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Walter Scott



THE BRIDE
OF
LAMMERMOORE

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTIONTO THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR

THEAuthoron a former occasiondeclined giving the real sourcefrom whichhe drew the tragic subject of this historybecausethoughoccurring at a distant periodit might possibly beunpleasingto the feelings of the descendants of the parties.But as hefinds an account of the circumstances given in theNotes toLaw's Memorialsby his ingenious friendCharlesKirkpatrickSharpeEsq.and also indicated in his reprint ofthe Rev.Mr. Symson's poems appended to the Large Description ofGallowayas the original of the Bride of LammermoortheAuthorfeels himself now at liberty to tell the tale as he had itfrom connexions of his ownwho lived very near the periodandwereclosely related to the family of the bride.

It is wellknown that the family of Dalrymplewhich hasproducedwithin the space of two centuriesas many men oftalentcivil and militaryand of literarypoliticalandprofessionaleminenceas any house in Scotlandfirst rose intodistinctionin the person of James Dalrympleone of the mosteminentlawyers that  ever livedthough the labours of hispowerfulmind were unhappily exercised on a subject so limited asScottishjurisprudenceon which he has composed an admirablework.

He marriedMargaretdaughter to Ross of Balneelwith whom heobtained aconsiderable estate.  She was an ablepoliticandhigh-mindedwomanso successful in what she undertookthat thevulgarnoway partial to her husband or her familyimputed hersuccess tonecromancy.  According to the popular beliefthisDameMargaret purchased the temporal prosperity of her familyfrom theMaster whom she served under a singular conditionwhichis thusnarrated by the historian of her grandsonthe great Earlof Stair: "She lived to a great ageand at her death desiredthat shemight not be put under groundbut that her coffinshouldstand upright on one end of itpromising that while sheremainedin that situation the Dalrymples should continue toflourish. What was the old lady's motive for the requestorwhethershe really made such a promiseI shall not take upon metodetermine; but it's certain her coffin stands upright in theisle ofthe church of Kirklistownthe burial-place belonging tothefamily."  The talents of this accomplished race weresuifficientto have accounted for the dignities which manymembers ofthe family attainedwithout any supernaturalassistance. But their extraordinary prosperity was attended bysomeequally singular family misfortunesof which that whichbefelltheir eldest daughter was at once unaccountable andmelancholy.

Miss JanetDalrympledaughter of the first Lord Stair and DameMargaretRosshad engaged herself without the knowledge of herparents tothe Lord Rutherfordwho was not acceptable to themeither onaccount of his political principles or his want offortune. The young couple broke a piece of gold togetherandpledgedtheir troth in the most solemn manner; and it is said theyoung ladyimprecated dreadful evils on herself should she breakherplighted faith.  Shortly aftera suitor who was favoured byLordStairand still more so by his ladypaid his addresses toMissDalrymple.  The young lady refused the proposaland beingpressed onthe subjectconfessed her secret engagement.  LadyStairawoman accustomed to universal submissionfor even herhusbanddid not dare to contradict hertreated this objection asa trifleand insisted upon her daughter yielding her consent tomarry thenew suitorDavid Dunbarson and heir to David DunbarofBaldoonin Wigtonshire.  The first lovera man of very highspiritthen interfered by letterand insisted on the right hehadacquired by his troth plighted with the young lady.  LadyStair senthim for answerthat her daughtersensible of herundutifulbehaviour in entering into a contract unsanctioned byherparentshad retracted her unlawful vowand now refused tofulfil herengagement with him.

The loverin returndeclined positively to receive such ananswerfrom any one but his mistress in person; and as she had todeal witha man who was both of a most determined character andof toohigh condition to be trifled withLady Stair was obligedto consentto an interview between Lord Rutherford and herdaughter. But she took care to be present in personand arguedthe pointwith the disappointed and incensed lover withpertinacityequal to his own.  She particularly insisted on theLeviticallawwhich declares that a woman shall be free of a vowwhich herparents dissent from.  This is the passage of Scriptureshefounded on:

"If aman vow a vow unto the Lordor swear an oath to bind hissoul witha bond; he shall not break his wordhe shall doaccordingto all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

"If awoman also vow a vow unto the Lordand bind herself by abondbeing in her father's house in her youth;"Andher father hear her vowand her bond wherewith she hathbound hersouland her father shall hold his peace at her: thenall hervows shall standand every bond wherewith she hathbound hersoul shall stand.

"Butif her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; notany of hervowsor of her bonds wherewith she hath bound hersoulshall stand: and the Lord shall forgive herbecause herfatherdisallowed her."--Numbers xxx. 2-5.

While themother insisted on these topicsthe lover in vainconjuredthe daughter to declare her own opinion and feelings.Sheremained totally overwhelmedas it seemed--mutepaleandmotionlessas a statue.  Only at her mother's commandsternlyutteredshe summoned strength enough to restore to her plightedsuitor thepiece of broken gold which was the emblem of hertroth. On this he burst forth into a tremendous passiontookleave ofthe mother with maledictionsand as he left theapartmentturned back to say to his weakif not ficklemistresss: "For youmadamyou will be a world's wonder"; aphrase bywhich some remarkable degree of calamity is usuallyimplied. He went abroadand returned not again.  If the lastLordRutherford was the unfortunate partyhe must have been thethird whobore that titleand who died in 1685.

Themarriage betwixt Janet Dalrymple  and David Dunbar ofBaldoonnow went forwardthe bride showing no repugnancebutbeingabsolutely passive in everything her mother commanded oradvised. On the day of the marriagewhichas was then usualwascelebrated by  a great assemblage of friends and relationsshe wasthe same--sadsilentand resignedas it seemedto herdestiny. A ladyvery nearly connected with the familytold theAuthorthat she had conversed on the subject with one of thebrothersof the bridea mere lad at the timewho had riddenbefore hissister to church.  He said her handwhich lay on hisas sheheld her arm around his waistwas as cold and damp asmarble. Butfull of his new dress and the part he acted in theprocessionthe circumstancewhich he long afterwards rememberedwithbitter sorrow and compunctionmade no impression on him atthe time.

The bridalfeast was followed by dancing.  The bride andbridegroomretired as usualwhen of a sudden the most wild andpiercingcries were heard from the nuptial chamber.  It was thenthecustomto prevent any coarse pleasantry which old timesperhapsadmittedthat the key of the nuptial chamber should beentrustedto the bridesman.  He was called  uponbut refused atfirst togive it uptill the shrieks became so hideous that hewascompelled to hasten with others to learn the cause.  Onopeningthe doorthey found the bridegroom lying across thethresholddreadfully woundedand streaming with blood.  Thebride wasthen sought for.  She was found in the corner of thelargechimneyhaving no covering save her shiftand thatdabbled ingore.  There she sat grinning at themmopping andmowingasI heard the expression used; in a wordabsolutelyinsane. The only words she spoke were"Tak up your bonnybridegroom." She survived this horrible scene little more than afortnighthaving been married on the 24th of Augustand dyingon the12th of September 1669.

Theunfortunate Baldoon recovered from his woundsbut sternlyprohibitedall inquiries respecting the manner in which he hadreceivedthem.  "If a lady" he said"asked him anyquestionupon thesubjecthe would neither answer her nor speak to heragainwhile he lived; if a gentlemanhe would consider it as amortalaffrontand demand satisfaction as having receivedsuch." He did not very long survive the dreadful catastrophehaving metwith a fatal injury by a fall from his horseas herodebetween Leith and Holyrood Houseof which he died the nextday28thMarch 1682.  Thus a few years removed all the principalactors inthis frightful tragedy.

Variousreports went abroad on this mysterious affairmany ofthem veryinaccuratethough they could hardly be said to beexaggerated. It was difficult at that time to become acquaintedwith thehistory of a Scottish family above the lower rank; andstrangethings sometimes took place thereinto which even thelaw didnot scrupulously inquire.

Thecredulous Mr. Law saysgenerallythat the LordPresidentStair had a daughterwho"being marriedthe nightshe wasbride inwas taken from her bridegroom and harledthroughthe house (by spiritswe are given to understand) andafterwarddied.  Another daughter" he says"was supposed to bepossessedwith an evil spirit."

My friendMr. Sharpegives another edition of the tale.Accordingto his informationit was the bridegroom who woundedthebride.  The marriageaccording to this accounthad beenagainsther mother's inclinationwho had given her consent intheseominous words:  "Weelyou may marry himbut sair shallyou repentit."

I findstill another account darkly insinuated in some highlyscurrilousand abusive versesof which I have an original copy.They aredocketed as being written "Upon the late Viscount Stairand hisfamilyby Sir William Hamilton of Whitelaw.  Themarginalsby William Dunlopwriter in Edinburgha son of theLaird ofHousehilland nephew to the said Sir WilliamHamilton." There was a bitter and personal quarrel and rivalrybetwixtthe author of this libela name which it richlydeservesand Lord President Stair; and the lampoonwhich iswrittenwith much more malice than artbears the followingmotto:

Stair'sneckmindwifesongsgrandsonand the restAre wryfalsewitchpestsparricidepossessed.

Thismalignant satiristwho calls up all the misfortunes of thefamilydoes not forget the fatal bridal of Baldoon.  He seemsthough hisverses are as obscure as unpoeticaltointimatethat the violence done to the bridegroom was by theinterventionof the foul fiendto whom the young lady hadresignedherselfin case she should break her contract with herfirstlover.  His hypothesis is inconsistent with the accountgiven inthe note upon Law's Memorialsbut easilyreconcilableto the family tradition.

In allStair's offspriung we no difference knowThey dothe females as the males bestow;So he ofone of his daughters' marriages gave the wardLike atrue vassalto Glenluce's Laird;He knewwhat she did to her master plightIf she herfaith to Rutherfurd should slightWhichlike his ownfor greed he broke outright.Nick didBaldoon's posterior right derideAndasfirst substitutedid seize the bride;Whate'erhe to his mistress did or saidHe threwthe bridegroom from the nuptial bedInto thechimney did so his rival maulHisbruised bones ne'er were cured but by the fall.

One of themarginal notes ascribed to William Dunlopapplies tothe above lines.  "She had betrothed herself to LordRutherfoordunder horrid imprecationsand afterwards marriedBaldoonhis nevoyand her mother was the cause of her breach offaith."

The sametragedy is alluded to in the following couplet andnote:

Whattrain of curses that base brood pursuesWhenthe young nephew weds old uncle's spouse.

The noteon the word "uncle" explains it as meaning"Rutherfoordwho should have married the Lady BaldoonwasBaldoon'suncle."  The poetry of this satire on Lord Stair andhis familywasas already noticedwritten by Sir WilliamHamiltonof Whitelawa rival of Lord Stair for the situation ofPresidentof the Court of Session; a person much inferior to thatgreatlawyer in talentsand equally ill-treated by the calumnyor justsatire of his contemporaries as an unjust and partialjudge. Some of the notes are by that curious and laboriousantiquaryRobert Milnewhoas a virulent Jacobitewillinglylent ahand to blacken the family of Stair.

Anotherpoet of the periodwith a very different purposehasleft anelegyin which he darkly hints at and bemoans the fateof theill-starred young personwhose very uncommoncalamityWhitelawDunlopand Milne thought a fitting subjectforbuffoonery and ribaldry.  This bard of milder mood was AndrewSymsonbefore the Revolution minister of KirkinnerinGallowayand after his expulsion as an Episcopalian followingthe humbleoccupation of a printer in Edinburgh.  He furnishedthe familyof Baldoonwith which he appears to have beenintimatewith an elegy on the tragic event in their family.   Inthis piecehe treats the mournful occasion of the bride's deathwithmysterious solemnity.

The versesbear this title"On the unexpected death of thevirtuousLady Mrs. Janet DalrympleLady Baldoonyounger" andafford usthe precise dates of the catastrophewhich could nototherwisehave been easily ascertained.  "Nupta August 12.DomumDucta August 24.  Obiit September 12.  Sepult. September301669."  The form of the elegy is a dialogue betwixt apassengerand a domestic servant.  The firstrecollecting thathe hadpassed that way latelyand seen all around enlivened bytheappearances of mirth and festivityis desirous to know whathadchanged so gay a scene into mourning.  We preserve the replyof theservant as a specimen of Mr. Symson's verseswhich arenot of thefirst quality:

Sir'tis truth you've told.We didenjoy great mirth; but nowah me!Ourjoyful song's turn'd to an elegie.Avirtuous ladynot long since a brideWas toa hopeful plant by marriage tiedAndbrought home hither.  We did all rejoiceEvenfor her sake.  But presently our voiceWasturn'd to mourning for that little timeThatshe'd enjoy: she waned in her primeForAtropuswith her impartial knifeSooncut her threadand therewithal her life;And forthe time we may it well rememberItbeing in unfortunate September;.                  .                      .Wherewe must leave her till the resurrection.'Tisthen the Saints enjoy their full perfection.

Mr. Symsonalso poured forth his elegiac strains upon the fateof thewidowed bridegroomon which subjectafter a long andquerulouseffusionthe poet arrives at the sound conclusionthat ifBaldoon had walked on footwhich it seems was hisgeneralcustomhe would have escaped perishing by a fall fromhorseback. As the work in which it occurs is so scarce as almostto beuniqueand as it gives us the most full account of one ofthe actorsin this tragic tale which we have rehearsedwe willat therisk of being tediousinsert some short specimens of Mr.Symson'scomposition.  It is entitled:

"AFuneral Elegieoccasioned by the sad and much lamented deathof thatworthily respectedand very much accomplishedgentlemanDavid Dunbaryoungerof Baldoononly son andapparentheir to the right worshipful Sir David Dunbar ofBaldoonKnight Baronet.  He departed this life on March 281682having received a bruise by a fallas he was riding thedaypreceding betwixt Leith and Holyrood House; and washonourablyinterred in the Abbey Church of Holyrood HouseonApril 41682."

Menmightand very justly tooconcludeMeguilty of the worst ingratitudeShouldI be silentor should I forbearAt thissad accident to shed a tear;A tear!said I? ah! that's a petit thingA veryleanslightslender offeringToomeanI'm surefor mewherewith t'attendTheunexpected funeral of my friend:A glassof briny tears charged up to th' brim.Wouldbe too few for me to shed for him.

The poetproceeds to state his intimacy with the deceasedandtheconstancy of the young man's attendance on publicworshipwhich was regularand had such effect upon two or threeother thatwere influenced by his example:

So thatmy Muse 'gainst Priscian aversHeonly heWERE my parishioners;Yeaand my only hearers.

