,
three men muffled in their cloaks, and bearing a dark lantern,
descended the alleys of a garden which led from the house occupied
by Sir John Ramorny to the banks of the Tay, where a small boat
lay moored to a landing place, or little projecting pier. The wind
howled in a low and melancholy manner through the leafless shrubs
and bushes; and a pale moon "waded," as it is termed in Scotland,
amongst drifting clouds, which seemed to threaten rain. The three
individuals entered the boat with great precaution to escape
observation. One of them was a tall, powerful man; another short
and bent downwards; the third middle sized, and apparently younger
than his companions, well made, and active. Thus much the imperfect
light could discover. They seated themselves in the boat and unmoored
it from the pier.

"We must let her drift with the current till we pass the bridge,
where the burghers still keep guard; and you know the proverb, 'A
Perth arrow hath a perfect flight,'" said the most youthful of the
party, who assumed the office of helmsman, and pushed the boat off
from the pier; whilst the others took the oars, which were muffled,
and rowed with all precaution till they attained the middle of the
river; they then ceased their efforts, lay upon their oars, and
trusted to the steersman for keeping her in mid channel.

In this manner they passed unnoticed or disregarded beneath the
stately Gothic arches of the old bridge, erected by the magnificent
patronage of Robert Bruce in 1329, and carried away by an inundation
in 1621. Although they heard the voices of a civic watch, which,
since these disturbances commenced, had been nightly maintained in
that important pass, no challenge was given; and when they were so
far down the stream as to be out of hearing of these guardians of
the night, they began to row, but still with precaution, and to
converse, though in a low tone.

"You have found a new trade, comrade, since I left you," said one
of the rowers to the other. "I left you engaged in tending a sick
knight, and I find you employed in purloining a dead body from the
gallows."

"A living body, so please your squirehood, Master Buncle, or else
my craft hath failed of its purpose."

"So I am told, Master Pottercarrier; but, saving your clerkship,
unless you tell me your trick, I will take leave to doubt of its
success."

"A simple toy, Master Buncle, not likely to please a genius so acute
as that of your valiancie. Marry, thus it is. This suspension of
the human body, which the vulgar call hanging, operates death by
apoplexia--that is, the blood being unable to return to the heart
by the compression of the veins, it rushes to the brain, and the
man dies. Also, and as an additional cause of dissolution, the
lungs no longer receive the needful supply of the vital air, owing
to the ligature of the cord around the thorax; and hence the patient
perishes."

"I understand that well enough. But how is such a revulsion of
blood to the brain to be prevented, sir mediciner?" said the third
person, who was no other than Ramorny's page, Eviot.

"Marry, then," replied Dwining, "hang me the patient up in such
fashion that the carotid arteries shall not be compressed, and the
blood will not determine to the brain, and apoplexia will not take
place; and again, if there be no ligature around the thorax, the
lungs will be supplied with air, whether the man be hanging in the
middle heaven or standing on the firm earth."

"All this I conceive," said Eviot; "but how these precautions can
be reconciled with the execution of the sentence of hanging is what
my dull brain cannot comprehend."

"Ah! good youth, thy valiancie hath spoiled a fair wit. Hadst thou
studied with me, thou shouldst have learned things more difficult
than this. But here is my trick. I get me certain bandages, made
of the same substance with your young valiancie's horse girths,
having especial care that they are of a kind which will not shrink
on being strained, since that would spoil my experiment. One loop
of this substance is drawn under each foot, and returns up either
side of the leg to a cincture, with which it is united; these
cinctures are connected by divers straps down the breast and back,
in order to divide the weight. And there are sundry other conveniences
for easing the patient, but the chief is this: the straps, or
ligatures, are attached to a broad steel collar, curving outwards,
and having a hook or two, for the better security of the halter,
which the friendly executioner passes around that part of the
machine, instead of applying it to the bare throat of the patient.
Thus, when thrown off from the ladder, the sufferer will find himself
suspended, not by his neck, if it please you, but by the steel
circle, which supports the loops in which his feet are placed, and
on which his weight really rests, diminished a little by similar
supports under each arm. Thus, neither vein nor windpipe being
compressed, the man will breathe as free, and his blood, saving
from fright and novelty of situation, will flow as temperately as
your valiancie's when you stand up in your stirrups to view a field
of battle."

"By my faith, a quaint and rare device!" quoth Buncle.

"Is it not?" pursued the leech, "and well worth being known to such
mounting spirits as your valiancies, since there is no knowing to
what height Sir John Ramorny's pupils may arrive; and if these be
such that it is necessary to descend from them by a rope, you may
find my mode of management more convenient than the common practice.
Marry, but you must be provided with a high collared doublet, to
conceal the ring of steel, and, above all, such a bonus socius as
Smother well to adjust the noose."

"Base poison vender," said Eviot, "men of our calling die on the
field of battle."

"I will save the lesson, however," replied Buncle, "in case of some
pinching occasion. But what a night the bloody hangdog Bonthron
must have had of it, dancing a pavise in mid air to the music of
his own shackles, as the night wind swings him that way and this!"

"It were an alms deed to leave him there," said Eviot; "for his
descent from the gibbet will but encourage him to new murders. He
knows but two elements--drunkenness and bloodshed."

"Perhaps Sir John Ramorny might have been of your opinion," said
Dwining; "but it would first have been necessary to cut out the
rogue's tongue, lest he had told strange tales from his airy height.
And there are other reasons that it concerns not your valiancies
to know. In truth, I myself have been generous in serving him, for
the fellow is built as strong as Edinburgh Castle, and his anatomy
would have matched any that is in the chirurgical hall of Padua.
But tell me, Master Buncle, what news bring you from the doughty
Douglas?"

"They may tell that know," said Buncle. "I am the dull ass that
bears the message, and kens nought of its purport. The safer for
myself, perhaps. I carried letters from the Duke of Albany and from
Sir John Ramorny to the Douglas, and he looked black as a northern
tempest when he opened them. I brought them answers from the Earl,
at which they smiled like the sun when the harvest storm is closing
over him. Go to your ephemerides, leech, and conjure the meaning
out of that."

"Methinks I can do so without much cost of wit," said the chirurgeon;
"but yonder I see in the pale moonlight our dead alive. Should
he have screamed out to any chance passenger, it were a curious
interruption to a night journey to be hailed from the top of such
a gallows as that. Hark, methinks I do hear his groans amid the
whistling of the wind and the creaking of the chains. So--fair
and softly; make fast the boat with the grappling, and get out the
casket with my matters, we would be better for a little fire, but
the light might bring observation on us. Come on, my men of valour,
march warily, for we are bound for the gallows foot. Follow with
the lantern; I trust the ladder has been left.

"Sing, three merry men, and three merry men,
And three merry men are we,
Thou on the land, and I on the sand,
And Jack on the gallows tree."

As they advanced to the gibbet, they could plainly hear groans,
though uttered in a low tone. Dwining ventured to give a low cough
once or twice, by way of signal; but receiving no answer, "We had
best make haste," said he to his companions, "for our friend must
be in extremis, as he gives no answer to the signal which announces
the arrival of help. Come, let us to the gear. I will go up the
ladder first and cut the rope. Do you two follow, one after another,
and take fast hold of the body, so that he fall not when the halter
is unloosed. Keep sure gripe, for which the bandages will afford
you convenience. Bethink you that, though he plays an owl's part
tonight, he hath no wings, and to fall out of a halter may be as
dangerous as to fall into one."

While he spoke thus with sneer and gibe, he ascended the ladder,
and having ascertained that the men at arms who followed him had
the body in their hold, he cut the rope, and then gave his aid to
support the almost lifeless form of the criminal.

By a skilful exertion of strength and address, the body of Bonthron
was placed safely on the ground; and the faint yet certain existence
of life having been ascertained, it was thence transported to the
river side, where, shrouded by the bank, the party might be best
concealed from observation, while the leech employed himself in
the necessary means of recalling animation, with which he had taken
care to provide himself.

For this purpose he first freed the recovered person from his
shackles, which the executioner had left unlocked on purpose, and
at the same time disengaged the complicated envelopes and bandages
by which he had been suspended. It was some time ere Dwining's
efforts succeeded; for, in despite of the skill with which his
machine had been constructed, the straps designed to support the
body had stretched so considerably as to occasion the sense of
suffocation becoming extremely overpowering. But the address of
the surgeon triumphed over all obstacles; and, after sneezing and
stretching himself, with one or two brief convulsions, Bonthron
gave decided proofs of reanimation, by arresting the hand of the
operator as it was in the act of dropping strong waters on his
breast and throat, and, directing the bottle which contained them
to his lips, he took, almost perforce, a considerable gulp of the
contents,

"It is spiritual essence double distilled," said the astonished
operator, "and would blister the throat and burn the stomach of
any other man. But this extraordinary beast is so unlike all other
human creatures, that I should not wonder if it brought him to the
complete possession of his faculties."

Bonthron seemed to confirm this: he started with a strong convulsion,
sat up, stared around, and indicated some consciousness of existence.

"Wine--wine," were the first words which he articulated.

The leech gave him a draught of medicated wine, mixed with water.
He rejected it, under the dishonourable epithet of "kennel washings,"
and again uttered the words, "Wine--wine."

"Nay, take it to thee, i' the devil's name," said the leech, "since
none but he can judge of thy constitution."

A draught, long and deep enough to have discomposed the intellects
of any other person, was found effectual in recalling those of
Bonthron to a more perfect state; though he betrayed no recollection
of where he was or what had befallen him, and in his brief and
sullen manner asked why he was brought to the river side at this
time of night.

"Another frolic of the wild Prince, for drenching me as he did
before. Nails and blood, but I would--"

"Hold thy peace," interrupted Eviot, "and be thankful, I pray you,
if you have any thankfulness in you, that thy body is not crow's
meat and thy soul in a place where water is too scarce to duck
thee."

"I begin to bethink me," said the ruffian; and raising the flask
to his mouth, which he saluted with a long and hearty kiss, he set
the empty bottle on the earth, dropped his head on his bosom, and
seemed to muse for the purpose of arranging his confused recollections.

"We can abide the issue of his meditations no longer," said
Dwining; "he will be better after he has slept. Up, sir! you have
been riding the air these some hours; try if the water be not an
easier mode of conveyance. Your valours must lend me a hand. I can
no more lift this mass than I could raise in my arms a slaughtered
bull."

"Stand upright on thine own feet, Bonthron, now we have placed thee
upon them," said Eviot.

"I cannot," answered the patient. "Every drop of blood tingles in
my veins as if it had pinpoints, and my knees refuse to bear their
burden. What can be the meaning of all this? This is some practice
of thine, thou dog leech!"

"Ay--ay, so it is, honest Bonthron," said Dwining--"a practice
thou shalt thank me for when thou comest to learn it. In the mean
while, stretch down in the stern of that boat, and let me wrap this
cloak about thee."

Assisted into the boat accordingly, Bonthron was deposited there
as conveniently as things admitted of. He answered their attentions
with one or two snorts resembling the grunt of a boar who has got
some food particularly agreeable to him.

"And now, Buncle," said the chirurgeon, "your valiant squireship
knows your charge. You are to carry this lively cargo by the
river to Newburgh, where you are to dispose of him as you wot of;
meantime, here are his shackles and bandages, the marks of his
confinement and liberation. Bind them up together, and fling them
into the deepest pool you pass over; for, found in your possession,
they might tell tales against us all. This low, light breath of
wind from the west will permit you to use a sail as soon as the
light comes in and you are tired of rowing. Your other valiancie,
Master Page Eviot, must be content to return to Perth with me
afoot, for here severs our fair company. Take with thee the lantern,
Buncle, for thou wilt require it more than we, and see thou send
me back my flasket."

As the pedestrians returned to Perth, Eviot expressed his belief
that Bonthron's understanding would never recover the shock which
terror had inflicted upon it, and which appeared to him to have
disturbed all the faculties of his mind, and in particular his
memory.

"It is not so, an it please your pagehood," said the leech.
"Bonthron's intellect, such as it is, hath a solid character: it
Will but vacillate to and fro like a pendulum which hath been put
in motion, and then will rest in its proper point of gravity. Our
memory is, of all our powers of mind, that which is peculiarly
liable to be suspended. Deep intoxication or sound sleep alike
destroy it, and yet it returns when the drunkard becomes sober or
the sleeper is awakened. Terror sometimes produces the same effect.
I knew at Paris a criminal condemned to die by the halter, who
suffered the sentence accordingly, showing no particular degree
of timidity upon the scaffold, and behaving and expressing himself
as men in the same condition are wont to do. Accident did for him
what a little ingenious practice hath done for our amiable friend
from whom we but now parted. He was cut down and given to his friends
before life was extinct, and I had the good fortune to restore
him. But, though he recovered in other particulars, he remembered
but little of his trial and sentence. Of his confession on the
morning of his execution--he! he! he! (in his usual chuckling
manner)--he remembered him not a word. Neither of leaving the
prison, nor of his passage to the Greve, where he suffered, nor
of the devout speeches with which he--he! he! he!--edified--
he! he! he!--so many good Christians, nor of ascending the fatal
tree, nor of taking the fatal leap, had my revenant the slightest
recollection.' But here we reach the point where we must separate;
for it were unfit, should we meet any of the watch, that we be
found together, and it were also prudent that we enter the city
by different gates. My profession forms an excuse for my going and
coming at all times. Your valiant pagehood will make such explanation
as may seem sufficing."

"I shall make my will a sufficient excuse if I am interrogated,"
said the haughty young man. "Yet I will avoid interruption, if
possible. The moon is quite obscured, and the road as black as a
wolf's mouth."

"Tut," said the physicianer, "let not your valour care for that:
we shall tread darker paths ere it be long."

Without inquiring into the meaning of these evil boding sentences,
and indeed hardly listening to them in the pride and recklessness
of his nature, the page of Ramorny parted from his ingenious and
dangerous companion, and each took his own way.



CHAPTER XXV.

The course of true love never did run smooth.

SHAKSPEARE.


The ominous anxiety of our armourer had not played him false.
When the good glover parted with his intended son in law, after
the judicial combat had been decided, he found what he indeed had
expected, that his fair daughter was in no favourable disposition
towards her lover. But although he perceived that Catharine was
cold, restrained, collected, had cast away the appearance of mortal
passion, and listened with a reserve, implying contempt, to the
most splendid description he could give her of the combat in the
Skinners' Yards, he was determined not to take the least notice
of her altered manner, but to speak of her marriage with his son
Henry as a thing which must of course take place. At length, when
she began, as on a former occasion, to intimate that her attachment
to the armourer did not exceed the bounds of friendship, that she
was resolved never to marry, that the pretended judicial combat
was a mockery of the divine will, and of human laws, the glover
not unnaturally grew angry.

"I cannot read thy thoughts, wench; nor can I pretend to guess under
what wicked delusion it is that you kiss a declared lover, suffer
him to kiss you, run to his house when a report is spread of his
death, and fling yourself into his arms when you find him alone
[alive]. All this shows very well in a girl prepared to obey her
parents in a match sanctioned by her father; but such tokens of
intimacy, bestowed on one whom a young woman cannot esteem, and
is determined not to marry, are uncomely and unmaidenly. You have
already been more bounteous of your favours to Henry Smith than
your mother, whom God assoilzie, ever was to me before I married
her. I tell thee, Catharine, this trifling with the love of an
honest man is what I neither can, will, nor ought to endure. I have
given my consent to the match, and I insist it shall take place
without delay, and that you receive Henry Wynd tomorrow, as a man
whose bride you are to be with all despatch."

"A power more potent than yours, father, will say no," replied
Catharine.

"I will risk it; my power is a lawful one, that of a father over
a child, and an erring child," answered her father. "God and man
allow of my influence."

"Then, may Heaven help us," said Catharine; "for, if you are
obstinate in your purpose, we are all lost."

"We can expect no help from Heaven," said the glover, "when we act
with indiscretion. I am clerk enough myself to know that; and that
your causeless resistance to my will is sinful, every priest will
inform you. Ay, and more than that, you have spoken degradingly of
the blessed appeal to God in the combat of ordeal. Take heed! for
the Holy Church is awakened to watch her sheepfold, and to extirpate
heresy by fire and steel; so much I warn thee of."

Catharine uttered a suppressed exclamation; and, with difficulty
compelling herself to assume an appearance of composure, promised
her father that, if he would spare her any farther discussion of the
subject till tomorrow morning, she would then meet him, determined
to make a full discovery of her sentiments.

With this promise Simon Glover was obliged to remain contented,
though extremely anxious for the postponed explanation. It could
not be levity or fickleness of character which induced his daughter
to act with so much apparent inconsistency towards the man of his
choice, and whom she had so lately unequivocally owned to be also
the man of her own. What external force there could exist, of a
kind powerful enough to change the resolutions she had so decidedly
expressed within twenty-four hours, was a matter of complete mystery.

"But I will be as obstinate as she can be," thought the glover,
"and she shall either marry Henry Smith without farther delay or
old Simon Glover will know an excellent reason to the contrary."

The subject was not renewed during the evening; but early on the
next morning, just at sun rising, Catharine knelt before the bed in
which her parent still slumbered. Her heart sobbed as if it would
burst, and her tears fell thick upon her father's face. The good
old man awoke, looked up, crossed his child's forehead, and kissed
her affectionately.

"I understand thee, Kate," he said; "thou art come to confession,
and, I trust, art desirous to escape a heavy penance by being
sincere."

Catharine was silent for an instant.

"I need not ask, my father, if you remember the Carthusian monk,
Clement, and his preachings and lessons; at which indeed you
assisted so often, that you cannot be ignorant men called you one
of his converts, and with greater justice termed me so likewise?"

"I am aware of both," said the old man, raising himself on
his elbow; "but I defy foul fame to show that I ever owned him in
any heretical proposition, though I loved to hear him talk of the
corruptions of the church, the misgovernment of the nobles, and
the wild ignorance of the poor, proving, as it seemed to me, that
the sole virtue of our commonweal, its strength and its estimation,
lay among the burgher craft of the better class, which I received
as comfortable doctrine, and creditable to the town. And if he
preached other than right doctrine, wherefore did his superiors in
the Carthusian convent permit it? If the shepherds turn a wolf in
sheep's clothing into the flock, they should not blame the sheep
for being worried."

"They endured his preaching, nay, they encouraged it," said Catharine,
"while the vices of the laity, the contentions of the nobles, and
the oppression of the poor were the subject of his censure, and
they rejoiced in the crowds who, attracted to the Carthusian church,
forsook those of the other convents. But the hypocrites--for such
they are--joined with the other fraternities in accusing their
preacher Clement, when, passing from censuring the crimes of the
state, he began to display the pride, ignorance, and luxury of the
churchmen themselves--their thirst of power, their usurpation
over men's consciences, and their desire to augment their worldly
wealth."

"For God's sake, Catharine," said her father, "speak within doors:
your voice rises in tone and your speech in bitterness, your eyes
sparkle. It is owing to this zeal in what concerns you no more than
others that malicious persons fix upon you the odious and dangerous
name of a heretic."

"You know I speak no more than what is truth," said Catharine, "and
which you yourself have avouched often."

"By needle and buckskin, no!" answered the glover, hastily.
"Wouldst thou have me avouch what might cost me life and limb, land
and goods? For a full commission hath been granted for taking and
trying heretics, upon whom is laid the cause of all late tumults
and miscarriages; wherefore, few words are best, wench. I am ever
of mind with the old maker:

"Since word is thrall and thought is free,
Keep well thy tongue, I counsel thee."

"The counsel comes too late, father," answered Catharine, sinking
down on a chair by her father's bedside. "The words have been
spoken and heard; and it is indited against Simon Glover, burgess
in Perth, that he hath spoken irreverent discourses of the doctrines
of Holy Church."

"As I live by knife and needle," interrupted Simon, "it is a lie!
I never was so silly as to speak of what I understood not."

"And hath slandered the anointed of the church, both regular and
secular," continued Catharine.

"Nay, I will never deny the truth," said the glover: "an idle word
I may have spoken at the ale bench, or over a pottle pot of wine,
or in right sure company; but else, my tongue is not one to run my
head into peril."

"So you think, my dearest father; but your slightest language has
been espied, your best meaning phrases have been perverted, and
you are in dittay as a gross railer against church and churchmen,
and for holding discourse against them with loose and profligate
persons, such as the deceased Oliver Proudfute, the smith Henry
of the Wynd, and others, set forth as commending the doctrines of
Father Clement, whom they charge with seven rank heresies, and seek
for with staff and spear, to try him to the death. But that," said
Catharine, kneeling, and looking upwards with the aspect of one of
those beauteous saints whom the Catholics have given to the fine
arts--"that they shall never do. He hath escaped from the net of
the fowler; and, I thank Heaven, it was by my means."

"Thy means, girl--art thou mad?" said the amazed glover.

"I will not deny what I glory in," answered Catharine: "it was by
my means that Conachar was led to come hither with a party of men
and carry off the old man, who is now far beyond the Highland line."

"Thou my rash--my unlucky child!" said the glover, "hast dared to
aid the escape of one accused of heresy, and to invite Highlanders
in arms to interfere with the administration of justice within
burgh? Alas! thou hast offended both against the laws of the church
and those of the realm. What--what would become of us, were this
known?"

"It is known, my dear father," said the maiden, firmly--"known
even to those who will be the most willing avengers of the deed."

"This must be some idle notion, Catharine, or some trick of those
cogging priests and nuns; it accords not with thy late cheerful
willingness to wed Henry Smith."

"Alas! dearest father, remember the dismal surprise occasioned by
his reported death, and the joyful amazement at finding him alive;
and deem it not wonder if I permitted myself, under your protection,
to say more than my reflection justified. But then I knew not the
worst, and thought the danger exaggerated. Alas I was yesterday
fearfully undeceived, when the abbess herself came hither, and with
her the Dominican. They showed me the commission, under the broad
seal of Scotland, for inquiring into and punishing heresy; they
showed me your name and my own in a list of suspected persons; and
it was with tears--real tears, that the abbess conjured me to
avert a dreadful fate by a speedy retreat into the cloister, and
that the monk pledged his word that you should not be molested if
I complied."

"The foul fiend take them both for weeping crocodiles!" said the
glover.

"Alas!" replied Catharine, "complaint or anger will little help
us; but you see I have had real cause for this present alarm."

"Alarm! call it utter ruin. Alas! my reckless child, where was your
prudence when you ran headlong into such a snare?"

"Hear me, father," said Catharine; "there is still one mode of
safety held out: it is one which I have often proposed, and for
which I have in vain supplicated your permission."

"I understand you--the convent," said her father. "But, Catharine,
what abbess or prioress would dare--"

"That I will explain to you, father, and it will also show the
circumstances which have made me seem unsteady of resolution to a
degree which has brought censure upon me from yourself and others.
Our confessor, old Father Francis, whom I chose from the Dominican
convent at your command--"

"Ay, truly," interrupted the glover; "and I so counselled and
commanded thee, in order to take off the report that thy conscience
was altogether under the direction of Father Clement."

"Well, this Father Francis has at different times urged and provoked
me to converse on such matters as he judged I was likely to learn
something of from the Carthusian preacher. Heaven forgive me my
blindness! I fell into the snare, spoke freely, and, as he argued
gently, as one who would fain be convinced, I even spoke warmly
in defence of what I believed devoutly. The confessor assumed not
his real aspect and betrayed not his secret purpose until he had
learned all that I had to tell him. It was then that he threatened
me with temporal punishment and with eternal condemnation. Had
his threats reached me alone, I could have stood firm; for their
cruelty on earth I could have endured, and their power beyond this
life I have no belief in."

"For Heaven's sake!" said the glover, who was well nigh beside
himself at perceiving at every new word the increasing extremity
of his daughter's danger, "beware of blaspheming the Holy Church,
whose arms are as prompt to strike as her ears are sharp to hear."

"To me," said the Maid of Perth, again looking up, "the terrors
of the threatened denunciations would have been of little avail;
but when they spoke of involving thee, my father, in the charge
against me, I own I trembled, and desired to compromise. The Abbess
Martha, of Elcho nunnery, being my mother's kinswoman, I told her
my distresses, and obtained her promise that she would receive me,
if, renouncing worldly love and thoughts of wedlock, I would take
the veil in her sisterhood. She had conversation on the topic, I
doubt not, with the Dominican Francis, and both joined in singing
the same song.

"'Remain in the world,' said they, 'and thy father and thou shall
be brought to trial as heretics; assume the veil, and the errors
of both shall be forgiven and cancelled.' They spoke not even of
recantation of errors of doctrine: all should be peace if I would
but enter the convent."

"I doubt not--I doubt not," said Simon: "the old glover is thought
rich, and his wealth would follow his daughter to the convent of
Elcho, unless what the Dominicans might claim as their own share.
So this was thy call to the veil, these thy objections to Henry
Wynd?"

"Indeed, father, the course was urged on all hands, nor did my
own mind recoil from it. Sir John Ramorny threatened me with the
powerful vengeance of the young Prince, if I continued to repel his
wicked suit; and as for poor Henry, it is but of late that I have
discovered, to my own surprise--that--that I love his virtues
more than I dislike his faults. Alas! the discovery has only been
made to render my quitting the world more difficult than when I
thought I had thee only to regret."

She rested her head on her hand and wept bitterly.

"All this is folly," said the glover. "Never was there an extremity
so pinching, but what a wise man might find counsel if he was daring
enough to act upon it. This has never been the land or the people
over whom priests could rule in the name of Rome, without their
usurpation being controlled. If they are to punish each honest
burgher who says the monks love gold, and that the lives of some of
them cry shame upon the doctrines they teach, why, truly, Stephen
Smotherwell will not lack employment; and if all foolish maidens
are to be secluded from the world because they follow the erring
doctrines of a popular preaching friar, they must enlarge the
nunneries and receive their inmates on slighter composition. Our
privileges have been often defended against the Pope himself by
our good monarchs of yore, and when he pretended to interfere with
the temporal government of the kingdom, there wanted not a Scottish
Parliament who told him his duty in a letter that should have been
written in letters of gold. I have seen the epistle myself, and
though I could not read it, the very sight of the seals of the right
reverend prelates and noble and true barons which hung at it made
my heart leap for joy. Thou shouldst not have kept this secret,
my child--but it is no time to tax thee with thy fault. Go down,
get me some food. I will mount instantly, and go to our Lord Provost
and have his advice, and, as I trust, his protection and that of
other true hearted Scottish nobles, who will not see a true man
trodden down for an idle word."

"Alas! my father," said Catharine, "it was even this impetuosity
which I dreaded. I knew if I made my plaint to you there would soon
be fire and feud, as if religion, though sent to us by the Father
of peace, were fit only to be the mother of discord; and hence I
could now--even now--give up the world, and retire with my sorrow
among the sisters of Elcho, would you but let me be the sacrifice.
Only, father--comfort poor Henry when we are parted for ever;
and do not--do not let him think of me too harshly. Say Catharine
will never vex him more by her remonstrances, but that she will
never forget him in her prayers."

"The girl hath a tongue that would make a Saracen weep," said her
father, his own eyes sympathising with those of his daughter. "But
I will not yield way to this combination between the nun and the
priest to rob me of my only child. Away with you, girl, and let me
don my clothes; and prepare yourself to obey me in what I may have
to recommend for your safety. Get a few clothes together, and what
valuables thou hast; also, take the keys of my iron box, which
poor Henry Smith gave me, and divide what gold you find into two
portions; put the one into a purse for thyself, and the other into
the quilted girdle which I made on purpose to wear on journeys.
Thus both shall be provided, in case fate should sunder us; in
which event, God send the whirlwind may take the withered leaf and
spare the green one! Let them make ready my horse instantly, and
the white jennet that I bought for thee but a day since, hoping to
see thee ride to St. John's Kirk with maids and matrons, as blythe
a bride as ever crossed the holy threshold. But it skills not
talking. Away, and remember that the saints help those who are
willing to help themselves. Not a word in answer; begone, I say--
no wilfullness now. The pilot in calm weather will let a sea boy
trifle with the rudder; but, by my soul, when winds howl and waves
arise, he stands by the helm himself. Away--no reply."

Catharine left the room to execute, as well as she might, the
commands of her father, who, gentle in disposition and devotedly
attached to his child, suffered her often, as it seemed, to guide
and rule both herself and him; yet who, as she knew, was wont to
claim filial obedience and exercise parental authority with sufficient
strictness when the occasion seemed to require an enforcement of
domestic discipline.

While the fair Catharine was engaged in executing her father's
behests, and the good old glover was hastily attiring himself, as
one who was about to take a journey, a horse's tramp was heard in
the narrow street. The horseman was wrapped in his riding cloak,
having the cape of it drawn up, as if to hide the under part of
his face, while his bonnet was pulled over his brows, and a broad
plume obscured his upper features. He sprung from the saddle, and
Dorothy had scarce time to reply to his inquiries that the glover
was in his bedroom, ere the stranger had ascended the stair and
entered the sleeping apartment. Simon, astonished and alarmed, and
disposed to see in this early visitant an apparitor or sumner come
to attach him and his daughter, was much relieved when, as the
stranger doffed the bonnet and threw the skirt of the mantle from
his face, he recognised the knightly provost of the Fair City,
a visit from whom at any time was a favour of no ordinary degree,
but, being made at such an hour, had something marvellous, and,
connected with the circumstances of the times, even alarming.

"Sir Patrick Charteris!" said the glover. "This high honour done
to your poor beadsman--"

"Hush!" said the knight, "there is no time for idle civilities. I
came hither because a man is, in trying occasions, his own safest
page, and I can remain no longer than to bid thee fly, good glover,
since warrants are to be granted this day in council for the arrest
of thy daughter and thee, under charge of heresy; and delay will
cost you both your liberty for certain, and perhaps your lives."

"I have heard something of such a matter," said the glover, "and
was this instant setting forth to Kinfauns to plead my innocence
of this scandalous charge, to ask your lordship's counsel, and to
implore your protection."

"Thy innocence, friend Simon, will avail thee but little before
prejudiced judges; my advice is, in one word, to fly, and wait for
happier times. As for my protection, we must tarry till the tide
turns ere it will in any sort avail thee. But if thou canst lie
concealed for a few days or weeks, I have little doubt that the
churchmen, who, by siding with the Duke of Albany in court intrigue,
and by alleging the decay of the purity of Catholic doctrine as
the sole cause of the present national misfortunes, have, at least
for the present hour, an irresistible authority over the King, will
receive a check. In the mean while, however, know that King Robert
hath not only given way to this general warrant for inquisition
after heresy, but hath confirmed the Pope's nomination of Henry
Wardlaw to be Archbishop of St. Andrews and Primate of Scotland;
thus yielding to Rome those freedoms and immunities of the Scottish
Church which his ancestors, from the time of Malcolm Canmore, have
so boldly defended. His brave fathers would have rather subscribed
a covenant with the devil than yielded in such a matter to the
pretensions of Rome."

"Alas, and what remedy?"

"None, old man, save in some sudden court change," said Sir Patrick.
"The King is but like a mirror, which, having no light itself,
reflects back with equal readiness any which is placed near to it
for the time. Now, although the Douglas is banded with Albany, yet
the Earl is unfavourable to the high claims of those domineering
priests, having quarrelled with them about the exactions which his
retinue hath raised on the Abbot of Arbroath. He will come back
again with a high hand, for report says the Earl of March hath
fled before him. When he returns we shall have a changed world,
for his presence will control Albany; especially as many nobles,
and I myself, as I tell you in confidence, are resolved to league
with him to defend the general right. Thy exile, therefore, will
end with his return to our court. Thou hast but to seek thee some
temporary hiding place."

"For that, my lord," said the glover, "I can be at no loss, since
I have just title to the protection of the high Highland chief,
Gilchrist MacIan, chief of the Clan Quhele."

"Nay, if thou canst take hold of his mantle thou needs no help of
any one else: neither Lowland churchman nor layman finds a free
course of justice beyond the Highland frontier."

"But then my child, noble sir--my Catharine?" said the glover.

"Let her go with thee, man. The graddan cake will keep her white
teeth in order, the goat's whey will make the blood spring to her
cheek again, which these alarms have banished and even the Fair
Maiden of Perth may sleep soft enough on a bed of Highland breckan."

"It is not from such idle respects, my lord, that I hesitate,"
said the glover. "Catharine is the daughter of a plain burgher,
and knows not nicety of food or lodging. But the son of MacIan hath
been for many years a guest in my house, and I am obliged to say
that I have observed him looking at my daughter, who is as good as
a betrothed bride, in a manner that, though I cared not for it in
this lodging in Curfew Street, would give me some fear of consequences
in a Highland glen, where I have no friend and Conachar many."

The knightly provost replied by a long whistle. "Whew! whew! Nay,
in that case, I advise thee to send her to the nunnery at Elcho,
where the abbess, if I forget not, is some relation of yours.
Indeed, she said so herself, adding, that she loved her kinswoman
well, together with all that belongs to thee, Simon."

"Truly, my lord, I do believe that the abbess hath so much regard
for me, that she would willingly receive the trust of my daughter,
and my whole goods and gear, into her sisterhood. Marry, her
affection is something of a tenacious character, and would be loth
to unloose its hold, either upon the wench or her tocher."

"Whew--whew!" again whistled the Knight of Kinfauns; "by the
Thane's Cross, man, but this is an ill favoured pirn to wind: Yet
it shall never be said the fairest maid in the Fair City was cooped
up in a convent, like a kain hen in a cavey, and she about to be
married to the bold burgess Henry Wynd. That tale shall not be told
while I wear belt and spurs, and am called Provost of Perth."

"But what remede, my lord?" asked the glover.

"We must all take our share of the risk. Come, get you and your
daughter presently to horse. You shall ride with me, and we'll see
who dare gloom at you. The summons is not yet served on thee, and
if they send an apparitor to Kinfauns without a warrant under the
King's own hand, I make mine avow, by the Red Rover's soul! that
he shall eat his writ, both wax and wether skin. To horse--to
horse! and," addressing Catharine, as she entered at the moment,
"you too, my pretty maid--

"To horse, and fear not for your quarters;
They thrive in law that trust in Charters."

In a minute or two the father and daughter were on horseback, both
keeping an arrow's flight before the provost, by his direction,
that they might not seem to be of the same company. They passed the
eastern gate in some haste, and rode forward roundly until they
were out of sight. Sir Patrick followed leisurely; but, when he
was lost to the view of the warders, he spurred his mettled horse,
and soon came up with the glover and Catharine, when a conversation
ensued which throws light upon some previous passages of this
history.



CHAPTER XXVI.

Hail, land of bowmen! seed of those who scorn'd
To stoop the neck to wide imperial Rome--
Oh, dearest half of Albion sea walled!

Albania (1737).


"I have been devising a mode," said the well meaning provost, "by
which I may make you both secure for a week or two from the malice
of your enemies, when I have little doubt I may see a changed world
at court. But that I may the better judge what is to be done, tell
me frankly, Simon, the nature of your connexion with Gilchrist
MacIan, which leads you to repose such implicit confidence in him.
You are a close observer of the rules of the city, and are aware
of the severe penalties which they denounce against such burghers
as have covine and alliance with the Highland clans."

"True, my lord; but it is also known to you that our craft, working
in skins of cattle, stags, and every other description of hides,
have a privilege, and are allowed to transact with those Highlanders,
as with the men who can most readily supply us with the means of
conducting our trade, to the great profit of the burgh. Thus it
hath chanced with me to have great dealings with these men; and I
can take it on my salvation, that you nowhere find more just and
honourable traffickers, or by whom a man may more easily make an
honest penny. I have made in my day several distant journeys into
the far Highlands, upon the faith of their chiefs; nor did I ever
meet with a people more true to their word, when you can once prevail
upon them to plight it in your behalf. And as for the Highland
chief, Gilchrist MacIan, saving that he is hasty in homicide and
fire raising towards those with whom he hath deadly feud, I have
nowhere seen a man who walketh a more just and upright path."