He thendescribes the deceased in person and mannersfrom whichit appearsthat more accomplishments were expected in thecompositionof a fine gentleman in ancient than modern times:

Hisbodythough not very large or tallWassprightlyactiveyea and strong withal.Hisconstitution wasif right I've guess'dBloodmixt with cholersaid to be the best.In'sgestureconversespeechdiscourseattireHepractis'd that which wise men still admireCommendand recommend.  What's that? you'll say.'Tisthis: he ever choos'd the middle way'Twixtboth th' extremes.  Amost in ev'ry thingHe didthe like'tis worth our noticing:Sparingyet not a niggard; liberalAnd yetnot lavish or a prodigalAsknowing when to spend and when to spare;Andthat's a lesson which not many areAcquaintedwith.  He bashful wasyet daringWhen hesaw causeand yet therein not sparing;Familiaryet not commonfor he knewTocondescendand keep his distance too.Heus'dand that most commonlyto goOnfoot; I wish that he had still done so.Th'affairs of court were unto him well known;And yetmeanwhile he slighted not his own.He knewfull well how to behave at courtAnd yetbut seldom did thereto resort;Butlov'd the country lifechoos'd to inureHimselfto past'rage and agriculture;ProvingimprovingditchingtrenchingdrainingViewingreviewingand by those means gaining;PlantingtransplantinglevellingerectingWallschambershousesterraces; projectingNowthisnow that devicethis draughtthat measureThatmight advance his profit with his pleasure.Quickin his bargainshonest in commerceJust inhis dealingsbeing much adverseFromquirks of lawstill ready to referHiscause t' an honest country arbiter.He wasacquainted with cosmographyArithmeticand modern history;Witharchitecture and such arts as theseWhich Imay call specifick sciencesFit fora gentleman; and surely heThatknows them notat least in some degreeMaybrook the titlebut he wants the thingIs buta shadow scarce worth noticing.Helearned the Frenchbe't spoken to his praiseIn verylittle more than fourty days."

Then comesthe full burst of woein whichinstead of sayingmuchhimselfthe poet informs us what the ancients would havesaid onsuch an occasion:

Aheathen poetat the newsno doubtWouldhave exclaimedand furiously cry'd outAgainstthe fatesthe destinies and starrsWhat!this the effect of planetarie warrs!Wemight have seen him rage and raveyea worse'Tisvery like we might have heard him curseTheyearthe monththe daythe hourthe placeThecompanythe wagerand the race;Decryall recreationswith the namesOfIsthmianPythianand Olympick games;Exclaimagainst them all both old and newBoththe Nemaean and the Lethaean too:Adjudgeall personsunder highest painAlwaysto walk on footand then againOrderall horses to be hough'dthat weMightnever more the like adventure see.

Supposingour readers have had enough of Mr. Symson's woeandfindingnothing more in his poem worthy of transcriptionwereturn tothe tragic story.

It isneedless to point out to the intelligent reader that thewitchcraftof the mother consisted only in the ascendency of apowerfulmind over a weak and melancholy oneand that theharshnesswith which she exercised her superiority in a case ofdelicacyhad driven her daughter first to despairthen tofrenzy. Accordinglythe Author has endeavoured to explain thetragictale on this principle.  Whatever resemblance Lady Ashtonmay besupposed to possess to the celebrated Dame Margaret Rossthe readermust not suppose that there was any idea of tracingtheportrait of the first Lord Viscount Stair in the tricky andmean-spiritedSir William Ashton.  Lord Stairwhatever might behis moralqualitieswas certainly one of the first statesmen andlawyers ofhis age.

Theimaginary castle of Wolf's Crag has been identified by somelover oflocality with that of Fast Castle.  The Author is notcompetentto judge of the resemblance betwixt the real andimaginarysceneshaving never seen Fast Castle except from thesea. But fortalices of this description are found occupyinglikeospreys' nestsprojecting rocksor promontoriesin manyparts ofthe eastern coast of Scotlandand the position of FastCastleseems certainly to resemble that of Wolf's Crag as much asany otherwhile its vicinity to the mountain ridge of Lammermoorrendersthe assimilation a probable one.

We haveonly to addthat the death of the unfortunatebridegroomby a fall from horseback has been in the noveltransferredto the no less unfortunate lover.

 

CHAPTER I

By Caukand keel to win your breadWi'whigmaleeries for them wha needWhilkis a gentle trade indeedTocarry the gaberlunzie on.

OldSong.

 

FEW havebeen in my secret while I was compiling thesenarrativesnor is it probable that they will ever become publicduring thelife of their author.  Even were that event to happenI am notambitious of the honoured distinctiondigitomonstrari.  I confess thatwere it safe to cherish such dreamsat allIshould more enjoy the thought of remaining behind thecurtainunseenlike the ingenious manager of Punch and his wifeJoanandenjoying the astonishment and conjectures of myaudience. Then might Iperchancehear the productions of theobscurePeter Pattieson praised by the judicious and admired bythefeelingengrossing the young and attracting even the old;while thecritic traced their fame up to some name of literarycelebrityand the question whenand by whomthese tales werewrittenfilled up the pause of conversation in a hundred circlesandcoteries.  This I may never enjoy during my lifetime; butfartherthan thisI am certainmy vanity should never induce meto aspire.

I am toostubborn in habitsand too little polished in mannersto envy oraspire to the honours assigned to my literarycontemporaries. I could not think a whit more highly of myselfwere Ifound worthy to "come in place as a lion" for a winter inthe greatmetropolis.  I could not riseturn roundand show allmyhonoursfrom the shaggy mane to the tufted tail"roar youan't wereany nightingale" and so lie down again like a well-behaved beast of showand all at the cheap and easy rate of acup ofcoffee and a slice of bread and butter as thin as a wafer.And Icould ill stomach the fulsome flattery with which the ladyof theevening indulges her show-monsters on such occasionsasshe cramsher parrots with sugar-plumsin order to make themtalkbefore company.  I cannot be tempted to "come aloft"forthesemarks of distinctionandlike imprisoned SamsonI wouldratherremain--if such must be the alternative--all my life inthemill-housegrinding for my very breadthan be brought forthto makesport for the Philistine lords and ladies.  This proceedsfrom nodislikereal or affectedto the aristocracy of theserealms. But they have their placeand I have mine; andlikethe ironand earthen vessels in the old fablewe can scarce comeintocollision without my being the sufferer in every sense.  Itmay beotherwise with the sheets which I am now writing.  Thesemay beopened and laid aside at pleasure; by amusing themselveswith theperusalthe great will excite no false hopes; byneglectingor condemning themthey will inflict no pain; and howseldom canthey converse with those whose minds have toiled fortheirdelight without doing either the one or the other.

In thebetter and wiser tone of feeling with Ovid only expressesin oneline to retract in that which followsI can address thesequires--

Parvenecinvideosine meliberibis in urbem.

Nor do Ijoin the regret of the illustrious exilethat hehimselfcould not in person accompany the volumewhich he sentforth tothe mart of literaturepleasureand luxury.  Werethere nota hundred similar instances on recordthe rate of mypoorfriend and school-fellowDick Tintowould  be sufficientto warn meagainst seeking happiness in the celebrity whichattachesitself to a successful cultivator of the fine arts.

DickTintowhen he wrote himself artistwas wont to derive hisoriginfrom the ancient family of Tintoof that ilkinLanarkshireand occasionally hinted that he had somewhatderogatedfrom his gentle blood in using the pencil for hisprincipal means of support.  But if Dick's pedigree  wascorrectsome of his ancestors must have suffered a more heavydeclensionsince the good man his father executed the necessaryandItrustthe honestbut certainly not very distinguishedemploymentof tailor in ordinary to the village of Langdirdum inthewest..  Under his humble roof was Richard bornand to hisfather'shumble trade was Richardgreatly contrary to hisinclinationearly indentured.  Old Mr. Tinto hadhowevernoreason tocongratulate himself upon having compelled the youthfulgenius ofhis son to forsake its natural bent.  He fared like theschool-boywho attempts to stop with his finger the spout of awatercisternwhile the streamexasperated at this compressionescapes bya thousand uncalculated spurtsand wets him all overfor hispains.  Even so fared the senior Tintowhen his hopefulapprenticenot only exhausted all the chalk in making sketchesupon theshopboardbut even executed several caricatures of hisfather'sbest customerswho began loudly to murmurthat it wastoo hardto have their persons deformed by the vestments of thefatherand to be at the same time turned into ridicule by thepencil ofthe son.  This led to discredit and loss of practiceuntil theold tailoryielding to destiny and to the entreatiesof his sonpermitted him to attempt his fortune in a line forwhich hewas better qualified.

There wasabout this timein the village of Langdirdumaperipateticbrother of the brushwho exercised his vocation subJovefrigidothe object of admiration of all the boys of thevillagebut especially to Dick Tinto.  The age had not yetadoptedamongst other unworthy retrenchmentsthat illiberalmeasure ofeconomy whichsupplying by written characters thelack ofsymbolical representationcloses one open and easilyaccessibleavenue of instruction and emolument against thestudentsof the fine arts.  It was not yet permitted to writeupon theplastered doorway of an alehouse. or the suspended signof an inn"The Old Magpie" or "The Saracen's Head"substitutingthat cold description for the lively effigies of theplumedchattereror the turban'd frown of the terrific soldan.That earlyand more simple age considered alike the necessitiesof allranksanddepicted the symbols of good cheer so as to beobvious toall capacities; well judging that a man who could notread asyllable might nevertheless love a pot of good ale as wellas hisbetter-educated neighboursor even as the parson himself.Actingupon this liberal principlepublicans as yet hung forththepainted emblems of their callingand sign-paintersif theyseldomfeasteddid not at least absolutely starve.

To aworthy of this decayed professionas we have alreadyintimatedDick Tinto became an assistant; and thusas is notunusualamong heaven-born geniuses in this department of thefine artsbegan to paint before he had any notion of drawing.

His talentfor observing nature soon induced him to rectify theerrorsand soar above the instructionsof his teacher.  Heparticularlyshone in painting horsesthat being a favouritesign inthe Scottish villages; andin tracing his progressitisbeautiful to observe how by degrees he learned to shorten thebacks andprolong the legs of these noble animalsuntil theycame tolook less like crocodilesand more like nags.Detractionwhich always pursues merit with strides proportionedto itsadvancementhas indeed alleged that Dick once upon a timepainted ahorse with five legsinstead of four.  I might haverested hisdefence upon the license allowed to that branch of hisprofessionwhichas it permits all sorts of singular andirregularcombinationsmay be allowed to extend itself so far asto bestowa limb supernumerary on a favourite subject.  But thecause of adeceased friend is sacred; and I disdain to bottom itsosuperficially.  I have visited the sign in questionwhich yetswingsexalted in the village of Langdirdum; and I am ready todeponeupon the oath that what has been idly mistaken ormisrepresentedas being the fifth leg of the horseisin factthe tailof that quadrupedandconsidered with reference to theposture inwhich he is delineatedforms a circumstanceintroducedand managed with great and successfulthough daringart. The nag being represented in a rampant or rearing posturethe tailwhich is prolonged till it touches the groundappearsto form apoint d'appuiand gives the firmness of a tripod tothefigurewithout which it would be difficult to conceiveplaced asthe feet arehow the courser could maintain his groundwithouttumbling backwards.  This bold conception has fortunatelyfalleninto the custody of one by whom it is duly valued; forwhen Dickin his more advanced state of proficiencybecamedubious ofthe propriety of so daring a deviation to execute apicture ofthe publican himself in exchange for this juvenileproductionthe courteous offer was declined by his judiciousemployerwho had observedit seemsthat when his ale failed todo itsduty in conciliating his guestsone glance at his signwas sureto put them in good humour.

It wouldbe foreign to my present purpose to trace the steps bywhich DickTinto improved his touchand correctedby the rulesof artthe luxuriance of a fervid imagination.  The scales fellfrom hiseyes on viewing the sketches of a contemporarytheScottishTeniersas Wilkie has been deservedly styled.  He threwdown thebrush. took up the crayonsandamid hunger and toilandsuspense and uncertaintypursued the path of his professionunderbetter auspices than those of his original master.  Stillthe firstrude emanations of his geniuslike the nursery rhymesof Popecould these be recoveredwill be dear to the companionsof DickTinto's youth.  There is a tankard and gridiron paintedover thedoor of an obscure change-house in the Back Wynd ofGandercleugh----ButI feel I must tear myself from the subjector dwellon it too long.

Amid hiswants and strugglesDick Tinto had recourselike hisbrethrento levying that tax upon the vanity of mankind which hecould notextract from their taste and liberality--on a wordhepaintedportraits.  It was in this more advanced state ofproficiencywhen Dick had soared above his original line ofbusinessand highly disdained any allusion to itthatafterhavingbeen estranged for several yearswe again met in thevillage ofGandercleughI holding my present situationand Dickpaintingcopies of the human face divine at a guinea per head.This was asmall premiumyetin the first burst of businessitmore thansufficed for all Dick's moderate wants; so that heoccupiedan apartment at the Wallace Inncracked his jest withimpunityeven upon mine host himselfand lived in respect andobservancewith the chambermaidhostlerand waiter.

Thosehalcyon days were too serene to last long.  When hishonour theLaird of Gandercleughwith his wife and threedaughtersthe ministerthe gaugermine esteemed patron Mr.JedediahCleishbothamand some round dozen of the feuars andfarmershad been consigned to immortality by Tinto's brushcustombegan to slackenand it was impossible to wring morethancrowns and half-crowns from the hard hands of the peasantswhoseambition led them to Dick's painting-room.

Stillthough the horizon was overcloudedno storm for sometimeensued.  Mine host had Christian faith with a lodger who hadbeen agood paymaster as long as he had the means.  And from aportraitof our landlord himselfgrouped with his wife anddaughtersin the style of Rubenswhich suddenly appeared in thebestparlourit was evident that Dick had found some mode ofbarteringart for the necessaries of life.

Nothinghoweveris more precarious than resources of thisnature. It was observed that Dick became in his turn thewhetstoneof mine host's witwithout venturing either at defenceorretaliation; that his easel was transferred to a garret0roomin whichthere was scarce space for it to stand upright; and thathe nolonger ventured to join the weekly clubof which he hadbeen oncethe life and soul.  In shortDick Tinto's friendsfearedthat he had acted like the animal called the slothwhichheavingeaten up the last green leaf upon the tree where it hasestablisheditselfends by tumbling down from the topand dyingofinanition.  I ventured to hint this to Dickrecommended histransferringthe exercise of his inestimable talent to some othersphereand forsaking the common which he might be said to haveeatenbare.

"Thereis an obstacle to my change of residence" said myfriendgrasping my hand with a look of solemnity.

"Abill due to my landlordI am afraid?" replied Iwithheartfeltsympathy; "if any part of my slender means can assistin thisemergence----"

"Noby the soul of Sir Joshua!" answered the generous youth"Iwill neverinvolve a friend in the consequences of my ownmisfortune. There is a mode by which I can regain myliberty;and to creep even through a common sewer is better thanto remainin prison."