"It is more than ever I heard before," said Sir Patrick Charteris.
"Yet I have known something of the Highland runagates too."

"They show another favour, and a very different one, to their
friends than to their enemies, as your lordship shall understand,"
said the glover. "However, be that as it may, it chanced me to
serve Gilchrist MacIan in a high matter. It is now about eighteen
years since, that it chanced, the Clan Quhele and Clan Chattan being
at feud, as indeed they are seldom at peace, the former sustained
such a defeat as well nigh extirpated the family of their chief
MacIan. Seven of his sons were slain in battle and after it, himself
put to flight, and his castle taken and given to the flames. His
wife, then near the time of giving birth to an infant, fled into
the forest, attended by one faithful servant and his daughter.
Here, in sorrow and care enough, she gave birth to a boy; and as
the misery of the mother's condition rendered her little able to
suckle the infant, he was nursed with the milk of a doe, which the
forester who attended her contrived to take alive in a snare. It
was not many months afterwards that, in a second encounter of these
fierce clans, MacIan defeated his enemies in his turn, and regained
possession of the district which he had lost. It was with unexpected
rapture that he found his wife and child were in existence, having
never expected to see more of them than the bleached bones, from
which the wolves and wildcats had eaten the flesh.

"But a strong and prevailing prejudice, such as is often entertained
by these wild people, prevented their chief from enjoying the full
happiness arising from having thus regained his only son in safety.
An ancient prophecy was current among them, that the power of the
tribe should fall by means of a boy born under a bush of holly
and suckled by a white doe. The circumstance, unfortunately for
the chief, tallied exactly with the birth of the only child which
remained to him, and it was demanded of him by the elders of
the clan, that the boy should be either put to death or at least
removed from the dominions of the tribe and brought up in obscurity.
Gilchrist MacIan was obliged to consent and having made choice of
the latter proposal, the child, under the name of Conachar, was
brought up in my family, with the purpose, as was at first intended,
of concealing from him all knowledge who or what he was, or of his
pretensions to authority over a numerous and warlike people. But,
as years rolled on, the elders of the tribe, who had exerted so
much authority, were removed by death, or rendered incapable of
interfering in the public affairs by age; while, on the other hand,
the influence of Gilchrist MacIan was increased by his successful
struggles against the Clan Chattan, in which he restored the equality
betwixt the two contending confederacies, which had existed before
the calamitous defeat of which I told your honour. Feeling himself
thus firmly seated, he naturally became desirous to bring home his
only son to his bosom and family; and for that purpose caused me
to send the young Conachar, as he was called, more than once to the
Highlands. He was a youth expressly made, by his form and gallantry
of bearing, to gain a father's heart. At length, I suppose the
lad either guessed the secret of his birth or something of it was
communicated to him; and the disgust which the paughty Hieland
varlet had always shown for my honest trade became more manifest;
so that I dared not so much as lay my staff over his costard, for
fear of receiving a stab with a dirk, as an answer in Gaelic to a
Saxon remark. It was then that I wished to be well rid of him, the
rather that he showed so much devotion to Catharine, who, forsooth,
set herself up to wash the Ethiopian, and teach a wild Hielandmnan
mercy and morals. She knows herself how it ended."

"Nay, my father," said Catharine, "it was surely but a point of
charity to snatch the brand from the burning."

"But a small point of wisdom," said her father, "to risk the
burning of your own fingers for such an end. What says my lord to
the matter?"

"My lord would not offend the Fair Maid of Perth," said Sir Patrick;
"and he knows well the purity and truth of her mind. And yet I
must needs say that, had this nursling of the doe been shrivelled,
haggard, cross made, and red haired, like some Highlanders I have
known, I question if the Fair Maiden of Perth would have bestowed
so much zeal upon his conversion; and if Catharine had been as aged,
wrinkled, and bent by years as the old woman that opened the door
for me this morning, I would wager my gold spurs against a pair of
Highland brogues that this wild roebuck would never have listened
to a second lecture. You laugh, glover, and Catharine blushes a
blush of anger. Let it pass, it is the way of the world."

"The way in which the men of the world esteem their neighbours, my
lord," answered Catharine, with some spirit.

"Nay, fair saint, forgive a jest," said the knight; "and thou,
Simon, tell us how this tale ended--with Conachar's escape to
the Highlands, I suppose?"

"With his return thither," said the glover. "There was, for some
two or three years, a fellow about Perth, a sort of messenger, who
came and went under divers pretences, but was, in fact, the means
of communication between Gilchrist MacIan and his son, young Conachar,
or, as he is now called, Hector. From this gillie I learned, in
general, that the banishment of the dault an neigh dheil, or foster
child of the white doe, was again brought under consideration of
the tribe. His foster father, Torquil of the Oak, the old forester,
appeared with eight sons, the finest men of the clan, and demanded
that the doom of banishment should be revoked. He spoke with the
greater authority, as he was himself taishatar, or a seer, and
supposed to have communication with the invisible world. He affirmed
that he had performed a magical ceremony, termed tine egan, by
which he evoked a fiend, from whom he extorted a confession that
Conachar, now called Eachin, or Hector, MacIan, was the only man
in the approaching combat between the two hostile clans who should
come off without blood or blemish. Hence Torquil of the Oak argued
that the presence of the fated person was necessary to ensure the
victory. 'So much I am possessed of this,' said the forester, 'that,
unless Eachin fight in his place in the ranks of the Clan Quhele,
neither I, his foster father, nor any of my eight sons will lift
a weapon in the quarrel.'

"This speech was received with much alarm; for the defection of
nine men, the stoutest of their tribe, would be a serious blow,
more especially if the combat, as begins to be rumoured, should be
decided by a small number from each side. The ancient superstition
concerning the foster son of the white doe was counterbalanced by
a new and later prejudice, and the father took the opportunity of
presenting to the clan his long hidden son, whose youthful, but
handsome and animated, countenance, haughty carriage, and active
limbs excited the admiration of the clansmen, who joyfully received
him as the heir and descendant of their chief, notwithstanding the
ominous presage attending his birth and nurture.

"From this tale, my lord," continued Simon Glover, "your lordship
may easily conceive why I myself should be secure of a good reception
among the Clan Quhele; and you may also have reason to judge that
it would be very rash in me to carry Catharine thither. And this,
noble lord, is the heaviest of my troubles."

"We shall lighten the load, then," said Sir Patrick; "and, good
glover, I will take risk for thee and this damsel. My alliance
with the Douglas gives me some interest with Marjory, Duchess of
Rothsay, his daughter, the neglected wife of our wilful Prince.
Rely on it, good glover, that in her retinue thy daughter will be
as secure as in a fenced castle. The Duchess keeps house now at
Falkland, a castle which the Duke of Albany, to whom it belongs, has
lent to her for her accommodation. I cannot promise you pleasure,
Fair Maiden; for the Duchess Marjory of Rothsay is unfortunate,
and therefore splenetic, haughty, and overbearing; conscious of
the want of attractive qualities, therefore jealous of those women
who possess them. But she is firm in faith and noble in spirit, and
would fling Pope or prelate into the ditch of her castle who should
come to arrest any one under her protection. You will therefore
have absolute safety, though you may lack comfort."

"I have no title to more," said Catharine; "and deeply do I feel the
kindness that is willing to secure me such honourable protection.
If she be haughty, I will remember she is a Douglas, and hath right,
as being such, to entertain as much pride as may become a mortal;
if she be fretful, I will recollect that she is unfortunate, and
if she be unreasonably captious, I will not forget that she is my
protectress. Heed no longer for me, my lord, when you have placed
me under the noble lady's charge. But my poor father, to be exposed
amongst these wild and dangerous people!"

"Think not of that, Catharine," said the glover: "I am as familiar
with brogues and bracken as if I had worn them myself. I have only
to fear that the decisive battle may be fought before I can leave
this country; and if the clan Quhele lose the combat, I may suffer
by the ruin of my protectors."

"We must have that cared for," said Sir Patrick: "rely on my
looking out for your safety. But which party will carry the day,
think you?"

"Frankly, my Lord Provost, I believe the Clan Chattan will have
the worse: these nine children of the forest form a third nearly
of the band surrounding the chief of Clan Quhele, and are redoubted
champions."

"And your apprentice, will he stand to it, thinkest thou?"

"He is hot as fire, Sir Patrick," answered the glover; "but he is
also unstable as water. Nevertheless, if he is spared, he seems
likely to be one day a brave man."

"But, as now, he has some of the white doe's milk still lurking
about his liver, ha, Simon?"

"He has little experience, my lord," said the glover, "and I need
not tell an honoured warrior like yourself that danger must be
familiar to us ere we can dally with it like a mistress."

This conversation brought them speedily to the Castle of Kinfauns,
where, after a short refreshment, it was necessary that the father
and the daughter should part, in order to seek their respective
places of refuge. It was then first, as she saw that her father's
anxiety on her account had drowned all recollections of his friend,
that Catharine dropped, as if in a dream, the name of "Henry Gow."

"True--most true," continued her father; "we must possess him of
our purposes."

"Leave that to me," said Sir Patrick. "I will not trust to a
messenger, nor will I send a letter, because, if I could write one,
I think he could not read it. He will suffer anxiety in the mean
while, but I will ride to Perth tomorrow by times and acquaint him
with your designs."

The time of separation now approached. It was a bitter moment, but
the manly character of the old burgher, and the devout resignation
of Catharine to the will of Providence made it lighter than might
have been expected. The good knight hurried the departure of the
burgess, but in the kindest manner; and even went so far as to
offer him some gold pieces in loan, which might, where specie was
so scarce, be considered as the ne plus ultra of regard. The glover,
however, assured him he was amply provided, and departed on his
journey in a northwesterly direction. The hospitable protection
of Sir Patrick Charteris was no less manifested towards his fair
guest. She was placed under the charge of a duenna who managed the
good knight's household, and was compelled to remain several days
in Kinfauns, owing to the obstacles and delays interposed by a Tay
boatman, named Kitt Henshaw, to whose charge she was to be committed,
and whom the provost highly trusted.

Thus were severed the child and parent in a moment of great danger
and difficulty, much augmented by circumstances of which they were
then ignorant, and which seemed greatly to diminish any chance of
safety that remained for them.



CHAPTER XXVII.

"This Austin humbly did."  "Did he?" quoth he.
"Austin may do the same again for me."

Pope's Prologue to Canterbury Tales from Chaucer.


The course of our story will be best pursued by attending that of
Simon Glover. It is not our purpose to indicate the exact local
boundaries of the two contending clans, especially since they are
not clearly pointed out by the historians who have transmitted
accounts of this memorable feud. It is sufficient to say, that the
territory of the Clan Chattan extended far and wide, comprehending
Caithness and Sutherland, and having for their paramount chief the
powerful earl of the latter shire, thence called Mohr ar Chat. In
this general sense, the Keiths, the Sinclairs, the Guns, and other
families and clans of great power, were included in the confederacy.
These, however, were not engaged in the present quarrel, which was
limited to that part of the Clan Chattan occupying the extensive
mountainous districts of Perthshire and Inverness shire, which form
a large portion of what is called the northeastern Highlands. It
is well known that two large septs, unquestionably known to belong
to the Clan Chattan, the MacPhersons and the MacIntoshes, dispute
to this day which of their chieftains was at the head of this
Badenoch branch of the great confederacy, and both have of later
times assumed the title of Captain of Clan Chattan. Non nostrum
est. But, at all events, Badenoch must have been the centre of the
confederacy, so far as involved in the feud of which we treat.

Of the rival league of Clan Quhele we have a still less distinct
account, for reasons which will appear in the sequel. Some authors
have identified them with the numerous and powerful sept of MacKay.
If this is done on good authority, which is to be doubted, the
MacKays must have shifted their settlements greatly since the reign
of Robert III, since they are now to be found (as a clan) in the
extreme northern parts of Scotland, in the counties of Ross and
Sutherland. We cannot, therefore, be so clear as we would wish in
the geography of the story. Suffice it that, directing his course
in a northwesterly direction, the glover travelled for a day's
journey in the direction of the Breadalbane country, from which he
hoped to reach the castle where Gilchrist MacIan, the captain of
the Clan Quhele, and the father of his pupil Conachar, usually held
his residence, with a barbarous pomp of attendance and ceremonial
suited to his lofty pretensions.

We need not stop to describe the toil and terrors of such a journey,
where the path was to be traced among wastes and mountains, now
ascending precipitous ravines, now plunging into inextricable bogs,
and often intersected with large brooks, and even rivers. But all
these perils Simon Glover had before encountered in quest of honest
gain; and it was not to be supposed that he shunned or feared them
where liberty, and life itself, were at stake.

The danger from the warlike and uncivilised inhabitants of these
wilds would have appeared to another at least as formidable as the
perils of the journey. But Simon's knowledge of the manners and
language of the people assured him on this point also. An appeal
to the hospitality of the wildest Gael was never unsuccessful; and
the kerne, that in other circumstances would have taken a man's
life for the silver button of his cloak, would deprive himself of
a meal to relieve the traveller who implored hospitality at the
door of his bothy. The art of travelling in the Highlands was to
appear as confident and defenceless as possible; and accordingly
the glover carried no arms whatever, journeyed without the least
appearance of precaution, and took good care to exhibit nothing which
might excite cupidity. Another rule which he deemed it prudent to
observe was to avoid communication with any of the passengers whom
he might chance to meet, except in the interchange of the common
civilities of salutation, which the Highlanders rarely omit. Few
opportunities occurred of exchanging even such passing greetings.
The country, always lonely, seemed now entirely forsaken; and, even
in the little straths or valleys which he had occasion to pass
or traverse, the hamlets were deserted, and the inhabitants had
betaken themselves to woods and caves. This was easily accounted
for, considering the imminent dangers of a feud which all expected
would become one of the most general signals for plunder and ravage
that had ever distracted that unhappy country.

Simon began to be alarmed at this state of desolation. He had made
a halt since he left Kinfauns, to allow his nag some rest; and now
he began to be anxious how he was to pass the night. He had reckoned
upon spending it at the cottage of an old acquaintance, called Niel
Booshalloch (or the cow herd), because he had charge of numerous
herds of cattle belonging to the captain of Clan Quhele, for which
purpose he had a settlement on the banks of the Tay, not far from
the spot where it leaves the lake of the same name. From this his
old host and friend, with whom he had transacted many bargains for
hides and furs, the old glover hoped to learn the present state of
the country, the prospect of peace or war, and the best measures
to be taken for his own safety. It will be remembered that the
news of the indentures of battle entered into for diminishing the
extent of the feud had only been communicated to King Robert the
day before the glover left Perth, and did not become public till
some time afterwards.

"If Niel Booshalloch hath left his dwelling like the rest of them,
I shall be finely holped up," thought Simon, "since I want not
only the advantage of his good advice, but also his interest with
Gilchrist MacIan; and, moreover, a night's quarters and a supper."

Thus reflecting, he reached the top of a swelling green hill, and
saw the splendid vision of Loch Tay lying beneath him--an immense
plate of polished silver, its dark heathy mountains and leafless
thickets of oak serving as an arabesque frame to a magnificent
mirror.

Indifferent to natural beauty at any time, Simon Glover was now
particularly so; and the only part of the splendid landscape on
which he turned his eye was an angle or loop of meadow land where
the river Tay, rushing in full swoln dignity from its parent lake,
and wheeling around a beautiful valley of about a mile in breadth,
begins his broad course to the southeastward, like a conqueror and
a legislator, to subdue and to enrich remote districts. Upon the
sequestered spot, which is so beautifully situated between lake,
mountain, and river, arose afterwards the feudal castle of the
Ballough [Balloch is Gaelic for the discharge of a lake into a
river], which in our time has been succeeded by the splendid palace
of the Earls of Breadalbane.

But the Campbells, though they had already attained very great power
in Argyleshire, had not yet extended themselves so far eastward
as Loch Tay, the banks of which were, either by right or by mere
occupancy, possessed for, the present by the Clan Quhele, whose
choicest herds were fattened on the Balloch margin of the lake.
In this valley, therefore, between the river and the lake, amid
extensive forests of oak wood, hazel, rowan tree, and larches,
arose the humble cottage of Niel Booshalloch, a village Eumaeus,
whose hospitable chimneys were seen to smoke plentifully, to
the great encouragement of Simon Glover, who might otherwise have
been obliged to spend the night in the open air, to his no small
discomfort.

He reached the door of the cottage, whistled, shouted, and made
his approach known. There was a baying of hounds and collies, and
presently the master of the hut came forth. There was much care
on his brow, and he seemed surprised at the sight of Simon Glover,
though the herdsman covered both as well as he might; for nothing
in that region could be reckoned more uncivil than for the landlord
to suffer anything to escape him in look or gesture which might
induce the visitor to think that his arrival was an unpleasing, or
even an unexpected, incident. The traveller's horse was conducted to
a stable, which was almost too low to receive him, and the glover
himself was led into the mansion of the Booshalloch, where, according
to the custom of the country, bread and cheese was placed before
the wayfarer, while more solid food was preparing. Simon, who
understood all their habits, took no notice of the obvious marks of
sadness on the brow of his entertainer and on those of the family,
until he had eaten somewhat for form's sake, after which he asked
the general question, "Was there any news in the country?"

"Bad news as ever were told," said the herdsman: "our father is no
more."

"How!" said Simon, greatly alarmed, "is the captain of the Clan
Quhele dead?"

"The captain of the Clan Quhele never dies," answered the Booshalloch;
"but Gilchrist MacIan died twenty hours since, and his son, Eachin
MacIan, is now captain."

"What, Eachin--that is Conachar--my apprentice?"

"As little of that subject as you list, brother Simon," said the
herdsman. "It is to be remembered, friend, that your craft, which
doth very well for a living in the douce city of Perth, is something
too mechanical to be much esteemed at the foot of Ben Lawers and
on the banks of Loch Tay. We have not a Gaelic word by which we
can even name a maker of gloves."

"It would be strange if you had, friend Niel," said Simon, drily,
"having so few gloves to wear. I think there be none in the whole
Clan Quhele, save those which I myself gave to Gilchrist MacIan,
whom God assoilzie, who esteemed them a choice propine. Most deeply
do I regret his death, for I was coming to him on express business."

"You had better turn the nag's head southward with morning light,"
said the herdsman. "The funeral is instantly to take place, and it
must be with short ceremony; for there is a battle to be fought by
the Clan Quhele and the Clan Chattan, thirty champions on a side,
as soon as Palm Sunday next, and we have brief time either to lament
the dead or honour the living."

"Yet are my affairs so pressing, that I must needs see the young
chief, were it but for a quarter of an hour," said the glover.

"Hark thee, friend," replied his host, "I think thy business must
be either to gather money or to make traffic. Now, if the chief
owe thee anything for upbringing or otherwise, ask him not to pay
it when all the treasures of the tribe are called in for making
gallant preparation of arms and equipment for their combatants, that
we may meet these proud hill cats in a fashion to show ourselves
their superiors. But if thou comest to practise commerce with us,
thy time is still worse chosen. Thou knowest that thou art already
envied of many of our tribe, for having had the fosterage of the
young chief, which is a thing usually given to the best of the
clan."'

"But, St. Mary, man!" exclaimed the glover, "men should remember
the office was not conferred on me as a favour which I courted,
but that it was accepted by me on importunity and entreaty, to my
no small prejudice. This Conachar, or Hector, of yours, or whatever
you call him, has destroyed me doe skins to the amount of many
pounds Scots."

"There again, now," said the Booshalloch, "you have spoken word to
cost your life--any allusion to skins or hides, or especially to
deer and does--may incur no less a forfeit. The chief is young,
and jealous of his rank; none knows the reason better than thou,
friend Glover. He will naturally wish that everything concerning
the opposition to his succession, and having reference to his exile,
should be totally forgotten; and he will not hold him in affection
who shall recall the recollection of his people, or force back his
own, upon what they must both remember with pain. Think how, at
such a moment, they will look on the old glover of Perth, to whom
the chief was so long apprentice! Come--come, old friend, you have
erred in this. You are in over great haste to worship the rising
sun, while his beams are yet level with the horizon. Come thou
when he has climbed higher in the heavens, and thou shalt have thy
share of the warmth of his noonday height."

"Niel Booshalloch," said the glover, "we have been old friends, as
thou say'st; and as I think thee a true one, I will speak to thee
freely, though what I say might be perilous if spoken to others
of thy clan. Thou think'st I come hither to make my own profit of
thy young chief, and it is natural thou shouldst think so. But I
would not, at my years, quit my own chimney corner in Curfew Street
to bask me in the beams of the brightest sun that ever shone upon
Highland heather. The very truth is, I come hither in extremity:
my foes have the advantage of me, and have laid things to my charge
whereof I am incapable, even in thought. Nevertheless, doom is like
to go forth against me, and there is no remedy but that I must up
and fly, or remain and perish. I come to your young chief, as one
who had refuge with me in his distress--who ate of my bread and
drank of my cup. I ask of him refuge, which, as I trust, I shall
need but a short time."

"That makes a different case," replied the herdsman. "So different,
that, if you came at midnight to the gate of MacIan, having the
King of Scotland's head in your hand, and a thousand men in pursuit
for the avenging of his blood, I could not think it for his honour
to refuse you protection. And for your innocence or guilt, it
concerns not the case; or rather, he ought the more to shelter you
if guilty, seeing your necessity and his risk are both in that case
the greater. I must straightway to him, that no hasty tongue tell
him of your arriving hither without saying the cause."

"A pity of your trouble," said the glover; "but where lies the
chief?"

"He is quartered about ten miles hence, busied with the affairs of
the funeral, and with preparations for the combat--the dead to
the grave and the living to battle."

"It is a long way, and will take you all night to go and come,"
said the glover; "and I am very sure that Conachar when he knows
it is I who--"

"Forget Conachar," said the herdsman, placing his finger on his
lips. "And as for the ten miles, they are but a Highland leap, when
one bears a message between his friend and his chief."

So saying, and committing the traveller to the charge of his eldest
son and his daughter, the active herdsman left his house two hours
before midnight, to which he returned long before sunrise. He did
not disturb his wearied guest, but when the old man had arisen in
the morning he acquainted him that the funeral of the late chieftain
was to take place the same day, and that, although Eachin MacIan
could not invite a Saxon to the funeral, he would be glad to receive
him at the entertainment which was to follow.

"His will must be obeyed," said the glover, half smiling at the
change of relation between himself and his late apprentice. "The man
is the master now, and I trust he will remember that, when matters
were otherwise between us, I did not use my authority ungraciously."

"Troutsho, friend!" exclaimed the Booshalloch, "the less of that
you say the better. You will find yourself a right welcome guest
to Eachin, and the deil a man dares stir you within his bounds.
But fare you well, for I must go, as beseems me, to the burial of
the best chief the clan ever had, and the wisest captain that ever
cocked the sweet gale (bog myrtle) in his bonnet. Farewell to you
for a while, and if you will go to the top of the Tom an Lonach behind
the house, you will see a gallant sight, and hear such a coronach
as will reach the top of Ben Lawers. A boat will wait for you,
three hours hence, at a wee bit creek about half a mile westward
from the head of the Tay."

With these words he took his departure, followed by his three sons,
to man the boat in which he was to join the rest of the mourners,
and two daughters, whose voices were wanted to join in the lament,
which was chanted, or rather screamed, on such occasions of general
affliction.

Simon Glover, finding himself alone, resorted to the stable to look
after his nag, which, he found, had been well served with graddan,
or bread made of scorched barley. Of this kindness he was fully
sensible, knowing that, probably, the family had little of this
delicacy left to themselves until the next harvest should bring
them a scanty supply. In animal food they were well provided, and
the lake found them abundance of fish for their lenten diet, which
they did not observe very strictly; but bread was a delicacy very
scanty in the Highlands. The bogs afforded a soft species of hay,
none of the best to be sure; but Scottish horses, like their riders,
were then accustomed to hard fare.

Gauntlet, for this was the name of the palfrey, had his stall crammed
full of dried fern for litter, and was otherwise as well provided
for as Highland hospitality could contrive.

Simon Glover being thus left to his own painful reflections, nothing
better remained, after having seen after the comforts of the dumb
companion of his journey, than to follow the herdsman's advice; and
ascending towards the top of an eminence called Tom an Lonach, or
the Knoll of Yew Trees, after a walk of half an hour he reached
the summit, and could look down on the broad expanse of the lake,
of which the height commanded a noble view. A few aged and scattered
yew trees of great size still vindicated for the beautiful green
hill the name attached to it. But a far greater number had fallen
a sacrifice to the general demand for bow staves in that warlike
age, the bow being a weapon much used by the mountaineers, though
those which they employed, as well as their arrows, were, in shape
and form, and especially in efficacy, far inferior to the archery
of merry England. The dark and shattered individual yews which
remained were like the veterans of a broken host, occupying in
disorder some post of advantage, with the stern purpose of resisting
to the last. Behind this eminence, but detached from it, arose
a higher hill, partly covered with copsewood, partly opening into
glades of pasture, where the cattle strayed, finding, at this season
of the year, a scanty sustenance among the spring heads and marshy
places, where the fresh grass began first to arise.

The opposite or northern shore of the lake presented a far more
Alpine prospect than that upon which the glover was stationed. Woods
and thickets ran up the sides of the mountains, and disappeared
among the sinuosities formed by the winding ravines which separated
them from each other; but far above these specimens of a tolerable
natural soil arose the swart and bare mountains themselves, in the
dark grey desolation proper to the season.

Some were peaked, some broad crested, some rocky and precipitous,
others of a tamer outline; and the clan of Titans seemed to be
commanded by their appropriate chieftains--the frowning mountain
of Ben Lawers, and the still more lofty eminence of Ben Mohr,
arising high above the rest, whose peaks retain a dazzling helmet
of snow far into the summer season, and sometimes during the
whole year. Yet the borders of this wild and silvan region, where
the mountains descended upon the lake, intimated, even at that
early period, many traces of human habitation. Hamlets were seen,
especially on the northern margin of the lake, half hid among the
little glens that poured their tributary streams into Loch Tay,
which, like many earthly things, made a fair show at a distance,
but, when more closely approached, were disgustful and repulsive,
from their squalid want of the conveniences which attend even Indian
wigwams. They were inhabited by a race who neither cultivated the
earth nor cared for the enjoyments which industry procures. The
women, although otherwise treated with affection, and even delicacy of
respect, discharged all the absolutely necessary domestic labour.
The men, excepting some reluctant use of an ill formed plough, or more
frequently a spade, grudgingly gone through, as a task infinitely
beneath them, took no other employment than the charge of the herds
of black cattle, in which their wealth consisted. At all other
times they hunted, fished, or marauded, during the brief intervals
of peace, by way of pastime; plundering with bolder license, and
fighting with embittered animosity, in time of war, which, public
or private, upon a broader or more restricted scale, formed the
proper business of their lives, and the only one which they esteemed
worthy of them.

The magnificent bosom of the lake itself was a scene to gaze on
with delight. Its noble breadth, with its termination in a full and
beautiful run, was rendered yet more picturesque by one of those
islets which are often happily situated in the Scottish lakes. The
ruins upon that isle, now almost shapeless, being overgrown with
wood rose, at the time we speak of, into the towers and pinnacles
of a priory, where slumbered the remains of Sibylla, daughter of
Henry I of England, and consort of Alexander the First of Scotland.
This holy place had been deemed of dignity sufficient to be
the deposit of the remains of the captain of the Clan Quhele, at
least till times when the removal of the danger, now so imminently
pressing, should permit of his body being conveyed to a distinguished
convent in the north, where he was destined ultimately to repose
with all his ancestry.

A number of boats pushed off from various points of the near
and more distant shore, many displaying sable banners, and others
having their several pipers in the bow, who from time to time poured
forth a few notes of a shrill, plaintive, and wailing character,
and intimated to the glover that the ceremony was about to take
place. These sounds of lamentation were but the tuning as it were
of the instruments, compared with the general wail which was speedily
to be raised.

A distant sound was heard from far up the lake, even as it seemed
from the remote and distant glens out of which the Dochart and the
Lochy pour their streams into Loch Tay. It was in a wild, inaccessible
spot, where the Campbells at a subsequent period founded their
strong fortress of Finlayrigg, that the redoubted commander of the
Clan Quhele drew his last breath; and, to give due pomp to his
funeral, his corpse was now to be brought down the loch to the
island assigned for his temporary place of rest. The funeral fleet,
led by the chieftain's barge, from which a huge black banner was
displayed, had made more than two thirds of its voyage ere it was
visible from the eminence on which Simon Glover stood to overlook
the ceremony. The instant the distant wail of the coronach was
heard proceeding from the attendants on the funeral barge, all
the subordinate sounds of lamentation were hushed at once, as the
raven ceases to croak and the hawk to whistle whenever the scream
of the eagle is heard. The boats, which had floated hither and thither
upon the lake, like a flock of waterfowl dispersing themselves on
its surface, now drew together with an appearance of order, that
the funeral flotilla might pass onward, and that they themselves
might fall into their proper places. In the mean while the piercing
din of the war pipes became louder and louder, and the cry from the
numberless boats which followed that from which the black banner of
the chief was displayed rose in wild unison up to the Tom an Lonach,
from which the glover viewed the spectacle. The galley which headed
the procession bore on its poop a species of scaffold, upon which,
arrayed in white linen, and with the face bare, was displayed the
corpse of the deceased chieftain. His son and the nearest relatives
filled the vessel, while a great number of boats, of every description
that could be assembled, either on Loch Tay itself or brought by
land carriage from Loch Earn and otherwise, followed in the rear,
some of them of very frail materials. There were even curraghs,
composed of ox hides stretched over hoops of willow, in the manner
of the ancient British, and some committed themselves to rafts
formed for the occasion, from the readiest materials that occurred,
and united in such a precarious manner as to render it probable
that, before the accomplishment of the voyage, some of the clansmen
of the deceased might be sent to attend their chieftain in the
world of spirits.

When the principal flotilla came in sight of the smaller group of
boats collected towards the foot of the lake, and bearing off from
the little island, they hailed each other with a shout so loud and
general, and terminating in a cadence so wildly prolonged, that
not only the deer started from their glens for miles around, and
sought the distant recesses of the mountains, but even the domestic
cattle, accustomed to the voice of man, felt the full panic which
the human shout strikes into the wilder tribes, and like them fled
from their pasture into morasses and dingles.

Summoned forth from their convent by those sounds, the monks who
inhabited the little islet began to issue from their lowly portal,
with cross and banner, and as much of ecclesiastical state as they
had the means of displaying; their bells at the same time, of which
the edifice possessed three, pealing the death toll over the long
lake, which came to the ears of the now silent multitude, mingled
with the solemn chant of the Catholic Church, raised by the monks
in their procession. Various ceremonies were gone through, while
the kindred of the deceased carried the body ashore, and, placing it
on a bank long consecrated to the purpose, made the deasil around
the departed. When the corpse was uplifted to be borne into the
church, another united yell burst from the assembled multitude,
in which the deep shout of warriors and the shrill wail of females
joined their notes with the tremulous voice of age and the babbling
cry of childhood. The coronach was again, and for the last time,
shrieked as the body was carried into the interior of the church,
where only the nearest relatives of the deceased and the most
distinguished of the leaders of the clan were permitted to enter.
The last yell of woe was so terribly loud, and answered by so many
hundred echoes, that the glover instinctively raised his hands to
his ears, to shut out, or deaden at least, a sound so piercing. He
kept this attitude while the hawks, owls, and other birds, scared
by the wild scream, had begun to settle in their retreats, when,
as he withdrew his hands, a voice close by him said:

"Think you this, Simon Glover, the hymn of penitence and praise
with which it becomes poor forlorn man, cast out from his tenement
of clay, to be wafted into the presence of his maker?"

The glover turned, and in the old man with a long white beard who
stood close beside him had no difficulty, from the clear mild eye
and the benevolent cast of features, to recognise the Carthusian
monk Father Clement, no longer wearing his monastic habiliments,
but wrapped in a frieze mantle and having a Highland cap on his
head.

It may be recollected that the glover regarded this man with
a combined feeling of respect and dislike--respect, which his
judgment could not deny to the monk's person and character, and
dislike, which arose from Father Clement's peculiar doctrines being
the cause of his daughter's exile and his own distress. It was not,
therefore, with sentiments of unmixed satisfaction that he returned
the greetings of the father, and replied to the reiterated question,
what he thought of the funeral rites which were discharged in so
wild a manner: "I know not, my good father; but these men do their
duty to their deceased chief according to the fashion of their
ancestors: they mean to express their regret for their friend's
loss and their prayers to Heaven in his behalf; and that which is
done of goodwill must, to my thinking, be accepted favourably. Had
it been otherwise, methinks they had ere now been enlightened to
do better."

"Thou art deceived," answered the monk. "God has sent His light
amongst us all, though in various proportions; but man wilfully
shuts his eyes and prefers darkness. This benighted people mingle
with the ritual of the Roman Church the old heathen ceremonies of
their own fathers, and thus unite with the abominations of a church
corrupted by wealth and power the cruel and bloody ritual of savage
paynims."

"Father," said Simon, abruptly, "methinks your presence were more
useful in yonder chapel, aiding your brethren in the discharge of
their clerical duties, than in troubling and unsettling the belief
of an humble though ignorant Christian like myself."

"And wherefore say, good brother, that I would unfix thy principles
of belief?" answered Clement. "So Heaven deal with me, as, were
my life blood necessary to cement the mind of any man to the holy
religion he professeth, it should be freely poured out for the
purpose."

"Your speech is fair, father, I grant you," said the glover; "but
if I am to judge the doctrine by the fruits, Heaven has punished
me by the hand of the church for having hearkened thereto. Ere I
heard you, my confessor was little moved though I might have owned
to have told a merry tale upon the ale bench, even if a friar or
a nun were the subject. If at a time I had called Father Hubert a
better hunter of hares than of souls, I confessed me to the Vicar
Vinesauf, who laughed and made me pay a reckoning for penance; or
if I had said that the Vicar Vinesauf was more constant to his cup
than to his breviary, I confessed me to Father Hubert, and a new
hawking glove made all well again; and thus I, my conscience, and
Mother Church lived together on terms of peace, friendship, and
mutual forbearance. But since I have listened to you, Father Clement,
this goodly union is broke to pieces, and nothing is thundered in
my ear but purgatory in the next world and fire and fagot in this.
Therefore, avoid you, Father Clement, or speak to those who can
understand your doctrine. I have no heart to be a martyr: I have
never in my whole life had courage enough so much as to snuff a
candle with my fingers; and, to speak the truth, I am minded to go
back to Perth, sue out my pardon in the spiritual court, carry my
fagot to the gallows foot in token of recantation, and purchase
myself once more the name of a good Catholic, were it at the price
of all the worldly wealth that remains to me."

"You are angry, my dearest brother," said Clement, "and repent you
on the pinch of a little worldly danger and a little worldly loss
for the good thoughts which you once entertained."

"You speak at ease, Father Clement, since I think you have long
forsworn the wealth and goods of the world, and are prepared to
yield up your life when it is demanded in exchange for the doctrine
you preach and believe. You are as ready to put on your pitched
shirt and brimstone head gear as a naked man is to go to his bed,
and it would seem you have not much more reluctance to the ceremony.
But I still wear that which clings to me. My wealth is still my
own, and I thank Heaven it is a decent pittance whereon to live; my
life, too, is that of a hale old man of sixty, who is in no haste
to bring it to a close; and if I were poor as Job and on the edge
of the grave, must I not still cling to my daughter, whom your
doctrines have already cost so dear?"

"Thy daughter, friend Simon," said the Carmelite [Carthusian], "may
be truly called an angel upon earth."

"Ay, and by listening to your doctrines, father, she is now like
to be called on to be an angel in heaven, and to be transported
thither in a chariot of fire."

"Nay, my good brother," said Clement, "desist, I pray you, to speak
of what you little understand. Since it is wasting time to show
thee the light that thou chafest against, yet listen to that which
I have to say touching thy daughter, whose temporal felicity, though
I weigh it not even for an instant in the scale against that which
is spiritual, is, nevertheless, in its order, as dear to Clement
Blair as to her own father."