I did notperfectly understand what my friend meant.  The museofpainting appeared to have failed himand what other goddesshe couldinvoke in his distress was a mystery to me.  We partedhoweverwithout further explanationand I did not see him untilthree daysafterwhen he summoned me to partake of the "foy"with whichhis landlord proposed to regale him ere his departureforEdinburgh.

I foundDick in high spiritswhistling while he buckled thesmallknapsack which contained his coloursbrushespalletsandcleanshirt.  That he parted on the best terms with mine host wasobviousfrom the cold beef set forth in the low parlourflankedby twomugs of admirable brown stout; and I own my curiosity wasexcitedconcerning the means through which the face of myfriend'saffairs had been so suddenly improved.  I did notsuspectDick of dealing with the deviland by what earthly meanshe hadextricated himself thus happily I was at a total loss toconjecture.

Heperceived my curiosityand took me by the hand.  "Myfriend"he said"fain would I concealeven from youthedegradationto which it has been necessary to submitin order toaccomplishan honourable retreat from Gandercleaugh.  But whatavailsattempting to conceal that which must needs betray itselfeven byits superior excellence?  All the village--all theparish--allthe world--will soon discover to what poverty hasreducedRichard Tinto.:

A suddenthought here struck me.  I had observed that ourlandlordworeon that memorable morninga pair of bran newvelveteensinstead of his ancient thicksets.

"What"said Idrawing my right handwith the forefinger andthumbpressed togethernimbly from my right haunch to my leftshoulder"you have condescended to resume thepaternalarts to which you were first bred--long stitches  haDick?"

Herepelled this unlucky conjecture with a frown and a pshawindicativeof indignant contemptand leading me into anotherroomshowed meresting against the wallthe majestic head ofSirWilliam Wallacegrim as when severed from the trunk by theorders ofthe Edward.

Thepainting was executed on boards of a substantialthicknessand the top decorated with ironsfor suspending thehonouredeffigy upon a signpost.

"There"he said"my friendstands the honour of Scotlandandmy shame;yet not so--rather the shame of those whoinstead ofencouragingart in its proper spherereduce it to theseunbecomingand unworthy extremities."

Iendeavoured to smooth the ruffled feelings of my misused andindignantfriend.  I reminded him that he ought notlike thestag inthe fableto despise the quality which had extricatedhim fromdifficultiesin which his talentsas a portrait orlandscapepainterhad been found unavailing.  Above allIpraisedthe executionas well as conceptionof his paintingandreminded him thatfar from feeling dishonoured by so superba specimenof his talents being exposed to the general view ofthepubliche ought rather to congratulate himself upon theaugmentationof his celebrity to which its public exhibition mustnecessarilygive rise.

"Youare rightmy friend--you are right" replied poor Dickhis eyekindling with enthusiasm; "why should I shun the name ofan--an--(hehesitated for a phrase)--an out-of-doors artist?Hogarthhas introduced himself in that character in one of hisbestengravings; Domenichinoor somebody elsein ancienttimesMorland in our ownhave exercised their talents in thismanner. And wherefore limit to the rich and higher classes alonethedelight which the exhibition of works of art is calculated toinspireinto all classes?  Statues are placed in the open airwhy shouldPainting be more niggardly in displaying hermasterpiecesthan her sister Sculpture?  And yetmy friendwemust partsuddenly; the carpenter is coming in an hour to put upthe--theemblem; and trulywith all my philosophyand yourconsolatoryencouragement to bootI would rather wish to leaveGandercleughbefore that operation commences."

We partookof our genial host's parting banquetand I escortedDick onhis walk to Edinburgh.  We parted about a mile from thevillagejust as we heard the distant cheer of the boys whichaccompaniedthe mounting of the new symbol of the Wallace Head.Dick Tintomended his pace to get out of hearingso little hadeitherearly practice or recent philosophy reconciled him to thecharacterof a sign-painter.

InEdinburghDick's talents were discovered andappreciatedand he received dinners and hints from severaldistinguishedjudges of the fine arts.  But these gentlemendispensedtheir criticism more willingly than their cashandDickthought he needed cash more than criticism.  He thereforesoughtLondonthe universal mart of talentand whereas isusual ingeneral marts of most descriptionsmuch more of eachcommodityis exposed to sale than can ever find purchasers.

Dickwhoin serious earnestwas supposed to haveconsiderablenatural talents for his professionand whose vainandsanguine disposition never permitted him to doubt for amoment ofultimate successthrew himself headlong into the crowdwhichjostled and struggled for notice and preferment.  Heelbowedothersand was elbowed himself; and finallyby dint ofintrepidityfought his way into some noticepainted for theprize atthe Institutionhad pictures at the exhibition atSomersetHouseand damned the hanging committee.  But poor Dickwas doomedto lose the field he fought so gallantly.  In the fineartsthere is scarce an alternative betwixt distinguishedsuccessand absolute failure; and as Dick's zeal and industrywereunable to ensure the firsthe fell into the distresseswhichinhis conditionwere the natural consequences of thelatteralternative.  He was for a time patronised by one or twoof thosejudicious persons who make a virtue of being singularand ofpitching their own opinions against those of the world inmatters oftaste and criticism.  But they soon tired of poorTintoandlaid him down as a loadupon the principle on which aspoiltchild throws away its plaything.  MiseryI feartook himupandaccompanied him to a premature graveto which he wascarriedfrom an obscure lodging in Swallow Streetwhere he hadbeendunned by his landlady within doorsand watched by bailiffswithoutuntil death came to his relief.  A corner of theMorningPost noticed his deathgenerously addingthat hismannerdisplayed considerable geniusthough his style was rathersketchy;and referred to an advertisementwhich announced thatMr.Varnisha well-known printsellerhad still on hand a veryfewdrawings and painings by Richard TintoEsquirewhich thoseof thenobility and gentry who might wish to complete theircollectionsof modern art were invited to visit without delay.So endedDick Tinto! a lamentable proof of the great truththatin thefine arts mediocrity is not permittedand that he whocannotascend to the very top of the ladder will do well not toput hisfoot upon it at all.

The memoryof Tinto is dear to mefrom the recollection of themanyconversations which we have had togethermost of themturningupon my present task.  He was delighted with myprogressand talked of an ornamented and illustrated editionwithheadsvignettesand culs de lampeall to be designed byhis ownpatriotic and friendly pencil.  He prevailed upon an oldsergeantof invalids to sit to him in the character of Bothwellthelifeguard's-man of Charles the Secondand the bellman ofGandercleughin that of David Deans.  But while he thus proposedto unitehis own powers with mine for the illustration of thesenarrativeshe mixed many a dose of salutary criticism with thepanegyricswhich my composition was at times so fortunate as tocallforth.

"Yourcharacters" he said"my dear Pattiesonmake too muchuse of thegob box; they patter too much (an elegantphraseologywhich Dick had learned while painting the scenes ofanitinerant company of players); there is nothing in whole pagesbut merechat and dialogue."

"Theancient philosopher" said I in reply"was wont to say'Speakthat I may know thee'; and how is it possible for anauthor tointroduce his personae dramatis to his readers in amoreinteresting and effectual manner than by the dialogue inwhich eachis represented as supporting his own appropriatecharacter?"

"Itis a false conclusion" said Tinto; "I hate itPeteras Ihate anunfilled can.  I grant youindeedthat speech is afaculty ofsome value in the intercourse of human affairsand Iwill noteven insist on the doctrine of that Pythagorean toperwho was ofopinion that over a bottle speaking spoiledconversation. But I will not allow that a professor of the finearts hasoccasion to embody the idea of his scene in languageinorder toimpress upon the reader its reality and its effect.  OnthecontraryI will be judged by most of your readersPetershouldthese tales ever become publicwhether you have not givenus a pageof talk for every single idea which two words mighthavecommunicatedwhile the postureand mannerand incidentaccuratelydrawnand brougth out by appropriate colouringwouldhavepreserved all that was worthy of preservationand savedtheseeverlasting 'said he's' and 'said she's' with which it hasbeen yourpleasure to encumber your pages."

I replied"That he confounded the operations of the pencil andthe pen;that the serene and silent artas painting has beencalled byone of our first living poetsnecessarily appealed tothe eyebecause it had not the organs for addressing the ear;whereaspoetryor that species of composition which approachedto itlayunder the necessity of doing absolutely the reverseandaddressed itself to the earfor the purpose of exciting thatinterestwhich it could not attain through the medium of theeye."

Dick wasnot a whit staggered by my argumentwhich he contendedwasfounded on misrepresentation.  "Description" he said"wasto theauthor of a romance exactly what drawing and tinting wereto apainter: words were his coloursandif properly employedthey couldnot fail to place the scene which he wished to conjureup aseffectually before the mind's eye as the tablet or canvaspresentsit to the bodily organ.  The same rules" he contended"appliedto bothand an exuberance of dialoguein the formercasewasa verbose and laborious mode of composition which wenttoconfound the proper art of fictitious narrative with that ofthe dramaa widely different species of compositionof whichdialoguewas the very essencebecause allexcepting thelanguageto be made use ofwas presented to the eye by thedressesand personsand actions of the performers upon thestage. But as nothing" said Dick"can be more dull than a longnarrativewritten upon the plan of a dramaso where you haveapproachedmost near to that species of compositionbyindulgingin prolonged scenes of mereconversationthe course of your story has become chill andconstrainedand you have lost the power of arresting theattentionand exciting the imaginationin which upon otheroccasionsyou may be considered as having succeeded tolerablywell."

I made mybow in requital of the complimentwhich was probablythrown inby way of placeboand expressed myself willing atleast tomake one trial of a more straightforward style ofcompositionin which my actors should do moreand say lessthan in myformer attempts of this kind.  Dick gave me apatronisingand approving nodand observed thatfinding me sodocilehewould communicatefor the benefit of my museasubjectwhich he had studied with a view to his own art.

"Thestory" he said"wasby traditionaffirmed to be truthalthoughas upwards of a hundred years had passed away since theeventstook placesome doubts upon the accuracy of all theparticularsmight be reasonably entertained."

When DickTinto had thus spokenhe rummaged his portfolio forthe sketchfrom which he proposed one day to execute a picture offourteenfeet by eight.  The sketchwhich wascleverlyexecutedto use the appropriate phraserepresented anancienthallfitted up and furnished in what we now call thetaste ofQueen Elizabeth's age.  The lightadmitted from theupper partof a high casementfell upon a female figure ofexquisitebeautywhoin an attitude of speechless terrorappearedto watch the issue of a debate betwixt two otherpersons. The one was a young manin the Vandyke dress common tothe timeof Charles I.whowith an air of indignant priudetestifiedby the manner in which he raised his head and extendedhis armseemed to be urging a claim of rightrather than offavourtoa lady whose ageand some resemblance in theirfeaturespointed her out as the mother of the younger femaleand whoappeared to listen with a mixture of displeasure andimpatience.

Tintoproduced his sketch with an air of mysterious triumphandgazed onit as a fond parent looks upon a hopeful childwhile heanticipatesthe future figure he is to make in the worldand theheight towhich he will raise the honour of his family.  He heldit atarm's length from me--he helt it closer--he placed it uponthe top ofa chest of drawers--closed the lower shutters of thecasement to adjust a downward and favourable light--fell backto the duedistancedragging me after him--shaded his face withhis handas if to exclude all but the favourite object--andended byspoiling a child's copy-bookwhich he rolled up so asto servefor the darkened tube of an amateur.  I fancy myexpressionsof enthusiasm had not been in proportion to his ownfor hepresently exclaimed with vehemence:  "Mr. PattiesonIused tothink you had an eye in your head."

Ivindicated my claim to the usual allowance of visual organs.

"Yeton my honour" said Dick"I would swear you had been bornblindsince you have failed at the first glance to discover thesubjectand meaning of that sketch.  I do not mean to praise myownperformanceI leave these arts to others; I am sensible ofmydeficienciesconscious that my drawing and colouring may beimprovedby the time I intend to dedicate to the art.  But theconception--theexpression--the positions--these tell the storyto everyone who looks at the sketch; and if I can finish thepicturewithout diminution of the original conceptionthe nameof Tintoshall no more be smothered by the mists of envy andintrigue."

Ireplied:  "That I admired the sketch exceedingly; but thattounderstandits full meritI felt it absolutely necessary to beinformedof the subject."

"Thatis the very thing I complain of" answered Tinto; "youhaveaccustomed yourself so much to these creeping twilightdetails ofyoursthat you are become incapable of receiving thatinstantand vivid flash of conviction which darts on the mindfromseeing the happy and expressive combinations of a singlesceneandwhich gathers from the positionattitudeandcountenanceof the momentnot only the history of the past livesof thepersonages representedand the nature of the business onwhich theyare immediately engagedbut lifts even the veil offuturityand affords a shrewd guess at their future fortunes."

"Inthat case" replied I"Paining excels the ape of therenownedGines de Passamontewhich only meddled with the pastand thepresent; nayshe excels that very Nature who affordshersubject; for I protest to youDickthat were I permitted topeep intothat Elizabeth-chamberand see the persons you havesketchedconversing in flesh and bloodI should not be a jotnearerguessing the nature of their business than I am at thismomentwhile looking at your sketch.  Only generallyfrom thelanguishinglook of the young ladyand the care you have takento presenta very handsome leg on the part of the gentlemanIpresumethere is some reference to a love affair between them."

"Doyou really presume to form such a bold conjecture?" saidTinto. "And the indignant earnestness with which you see the manurge hissuitthe unresisting and passive despair of theyoungerfemalethe stern air of inflexible determination in theelderwomanwhose looks express at once consciousness that sheis actingwrong and a firm determination to persist in the courseshe hasadopted----"

"Ifher looks express all thismy dear Tinto" replied Iinterruptinghim"your pencil rivals the dramatic art of Mr.Puff inThe Criticwho crammed a whole complicated sentenceinto theexpressive shake of Lord Burleigh's head."

"Mygood friendPeter" replied Tinto"I observe you areperfectlyincorrigible; howeverI have compassion on yourdulnessand am unwilling you should be deprived of the pleasureofunderstanding my pictureand of gainingat the same timeasubjectfor your own pen.  You must know thenlast summerwhileI wastaking sketches on the coast of East Lothian andBerwickshireI was seduced into the mountains of Lammermoor bytheaccount I received of some remains of antiquity in thatdistrict. Those with which I was most struck were the ruins ofan ancientcastle in which that Elizabeth-chamberas you callitonceexisted.  I resided for two or three days at a farmhousein theneighbourhoodwhere the aged goodwife was well acquaintedwith thehistory of the castleand the events which had takenplace init.  One of these was of a nature so interesting andsingularthat my attention was divided between my wish to drawthe oldruins in landscapeand to representin a history-piecethesingular events which have taken place in it.  Hereare mynotes of the tale" said poor Dickhanding a parcel ofloosescrapspartly scratched over with his pencilpartly withhis penwhere outlines of caricaturessketches of turretsmillsoldgablesand dovecotsdisputed the ground with hiswrittenmemoranda.

Iproceededhoweverto decipher the substance of themanuscriptas well as I couldand move it into the followingTaleinwhichfollowing in partthough not entirelymy friendTinto"sadviceI endeavoured to render my narrative ratherdescriptivethan dramatic.  My favourite propensityhoweverhasat timesovercome meand my personslike many others in thistalkingworldspeak now what then a great deal more than theyact.

 

CHAPTER II

Welllordwe have not got that which we have;'Tisnot enough our foes are this time fledBeingopposites of such repairing nature.

HenryVI. Part II.

 

IN thegorge of a pass or mountain glenascending from thefertileplains of East Lothianthere stood in former times anextensivecastleof which only the ruins are now visible.  Itsancientproprietors were a race of powerful and warlike caronswho borethe same name with the castle itselfwhich wasRavenswood. Their line extended to a remote period of antiquityand theyhad intermarried with the DouglassesHumesSwintonsHaysandother families of power and distinction in the samecountry. Their history was frequently involved in that ofScotlanditselfin whose annals their feats are recorded.  TheCastle ofRavenswoodoccupyingand in some measure commandinga passbetweixt Berwickshireor the Merseas the southeasternprovinceof Scotland is termedand the Lothianswas ofimportanceboth in times of foreign war and domestic discord.  Itwasfrequently beseiged with ardourand defended with obstinacyandofcourseits owners played a conspicuous part in story.But theirhouse had its revolutionslike all sublunary things:it becamegreatly declined from its splendour about the middle ofthe 17thcentury; and towards the period of the Revolutionthelastproprietor of Ravenswood Castle saw himself compelled topart withthe ancient family seatand to remove himself to alonely andsea-beaten towerwhichsituated on the bleak shoresbetweenSt. Abb's Head and the village of Eyemouthlooked out onthe lonelyand boisterous German Ocean.  A black domain of wildpasture-landsurrounded their new residence  and formed theremains oftheir property.

LordRavenswoodthe heir of this ruined familywas far frombendinghis mind to his new condition of life.  In the civil warof 1689 hehad espoused the sinking sideand although he hadescapedwithout the forfeiture of life or landhis blood hadbeenattaintedand his title abolished.  He was now called LordRavenswoodonly in courtesy.

Thisforfeited nobleman inherited the pride and turbulencethough notthe fortureof his houseandas he imputed thefinaldeclension of his family to a particular individualhehonouredthat person with his full portion of hatred.  This wasthe veryman who had now becomeby purchaseproprietor ofRavenswoodand the domains of which the heir of the house nowstooddispossessed.  He was descended of a family much lessancientthan that of Lord Ravenswoodand which had only risen towealth andpolitical importance during the great civil wars.  Hehimselfhad been bred to the barand had held high offices inthe statemaintaining through life the character of a skilfulfisher inthe troubled waters of a state divided by factionsandgovernedby delegated authority; and of one who contrived toamassconsiderable sums of money in a country where there was butlittle tobe gatheredand who equally knew the value of wealthand thevarious means ofaugmentingit and using it as an engine of increasing his powerandinfluence.

Thusqualified and giftedhe was a dangerous antagonist to thefierce andimprudent Ravenswood.  Whether he had given him goodcause forthe enmity with which the Baron regarded himwas apoint onwhich men spoke differently.  Some said the quarrelarosemerely from the vindictive spirit and envy of LordRavenswoodwho could not patiently behold anotherthough byjust andfair purchasebecome the proprietor of the estate andcastle ofhis forefathers.  But the greater part of the publicprone toslander the wealthy in their absence as to flatter themin theirpresenceheld a less charitable opinion.  They saidthat theLord Keeper (for to this height Sir William Ashton hadascended)hadprevious to the final purchase of the estate ofRavenswoodbeen concerned in extensive pecuniary transactionswith theformer proprietor; andrather intimating what wasprobablethan affirming anything positivelythey asked whichparty waslikely to have the advantage in stating and enforcingthe claimsarising out of these complicated affairsand morethanhinted the advantages which the cool lawyer and ablepoliticianmust necessarily possess over the hotfieryandimprudentcharacter whom he had involved in legal toils andpecuniarysnares.

Thecharacter of the times aggravated these suspicions.  "Inthose daysthere was no king in Israel."  Since the departure ofJames VI.to assume the richer and more powerful crown ofEnglandthere had existed in Scotland contending partiesformedamong thearistocracyby whomas their intrigues at the courtof St.James's chanced to prevailthe delegated powers ofsovereigntywere alternately swayed.  The evils attending uponthissystem of government resembled those which afflict thetenants ofan Irish estatethe property of an absentee.  Therewas nosupreme powerclaiming and possessing a general interestwith thecommunity at largeto whom the oppressed might appealfromsubordinate tyrannyeither for justic or for mercy.  Let amonarch beas indolentas selfishas much disposed to arbitrarypower ashe willstillin a free countryhis own interests areso clearlyconnected weith those of the public at largeand theevilconsequences to his own authority are so obvious andimminentwhen a different course is pursuedthat common policyas well ascommon feelingpoint to the equal distribution ofjusticeand to the establishment of the throne in righteousness.Thusevensovereigns remarkable for usurpation and tyranny havebeen foundrigorous in the administration of justice among theirsubjectsin cases where their own power and passions were notcompromised.

It is verydifferent when the powers of sovereignty aredelegatedto the head of an aristocratic factionrivalled andpressedclosely in the race of ambition by an adverse leader.His briefand precarious enjoyment of power must be employed inrewardinghis partizansin extending his influenceinoppressingand crushing his adversaries.  Even Abou Hassanthemostdisinterested of all viceroysforgot notduring hiscaliphateof one dayto send a douceur of one thousand piecesof gold tohis own household; and the Scottish vicegerentsraised topower by the strength of their factionfailed not toembracethe same means of rewarding them.

Theadministration of justicein particularwas infected bythe mostgross partiality.  A case of importance scarcelyoccurredin which there was not some ground for bias orpartialityon the part of the judgeswho were so little able towithstandthe temptation that the adage"Show me the manand Iwill showyou the law" became as prevalent as it was scandalous.Onecorruption led the way to others still more gross andprofligate. The judge who lent his sacred authority in one caseto supporta friendand in another to crush an enemyand whodecisionswere founded on family connexions or politicalrelationscould not be supposed inaccessible to direct personalmotives;and the purse of the wealthy was too often believed tobe throwninto the scale to weigh down the cause of the poorlitigant. The subordinate officers of the law affected littlescrupleconcerning bribery.  Pieces of plate and bags of moneywere sentin presents to the king's counselto influence theirconductand poured forthsays a contemporary writerlikebillets ofwood upon their floorswithout even the decency ofconcealment.

In suchtimesit was not over uncharitable to suppose that thestatesmanpractised in courts of lawand a powerful member of atriumphantcabalmight find and use means of advantage over hislessskilful and less favoured adversary; and if it had beensupposedthat Sir William Ashton's conscience had been toodelicateto profit by these advantagesit was believed that hisambitionand desire of extending his wealth and consequence foundas stronga stimulus in the exhortations of his lady as thedaring aimof Macbeth in the days of yore.

LadyAshton was of a family more distinguished than that of herlordanadvantage which she did not fail to use to theuttermostin maintaining and extending her husband's influenceoverothersandunless she was greatly beliedher own overhim. She had been beautifuland was stately and majestic in herappearance. Endowed by nature with strong powers and violentpassionsexperience had taught her to employ the oneand toconcealif not to moderatethe other.  She was a severe andstrictobserver of the external formsat leastfo devotion; herhospitalitywas splendideven to ostentation; her address andmannersagreeable to the pattern most valued in Scotland at theperiodwere gravedignifiedand severely regulated by therules ofetiquette.  Her character had always been beyond thebreath ofslander.  And yetwith all these qualities to exciterespectLady Ashton was seldom mentioned in the terms of love oraffection. Interest--the interest of her familyif not her own--seemedtoo obviously the motive of her actions; and where thisis thecasethe sharp-judging and malignant public are noteasilyimposed upon by outward show.  It was seen andascertainedthatin her most graceful courtesies andcomplimentsLady Ashton no more lost sight of her object thanthe falconin his airy wheel turns his quick eyes from hisdestinedquarry; and hencesomething of doubt and suspicionqualifiedthe feelings with which her equals received herattentions. With her inferiors these feelings were mingled withfear; animpression useful to her purposesso far as it enforcedreadycompliance with her requests and implicit obedience to hercommandsbut detrimentalbecause it cannot exist with affectionor regard.

Even herhusbandit is saidupon whose fortunes her talentsandaddress had produced such emphatic influenceregardedher with respectful awe rather than confidingattachment;and report saidthere were times when he consideredhisgrandeur as dearly purchased at the expense of domesticthraldom. Of thishowevermuch might be suspectedbut littlecould beaccurately known: Lady Ashton regarded the honour of herhusband asher ownand was well aware how much that would sufferin thepublic eye should he appear a vassal to his wife.  In allherarguments his opinion was quoted as infallible; his taste wasappealedtoand his sentiments receivedwith the air ofdeferencewhich a dutiful wife might seem to owe to a husband ofSirWilliam Ashton's rank and character.  But there was somethingunder allthis which rung false and hollow; and to those whowatchedthis couple with closeand perhaps maliciousscrutinyit seemedevident thatin the haughtiness of a firmer characterhigherbirthand more decided views of aggrandisementthe ladylookedwith some contempt on her husbandand that he regardedher withjealous fearrather than with love or admiration.

Stillhoweverthe leading and favourite interests of SirWilliamAshton and his lady were the sameand they failed not towork inconcertalthough without cordialityand to testifyinallexterior circumstancesthat respect for each other whichthey wereaware was necessary to secure that of the public.

Theirunion was crowned with several childrenof whom threesurvived. Onethe eldest sonwas absent on his travels; thesecondagirl of seventeenand the thirda boy about threeyearsyoungerresided with their parents inEdinburghduring the sessions of the Scottish Parliament andPrivyCouncilat other times in the old Gothic castle ofRavenswoodto which the Lord Keeper had made large additions inthe styleof the 17th century.

Allan LordRavenswoodthe late proprietor of that ancientmansionand the large estate annexed to itcontinued for sometime towage ineffectual war with his successor concerningvariouspoints to which their former transactions had given riseand whichwere successively determined in favour of the wealthyandpowerful competitoruntil death closed the litigationbysummoningRavenswood to a higher bar.  The thread of lifewhichhad beenlong wastinggave way during a fit of violent andimpotentfury with which he was assailed on receiving the news ofthe lossof a causefoundedperhapsrather in equity than inlawthelast which he had maintained against his powerfulantagonist. His son witnessed his dying agoniesand heard thecurseswhich he breathed against his adversaryas if they hadconveyedto him a legacy of vengeance.  Other circumstanceshappenedto exasperate a passion which wasand had long beenaprevalentvice in the Scottish disposition.

It was aNovember morningand the cliffs which overlooked theocean werehung with thick and heavy mistwhen the portals oftheancient and half-ruinous towerin which Lord Ravenswood hadspent thelast and troubled years of his lifeopenedthat hismortalremains might pass forward to an abode yet more drearyandlonely.  The pomp of attendanceto which the deceased hadin hislatter yearsbeen a strangerwas revived as he was aboutto beconsigned to the realms of forgetfulness.

Bannerafter bannerwith the various devices and coats of thisancientfamily and its connexionsfollowed each other inmournfulprocession from under the low-browed archway of thecourtyard. The principal gentry of the country attended in thedeepestmourningand tempered the pace of their long train ofhorses tothe solemn march befitting the occasion. Trumpetswithbanners ofcrape attached to themsent forth their long andmelancholynotes to regulate the movements of the procession.  Animmensetrain of inferior mourners and menials closed the rearwhich hadnot yet issued from the castle gate when the van hadreachedthe chapel where the body was to be deposited.

Contraryto the customand even to the lawof  the timethebody wasmet by a priest of the Scottish Episcopal communionarrayed inhis surpliceand prepared to read over the coffin ofthedeceased the funeral service of the church.  Such had beenthe desireof Lord Ravenswood in his last illnessand it wasreadilycomplied with by the Tory gentlemenor Cavaliersastheyaffected to style themselvesin which faction most of hiskinsmenwere enrolled.  The Presbyterian Church judicatory of theboundsconsidering the ceremony as a bravading insult upon theirauthorityhad applied to the Lord Keeperas the nearest privycouncillorfor a warrant to prevent its being carried intoeffect; sothatwhen the clergyman had opened his prayer-bookan officerof the lawsupported by some armed mencommanded himto besilent.  An insult which fired the whole assembly withindignationwas particularly and instantly resented by the onlyson of thedeceasedEdgarpopularly called the Master ofRavenswooda youth of about twenty years of age.  He clapped hishand onhis swordand bidding the official person to desist athis perilfrom farther interruptioncommanded the clergyman toproceed. The man attempted to enforce his commission; but as anhundredswords at once glittered in the airhe contented himselfwithprotesting against the violence which had been offered tohim in theexecution of his dutyand stood aloofa sullen andmoodyspectator of the ceremonialmuttering as one who shouldsay:"You'll rue the day that clogs me with this answer."

The scenewas worthy of an artist's pencil.  Under the very archof thehouse of deaththe clergymanaffrighted at the sceneandtrembling for his own safetyhastily and unwillinglyrehearsedthe solemn service of the churchand spoke "dust todust andashes to ashes" over ruined pride and decayedprosperity. Around stood the relations of the deceasedtheircountenancesmore in anger than in sorrowand the drawn swordswhich theybrandished forming a violent contrast with their deepmourninghabits.  In the countenance of the young man aloneresentmentseemed for the moment overpowered by the deep agonywith whichhe beheld his nearestand almost his onlyfriendconsignedto the tomb of his ancestry.  A relativeobservedhim turn deadly palewhenall rites being now dulyobservedit became the duty of the chief mourner to lower downinto thecharnel vaultwhere mouldering coffins showed theirtatteredvelvet and decayed platingthe head of the corpse whichwas to betheir partner in corruption.  He stept to the youth andofferedhis assistancewhichby a mute motionEdgar Ravenswoodrejected. Firmlyand without a tearhe performed that lastduty. The stone was laid on the sepulchrethe door of the aislewaslockedand the youth took possession of its massive key.