The tears stood in the old man's eyes as he spoke, and Simon Glover
was in some degree mollified as he again addressed him.

"One would think thee, Father Clement, the kindest and most amiable
of men; how comes it, then, that thy steps are haunted by general
ill will wherever thou chancest to turn them? I could lay my life
thou hast contrived already to offend yonder half score of poor
friars in their water girdled cage, and that you have been prohibited
from attendance on the funeral?"

"Even so, my son," said the Carthusian, "and I doubt whether their
malice will suffer me to remain in this country. I did but speak a
few sentences about the superstition and folly of frequenting St.
Fillan's church, to detect theft by means of his bell, of bathing
mad patients in his pool, to cure their infirmity of mind; and lo!
the persecutors have cast me forth of their communion, as they will
speedily cast me out of this life."

"Lo you there now," said the glover, "see what it is for a man that
cannot take a warning! Well, Father Clement, men will not cast me
forth unless it were as a companion of yours. I pray you, therefore,
tell me what you have to say of my daughter, and let us be less
neighbours than we have been."

"This, then, brother Simon, I have to acquaint you with. This young
chief, who is swoln with contemplation of his own power and glory,
loves one thing better than it all, and that is thy daughter."

"He, Conachar!" exclaimed Simon. "My runagate apprentice look up
to my daughter!"

"Alas!" said Clement, "how close sits our worldly pride, even as
ivy clings to the wall, and cannot be separated! Look up to thy
daughter, good Simon? Alas, no! The captain of Clan Quhele, great
as he is, and greater as he soon expects to be, looks down to
the daughter of the Perth burgess, and considers himself demeaned
in doing so. But, to use his own profane expression, Catharine is
dearer to him than life here and Heaven hereafter: he cannot live
without her."

"Then he may die, if he lists," said Simon Glover, "for she is
betrothed to an honest burgess of Perth; and I would not break my
word to make my daughter bride to the Prince of Scotland."

"I thought it would be your answer," replied the monk; "I would,
worthy friend, thou couldst carry into thy spiritual concerns some
part of that daring and resolved spirit with which thou canst direct
thy temporal affairs."

"Hush thee--hush, Father Clement!" answered the glover; "when
thou fallest into that vein of argument, thy words savour of blazing
tar, and that is a scent I like not. As to Catharine, I must manage
as I can, so as not to displease the young dignitary; but well is
it for me that she is far beyond his reach."

"She must then be distant indeed," said the Carmelite [Carthusian].
"And now, brother Simon, since you think it perilous to own me
and my opinions, I must walk alone with my own doctrines and the
dangers they draw on me. But should your eye, less blinded than it
now is by worldly hopes and fears, ever turn a glance back on him
who soon may be snatched from you, remember, that by nought save
a deep sense of the truth and importance of the doctrine which
he taught could Clement Blair have learned to encounter, nay, to
provoke, the animosity of the powerful and inveterate, to alarm
the fears of the jealous and timid, to walk in the world as he
belonged not to it, and to be accounted mad of men, that he might,
if possible, win souls to God. Heaven be my witness, that I would
comply in all lawful things to conciliate the love and sympathy
of my fellow creatures! It is no light thing to be shunned by the
worthy as an infected patient, to be persecuted by the Pharisees
of the day as an unbelieving heretic, to be regarded with horror
at once and contempt by the multitude, who consider me as a madman,
who may be expected to turn mischievous. But were all those evils
multiplied an hundredfold, the fire within must not be stifled,
the voice which says within me 'Speak' must receive obedience. Woe
unto me if I preach not the Gospel, even should I at length preach
it from amidst the pile of flames!"

So spoke this bold witness, one of those whom Heaven raised up from
time to time to preserve amidst the most ignorant ages, and to carry
down to those which succeed them, a manifestation of unadulterated
Christianity, from the time of the Apostles to the age when,
favoured by the invention of printing, the Reformation broke out
in full splendour. The selfish policy of the glover was exposed
in his own eyes; and he felt himself contemptible as he saw the
Carthusian turn from him in all the hallowedness of resignation.
He was even conscious of a momentary inclination to follow the
example of the preacher's philanthropy and disinterested zeal, but
it glanced like a flash of lightning through a dark vault, where
there lies nothing to catch the blaze; and he slowly descended the
hill in a direction different from that of the Carthusian, forgetting
him and his doctrines, and buried in anxious thoughts about his
child's fate and his own.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

What want these outlaws conquerors should have
But history's purchased page to call them great,
A wider space, an ornamented grave?
Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as brave.

BYRON.


The funeral obsequies being over, the same flotilla which had
proceeded in solemn and sad array down the lake prepared to return
with displayed banners, and every demonstration of mirth and joy;
for there was but brief time to celebrate festivals when the awful
conflict betwixt the Clan Quhele and their most formidable rivals
so nearly approached. It had been agreed, therefore, that the funeral
feast should be blended with that usually given at the inauguration
of the young chief.

Some objections were made to this arrangement, as containing an evil
omen. But, on the other hand, it had a species of recommendation,
from the habits and feelings of the Highlanders, who, to this day,
are wont to mingle a degree of solemn mirth with their mourning,
and something resembling melancholy with their mirth. The usual
aversion to speak or think of those who have been beloved and lost
is less known to this grave and enthusiastic race than it is to
others. You hear not only the young mention (as is everywhere usual)
the merits and the character of parents, who have, in the course
of nature, predeceased them; but the widowed partner speaks,
in ordinary conversation, of the lost spouse, and, what is still
stranger, the parents allude frequently to the beauty or valour
of the child whom they have interred. The Scottish Highlanders
appear to regard the separation of friends by death as something
less absolute and complete than it is generally esteemed in other
countries, and converse of the dear connexions who have sought the
grave before them as if they had gone upon a long journey in which
they themselves must soon follow. The funeral feast, therefore,
being a general custom throughout Scotland, was not, in the opinion
of those who were to share it, unseemingly mingled, on the present
occasion, with the festivities which hailed the succession to the
chieftainship.

The barge which had lately borne the dead to the grave now conveyed
the young MacIan to his new command and the minstrels sent forth
their gayest notes to gratulate Eachin's succession, as they had
lately sounded their most doleful dirges when carrying Gilchrist
to his grave. From the attendant flotilla rang notes of triumph and
jubilee, instead of those yells of lamentation which had so lately
disturbed the echoes of Loch Tay; and a thousand voices hailed the
youthful chieftain as he stood on the poop, armed at all points,
in the flower of early manhood, beauty, and activity, on the very
spot where his father's corpse had so lately been extended, and
surrounded by triumphant friends, as that had been by desolate
mourners.

One boat kept closest of the flotilla to the honoured galley.
Torquil of the Oak, a grizzled giant, was steersman; and his eight
sons, each exceeding the ordinary stature of mankind, pulled the
oars. Like some powerful and favourite wolf hound, unloosed from
his couples, and frolicking around a liberal master, the boat of
the foster brethren passed the chieftain's barge, now on one side
and now on another, and even rowed around it, as if in extravagance
of joy; while, at the same time, with the jealous vigilance of
the animal we have compared it to, they made it dangerous for any
other of the flotilla to approach so near as themselves, from the
risk of being run down by their impetuous and reckless manoeuvres.
Raised to an eminent rank in the clan by the succession of their
foster brother to the command of the Clan Quhele, this was the
tumultuous and almost terrible mode in which they testified their
peculiar share in their chief's triumph.

Far behind, and with different feelings, on the part of one at
least of the company, came the small boat in which, manned by the
Booshalloch and one of his sons, Simon Glover was a passenger.

"If we are bound for the head of the lake," said Simon to his
friend, "we shall hardly be there for hours."

But as he spoke the crew of the boat of the foster brethren, or
leichtach, on a signal from the chief's galley, lay on their oars
until the Booshalloch's boat came up, and throwing on board a
rope of hides, which Niel made fast to the head of his skiff, they
stretched to their oars once more, and, notwithstanding they had
the small boat in tow, swept through the lake with almost the same
rapidity as before. The skiff was tugged on with a velocity which
seemed to hazard the pulling her under water, or the separation of
her head from her other timbers.

Simon Glover saw with anxiety the reckless fury of their course,
and the bows of the boat occasionally brought within an inch or two
of the level of the water; and though his friend, Niel Booshalloch,
assured him it was all done in especial honour, he heartily wished
his voyage might have a safe termination. It had so, and much
sooner than he apprehended; for the place of festivity was not
four miles distant from the sepulchral island, being chosen to suit
the chieftain's course, which lay to the southeast, so soon as the
banquet should be concluded. A bay on the southern side of Loch Tay
presented a beautiful beach of sparkling sand, on which the boats
might land with ease, and a dry meadow, covered with turf, verdant
considering the season, behind and around which rose high banks,
fringed with copsewood, and displaying the lavish preparations
which had been made for the entertainment.

The Highlanders, well known for ready hatchet men, had constructed
a long arbour or silvan banqueting room, capable of receiving two
hundred men, while a number of smaller huts around seemed intended
for sleeping apartments. The uprights, the couples, and roof tree
of the temporary hall were composed of mountain pine, still covered
with its bark. The framework of the sides was of planks or spars
of the same material, closely interwoven with the leafy boughs of
the fir and other evergreens, which the neighbouring woods afforded,
while the hills had furnished plenty of heath to form the roof.
Within this silvan palace the most important personages present
were invited to hold high festival. Others of less note were to
feast in various long sheds constructed with less care; and tables
of sod, or rough planks, placed in the open air, were allotted
to the numberless multitude. At a distance were to be seen piles
of glowing charcoal or blazing wood, around which countless cooks
toiled, bustled, and fretted, like so many demons working in their
native element. Pits, wrought in the hillside, and lined with
heated stones, served as ovens for stewing immense quantities of
beef, mutton, and venison; wooden spits supported sheep and goats,
which were roasted entire; others were cut into joints, and seethed
in caldrons made of the animal's own skins, sewed hastily together
and filled with water; while huge quantities of pike, trout,
salmon, and char were broiled with more ceremony on glowing embers.
The glover had seen many a Highland banquet, but never one the
preparations for which were on such a scale of barbarous profusion.

He had little time, however, to admire the scene around him for,
as soon as they landed on the beach, the Booshalloch observed with
some embarrassment, that, as they had not been bidden to the table
of the dais, to which he seemed to have expected an invitation, they
had best secure a place in one of the inferior bothies or booths;
and was leading the way in that direction, when he was stopped by
one of the bodyguards, seeming to act as master of ceremonies, who
whispered something in his ear.

"I thought so," said the herdsman, much relieved--"I thought
neither the stranger nor the man that has my charge would be left
out at the high table."

They were conducted accordingly into the ample lodge, within which
were long ranges of tables already mostly occupied by the guests,
while those who acted as domestics were placing upon them the
abundant though rude materials of the festival. The young chief,
although he certainly saw the glover and the herdsman enter, did
not address any personal salute to either, and their places were
assigned them in a distant corner, far beneath the salt, a huge
piece of antique silver plate, the only article of value that the
table displayed, and which was regarded by the clan as a species
of palladium, only produced and used on the most solemn occasions,
such as the present.

The Booshalloch, somewhat discontented, muttered to Simon as he
took his place: "These are changed days, friend. His father, rest
his soul, would have spoken to us both; but these are bad manners
which he has learned among you Sassenachs in the Low Country."

To this remark the glover did not think it necessary to reply;
instead of which he adverted to the evergreens, and particularly
to the skins and other ornaments with which the interior of the
bower was decorated. The most remarkable part of these ornaments
was a number of Highland shirts of mail, with steel bonnets, battle
axes, and two handed swords to match, which hung around the upper
part of the room, together with targets highly and richly embossed.
Each mail shirt was hung over a well dressed stag's hide, which at
once displayed the armour to advantage and saved it from suffering
by damp.

"These," whispered the Booshalloch, "are the arms of the chosen
champions of the Clan Quhele. They are twenty-nine in number, as
you see, Eachin himself being the thirtieth, who wears his armour
today, else had there been thirty. And he has not got such a good
hauberk after all as he should wear on Palm Sunday. These nine
suits of harness, of such large size, are for the leichtach, from
whom so much is expected."

"And these goodly deer hides," said Simon, the spirit of his
profession awakening at the sight of the goods in which he traded
--"think you the chief will be disposed to chaffer for them?
They are in demand for the doublets which knights wear under their
armour."

"Did I not pray you," said Niel Booshalloch, "to say nothing on
that subject?"

"It is the mail shirts I speak of," said Simon--"may I ask if any
of them were made by our celebrated Perth armourer, called Henry
of the Wynd?"

"Thou art more unlucky than before," said Niel, "that man's name
is to Eachin's temper like a whirlwind upon the lake; yet no man
knows for what cause."

"I can guess," thought our glover, but gave no utterance to
the thought; and, having twice lighted on unpleasant subjects of
conversation, he prepared to apply himself, like those around him,
to his food, without starting another topic.

We have said as much of the preparations as may lead the reader to
conclude that the festival, in respect of the quality of the food,
was of the most rude description, consisting chiefly of huge joints
of meat, which were consumed with little respect to the fasting
season, although several of the friars of the island convent graced
and hallowed the board by their presence. The platters were of
wood, and so were the hooped cogues or cups out of which the guests
quaffed their liquor, as also the broth or juice of the meat, which
was held a delicacy. There were also various preparations of milk
which were highly esteemed, and were eaten out of similar vessels.
Bread was the scarcest article at the banquet, but the glover and
his patron Niel were served with two small loaves expressly for
their own use. In eating, as, indeed, was then the case all over
Britain, the guests used their knives called skenes, or the large
poniards named dirks, without troubling themselves by the reflection
that they might occasionally have served different or more fatal
purposes.

At the upper end of the table stood a vacant seat, elevated a step
or two above the floor. It was covered with a canopy of hollow
boughs and ivy, and there rested against it a sheathed sword and
a folded banner. This had been the seat of the deceased chieftain,
and was left vacant in honour of him. Eachin occupied a lower chair
on the right hand of the place of honour.

The reader would be greatly mistaken who should follow out this
description by supposing that the guests behaved like a herd of
hungry wolves, rushing upon a feast rarely offered to them. On the
contrary, the Clan Quhele conducted themselves with that species
of courteous reserve and attention to the wants of others which
is often found in primitive nations, especially such as are always
in arms, because a general observance of the rules of courtesy is
necessary to prevent quarrels, bloodshed, and death. The guests
took the places assigned them by Torquil of the Oak, who, acting
as marischal taeh, i.e. sewer of the mess, touched with a white
wand, without speaking a word, the place where each was to sit.
Thus placed in order, the company patiently waited for the portion
assigned them, which was distributed among them by the leichtach;
the bravest men or more distinguished warriors of the tribe being
accommodated with a double mess, emphatically called bieyfir, or
the portion of a man. When the sewers themselves had seen every one
served, they resumed their places at the festival, and were each
served with one of these larger messes of food. Water was placed
within each man's reach, and a handful of soft moss served the
purposes of a table napkin, so that, as at an Eastern banquet, the
hands were washed as often as the mess was changed. For amusement,
the bard recited the praises of the deceased chief, and expressed
the clan's confidence in the blossoming virtues of his successor.
The seannachie recited the genealogy of the tribe, which they traced
to the race of the Dalriads; the harpers played within, while the
war pipes cheered the multitude without. The conversation among the
guests was grave, subdued, and civil; no jest was attempted beyond
the bounds of a very gentle pleasantry, calculated only to excite
a passing smile. There were no raised voices, no contentious
arguments; and Simon Glover had heard a hundred times more noise
at a guild feast in Perth than was made on this occasion by two
hundred wild mountaineers.

Even the liquor itself did not seem to raise the festive party
above the same tone of decorous gravity. It was of various kinds.
Wine appeared in very small quantities, and was served out only
to the principal guests, among which honoured number Simon Glover
was again included. The wine and the two wheaten loaves were indeed
the only marks of notice which he received during the feast; but
Niel Booshalloch, jealous of his master's reputation for hospitality,
failed not to enlarge on them as proofs of high distinction.
Distilled liquors, since so generally used in the Highlands, were
then comparatively unknown. The usquebaugh was circulated in small
quantities, and was highly flavoured with a decoction of saffron
and other herbs, so as to resemble a medicinal potion rather than
a festive cordial. Cider and mead were seen at the entertainment,
but ale, brewed in great quantities for the purpose, and flowing
round without restriction, was the liquor generally used, and that
was drunk with a moderation much less known among the more modern
Highlanders. A cup to the memory of the deceased chieftain was the
first pledge solemnly proclaimed after the banquet was finished,
and a low murmur of benedictions was heard from the company, while
the monks alone, uplifting their united voices, sung Requiem eternam
dona. An unusual silence followed, as if something extraordinary
was expected, when Eachin arose with a bold and manly, yet modest,
grace, and ascended the vacant seat or throne, saying with dignity
and firmness:

"This seat and my father's inheritance I claim as my right--so
prosper me God and St. Barr!"

"How will you rule your father's children?" said an old man, the
uncle of the deceased.

"I will defend them with my father's sword, and distribute justice
to them under my father's banner."

The old man, with a trembling hand, unsheathed the ponderous
weapon, and, holding it by the blade, offered the hilt to the young
chieftain's grasp; at the same time Torquil of the Oak unfurled
the pennon of the tribe, and swung it repeatedly over Eachin's
head, who, with singular grace and dexterity, brandished the huge
claymore as in its defence. The guests raised a yelling shout to
testify their acceptance of the patriarchal chief who claimed their
allegiance, nor was there any who, in the graceful and agile youth
before them, was disposed to recollect the subject of sinister
vaticinations. As he stood in glittering mail, resting on the long
sword, and acknowledging by gracious gestures the acclamations
which rent the air within, without, and around, Simon Glover was
tempted to doubt whether this majestic figure was that of the same
lad whom he had often treated with little ceremony, and began to
have some apprehension of the consequences of having done so. A
general burst of minstrelsy succeeded to the acclamations, and rock
and greenwood rang to harp and pipes, as lately to shout and yell
of woe.

It would be tedious to pursue the progress of the inaugural feast,
or detail the pledges that were quaffed to former heroes of the
clan, and above all to the twenty-nine brave galloglasses who were
to fight in the approaching conflict, under the eye and leading of
their young chief. The bards, assuming in old times the prophetic
character combined with their own, ventured to assure them of the
most distinguished victory, and to predict the fury with which the
blue falcon, the emblem of the Clan Quhele, should rend to pieces
the mountain cat, the well known badge of the Clan Chattan.

It was approaching sunset when a bowl, called the grace cup, made
of oak, hooped with silver, was handed round the table as the signal
of dispersion, although it was left free to any who chose a longer
carouse to retreat to any of the outer bothies. As for Simon Glover,
the Booshalloch conducted him to a small hut, contrived, it would
seem, for the use of a single individual, where a bed of heath and
moss was arranged as well as the season would permit, and an ample
supply of such delicacies as the late feast afforded showed that
all care had been taken for the inhabitant's accommodation.

"Do not leave this hut," said the Booshalloch, taking leave of his
friend and protege: "this is your place of rest. But apartments
are lost on such a night of confusion, and if the badger leaves
his hole the toad will creep into it."

To Simon Glover this arrangement was by no means disagreeable. He had
been wearied by the noise of the day, and felt desirous of repose.
After eating, therefore, a morsel, which his appetite scarce
required, and drinking a cup of wine to expel the cold, he muttered
his evening prayer, wrapt himself in his cloak, and lay down on
a couch which old acquaintance had made familiar and easy to him.
The hum and murmur, and even the occasional shouts, of some of
the festive multitude who continued revelling without did not long
interrupt his repose, and in about ten minutes he was as fast asleep
as if he had lain in his own bed in Curfew Street.



CHAPTER XXIX.

Still harping on my daughter.

Hamlet.


Two hours before the black cock crew, Simon Glover was wakened by
a well known voice, which called him by name.

"What, Conachar!" he replied, as he started from sleep, "is the
morning so far advanced?" and, raising his eyes, the person of whom
he was dreaming stood before him; and at the same moment, the events
of yesterday rushing on his recollection, he saw with surprise that
the vision retained the form which sleep had assigned it, and it
was not the mail clad Highland chief, with claymore in hand, as he
had seen him the preceding night, but Conachar of Curfew Street,
in his humble apprentice's garb, holding in his hand a switch of
oak. An apparition would not more have surprised our Perth burgher.
As he gazed with wonder, the youth turned upon him a piece of
lighted bog wood which he carried in a lantern, and to his waking
exclamation replied:

"Even so, father Simon: it is Conachar, come to renew our old
acquaintance, when our intercourse will attract least notice."

So saying, he sat down on a tressel which answered the purpose of
a chair, and placing the lantern beside him, proceeded in the most
friendly tone:

"I have tasted of thy good cheer many a day, father Simon; I trust
thou hast found no lack in my family?"

"None whatever, Eachin MacIan," answered the glover, for the
simplicity of the Celtic language and manners rejects all honorary
titles; "it was even too good for this fasting season, and much too
good for me, since I must be ashamed to think how hard you fared
in Curfew Street."

"Even too well, to use your own word," said Conachar, "for the
deserts of an idle apprentice and for the wants of a young Highlander.
But yesterday, if there was, as I trust, enough of food, found you
not, good glover, some lack of courteous welcome? Excuse it not
--I know you did so. But I am young in authority with my people,
and I must not too early draw their attention to the period of my
residence in the Lowlands, which, however, I can never forget."

"I understand the cause entirely," said Simon; "and therefore it
is unwillingly, and as it were by force, that I have made so early
a visit hither."

"Hush, father--hush! It is well you are come to see some of my
Highland splendour while it yet sparkles. Return after Palm Sunday,
and who knows whom or what you may find in the territories we now
possess! The wildcat may have made his lodge where the banqueting
bower of MacIan now stands."

The young chief was silent, and pressed the top of the rod to his
lips, as if to guard against uttering more.

"There is no fear of that, Eachin," said Simon, in that vague way
in which lukewarm comforters endeavour to turn the reflections of
their friends from the consideration of inevitable danger.

"There is fear, and there is peril of utter ruin," answered Eachin,
"and there is positive certainty of great loss. I marvel my father
consented to this wily proposal of Albany. I would MacGillie Chattanach
would agree with me, and then, instead of wasting our best blood
against each other, we would go down together to Strathmore and
kill and take possession. I would rule at Perth and he at Dundee,
and all the great strath should be our own to the banks of the Firth
of Tay. Such is the policy I have caught from your old grey head,
father Simon, when holding a trencher at thy back, and listening
to thy evening talk with Bailie Craigdallie."

"The tongue is well called an unruly member," thought the glover.
"Here have I been holding a candle to the devil, to show him the
way to mischief."

But he only said aloud: "These plans come too late."

"Too late indeed!" answered Eachin. "The indentures of battle are
signed by our marks and seals, the burning hate of the Clan Quhele
and Clan Chattan is blown up to an inextinguishable flame by
mutual insults and boasts. Yes, the time is passed by. But to thine
own affairs, father Glover. It is religion that has brought thee
hither, as I learn from Niel Booshalloch. Surely, my experience of
thy prudence did not lead me to suspect thee of any quarrel with
Mother Church. As for my old acquaintance, Father Clement, he is one
of those who hunt after the crown of martyrdom, and think a stake,
surrounded with blazing fagots, better worth embracing than a
willing bride. He is a very knight errant in defence of his religious
notions, and does battle wherever he comes. He hath already a
quarrel with the monks of Sibyl's Isle yonder about some point of
doctrine. Hast seen him?"

"I have," answered Simon; "but we spoke little together, the time
being pressing."

"He may have said that there is a third person--one more likely,
I think, to be a true fugitive for religion than either you, a
shrewd citizen, or he, a wrangling preacher--who would be right
heartily welcome to share our protection? Thou art dull, man, and
wilt not guess my meaning--thy daughter, Catharine."

These last words the young chief spoke in English; and he continued
the conversation in that language, as if apprehensive of being
overheard, and, indeed, as if under the sense of some involuntary
hesitation.

"My daughter Catharine," said the glover, remembering what the
Carthusian had told him, "is well and safe."

"But where or with whom?" said the young chief. "And wherefore came
she not with you? Think you the Clan Quhele have no cailliachs as
active as old Dorothy, whose hand has warmed my haffits before now,
to wait upon the daughter of their chieftain's master?"

"Again I thank you," said the glover, "and doubt neither your power
nor your will to protect my daughter, as well as myself. But an
honourable lady, the friend of Sir Patrick Charteris, hath offered
her a safe place of refuge without the risk of a toilsome journey
through a desolate and distracted country."

"Oh, ay, Sir Patrick Charteris," said Eachin, in a more reserved
and distant tone; "he must be preferred to all men, without doubt.
He is your friend, I think?"

Simon Glover longed to punish this affectation of a boy who had been
scolded four times a day for running into the street to see Sir
Patrick Charteris ride past; but he checked his spirit of repartee,
and simply said:

"Sir Patrick Charteris has been provost of Perth for seven years,
and it is likely is so still, since the magistrates are elected,
not in Lent, but at St. Martinmas."

"Ah, father Glover," said the youth, in his kinder and more familiar
mode of address, "you are so used to see the sumptuous shows and
pageants of Perth, that you would but little relish our barbarous
festival in comparison. What didst thou think of our ceremonial of
yesterday?"

"It was noble and touching," said the glover; "and to me, who knew
your father, most especially so. When you rested on the sword and
looked around you, methought I saw mine old friend Gilchrist MacIan
arisen from the dead and renewed in years and in strength."

"I played my part there boldly, I trust; and showed little of that
paltry apprentice boy whom you used to--use just as he deserved?"

"Eachin resembles Conachar," said the glover, "no more than a
salmon resembles a gar, though men say they are the same fish in
a different state, or than a butterfly resembles a grub."

"Thinkest thou that, while I was taking upon me the power which
all women love, I would have been myself an object for a maiden's
eye to rest upon? To speak plain, what would Catharine have thought
of me in the ceremonial?"

"We approach the shallows now," thought Simon Glover, "and without
nice pilotage we drive right on shore."

"Most women like show, Eachin; but I think my daughter Catharine
be an exception. She would rejoice in the good fortune of her
household friend and playmate; but she would not value the splendid
MacIan, captain of Clan Quhele, more than the orphan Conachar."

"She is ever generous and disinterested," replied the young chief.
"But yourself, father, have seen the world for many more years than
she has done, and can better form a judgment what power and wealth
do for those who enjoy them. Think, and speak sincerely, what would
be your own thoughts if you saw your Catharine standing under yonder
canopy, with the command over an hundred hills, and the devoted
obedience of ten thousand vassals; and as the price of these
advantages, her hand in that of the man who loves her the best in
the world?"

"Meaning in your own, Conachar?" said Simon.

"Ay, Conachar call me: I love the name, since it was by that I have
been known to Catharine."

"Sincerely, then," said the glover, endeavouring to give the least
offensive turn to his reply, "my inmost thought would be the earnest
wish that Catharine and I were safe in our humble booth in Curfew
Street, with Dorothy for our only vassal."

"And with poor Conachar also, I trust? You would not leave him to
pine away in solitary grandeur?"

"I would not," answered the glover, "wish so ill to the Clan
Quhele, mine ancient friends, as to deprive them, at the moment
of emergency, of a brave young chief, and that chief of the fame
which he is about to acquire at their head in the approaching
conflict."

Eachin bit his lip to suppress his irritated feelings as he replied:
"Words--words--empty words, father Simon. You fear the Clan
Quhele more than you love them, and you suppose their indignation
would be formidable should their chief marry the daughter of a
burgess of Perth."

"And if I do fear such an issue, Hector MacIan, have I not
reason? How have ill assorted marriages had issue in the house of
MacCallanmore, in that of the powerful MacLeans--nay, of the Lords
of the Isles themselves? What has ever come of them but divorce
and exheredation, sometimes worse fate, to the ambitious intruder?
You could not marry my child before a priest, and you could only
wed her with your left hand; and I--" he checked the strain of
impetuosity which the subject inspired, and concluded, "and I am
an honest though humble burgher of Perth, who would rather my child
were the lawful and undoubted spouse of a citizen in my own rank
than the licensed concubine of a monarch."

"I will wed Catharine before the priest and before the world, before
the altar and before the black stones of Iona," said the impetuous
young man. "She is the love of my youth, and there is not a tie in
religion or honour but I will bind myself by them! I have sounded
my people. If we do but win this combat--and, with the hope of
gaining Catharine, we SHALL win it--my heart tells me so--I
shall be so much lord over their affections that, were I to take
a bride from the almshouse, so it was my pleasure, they would hail
her as if she were a daughter of MacCallanmore. But you reject my
suit?" said Eachin, sternly.

"You put words of offence in my mouth," said the old man, "and may
next punish me for them, since I am wholly in your power. But with
my consent my daughter shall never wed save in her own degree. Her
heart would break amid the constant wars and scenes of bloodshed
which connect themselves with your lot. If you really love her,
and recollect her dread of strife and combat, you would not wish
her to be subjected to the train of military horrors in which you,
like your father, must needs be inevitably and eternally engaged.
Choose a bride amongst the daughters of the mountain chiefs, my
son, or fiery Lowland nobles. You are fair, young, rich, high born,
and powerful, and will not woo in vain. You will readily find one
who will rejoice in your conquests, and cheer you under defeat. To
Catharine, the one would be as frightful as the other. A warrior
must wear a steel gauntlet: a glove of kidskin would be torn to
pieces in an hour."

A dark cloud passed over the face of the young chief, lately animated
with so much fire.

"Farewell," he said, "the only hope which could have lighted me to
fame or victory!"

He remained for a space silent, and intensely thoughtful, with
downcast eyes, a lowering brow, and folded arms. At length he raised
his hands, and said: "Father,--for such you have been to me--I
am about to tell you a secret. Reason and pride both advise me to
be silent, but fate urges me, and must be obeyed. I am about to
lodge in you the deepest and dearest secret that man ever confided
to man. But beware--end this conference how it will--beware
how you ever breathe a syllable of what I am now to trust to you;
for know that, were you to do so in the most remote corner of
Scotland, I have ears to hear it even there, and a hand and poniard
to reach a traitor's bosom. I am--but the word will not out!"

"Do not speak it then," said the prudent glover: "a secret is
no longer safe when it crosses the lips of him who owns it, and I
desire not a confidence so dangerous as you menace me with."

"Ay, but I must speak, and you must hear," said the youth. "In this
age of battle, father, you have yourself been a combatant?"

"Once only," replied Simon, "when the Southron assaulted the Fair
City. I was summoned to take my part in the defence, as my tenure
required, like that of other craftsmen, who are bound to keep watch
and ward."

"And how felt you upon that matter?" inquired the young chief.

"What can that import to the present business?" said Simon, in some
surprise.

"Much, else I had not asked the question," answered. Eachin, in
the tone of haughtiness which from time to time he assumed.

"An old man is easily brought to speak of olden times," said Simon,
not unwilling, on an instant's reflection, to lead the conversation
away from the subject of his daughter, "and I must needs confess
my feelings were much short of the high, cheerful confidence, nay,
the pleasure, with which I have seen other men go to battle. My
life and profession were peaceful, and though I have not wanted
the spirit of a man, when the time demanded it, yet I have seldom
slept worse than the night before that onslaught. My ideas were
harrowed by the tales we were told--nothing short of the truth
--about the Saxon archers: how they drew shafts of a cloth yard
length, and used bows a third longer than ours. When I fell into
a broken slumber, if but a straw in the mattress pricked my side
I started and waked, thinking an English arrow was quivering in my
body. In the morning, as I began for very weariness to sink into
some repose, I was waked by the tolling of the common bell, which
called us burghers to the walls; I never heard its sound peal so
like a passing knell before or since."

"Go on--what further chanced?" demanded Eachin.

"I did on my harness," said Simon, "such as it was; took my mother's
blessing, a high spirited woman, who spoke of my father's actions
for the honour of the Fair Town. This heartened me, and I felt
still bolder when I found myself ranked among the other crafts,
all bowmen, for thou knowest the Perth citizens have good skill
in archery. We were dispersed on the walls, several knights and
squires in armour of proof being mingled amongst us, who kept a
bold countenance, confident perhaps in their harness, and informed
us, for our encouragement, that they would cut down with their
swords and axes any of those who should attempt to quit their post.
I was kindly assured of this myself by the old Kempe of Kinfauns,
as he was called, this good Sir Patrick's father, then our provost. He
was a grandson of the Red Rover, Tom of Longueville, and a likely
man to keep his word, which he addressed to me in especial, because
a night of much discomfort may have made me look paler than usual;
and, besides, I was but a lad."

"And did his exhortation add to your fear or your resolution?" said
Eachin, who seemed very attentive.

"To my resolution," answered Simon; "for I think nothing can make
a man so bold to face one danger at some distance in his front as
the knowledge of another close behind him, to push him forward.
Well, I mounted the walls in tolerable heart, and was placed with
others on the Spey Tower, being accounted a good bowman. But a
very cold fit seized me as I saw the English, in great order, with
their archers in front, and their men at arms behind, marching
forward to the attack in strong columns, three in number. They came
on steadily, and some of us would fain have shot at them; but it
was strictly forbidden, and we were obliged to remain motionless,
sheltering ourselves behind the battlement as we best might. As
the Southron formed their long ranks into lines, each man occupying
his place as by magic, and preparing to cover themselves by large
shields, called pavesses, which they planted before them, I again
felt a strange breathlessness, and some desire to go home for a
glass of distilled waters. But as I looked aside, I saw the worthy
Kempe of Kinfauns bending a large crossbow, and I thought it pity
he should waste the bolt on a true hearted Scotsman, when so many
English were in presence; so I e'en staid where I was, being in
a comfortable angle, formed by two battlements. The English then
strode forward, and drew their bowstrings--not to the breast,
as your Highland kerne do, but to the ear--and sent off their
volleys of swallow tails before we could call on St. Andrew. I winked
when I saw them haul up their tackle, and I believe I started as
the shafts began to rattle against the parapet. But looking round
me, and seeing none hurt but John Squallit, the town crier, whose
jaws were pierced through with a cloth yard shaft, I took heart of
grace, and shot in my turn with good will and good aim. A little
man I shot at, who had just peeped out from behind his target,
dropt with a shaft through his shoulder. The provost cried, 'Well
stitched, Simon Glover!' 'St. John, for his own town, my fellow
craftsmen!' shouted I, though I was then but an apprentice. And if
you will believe me, in the rest of the skirmish, which was ended
by the foes drawing off, I drew bowstring and loosed shaft as
calmly as if I had been shooting at butts instead of men's breasts.
I gained some credit, and I have ever afterwards thought that, in
case of necessity--for with me it had never been matter of choice
--I should not have lost it again. And this is all I can tell
of warlike experience in battle. Other dangers I have had, which
I have endeavoured to avoid like a wise man, or, when they were
inevitable, I have faced them like a true one. Upon other terms a
man cannot live or hold up his head in Scotland."

"I understand your tale," said Eachin; "but I shall find it difficult
to make you credit mine, knowing the race of which I am descended,
and especially that I am the son of him whom we have this day laid
in the tomb--well that he lies where he will never learn what
you are now to hear! Look, my father, the light which I bear grows
short and pale, a few minutes will extinguish it; but before it
expires, the hideous tale will be told. Father, I am--a COWARD!
It is said at last, and the secret of my disgrace is in keeping of
another!"

The young man sunk back in a species of syncope, produced by the
agony of his mind as he made the fatal communication. The glover,
moved as well by fear as by compassion, applied himself to recall
him to life, and succeeded in doing so, but not in restoring him
to composure. He hid his face with his hands, and his tears flowed
plentifully and bitterly.

"For Our Lady's sake, be composed," said the old man, "and recall
the vile word! I know you better than yourself: you are no coward,
but only too young and inexperienced, ay, and somewhat too quick
of fancy, to have the steady valour of a bearded man. I would hear
no other man say that of you, Conachar, without giving him the lie.
You are no coward: I have seen high sparks of spirit fly from you
even on slight enough provocation."