As thecrowd left the chapelhe paused on the steps which ledto itsGothic chancel.  "Gentlemen and friends" he said"youhave thisday done no common duty to the body of your deceaesdkinsman. The rites of due observancewhichin othercountriesare allowed as the due of the meanest Christianwouldthis dayhave been denied to the body of your relative--notcertainlysprung of the meanest house in Scotland--had it notbeenassured to him by your courage.  Others bury their dead insorrow andtearsin silence and in reverence; our funeral ritesare marredby the intrusion of bailiffs and ruffiansand ourgrief--thegrief due to our departed friend--is chased from ourcheeks bythe glow of just indignation.  But it is well that Iknow fromwhat quiver this arrow has come forth.  It was only hethat dugthe drave who could have the mean cruelty to disturb theobsequies;and Heaven do as much to me and moreif I requite notto thisman and his house the ruin and disgrace he has brought onme andmine!"

A numerouspart of the assembly applauded this speechas thespiritedexpression of just resentment; but the more cool andjudiciousregretted that it had been uttered.  The fortunes ofthe heirof Ravenswood were too low to brave the fartherhostilitywhich they imagined these open expressions ofresentmentmust necessarily provoke.  Their apprehensionshoweverproved groundlessat least in the immediateconsequencesof this affair.

Themourners returned to the towerthereaccording to a custombutrecently abolished in Scotlandto carouse deep healths tothe memoryof the deceasedto make the house of sorrow ring withsounds ofjoviality and debauchand todiminishby the expense of a large and profuse entertainmentthelimited revenues of ther heir of him whose funeral they thusstrangelyhonoured.  It was the customhoweverand on thepresentoccasion it was fully observed.  The tables swam in winethepopulace feasted in the courtyardthe yeomen in the kitchenandbuttery; and two years' rent of Ravenswood's remainingpropertyhardly defrayed the charge of the funeral revel.  Thewine didits office on all but the Master of Ravenswooda titlewhich hestill retainedthough forfeiture had attached to thatof hisfather.  Hewhile passing around the cup which he himselfdid nottastesoon listened to a thousand exclamations againstthe LordKeeperand passionate protestations of attachment tohimselfand to the honour of his house.  He listened with darkand sullenbrow to ebullitions which he considered justly asequallyevanescent with the crimson bubbles on the brink of thegobletorat least with the vapours which its contents excitedin thebrains of the revellers around him.

When thelast flask was emptiedthey took their leave with deepprotestations--tobe forgotten on the morrowifindeedthosewho madethem should not think it necessary for their safety tomake amore solemn retractation.

Acceptingtheir adieus with an air of contempt which he couldscarceconcealRavenswood at length beheld his ruinoushabitationcleared of their confluence of riotous guestsandreturnedto the deserted hallwhich now appeared doubly lonelyfrom thecessation of that clamour to which it had so latelyechoed. But its space was peopled by phantoms which theimaginationof the young heir conjured up before him--thetarnishedhonour and degraded fortunes of his housethedestructionof his own hopesand the triumph of that family bywhom theyhad been ruined.  To a mind naturally of a gloomy casthere wasample room for meditationand the musings of youngRavenswoodwere deep and unwitnessed.

Thepeasant who shows the ruins of the towerwhich still crownthebeetling cliff and behold the war of the wavesthough nomoretenanted saved by the sea-mew and cormoranteven yetaffirmsthat on this fatal night the Master of Ravenswoodby thebitterexclamations of his despairevoked some evil fiendunderwhosemalignant influence the future tissue of incidents waswoven.  Alas! what fiend can suggest more desperate counselsthan thoseadopted under the guidance of our own violent andunresistedpassions?

 

CHAPTERIII.

OverGods forebodethen said the KingThatthou shouldst shoot at me.

WilliamBellClim 'o the Cleughetc.

 

On themorning after the funeralthe legal officer whoseauthorityhad been found insufficient to effect an interruptionof thefuneral solemnities of the late Lord Ravenswoodhastenedto statebefore the Keeper the resistance which he had met within theexecution of his office.

Thestatesman was seated in a spacious libraryonce abanqueting-roomin the old Castle of Ravenswoodas was evidentfrom thearmorial insignia still displayed on the carved roofwhich wasvaulted with Spanish chestnutand on the stained glassof thecasementthrough which gleamed a dim yet rich light onthe longrows of shelvesbending under the weight of legalcommentatorsand monkish historianswhose ponderous volumesformed thechief and most valued contents of a Scottish historian[library]of the period.  On the massive oaken table andreading-desklay a confused mass of letterspetitionsandparchments;to toil amongst which was the pleasure at once andthe plagueof Sir William Ashton's life.  His appearance wasgrave andeven noblewell becoming one who held an high officein thestate; and it was not save after long and intimateconversationwith him upon topics of pressing and personalinterestthat a stranger could have discoveredsomethingvacillating and uncertain in his resolutions; aninfirmityof purposearising from a cautious and timiddispositionwhichas he was conscious of its internal influenceon hismindhe wasfrom pride as well as policymost anxiousto concealfrom others.Helistened with great apparent composure to an exaggeratedaccount ofthe tumult which had taken place at the funeralofthecontempt thrown on his own authority and that of the churchand state;nor did he seem moved even by the faithful report oftheinsulting and threatening language which had been uttered byyoungRavenswood and othersand obviously directed againsthimself. He heardalsowhat the man had been able to collectin a verydistorted and aggravated shapeof the toasts which hadbeendrunkand the menaces utteredat the susequententertainment. In finehe made careful notes of all theseparticularsand of the names of the persons by whomin case ofneedanaccusationfounded upon these violent proceedingscould bewitnessed and made goodand dismissed his informersecurethat he was now master of the remaining fortuneand evenof thepersonal libertyof young Ravenswood.

 

When thedoor had closed upon the officer of the lawthe LordKeeperremained for a moment in deep meditation; thenstartingfrom hisseatpaced the apartment as one about to take a suddenandenergetic resolution.  "Young Ravenswood" hemuttered"isnowmine--he is my own; he has placed himself in my handand heshall bendor break.  I have not forgot thedeterminedand dogged obstinacy with which his father foughteverypoint to the lastresisted every effort at compromiseembroiledme in lawsuitsand attempted to assail my characterwhen hecould not otherwise impugn my rights.  This boy he hasleftbehind him--this Edgar--this hot-headedhare-brained foolhaswrecked his vessel before she has cleared the harbor.  I mustsee thathe gains no advantage of some turning tide which mayagainfloat him off.  These memorandaproperly stated to theprivycouncilcannot but be construed into an aggravated riotin whichthe dignity both of the civil and ecclesiasticalauthoritiesstands committed.  A heavy fine might be imposed; anorder forcommitting him to Edinburgh or Blackness Castle seemsnotimproper; even a charge of treason might be laid on many ofthesewords and expressionsthough God forbid I should prosecutethe matterto that extent.  NoI will not; I will not touch hislifeevenif it should be in my power; and yetif he lives tilla changeof timeswhat follows?  Restitution--perhaps revenge.I knowAthole promised his interest to old Ravenswoodand hereis his sonalready bandying and making a faction by his owncontemptibleinfluence.  What a ready tool he would be for theuse ofthose who are watching the downfall of ouradministration!"

Whilethese thoughts were agitating the mind of the wilystatesmanand while he was persuading himself that his owninterestand safetyas well as those of his friends and partydependedon using the present advantage to the uttermost againstyoungRanveswoodthe Lord Keeper sate down to his deskandproceededto draw upfor the information of the privy councilan accountof the disorderly proceedings whichin contempt ofhiswarranthad taken place at the funeral of Lord Ravenswood.The namesof most of the parties concernedas well as the factitselfwouldhe was well awaresound odiously in the ears ofhiscolleagues in administrationand most likely instigate themto make anexample of young Ravenswoodat leastin terrorem.

It was apoint of delicacyhoweverto select suchexpressionsas might infer the young man's culpabilitywithoutseemingdirectly to urge itwhichon the part of Sir WilliamAshtonhis father's ancient antagonistcould not but appearodious andinvidious.  While he was in the act of compositionlabouringto find words which might indicate Edgar Ravenswood tobe thecause of the uproarwithout specifically making such achargeSir Williamin a pause of his taskchancedin lookingupwardtosee the crest of the family for whose heir he waswhettingthe arrows and disposing the toils of the law carvedupon oneof the corbeilles from which the vaulted roof of theapartmentsprung.  It was a black bull's headwith the legend"Ibide my time"; and the occasion upon which it was adoptedmingleditself singularly and impressively with the subject ofhispresent reflections.

It wassaid by a constant tradition that a Malisius deRavenswoodhadin the 13th centurybeen deprived of his castleand landsby a powerful usurperwho had for a while enjoyed hisspoils inquiet.  At lengthon the eve of a costly banquetRavenswoodwho had watched his opportunityintroduced himselfinto thecastle with a small band of faithful retainers.  Theserving ofthe expected feast was impatiently looked for by theguestsand clamorously demended by the temporary master of thecastle. Ravenswoodwho had assumed the disguise of a sewer upontheoccasionansweredin a stern voice"I bide my time"; andat thesame moment a bull's headthe ancient symbol of deathwas placedupon the table.  The explosion of the conspiracy tookplace uponthe signaland the usurper and his followers were putto death. Perhaps there was something in this still known andoftenrepeated story which came immediately home to the breastandconscience of the Lord Keeper; forputting from him thepaper onwhich he had begun his reportand carefully locking thememorandawhich he had prepared into a cabinet which stoodbesidehimhe proceeded to walk abroadas if for the purpose ofcollectinghis ideasand reflecting farther on the consequencesof thestep which he was about to takeere yet they becameinevitable.

In passingthrough a large Gothic ante-roomSir William Ashtonheard thesound of his daughter's lute.  Musicwhen theperformersare concealedaffects us with a pleasure mingledwithsurpriseand reminds us of the natural concert of birdsamong theleafy bowers.  The statesmanthough little accustomedto giveway to emotions of this natural and simple classwasstill aman and a father.  he stoppedthereforeand listenedwhile thesilver tones of Lucy Ashton's voice mingled with theaccompanimentin an ancient airto which some one had adaptedthefollowing words:

"Looknot thou on beauty's charmingSitthou still when kings are armingTastenot when the wine-cup glistensSpeaknot when the people listensStopthine ear against the singerFromthe red gold keep they fingerVacantheartand handand eyeEasylive and quiet die."

The soundsceasedand the Keeper entered his daughter'sapartment.

The wordsshe had chosen seemed particularly adapted to hercharacter;for Lucy Ashton's exquisitely beautifulyet somewhatgirlishfeatures were formed to express peace of mindserenityandindifference to the tinsel of wordly pleasure.  Her lockswhich wereof shadowy golddivided on a brow of exquisitewhitenesslike a gleam of broken and pallid sunshine upon a hillof snow. The expression of the countenance was in the lastdegreegentlesofttimidand feminineand seemed rather toshrinkfrom the most casual look of a stranger than to court hisadmiration. Something there was of a Madonna castperhaps theresult ofdelicate healthand of residence in a family where thedispositionsof the inmates were fiercermore activeandenergeticthan her own.

Yet herpassiveness of disposition was by no means owing to anindifferentor unfeeling mind.  Left to the impulse of her owntaste andfeelingsLucy Ashton was peculiarly accessible tothose of aromantic cast.  her secret delight was in the oldlegendarytales of ardent devotion and unalterable affectionchequeredas they so often are with strange adventures andsupernaturalhorrors.  This was her favoured fairy realmandhere sheerected her aerial palaces.  But it was only in secretthat shelaboured at this delusive though delightfularchitecture. In her retired chamberor in the woodland bowerwhich shehad chosen for her ownand called after her nameshewas infancy distributing the prizes at the tournamentorrainingdown influence from her eyes on the valiant combatants:or she waswandering in the wilderness with Unaunder escort ofthegenerous lion; or she was identifying herself with the simpleyetnoble-minded Miranda in the isle of wonder and enchantment.

But in herexterior relations to things of this worldLucywillinglyreceived the ruling impulse from those around her.  Thealternativewasin generaltoo indifferent to her to renderresistancedesirableand she willingly found a motive fordecisionin the opinion of her friends which perhaps she mighthavesought for in vain in her own choice.  Every reader musthaveobserved in some family of his acquaintance some individualof atemper soft and yieldingwhomixed with stronger and moreardentmindsis borne along by the will of otherswith aslittlepower of opposition as the flower which is flung into arunningstream.  It usually happens that such a compliant andeasydispositionwhich resigns itself without murmur to theguidanceof othersbecomes the darling of those to whoseinclinationsits own seem to be offeredin ungrudging and readysacrifice.This waseminently the case with Lucy Ashton.  Her politicwaryandwordly father felt for her an affection the strength ofwhichsometimes surprised him into an unusual emotion.  Herelderbrotherwho trode the path of ambition with a haughtierstep thanhis fatherhad also more of human affection.  Asoldierand in a dissolute agehe preferred his sister Lucyeven topleasure and to military preferment and distinction.  Heryoungerbrotherat an age when trifles chiefly occupied hismindmadeher the confidante of all his pleasures and anxietieshissuccess in field-sportsand his quarrels with his tutor andinstructors. To these detailshowever trivialLucy lentpatientand not indifferent attention.  They moved and interestedHenryandthat was enough to secure her ear.

Her motheralone did not feel that distinguished andpredominatingaffection with which the rest of the familycherishedLucy.  She regarded what she termed her daughter's wantof spiritas a decided mark that the more plebeian blood of herfatherpredominated in Lucy's veinsand used to call her inderisionher Lammermoor Shepherdess.  To dislike so gentle andinoffensivea being was impossible; but Lady Ashton preferred hereldestsonon whom had descended a large portion of her ownambitiousand undaunted dispositionto a daughter whose softnessof temperseemed allied to feebleness of mind.  Her eldest sonwas themore partially beloved by his mother becausecontrary tothe usualcustom of Scottish families of distinctionhe had beennamedafter the head of the house.

"MySholto" she said"will support the untarnished honour ofhismaternal houseand elevate and support that of his father.Poor Lucyis unfit for courts or crowded halls.  Some countrylaird mustbe her husbandrich enough to supply her with everycomfortwithout an effort on her own partso that she may havenothing toshed a tear for but the tender apprehension lest hemay breakhis neck in a foxchase.  It was not sohoweverthatour housewas raisednor is it so that it can be fortified andaugmented. The Lord Keeper's dignity is yet new; it must beborne asif we were used to its weightworthy of itand promptto assertand maintain it.  Before ancient authorities men bendfromcustomary and hereditary deference; in our presence theywill standerectunless they are compelled to prostratethemselves. A daughter fit for the sheepfold or the cloister isillqualified to exact respect where it is yielded withreluctance;and since Heaven refused us a third boyLucy shouldhave helda character fit to supply his place.  The hour will bea happyone which disposes her hand in marriage to some one whoseenergy isgreater than her ownor whose ambition is of as low anorder."

Someditated a mother to whom the qualities of herchildren'sheartsas well as the prospect of their domestichappinessseemed light in comparison to their rank and temporalgreatness. Butlike many a parent of hot and impatientcharactershe was mistaken in estimating the feelings of herdaughterwhounder a semblance of extreme indifferencenourishedthe germ of those passions which sometimes spring up inone nightlike the gourd of the prophetand astonish theobserverby their unexpected ardour and intensity.  In factLucy'ssentiments seemed chill because nothing had occurred tointerestor awaken them.  Her life had hitherto flowed on in auniformand gentle tenorand happy for her had not its presentsmoothnessof current resembled that of the stream as it glidesdownwardsto the waterfall!

"SoLucy" said her fatherentering as her song was ended"doesyour musical philosopher teach you to contmn the worldbefore youknow it?  That is surely something premature.  Or didyou butspeak according to the fashion of fair maidenswho arealways tohold the pleasures of life in contempt till they arepressedupon them by the address of some gentle knight?"

Lucyblusheddisclaimed any inference respecting her own choicebeingdrawn from her selection of a songand readily laid asideherinstrument at her father's request that she would attend himin hiswalk.

A largeand well-wooded parkor rather chasestretched alongthe hillbehind the castlewhichoccupyingas we havenoticedapass ascending from the plainseemed built in itsvery gorgeto defend the forest ground which arose behind it inshaggymajesty.  Into this romantic region the father anddaughterproceededarm in armby a noble avenue overarched byemboweringelmsbeneath which groups of the fallow-deer wereseen tostray in distant perspective.  As they paced slowly onadmiringthe different points of viewfor which Sir WilliamAshtonnotwithstanding the nature of his usual avocationshadconsiderabletaste and feelingthey were overtaken by theforesteror park-keeperwhointent on silvan sportwasproceedingwith his cross-bow over his armand a hound led inleash byhis boyinto the interior of the wood.

"Goingto shoot us a piece of venisonNorman?" said his masteras hereturned the woodsman's salutation.

"Saulyour honourand that I am.  Will it please you to seethesport?"

"Ohno" said his lordshipafter looking at his daughterwhosecolourfled at the idea of seeing the deer shotalthoughhadher fatherexpressed his wish that they should accompany Normanit wasprobable she would not even have hinted her reluctance.

Theforester shrugged his shoulders.  "It was adishearteningthing" he said"when none of the gentles camedown tosee the sport.  He hoped Captain Sholto would be soonhameorhe might shut up his shop entirely; for Mr. Harry waskept saeclose wi' his Latin nonsense thatthough his will wasvery gudeto be in the wood from morning till nightthere wouldbe ahopeful lad lostand no making a man of him.  It was notsohe hadheardin Lord Ravenswood's time: when a buck was tobe killedman and mother's son ran to see; and when the deerfelltheknife was always presented to the knightand he nevergave lessthan a dollar for the compliment.  And there was EdgarRavenswood--Masterof Ravenswood that is now--when he goes up tothewood--there hasna been a better hunter since Tristrem's time--when SirEdgar hauds outdown goes the deerfaith.  But we haelost a'sense of woodcraft on this side of the hill."

There wasmuch in this harangue highly displeasing to the LordKeeper'sfeelings; he could not help observing that his menialdespisedhim almost avowedly for not possessing that taste forsportwhich in those times was deemed the natural andindispensableattribute of a real gentleman.  But the master ofthe gameisin all country housesa man of great importanceandentitled to use considerable freedom of speech.  Sir Williamthereforeonly smiled and replied"He had something else tothink uponto-day than killing deer"; meantimetaking out hispursehegave the ranger a dollar for his encouragement.  Thefellowreceived it as the waiter of a fashionable hotel receivesdouble hisproper fee from the hands of a country gentleman--thatiswith asmilein which pleasure at the gift is mingled withcontemptfor the ignorance of the donor.  "Your honour is the badpaymaster"he said"who pays before it is done.  What would youdo were Ito miss the buck after you have paid me my wood-fee?"

"Isuppose" said the Keepersmiling"you would hardly guesswhat Imean were I to tell you of a condictio indebiti?"

"NotIon my saul.  I guess it is some law phrase; but sue abeggarand--your honour knows what follows.  Wellbut I willbe justwith youand if bow and brach fail notyou shall have apiece ofgame two fingers fat on the brisket."

As he wasabout to go offhis master again called himandaskedasif by accidentwhether the Master of Ravenswood wasactuallyso brave a man and so good a shooter as the world spokehim.

"Brave!--braveenoughI warrant you" answered Norman.  "I wasin thewood at Tyninghame when there was a sort of gallantshuntingwith my lord; on my saulthere was a buck turned to baymade usall stand back--a stout old Trojan of the first headten-tynedbranchesand a brow as broad as e'er a bullock's.Egadhedashed at the old lordand there would have beeninlakeamong the perrageif the Master had not whipt roundly inandhamstrung him with his cutlass.  He was but sixteen thenbless hisheart!"

"Andis he as ready with the gun as with the couteau?" said SirWilliam.

"He'llstrike this silver dollar out from between my finger andthumb atfourscore yardsand I'll hold it out for a gold merk;what morewould ye have of eyehandleadand gunpowder?""Ohno more to be wishedcertainly" said the Lord Keeper;"butwe keep you from your sportNorman.  Good morrowgoodNorman."

Andhumming his rustic roundelaythe yeoman went on his roadthe soundof his rough voice gradually dying away as thedistancebetwixt them increased:

"Themonk must arise when the matins ringTheabbot may sleep to their chime;But theyeoman must start when the bugles sing'Tistimemy hearts'tis time. There'sbucks and raes on Bilhope braesThere'sa herd on Shortwood Shaw;But alily-white doe in the garden goesShe'sfairly worth them a'."

"Hasthis fellow" said the Lord Keeperwhen the yeoman's songhad diedon the wind"ever served the Ravenswood peoplethat heseems somuch interested in them?  I suppose you knowLucyforyou makeit a point of conscience to record the special historyof everyboor about the castle."

"I amnot quite so faithful a chroniclermy dear father; but Ibelievethat Norman once served here while a boyand before hewent toLedingtonwhence you hired him.  But if you want to knowanythingof the former familyOld Alice is the best authority."

"Andwhat should I have to do with themprayLucy" said herfather"or with their history or accomplishments?"

"NayI do not knowsir; only that you were askingquestionsof Norman about young Ravenswood."

"Pshawchild!" replied her fatheryet immediately added: "Andwho is OldAlice?  I think you know all the old women in thecountry."

"Tobe sure I door how could I help the old creatures whenthey arein hard times?  And as to Old Aliceshe is the veryempress ofold women and queen of gossipsso far as legendarylore isconcerned.  She is blindpoor old soulbut when shespeaks toyouyou would think she has some way of looking intoyour veryheart.  I am sure I often cover my faceor turn itawayforit seems as if she saw one change colourthough shehas beenblind these twenty years.  She is worth visitingwereit but tosay you have seen a blind and paralytic old woman haveso muchacuteness of perception and dignity of manners.  I assureyoushemight be a countess from her language and behaviour.Comeyoumust go to see Alice; we are not a quarter of a milefrom hercottage."

"Allthismy dear" said the Lord Keeper"is no answer to myquestionwho this woman isand what is her connexion with theformerproprietor's family?"

"Ohit was something of a nouriceshipI believe; and sheremainedherebecause her two grandsons were engaged in yourservice. But it was against her willI fancy; for the poor oldcreatureis always regretting the change of times and ofproperty."

"I ammuch obliged to her" answered the Lord Keeper.  "Sheandher folkeat my bread and drink my cupand are lamenting allthe whilethat they are not still under a family which nevercould dogoodeither to themselves or any one else!"

"Indeed"replied Lucy"I am certain you do Old Aliceinjustice. She has nothing mercenary about herand would notaccept apenny in charityif it were to save her from beingstarved. She is only talkativelike all old folk when you putthem uponstories of their youth; and she speaks about theRavenswoodpeoplebecause she lived under them so many years.But I amsure she is grateful to yousirfor your protectionand thatshe would rather speak to you than to any other personin thewhole world beside.  Dosircome and see Old Alice."

And withthe freedom of an indulged daughter she dragged theLordKeeper in the direction she desired.

 

 

CHAPTERIV.

Throughtops of the high trees she did descryAlittle smokewhose vapourthin and lightReekingaloftuprolled to the skyWhichcheerful sign did send unto her sightThat inthe same did wonne some living wight.

SPENSER.

 

LUCY actedas her father's guidefor he was too much engrossedwith hispolitical laboursor with societyto be perfectlyacquaintedwith his own extensive domainsandmoreoverwas generally an inhabitant of the city of Edinburgh;and sheon the other handhadwith her motherresided thewholesummer in Ravenswoodandpartly from tastepartly fromwant ofany other amusementhadby her frequent rambleslearned toknow each lanealleydingleor bushy dell

And everybosky bourne from side to side.

We havesaid that the Lord Keeper was not indifferent to thebeautiesof nature; and we addin justice to himthat he feltthemdoubly when pointed out by the beautifulsimpleandinterestinggirl whohanging on his arm with filial kindnessnow calledhim to admire the size of some ancient oakand nowtheunexpected turn where the pathdeveloping its maze from glenor dinglesuddenly reached an eminence commanding an extensiveview ofthe plains beneath themand then gradually glided awayfrom theprospect to lose itself among rocks and thicketsandguide toscenes of deeper seclusion.

It waswhen pausing on one of those points of extensive andcommandingview that Lucy told her father they were close by thecottage ofher blind protegee; and on turning from the littlehillapath which led around itworn by the daily steps of theinfirminmatebrought them in sight of the hutwhichembosomedin a deepand obscure dellseemed to have been so situatedpurposelyto bear a correspondence with the darkened state of itsinhabitant.

Thecottage was situated immediately under a tall rockwhich insomemeasure beetled over itas if threatening to drop somedetachedfragment from its brow on the frail tenement beneath.The hutitself was constructed of turf and stonesand rudelyroofedover with thatchmuch of which was in adilapidatedcondition.  The thin blue smoke rose from it in alightcolumnand curled upward along the white face of theincumbentrockgiving the scene a tint of exquisite softness.In a smalland rude gardensurrounded by straggling elder-busheswhich formed a sort of imperfect hedgesat near to thebeehivesby the produce of which she livedthat "woman old"whom Lucyhad brought her father hither to visit.

Whateverthere had been which was disastrous in her fortunewhateverthere was miserable in her dwellingit was easy tojudge bythe first glance that neither yearspovertymisfortunenor infirmity had broken the spirit of thisremarkablewoman.

Sheoccupied a turf seatplaced under a weeping birch ofunusualmagnitude and ageas Judah is represented sitting underherpalm-treewith an air at once of majesty and of dejection.Her figurewas tallcommandingand but little bent by theinfirmitiesof old age.  Her dressthough that of a peasantwasuncommonlycleanforming in that particular a strong contrast tomost ofher rankand was disposed with an attention to neatnessand evento tasteequally unusual.  But it was her expression ofcountenancewhich chiefly struck the spectatorand induced mostpersons toaddress her with a degree of deference and civilityveryinconsistent with the miserable state of her dwellingandwhichneverthelessshe received with that easy composure whichshowed shefeelt it to be her due.  She had once been beautifulbut herbeauty had been of a bold and masculine castsuch asdoes notsurvive the bloom of youth; yet her features continuedto expressstrong sensedeep reflectionand a character ofsoberpridewhichas we have already said of her dressappearedto argue a conscious superiority to those of her ownrank. It scarce seemed possible that a facedeprived of theadvantageof sightcould have expressed character sostrongly;but her eyeswhich were almost totally closeddidnotbythe display of their sightless orbsmar the countenanceto whichthey could add nothing.  She seemed in a ruminatingposturesoothedperhapsby the murmurs of the busy tribearound herto abstractionthough not to slumber.

Lucy undidthe latch of the little garden gateandsolicitedthe old woman's attention.  "My fatherAliceis cometo seeyou."

"Heis welcomeMiss Ashtonand so are you" said the oldwomanturning and inclining her head towards her visitors.

"Thisis a fine morning for your beehivesmother" said theLordKeeperwhostruck with the outward appearance of Alicewassomewhat curious to know if her conversation wouldcorrespondwith it.

"Ibelieve somy lord" she replied; "I feel the air breathemilderthan of late."

"Youdo not" resumed the statesman"take charge of these beesyourselfmother?  How do you manage them?"

"Bydelegatesas kings do their subjects" resumed Alice; "andI amfortunate in a prime minister.  HereBabie."

Shewhistled on a small silver call which hung around her neckand whichat that time was sometimes used to summondomesticsand Babiea girl of fifteenmade her appearance fromthe hutnot altogether so cleanly arrayed as she would probablyhave beenhad Alice had the use of her yeesbut with a greaterair ofneatness than was upon the whole to have been expected.

"Babie"said her mistress"offer some bread and honey to theLordKeeper and Miss Ashton; they will excuse yourawkwardnessif you use cleanliness and despatch."

Babieperformed her mistress's command with the grace which wasnaturallyto have been expectedmoving to and fro with alobster-likegestureher feet and legs tending one waywhileher headturned in a different directionwas fixed in wonderupon thelairdwho was more frequently heard of than seen by histenantsand dependants.  The bread and honeyhoweverdepositedon aplantain leafwas offered and accepted in all due courtesy.The LordKeeperstill retaining the place which he had occupiedon thedecayed trunk of a fallen treelooked as if he wished toprolongthe interviewbut was at a loss how to introduce asuitablesubject.

"Youhave been long a resident on this property?" he saidaftera pause.

"Itis now nearly sixty years since I first knewRavenswood"answered the old damewhose conversationthoughperfectlycivil and respectfulseemed cautiously limited to theunavoidableand necessary task of replying to Sir William.

"Youare notI should judge by your accentof this countryoriginally?"said the Lord Keeperin continuation.

"No;I am by birth an Englishwoman.""Yetyou seem attached to this country as if it were your own."

"Itis here" replied the blind woman"that I have drank thecup of joyand of sorrow which Heaven destined for me.  I washere thewife of an upright and affectionate husband for morethantwenty years; I was here the mother of six promisingchildren;it was here that God deprived me of all theseblessings;it was here they diedand yonderby yon ruinedchapelthey lie all buried.  I had no country but theirs whiletheylived; I have none but theirs now they are no more."

"Butyour house" said the Lord Keeperlooking at it"ismiserablyruinous?"

"Domy dear father" said Lucyeagerlyyet bashfullycatchingat the hint"give orders to make it better; that isifyou thinkit proper."

"Itwill last my timemy dear Miss Lucy" said the blind woman;"Iwould not have my lord give himself the least trouble aboutit."

"But"said Lucy"you once had a much better houseand wererichandnow in your old age to live in this hovel!"