"High sparks of pride and passion!" said the unfortunate youth;
"but when saw you them supported by the resolution that should have
backed them? The sparks you speak of fell on my dastardly heart
as on a piece of ice which could catch fire from nothing: if my
offended pride urged me to strike, my weakness of mind prompted me
the next moment to fly."

"Want of habit," said Simon; "it is by clambering over walls that
youths learn to scale precipices. Begin with slight feuds; exercise
daily the arms of your country in tourney with your followers."

"And what leisure is there for this?" exclaimed the young chief,
starting as if something horrid had occurred to his imagination.
"How many days are there betwixt this hour and Palm Sunday, and
what is to chance then? A list inclosed, from which no man can stir,
more than the poor bear who is chained to his stake. Sixty living
men, the best and fiercest--one alone excepted!--which Albyn can
send down from her mountains, all athirst for each other's blood,
while a king and his nobles, and shouting thousands besides, attend,
as at a theatre, to encourage their demoniac fury! Blows clang and
blood flows, thicker, faster, redder; they rush on each other like
madmen, they tear each other like wild beasts; the wounded are
trodden to death amid the feet of their companions! Blood ebbs, arms
become weak; but there must be no parley, no truce, no interruption,
while any of the maimed wretches remain alive! Here is no crouching
behind battlements, no fighting with missile weapons: all is hand
to hand, till hands can no longer be raised to maintain the ghastly
conflict! If such a field is so horrible in idea, what think you
it will be in reality?"

The glover remained silent.

"I say again, what think you?"

"I can only pity you, Conachar," said Simon. "It is hard to be
the descendant of a lofty line--the son of a noble father--the
leader by birth of a gallant array, and yet to want, or think you
want, for still I trust the fault lies much in a quick fancy, that
over estimates danger--to want that dogged quality which is
possessed by every game cock that is worth a handful of corn, every
hound that is worth a mess of offal. But how chanced it that, with
such a consciousness of inability to fight in this battle, you
proffered even now to share your chiefdom with my daughter? Your
power must depend on your fighting this combat, and in that Catharine
cannot help you."

"You mistake, old man," replied Eachin: "were Catharine to look
kindly on the earnest love I bear her, it would carry me against the
front of the enemies with the mettle of a war horse. Overwhelming
as my sense of weakness is, the feeling that Catharine looked on
would give me strength. Say yet--oh, say yet--she shall be mine
if we gain the combat, and not the Gow Chrom himself, whose heart
is of a piece with his anvil, ever went to battle so light as I
shall do! One strong passion is conquered by another."

"This is folly, Conachar. Cannot the recollection of your interest,
your honour, your kindred, do as much to stir your courage as the
thoughts of a brent browed lass? Fie upon you, man!"

"You tell me but what I have told myself, but it is in vain,"
replied Eachin, with a sigh. "It is only whilst the timid stag is
paired with the doe that he is desperate and dangerous. Be it from
constitution; be it, as our Highland cailliachs will say, from the
milk of the white doe; be it from my peaceful education and the
experience of your strict restraint; be it, as you think, from an
overheated fancy, which paints danger yet more dangerous and ghastly
than it is in reality, I cannot tell. But I know my failing, and
--yes, it must be said!--so sorely dread that I cannot conquer
it, that, could I have your consent to my wishes on such terms,
I would even here make a pause, renounce the rank I have assumed,
and retire into humble life."

"What, turn glover at last, Conachar?" said Simon. "This beats the
legend of St. Crispin. Nay--nay, your hand was not framed for
that: you shall spoil me no more doe skins."

"Jest not," said Eachin, "I am serious. If I cannot labour, I will
bring wealth enough to live without it. They will proclaim me
recreant with horn and war pipe. Let them do so. Catharine will love
me the better that I have preferred the paths of peace to those of
bloodshed, and Father Clement shall teach us to pity and forgive
the world, which will load us with reproaches that wound not. I
shall be the happiest of men; Catharine will enjoy all that unbounded
affection can confer upon her, and will be freed from apprehension
of the sights and sounds of horror which your ill assorted match
would have prepared for her; and you, father Glover, shall occupy
your chimney corner, the happiest and most honoured man that ever
--"

"Hold, Eachin--I prithee, hold," said the glover; "the fir light,
with which this discourse must terminate, burns very low, and I
would speak a word in my turn, and plain dealing is best. Though it
may vex, or perhaps enrage, you, let me end these visions by saying
at once: Catharine can never be yours. A glove is the emblem of
faith, and a man of my craft should therefore less than any other
break his own. Catharine's hand is promised--promised to a man
whom you may hate, but whom you must honour--to Henry the armourer.
The match is fitting by degree, agreeable to their mutual wishes,
and I have given my promise. It is best to be plain at once; resent
my refusal as you will--I am wholly in your power. But nothing
shall make me break my word."

The glover spoke thus decidedly, because he was aware from experience
that the very irritable disposition of his former apprentice yielded
in most cases to stern and decided resolution. Yet, recollecting
where he was, it was with some feelings of fear that he saw the
dying flame leap up and spread a flash of light on the visage of
Eachin, which seemed pale as the grave, while his eye rolled like
that of a maniac in his fever fit. The light instantly sunk down
and died, and Simon felt a momentary terror lest he should have
to dispute for his life with the youth, whom he knew to be capable
of violent actions when highly excited, however short a period his
nature could support the measures which his passion commenced. He
was relieved by the voice of Eachin, who muttered in a hoarse and
altered tone:

"Let what we have spoken this night rest in silence for ever. If
thou bring'st it to light, thou wert better dig thine own grave."

Thus speaking, the door of the hut opened, admitting a gleam of
moonshine. The form of the retiring chief crossed it for an instant,
the hurdle was then closed, and the shieling left in darkness.

Simon Glover felt relieved when a conversation fraught with offence
and danger was thus peaceably terminated. But he remained deeply
affected by the condition of Hector MacIan, whom he had himself
bred up.

"The poor child," said he, "to be called up to a place of eminence,
only to be hurled from it with contempt! What he told me I partly
knew, having often remarked that Conachar was more prone to quarrel
than to fight. But this overpowering faint heartedness, which
neither shame nor necessity can overcome, I, though no Sir William
Wallace, cannot conceive. And to propose himself for a husband to
my daughter, as if a bride were to find courage for herself and
the bridegroom! No--no, Catharine must wed a man to whom she may
say, 'Husband, spare your enemy'--not one in whose behalf she
must cry, 'Generous enemy, spare my husband!"

Tired out with these reflections, the old man at length fell asleep.
In the morning he was awakened by his friend the Booshalloch, who,
with something of a blank visage, proposed to him to return to his
abode on the meadow at the Ballough. He apologised that the chief
could not see Simon Glover that morning, being busied with things
about the expected combat; and that Eachin MacIan thought the residence
at the Ballough would be safest for Simon Glover's health, and had
given charge that every care should be taken for his protection
and accommodation.

Niel Booshalloch dilated on these circumstances, to gloss over
the neglect implied in the chief's dismissing his visitor without
a particular audience.

"His father knew better," said the herdsman. "But where should
he have learned manners, poor thing, and bred up among your Perth
burghers, who, excepting yourself, neighbour Glover, who speak
Gaelic as well as I do, are a race incapable of civility?"

Simon Glover, it may be well believed, felt none of the want of
respect which his friend resented on his account. On the contrary, he
greatly preferred the quiet residence of the good herdsman to the
tumultuous hospitality of the daily festival of the chief, even if
there had not just passed an interview with Eachin upon a subject
which it would be most painful to revive.

To the Ballough, therefore, he quietly retreated, where, could
he have been secure of Catharine's safety, his leisure was spent
pleasantly enough. His amusement was sailing on the lake in a little
skiff, which a Highland boy managed, while the old man angled. He
frequently landed on the little island, where he mused over the
tomb of his old friend Gilchrist MacIan, and made friends with the
monks, presenting the prior with gloves of martens' fur, and the
superior officers with each of them a pair made from the skin of
the wildcat. The cutting and stitching of these little presents
served to beguile the time after sunset, while the family of the
herdsman crowded around, admiring his address, and listening to
the tales and songs with which the old man had skill to pass away
a heavy evening.

It must be confessed that the cautious glover avoided the conversation
of Father Clement, whom he erroneously considered as rather the
author of his misfortunes than the guiltless sharer of them. "I
will not," he thought, "to please his fancies, lose the goodwill
of these kind monks, which may be one day useful to me. I have
suffered enough by his preachments already, I trow. Little the
wiser and much the poorer they have made me. No--no, Catharine
and Clement may think as they will; but I will take the first
opportunity to sneak back like a rated hound at the call of his
master, submit to a plentiful course of haircloth and whipcord,
disburse a lusty mulct, and become whole with the church again."

More than a fortnight had passed since the glover had arrived
at Ballough, and he began to wonder that he had not heard news of
Catharine or of Henry Wynd, to whom he concluded the provost had
communicated the plan and place of his retreat. He knew the stout
smith dared not come up into the Clan Quhele country, on account
of various feuds with the inhabitants, and with Eachin himself,
while bearing the name of Conachar; but yet the glover thought Henry
might have found means to send him a message, or a token, by some
one of the various couriers who passed and repassed between the court
and the headquarters of the Clan Quhele, in order to concert the
terms of the impending combat, the march of the parties to Perth,
and other particulars requiring previous adjustment. It was now
the middle of March, and the fatal Palm Sunday was fast approaching.

Whilst time was thus creeping on, the exiled glover had not even
once set eyes upon his former apprentice. The care that was taken
to attend to his wants and convenience in every respect showed that
he was not forgotten; but yet, when he heard the chieftain's horn
ringing through the woods, he usually made it a point to choose
his walk in a different direction. One morning, however, he found
himself unexpectedly in Eachin's close neighbourhood, with scarce
leisure to avoid him, and thus it happened.

As Simon strolled pensively through a little silvan glade, surrounded
on either side with tall forest trees, mixed with underwood, a white
doe broke from the thicket, closely pursued by two deer greyhounds,
one of which griped her haunch, the other her throat, and pulled
her down within half a furlong of the glover, who was something
startled at the suddenness of the incident. The ear and piercing
blast of a horn, and the baying of a slow hound, made Simon aware
that the hunters were close behind, and on the trace of the deer.
Hallooing and the sound of men running through the copse were heard
close at hand. A moment's recollection would have satisfied Simon
that his best way was to stand fast, or retire slowly, and leave
it to Eachin to acknowledge his presence or not, as he should see
cause. But his desire of shunning the young man had grown into a
kind of instinct, and in the alarm of finding him so near, Simon
hid himself in a bush of hazels mixed with holly, which altogether
concealed him. He had hardly done so ere Eachin, rosy with exercise,
dashed from the thicket into the open glade, accompanied by his
foster father, Torquil of the Oak. The latter, with equal strength
and address, turned the struggling hind on her back, and holding
her forefeet in his right hand, while he knelt on her body, offered
his skene with the left to the young chief, that he might cut the
animal's throat.

"It may not be, Torquil; do thine office, and take the assay thyself.
I must not kill the likeness of my foster--"

This was spoken with a melancholy smile, while a tear at the same
time stood in the speaker's eye. Torquil stared at his young chief
for an instant, then drew his sharp wood knife across the creature's
throat with a cut so swift and steady that the weapon reached the
backbone. Then rising on his feet, and again fixing a long piercing
look on his chief, he said: "As much as I have done to that hind
would I do to any living man whose ears could have heard my dault
(foster son) so much as name a white doe, and couple the word with
Hector's name!"

If Simon had no reason before to keep himself concealed, this speech
of Torquil furnished him with a pressing one.

"It cannot be concealed, father Torquil," said Eachin: "it will
all out to the broad day."

"What will out? what will to broad day?" asked Torquil in surprise.

"It is the fatal secret," thought Simon; "and now, if this huge
privy councillor cannot keep silence, I shall be made answerable,
I suppose, for Eachin's disgrace having been blown abroad."

Thinking thus anxiously, he availed himself at the same time of
his position to see as much as he could of what passed between the
afflicted chieftain and his confidant, impelled by that spirit of
curiosity which prompts us in the most momentous, as well as the
most trivial, occasions of life, and which is sometimes found to
exist in company with great personal fear.

As Torquil listened to what Eachin communicated, the young man sank
into his arms, and, supporting himself on his shoulder, concluded
his confession by a whisper into his ear. Torquil seemed to listen
with such amazement as to make him incapable of crediting his ears.
As if to be certain that it was Eachin who spoke, he gradually roused
the youth from his reclining posture, and, holding him up in some
measure by a grasp on his shoulder, fixed on him an eye that seemed
enlarged, and at the same time turned to stone, by the marvels he
listened to. And so wild waxed the old man's visage after he had
heard the murmured communication, that Simon Glover apprehended
he would cast the youth from him as a dishonoured thing, in which
case he might have lighted among the very copse in which he lay
concealed, and occasioned his discovery in a manner equally painful
and dangerous. But the passions of Torquil, who entertained for
his foster child even a double portion of that passionate fondness
which always attends that connexion in the Highlands took a different
turn.

"I believe it not," he exclaimed; "it is false of thy father's
child, false of thy mother's son, falsest of my dault! I offer my
gage to heaven and hell, and will maintain the combat with him that
shall call it true. Thou hast been spellbound by an evil eye, my
darling, and the fainting which you call cowardice is the work of
magic. I remember the bat that struck the torch out on the hour
that thou wert born--that hour of grief and of joy. Cheer up,
my beloved. Thou shalt with me to Iona, and the good St. Columbus,
with the whole choir of blessed saints and angels, who ever favoured
thy race, shall take from thee the heart of the white doe and return
that which they have stolen from thee."

Eachin listened, with a look as if he would fain have believed the
words of the comforter.

"But, Torquil," he said, "supposing this might avail us, the fatal
day approaches, and if I go to the lists, I dread me we shall be
shamed."

"It cannot be--it shall not!" said Torquil. "Hell shall not prevail
so far: we will steep thy sword in holy water, place vervain, St.
John's Wort, and rowan tree in thy crest. We will surround thee,
I and thy eight brethren: thou shalt be safe as in a castle."

Again the youth helplessly uttered something, which, from the
dejected tone in which it was spoken, Simon could not understand,
while Torquil's deep tones in reply fell full and distinct upon
his ear.

"Yes, there may be a chance of withdrawing thee from the conflict.
Thou art the youngest who is to draw blade. Now, hear me, and thou
shalt know what it is to have a foster father's love, and how far
it exceeds the love even of kinsmen. The youngest on the indenture
of the Clan Chattan is Ferquhard Day. His father slew mine, and
the red blood is seething hot between us; I looked to Palm Sunday
as the term that should cool it. But mark! Thou wouldst have thought
that the blood in the veins of this Ferquhard Day and in mine would
not have mingled had they been put into the same vessel, yet hath
he cast the eyes of his love upon my only daughter Eva, the fairest
of our maidens. Think with what feelings I heard the news. It was
as if a wolf from the skirts of Farragon had said, 'Give me thy
child in wedlock, Torquil.' My child thought not thus: she loves
Ferquhard, and weeps away her colour and strength in dread of the
approaching battle. Let her give him but a sign of favour, and well
I know he will forget kith and kin, forsake the field, and fly with
her to the desert."

"He, the youngest of the champions of Clan Chattan, being absent,
I, the youngest of the Clan Quhele, may be excused from combat"
said Eachin, blushing at the mean chance of safety thus opened to
him.

"See now, my chief;" said Torquil, "and judge my thoughts towards
thee: others might give thee their own lives and that of their sons
--I sacrifice to thee the honour of my house."

"My friend--my father," repeated the chief, folding Torquil to
his bosom, "what a base wretch am I that have a spirit dastardly
enough to avail myself of your sacrifice!"

"Speak not of that. Green woods have ears. Let us back to the camp,
and send our gillies for the venison. Back, dogs, and follow at
heel."

The slowhound, or lyme dog, luckily for Simon, had drenched his
nose in the blood of the deer, else he might have found the glover's
lair in the thicket; but its more acute properties of scent being
lost, it followed tranquilly with the gazehounds.

When the hunters were out of sight and hearing, the glover arose,
greatly relieved by their departure, and began to move off in the
opposite direction as fast as his age permitted. His first reflection
was on the fidelity of the foster father.

"The wild mountain heart is faithful and true. Yonder man is more
like the giants in romaunts than a man of mould like ourselves;
and yet Christians might take an example from him for his lealty.
A simple contrivance this, though, to finger a man from off their
enemies' chequer, as if there would not be twenty of the wildcats
ready to supply his place."

Thus thought the glover, not aware that the strictest proclamations
were issued, prohibiting any of the two contending clans, their
friends, allies, and dependants, from coming within fifty miles
of Perth, during a week before and a week after the combat, which
regulation was to be enforced by armed men.

So soon as our friend Simon arrived at the habitation of the
herdsman, he found other news awaiting him. They were brought by
Father Clement, who came in a pilgrim's cloak, or dalmatic, ready
to commence his return to the southward, and desirous to take leave
of his companion in exile, or to accept him as a travelling companion.

"But what," said the citizen, "has so suddenly induced you to return
within the reach of danger ?"

"Have you not heard," said Father Clement, "that, March and
his English allies having retired into England before the Earl of
Douglas, the good earl has applied himself to redress the evils of
the commonwealth, and hath written to the court letters desiring
that the warrant for the High Court of Commission against heresy be
withdrawn, as a trouble to men's consciences, that the nomination
of Henry of Wardlaw to be prelate of St. Andrews be referred to
the Parliament, with sundry other things pleasing to the Commons?
Now, most of the nobles that are with the King at Perth, and with
them Sir Patrick Charteris, your worthy provost, have declared
for the proposals of the Douglas. The Duke of Albany had agreed to
them--whether from goodwill or policy I know not. The good King
is easily persuaded to mild and gentle courses. And thus are the
jaw teeth of the oppressors dashed to pieces in their sockets, and
the prey snatched from their ravening talons. Will you with me to
the Lowlands, or do you abide here a little space?"

Neil Booshalloch saved his friend the trouble of reply.

"He had the chief's authority," he said, "for saying that Simon
Glover should abide until the champions went down to the battle."

In this answer the citizen saw something not quite consistent with
his own perfect freedom of volition; but he cared little for it at
the time, as it furnished a good apology for not travelling along
with the clergyman.

"An exemplary man," he said to his friend Niel Booshalloch, as soon
as Father Clement had taken leave--"a great scholar and a great
saint. It is a pity almost he is no longer in danger to be burned,
as his sermon at the stake would convert thousands. O Niel Booshalloch,
Father Clement's pile would be a sweet savouring sacrifice and a
beacon to all decent Christians! But what would the burning of a
borrel ignorant burgess like me serve? Men offer not up old glove
leather for incense, nor are beacons fed with undressed hides, I
trow. Sooth to speak, I have too little learning and too much fear
to get credit by the affair, and, therefore, I should, in our homely
phrase, have both the scathe and the scorn."

"True for you," answered the herdsman.



CHAPTER XXX.


We must return to the characters of our dramatic narrative whom we
left at Perth, when we accompanied the glover and his fair daughter
to Kinfauns, and from that hospitable mansion traced the course of
Simon to Loch Tay; and the Prince, as the highest personage, claims
our immediate attention.

This rash and inconsiderate young man endured with some impatience
his sequestered residence with the Lord High Constable, with
whose company, otherwise in every respect satisfactory, he became
dissatisfied, from no other reason than that he held in some
degree the character of his warder. Incensed against his uncle and
displeased with his father, he longed, not unnaturally, for the
society of Sir John Ramorny, on whom he had been so long accustomed
to throw himself for amusement, and, though he would have resented
the imputation as an insult, for guidance and direction. He therefore
sent him a summons to attend him, providing his health permitted;
and directed him to come by water to a little pavilion in the High
Constable's garden, which, like that of Sir John's own lodgings,
ran down to the Tay. In renewing an intimacy so dangerous, Rothsay
only remembered that he had been Sir Join Ramorny's munificent friend;
while Sir John, on receiving the invitation, only recollected, on
his part, the capricious insults he had sustained from his patron,
the loss of his hand, and the lightness with which he had treated
the subject, and the readiness with which Rothsay had abandoned
his cause in the matter of the bonnet maker's slaughter. He laughed
bitterly when he read the Prince's billet.

"Eviot," he said, "man a stout boat with six trusty men--trusty
men, mark me--lose not a moment, and bid Dwining instantly come
hither.

"Heaven smiles on us, my trusty friend," he said to the mediciner.
"I was but beating my brains how to get access to this fickle boy,
and here he sends to invite me."

"Hem! I see the matter very clearly," said Dwining. "Heaven smiles
on some untoward consequences--he! he! he!"

"No matter, the trap is ready; and it is baited, too, my friend,
with what would lure the boy from a sanctuary, though a troop
with drawn weapons waited him in the churchyard. Yet is it scarce
necessary. His own weariness of himself would have done the job.
Get thy matters ready--thou goest with us. Write to him, as I
cannot, that we come instantly to attend his commands, and do it
clerkly. He reads well, and that he owes to me."

"He will be your valiancie's debtor for more knowledge before he dies
--he! he! he! But is your bargain sure with the Duke of Albany?"

"Enough to gratify my ambition, thy avarice, and the revenge
of both. Aboard--aboard, and speedily; let Eviot throw in a few
flasks of the choicest wine, and some cold baked meats."

"But your arm, my lord, Sir John? Does it not pain you?"

"The throbbing of my heart silences the pain of my wound. It beats
as it would burst my bosom."

"Heaven forbid!" said Dwining; adding, in a low voice--"It would
be a strange sight if it should. I should like to dissect it, save
that its stony case would spoil my best instruments."

In a few minutes they were in the boat, while a speedy messenger
carried the note to the Prince.

Rothsay was seated with the Constable, after their noontide repast.
He was sullen and silent; and the earl had just asked whether it
was his pleasure that the table should be cleared, when a note,
delivered to the Prince, changed at once his aspect.

"As you will," he said. "I go to the pavilion in the garden--
always with permission of my Lord Constable--to receive my late
master of the horse."

"My lord!" said Lord Errol.

"Ay, my lord; must I ask permission twice?"

"No, surely, my lord," answered the Constable; "but has your Royal
Highness recollected that Sir John Ramorny--"

"Has not the plague, I hope?" replied the Duke of Rothsay. "Come,
Errol, you would play the surly turnkey, but it is not in your
nature; farewell for half an hour."

"A new folly!" said Errol, as the Prince, flinging open a lattice
of the ground parlour in which they sat, stept out into the garden
--"a new folly, to call back that villain to his counsels. But he
is infatuated."

The Prince, in the mean time, looked back, and said hastily:

"Your lordship's good housekeeping will afford us a flask or two of
wine and a slight collation in the pavilion? I love the al fresco
of the river."

The Constable bowed, and gave the necessary orders; so that Sir John
found the materials of good cheer ready displayed, when, landing
from his barge, he entered the pavilion.

"It grieves my heart to see your Highness under restraint," said
Ramorny, with a well executed appearance of sympathy.

"That grief of thine will grieve mine," said the Prince. "I am sure
here has Errol, and a right true hearted lord he is, so tired me
with grave looks, and something like grave lessons, that he has
driven me back to thee, thou reprobate, from whom, as I expect
nothing good, I may perhaps obtain something entertaining. Yet,
ere we say more, it was foul work, that upon the Fastern's Even,
Ramorny. I well hope thou gavest not aim to it."

"On my honour, my lord, a simple mistake of the brute Bonthron. I
did hint to him that a dry beating would be due to the fellow by
whom I had lost a hand; and lo you, my knave makes a double mistake.
He takes one man for another, and instead of the baton he uses the
axe."

"It is well that it went no farther. Small matter for the bonnet
maker; but I had never forgiven you had the armourer fallen--there
is not his match in Britain. But I hope they hanged the villain
high enough?"

"If thirty feet might serve," replied Ramorny.

"Pah! no more of him," said Rothsay; "his wretched name makes the
good wine taste of blood. And what are the news in Perth, Ramorny?
How stands it with the bona robas and the galliards?"

"Little galliardise stirring, my lord," answered the knight. "All
eyes are turned to the motions of the Black Douglas, who comes with
five thousand chosen men to put us all to rights, as if he were
bound for another Otterburn. It is said he is to be lieutenant
again. It is certain many have declared for his faction."

"It is time, then, my feet were free," said Rothsay, "otherwise I
may find a worse warder than Errol."

"Ah, my lord! were you once away from this place, you might make
as bold a head as Douglas."

"Ramorny," said the Prince, gravely, "I have but a confused
remembrance of your once having proposed something horrible to me.
Beware of such counsel. I would be free--I would have my person
at my own disposal; but I will never levy arms against my father,
nor those it pleases him to trust."

"It was only for your Royal Highness's personal freedom that I
was presuming to speak," answered Ramorny. "Were I in your Grace's
place, I would get me into that good boat which hovers on the Tay,
and drop quietly down to Fife, where you have many friends, and
make free to take possession of Falkland. It is a royal castle; and
though the King has bestowed it in gift on your uncle, yet surely,
even if the grant were not subject to challenge, your Grace might
make free with the residence of so near a relative."

"He hath made free with mine," said the Duke, "as the stewartry
of Renfrew can tell. But stay, Ramorny--hold; did I not hear
Errol say that the Lady Marjory Douglas, whom they call Duchess of
Rothsay, is at Falkland? I would neither dwell with that lady nor
insult her by dislodging her."

"The lady was there, my lord," replied Ramorny; "I have sure advice
that she is gone to meet her father."

"Ha! to animate the Douglas against me? or perhaps to beg him to
spare me, providing I come on my knees to her bed, as pilgrims say
the emirs and amirals upon whom a Saracen soldan bestows a daughter
in marriage are bound to do? Ramorny, I will act by the Douglas's
own saying, 'It is better to hear the lark sing than the mouse
squeak.' I will keep both foot and hand from fetters."

"No place fitter than Falkland," replied Ramorny. "I have enough
of good yeomen to keep the place; and should your Highness wish to
leave it, a brief ride reaches the sea in three directions."

"You speak well. But we shall die of gloom yonder. Neither mirth,
music, nor maidens--ha!" said the heedless Prince.

"Pardon me, noble Duke; but, though the Lady Marjory Douglas be
departed, like an errant dame in romance, to implore succour of her
doughty sire, there is, I may say, a lovelier, I am sure a younger,
maiden, either presently at Falkland or who will soon be on the road
thither. Your Highness has not forgotten the Fair Maid of Perth?"

"Forget the prettiest wench in Scotland! No--any more than
thou hast forgotten the hand that thou hadst in the Curfew Street
onslaught on St. Valentine's Eve."

"The hand that I had! Your Highness would say, the hand that I
lost. As certain as I shall never regain it, Catharine Glover is,
or will soon be, at Falkland. I will not flatter your Highness by
saying she expects to meet you; in truth, she proposes to place
herself under the protection of the Lady Marjory."

"The little traitress," said the Prince--"she too to turn against
me? She deserves punishment, Ramorny."

"I trust your Grace will make her penance a gentle one," replied
the knight.

"Faith, I would have been her father confessor long ago, but I have
ever found her coy."

"Opportunity was lacking, my lord," replied Ramorny; "and time
presses even now."

"Nay, I am but too apt for a frolic; but my father--"

"He is personally safe," said Ramorny, "and as much at freedom as
ever he can be; while your Highness--"

"Must brook fetters, conjugal or literal--I know it. Yonder comes
Douglas, with his daughter in his hand, as haughty and as harsh
featured as himself, bating touches of age."

"And at Falkland sits in solitude the fairest wench in Scotland,"
said Ramorny. "Here is penance and restraint, yonder is joy and
freedom."

"Thou hast prevailed, most sage counsellor," replied Rothsay; "but
mark you, it shall be the last of my frolics."

"I trust so," replied Ramorny; "for, when at liberty, you may make
a good accommodation with your royal father."

"I will write to him, Ramorny. Get the writing materials. No, I
cannot put my thoughts in words--do thou write."

"Your Royal Highness forgets," said Ramorny, pointing to his
mutilated arm.

"Ah! that cursed hand of yours. What can we do?"

"So please your Highness," answered his counsellor, "if you would
use the hand of the mediciner, Dwining--he writes like a clerk."

"Hath he a hint of the circumstances? Is he possessed of them?"

"Fully," said Ramorny; and, stepping to the window, he called
Dwining from the boat.

He entered the presence of the Prince of Scotland, creeping as if
he trode upon eggs, with downcast eyes, and a frame that seemed
shrunk up by a sense of awe produced by the occasion.

"There, fellow, are writing materials. I will make trial of you;
thou know'st the case--place my conduct to my father in a fair
light."

Dwining sat down, and in a few minutes wrote a letter, which he
handed to Sir John Ramorny.

"Why, the devil has aided thee, Dwining," said the knight. "Listen,
my dear lord. 'Respected father and liege sovereign--Know that
important considerations induce me to take my departure from this
your court, purposing to make my abode at Falkland, both as the
seat of my dearest uncle Albany, with whom I know your Majesty
would desire me to use all familiarity, and as the residence of one
from whom I have been too long estranged, and with whom I haste to
exchange vows of the closest affection from henceforward.'"

The Duke of Rothsay and Ramorny laughed aloud; and the physician,
who had listened to his own scroll as if it were a sentence of death,
encouraged by their applause, raised his eyes, uttered faintly his
chuckling note of "He! he!" and was again grave and silent, as if
afraid he had transgressed the bounds of reverent respect.

"Admirable!" said the Prince--"admirable! The old man will apply
all this to the Duchess, as they call her, of Rothsay. Dwining, thou
shouldst be a secretis to his Holiness the Pope, who sometimes, it
is said, wants a scribe that can make one word record two meanings.
I will subscribe it, and have the praise of the device."

"And now, my lord," said Ramorny, sealing the letter and leaving
it behind, "will you not to boat?"

"Not till my chamberlain attends with some clothes and necessaries,
and you may call my sewer also."

"My lord," said Ramorny, "time presses, and preparation will but
excite suspicion. Your officers will follow with the mails tomorrow.
For tonight, I trust my poor service may suffice to wait on you at
table and chamber."

"Nay, this time it is thou who forgets," said the Prince, touching
the wounded arm with his walking rod. "Recollect, man, thou canst
neither carve a capon nor tie a point--a goodly sewer or valet
of the mouth!"

Ramorny grinned with rage and pain; for his wound, though in a
way of healing, was still highly sensitive, and even the pointing
a finger towards it made him tremble.

"Will your Highness now be pleased to take boat?"

"Not till I take leave of the Lord Constable. Rothsay must not slip
away, like a thief from a prison, from the house of Errol. Summon
him hither."

"My Lord Duke," said Ramorny, "it may be dangerous to our plan."

"To the devil with danger, thy plan, and thyself! I must and will
act to Errol as becomes us both."

The earl entered, agreeable to the Prince's summons.

"I gave you this trouble, my lord," said Rothsay, with the dignified
courtesy which he knew so well how to assume, "to thank you for your
hospitality and your good company. I can enjoy them no longer, as
pressing affairs call me to Falkland."

"My lord," said the Lord High Constable, "I trust your Grace
remembers that you are--under ward."

"How!--under ward? If I am a prisoner, speak plainly; if not, I
will take my freedom to depart."

"I would, my lord, your Highness would request his Majesty's
permission for this journey. There will be much displeasure."

"Mean you displeasure against yourself, my lord, or against me?"

"I have already said your Highness lies in ward here; but if you
determine to break it, I have no warrant--God forbid--to put
force on your inclinations. I can but entreat your Highness, for
your own sake--"

"Of my own interest I am the best judge. Good evening to you, my
lord."

The wilful Prince stepped into the boat with Dwining and Ramorny,
and, waiting for no other attendance, Eviot pushed off the vessel,
which descended the Tay rapidly by the assistance of sail and oar
and of the ebb tide.

For some space the Duke of Rothsay appeared silent and moody, nor
did his companions interrupt his reflections. He raised his head
at length and said: "My father loves a jest, and when all is over
he will take this frolic at no more serious rate than it deserves
--a fit of youth, with which he will deal as he has with others.
Yonder, my masters, shows the old hold of Kinfauns, frowning above
the Tay. Now, tell me, John Ramorny, how thou hast dealt to get the
Fair Maid of Perth out of the hands of yonder bull headed provost;
for Errol told me it was rumoured that she was under his protection."

"Truly she was, my lord, with the purpose of being transferred
to the patronage of the Duchess--I mean of the Lady Marjory of
Douglas. Now, this beetle headed provost, who is after all but a
piece of blundering valiancy, has, like most such, a retainer of
some slyness and cunning, whom he uses in all his dealings, and
whose suggestions he generally considers as his own ideas. Whenever
I would possess myself of a landward baron, I address myself to such
a confidant, who, in the present case, is called Kitt Henshaw, an
old skipper upon the Tay, and who, having in his time sailed as
far as Campvere, holds with Sir Patrick Charteris the respect due
to one who has seen foreign countries. This his agent I have made
my own, and by his means have insinuated various apologies in order
to postpone the departure of Catharine for Falkland."

"But to what good purpose?"

"I know not if it is wise to tell your Highness, lest you should
disapprove of my views. I meant the officers of the Commission for
inquiry into heretical opinions should have found the Fair Maid
at Kinfauns, for our beauty is a peevish, self willed swerver from
the church; and certes, I designed that the knight should have come
in for his share of the fines and confiscations that were about to
be inflicted. The monks were eager enough to be at him, seeing he
hath had frequent disputes with them about the salmon tithe."

"But wherefore wouldst thou have ruined the knight's fortunes, and
brought the beautiful young woman to the stake, perchance?"

"Pshaw, my Lord Duke! monks never burn pretty maidens. An old
woman might have been in some danger; and as for my Lord Provost,
as they call him, if they had clipped off some of his fat acres,
it would have been some atonement for the needless brave he put on
me in St. John's church."

"Methinks, John, it was but a base revenge," said Rothsay.

"Rest ye contented, my lord. He that cannot right himself by the
hand must use his head. Well, that chance was over by the tender
hearted Douglas's declaring in favour of tender conscience; and
then, my lord, old Henshaw found no further objections to carrying
the Fair Maid of Perth to Falkland, not to share the dulness of the
Lady Marjory's society, as Sir Patrick Charteris and she herself
doth opine, but to keep your Highness from tiring when we return
from hunting in the park."

There was again a long pause, in which the Prince seemed to muse
deeply. At length he spoke. "Ramorny, I have a scruple in this matter;
but if I name it to thee, the devil of sophistry, with which thou
art possessed, will argue it out of me, as it has done many others.
This girl is the most beautiful, one excepted, whom I ever saw or
knew; and I like her the more that she bears some features of--
Elizabeth of Dunbar. But she, I mean Catharine Glover, is contracted,
and presently to be wedded, to Henry the armourer, a craftsman
unequalled for skill, and a man at arms yet unmatched in the barrace.
To follow out this intrigue would do a good fellow too much wrong."

"Your Highness will not expect me to be very solicitous of Henry
Smith's interest," said Ramorny, looking at his wounded arm.

"By St. Andrew with his shored cross, this disaster of thine is too
much harped upon, John Ramorny! Others are content with putting a
finger into every man's pie, but thou must thrust in thy whole gory
hand. It is done, and cannot be undone; let it be forgotten."

"Nay, my lord, you allude to it more frequently than I," answered
the knight--"in derision, it is true; while I--but I can be
silent on the subject if I cannot forget it."

"Well, then, I tell thee that I have scruple about this intrigue.
Dost thou remember, when we went in a frolic to hear Father
Clement preach, or rather to see this fair heretic, that he spoke
as touchingly as a minstrel about the rich man taking away the poor
man's only ewe lamb?"