"Itis as good as I deserveMiss Lucy; if my heart has notbroke withwhat I have sufferedand seen others sufferit musthave beenstrong enoughand the rest of this old frame has noright tocall itself weaker."

"Youhave probably witnessed many changes" said the LordKeeper;"but your experience must have taught you to expectthem."

"Ithas taught me to endure themmy lord" was the reply.

"Yetyou knew that they must needs arrive in the course ofyears?"said the statesman.

"Ay;as I knew that the stumpon or beside which you sitoncea tall andlofty treemust needs one day fall by decayor bythe axe;yet I hoped my eyes might not witness the downfall ofthe treewhich overshadowed my dwelling."

"Donot suppose" said the Lord Keeper"that you will lose anyinterestwith me for looking back with regret to the days whenanotherfamily possessed my estates.  You had reasondoubtlessto lovethemand I respect your gratitude.  I will order somerepairs inyour cottageand I hope we shall live to be friendswhen weknow each other better.""Thoseof my age" returned the dame"make no new friends. Ithank youfor your bountyit is well intended undoubtedly; butI have allI wantand I cannot accept more at your lordship'shand."

"Wellthen" continued the Lord Keeper"at least allow me tosaythatI look upon you as a woman of sense and educationbeyondyour appearanceand that I hope you will continue toreside onthis property of mine rent-free for your life."

"Ihope I shall" said the old damecomposedly; "I believethatwas madean article in the sale of Ravenswood to your lordshipthoughsuch a trifling circumstance may have escaped yourrecollection."

"Iremember--I recollect" said his lordshipsomewhat confused."Iperceive you are too much attached to your old friends toaccept anybenefit from their successor."

"Farfrom itmy lord; I am grateful for the benefits which Ideclineand I wish I could pay you for offering thembetterthan whatI am now about to say."  The Lord Keeper looked at herin somesurprisebut said not a word.  "My lord" shecontinuedin animpressive and solemn tone"take care what you do; you areon thebrink of a precipice."

"Indeed?"said the Lord Keeperhis mind reverting to thepoliticalcircumstances of the country.  "Has anything come toyourknowledge--any plot or conspiracy?"

"Nomy lord; those who traffic in such commodities do not callto theircouncils the oldblindand infirm.  My warning is ofanotherkind.  You have driven matters hard with the house ofRavenswood. Believe a true tale: they are a fierce houseandthere isdanger in dealing with men when they become desperate."

"Tush"answered the Keeper; "what has been between us has beenthe workof the lawnot my doing; and to the law they mustlookifthey would impugn my proceedings."

"Aybut they may think otherwiseand take the law into theirown handwhen they fail of other means of redress."

"Whatmean you?" said the Lord Keeper.  "Young Ravenswoodwouldnot haverecourse to personal violence?"

"Godforbid I should say so!  I know nothing of the youth butwhat ishonourable and open.  Honourable and opensaid I?  Ishouldhave addedfreegenerousnoble.  But he is still aRavenswoodand may bide his time.  Remember the fate of SirGeorgeLockhart."

The LordKeeper started as she called to his recollection atragedy sodeep and so recent.  The old woman proceeded:"Chiesleywho did the deedwas a relative of Lord Ravenswood.In thehall of Ravenswoodin my presence and in that of othershe avowedpublicly his determination to do the cruelty which heafterwardscommitted.  I could not keep silencethough to speakit illbecame my station.  'You are devising a dreadful crime' Isaid'forwhich you must reckon before the judgment seat.'Nevershall I forget his lookas he replied'I must reckon thenfor manythingsand will reckon for this also.'  Therefore I maywell saybeware of pressing a desperate man with the hand ofauthority. There is blood of Chiesley in the veins ofRavenswoodand one drop of it were enough to fire him in thecircumstancesin which he is placed.  I saybeware of him."

The olddame hadeither intentionally or by accidentharpedaright thefear of the Lord Keeper.  The desperate and darkresourceof private assassinationso familiar to a Scottishbaron informer timeshad even in the present age been toofrequentlyresorted to under the pressure of unusual temptationor wherethe mind of the actor was prepared for such a crime.SirWilliam Ashton was aware of this; as also that youngRavenswoodhad received injuries sufficient to prompt him to thatsort ofrevengewhich becomes a frequent though fearfulconsequenceof the partial administration of justice.  Heendeavouredto disguise from Alice the nature of theapprehensionswhich he entertained; but so ineffectuallythat apersoneven of less penetration than nature had endowed her withmustnecessarily have been aware that the subject lay near hisbosom. His voice was changed in its accent as he replied to her"Thatthe Master of Ravenswood was a man of honour; andwere itotherwisethat the fate of Chiesley of Dalry was a sufficientwarning toany one who should dare to assume the office ofavenger ofhis own imaginary wrongs."  And having hastily utteredtheseexpressionshe rose and left the place without waitingfor areply.

 

CHAPTER V.

Is shea Capulet?O dearaccount! my life is my foe's debt.

SHAKESPEARE

 

THE LordKeeper walked for nearly a quarter of a mile inprofoundsilence.  His daughternaturally timidand bred up inthoseideas of filial awe and implicit obedience which wereinculcatedupon the youth of that perioddid not venture tointerrupthis meditations.

"Whydo you look so paleLucy?" said her fatherturningsuddenlyround and breaking silence.

Accordingto the ideas of the timewhich did not permit a youngwoman tooffer her sentiments on any subject of importanceunlessrequired to do soLucy was bound to appear ignorant ofthemeaning of all that had passed betwixt Alice and her fatherandimputed the emotion he had observed to the fear of the wildcattlewhich grazed in that part of the extensive chase throughwhich theywere now walking.

Of theseanimalsthe descendants of the savage herds whichancientlyroamed free in the Caledonian forests. it was formerlya point ofstate to preserve a few in the parks of the Scottishnobility. Specimens continued within the memory of man to bekept atleast at three houses of distinction--HamiltonnamelyDrumlanrigand Cumbernauld.  They had degenerated from theancientrace in size and strengthif we are to judge from theaccountsof old chroniclesand from the formidable remainsfrequentlydiscovered in bogs and morasses when drained and laidopen. The bull had lost the shaggy honours of his maneand therace wassmall and light madein colour a dingy whiteor rathera paleyellowwith black horns and hoofs.  They retainedhoweverin some measurethe ferocity of their ancestrycouldnot bedomesticated on account of their antipathy to the humanraceandwere often dangerous if approached unguardedlyorwantonlydisturbed.  It was this last reason which has occasionedtheirbeing extirpated at the places we have mentionedwhereprobablythey would otherwise have been retained as appropriateinhabitantsof a Scottish woodlandand fit tenants for abaronialforest.  A fewif I mistake notare still preserved atChillinghamCastlein Northumberlandthe seat of the Earl ofTankerville.

It was toher finding herself in the vicinity of a group ofthree orfour of these animalsthat Lucy thought proper toimputethose signs of fear which had arisen in her countenancefor adifferent reason.  For she had been familiarised with theappearanceof the wil cattle during her walks in the chase; andit was notthenas it may be nowa necessary part of a younglady'sdemeanour to indulge in causeless tremors of the nerves.On thepresent occasionhowevershe speedily found cause forrealterror.

Lucy hadscarcely replied to her father in the words we havementionedand he was just about to rebuke her supposed timiditywhen abullstimulated either by the scarlet colour of MissAshton'smantleor by one of those fits of capricious ferocityto whichtheir dispositions are liabledetached himself suddenlyfrom thegroup which was feeding at the upper extremity of agrassygladethat seemed to lose itself among the crossing andentangledboughs.  The animal approached the intruders on hispasturegroundat first slowlypawing the ground with his hoofbellowingfrom time to timeand tearing up the sand with hishornsasif to lash himself up to rage and violence.

The LordKeeperwho observed the animal's demeanourwas awarethat hewas about to become mischievousanddrawing hisdaughter'sarm under his ownbegan to walk fast along theavenueinhopes to get out of his sight and his reach.  This wasthe mostinjudicious course he could have adoptedforencouragedby the appearance of flightthe bull began to pursuethem atfull speed.  Assailed by a danger so imminentfirmercouragethan that of the Lord Keeper might have given way.  Butpaternaltenderness"love strong as death" sustained him.  Hecontinuedto support and drag onward his daughteruntil herfearsaltogether depriving her of the power of flightshe sunkdown byhis side; and when he could no longer assist her toescapeheturned round and placed himself betwixt her and theraginganimalwhichadvancing in full careerits brutal furyenhancedby the rapidity of the pursuitwas now within a fewyards ofthem.  The Lord Keeper had no weapons; his age andgravitydispensed even with the usual appendage of a walkingsword--couldsuch appendage have availed him anything.

It seemedinevitable that the father or daughteror bothshouldhave fallen victims to the impending dangerwhen a shotfrom theneighbouring thicket arrested the progress of theanimal. He was so truly struck between the junction of the spinewith theskullthat the woundwhich in any other part of hisbody mightscarce have impeded his careerproved instantlyfatal. Stumbling forward with a hideous bellowthe progressiveforce ofhis previous motionrather than any operation of hislimbscarried him up to within three yards of the astonishedLordKeeperwhere he rolled on the groundhis limbs darkenedwith theblack death-sweatand quivering with the lastconvulsionsof muscular motion.

Lucy laysenseless on the groundinsensible of thewonderfuldeliverance which she had experience.  Her father wasalmostequally stupifiedso rapid and unexpected had been thetransitionfrom the horrid death which seemed inevitable toperfectsecurity.  He gazed on the animalterrible even indeathwith a species of mute and confused astonishmentwhichdid notpermit him distinctly to understand what had taken place;and soinaccurate was his consciousness of what had passedthathe mighthave supposed the bull had been arrested in its careerby athunderbolthad he not observed among the branches of thethicketthe figure of a manwith a short gun or musquetoon inhis hand.

Thisinstantly recalled him to a sense of their situation: aglance athis daughter reminded him of the necessity of procuringherassistance.  He called to the manwhom he concluded to beone of hisforestersto give immediate attention to Miss Ashtonwhile hehimself hastened to call assistance.  The huntsmanapproachedthem accordinglyand the Lord Keeper saw he was astrangerbut was too much agitated to make any farther remarks.In a fewhurried words he directed the shooteras stronger andmoreactive than himselfto carry the young lady to aneighbouringfountainwhile he went back to Alice's hut toprocuremore aid.

The man towhose timely interference they had been so muchindebteddid not seem inclined to leave his good work halffinished. He raised Lucy from the ground in his armsandconvenyingher through the glades of the forest by paths withwhich heseemed well acquaintedstopped not until he laid her insafety bythe side of a plentiful and pellucid fountainwhichhad beenonce covered inscreened and decorated witharchitecturalornaments of a Gothic character.  But now the vaultwhich hadcovered it being broken down and rivenand the Gothicfontruined and demolishedthe stream burst forth from therecess of the earth in open dayand winded its way among thebrokensculpture and moss-grown stones which lay in confusionaround itssource.

Traditionalways busyat least in Scotlandto grace with alegendarytale a spot in itself interestinghad ascribed acause ofpeculiar veneration to this fountain.  A beautiful younglady metone of the Lords of Ravenswood while hunting near thisspotandlike a second Egeriahad captivated the affections ofthe feudalNuma.  They met frequently afterwardsand always atsunsetthe charms of the nymph's mind completing the conquestwhich herbeauty had begunand the mystery of the intrigueaddingzest to both.  She always appeared and disappeared closeby thefountainwith whichthereforeher lover judged she hadsomeinexplicable connexion.  She placed certain restrictions ontheirintercoursewhich also savoured of mystery.  They met onlyonce aweek--Friday was the appointed day--and she explained tothe Lordof Ravenswood that they were under the necessity ofseparatingso soon as the bell of a chapelbelonging to ahermitagein the adjoining woodnow long ruinousshould tollthe hourof vespers.  In the course of his confessionthe BaronofRavenswood entrusted the hermit with the secret of thissingularamourand Father Zachary drew the necessary andobviousconsequence that his patron was enveloped in the toils ofSatanandin danger of destructionboth to body and soul.  Heurgedthese perils to the Baron with all the force of monkishrhetoricand describedin the most frightful coloursthe realcharacterand person of the apparently lovely Naiadwhom hehesitatednot to denounce as a limb of the kingdom of darkness.The loverlistened with obstinate incredulity; and it was notuntil wornout by the obstinacy of the anchoret that he consentedto put thestate and condition of his mistress to a certaintrialandfor that purpose acquiesced in Zachary's proposal thaton theirnext interview the vespers bell should be rung half anhour laterthan usual.  The hermit maintained and bucklered hisopinionby quotations from Malleus MalificarumSprengerusRemigiusand other learned demonologiststhat the Evil Onethusseduced to remain behind the appointed hourwould assumeher trueshapeandhaving appeared to herterrified lover as afiend ofhellwould vanish from him in a flash of sulphurouslightning. Raymond of Ravenswood acquiesced in the experimentnotincurious concerning the issuethough confident it woulddisappointthe expectations of the hermit.

At theappointed hour the lovers metand their interview wasprotractedbeyond that at which they usually partedby thedelay ofthe priest to ring his usual curfew.  No change tookplace uponthe nymph's outward form; but as soon as thelengtheningshadows made her aware that the usual hour of thevesperschime was passedshe tore herself from her lover's armswith ashriek of despairbid him adieu for everandplunginginto thefountaindisappeared from his eyes.  The bubblesoccasionedby her descent were crimsoned with blood as theyaroseleading the distracted Baron to infer that his ill-judgedcuriosityhad occasioned the death of this interesting andmysteriousbeing.  The remorse which he feltas well as therecollectionof her charmsproved the penance of his futurelifewhich he lost in the battle of Flodden not many monthsafter. Butin memory of his Naiadhe had previously ornamentedthefountain in which she appeared to resideand secured itswatersfrom profanation or pollution by the small vaultedbuildingof which the fragments still remained scattered aroundit. From this period the house of Ravenswood was supposed tohave datedits decay.

Such wasthe generally-received legendwhich somewho wouldseem wiserthan the vulgarexplained as obscurelyintimatingthe fate of a beautiful maid of plebeian rankthemistressof this Raymondwhom he slew in a fit of jealousyandwhoseblood was mingled with the waters of the locked foundtainas it wascommonly called.  Others imagined that the tale had amoreremote origin in the ancient heathen mythology.  Allhoweveragreed that the spot was fatal to the Ravenswood family;and thatto drink of the waters of the wellor even approach itsbrinkwasas ominous to a descendant of that house as for aGrahame towear greena Bruce to kill a spideror a St. Clairto crossthe Ord on a Monday.