"A great matter, indeed," answered Sir John, "that this churl's
wife's eldest son should be fathered by the Prince of Scotland!
How many earls would covet the like fate for their fair countesses?
and how many that have had such good luck sleep not a grain the
worse for it?"

"And if I might presume to speak," said the mediciner, "the ancient
laws of Scotland assigned such a privilege to every feudal lord
over his female vassals, though lack of spirit and love of money
hath made many exchange it for gold."

"I require no argument to urge me to be kind to a pretty woman;
but this Catharine has been ever cold to me," said the Prince.

"Nay, my lord," said Ramorny, "if, young, handsome, and a prince,
you know not how to make yourself acceptable to a fine woman, it
is not for me to say more."

"And if it were not far too great audacity in me to speak again,
I would say," quoth the leech, "that all Perth knows that the Gow
Chrom never was the maiden's choice, but fairly forced upon her by
her father. I know for certain that she refused him repeatedly."

"Nay, if thou canst assure us of that, the case is much altered,"
said Rothsay. "Vulcan was a smith as well as Harry Wynd; he would
needs wed Venus, and our chronicles tell us what came of it."

"Then long may Lady Venus live and be worshipped," said Sir John
Ramorny, "and success to the gallant knight Mars who goes a-wooing
to her goddess-ship!"

The discourse took a gay and idle turn for a few minutes; but the
Duke of Rothsay soon dropped it. "I have left," he said, "yonder
air of the prison house behind me, and yet my spirits scarce revive.
I feel that drowsy, not unpleasing, yet melancholy mood that comes
over us when exhausted by exercise or satiated with pleasure. Some
music now, stealing on the ear, yet not loud enough to make us lift
the eye, were a treat for the gods."

"Your Grace has but to speak your wishes, and the nymphs of the
Tay are as favourable as the fair ones upon the shore. Hark! it is
a lute."

"A lute!" said the Duke of Rothsay, listening; "it is, and rarely
touched. I should remember that dying fall. Steer towards the boat
from whence the music comes"

"It is old Henshaw," said Ramorny, "working up the stream. How,
skipper!"

The boatman answered the hail, and drew up alongside of the Prince's
barge.

"Oh, ho! my old friend!" said the Prince, recognising the figure as
well as the appointments of the French glee woman, Louise. "I think
I owe thee something for being the means of thy having a fright,
at least, upon St. Valentine's Day. Into this boat with thee, lute,
puppy dog, scrip and all; I will prefer thee to a lady's service
who shall feed thy very cur on capons and canary."

"I trust your Highness will consider--" said Ramorny.

"I will consider nothing but my pleasure, John. Pray, do thou be
so complying as to consider it also."

"Is it indeed to a lady's service you would promote me?" said the
glee maiden. "And where does she dwell?"

"At Falkland," answered the Prince.

"Oh, I have heard of that great lady!" said Louise; "and will you
indeed prefer me to your right royal consort's service?"

"I will, by my honour--whenever I receive her as such. Mark that
reservation, John," said he aside to Ramorny.

The persons who were in the boat caught up the tidings, and,
concluding a reconciliation was about to take place betwixt the
royal couple, exhorted Louise to profit by her good fortune, and
add herself to the Duchess of Rothsay's train. Several offered her
some acknowledgment for the exercise of her talents.

During this moment of delay, Ramorny whispered to Dwining: "Make
in, knave, with some objection. This addition is one too many.
Rouse thy wits, while I speak a word with Henshaw."

"If I might presume to speak," said Dwining, "as one who have made
my studies both in Spain and Arabia, I would say, my lord, that the
sickness has appeared in Edinburgh, and that there may be risk in
admitting this young wanderer into your Highness's vicinity."

"Ah! and what is it to thee," said Rothsay, "whether I choose to
be poisoned by the pestilence or the 'pothecary? Must thou, too,
needs thwart my humour?"

While the Prince thus silenced the remonstrances of Dwining, Sir
John Ramorny had snatched a moment to learn from Henshaw that the
removal of the Duchess of Rothsay from Falkland was still kept
profoundly secret, and that Catharine Glover would arrive there
that evening or the next morning, in expectation of being taken
under the noble lady's protection.

The Duke of Rothsay, deeply plunged in thought, received this intimation
so coldly, that Ramorny took the liberty of remonstrating. "This,
my lord," he said, "is playing the spoiled child of fortune. You
wish for liberty; it comes. You wish for beauty; it awaits you,
with just so much delay as to render the boon more precious. Even
your slightest desires seem a law to the Fates; for you desire music
when it seems most distant, and the lute and song are at your hand.
These things, so sent, should be enjoyed, else we are but like
petted children, who break and throw from them the toys they have
wept themselves sick for."

"To enjoy pleasure, Ramorny," said the Prince, "a man should have
suffered pain, as it requires fasting to gain a good appetite. We,
who can have all for a wish, little enjoy that all when we have
possessed it. Seest thou yonder thick cloud, which is about to
burst to rain? It seems to stifle me--the waters look dark and
lurid--the shores have lost their beautiful form--"

"My lord, forgive your servant," said Ramorny. "You indulge
a powerful imagination, as an unskilful horseman permits a fiery
steed to rear until he falls back on his master and crushes him. I
pray you shake off this lethargy. Shall the glee maiden make some
music?"

"Let her; but it must be melancholy: all mirth would at this moment
jar on my ear."

The maiden sung a melancholy dirge in Norman French; the words,
of which the following is an imitation, were united to a tune as
doleful as they are themselves:

Yes, thou mayst sigh,
And look once more at all around,
At stream and bank, and sky and ground.
Thy life its final course has found,
And thou must die.

Yes, lay thee down,
And while thy struggling pulses flutter,
Bid the grey monk his soul mass mutter,
And the deep bell its death tone utter--
Thy life is gone.

Be not afraid.
'Tis but a pang, and then a thrill,
A fever fit, and then a chill,
And then an end of human ill,
For thou art dead.

The Prince made no observation on the music; and the maiden, at
Ramorny's beck, went on from time to time with her minstrel craft,
until the evening sunk down into rain, first soft and gentle, at
length in great quantities, and accompanied by a cold wind. There
was neither cloak nor covering for the Prince, and he sullenly
rejected that which Ramorny offered.

"It is not for Rothsay to wear your cast garments, Sir John; this
melted snow, which I feel pierce me to the very marrow, I am now
encountering by your fault. Why did you presume to put off the boat
without my servants and apparel?"

Ramorny did not attempt an exculpation; for he knew the Prince was
in one of those humours, when to enlarge upon a grievance was more
pleasing to him than to have his mouth stopped by any reasonable
apology. In sullen silence, or amid unsuppressed chiding, the boat
arrived at the fishing village of Newburgh. The party landed, and
found horses in readiness, which, indeed, Ramorny had long since
provided for the occasion. Their quality underwent the Prince's
bitter sarcasm, expressed to Ramorny sometimes by direct words,
oftener by bitter gibes. At length they were mounted and rode on
through the closing night and the falling rain, the Prince leading
the way with reckless haste. The glee maiden, mounted by his express
order, attended them and well for her that, accustomed to severe
weather, and exercise both on foot and horseback, she supported as
firmly as the men the fatigues of the nocturnal ride. Ramorny was
compelled to keep at the Prince's rein, being under no small anxiety
lest, in his wayward fit, he might ride off from him entirely, and,
taking refuge in the house of some loyal baron, escape the snare
which was spread for him. He therefore suffered inexpressibly during
the ride, both in mind and in body.

At length the forest of Falkland received them, and a glimpse of
the moon showed the dark and huge tower, an appendage of royalty
itself, though granted for a season to the Duke of Albany. On a
signal given the drawbridge fell. Torches glared in the courtyard,
menials attended, and the Prince, assisted from horseback, was
ushered into an apartment, where Ramorny waited on him, together
with Dwining, and entreated him to take the leech's advice. The
Duke of Rothsay repulsed the proposal, haughtily ordered his bed to
be prepared, and having stood for some time shivering in his dank
garments beside a large blazing fire, he retired to his apartment
without taking leave of anyone.

"You see the peevish humour of this childish boy, now," said Ramorny
to Dwining; "can you wonder that a servant who has done so much
for him as I have should be tired of such a master?"

"No, truly," said Dwining, "that and the promised earldom of Lindores
would shake any man's fidelity. But shall we commence with him this
evening? He has, if eye and cheek speak true, the foundation of a
fever within him, which will make our work easy while it will seem
the effect of nature."

"It is an opportunity lost," said Ramorny; "but we must delay our
blow till he has seen this beauty, Catharine Glover. She may be
hereafter a witness that she saw him in good health, and master of
his own motions, a brief space before--you understand me?"

Dwining nodded assent, and added:

"There is no time lost; for there is little difficulty in blighting
a flower exhausted from having been made to bloom too soon."



CHAPTER XXXI.

Ah, me! in sooth he was a shameless wight,
Sore given to revel and ungodly glee:
Few earthly things found favour in his sight,
Save concubines and carnal companie,
And flaunting wassailers of high and low degree.

BYRON.


With the next morning the humour of the Duke of Rothsay was changed.
He complained, indeed, of pain and fever, but they rather seemed
to stimulate than to overwhelm him. He was familiar with Ramorny,
and though he said nothing on the subject of the preceding night,
it was plain he remembered what he desired to obliterate from the
memory of his followers--the ill humour he had then displayed.
He was civil to every one, and jested with Ramorny on the subject
of Catharine's arrival.

"How surprised will the pretty prude be at seeing herself in a
family of men, when she expects to be admitted amongst the hoods
and pinners of Dame Marjory's waiting women! Thou hast not many of
the tender sex in thy household, I take it, Ramorny?"

"Faith, none except the minstrel wench, but a household drudge or
two whom we may not dispense with. By the way, she is anxiously
inquiring after the mistress your Highness promised to prefer her
to. Shall I dismiss her, to hunt for her new mistress at leisure?"

"By no means, she will serve to amuse Catharine. And, hark you, were
it not well to receive that coy jillet with something of a mumming?"

"How mean you, my lord?"

"Thou art dull, man. We will not disappoint her, since she expects
to find the Duchess of Rothsay: I will be Duke and Duchess in my
own person."

"Still I do not comprehend."

"No one so dull as a wit," said the Prince, "when he does not hit
off the scent at once. My Duchess, as they call her, has been in
as great a hurry to run away from Falkland as I to come hither. We
have both left our apparel behind. There is as much female trumpery
in the wardrobe adjoining to my sleeping room as would equip a whole
carnival. Look you, I will play Dame Marjory, disposed on this day
bed here with a mourning veil and a wreath of willow, to show my
forsaken plight; thou, John, wilt look starch and stiff enough for
her Galwegian maid of honour, the Countess Hermigild; and Dwining
shall present the old Hecate, her nurse--only she hath more beard
on her upper lip than Dwining on his whole face, and skull to boot.
He should have the commodity of a beard to set her forth conformably.
Get thy kitchen drudges, and what passable pages thou hast with thee,
to make my women of the bedroom. Hearest thou? about it instantly."

Ramorny hasted into the anteroom, and told Dwining the Prince's
device.

"Do thou look to humour the fool," he said; "I care not how little
I see him, knowing what is to be done."

"Trust all to me," said the physician, shrugging his shoulders.
"What sort of a butcher is he that can cut the lamb's throat, yet
is afraid to hear it bleat?"

"Tush, fear not my constancy: I cannot forget that he would have
cast me into the cloister with as little regard as if he threw
away the truncheon of a broken lance. Begone--yet stay; ere you
go to arrange this silly pageant, something must be settled to
impose on the thick witted Charteris. He is like enough, should he
be left in the belief that the Duchess of Rothsay is still here,
and Catharine Glover in attendance on her, to come down with offers
of service, and the like, when, as I need scarce tell thee, his
presence would be inconvenient. Indeed, this is the more likely,
that some folks have given a warmer name to the iron headed knight's
great and tender patronage of this damsel."

"With that hint, let me alone to deal with him. I will send him
such a letter, that for this month he shall hold himself as ready
for a journey to hell as to Falkland. Can you tell me the name of
the Duchess's confessor?"

"Waltheof, a grey friar."

"Enough--then here I start."

In a few minutes, for he was a clerk of rare celerity, Dwining
finished a letter, which he placed in Ramorny's hand.

"This is admirable, and would have made thy fortune with Rothsay.
I think I should have been too jealous to trust thee in his household,
save that his day is closed."

"Read it aloud," said Dwining, "that we may judge if it goes
trippingly off."

And Ramorny read as follows: "By command of our high and mighty
Princess Marjory, Duchess of Rothsay, and so forth, we Waltheof,
unworthy brother of the order of St. Francis, do thee, Sir Patrick
Charteris, knight of Kinfauns, to know, that her Highness marvels
much at the temerity with which you have sent to her presence a
woman of whose fame she can judge but lightly, seeing she hath made
her abode, without any necessity, for more than a week in thine
own castle, without company of any other female, saving menials; of
which foul cohabitation the savour is gone up through Fife, Angus,
and Perthshire. Nevertheless, her Highness, considering the ease
as one of human frailty, hath not caused this wanton one to be
scourged with nettles, or otherwise to dree penance; but, as two
good brethren of the convent of Lindores, the Fathers Thickskull
and Dundermore, have been summoned up to the Highlands upon an
especial call, her Highness hath committed to their care this maiden
Catharine, with charge to convey her to her father, whom she states
to be residing beside Loch Tay, under whose protection she will
find a situation more fitting her qualities and habits than the
Castle of Falkland, while her Highness the Duchess of Rothsay abides
there. She hath charged the said reverend brothers so to deal with
the young woman as may give her a sense of the sin of incontinence,
and she commendeth thee to confession and penitence.--Signed,
Waltheof, by command of an high and mighty Princess"; and so forth.

When he had finished, "Excellent--excellent!" Ramorny exclaimed.
"This unexpected rebuff will drive Charteris mad! He hath been long
making a sort of homage to this lady, and to find himself suspected
of incontinence, when he was expecting the full credit of a charitable
action, will altogether confound him; and, as thou say'st, it will
be long enough ere he come hither to look after the damsel or do
honour to the dame. But away to thy pageant, while I prepare that
which shall close the pageant for ever."

It was an hour before noon, when Catharine, escorted by old Henshaw
and a groom of the Knight of Kinfauns, arrived before the lordly
tower of Falkland. The broad banner which was displayed from it
bore the arms of Rothsay, the servants who appeared wore the colours
of the Prince's household, all confirming the general belief that
the Duchess still resided there. Catharine's heart throbbed, for she
had heard that the Duchess had the pride as well as the high courage
of the house of Douglas, and felt uncertain touching the reception
she was to experience. On entering the castle, she observed that
the train was smaller than she had expected, but, as the Duchess
lived in close retirement, she was little surprised at this. In a
species of anteroom she was met by a little old woman, who seemed
bent double with age, and supported herself upon an ebony staff.

"Truly thou art welcome, fair daughter," said she, saluting Catharine,
"and, as I may say, to an afflicted house; and I trust (once more
saluting her) thou wilt be a consolation to my precious and right
royal daughter the Duchess. Sit thee down, my child, till I see
whether my lady be at leisure to receive thee. Ah, my child, thou
art very lovely indeed, if Our Lady hath given to thee a soul to
match with so fair a body."

With that the counterfeit old woman crept into the next apartment,
where she found Rothsay in the masquerading habit he had prepared,
and Ramorny, who had evaded taking part in the pageant, in his
ordinary attire.

"Thou art a precious rascal, sir doctor," said the Prince; "by
my honour, I think thou couldst find in thy heart to play out the
whole play thyself, lover's part and all."

"If it were to save your Highness trouble," said the leech, with
his usual subdued laugh.

"No--no," said Rothsay, "I never need thy help, man; and tell
me now, how look I, thus disposed on the couch--languishing and
ladylike, ha?"

"Something too fine complexioned and soft featured for the Lady
Marjory of Douglas, if I may presume to say so," said the leech.

"Away, villain, and marshal in this fair frost piece--fear not
she will complain of my effeminacy; and thou, Ramorny, away also."

As the knight left the apartment by one door, the fictitious old
woman ushered in Catharine Glover by another. The room had been
carefully darkened to twilight, so that Catharine saw the apparently
female figure stretched on the couch without the least suspicion.

"Is that the maiden?" asked Rothsay, in a voice naturally sweet,
and now carefully modulated to a whispering tone. "Let her approach,
Griselda, and kiss our hand."

The supposed nurse led the trembling maiden forward to the side
of the couch, and signed to her to kneel. Catharine did so, and
kissed with much devotion and simplicity the gloved hand which the
counterfeit duchess extended to her.

"Be not afraid," said the same musical voice; "in me you only see
a melancholy example of the vanity of human greatness; happy those,
my child, whose rank places them beneath the storms of state."

While he spoke, he put his arms around her neck and drew her
towards him, as if to salute her in token of welcome. But the kiss
was bestowed with an earnestness which so much overacted the part
of the fair patroness, that Catharine, concluding the Duchess had
lost her senses, screamed aloud.

"Peace, fool! it is I--David of Rothsay."

Catharine looked around her; the nurse was gone, and the Duke
tearing off his veil, she saw herself in the power of a daring
young libertine.

"Now be present with me, Heaven!" she said; "and Thou wilt, if I
forsake not myself."

As this resolution darted through her mind, she repressed her
disposition to scream, and, as far as she might, strove to conceal
her fear.

"The jest hath been played," she said, with as much firmness as
she could assume; "may I entreat that your Highness will now unhand
me?" for he still kept hold of her arm.

"Nay, my pretty captive, struggle not--why should you fear?"

"I do not struggle, my lord. As you are pleased to detain me, I
will not, by striving, provoke you to use me ill, and give pain to
yourself, when you have time to think."

"Why, thou traitress, thou hast held me captive for months," said
the Prince, "and wilt thou not let me hold thee for a moment?"

"This were gallantry, my lord, were it in the streets of Perth,
where I might listen or escape as I listed; it is tyranny here."

"And if I did let thee go, whither wouldst thou fly?" said Rothsay.
"The bridges are up, the portcullis down, and the men who follow
me are strangely deaf to a peevish maiden's squalls. Be kind,
therefore, and you shall know what it is to oblige a prince."

"Unloose me, then, my lord, and hear me appeal from thyself to
thyself, from Rothsay to the Prince of Scotland. I am the daughter
of an humble but honest citizen. I am, I may well nigh say, the
spouse of a brave and honest man. If I have given your Highness any
encouragement for what you have done, it has been unintentional.
Thus forewarned, I entreat you to forego your power over me, and
suffer me to depart. Your Highness can obtain nothing from me, save
by means equally unworthy of knighthood or manhood."

"You are bold, Catharine," said the Prince, "but neither as a knight
nor a man can I avoid accepting a defiance. I must teach you the
risk of such challenges."

While he spoke, he attempted to throw his arms again around her;
but she eluded his grasp, and proceeded in the same tone of firm
decision.

"My strength, my lord, is as great to defend myself in an honourable
strife as yours can be to assail me with a most dishonourable
purpose. Do not shame yourself and me by putting it to the combat.
You may stun me with blows, or you may call aid to overpower me;
but otherwise you will fail of your purpose."

"What a brute you would make me!" said the Prince. "The force I
would use is no more than excuses women in yielding to their own
weakness."

He sat down in some emotion.

"Then keep it," said Catharine, "for those women who desire such
an excuse. My resistance is that of the most determined mind which
love of honour and fear of shame ever inspired. Alas! my lord,
could you succeed, you would but break every bond between me and
life, between yourself and honour. I have been trained fraudulently
here, by what decoys I know not; but were I to go dishonoured hence,
it would be to denounce the destroyer of my happiness to every
quarter of Europe. I would take the palmer's staff in my hand, and
wherever chivalry is honoured, or the word Scotland has been heard,
I would proclaim the heir of a hundred kings, the son of the godly
Robert Stuart, the heir of the heroic Bruce, a truthless, faithless
man, unworthy of the crown he expects and of the spurs he wears.
Every lady in wide Europe would hold your name too foul for her lips;
every worthy knight would hold you a baffled, forsworn caitiff,
false to the first vow of arms, the protection of woman and the
defence of the feeble."

Rothsay resumed his seat, and looked at her with a countenance in
which resentment was mingled with admiration. "You forget to whom
you speak, maiden. Know, the distinction I have offered you is one
for which hundreds whose trains you are born to bear would feel
gratitude."

"Once more, my lord," resumed Catharine, "keep these favours for
those by whom they are prized; or rather reserve your time and your
health for other and nobler pursuits--for the defence of your
country and the happiness of your subjects. Alas, my lord, how
willingly would an exulting people receive you for their chief!
How gladly would they close around you, did you show desire to
head them against the oppression of the mighty, the violence of
the lawless, the seduction of the vicious, and the tyranny of the
hypocrite!"

The Duke of Rothsay, whose virtuous feelings were as easily excited
as they were evanescent, was affected by the enthusiasm with which
she spoke. "Forgive me if I have alarmed you, maiden," he said
"thou art too noble minded to be the toy of passing pleasure, for
which my mistake destined thee; and I, even were thy birth worthy
of thy noble spirit and transcendent beauty, have no heart to give
thee; for by the homage of the heart only should such as thou be
wooed. But my hopes have been blighted, Catharine: the only woman
I ever loved has been torn from me in the very wantonness of policy,
and a wife imposed on me whom I must ever detest, even had she the
loveliness and softness which alone can render a woman amiable in
my eyes. My health is fading even in early youth; and all that is
left for me is to snatch such flowers as the short passage from
life to the grave will now present. Look at my hectic cheek; feel,
if you will, my intermitting pulse; and pity me and excuse me if
I, whose rights as a prince and as a man have been trampled upon
and usurped, feel occasional indifference towards the rights of
others, and indulge a selfish desire to gratify the wish of the
passing moment."

"Oh, my lord!" exclaimed Catharine, with the enthusiasm which
belonged to her character--"I will call you my dear lord, for
dear must the heir of Bruce be to every child of Scotland--let
me not, I pray, hear you speak thus! Your glorious ancestor endured
exile, persecution, the night of famine, and the day of unequal
combat, to free his country; do you practise the like self denial
to free yourself. Tear yourself from those who find their own way
to greatness smoothed by feeding your follies. Distrust yon dark
Ramorny! You know it not, I am sure--you could not know; but the
wretch who could urge the daughter to courses of shame by threatening
the life of the aged father is capable of all that is vile, all
that is treacherous!"

"Did Ramorny do this?" said the Prince.

"He did indeed, my lord, and he dares not deny it."

"It shall be looked to," answered the Duke of Rothsay. "I have ceased
to love him; but he has suffered much for my sake, and I must see
his services honourably requited."

"His services! Oh, my lord, if chronicles speak true, such services
brought Troy to ruins and gave the infidels possession of Spain."

"Hush, maiden--speak within compass, I pray you," said the Prince,
rising up; "our conference ends here."

"Yet one word, my Lord Duke of Rothsay," said Catharine,
with animation, while her beautiful countenance resembled that of
an admonitory angel. "I cannot tell what impels me to speak thus
boldly; but the fire burns within me, and will break out. Leave
this castle without an hour's delay; the air is unwholesome for
you. Dismiss this Ramorny before the day is ten minutes older; his
company is most dangerous."

"What reason have you for saying this?"

"None in especial," answered Catharine, abashed at her own eagerness
--"none, perhaps, excepting my fears for your safety."

"To vague fears the heir of Bruce must not listen. What, ho! who
waits without?"

Ramorny entered, and bowed low to the Duke and to the maiden, whom,
perhaps, he considered as likely to be preferred to the post of
favourite sultana, and therefore entitled to a courteous obeisance.

"Ramorny," said the Prince, "is there in the household any female
of reputation who is fit to wait on this young woman till we can
send her where she may desire to go?"

"I fear," replied Ramorny, "if it displease not your Highness to
hear the truth, your household is indifferently provided in that
way; and that, to speak the very verity, the glee maiden is the
most decorous amongst us."

"Let her wait upon this young person, then, since better may not
be. And take patience, maiden, for a few hours."

Catharine retired.

"So, my lord, part you so soon from the Fair Maid of Perth? This
is, indeed, the very wantonness of victory."

"There is neither victory nor defeat in the case," returned the
Prince, drily. "The girl loves me not; nor do I love her well enough
to torment myself concerning her scruples."

"The chaste Malcolm the Maiden revived in one of his descendants!"
said Ramorny.

"Favour me, sir, by a truce to your wit, or by choosing a different
subject for its career. It is noon, I believe, and you will oblige
me by commanding them to serve up dinner."

Ramorny left the room; but Rothsay thought he discovered a smile
upon his countenance, and to be the subject of this man's satire
gave him no ordinary degree of pain. He summoned, however, the
knight to his table, and even admitted Dwining to the same honour.
The conversation was of a lively and dissolute cast, a tone
encouraged by the Prince, as if designing to counterbalance the
gravity of his morals in the morning, which Ramorny, who was read
in old chronicles, had the boldness to liken to the continence of
Scipio.

The banquet, nothwithstanding the Duke's indifferent health, was
protracted in idle wantonness far beyond the rules of temperance;
and, whether owing simply to the strength of the wine which he
drank, or the weakness of his constitution, or, as it is probable,
because the last wine which he quaffed had been adulterated by
Dwining, it so happened that the Prince, towards the end of the
repast, fell into a lethargic sleep, from which it seemed impossible
to rouse him. Sir John Ramorny and Dwining carried him to his
chamber, accepting no other assistance than that of another person,
whom we will afterwards give name to.

Next morning, it was announced that the Prince was taken ill of
an infectious disorder; and, to prevent its spreading through the
household, no one was admitted to wait on him save his late master
of horse, the physician Dwining, and the domestic already mentioned;
one of whom seemed always to remain in the apartment, while the
others observed a degree of precaution respecting their intercourse
with the rest of the family, so strict as to maintain the belief
that he was dangerously ill of an infectious disorder.



CHAPTER XXXII.

In winter's tedious nights, sit by the fire,
With good old folks, and let them tell thee tales
Of woeful ages, long ago betid:
And, ere thou bid goodnight, to quit their grief,
Tell thou the lamentable fall of me.

King Richard II Act V. Scene I.


Far different had been the fate of the misguided heir of Scotland
from that which was publicly given out in the town of Falkland.
His ambitious uncle had determined on his death, as the means
of removing the first and most formidable barrier betwixt his own
family and the throne. James, the younger son of the King, was a
mere boy, who might at more leisure be easily set aside. Ramorny's
views of aggrandisement, and the resentment which he had latterly
entertained against his masters made him a willing agent in young
Rothsay's destruction. Dwining's love of gold, and his native
malignity of disposition, rendered him equally forward. It had been
resolved, with the most calculating cruelty, that all means which
might leave behind marks of violence were to be carefully avoided,
and the extinction of life suffered to take place of itself by
privation of every kind acting upon a frail and impaired constitution.
The Prince of Scotland was not to be murdered, as Ramorny had
expressed himself on another occasion, he was only to cease to exist.
Rothsay's bedchamber in the Tower of Falkland was well adapted for
the execution of such a horrible project. A small, narrow staircase,
scarce known to exist, opened from thence by a trapdoor to the
subterranean dungeons of the castle, through a passage by which
the feudal lord was wont to visit, in private and in disguise,
the inhabitants of those miserable regions. By this staircase the
villains conveyed the insensible Prince to the lowest dungeon of
the castle, so deep in the bowels of the earth, that no cries or
groans, it was supposed, could possibly be heard, while the strength
of its door and fastenings must for a long time have defied force,
even if the entrance could have been discovered. Bonthron, who had
been saved from the gallows for the purpose, was the willing agent
of Ramorny's unparalleled cruelty to his misled and betrayed patron.

This wretch revisited the dungeon at the time when the Prince's
lethargy began to wear off, and when, awaking to sensation, he felt
himself deadly cold, unable to move, and oppressed with fetters,
which scarce permitted him to stir from the dank straw on which he
was laid. His first idea was that he was in a fearful dream, his
next brought a confused augury of the truth. He called, shouted,
yelled at length in frenzy but no assistance came, and he was only
answered by the vaulted roof of the dungeon. The agent of hell heard
these agonizing screams, and deliberately reckoned them against the
taunts and reproaches with which Rothsay had expressed his instinctive
aversion to him. When, exhausted and hopeless, the unhappy youth
remained silent, the savage resolved to present himself before the
eyes of his prisoner. The locks were drawn, the chain fell; the
Prince raised himself as high as his fetters permitted; a red glare,
against which he was fain to shut his eyes, streamed through the
vault; and when he opened them again, it was on the ghastly form
of one whom he had reason to think dead. He sunk back in horror.

"I am judged and condemned," he exclaimed, "and the most abhorred
fiend in the infernal regions is sent to torment me!"

"I live, my lord," said Bonthron; "and that you may live and enjoy
life, be pleased to sit up and eat your victuals."

"Free me from these irons," said the Prince, "release me from this
dungeon, and, dog as thou art, thou shalt be the richest man in
Scotland."

"If you would give me the weight of your shackles in gold," said
Bonthron, "I would rather see the iron on you than have the treasure
myself! But look up; you were wont to love delicate fare--behold
how I have catered for you."

The wretch, with fiendish glee, unfolded a piece of rawhide covering
the bundle which he bore under' his arm, and, passing the light to
and fro before it, showed the unhappy Prince a bull's head recently
hewn from the trunk, and known in Scotland as the certain signal
of death. He placed it at the foot of the bed, or rather lair, on
which the Prince lay.

"Be moderate in your food," he said; "it is like to be long ere
thou getst another meal."

"Tell me but one thing, wretch," said the Prince. "Does Ramorny
know of this practice?"

"How else hadst thou been decoyed hither? Poor woodcock, thou art
snared!" answered the murderer.

With these words, the door shut, the bolts resounded, and the
unhappy Prince was left to darkness, solitude, and misery. "Oh, my
father!--my prophetic father! The staff I leaned on has indeed
proved a spear!"

We will not dwell on the subsequent hours, nay, days, of bodily
agony and mental despair.

But it was not the pleasure of Heaven that so great a crime should
be perpetrated with impunity.

Catharine Glover and the glee woman, neglected by the other inmates,
who seemed to be engaged with the tidings of the Prince's illness,
were, however, refused permission to leave the castle until it should
be seen how this alarming disease was to terminate, and whether it
was actually an infectious sickness. Forced on each other's society,
the two desolate women became companions, if not friends; and the
union drew somewhat closer when Catharine discovered that this was
the same female minstrel on whose account Henry Wynd had fallen
under her displeasure. She now heard his complete vindication,
and listened with ardour to the praises which Louise heaped on her
gallant protector. On the other hand, the minstrel, who felt the
superiority of Catharine's station and character, willingly dwelt
upon a theme which seemed to please her, and recorded her gratitude
to the stout smith in the little song of "Bold and True," which
was long a favourite in Scotland.

Oh, bold and true,
In bonnet blue,
That fear or falsehood never knew,
Whose heart was loyal to his word,
Whose hand was faithful to his sword--
Seek Europe wide from sea to sea,
But bonny blue cap still for me!

I've seen Almain's proud champions prance,
Have seen the gallant knights of France,
Unrivall'd with the sword and lance,
Have seen the sons of England true,
Wield the brown bill and bend the yew.
Search France the fair, and England free,
But bonny blue cap still for me!

In short, though Louise's disreputable occupation would have been
in other circumstances an objection to Catharine's voluntarily
frequenting her company, yet, forced together as they now were,
she found her a humble and accommodating companion.

They lived in this manner for four or five days, and, in order to
avoid as much as possible the gaze, and perhaps the incivility, of
the menials in the offices, they prepared their food in their own
apartment. In the absolutely necessary intercourse with domestics,
Louise, more accustomed to expedients, bolder by habit, and desirous
to please Catharine, willingly took on herself the trouble of
getting from the pantler the materials of their slender meal, and
of arranging it with the dexterity of her country.

The glee woman had been abroad for this purpose upon the sixth day,
a little before noon; and the desire of fresh air, or the hope to
find some sallad or pot herbs, or at least an early flower or two,
with which to deck their board, had carried her into the small
garden appertaining to the castle. She re-entered her apartment
in the tower with a countenance pale as ashes, and a frame which
trembled like an aspen leaf. Her terror instantly extended itself
to Catharine, who could hardly find words to ask what new misfortune
had occurred.

"Is the Duke of Rothsay dead?"

"Worse! they are starving him alive."

"Madness, woman!"

"No--no--no--no!" said Louise, speaking under her breath, and
huddling her words so thick upon each other that Catharine could
hardly catch the sense. "I was seeking for flowers to dress your
pottage, because you said you loved them yesterday; my poor little
dog, thrusting himself into a thicket of yew and holly bushes that
grow out of some old ruins close to the castle wall, came back
whining and howling. I crept forward to see what might be the cause
--and, oh! I heard a groaning as of one in extreme pain, but so
faint, that it seemed to arise out of the very depth of the earth.
At length, I found it proceeded from a small rent in the wall,
covered with ivy; and when I laid my ear close to the opening, I
could hear the Prince's voice distinctly say, 'It cannot now last
long'--and then it sunk away in something like a prayer."

"Gracious Heaven! did you speak to him?"

"I said, 'Is it you, my lord?' and the answer was, 'Who mocks me
with that title?' I asked him if I could help him, and he answered
with a voice I shall never forget, 'Food--food! I die of famine!'
So I came hither to tell you. What is to be done? Shall we alarm
the house?"

"Alas! that were more likely to destroy than to aid," said Catharine.

"And what then shall we do?" said Louise.

"I know not yet," said Catharine, prompt and bold on occasions of
moment, though yielding to her companion in ingenuity of resource
on ordinary occasions: "I know not yet, but something we will do:
the blood of Bruce shall not die unaided."

So saying, she seized the small cruise which contained their soup,
and the meat of which it was made, wrapped some thin cakes which she
had baked into the fold of her plaid, and, beckoning her companion
to follow with a vessel of milk, also part of their provisions,
she hastened towards the garden.

"So, our fair vestal is stirring abroad?" said the only man she
met, who was one of the menials; but Catharine passed on without
notice or reply, and gained the little garden without farther
interruption.

Louise indicated to her a heap of ruins, which, covered with underwood,
was close to the castle wall. It had probably been originally a
projection from the building; and the small fissure, which communicated
with the dungeon, contrived for air, had terminated within it. But
the aperture had been a little enlarged by decay, and admitted a
dim ray of light to its recesses, although it could not be observed
by those who visited the place with torchlight aids.

"Here is dead silence," said Catharine, after she had listened
attentively for a moment. "Heaven and earth, he is gone!"

"We must risk something," said her companion, and ran her fingers
over the strings of her guitar.

A sigh was the only answer from the depth of the dungeon. Catharine
then ventured to speak. "I am here, my lord--I am here, with food
and drink."

"Ha! Ramorny! The jest comes too late; I am dying," was the answer.

"His brain is turned, and no wonder," thought Catharine; "but whilst
there is life, there may be hope."

"It is I, my lord, Catharine Glover. I have food, if I could pass
it safely to you."

"Heaven bless thee, maiden! I thought the pain was over, but it
glows again within me at the name of food."

"The food is here, but how--ah, how can I pass it to you? the
chink is so narrow, the wall is so thick! Yet there is a remedy--
I have it. Quick, Louise; cut me a willow bough, the tallest you
can find."

The glee maiden obeyed, and, by means of a cleft in the top of
the wand, Catharine transmitted several morsels of the soft cakes,
soaked in broth, which served at once for food and for drink.

The unfortunate young man ate little, and with difficulty, but
prayed for a thousand blessings on the head of his comforter. "I
had destined thee to be the slave of my vices," he said, "and yet
thou triest to become the preserver of my life! But away, and save
thyself."

"I will return with food as I shall see opportunity," said Catharine,
just as the glee maiden plucked her sleeve and desired her to be
silent and stand close.

Both crouched among the ruins, and they heard the voices of Ramorny
and the mediciner in close conversation.

"He is stronger than I thought," said the former, in a low, croaking
tone. "How long held out Dalwolsy, when the knight of Liddesdale
prisoned him in his castle of Hermitage?"

"For a fortnight," answered Dwining; "but he was a strong man, and
had some assistance by grain which fell from a granary above his
prison house."

"Were it not better end the matter more speedily? The Black Douglas
comes this way. He is not in Albany's secret. He will demand to
see the Prince, and all must be over ere he comes."

They passed on in their dark and fatal conversation.

"Now gain we the tower," said Catharine to her companion, when she
saw they had left the garden. "I had a plan of escape for myself;
I will turn it into one of rescue for the Prince. The dey woman
enters the castle about vesper time, and usually leaves her cloak
in the passage as she goes into the pantlers' office with the milk.
Take thou the cloak, muffle thyself close, and pass the warder
boldly; he is usually drunken at that hour, and thou wilt go as
the dey woman unchallenged through gate and along bridge, if thou
bear thyself with confidence. Then away to meet the Black Douglas;
he is our nearest and only aid."

"But," said Louise, "is he not that terrible lord who threatened
me with shame and punishment?"

"Believe it," said Catharine, "such as thou or I never dwelt an
hour in the Douglas's memory, either for good or evil. Tell him
that his son in law, the Prince of Scotland dies--treacherously
famished--in Falkland Castle, and thou wilt merit not pardon
only, but reward."

"I care not for reward," said Louise; "the deed will reward itself.
But methinks to stay is more dangerous than to go. Let me stay,
then, and nourish the unhappy Prince, and do you depart to bring
help. If they kill me before you return, I leave you my poor lute,
and pray you to be kind to my poor Charlot."

"No, Louise," replied Catharine, "you are a more privileged and
experienced wanderer than I--do you go; and if you find me dead
on your return, as may well chance, give my poor father this ring
and a lock of my hair, and say, Catharine died in endeavouring to
save the blood of Bruce. And give this other lock to Henry; say,
Catharine thought of him to the last, and that, if he has judged
her too scrupulous touching the blood of others, he will then know
it was not because she valued her own."

They sobbed in each other's arms, and the intervening hours till
evening were spent in endeavouring to devise some better mode of
supplying the captive with nourishment, and in the construction
of a tube, composed of hollow reeds, slipping into each other, by
which liquids might be conveyed to him. The bell of the village
church of Falkland tolled to vespers. The dey, or farm woman, entered
with her pitchers to deliver the milk for the family, and to hear
and tell the news stirring. She had scarcely entered the kitchen
when the female minstrel, again throwing herself in Catharine's
arms, and assuring her of her unalterable fidelity, crept in silence
downstairs, the little dog under her arm. A moment after, she was
seen by the breathless Catharine, wrapt in the dey woman's cloak,
and walking composedly across the drawbridge.

"So," said the warder, "you return early tonight, May Bridget? Small
mirth towards in the hall--ha, wench! Sick times are sad times!"

"I have forgotten my tallies," said the ready witted French woman,
"and will return in the skimming of a bowie."

She went onward, avoiding the village of Falkland, and took
a footpath which led through the park. Catharine breathed freely,
and blessed God when she saw her lost in the distance. It was another
anxious hour for Catharine which occurred before the escape of the
fugitive was discovered. This happened so soon as the dey girl,
having taken an hour to perform a task which ten minutes might have
accomplished, was about to return, and discovered that some one
had taken away her grey frieze cloak. A strict search was set on
foot; at length the women of the house remembered the glee maiden,
and ventured to suggest her as one not unlikely to exchange an old
cloak for a new one. The warder, strictly questioned, averred he
saw the dey woman depart immediately after vespers; and on this
being contradicted by the party herself, he could suggest, as the
only alternative, that it must needs have been the devil.

As, however, the glee woman could not be found, the real circumstances
of the case were easily guessed at; and the steward went to inform
Sir John Ramorny and Dwining, who were now scarcely ever separate,
of the escape of one of their female captives. Everything awakens the
suspicions of the guilty. They looked on each other with faces of
dismay, and then went together to the humble apartment of Catharine,
that they might take her as much as possible by surprise while they
inquired into the facts attending Louise's disappearance.

"Where is your companion, young woman?" said Ramorny, in a tone of
austere gravity.

"I have no companion here," answered Catharine.

"Trifle not," replied the knight; "I mean the glee maiden, who
lately dwelt in this chamber with you."

"She is gone, they tell me," said Catharine--"gone about an hour
since."

"And whither?" said Dwining.

"How," answered Catharine, "should I know which way a professed
wanderer may choose to travel? She was tired no doubt of a solitary
life, so different from the scenes of feasting and dancing which
her trade leads her to frequent. She is gone, and the only wonder
is that she should have stayed so long."

"This, then," said Ramorny, "is all you have to tell us?"

"All that I have to tell you, Sir John," answered Catharine, firmly;
"and if the Prince himself inquire, I can tell him no more."

"There is little danger of his again doing you the honour to speak
to you in person," said Ramorny, "even if Scotland should escape
being rendered miserable by the sad event of his decease."

"Is the Duke of Rothsay so very ill?" asked Catharine.

"No help, save in Heaven," answered Ramorny, looking upward.

"Then may there yet be help there," said Catharine. "if human aid
prove unavailing!"

"Amen!" said Ramorny, with the most determined gravity; while
Dwining adopted a face fit to echo the feeling, though it seemed
to cost him a painful struggle to suppress his sneering yet soft
laugh of triumph, which was peculiarly excited by anything having
a religious tendency.

"And it is men--earthly men, and not incarnate devils, who thus
appeal to Heaven, while they are devouring by inches the life blood
of their hapless master!" muttered Catharine, as her two baffled
inquisitors left the apartment. "Why sleeps the thunder? But it will
roll ere long, and oh! may it be to preserve as well as to punish!"

The hour of dinner alone afforded a space when, all in the castle
being occupied with that meal, Catharine thought she had the best
opportunity of venturing to the breach in the wall, with the least
chance of being observed. In waiting for the hour, she observed
some stir in the castle, which had been silent as the grave ever
since the seclusion of the Duke of Rothsay. The portcullis was
lowered and raised, and the creaking of the machinery was intermingled
with the tramp of horse, as men at arms went out and returned with
steeds hard ridden and covered with foam. She observed, too, that
such domestics as she casually saw from her window were in arms.
All this made her heart throb high, for it augured the approach of
rescue; and besides, the bustle left the little garden more lonely
than ever. At length the hour of noon arrived; she had taken care
to provide, under pretence of her own wishes, which the pantler
seemed disposed to indulge, such articles of food as could be
the most easily conveyed to the unhappy captive. She whispered to
intimate her presence; there was no answer; she spoke louder, still
there was silence.

"He sleeps," she muttered these words half aloud, and with a shuddering
which was succeeded by a start and a scream, when a voice replied
behind her:

"Yes, he sleeps; but it is for ever."

She looked round. Sir John Ramorny stood behind her in complete armour,
but the visor of his helmet was up, and displayed a countenance more
resembling one about to die than to fight. He spoke with a grave
tone, something between that of a calm observer of an interesting
event and of one who is an agent and partaker in it.

"Catharine," he said, "all is true which I tell you. He is dead.
You have done your best for him; you can do no more."

"I will not--I cannot believe it," said Catharine. "Heaven be
merciful to me! it would make one doubt of Providence, to think so
great a crime has been accomplished."

"Doubt not of Providence, Catharine, though it has suffered the
profligate to fall by his own devices. Follow me; I have that to
say which concerns you. I say follow (for she hesitated), unless
you prefer being left to the mercies of the brute Bonthron and the
mediciner Henbane Dwining."

"I will follow you," said Catharine. "You cannot do more to me than
you are permitted."

He led the way into the tower, and mounted staircase after staircase
and ladder after ladder.

Catharine's resolution failed her. "I will follow no farther," she
said. "Whither would you lead me? If to my death, I can die here."

"Only to the battlements of the castle, fool," said Ramorny,
throwing wide a barred door which opened upon the vaulted roof of
the castle, where men were bending mangonels, as they called them
(military engines, that is, for throwing arrows or stones), getting
ready crossbows, and piling stones together. But the defenders
did not exceed twenty in number, and Catharine thought she could
observe doubt and irresolution amongst them.

"Catharine," said Ramorny, "I must not quit this station, which is
necessary for my defence; but I can speak with you here as well as
elsewhere."

"Say on," answered Catharine, "I am prepared to hear you."

"You have thrust yourself, Catharine, into a bloody secret. Have
you the firmness to keep it?"

"I do not understand you, Sir John," answered the maiden.

"Look you. I have slain--murdered, if you will--my late master,
the Duke of Rothsay. The spark of life which your kindness would
have fed was easily smothered. His last words called on his father.
You are faint--bear up--you have more to hear. You know the
crime, but you know not the provocation. See! this gauntlet is
empty; I lost my right hand in his cause, and when I was no longer
fit to serve him, I was cast off like a worn out hound, my loss
ridiculed, and a cloister recommended, instead of the halls and
palaces in which I had my natural sphere! Think on this--pity
and assist me."

"In what manner can you require my assistance?" said the trembling
maiden; "I can neither repair your loss nor cancel your crime."

"Thou canst be silent, Catharine, on what thou hast seen and heard
in yonder thicket. It is but a brief oblivion I ask of you, whose
word will, I know, be listened to, whether you say such things
were or were not. That of your mountebank companion, the foreigner,
none will hold to be of a pin point's value. If you grant me this,
I will take your promise for my security, and throw the gate open
to those who now approach it. If you will not promise silence, I
defend this castle till every one perishes, and I fling you headlong
from these battlements. Ay, look at them--it is not a leap to be
rashly braved. Seven courses of stairs brought you up hither with
fatigue and shortened breath; but you shall go from the top to
the bottom in briefer time than you can breathe a sigh! Speak the
word, fair maid; for you speak to one unwilling to harm you, but
determined in his purpose."

Catharine stood terrified, and without power of answering a man
who seemed so desperate; but she was saved the necessity of reply
by the approach of Dwining. He spoke with the same humble conges
which at all times distinguished his manner, and with his usual
suppressed ironical sneer, which gave that manner the lie.

"I do you wrong, noble sir, to intrude on your valiancie when
engaged with a fair damsel. But I come to ask a trifling question."

"Speak, tormentor!" said Ramorny; "ill news are sport to thee even
when they affect thyself, so that they concern others also."

"Hem!--he, he!--I only desired to know if your knighthood proposed
the chivalrous task of defending the castle with your single hand
--I crave pardon, I meant your single arm? The question is worth
asking, for I am good for little to aid the defence, unless you
could prevail on the besiegers to take physic--he, he, he!--
and Bonthron is as drunk as ale and strong waters can make him;
and you, he, and I make up the whole garrison who are disposed for
resistance."

"How! Will the other dogs not fight?" said Ramorny.

"Never saw men who showed less stomach to the work," answered Dwining
--"never. But here come a brace of them. Venit extrema dies. He,
he, he!"

Eviot and his companion Buncle now approached, with sullen resolution
in their faces, like men who had made their minds up to resist that
authority which they had so long obeyed.

"How now!" said Ramorny, stepping forward to meet them. "Wherefore
from your posts? Why have you left the barbican, Eviot? And you
other fellow, did I not charge you to look to the mangonels?"

"We have something to tell you, Sir John Ramorny," answered Eviot.
"We will not fight in this quarrel."

"How--my own squires control me?" exclaimed Ramorny.

"We were your squires and pages, my lord, while you were master of
the Duke of Rothsay's household. It is bruited about the Duke no
longer lives; we desire to know the truth."

"What traitor dares spread such falsehoods?" said Ramorny.

"All who have gone out to skirt the forest, my lord, and I myself
among others, bring back the same news. The minstrel woman who left
the castle yesterday has spread the report everywhere that the Duke
of Rothsay is murdered, or at death's door. The Douglas comes on
us with a strong force--"

"And you, cowards, take advantage of an idle report to forsake your
master?" said Ramorny, indignantly.

"My lord," said Eviot, "let Buncle and myself see the Duke of Rothsay,
and receive his personal orders for defence of this castle, and if
we do not fight to the death in that quarrel, I will consent to be
hanged on its highest turret. But if he be gone by natural disease,
we will yield up the castle to the Earl of Douglas, who is, they
say, the King's lieutenant. Or if--which Heaven forefend!--the
noble Prince has had foul play, we will not involve ourselves in
the guilt of using arms in defence of the murderers, be they who
they will."

"Eviot," said Ramorny, raising his mutilated arm, "had not that
glove been empty, thou hadst not lived to utter two words of this
insolence."

"It is as it is," answered Evict, "and we do but our duty. I have
followed you long, my lord, but here I draw bridle."

"Farewell, then, and a curse light on all of you!" exclaimed the
incensed baron. "Let my horse be brought forth!"

"Our valiancie is about to run away," said the mediciner, who had
crept close to Catharine's side before she was aware. "Catharine,
thou art a superstitious fool, like most women; nevertheless thou
hast some mind, and I speak to thee as one of more understanding
than the buffaloes which are herding about us. These haughty barons
who overstride the world, what are they in the day of adversity?
Chaff before the wind. Let their sledge hammer hands or their
column resembling legs have injury, and bah! the men at arms are
gone. Heart and courage is nothing to them, lith and limb everything:
give them animal strength, what are they better than furious bulls;
take that away, and your hero of chivalry lies grovelling like the
brute when he is hamstrung. Not so the sage; while a grain of sense
remains in a crushed or mutilated frame, his mind shall be strong
as ever. Catharine, this morning I was practising your death; but
methinks I now rejoice that you may survive to tell how the poor
mediciner, the pill gilder, the mortar pounder, the poison vender,
met his fate, in company with the gallant Knight of Ramorny, Baron
in possession and Earl of Lindores in expectation--God save his
lordship!"

"Old man," said Catharine, "if thou be indeed so near the day
of thy deserved doom, other thoughts were far wholesomer than the
vainglorious ravings of a vain philosophy. Ask to see a holy man
--"

"Yes," said Dwining, scornfully, "refer myself to a greasy monk,
who does not--he! he! he!--understand the barbarous Latin he
repeats by rote. Such would be a fitting counsellor to one who has
studied both in Spain and Arabia! No, Catharine, I will choose a
confessor that is pleasant to look upon, and you shall be honoured
with the office. Now, look yonder at his valiancie, his eyebrow
drops with moisture, his lip trembles with agony; for his valiancie
--he! he! he!--is pleading for his life with his late domestics,
and has not eloquence enough to persuade them to let him slip.
See how the fibres of his face work as he implores the ungrateful
brutes, whom he has heaped with obligations, to permit him to get
such a start for his life as the hare has from the greyhounds when
men course her fairly. Look also at the sullen, downcast, dogged
faces with which, fluctuating between fear and shame, the domestic
traitors deny their lord this poor chance for his life. These
things thought themselves the superior of a man like me! and you,
foolish wench, think so meanly of your Deity as to suppose wretches
like them are the work of Omnipotence!"

"No! man of evil--no!" said Catharine, warmly; "the God I worship
created these men with the attributes to know and adore Him, to
guard and defend their fellow creatures, to practise holiness and
virtue. Their own vices, and the temptations of the Evil One, have
made them such as they now are. Oh, take the lesson home to thine
own heart of adamant! Heaven made thee wiser than thy fellows, gave
thee eyes to look into the secrets of nature, a sagacious heart,
and a skilful hand; but thy pride has poisoned all these fair gifts,
and made an ungodly atheist of one who might have been a Christian
sage!"

"Atheist, say'st thou?" answered Dwining. "Perhaps I have doubts
on that matter--but they will be soon solved. Yonder comes one
who will send me, as he has done thousands, to the place where all
mysteries shall be cleared."

Catharine followed the mediciner's eye up one of the forest glades,
and beheld it occupied by a body of horsemen advancing at full
gallop. In the midst was a pennon displayed, which, though its
bearings were not visible to Catharine, was, by a murmur around,
acknowledged as that of the Black Douglas. They halted within arrow
shot of the castle, and a herald with two trumpets advanced up to
the main portal, where, after a loud flourish, he demanded admittance
for the high and dreaded Archibald Earl of Douglas, Lord Lieutenant
of the King, and acting for the time with the plenary authority
of his Majesty; commanding, at the same time, that the inmates of
the castle should lay down their arms, all under penalty of high
treason.

"You hear?" said Eviot to Ramorny, who stood sullen and undecided.
"Will you give orders to render the castle, or must I?"

"No, villain!" interrupted the knight, "to the last I will command
you. Open the gates, drop the bridge, and render the castle to the
Douglas."

"Now, that's what may be called a gallant exertion of free will,"
said Dwining. "Just as if the pieces of brass that were screaming
a minute since should pretend to call those notes their own which
are breathed through them by a frowsy trumpeter."

"Wretched man!" said Catharine, "either be silent or turn thy
thoughts to the eternity on the brink of which thou art standing."

"And what is that to thee?" answered Dwining. "Thou canst not, wench,
help hearing what I say to thee, and thou wilt tell it again, for
thy sex cannot help that either. Perth and all Scotland shall know
what a man they have lost in Henbane Dwining!"

The clash of armour now announced that the newcomers had dismounted
and entered the castle, and were in the act of disarming the small
garrison. Earl Douglas himself appeared on the battlements, with
a few of his followers, and signed to them to take Ramorny and
Dwining into custody. Others dragged from some nook the stupefied
Bonthron.

"It was to these three that the custody of the Prince was solely
committed daring his alleged illness?" said the Douglas, prosecuting
an inquiry which he had commenced in the hall of the castle.

"No other saw him, my lord," said Eviot, "though I offered my
services."

"Conduct us to the Duke's apartment, and bring the prisoners with
us. Also should there be a female in the castle, if she hath not
been murdered or spirited away--the companion of the glee maiden
who brought the first alarm."

"She is here, my lord," said Eviot, bringing Catharine forward.

Her beauty and her agitation made some impression even upon the
impassible Earl.

"Fear nothing, maiden," he said; "thou hast deserved both praise and
reward. Tell to me, as thou wouldst confess to Heaven, the things
thou hast witnessed in this castle."

Few words served Catharine to unfold the dreadful story.

"It agrees," said the Douglas, "with the tale of the glee maiden,
from point to point. Now show us the Prince's apartment."

They passed to the room which the unhappy Duke of Rothsay had been
supposed to inhabit; but the key was not to be found, and the Earl
could only obtain entrance by forcing the door. On entering, the
wasted and squalid remains of the unhappy Prince were discovered,
flung on the bed as if in haste. The intention of the murderers
had apparently been to arrange the dead body so as to resemble a
timely parted corpse, but they had been disconcerted by the alarm
occasioned by the escape of Louise. Douglas looked on the body of
the misguided youth, whose wild passions and caprices had brought
him to this fatal and premature catastrophe.

"I had wrongs to be redressed," he said; "but to see such a sight
as this banishes all remembrance of injury!"

"He! he! It should have been arranged," said Dwining, "more to
your omnipotence's pleasure; but you came suddenly on us, and hasty
masters make slovenly service."

Douglas seemed not to hear what his prisoner said, so closely did
he examine the wan and wasted features, and stiffened limbs, of the
dead body before him. Catharine, overcome by sickness and fainting,
at length obtained permission to retire from the dreadful scene,
and, through confusion of every description, found her way to her
former apartment, where she was locked in the arms of Louise, who
had returned in the interval.

The investigations of Douglas proceeded. The dying hand of the
Prince was found to be clenched upon a lock of hair, resembling,
in colour and texture, the coal black bristles of Bonthron. Thus,
though famine had begun the work, it would seem that Rothsay's
death had been finally accomplished by violence. The private stair
to the dungeon, the keys of which were found at the subaltern
assassin's belt, the situation of the vault, its communication with
the external air by the fissure in the walls, and the wretched lair
of straw, with the fetters which remained there, fully confirmed
the story of Catharine and of the glee woman.

"We will not hesitate an instant," said the Douglas to his near
kinsman, the Lord Balveny, as soon as they returned from the dungeon.
"Away with the murderers! hang them over the battlements."

"But, my lord, some trial may be fitting," answered Balveny.

"To what purpose?" answered, Douglas. "I have taken them red hand;
my authority will stretch to instant execution. Yet stay--have
we not some Jedwood men in our troop?"

"Plenty of Turnbulls, Rutherfords, Ainslies, and so forth," said
Balveny.

"Call me an inquest of these together; they are all good men and
true, saving a little shifting for their living. Do yon see to the
execution of these felons, while I hold a court in the great hall,
and we'll try whether the jury or the provost marshal do their
work first; we will have Jedwood justice--hang in haste and try
at leisure."

"Yet stay, my lord," said Ramorny, "you may rue your haste--will
you grant me a word out of earshot?"

"Not for worlds!" said Douglas; "speak out what thou hast to say
before all that are here present."

"Know all; then," said Ramorny, aloud, "that this noble Earl had
letters from the Duke of Albany and myself, sent him by the hand
of yon cowardly deserter, Buncle--let him deny it if he dare--
counselling the removal of the Duke for a space from court, and
his seclusion in this Castle of Falkland."

"But not a word," replied Douglas, sternly smiling, "of his being
flung into a dungeon--famished--strangled. Away with the
wretches, Balveny, they pollute God's air too long!"

The prisoners were dragged off to the battlements. But while the
means of execution were in the act of being prepared, the apothecary
expressed so ardent a desire to see Catharine once more, and, as
he said, for the good of his soul, that the maiden, in hopes his
obduracy might have undergone some change even at the last hour,
consented again to go to the battlements, and face a scene which her
heart recoiled from. A single glance showed her Bonthron, sunk in
total and drunken insensibility; Ramorny, stripped of his armour,
endeavouring in vain to conceal fear, while he spoke with a priest,
whose good offices he had solicited; and Dwining, the same humble,
obsequious looking, crouching individual she had always known him.
He held in his hand a little silver pen, with which he had been
writing on a scrap of parchment.

"Catharine," he said--"he, he, he!--I wish to speak to thee on
the nature of my religious faith."

"If such be thy intention, why lose time with me? Speak with this
good father."

"The good father," said Dwining, "is--he, he!--already a
worshipper of the deity whom I have served. I therefore prefer to
give the altar of mine idol a new worshipper in thee, Catharine.
This scrap of parchment will tell thee how to make your way into
my chapel, where I have worshipped so often in safety. I leave the
images which it contains to thee as a legacy, simply because I hate
and contemn thee something less than any of the absurd wretches
whom I have hitherto been obliged to call fellow creatures. And
now away--or remain and see if the end of the quacksalver belies
his life."

"Our Lady forbid!" said Catharine.

"Nay," said the mediciner, "I have but a single word to say, and
yonder nobleman's valiancie may hear it if he will."

Lord Balveny approached, with some curiosity; for the undaunted
resolution of a man who never wielded sword or bore armour and was
in person a poor dwindled dwarf, had to him an air of something
resembling sorcery."

"You see this trifling implement," said the criminal, showing the
silver pen. "By means of this I can escape the power even of the
Black Douglas."

"Give him no ink nor paper," said Balveny, hastily, "he will draw
a spell."

"Not so, please your wisdom and valiancie--he, he, he!" said
Dwining with his usual chuckle, as he unscrewed the top of the
pen, within which was a piece of sponge or some such substance, no
bigger than a pea.

"Now, mark this--" said the prisoner, and drew it between his
lips. The effect was instantaneous. He lay a dead corpse before
them, the contemptuous sneer still on his countenance.

Catharine shrieked and fled, seeking, by a hasty descent, an escape
from a sight so appalling. Lord Balveny was for a moment stupified,
and then exclaimed, "This may be glamour! hang him over the
battlements, quick or dead. If his foul spirit hath only withdrawn
for a space, it shall return to a body with a dislocated neck."

His commands were obeyed. Ramorny and Bonthron were then ordered for
execution. The last was hanged before he seemed quite to comprehend
what was designed to be done with him. Ramorny, pale as death,
yet with the same spirit of pride which had occasioned his ruin,
pleaded his knighthood, and demanded the privilege of dying by
decapitation by the sword, and not by the noose.

"The Douglas never alters his doom," said Balveny. "But thou shalt
have all thy rights. Send the cook hither with a cleaver."

The menial whom he called appeared at his summons.

"What shakest thou for, fellow?" said Balveny; "here, strike me
this man's gilt spurs from his heels with thy cleaver. And now, John
Ramorny, thou art no longer a knight, but a knave. To the halter
with him, provost marshal! hang him betwixt his companions, and
higher than them if it may be."

In a quarter of an hour afterwards, Balveny descended to tell the
Douglas that the criminals were executed.

"Then there is no further use in the trial," said the Earl. "How
say you, good men of inquest, were these men guilty of high treason
--ay or no?"

"Guilty," exclaimed the obsequious inquest, with edifying unanimity,
"we need no farther evidence."

"Sound trumpets, and to horse then, with our own train only;
and let each man keep silence on what has chanced here, until the
proceedings shall be laid before the King, which cannot conveniently
be till the battle of Palm Sunday shall be fought and ended. Select
our attendants, and tell each man who either goes with us or remains
behind that he who prates dies."

In a few minutes the Douglas was on horseback, with the followers
selected to attend his person. Expresses were sent to his daughter,
the widowed Duchess of Rothsay, directing her to take her course
to Perth, by the shores of Lochleven, without approaching Falkland,
and committing to her charge Catharine Glover and the glee woman,
as persons whose safety he tendered.

As they rode through the forest, they looked back, and beheld the
three bodies hanging, like specks darkening the walls of the old
castle.

"The hand is punished," said Douglas, "but who shall arraign the
head by whose direction the act was done?"

"You mean the Duke of Albany?" said Balveny.

"I do, kinsman; and were I to listen to the dictates of my heart,
I would charge him with the deed, which I am certain he has
authorised. But there is no proof of it beyond strong suspicion,
and Albany has attached to himself the numerous friends of the house
of Stuart, to whom, indeed, the imbecility of the King and the ill
regulated habits of Rothsay left no other choice of a leader. Were
I, therefore, to break the bond which I have so lately formed with
Albany, the consequence must be civil war, an event ruinous to
poor Scotland while threatened by invasion from the activity of the
Percy, backed by the treachery of March. No, Balveny, the punishment
of Albany must rest with Heaven, which, in its own good time, will
execute judgment on him and on his house."



CHAPTER XXXIII.

The hour is nigh: now hearts beat high;
Each sword is sharpen'd well;
And who dares die, who stoops to fly,
Tomorrow's light shall tell.

Sir Edwald.


We are now to recall to our reader's recollection, that Simon
Glover and his fair daughter had been hurried from their residence
without having time to announce to Henry Smith either their departure
or the alarming cause of it. When, therefore, the lover appeared
in Curfew Street, on the morning of their flight, instead of the
hearty welcome of the honest burgher, and the April reception,
half joy half censure, which he had been promised on the part of
his lovely daughter, he received only the astounding intelligence,
that her father and she had set off early, on the summons of a
stranger, who had kept himself carefully muffled from observation. To
this, Dorothy, whose talents for forestalling evil, and communicating
her views of it, are known to the reader, chose to add, that
she had no doubt her master and young mistress were bound for the
Highlands, to avoid a visit which had been made since their departure
by two or three apparitors, who, in the name of a Commission
appointed by the King, had searched the house, put seals upon such
places as were supposed to contain papers, and left citations for
father and daughter to appear before the Court of Commission, on a
day certain, under pain of outlawry. All these alarming particulars
Dorothy took care to state in the gloomiest colours, and the only
consolation which she afforded the alarmed lover was, that her
master had charged her to tell him to reside quietly at Perth, and
that he should soon hear news of them. This checked the smith's
first resolve, which was to follow them instantly to the Highlands,
and partake the fate which they might encounter.

But when he recollected his repeated feuds with divers of the
Clan Quhele, and particularly his personal quarrel with Conachar,
who was now raised to be a high chief, he could not but think, on
reflection, that his intrusion on their place of retirement was
more likely to disturb the safety which they might otherwise enjoy
there than be of any service to them. He was well acquainted with
Simon's habitual intimacy with the chief of the Clan Quhele, and
justly augured that the glover would obtain protection, which his
own arrival might be likely to disturb, while his personal prowess
could little avail him in a quarrel with a whole tribe of vindictive
mountaineers. At the same time his heart throbbed with indignation,
when he thought of Catharine being within the absolute power of
young Conachar, whose rivalry he could not doubt, and who had now
so many means of urging his suit. What if the young chief should
make the safety of the father depend on the favour of the daughter?
He distrusted not Catharine's affections, but then her mode of
thinking was so disinterested, and her attachment to her father so
tender, that, if the love she bore her suitor was weighed against
his security, or perhaps his life, it was matter of deep and awful
doubt whether it might not be found light in the balance. Tormented
by thoughts on which we need not dwell, he resolved nevertheless
to remain at home, stifle his anxiety as he might, and await the
promised intelligence from the old man. It came, but it did not
relieve his concern.

Sir Patrick Charteris had not forgotten his promise to communicate
to the smith the plans of the fugitives. But, amid the bustle
occasioned by the movement of troops, he could not himself convey
the intelligence. He therefore entrusted to his agent, Kitt Henshaw,
the task of making it known. But this worthy person, as the reader
knows, was in the interest of Ramorny, whose business it was to
conceal from every one, but especially from a lover so active and
daring as Henry, the real place of Catharine's residence. Henshaw
therefore announced to the anxious smith that his friend the glover
was secure in the Highlands; and though he affected to be more
reserved on the subject of Catharine, he said little to contradict
the belief that she as well as Simon shared the protection of the
Clan Quhele. But he reiterated, in the name of Sir Patrick, assurances
that father and daughter were both well, and that Henry would best
consult his own interest and their safety by remaining quiet and
waiting the course of events.

With an agonized heart, therefore, Henry Gow determined to remain
quiet till he had more certain intelligence, and employed himself
in finishing a shirt of mail, which he intended should be the best
tempered and the most finely polished that his skilful hands had
ever executed. This exercise of his craft pleased him better than
any other occupation which he could have adopted, and served as an
apology for secluding himself in his workshop, and shunning society,
where the idle reports which were daily circulated served only to
perplex and disturb him. He resolved to trust in the warm regard
of Simon, the faith of his daughter, and the friendship of the
provost, who, having so highly commended his valour in the combat
with Bonthron, would never, he thought, desert him at this extremity
of his fortunes. Time, however, passed on day by day; and it was not
till Palm Sunday was near approaching, that Sir Patrick Charteris,
having entered the city to make some arrangements for the ensuing
combat, bethought himself of making a visit to the Smith of the
Wynd.

He entered his workshop with an air of sympathy unusual to him,
and which made Henry instantly augur that he brought bad news. The
smith caught the alarm, and the uplifted hammer was arrested in its
descent upon the heated iron, while the agitated arm that wielded
it, strong before as that of a giant, became so powerless, that
it was with difficulty Henry was able to place the weapon on the
ground, instead of dropping it from his hand.

"My poor Henry," said Sir Patrick, "I bring you but cold news; they
are uncertain, however, and, if true, they are such as a brave man
like you should not take too deeply to heart."

"In God's name, my lord," said Henry, "I trust you bring no evil
news of Simon Glover or his daughter?"

"Touching themselves," said Sir Patrick, "no: they are safe and
well. But as to thee, Henry, my tidings are more cold. Kitt Henshaw
has, I think, apprised thee that I had endeavoured to provide
Catharine Glover with a safe protection in the house of an honourable
lady, the Duchess of Rothsay. But she hath declined the charge,
and Catharine hath been sent to her father in the Highlands. What
is worst is to come. Thou mayest have heard that Gilchrist MacIan
is dead, and that his son Eachin, who was known in Perth as the
apprentice of old Simon, by the name of Conachar, is now the chief
of Clan Quhele; and I heard from one of my domestics that there
is a strong rumour among the MacIans that the young chief seeks
the hand of Catharine in marriage. My domestic learned this--
as a secret, however--while in the Breadalbane country, on some
arrangements touching the ensuing combat. The thing is uncertain
but, Henry, it wears a face of likelihood."

"Did your lordship's servant see Simon Glover and his daughter?"
said Henry, struggling for breath, and coughing, to conceal from
the provost the excess of his agitation.

"He did not," said Sir Patrick; "the Highlanders seemed jealous,
and refused to permit him to speak to the old man, and he feared
to alarm them by asking to see Catharine. Besides, he talks no
Gaelic, nor had his informer much English, so there may be some
mistake in the matter. Nevertheless, there is such a report, and
I thought it best to tell it you. But you may be well assured that
the wedding cannot go on till the affair of Palm Sunday be over;
and I advise you to take no step till we learn the circumstances
of the matter, for certainty is most desirable, even when it is
painful. Go you to the council house," he added, after a pause,
"to speak about the preparations for the lists in the North Inch?
You will be welcome there."

"No, my good lord."

"Well, Smith, I judge by your brief answer that you are discomposed
with this matter; but, after all, women are weathercocks, that is
the truth on't. Solomon and others have proved it before you."

And so Sir Patrick Charteris retired, fully convinced he had discharged
the office of a comforter in the most satisfactory manner.

With very different impressions did the unfortunate lover regard
the tidings and listen to the consoling commentary.

"The provost," he said bitterly to himself, "is an excellent man;
marry, he holds his knighthood so high, that, if he speaks nonsense,
a poor man must hold it sense, as he must praise dead ale if it be
handed to him in his lordship's silver flagon. How would all this
sound in another situation? Suppose I were rolling down the steep
descent of the Corrichie Dhu, and before I came to the edge of the
rock, comes my Lord Provost, and cries: 'Henry, there is a deep
precipice, and I grieve to say you are in the fair way of rolling
over it. But be not downcast, for Heaven may send a stone or a bush
to stop your progress. However, I thought it would be comfort to
you to know the worst, which you will be presently aware of. I do
not know how many hundred feet deep the precipice descends, but
you may form a judgment when you are at the bottom, for certainty
is certainty. And hark ye! when come you to take a game at bowls?'
And this gossip is to serve instead of any friendly attempt to
save the poor wight's neck! When I think of this, I could go mad,
seize my hammer, and break and destroy all around me. But I will
be calm; and if this Highland kite, who calls himself a falcon,
should stoop at my turtle dove, he shall know whether a burgess of
Perth can draw a bow or not."

It was now the Thursday before the fated Palm Sunday, and the
champions on either side were expected to arrive the next day,
that they might have the interval of Saturday to rest, refresh
themselves, and prepare for the combat. Two or three of each of
the contending parties were detached to receive directions about
the encampment of their little band, and such other instructions as
might be necessary to the proper ordering of the field. Henry was
not, therefore, surprised at seeing a tall and powerful Highlander
peering anxiously about the wynd in which he lived, in the manner
in which the natives of a wild country examine the curiosities
of one that is more civilized. The smith's heart rose against the
man on account of his country, to which our Perth burgher bore a
natural prejudice, and more especially as he observed the individual
wear the plaid peculiar to the Clan Quhele. The sprig of oak leaves,
worked in silk, intimated also that the individual was one of those
personal guards of young Eachin, upon whose exertions in the future
battle so much reliance was placed by those of their clan.

Having observed so much, Henry withdrew into his smithy, for the
sight of the man raised his passion; and, knowing that the Highlander
came plighted to a solemn combat, and could not be the subject of
any inferior quarrel, he was resolved at least to avoid friendly
intercourse with him. In a few minutes, however, the door of the
smithy flew open, and flattering in his tartans, which greatly
magnified his actual size, the Gael entered with the haughty step
of a man conscious of a personal dignity superior to anything which
he is likely to meet with. He stood looking around him, and seemed
to expect to be received with courtesy and regarded with wonder.
But Henry had no sort of inclination to indulge his vanity and kept
hammering away at a breastplate which was lying upon his anvil as
if he were not aware of his visitor's presence.

"You are the Gow Chrom?" (the bandy legged smith), said the
Highlander.

"Those that wish to be crook backed call me so," answered Henry.

"No offence meant," said the Highlander; "but her own self comes
to buy an armour."

"Her own self's bare shanks may trot hence with her," answered
Henry; "I have none to sell."

"If it was not within two days of Palm Sunday, herself would make
you sing another song," retorted the Gael.

"And being the day it is," said Henry, with the same contemptuous
indifference, "I pray you to stand out of my light."

"You are an uncivil person; but her own self is fir nan ord too;
and she knows the smith is fiery when the iron is hot."

"If her nainsell be hammer man herself, her nainsell may make her
nain harness," replied Henry.

"And so her nainsell would, and never fash you for the matter; but
it is said, Gow Chrom, that you sing and whistle tunes over the
swords and harnishes that you work, that have power to make the
blades cut steel links as if they were paper, and the plate and
mail turn back steel lances as if they were boddle prins?"

"They tell your ignorance any nonsense that Christian men refuse to
believe," said Henry. "I whistle at my work whatever comes uppermost,
like an honest craftsman, and commonly it is the Highlandman's 'Och
hone for Houghman stares!' My hammer goes naturally to that tune."

"Friend, it is but idle to spur a horse when his legs are ham
shackled," said the Highlander, haughtily. "Her own self cannot
fight even now, and there is little gallantry in taunting her thus."

"By nails and hammer, you are right there," said the smith, altering
his tone. "But speak out at once, friend, what is it thou wouldst
have of me? I am in no humour for dallying."

"A hauberk for her chief, Eachin MacIan," said the Highlander.

"You are a hammer man, you say? Are you a judge of this?" said our
smith, producing from a chest the mail shirt on which he had been
lately employed.

The Gael handled it with a degree of admiration which had something
of envy in it. He looked curiously at every part of its texture,
and at length declared it the very best piece of armour that he
had ever seen.

"A hundred cows and bullocks and a good drift of sheep would be e'en
ower cheap an offer," said the Highlandman, by way of tentative;
"but her nainsell will never bid thee less, come by them how she
can."

"It is a fair proffer," replied Henry; "but gold nor gear will never
buy that harness. I want to try my own sword on my own armour, and
I will not give that mail coat to any one but who will face me for
the best of three blows and a thrust in the fair field; and it is
your chief's upon these terms."

"Hut, prut, man--take a drink and go to bed," said the Highlander,
in great scorn. "Are ye mad? Think ye the captain of the Clan Quhele
will be brawling and battling with a bit Perth burgess body like
you? Whisht, man, and hearken. Her nainsell will do ye mair credit
than ever belonged to your kin. She will fight you for the fair
harness hersell."

"She must first show that she is my match," said Henry, with a grim
smile.

"How! I, one of Eachin MacIan's leichtach, and not your match!"

"You may try me, if you will. You say you are a fir nan ord. Do
you know how to cast a sledge hammer?"

"Ay, truly--ask the eagle if he can fly over Farragon."

"But before you strive with me, you must first try a cast with one
of my leichtach. Here, Dunter, stand forth for the honour of Perth!
And now, Highlandman, there stands a row of hammers; choose which
you will, and let us to the garden."

The Highlander whose name was Norman nan Ord, or Norman of the
Hammer, showed his title to the epithet by selecting the largest
hammer of the set, at which Henry smiled. Dunter, the stout
journeyman of the smith, made what was called a prodigious cast;
but the Highlander, making a desperate effort, threw beyond it by
two or three feet, and looked with an air of triumph to Henry, who
again smiled in reply.

"Will you mend that?" said the Gael, offering our smith the hammer.

"Not with that child's toy," said Henry, "which has scarce weight
to fly against the wind. Jannekin, fetch me Sampson; or one of you
help the boy, for Sampson is somewhat ponderous."

The hammer now produced was half as heavy again as that which the
Highlander had selected as one of unusual weight. Norman stood
astonished; but he was still more so when Henry, taking his position,
swung the ponderous implement far behind his right haunch joint,
and dismissed it from his hand as if it had flown from a warlike
engine. The air groaned and whistled as the mass flew through it.
Down at length it came, and the iron head sunk a foot into the
earth, a full yard beyond the cast of Norman.

The Highlander, defeated and mortified, went to the spot where the
weapon lay, lifted it, poised it in his hand with great wonder,
and examined it closely, as if he expected to discover more in it
than a common hammer. He at length returned it to the owner with a
melancholy smile, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head as
the smith asked him whether he would not mend his cast.

"Norman has lost too much at the sport already," he replied. "She
has lost her own name of the Hammerer. But does her own self, the
Gow Chrom, work at the anvil with that horse's load of iron?"

"You shall see, brother," said Henry, leading the way to the
smithy. "Dunter," he said, "rax me that bar from the furnace"; and
uplifting Sampson, as he called the monstrous hammer, he plied the
metal with a hundred strokes from right to left--now with the
right hand, now with the left, now with both, with so much strength
at once and dexterity, that he worked off a small but beautifully
proportioned horseshoe in half the time that an ordinary smith would
have taken for the same purpose, using a more manageable implement.

"Oigh--oigh!" said the Highlander, "and what for would you
be fighting with our young chief, who is far above your standard,
though you were the best smith ever wrought with wind and fire?"

"Hark you!" said Henry; "you seem a good fellow, and I'll tell you
the truth. Your master has wronged me, and I give him this harness
freely for the chance of fighting him myself."

"Nay, if he hath wronged you he must meet you," said the life
guardsman. "To do a man wrong takes the eagle's feather out of the
chief's bonnet; and were he the first in the Highlands, and to be
sure so is Eachin, he must fight the man he has wronged, or else
a rose falls from his chaplet."

"Will you move him to this," said Henry, "after the fight on Sunday?"

"Oh, her nainsell will do her best, if the hawks have not got her
nainsell's bones to pick; for you must know, brother, that Clan
Chattan's claws pierce rather deep."

"The armour is your chief's on that condition," said Henry; "but I
will disgrace him before king and court if he does not pay me the
price."

"Deil a fear--deil a fear; I will bring him in to the barrace
myself," said Norman, "assuredly."

"You will do me a pleasure," replied Henry; "and that you may
remember your promise, I will bestow on you this dirk. Look--if
you hold it truly, and can strike between the mail hood and the
collar of your enemy, the surgeon will be needless."

The Highlander was lavish in his expressions of gratitude, and took
his leave.

"I have given him the best mail harness I ever wrought," said the
smith to himself, rather repenting his liberality, "for the poor
chance that he will bring his chief into a fair field with me; and
then let Catharine be his who can win her fairly. But much I dread
the youth will find some evasion, unless he have such luck on Palm
Sunday as may induce him to try another combat. That is some hope,
however; for I have often, ere now, seen a raw young fellow shoot
up after his first fight from a dwarf into a giant queller."

Thus, with little hope, but with the most determined resolution,
Henry Smith awaited the time that should decide his fate. What made
him augur the worst was the silence both of the glover and of his
daughter.

"They are ashamed," he said, "to confess the truth to me, and
therefore they are silent."

Upon the Friday at noon, the two bands of thirty men each,
representing the contending clans, arrived at the several points
where they were to halt for refreshments.

The Clan Quhele was entertained hospitably at the rich abbey
of Scone, while the provost regaled their rivals at his Castle of
Kinfauns, the utmost care being taken to treat both parties with
the most punctilious attention, and to afford neither an opportunity
of complaining of partiality. All points of etiquette were, in the
mean while, discussed and settled by the Lord High Constable Errol
and the young Earl of Crawford, the former acting on the part of the
Clan Chattan and the latter patronising the Clan Quhele. Messengers
were passing continually from the one earl to the other, and
they held more than: six meetings within thirty hours, before the
ceremonial of the field could be exactly arranged.

Meanwhile, in case of revival of ancient quarrel, many seeds of
which existed betwixt the burghers and their mountain neighbours,
a proclamation commanded the citizens not to approach within half
a mile of the place where the Highlanders were quartered; while on
their part the intended combatants were prohibited from approaching
Perth without special license. Troops were stationed to enforce
this order, who did their charge so scrupulously as to prevent Simon
Glover himself, burgess and citizen of Perth, from approaching the
town, because he owned having come thither at the same time with
the champions of Eachin MacIan, and wore a plaid around him of their
check or pattern. This interruption prevented Simon from seeking
out Henry Wynd and possessing him with a true knowledge of all
that had happened since their separation, which intercourse, had
it taken place, must have materially altered the catastrophe of
our narrative.

On Saturday afternoon another arrival took place, which interested
the city almost as much as the preparations for the expected combat.
This was the approach of the Earl Douglas, who rode through the
town with a troop of only thirty horse, but all of whom were knights
and gentlemen of the first consequence. Men's eyes followed this
dreaded peer as they pursue the flight of an eagle through the
clouds, unable to ken the course of the bird of Jove yet silent,
attentive, and as earnest in observing him as if they could guess
the object for which he sweeps through the firmament; He rode
slowly through the city, and passed out at the northern gate. He
next alighted at the Dominican convent and desired to see the Duke
of Albany. The Earl was introduced instantly, and received by the
Duke with a manner which was meant to be graceful and conciliatory,
but which could not conceal both art and inquietude. When the first
greetings were over, the Earl said with great gravity: "I bring you
melancholy news. Your Grace's royal nephew, the Duke of Rothsay,
is no more, and I fear hath perished by some foul practices."

"Practices!" said the Duke' in confusion--"what practices? Who
dared practise on the heir of the Scottish throne?"

"'Tis not for me to state how these doubts arise," said Douglas;
"but men say the eagle was killed with an arrow fledged from his
own wing, and the oak trunk rent by a wedge of the same wood."

"Earl of Douglas," said the Duke of Albany, "I am no reader of
riddles."

"Nor am I a propounder of them," said Douglas, haughtily, "Your
Grace will find particulars in these papers worthy of perusal. I
will go for half an hour to the cloister garden, and then rejoin
you."

"You go not to the King, my lord?" said Albany.

"No," answered Douglas; "I trust your Grace will agree with me that
we should conceal this great family misfortune from our sovereign
till the business of tomorrow be decided."

"I willingly agree," said Albany. "If the King heard of this loss,
he could not witness the combat; and if he appear not in person,
these men are likely to refuse to fight, and the whole work is
cast loose. But I pray you sit down, my lord, while I read these
melancholy papers respecting poor Rothsay."

He passed the papers through his hands, turning some over with a
hasty glance, and dwelling on others as if their contents had been
of the last importance. When he had spent nearly a quarter of an
hour in this manner, he raised his eyes, and said very gravely: "My
lord, in these most melancholy documents, it is yet a comfort to
see nothing which can renew the divisions in the King's councils,
which were settled by the last solemn agreement between your
lordship and myself. My unhappy nephew was by that agreement to
be set aside, until time should send him a graver judgment. He is
now removed by Fate, and our purpose in that matter is anticipated
and rendered unnecessary."

"If your Grace," replied the Earl, "sees nothing to disturb the
good understanding which the tranquillity and safety of Scotland
require should exist between us, I am not so ill a friend of my
country as to look closely for such."

"I understand you, my Lord of Douglas," said Albany, eagerly. "You
hastily judged that I should be offended with your lordship for
exercising your powers of lieutenancy, and punishing the detestable
murderers within my territory of Falkland. Credit me, on the
contrary, I am obliged to your lordship for taking out of my hands
the punishment of these wretches, as it would have broken my heart
even to have looked on them. The Scottish Parliament will inquire,
doubtless, into this sacrilegious deed; and happy am I that the
avenging sword has been in the hand of a man so important as your
lordship. Our communication together, as your lordship must well
recollect, bore only concerning a proposed restraint of my unfortunate
nephew until the advance of a year or two had taught him discretion?"

"Such was certainly your Grace's purpose, as expressed to me," said
the Earl; "I can safely avouch it."

"Why, then, noble earl, we cannot be censured because villains,
for their own revengeful ends, appear to have engrafted a bloody
termination on our honest purpose?"

"The Parliament will judge it after their wisdom," said Douglas.
"For my part, my conscience acquits me."

"And mine assoilzies me," said the Duke with solemnity. "Now, my
lord, touching the custody of the boy James, who succeeds to his
father's claims of inheritance?"

"The King must decide it," said Douglas, impatient of the conference.
"I will consent to his residence anywhere save at Stirling, Doune,
or Falkland."

With that he left the apartment abruptly.

"He is gone," muttered the crafty Albany, "and he must be my ally,
yet feels himself disposed to be my mortal foe. No matter, Rothsay
sleeps with his fathers, James may follow in time, and then--a
crown is the recompense of my perplexities."



CHAPTER XXXIV.

Thretty for thretty faucht in barreris,
At Sanct Johnstoun on a day besyde the black freris.

WYNTOUN.


Palm Sunday now dawned. At an earlier period of the Christian Church,
the use of any of the days of Passion Week for the purpose of combat
would have been accounted a profanity worthy of excommunication. The
Church of Rome, to her infinite honour, had decided that during the
holy season of Easter, when the redemption of man from his fallen
state was accomplished, the sword of war should be sheathed, and
angry monarchs should respect the season termed the Truce of God.
The ferocious violence of the latter wars betwixt Scotland and
England had destroyed all observance of this decent and religious
Ordinance. Very often the most solemn occasions were chosen by one
party for an attack, because they hoped to find the other engaged
in religious duties and unprovided for defence. Thus the truce,
once considered as proper to the season, had been discontinued; and
it became not unusual even to select the sacred festivals of the
church for decision of the trial by combat, to which this intended
contest bore a considerable resemblance.

On the present occasion, however, the duties of the day were observed
with the usual solemnity, and the combatants themselves took share
in them. Bearing branches of yew in their hands, as the readiest
substitute for palm boughs, they marched respectively to the Dominican
and Carthusian convents, to hear High Mass, and, by a show at least
of devotion, to prepare themselves for the bloody strife of the
day. Great care had of course been taken that, during this march,
they should not even come within the sound of each other's bagpipes;
for it was certain that, like game cocks exchanging mutual notes
of defiance, they would have sought out and attacked each other
before they arrived at the place of combat.

The citizens of Perth crowded to see the unusual procession on the
streets, and thronged the churches where the two clans attended
their devotions, to witness their behaviour, and to form a judgment
from their appearance which was most likely to obtain the advantage
in the approaching conflict. Their demeanour in the church, although
not habitual frequenters of places of devotion, was perfectly
decorous; and, notwithstanding their wild and untamed dispositions,
there were few of the mountaineers who seemed affected either
with curiosity or wonder. They appeared to think it beneath their
dignity of character to testify either curiosity or surprise
at many things which were probably then presented to them for the
first time.

On the issue of the combat, few even of the most competent judges
dared venture a prediction; although the great size of Torquil
and his eight stalwart sons induced some who professed themselves
judges of the thewes and sinews of men to incline to ascribe the
advantage to the party of the Clan Quhele. The opinion of the female
sex was much decided by the handsome form, noble countenance, and
gallant demeanour of Eachin MacIan. There were more than one who
imagined they had recollection of his features, but his splendid
military attire rendered the humble glover's apprentice unrecognisable
in the young Highland chief, saving by one person.

That person, as may well be supposed, was the Smith of the Wynd,
who had been the foremost in the crowd that thronged to see the
gallant champions of Clan Quhele. It was with mingled feelings of
dislike, jealousy, and something approaching to admiration that
he saw the glover's apprentice stripped of his mean slough, and
blazing forth as a chieftain, who, by his quick eye and gallant
demeanour, the noble shape of his brow and throat, his splendid
arms and well proportioned limbs, seemed well worthy to hold the
foremost rank among men selected to live or die for the honour of
their race. The smith could hardly think that he looked upon the
same passionate boy whom he had brushed off as he might a wasp
that stung him, and, in mere compassion, forebore to despatch by
treading on him.

"He looks it gallantly with my noble hauberk," thus muttered Henry
to himself, "the best I ever wrought. Yet, if he and I stood together
where there was neither hand to help nor eye to see, by all that
is blessed in this holy church, the good harness should return to
its owner! All that I am worth would I give for three fair blows
on his shoulders to undo my own best work; but such happiness will
never be mine. If he escape from the conflict, it will be with so
high a character for courage, that he may well disdain to put his
fortune, in its freshness, to the risk of an encounter with a poor
burgess like myself. He will fight by his champion, and turn me
over to my fellow craftsman the hammerer, when all I can reap will
be the pleasure of knocking a Highland bullock on the head. If I
could but see Simon Glover! I will to the other church in quest of
him, since for sure he must have come down from the Highlands."

The congregation was moving from the church of the Dominicans when
the smith formed this determination, which he endeavoured to carry
into speedy execution, by thrusting through the crowd as hastily
as the solemnity of the place and occasion would permit. In making
his way through the press, he was at one instant carried so close
to Eachin that their eyes encountered. The smith's hardy and embrowned
countenance coloured up like the heated iron on which he wrought,
and retained its dark red hue for several minutes. Eachin's features
glowed with a brighter blush of indignation, and a glance of fiery
hatred was shot from his eyes. But the sudden flush died away in
ashy paleness, and his gaze instantly avoided the unfriendly but
steady look with which it was encountered.

Torquil, whose eye never quitted his foster son, saw his emotion,
and looked anxiously around to discover the cause. But Henry was
already at a distance, and hastening on his way to the Carthusian
convent. Here also the religious service of the day was ended; and
those who had so lately borne palms in honour of the great event
which brought peace on earth and goodwill to the children of men
were now streaming to the place of combat--some prepared to take
the lives of their fellow creatures or to lose their own, others to
view the deadly strife with the savage delight which the heathens
took in the contests of their gladiators.

The crowd was so great that any other person might well have despaired
of making way through it. But the general deference entertained
for Henry of the Wynd, as the champion of Perth, and the universal
sense of his ability to force a passage, induced all to unite in
yielding room for him, so that he was presently quite close to the
warriors of the Clan Chattan. Their pipers marched at the head of
their column. Next followed the well known banner, displaying a
mountain cat rampant, with the appropriate caution, "Touch not the
cat, but (i.e. without) the glove." The chief followed with his two
handed sword advanced, as if to protect the emblem of the tribe. He
was a man of middle stature, more than fifty years old, but betraying
neither in features nor form any decay of strength or symptoms of
age. His dark red close curled locks were in part chequered by a
few grizzled hairs, but his step and gesture were as light in the
dance, in the chase, or in the battle as if he had not passed his
thirtieth year. His grey eye gleamed with a wild light expressive
of valour and ferocity mingled; but wisdom and experience dwelt
on the expression of his forehead, eyebrows, and lips. The chosen
champions followed by two and two. There was a cast of anxiety on
several of their faces, for they had that morning discovered the
absence of one of their appointed number; and, in a contest so
desperate as was expected, the loss seemed a matter of importance
to all save to their high mettled chief, MacGillie Chattanach.

"Say nothing to the Saxons of his absence," said this bold leader,
when the diminution of his force was reported to him. "The false
Lowland tongues might say that one of Clan Chattan was a coward,
and perhaps that the rest favoured his escape, in order to have a
pretence to avoid the battle. I am sure that Ferquhard Day will be
found in the ranks ere we are ready for battle; or, if he should
not, am not I man enough for two of the Clan Quhele? or would we
not fight them fifteen to thirty, rather than lose the renown that
this day will bring us?"

The tribe received the brave speech of their leader with applause, yet
there were anxious looks thrown out in hopes of espying the return
of the deserter; and perhaps the chief himself was the only one of
the determined band who was totally indifferent on the subject.

They marched on through the streets without seeing anything of
Ferquhard Day, who, many a mile beyond the mountains, was busied
in receiving such indemnification as successful love could bestow
for the loss of honour. MacGillie Chattanach marched on without
seeming to observe the absence of the deserter, and entered upon
the North Inch, a beautiful and level plain, closely adjacent to
the city, and appropriated to the martial exercises of the inhabitants.

The plain is washed on one side by the deep and swelling Tay. There
was erected within it a strong palisade, inclosing on three sides
a space of one hundred and fifty yards in length and seventy-four
yards in width. The fourth side of the lists was considered as
sufficiently fenced by the river. An amphitheatre for the accommodation
of spectators surrounded the palisade, leaving a large space free
to be occupied by armed men on foot and horseback, and for the more
ordinary class of spectators. At the extremity of the lists which
was nearest to the city, there was a range of elevated galleries
for the King and his courtiers, so highly decorated with rustic
treillage, intermingled with gilded ornaments, that the spot retains
to this day the name of the Golden, or Gilded, Arbour.

The mountain minstrelsy, which sounded the appropriate pibrochs
or battle tunes of the rival confederacies, was silent when they
entered on the Inch, for such was the order which had been given.
Two stately but aged warriors, each bearing the banner of his
tribe, advanced to the opposite extremities of the lists, and,
pitching their standards into the earth, prepared to be spectators
of a fight in which they were not to join. The pipers, who were also
to be neutral in the strife, took their places by their respective
brattachs.

The multitude received both bands with the same general shout with
which on similar occasions they welcome those from whose exertion
they expect amusement, or what they term sport. The destined combatants
returned no answer to this greeting, but each party advanced to the
opposite extremities of the lists, where were entrances by which
they were to be admitted to the interior. A strong body of men at
arms guarded either access; and the Earl Marshal at the one and the
Lord High Constable at the other carefully examined each individual,
to see whether he had the appropriate arms, being steel cap, mail
shirt, two handed sword, and dagger. They also examined the numbers
of each party; and great was the alarm among the multitude when the
Earl of Errol held up his hand and cried: "Ho! The combat cannot
proceed, for the Clan Chattan lack one of their number."

"What reek of that?" said the young Earl of Crawford; "they should
have counted better ere they left home."

The Earl Marshal, however, agreed with the Constable that the fight
could not proceed until the inequality should be removed; and a
general apprehension was excited in the assembled multitude that,
after all the preparation, there would be no battle.

Of all present there were only two perhaps who rejoiced at the
prospect of the combat being adjourned, and these were the captain
of the Clan Quhele and the tender hearted King Robert. Meanwhile
the two chiefs, each attended by a special friend and adviser, met
in the midst of the lists, having, to assist them in determining
what was to be done, the Earl Marshal, the Lord High Constable,
the Earl of Crawford, and Sir Patrick Charteris. The chief of the
Clan Chattan declared himself willing and desirous of fighting upon
the spot, without regard to the disparity of numbers.

"That," said Torquil of the Oak, "Clan Quhele will never consent
to. You can never win honour from us with the sword, and you seek
but a subterfuge, that you may say when you are defeated, as you
know you will be, that it was for want of the number of your band
fully counted out. But I make a proposal: Ferquhard Day was the
youngest of your band, Eachin MacIan is the youngest of ours; we
will set him aside in place of the man who has fled from the combat."

"A most unjust and unequal proposal," exclaimed Toshach Beg, the
second, as he might be termed, of MacGillie Chattanach. "The life
of the chief is to the clan the breath of our nostrils, nor will
we ever consent that our chief shall be exposed to dangers which
the captain of Clan Quhele does not share."

Torquil saw with deep anxiety that his plan was about to fail when
the objection was made to Hector's being withdrawn from the battle,
and he was meditating how to support his proposal, when Eachin
himself interfered. His timidity, it must be observed, was not of
that sordid and selfish nature which induces those who are infected
by it calmly to submit to dishonour rather than risk danger. On
the contrary, he was morally brave, though constitutionally timid,
and the shame of avoiding the combat became at the moment more
powerful than the fear of facing it.

"I will not hear," he said, "of a scheme which will leave my sword
sheathed during this day's glorious combat. If I am young in arms,
there are enough of brave men around me whom I may imitate if I
cannot equal."

He spoke these words in a spirit which imposed on Torquil, and
perhaps on the young chief himself.

"Now, God bless his noble heart!" said the foster father to himself.
"I was sure the foul spell would be broken through, and that the
tardy spirit which besieged him would fly at the sound of the pipe
and the first flutter of the brattach!"

"Hear me, Lord Marshal," said the Constable. "The hour of combat
may not be much longer postponed, for the day approaches to high
noon. Let the chief of Clan Chattan take the half hour which remains,
to find, if he can, a substitute for this deserter; if he cannot,
let them fight as they stand."

"Content I am," said the Marshal, "though, as none of his own clan
are nearer than fifty miles, I see not how MacGillis Chattanach is
to find an auxiliary."

"That is his business," said the High Constable; "but, if he offers
a high reward, there are enough of stout yeomen surrounding the
lists, who will be glad enough to stretch their limbs in such a
game as is expected. I myself, did my quality and charge permit,
would blythely take a turn of work amongst these wild fellows, and
think it fame won."

They communicated their decision to the Highlanders, and the chief
of the Clan Chattan replied: "You have judged unpartially and nobly,
my lords, and I deem myself obliged to follow your direction. So
make proclamation, heralds, that, if any one will take his share
with Clan Chattan of the honours and chances of this day, he shall
have present payment of a gold crown, and liberty to fight to the
death in my ranks."

"You are something chary of your treasure, chief," said the Earl
Marshal: "a gold crown is poor payment for such a campaign as is
before you."

"If there be any man willing to fight for honour," replied MacGillis
Chattanach, "the price will be enough; and I want not the service
of a fellow who draws his sword for gold alone."

The heralds had made their progress, moving half way round the
lists, stopping from time to time to make proclamation as they had
been directed, without the least apparent disposition on the part
of any one to accept of the proffered enlistment. Some sneered at
the poverty of the Highlanders, who set so mean a price upon such
a desperate service. Others affected resentment, that they should
esteem the blood of citizens so lightly. None showed the slightest
intention to undertake the task proposed, until the sound of the
proclamation reached Henry of the Wynd, as he stood without the
barrier, speaking from time to time with Baillie Craigdallie, or
rather listening vaguely to what the magistrate was saying to him.

"Ha! what proclaim they?" he cried out.

"A liberal offer on the part of MacGillie Chattanach," said the
host of the Griffin, "who proposes a gold crown to any one who will
turn wildcat for the day, and be killed a little in his service!
That's all."

"How!" exclaimed the smith, eagerly, "do they make proclamation
for a man to fight against the Clan Quhele?"

"Ay, marry do they," said Griffin; "but I think they will find no
such fools in Perth."

He had hardly said the word, when he beheld the smith clear the
barriers at a single bound and alight in the lists, saying: "Here
am I, sir herald, Henry of the Wynd, willing to battle on the part
of the Clan Chattan."

A cry of admiration ran through the multitude, while the grave
burghers, not being able to conceive the slightest reason for Henry's
behaviour, concluded that his head must be absolutely turned with
the love of fighting. The provost was especially shocked.

"Thou art mad," he said, "Henry! Thou hast neither two handed sword
nor shirt of mail."

"Truly no," said Henry, "for I parted with a mail shirt, which I
had made for myself, to yonder gay chief of the Clan Quhele, who
will soon find on his shoulders with what sort of blows I clink my
rivets! As for two handed sword, why, this boy's brand will serve
my turn till I can master a heavier one."

"This must not be," said Errol. "Hark thee, armourer, by St. Mary,
thou shalt have my Milan hauberk and good Spanish sword."

"I thank your noble earlship, Sir Gilbert Hay, but the yoke with
which your brave ancestor turned the battle at Loncarty would serve
my turn well enough. I am little used to sword or harness that I
have not wrought myself, because I do not well know what blows the
one will bear out without being cracked or the other lay on without
snapping."

The cry had in the mean while run through the multitude and passed
into the town, that the dauntless smith was about to fight without
armour, when, just as the fated hour was approaching, the shrill
voice of a female was heard screaming for passage through the crowd.
The multitude gave place to her importunity, and she advanced,
breathless with haste under the burden of a mail hauberk and
a large two handed sword. The widow of Oliver Proudfute was soon
recognised, and the arms which she bore were those of the smith
himself, which, occupied by her husband on the fatal evening when
he was murdered, had been naturally conveyed to his house with the
dead body, and were now, by the exertions of his grateful widow,
brought to the lists at a moment when such proved weapons were of
the last consequence to their owner. Henry joyfully received the
well known arms, and the widow with trembling haste assisted in
putting them on, and then took leave of him, saying: "God for the
champion of the widow and orphan, and ill luck to all who come
before him!"

Confident at feeling himself in his well proved armour, Henry shook
himself as if to settle the steel shirt around him, and, unsheathing
the two handed sword, made it flourish over his head, cutting the
air through which it whistled in the form of the figure eight with
an ease and sleight of hand that proved how powerfully and skilfully
he could wield the ponderous weapon. The champions were now ordered
to march in their turns around the lists, crossing so as to avoid
meeting each other, and making obeisance as they passed the Golden
Arbour where the King was seated.

While this course was performing, most of the spectators were
again curiously comparing the stature, limbs, and sinews of the two
parties, and endeavouring to form a conjecture an to the probable
issue of the combat. The feud of a hundred years, with all its
acts of aggression and retaliation, was concentrated in the bosom
of each combatant. Their countenances seemed fiercely writhen into
the wildest expression of pride, hate, and a desperate purpose of
fighting to the very last.

The spectators murmured a joyful applause, in high wrought
expectation of the bloody game. Wagers were offered and accepted
both on the general issue of the conflict and on the feats of
particular champions. The clear, frank, and elated look of Henry
Smith rendered him a general favourite among the spectators, and
odds, to use the modern expression, were taken that he would kill
three of his opponents before he himself fell.

Scarcely was the smith equipped for the combat, when the commands
of the chiefs ordered the champions into their places; and at the
same moment Henry heard the voice of Simon Glover issuing from the
crowd, who were now silent with expectation, and calling on him:
"Harry Smith--Harry Smith, what madness hath possessed thee?"

"Ay, he wishes to save his hopeful son in law that is, or is to be,
from the smith's handling," was Henry's first thought; his second
was to turn and speak with him; and his third, that he could on no
pretext desert the band which he had joined, or even seem desirous
to delay the fight, consistently with honour.

He turned himself, therefore, to the business of the hour. Both
parties were disposed by the respective chiefs in three lines, each
containing ten men. They were arranged with such intervals between
each individual as offered him scope to wield his sword, the blade
of which was five feet long, not including the handle. The second
and third lines were to come up as reserves, in case the first
experienced disaster. On the right of the array of Clan Quhele,
the chief, Eachin MacIan, placed himself in the second line betwixt
two of his foster brothers. Four of them occupied the right of the
first line, whilst the father and two others protected the rear of
the beloved chieftain. Torquil, in particular, kept close behind,
for the purpose of covering him. Thus Eachin stood in the centre
of nine of the strongest men of his band, having four especial
defenders in front, one on each hand, and three in his rear.

The line of the Clan Chattan was arranged in precisely the same
order, only that the chief occupied the centre of the middle rank,
instead of being on the extreme right. This induced Henry Smith, who
saw in the opposing bands only one enemy, and that was the unhappy
Eachin, to propose placing himself on the left of the front rank of
the Clan Chattan. But the leader disapproved of this arrangement;
and having reminded Henry that he owed him obedience, as having
taken wages at his hand, he commanded him to occupy the space
in the third line immediately behind himself--a post of honour,
certainly, which Henry could not decline, though he accepted of it
with reluctance.

When the clans were thus drawn up opposed to each other, they
intimated their feudal animosity and their eagerness to engage by
a wild scream, which, uttered by the Clan Quhele, was answered and
echoed back by the Clan Chattan, the whole at the same time shaking
their swords and menacing each other, as if they meant to conquer
the imagination of their opponents ere they mingled in the actual
strife.

At this trying moment, Torquil, who had never feared for himself,
was agitated with alarm on the part of his dault, yet consoled
by observing that he kept a determined posture, and that the few
words which he spoke to his clan were delivered boldly, and well
calculated to animate them to combat, as expressing his resolution
to partake their fate in death or victory. But there was no time
for further observation. The trumpets of the King sounded a charge,
the bagpipes blew up their screaming and maddening notes, and the
combatants, starting forward in regular order, and increasing their
pace till they came to a smart run, met together in the centre of
the ground, as a furious land torrent encounters an advancing tide.

For an instant or two the front lines, hewing at each other with
their long swords, seemed engaged in a succession of single combats;
but the second and third ranks soon came up on either side, actuated
alike by the eagerness of hatred and the thirst of honour, pressed
through the intervals, and rendered the scene a tumultuous chaos,
over which the huge swords rose and sunk, some still glittering,
others streaming with blood, appearing, from the wild rapidity
with which they were swayed, rather to be put in motion by some
complicated machinery than to be wielded by human hands. Some of
the combatants, too much crowded together to use those long weapons,
had already betaken themselves to their poniards, and endeavoured
to get within the sword sweep of those opposed to them. In the mean
time, blood flowed fast, and the groans of those who fell began to
mingle with the cries of those who fought; for, according to the
manner of the Highlanders at all times, they could hardly be said
to shout, but to yell. Those of the spectators whose eyes were best
accustomed to such scenes of blood and confusion could nevertheless
discover no advantage yet acquired by either party. The conflict
swayed, indeed, at different intervals forwards or backwards, but
it was only in momentary superiority, which the party who acquired
it almost instantly lost by a corresponding exertion on the other
side. The wild notes of the pipers were still heard above the tumult,
and stimulated to farther exertions the fury of the combatants.

At once, however, and as if by mutual agreement, the instruments
sounded a retreat; it was expressed in wailing notes, which seemed to
imply a dirge for the fallen. The two parties disengaged themselves
from each other, to take breath for a few minutes. The eyes of the
spectators greedily surveyed the shattered array of the combatants
as they drew off from the contest, but found it still impossible
to decide which had sustained the greater loss. It seemed as if
the Clan Chattan had lost rather fewer men than their antagonists;
but in compensation, the bloody plaids and skirts of their party
(for several on both sides had thrown their mantles away) showed
more wounded men than the Clan Quhele. About twenty of both sides
lay on the field dead or dying; and arms and legs lopped off,
heads cleft to the chin, slashes deep through the shoulder into
the breast, showed at once the fury of the combat, the ghastly
character of the weapons used, and the fatal strength of the arms
which wielded them. The chief of the Clan Chattan had behaved himself
with the most determined courage, and was slightly wounded. Eachin
also had fought with spirit, surrounded by his bodyguard. His sword
was bloody, his bearing bold and warlike; and he smiled when old
Torquil, folding him in his arms, loaded him with praises and with
blessings.

The two chiefs, after allowing their followers to breathe for the
space of about ten minutes, again drew up in their files, diminished
by nearly one third of their original number. They now chose their
ground nearer to the river than that on which they had formerly
encountered, which was encumbered with the wounded and the slain.
Some of the former were observed, from time to time, to raise
themselves to gain a glimpse of the field, and sink back, most of
them to die from the effusion of blood which poured from the terrific
gashes inflicted by the claymore.

Harry Smith was easily distinguished by his Lowland habit, as well
as his remaining on the spot where they had first encountered, where
he stood leaning on a sword beside a corpse, whose bonneted head,
carried to ten yards' distance from the body by the force of the
blow which had swept it off, exhibited the oak leaf, the appropriate
ornament of the bodyguard of Eachin MacIan. Since he slew this
man, Henry had not struck a blow, but had contented himself with
warding off many that were dealt at himself, and some which were
aimed at the chief. MacGillie Chattanach became alarmed, when,
having given the signal that his men should again draw together,
he observed that his powerful recruit remained at a distance from
the ranks, and showed little disposition to join them.

"What ails thee, man?" said the chief. "Can so strong a body have
a mean and cowardly spirit? Come, and make in to the combat."

"You as good as called me hireling but now," replied Henry. "If I
am such," pointing to the headless corpse, "I have done enough for
my day's wage."

"He that serves me without counting his hours," replied the chief,
"I reward him without reckoning wages."

"Then," said the smith, "I fight as a volunteer, and in the post
which best likes me."

"All that is at your own discretion," replied MacGillis Chattanach,
who saw the prudence of humouring an auxiliary of such promise.

"It is enough," said Henry; and, shouldering his heavy weapon, he
joined the rest of the combatants with alacrity, and placed himself
opposite to the chief of the Clan Quhele.

It was then, for the first time, that Eachin showed some uncertainty.
He had long looked up to Henry as the best combatant which Perth
and its neighbourhood could bring into the lists. His hatred to
him as a rival was mingled with recollection of the ease with which
he had once, though unarmed, foiled his own sudden and desperate
attack; and when he beheld him with his eyes fixed in his direction,
the dripping sword in his hand, and obviously meditating an attack
on him individually, his courage fell, and he gave symptoms of
wavering, which did not escape his foster father.

It was lucky for Eachin that Torquil was incapable, from the
formation of his own temper, and that of those with whom he had
lived, to conceive the idea of one of his own tribe, much less of his
chief and foster son, being deficient in animal courage. Could he
have imagined this, his grief and rage might have driven him to the
fierce extremity of taking Eachin's life, to save him from staining
his honour. But his mind rejected the idea that his dault was a
personal coward, as something which was monstrous and unnatural.
That he was under the influence of enchantment was a solution which
superstition had suggested, and he now anxiously, but in a whisper,
demanded of Hector: "Does the spell now darken thy spirit, Eachin?"

"Yes, wretch that I am," answered the unhappy youth; "and yonder
stands the fell enchanter!"

"What!" exclaimed Torquil, "and you wear harness of his making?
Norman, miserable boy, why brought you that accursed mail?"

"If my arrow has flown astray, I can but shoot my life after it,"
answered Norman nan Ord. "Stand firm, you shall see me break the
spell."

"Yes, stand firm," said Torquil. "He may be a fell enchanter; but
my own ear has heard, and my own tongue has told, that Eachin shall
leave the battle whole, free, and unwounded; let us see the Saxon
wizard who can gainsay that. He may be a strong man, but the fair
forest of the oak shall fall, stock and bough, ere he lay a finger
on my dault. Ring around him, my sons; bas air son Eachin!"

The sons of Torquil shouted back the words, which signify, "Death
for Hector."

Encouraged by their devotion, Eachin renewed his spirit, and called
boldly to the minstrels of his clan, "Seid suas" that is, "Strike
up."

The wild pibroch again sounded the onset; but the two parties
approached each other more slowly than at first, as men who knew
and respected each other's valour. Henry Wynd, in his impatience
to begin the contest, advanced before the Clan Chattan and signed
to Eachin to come on. Norman, however, sprang forward to cover his
foster brother, and there was a general, though momentary, pause,
as if both parties were willing to obtain an omen of the fate of
the day from the event of this duel. The Highlander advanced, with
his large sword uplifted, as in act to strike; but, just as he
came within sword's length, he dropt the long and cumbrous weapon,
leapt lightly over the smith's sword, as he fetched a cut at him,
drew his dagger, and, being thus within Henry's guard, struck him
with the weapon (his own gift) on the side of the throat, directing
the blow downwards into the chest, and calling aloud, at the same
time, "You taught me the stab!"

But Henry Wynd wore his own good hauberk, doubly defended with a
lining of tempered steel. Had he been less surely armed, his combats
had been ended for ever. Even as it was, he was slightly wounded.

"Fool!" he replied, striking Norman a blow with the pommel of his
long sword, which made him stagger backwards, "you were taught the
thrust, but not the parry"; and, fetching a blow at his antagonist,
which cleft his skull through the steel cap, he strode over the
lifeless body to engage the young chief, who now stood open before
him.

But the sonorous voice of Torquil thundered out, "Far eil air son
Eachin!" (Another for Hector!) and the two brethren who flanked
their chief on each side thrust forward upon Henry, and, striking
both at once, compelled him to keep the defensive.

"Forward, race of the tiger cat!" cried MacGillie Chattanach. "Save
the brave Saxon; let these kites feel your talons!"

Already much wounded, the chief dragged himself up to the smith's
assistance, and cut down one of the leichtach, by whom he was
assailed. Henry's own good sword rid him of the other.

"Reist air son Eachin!" (Again for Hector!) shouted the faithful
foster father.

"Bas air son Eachin!" (Death for Hector!) answered two more of his
devoted sons, and opposed themselves to the fury of the smith and
those who had come to his aid; while Eachin, moving towards the left
wing of the battle, sought less formidable adversaries, and again,
by some show of valour, revived the sinking hopes of his followers.
The two children of the oak, who had covered, this movement, shared
the fate of their brethren; for the cry of the Clan Chattan chief
had drawn to that part of the field some of his bravest warriors.
The sons of Torquil did not fall unavenged, but left dreadful
marks of their swords on the persons of the dead and living. But
the necessity of keeping their most distinguished soldiers around
the person of their chief told to disadvantage on the general
event of the combat; and so few were now the number who remained
fighting, that it was easy to see that the Clan Chattan had fifteen
of their number left, though most of them wounded, and that of the
Clan Quhele only about ten remained, of whom there were four of
the chief's bodyguard, including Torquil himself.

They fought and struggled on, however, and as their strength
decayed, their fury seemed to increase. Henry Wynd, now wounded in
many places, was still bent on breaking through, or exterminating,
the band of bold hearts who continued to fight around the object
of his animosity. But still the father's shout of "Another for
Hector!" was cheerfully answered by the fatal countersign, "Death
for Hector!" and though the Clan Quhele were now outnumbered, the
combat seemed still dubious. It was bodily lassitude alone that
again compelled them to another pause.

The Clan Chattan were then observed to be twelve in number, but
two or three were scarce able to stand without leaning on their
swords. Five were left of the Clan Quhele; Torquil and his youngest
son were of the number, both slightly wounded. Eachin alone had,
from the vigilance used to intercept all blows levelled against his
person, escaped without injury. The rage of both parties had sunk,
through exhaustion, into sullen desperation. They walked staggering,
as if in their sleep, through the carcasses of the slain, and
gazed on them, as if again to animate their hatred towards their
surviving enemies by viewing the friends they had lost.

The multitude soon after beheld the survivors of the desperate
conflict drawing together to renew the exterminating feud on the
banks of the river, as the spot least slippery with blood, and less
encumbered with the bodies of the slain.

"For God's sake--for the sake of the mercy which we daily pray
for," said the kind hearted old King to the Duke of Albany, "let
this be ended! Wherefore should these wretched rags and remnants of
humanity be suffered to complete their butchery? Surely they will
now be ruled, and accept of peace on moderate terms?"

"Compose yourself, my liege," said his brother. "These men are the
pest of the Lowlands. Both chiefs are still living; if they go back
unharmed, the whole day's work is cast away. Remember your promise
to the council, that you would not cry 'hold.'"

"You compel me to a great crime, Albany, both as a king, who
should protect his subjects, and as a Christian man, who respects
the brother of his faith."

"You judge wrong, my lord," said the Duke: "these are not loving
subjects, but disobedient rebels, as my Lord of Crawford can bear
witness; and they are still less Christian men, for the prior of the
Dominicans will vouch for me that they are more than half heathen."

The King sighed deeply. "You must work your pleasure, and are too
wise for me to contend with. I can but turn away and shut my eyes
from the sights and sounds of a carnage which makes me sicken. But
well I know that God will punish me even for witnessing this waste
of human life."

"Sound, trumpets," said Albany; "their wounds will stiffen if they
dally longer."

While this was passing, Torquil was embracing and encouraging his
young chief.

"Resist the witchcraft but a few minutes longer! Be of good cheer,
you will come off without either scar or scratch, wem or wound. Be
of good cheer!"

"How can I be of good cheer," said Eachin, "while my brave kinsmen
have one by one died at my feet--died all for me, who could never
deserve the least of their kindness?"

"And for what were they born, save to die for their chief?" said
Torquil, composedly. "Why lament that the arrow returns not to the
quiver, providing it hit the mark? Cheer up yet. Here are Tormot
and I but little hurt, while the wildcats drag themselves through
the plain as if they were half throttled by the terriers. Yet one
brave stand, and the day shall be your own, though it may well be
that you alone remain alive. Minstrels, sound the gathering."

The pipers on both sides blew their charge, and the combatants
again mingled in battle, not indeed with the same strength, but
with unabated inveteracy. They were joined by those whose duty it
was to have remained neuter, but who now found themselves unable to
do so. The two old champions who bore the standards had gradually
advanced from the extremity of the lists, and now approached close
to the immediate scene of action. When they beheld the carnage
more nearly, they were mutually impelled by the desire to revenge
their brethren, or not to survive them. They attacked each other
furiously with the lances to which the standards were attached,
closed after exchanging several deadly thrusts, then grappled in
close strife, still holding their banners, until at length, in the
eagerness of their conflict, they fell together into the Tay, and
were found drowned after the combat, closely locked in each other's
arms. The fury of battle, the frenzy of rage and despair, infected
next the minstrels. The two pipers, who, during the conflict, had
done their utmost to keep up the spirits of their brethren, now
saw the dispute well nigh terminated for want of men to support
it. They threw down their instruments, rushed desperately upon each
other with their daggers, and each being more intent on despatching
his opponent than in defending himself, the piper of Clan Quhele
was almost instantly slain and he of Clan Chattan mortally wounded.
The last, nevertheless, again grasped his instrument, and the pibroch
of the clan yet poured its expiring notes over the Clan Chattan,
while the dying minstrel had breath to inspire it. The instrument
which he used, or at least that part of it called the chanter, is
preserved in the family of a Highland chief to this day, and is
much honoured under the name of the federan dhu, or, "black chanter."'

Meanwhile, in the final charge, young Tormot, devoted, like his
brethren, by his father Torquil to the protection of his chief,
had been mortally wounded by the unsparing sword of the smith. The
other two remaining of the Clan Quhele had also fallen, and Torquil,
with his foster son and the wounded Tormot, forced to retreat before
eight or ten of the Clan Chattan, made a stand on the bank of the
river, while their enemies were making such exertions as their
wounds would permit to come up with them. Torquil had just reached
the spot where he had resolved to make the stand, when the young
Tormot dropped and expired. His death drew from his father the
first and only sigh which he had breathed throughout the eventful
day.

"My son Tormot!" he said, "my youngest and dearest! But if I save
Hector, I save all. Now, my darling dault, I have done for thee all
that man may, excepting the last. Let me undo the clasps of that
ill omened armour, and do thou put on that of Tormot; it is light,
and will fit thee well. While you do so, I will rush on these
crippled men, and make what play with them I can. I trust I shall
have but little to do, for they are following each other like
disabled steers. At least, darling of my soul, if I am unable to
save thee, I can show thee how a man should die."

While Torquil thus spoke, he unloosed the clasps of the young chief's
hauberk, in the simple belief that he could thus break the meshes
which fear and necromancy had twined about his heart.

"My father--my father--my more than parent," said the unhappy
Eachin, "stay with me! With you by my side, I feel I can fight to
the last."

"It is impossible," said Torquil. "I will stop them coming up,
while you put on the hauberk. God eternally bless thee, beloved of
my soul!"

And then, brandishing his sword, Torquil of the Oak rushed forward
with the same fatal war cry which had so often sounded over that
bloody field, "Bas air son Eachin!" The words rung three times in
a voice of thunder; and each time that he cried his war shout he
struck down one of the Clan Chattan as he met them successively
straggling towards him.

"Brave battle, hawk--well flown, falcon!" exclaimed the multitude,
as they witnessed exertions which seemed, even at this last hour,
to threaten a change of the fortunes of the day. Suddenly these
cries were hushed into silence, and succeeded by a clashing of
swords so dreadful, as if the whole conflict had recommenced in
the person of Henry Wynd and Torquil of the Oak. They cut, foined,
hewed, and thrust as if they had drawn their blades for the first time
that day; and their inveteracy was mutual, for Torquil recognised
the foul wizard who, as he supposed, had cast a spell over his
child; and Henry saw before him the giant who, during the whole
conflict, had interrupted the purpose for which alone he had joined
the combatants--that of engaging in single combat with Hector.
They fought with an equality which, perhaps, would not have existed,
had not Henry, more wounded than his antagonist, been somewhat
deprived of his usual agility.

Meanwhile Eachin, finding himself alone, after a disorderly and
vain attempt to put on his foster brother's harness, became animated
by an emotion of shame and despair, and hurried forward to support
his foster father in the terrible struggle, ere some other of the
Clan Chattan should come up. When he was within five yards, and
sternly determined to take his share in the death fight, his foster
father fell, cleft from the collarbone well nigh to the heart, and
murmuring with his last breath, "Bas air son Eachin!" The unfortunate
youth saw the fall of his last friend, and at the same moment
beheld the deadly enemy who had hunted him through the whole field
standing within sword's point of him, and brandishing the huge
weapon which had hewed its way to his life through so many obstacles.
Perhaps this was enough to bring his constitutional timidity to
its highest point; or perhaps he recollected at the same moment
that he was without defensive armour, and that a line of enemies,
halting indeed and crippled, but eager for revenge and blood, were
closely approaching. It is enough to say, that his heart sickened,
his eyes darkened, his ears tingled, his brain turned giddy,
all other considerations were lost in the apprehension of instant
death; and, drawing one ineffectual blow at the smith, he avoided
that which was aimed at him in return by bounding backward; and,
ere the former could recover his weapon, Eachin had plunged into
the stream of the Tay. A roar of contumely pursued him as he swam
across the river, although, perhaps, not a dozen of those who joined
in it would have behaved otherwise in the like circumstances. Henry
looked after the fugitive in silence and surprise, but could not
speculate on the consequences of his flight, on account of the
faintness which seemed to overpower him as soon as the animation
of the contest had subsided. He sat down on the grassy bank, and
endeavoured to stanch such of his wounds as were pouring fastest.

The victors had the general meed of gratulation. The Duke of Albany
and others went down to survey the field; and Henry Wynd was honoured
with particular notice.

"If thou wilt follow me, good fellow," said the Black Douglas,
"I will change thy leathern apron for a knight's girdle, and thy
burgage tenement for an hundred pound land to maintain thy rank
withal."

"I thank you humbly, my lord," said the smith, dejectedly, "but
I have shed blood enough already, and Heaven has punished me by
foiling the only purpose for which I entered the combat."

"How, friend?" said Douglas. "Didst thou not fight for the Clan
Chattan, and have they not gained a glorious conquest?"

"I fought for my own hand," [meaning, I did such a thing for my
own pleasure, not for your profit] said the smith, indifferently;
and the expression is still proverbial in Scotland.

The good King Robert now came up on an ambling palfrey, having
entered the barriers for the purpose of causing the wounded to be
looked after.

"My lord of Douglas," he said, "you vex the poor man with temporal
matters when it seems he may have short timer to consider those
that are spiritual. Has he no friends here who will bear him where
his bodily wounds and the health of his soul may be both cared
for?"

"He hath as many friends as there are good men in Perth," said Sir
Patrick Charteris, "and I esteem myself one of the closest."

"A churl will savour of churl's kind," said the haughty Douglas,
turning his horse aside; "the proffer of knighthood from the sword
of Douglas had recalled him from death's door, had there been a
drop of gentle blood in his body."

Disregarding the taunt of the mighty earl, the Knight of Kinfauns
dismounted to take Henry in his arms, as he now sunk back from very
faintness. But he was prevented by Simon Glover, who, with other
burgesses of consideration, had now entered the barrace.

"Henry, my beloved son Henry!" said the old man. "Oh, what tempted
you to this fatal affray? Dying--speechless?"

"No--not speechless," said Henry. "Catharine--" He could utter
no more.

"Catharine is well, I trust, and shall be thine--that is, if--"

"If she be safe, thou wouldst say, old man," said the Douglas, who,
though something affronted at Henry's rejection of his offer, was
too magnanimous not to interest himself in what was passing. "She
is safe, if Douglas's banner can protect her--safe, and shall
be rich. Douglas can give wealth to those who value it more than
honour."

"For her safety, my lord, let the heartfelt thanks and blessings
of a father go with the noble Douglas. For wealth, we are rich
enough. Gold cannot restore my beloved son."

"A marvel!" said the Earl: "a churl refuses nobility, a citizen
despises gold!"

"Under your lordship's favour," said Sir Patrick, "I, who am knight
and noble, take license to say, that such a brave man as Henry Wynd
may reject honourable titles, such an honest man as this reverend
citizen may dispense with gold."

"You do well, Sir Patrick, to speak for your town, and I take no
offence," said the Douglas. "I force my bounty on no one. But," he
added, in a whisper to Albany, "your Grace must withdraw the King
from this bloody sight, for he must know that tonight which will
ring over broad Scotland when tomorrow dawns. This feud is ended.
Yet even I grieve that so many brave Scottishmen lie here slain,
whose brands might have decided a pitched field in their country's
cause."

With dignity King Robert was withdrawn from the field, the tears
running down his aged cheeks and white beard, as he conjured
all around him, nobles and priests, that care should be taken for
the bodies and souls of the few wounded survivors, and honourable
burial rendered to the slain. The priests who were present answered
zealously for both services, and redeemed their pledge faithfully
and piously.

Thus ended this celebrated conflict of the North Inch of Perth. Of
sixty-four brave men (the minstrels and standard bearers included)
who strode manfully to the fatal field, seven alone survived, who
were conveyed from thence in litters, in a case little different
from the dead and dying around them, and mingled with them in the
sad procession which conveyed them from the scene of their strife.
Eachin alone had left it void of wounds and void of honour.

It remains but to say, that not a man of the Clan Quhele survived
the bloody combat except the fugitive chief; and the consequence
of the defeat was the dissolution of their confederacy. The clans
of which it consisted are now only matter of conjecture to the
antiquary, for, after this eventful contest, they never assembled
under the same banner. The Clan Chattan, on the other hand, continued
to increase and flourish; and the best families of the Northern
Highlands boast their descent from the race of the Cat a Mountain.



CHAPTER XXXV.


While the King rode slowly back to the convent which he then
occupied, Albany, with a discomposed aspect and faltering voice,
asked the Earl of Douglas: "Will not your lordship, who saw this
most melancholy scene at Falkland, communicate the tidings to my
unhappy brother?"

"Not for broad Scotland," said the Douglas. "I would sooner bare
my breast, within flight shot, as a butt to an hundred Tynedale
bowmen. No, by St. Bride of Douglas! I could but say I saw the ill
fated youth dead. How he came by his death, your Grace can perhaps
better explain. Were it not for the rebellion of March and the
English war, I would speak my own mind of it."

So saying, and making his obeisance to the King, the Earl rode off
to his own lodgings, leaving Albany to tell his tale as he best
could.

"The rebellion and the English war!" said the Duke to himself. "Ay,
and thine own interest, haughty earl, which, imperious as thou art,
thou darest not separate from mine. Well, since the task falls on
me, I must and will discharge it."

He followed the King into his apartment. The King looked at him
with surprise after he had assumed his usual seat.

"Thy countenance is ghastly, Robin," said the King. "I would thou
wouldst think more deeply when blood is to be spilled, since its
consequences affect thee so powerfully. And yet, Robin, I love thee
the better that thy kind nature will sometimes show itself, even
through thy reflecting policy."

"I would to Heaven, my royal brother," said Albany, with a voice
half choked, "that the bloody field we have seen were the worst
we had to see or hear of this day. I should waste little sorrow on
the wild kerne who lie piled on it like carrion. But--" he paused.

"How!" exclaimed the King, in terror. "What new evil? Rothsay? It
must be--it is Rothsay! Speak out! What new folly has been done?
What fresh mischance?"

"My lord--my liege, folly and mischance are now ended with my
hapless nephew."

"He is dead!--he is dead!" screamed the agonized parent. "Albany,
as thy brother, I conjure thee! But no, I am thy brother no longer.
As thy king, dark and subtle man, I charge thee to tell the worst."

Albany faltered out: "The details are but imperfectly known to me;
but the certainty is, that my unhappy nephew was found dead in his
apartment last night from sudden illness--as I have heard."

"Oh, Rothsay!--Oh, my beloved David! Would to God I had died for
thee, my son--my son!"

So spoke, in the emphatic words of Scripture, the helpless and
bereft father, tearing his grey beard and hoary hair, while Albany,
speechless and conscience struck, did not venture to interrupt the
tempest of his grief. But the agony of the King's sorrow almost
instantly changed to fury--a mood so contrary to the gentleness
and timidity of his nature, that the remorse of Albany was drowned
in his fear.

"And this is the end," said the King, "of thy moral saws and religious
maxims! But the besotted father who gave the son into thy hands--
who gave the innocent lamb to the butcher--is a king, and thou
shalt know it to thy cost. Shall the murderer stand in presence of
his brother--stained with the blood of that brother's son? No!
What ho, without there!--MacLouis!--Brandanes! Treachery! Murder!
Take arms, if you love the Stuart!"

MacLouis, with several of the guards, rushed into the apartment.

"Murder and treason!" exclaimed the miserable King. "Brandanes,
your noble Prince--" Here his grief and agitation interrupted
for a moment the fatal information it was his object to convey. At
length he resumed his broken speech: "An axe and a block instantly
into the courtyard! Arrest--" The word choked his utterance.

"Arrest whom, my noble liege?" said MacLouis, who, observing the
King influenced by a tide of passion so different from the gentleness
of his ordinary demeanour, almost conjectured that his brain had
been disturbed by the unusual horrors of the combat he had witnessed.

"Whom shall I arrest, my liege?" he replied. "Here is none but your
Grace's royal brother of Albany."

"Most true," said the King, his brief fit of vindictive passion soon
dying away. "Most true--none but Albany--none but my parent's
child--none but my brother. O God, enable me to quell the sinful
passion which glows in this bosom. Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!"

MacLouis cast a look of wonder towards the Duke of Albany, who
endeavoured to hide his confusion under an affectation of deep
sympathy, and muttered to the officer: "The great misfortune has
been too much for his understanding."

"What misfortune, please your Grace?" replied MacLouis. "I have
heard of none."

"How! not heard of the death of my nephew Rothsay?"

"The Duke of Rothsay dead, my Lord of Albany?" exclaimed the faithful
Brandane, with the utmost horror and astonishment. "When, how, and
where?"

"Two days since--the manner as yet unknown--at Falkland."

MacLouis gazed at the Duke for an instant; then, with a kindling
eye and determined look, said to the King, who seemed deeply engaged
in his mental devotion: "My liege! a minute or two since you left
a word--one word--unspoken. Let it pass your lips, and your
pleasure is law to your Brandanes!"

"I was praying against temptation, MacLouis," said the heart
broken King, "and you bring it to me. Would you arm a madman with
a drawn weapon? But oh, Albany! my friend--my brother--my bosom
counsellor--how--how camest thou by the heart to do this?"

Albany, seeing that the King's mood was softening, replied with
more firmness than before: "My castle has no barrier against the
power of death. I have not deserved the foul suspicions which your
Majesty's words imply. I pardon them, from the distraction of a
bereaved father. But I am willing to swear by cross and altar, by
my share in salvation, by the souls of our royal parents--"

"Be silent, Robert!" said the King: "add not perjury to murder.
And was this all done to gain a step nearer to a crown and sceptre?
Take them to thee at once, man; and mayst thou feel as I have done,
that they are both of red hot iron! Oh, Rothsay--Rothsay! thou
hast at least escaped being a king!"

"My liege," said MacLouis, "let me remind you that the crown and
sceptre of Scotland are, when your Majesty ceases to bear them,
the right of Prince James, who succeeds to his brother's rights."

"True, MacLouis," said the King, eagerly, "and will succeed, poor
child, to his brother's perils! Thanks, MacLouis--thanks. You have
reminded me that I have still work upon earth. Get thy Brandanes
under arms with what speed thou canst. Let no man go with us whose
truth is not known to thee. None in especial who has trafficked
with the Duke of Albany--that man, I mean, who calls himself my
brother--and order my litter to be instantly prepared. We will
to Dunbarton, MacLouis, or to Bute. Precipices, and tides, and my
Brandanes' hearts shall defend the child till we can put oceans
betwixt him and his cruel uncle's ambition. Farewell, Robert of
Albany--farewell for ever, thou hard hearted, bloody man! Enjoy
such share of power as the Douglas may permit thee. But seek not
to see my face again, far less to approach my remaining child; for,
that hour thou dost, my guards shall have orders to stab thee down
with their partizans! MacLouis, look it be so directed."

The Duke of Albany left the presence without attempting further
justification or reply.

What followed is matter of history. In the ensuing Parliament, the
Duke of Albany prevailed on that body to declare him innocent of
the death of Rothsay, while, at the same time, he showed his own
sense of guilt by taking out a remission or pardon for the offence.
The unhappy and aged monarch secluded himself in his Castle of
Rothsay, in Bute, to mourn over the son he had lost, and watch with
feverish anxiety over the life of him who remained. As the best
step for the youthful James's security, he sent him to France to
receive his education at the court of the reigning sovereign. But
the vessel in which the Prince of Scotland sailed was taken by an
English cruiser, and, although there was a truce for the moment
betwixt the kingdoms, Henry IV ungenerously detained him a prisoner.
This last blow completely broke the heart of the unhappy King Robert
III. Vengeance followed, though with a slow pace, the treachery
and cruelty of his brother. Robert of Albany's own grey hairs went,
indeed, in peace to the grave, and he transferred the regency which
he had so foully acquired to his son Murdoch. But, nineteen years
after the death of the old King, James I returned to Scotland, and
Duke Murdoch of Albany, with his sons, was brought to the scaffold,
in expiation of his father's guilt and his own.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

The honest heart that's free frae a'
Intended fraud or guile,
However Fortune kick the ba',
Has aye some cause to smile.

BURNS.


We now return to the Fair Maid of Perth, who had been sent from the
horrible scene at Falkland by order of the Douglas, to be placed
under the protection of his daughter, the now widowed Duchess of
Rothsay. That lady's temporary residence was a religious house called
Campsie, the ruins of which still occupy a striking situation on the
Tay. It arose on the summit of a precipitous rock, which descends
on the princely river, there rendered peculiarly remarkable by the
cataract called Campsie Linn, where its waters rush tumultuously
over a range of basaltic rock, which intercepts the current, like
a dike erected by human hands. Delighted with a site so romantic,
the monks of the abbey of Cupar reared a structure there, dedicated
to an obscure saint, named St. Hunnand, and hither they were wont
themselves to retire for pleasure or devotion. It had readily opened
its gates to admit the noble lady who was its present inmate, as
the country was under the influence of the powerful Lord Drummond,
the ally of the Douglas. There the Earl's letters were presented to
the Duchess by the leader of the escort which conducted Catharine
and the glee maiden to Campsie. Whatever reason she might have to
complain of Rothsay, his horrible and unexpected end greatly shocked
the noble lady, and she spent the greater part of the night in
indulging her grief and in devotional exercises.

On the next morning, which was that of the memorable Palm Sunday,
she ordered Catharine Glover and the minstrel into her presence.
The spirits of both the young women had been much sunk and shaken
by the dreadful scenes in which they had so lately been engaged;
and the outward appearance of the Duchess Marjory was, like that
of her father, more calculated to inspire awe than confidence. She
spoke with kindness, however, though apparently in deep affliction,
and learned from them all which they had to tell concerning the
fate of her erring and inconsiderate husband. She appeared grateful
for the efforts which Catharine and the glee maiden had made, at
their own extreme peril, to save Rothsay from his horrible fate. She
invited them to join in her devotions; and at the hour of dinner gave
them her hand to kiss, and dismissed them to their own refection,
assuring both, and Catharine in particular, of her efficient
protection, which should include, she said, her father's, and be
a wall around them both, so long as she herself lived.

They retired from the presence of the widowed Princess, and partook
of a repast with her duennas and ladies, all of whom, amid their
profound sorrow, showed a character of stateliness which chilled the
light heart of the Frenchwoman, and imposed restraint even on the
more serious character of Catharine Glover. The friends, for so we
may now term them, were fain, therefore, to escape from the society
of these persons, all of them born gentlewomen, who thought themselves
but ill assorted with a burgher's daughter and a strolling glee
maiden, and saw them with pleasure go out to walk in the neighbourhood
of the convent. A little garden, with its bushes and fruit trees,
advanced on one side of the convent, so as to skirt the precipice,
from which it was only separated by a parapet built on the ledge
of the rock, so low that the eye might easily measure the depth of
the crag, and gaze on the conflicting waters which foamed, struggled,
and chafed over the reef below.

The Fair Maiden of Perth and her companion walked slowly on a path
that ran within this parapet, looked at the romantic prospect, and
judged what it must be when the advancing summer should clothe the
grove with leaves. They observed for some time a deep silence. At
length the gay and bold spirit of the glee maiden rose above the
circumstances in which she had been and was now placed.

"Do the horrors of Falkland, fair May, still weigh down your spirits?
Strive to forget them as I do: we cannot tread life's path lightly,
if we shake not from our mantles the raindrops as they fall."

"These horrors are not to be forgotten," answered Catharine. "Yet
my mind is at present anxious respecting my father's safety; and I
cannot but think how many brave men may be at this instant leaving
the world, even within six miles of us, or little farther."

"You mean the combat betwixt sixty champions, of which the Douglas's
equerry told us yesterday? It were a sight for a minstrel to witness.
But out upon these womanish eyes of mine--they could never see
swords cross each other without being dazzled. But see--look
yonder, May Catharine--look yonder! That flying messenger certainly
brings news of the battle."

"Methinks I should know him who runs so wildly," said Catharine.
"But if it be he I think of, some wild thoughts are urging his
speed."

As she spoke, the runner directed his course to the garden. Louise's
little dog ran to meet him, barking furiously, but came back, to
cower, creep, and growl behind its mistress; for even dumb animals
can distinguish when men are driven on by the furious energy of
irresistible passion, and dread to cross or encounter them in their
career. The fugitive rushed into the garden at the same reckless
pace. His head was bare, his hair dishevelled, his rich acton and
all his other vestments looked as if they had been lately drenched
in water. His leathern buskins were cut and torn, and his feet marked
the sod with blood. His countenance was wild, haggard, and highly
excited, or, as the Scottish phrase expresses it, much "raised."

"Conachar!" said Catharine, as he advanced, apparently without
seeing what was before him, as hares are said to do when severely
pressed by the greyhounds. But he stopped short when he heard his
own name.

"Conachar," said Catharine, "or rather Eachin MacIan, what means
all this? Have the Clan Quhele sustained a defeat?"

"I have borne such names as this maiden gives me," said the fugitive,
after a moment's recollection. "Yes, I was called Conachar when
I was happy, and Eachin when I was powerful. But now I have no
name, and there is no such clan as thou speak'st of; and thou art
a foolish maid to speak of that which is not to one who has no
existence."

"Alas! unfortunate--"

"And why unfortunate, I pray you?" exclaimed the youth. "If I am
coward and villain, have not villainy and cowardice command over
the elements? Have I not braved the water without its choking me,
and trod the firm earth without its opening to devour me? And shall
a mortal oppose my purpose?"

"He raves, alas!" said Catharine. "Haste to call some help. He
will not harm me; but I fear he will do evil to himself. See how
he stares down on the roaring waterfall!"

The glee woman hastened to do as she was ordered, and Conachar's
half frenzied spirit seemed relieved by her absence.

"Catharine," he said, "now she is gone, I will say I know thee--
I know thy love of peace and hatred of war. But hearken; I have,
rather than strike a blow at my enemy, given up all that a man calls
dearest: I have lost honour, fame, and friends, and such friends!
(he placed his hands before his face). Oh! their love surpassed
the love of woman! Why should I hide my tears? All know my shame;
all should see my sorrow. Yes, all might see, but who would pity
it? Catharine, as I ran like a madman down the strath, man and woman
called 'shame' on me! The beggar to whom I flung an alms, that I
might purchase one blessing, threw it back in disgust, and with a
curse upon the coward! Each bell that tolled rung out, 'Shame on the
recreant caitiff!' The brute beasts in their lowing and bleating,
the wild winds in their rustling and howling, the hoarse waters in
their dash and roar, cried, 'Out upon the dastard!' The faithful
nine are still pursuing me; they cry with feeble voice, 'Strike
but one blow in our revenge, we all died for you!'"

While the unhappy youth thus raved, a rustling was heard in the
bushes.

"There is but one way!" he exclaimed, springing upon the parapet,
but with a terrified glance towards the thicket, through which one
or two attendants were stealing, with the purpose of surprising
him. But the instant he saw a human form emerge from the cover of
the bushes, he waved his hands wildly over his head, and shrieking
out, "Bas air Eachin!" plunged down the precipice into the raging
cataract beneath.

It is needless to say, that aught save thistledown must have been
dashed to pieces in such a fall. But the river was swelled, and the
remains of the unhappy youth were never seen. A varying tradition
has assigned more than one supplement to the history. It is said
by one account, that the young captain of Clan Quhele swam safe
to shore, far below the Linns of Campsie; and that, wandering
disconsolately in the deserts of Rannoch, he met with Father Clement,
who had taken up his abode in the wilderness as a hermit, on the
principle of the old Culdees. He converted, it is said, the heart
broken and penitent Conachar, who lived with him in his cell, sharing
his devotion and privations, till death removed them in succession.

Another wilder legend supposes that he was snatched from death
by the daione shie, or fairy folk, and that he continues to wander
through wood and wild, armed like an ancient Highlander, but
carrying his sword in his left hand. The phantom appears always in
deep grief. Sometimes he seems about to attack the traveller, but,
when resisted with courage, always flies. These legends are founded
on two peculiar points in his story--his evincing timidity and his
committing suicide--both of them circumstances almost unexampled
in the history of a mountain chief.

When Simon Glover, having seen his friend Henry duly taken care
of in his own house in Curfew Street, arrived that evening at the
Place of Campsie, he found his daughter extremely ill of a fever,
in consequence of the scenes to which she had lately been a witness,
and particularly the catastrophe of her late playmate. The affection
of the glee maiden rendered her so attentive and careful a nurse,
that the glover said it should not be his fault if she ever touched
lute again, save for her own amusement.

It was some time ere Simon ventured to tell his daughter of Henry's
late exploits, and his severe wounds; and he took care to make
the most of the encouraging circumstance, that her faithful lover
had refused both honour and wealth rather than become a professed
soldier and follow the Douglas. Catharine sighed deeply and shook
her head at the history of bloody Palm Sunday on the North Inch. But
apparently she had reflected that men rarely advance in civilisation
or refinement beyond the ideas of their own age, and that a headlong
and exuberant courage, like that of Henry Smith, was, in the iron
days in which they lived, preferable to the deficiency which had
led to Conachar's catastrophe. If she had any doubts on the subject,
they were removed in due time by Henry's protestations, so soon as
restored health enabled him to plead his own cause.

"I should blush to say, Catharine, that I am even sick of the
thoughts of doing battle. Yonder last field showed carnage enough
to glut a tiger. I am therefore resolved to hang up my broadsword,
never to be drawn more unless against the enemies of Scotland."

"And should Scotland call for it," said Catharine, "I will buckle
it round you."

"And, Catharine," said the joyful glover, "we will pay largely for
soul masses for those who have fallen by Henry's sword; and that
will not only cure spiritual flaws, but make us friends with the
church again."

"For that purpose, father," said Catharine, "the hoards of the
wretched Dwining may be applied. He bequeathed them to me; but
I think you would not mix his base blood money with your honest
gains?"

"I would bring the plague into my house as soon," said the resolute
glover.

The treasures of the wicked apothecary were distributed accordingly
among the four monasteries; nor was there ever after a breath of
suspicion concerning the orthodoxy of old Simon or his daughter.

Henry and Catharine were married within four months after the battle
of the North Inch, and never did the corporations of the glovers
and hammermen trip their sword dance so featly as at the wedding
of the boldest burgess and brightest maiden in Perth. Ten months
after, a gallant infant filled the well spread cradle, and was
rocked by Louise to the tune of--

Bold and true,
In bonnet blue.

The names of the boy's sponsors are recorded, as "Ane Hie and Michty
Lord, Archibald Erl of Douglas, ane Honorabil and gude Knicht, Schir
Patrick Charteris of Kinfauns, and ane Gracious Princess, Marjory
Dowaire of his Serene Highness David, umquhile Duke of Rothsay."

Under such patronage a family rises fast; and several of the most
respected houses in Scotland, but especially in Perthshire, and
many individuals distinguished both in arts and arms, record with
pride their descent from the Gow Chrom and the Fair Maid of Perth.




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