It was onthis ominous spot that Lucy Ashton first drew breathafter herlong and almost deadly swoon.  Beautiful and pale asthefabulous Naiad in the last agony of separation from herlovershewas seated so as to rest with her back against a partof theruined wallwhile her mantledripping with the waterwhich herprotector had used profusely to recall her sensesclung toher slender and beautifully proportioned form.

The firstmoment of recollection brought to her mind the dangerwhich hadoverpowered her senses; the next called to remembrancethat ofher father.  She looked around; he was nowhere to beseen. "My fathermy father!" was all that she could ejaculate.

"SirWilliam is safe" answered the voice of a stranger--"perfectlysafeand will be with you instantly."

"Areyou sure of that?" exclaimed Lucy.  "The bull wasclose byus. Do not stop me: I must go to seek my father!"

And sherose with that purpose; but her strength was so muchexhaustedthatfar from possessing the power to execute herpurposeshe must have fallen against the stone on which she hadleantprobably not without sustaining serious injury.

Thestranger was so near to her thatwithout actually sufferingher tofallhe could not avoid catching her in his armswhichhoweverhe did with a momentary reluctancevery unusual whenyouthinterposes to prevent beauty from danger.  It seemed as ifherweightslight as it wasproved too heavy for her young andathleticassistantforwithout feeling the temptation ofdetainingher in his arms even for a singleinstanthe again placed her on the stone from which she hadrisenandretreating a few stepsrepeated hastily "Sir WilliamAshton isperfectly safe and will be here instantly.  Do not makeyourselfanxious on his account: Fate has singularly preservedhim. Youmadamare exhaustedand must not think of risinguntil youhave some assistance more suitable than mine."

Lucywhose senses were by this time more effectually collectedwasnaturally led to look at the stranger withattention. There was nothing in his appearance which should haverenderedhim unwilling to offer his arm to a young lady whorequiredsupportor which could have induced her to refuse hisassistance;and she could not help thinkingeven in that momentthat heseemed cold and reluctant to offer it.  A shooting-dressof darkcloth intimated the rank of the wearerthough concealedin part bya large and loose cloak of a dark brown colour.  Amonterocap and a black feather drooped over the wearer's browand partlyconcealed his featureswhichso far as seenweredarkregularand full of majesticthough somewhat sullenexpression. Some secret sorrowor the brooding spirit of somemoodypassionhad quenched the light and ingenuous vivacity ofyouth in acountenance singularly fitted to display bothand itwas noteasy to gaze on the stranger without a secret impressioneither ofpity or aweor at least of doubt and curiosity alliedto both.

Theimpression which we have necessarily been long indescribingLucy felt in the glance of a momentand had nosoonerencountered the keen black eyes of the stranger than herown werebent on the ground with a mixture of bashfulembarrassmentand fear.  Yet there was a necessity to speakorat lastshe thought soand in a fluttered accent she began tomentionher wonderful escapein which she was sure that thestrangermustunder Heavenhave been her father's protectorand herown.

He seemedto shrink from her expressions of gratitudewhile herepliedabruptly"I leave youmadam" the deep melody of hisvoicerendered powerfulbut not harshby something like aseverityof tone--"I leave you to the protection of those to whomit ispossible you may have this day been a guardian angel."

Lucy wassurprised at the ambiguity of his languageandwith afeeling ofartless and unaffected gratitudebegan to deprecatethe ideaof having intended to give her deliverer any offenceasif such athing had been possible.  "I have been unfortunate"she said"in endeavouring to express my thanks--I am sure itmust besothough I cannot recollect what I said; but would youbut staytill my father--till the Lord Keeper comes; would youonlypermit him to pay you his thanksand to inquire your name?"

"Myname is unnecessary" answered the stranger; "yourfather--Iwouldrather say Sir William Ashton--will learn it soon enoughfor allthe pleasure it is likely to afford him."

"Youmistake him" said Lucyearnestly; "he will begratefulfor my sake and for his own.  You do not know my fatheror you aredeceiving me with a story of his safetywhen he hasalreadyfallen a victim to the fury of that animal."

When shehad caught this ideashe started from the ground andendeavouredto press towards the avenue in which the accidenthad takenplacewhile the strangerthough he seemed tohesitatebetween the desire to assist and the wish to leave herwasobligedin common humanityto oppose her both by entreatyandaction.

"Onthe word of a gentlemanmadamI tell you the truth; yourfather isin perfect safety; you will expose yourself to injuryif youventure back where the herd of wild cattle grazed.  If youwillgo"--forhaing once adoped the idea that her father wasstill indangershe pressed forward in spite of him--"if youWILL goaccept my armthough I am not perhaps the person whocan withmost propriety offer you support."

Butwithout heeding this intimationLucy took him at his word."Ohif you be a man" she said--"if you be a gentlemanassistme to findmy father!  You shall not leave me--you must go withme; he isdying perhaps while we are talking here!"

Thenwithout listening to excuse or apologyand holding fastby thestranger's armthough unconscious of anything save thesupportwhich it gave  and without which she could not havemovedmixed with a vague feeling of preventing his escape fromhershewas urgingand almost dragginghim forward when SirWilliamAshton came upfollowed by the female attendant of blindAliceandby two woodcutterswhom he had summoned from theiroccupationto his assistance.  His joy at seeing his daughtersafeovercame the surprise with which he would at another timehavebeheld her hanging as familiarly on the arm of a stranger asshe mighthave done upon his own.

"Lucymy dear Lucyare you safe?--are you well?" were the onlywords thatbroke from him as he embraced her in ecstasy.

"I amwellsirthank God! and still more that I see you so;but thisgentleman" she saidquitting his arm and shrinkingfrom him"what must he think of me?" and her eloquent bloodflushingover neck and browspoke how much she was ashamed ofthefreedom with which she had cravedand even compelledhisassistance.

"Thisgentleman" said Sir William Ashton"willI trustnotregret thetrouble we have given himwhen I assure him of thegratitudeof the Lord Keeper for the greatest service which oneman everrendered to another--for the life of my child--for myown lifewhich he has saved by his bravery and presence ofmind. He willI am surepermit us to request----""Requestnothing of MEmy lord" said the strangerin a sternandperemptory tone; "I am the Master of Ravenswood."

There wasa dead pause of surprisenot unmixed with lesspleasantfeleings.  The Master wrapt himself in his cloakmade ahaughtyinclination toward Lucymuttering a few words ofcourtesyas indistinctly heard as they seemed to be relunctantlyutteredandturning from themwas immediately lost in thethicket.

"TheMaster of Ravenswood!" said the Lord Keeperwhen he hadrecoveredhis momentary astonishment.  "Hasten after him--stophim--beghim to speak to me for a single moment."

The twoforesters accordingly set off in pursuit of thestranger. They speedily reappearedandin an embarrassed andawkwardmannersaid the gentleman would not return.

The LordKeeper took one of the fellows asideandquestionedhim more closely what the Master of Ravenswood hadsaid.

"Hejust said he wadna come back" said the manwith thecaution ofa prudent Scotchmanwho cared not to be the bearer ofanunpleasant errand.

"Hesaid something moresir" said the Lord Keeper"and Iinsist onknowing what it was."

"Whythenmy lord" said the manlooking down"he said----But it wadbe nae pleasure to your lordship to hear itfor Idare saythe Master meant nae ill."

"That'snone of your concernsir; I desire to hear the verywords."

"Weelthen" replied the man"he said'Tell Sir WilliamAshtonthat the next time he and I forgatherhe will nto be halfsae blytheof our meeting as of our parting.'"

"Verywellsir" said the Lord Keeper"I believe he alludes toa wager wehave on our hawks; it is a matter of no consequence."

He turnedto his daughterwho was by this time so muchrecoveredas to be able to walk home.  But the effectwhich thevariousrecollections connected with a scene so terrific madeupon amind which was susceptible in an extreme degree  was morepermanentthan the injury which her nerves had sustained.Visions ofterrorboth in sleep and in waking reveriesrecalledto her theform of the furious animaland the dreadful bellowwith whichhe accompanied his career; and it was always the imageof theMaster of Ravenswoodwith his native nobleness ofcountenanceand formthat seemed to interpose betwixt her andassureddeath.  It isperhapsat all times dangerous for ayoungperson to suffer recollection to dwell repeatedlyand withtoo muchcomplacencyon the same individual; but in Lucy'ssituationit was almost unavoidable.  She had never happened tosee ayoung man of mien and features so romantic and so strikingas youngRavenswood; but had she seen an hundred his equals orhissuperiors in those particularsno one else would have beenlinked toher heart by the strongassociationsof remembered danger and escapeof gratitudewonderand curiosity.  I say curiosityfor it is likely thatthesingularly restrained and unaccommodating manners of theMaster ofRavenswoodso much at variance with the naturalexpressionof his features and grace of his deportmentas theyexcitedwonder by the contrasthad their effect in riveting herattentionto the recollections.  She knew little of Ravenswoodor thedisputes which had existed betwixt her father and hisandperhapscould in her gentleness of mind hardly have comprehendedthe angryand bitter passions which they had engendered.  But sheknew thathe was come of noble stem; was poorthough descendedfrom thenoble and the wealthy; and she felt that she couldsympathisewith the feelings of a proud mindwhich urged him torecoilfrom the proffered gratitude of the new proprietors of hisfather'shouse and domains.  Would he have equally shunned theiracknowledgmentsand avoided their intimacyhad her father'srequestbeen urged more mildlyless abruptlyand softened withthe gracewhich women so well know how to throw into theirmannerwhen they mean to mediate betwixt the headlong passionsof theruder sex?  This was a perilous question to ask her ownmind--perilousboth in the idea and its consequences.

LucyAshtonin shortwas involved in those mazes of theimaginationwhich are most dangerous to the young and thesensitive. Timeit is trueabsencechange of scene and newfacesmight probably have destroyed the illusion in herinstanceas it has done in many others; but her residenceremainedsolitaryand her mind without those means ofdissipatingher pleasing visions.  This solitude was chieflyowing tothe absence of Lady Ashtonwho was at this time inEdinburghwatching the progress of some state-intrigue; the LordKeeperonly received society out of policy or ostentationandwas bynature rather reserved and unsociable; and thus nocavalierappeared to rival or to obscure the ideal picture ofchivalrousexcellence which Lucy had pictured to herself in theMaster ofRavenswood.

While Lucyindulged in these dreamsshe made frequent visits toold blindAlicehoping it would be easy to lead her to talk onthesubject which at present she had so imprudently admitted tooccupy solarge a portion of her thoughts.  But Alice did not inthisparticular gratify her wishes and expectations.  She spokereadilyand with pathetic feelingconcerning the family ingeneralbut seemed to observe an especial and cautious silenceon thesubject of the present representative.  The little shesaid ofhim was not altogether so favourable as Lucy hadanticipated. She hinted that he was of a stern and unforgivingcharactermore ready to resent than to pardon injuries; and Lucycombinedwith great alarmthe hints which she now dropped ofthesedangerous qualities with Alice's advice to her fathersoemphaticallygiven"to beware of Ravenswood."

Btu thatvery Ravenswoodof whom such unjust suspicions hadbeenentertainedhadalmost immediately after they had beenutteredconfuted them by saving at once her father's life andher own. Had he nourished such black revenge as Alice's darkhintsseemed to indicateno deed of active guilt was necessaryto thefull gratification of that evil passion.  He needed but tohavewithheld for an instant his indispensable and effectiveassistanceand the object of his resentment must have perishedwithoutany direct aggression on his partby a death equallyfearfuland certain.  She conceivedthereforethat some secretprejudiceor the suspicions incident to age and misfortunehadled Aliceto form conclusions injurious to the characterandirreconcilableboth with the generous conduct and noble featuresof theMaster of Ravenswood.  And in this belief Lucy reposed herhopeandwent on weaving her enchanted web of fairy tissueasbeautifuland transient as the film of the gossamer when it ispearledwith the morning dew and glimmering to the sun.

Herfatherin the mean whileas well as the Master ofRavenswoodwere making reflectionsas frequent though moresolid thanthose of Lucyupon the singular event which hadtakenplace.  The Lord Keeper's first taskwhen he returnedhomewasto ascertain by medical advice that his daughter hadsustainedno injury from the dangerous and alarming situation inwhich shehad been placed.  Satisfied on this topiche proceededto revisethe memoranda which he had taken down from the mouth ofthe personemployed to interrupt the funeral service of the lateLordRavenswood.   Bred to casuistryand well accustomed topractisethe ambidexter ingenuity of the barit cost him littletrouble tosoften the features of the tumult which he had beenat firstso anxiuous to exaggerate.  He preached to hiscolleaguesof the privy council the necessity of usingconciliatorymeasures with young menwhose blood and temper werehotandtheir experience of life limited.  He did not hesitatetoattribute some censure to the conduct of the officerashavingbeen unnecessarily irritating.

These werethe contents of his public despatches.  The letterswhich hewrote to those private friends into whose management thematter waslikely to fall were of a yet more favourable tenor.Herepresented that lenity in this case would be equally politicandpopularwhereasconsidering the high respect with which therites ofinterment are regarded inScotlandany severity exercised against the Master of Ravenswoodforprotecting those of his father from interruptionwould be onall sidesmost unfavourably construed.  Andfinallyassumingthelanguage of a generous and high-spirited manhe made it hisparticularrequest that this affair should be passed over withoutseverenotice.  He alluded with delicacy to the predicament inwhich hehimself stood with young Ravenswoodas having succeededin thelong train of litigation by which the fortunes of thatnoblehouse had been so much reducedand confessed it would bemostpeculiarly acceptable to his own feelingscould he find insome sortto counterbalance the disadvantages which he hadoccasionedthe familythough only in the prosecution of his justand lawfulrights.  He therefore made it his particular andpersonalrequest that the matter should have no fartherconsequencesan insinuated a desire that he himself should havethe meritof having put a stop to it by his favourable report andintercession. It was particularly remarkable thatcontrary tohisuniform practicehe made no special communication to LadyAshton upon the subject of the tumult; and although he mentionedthe alarmwhich Lucy had received from one of the wild cattleyet hegave no detailed account of an incident so interesting andterrible.

There wasmuch surprise among Sir William Ashton's politicalfriendsand colleagues on receiving letters of a tenor sounexpected. On comparing notes togetherone smiledone put uphiseyebrowsa third nodded acquiescence in the general wonderand afourth asked if they were sure these were ALL the lettersthe LordKeeper had written on the subject.  "It runs strangelyin mymindmy lordsthat none of these advices contain the rootof thematter."

But nosecret letters of a contrary nature had beenreceivedalthough the question seemed to imply the possibilityof theirexistence.

"Well"said an old grey-headed statesmanwho hadcontrivedby shifting and trimmingto maintain his post at thesteeragethrough all the changes of course which the vessel hadheld forthirty years"I thought Sir William would hae verifiedthe auldScottish saying'As soon comes the lamb's skin tomarket asthe auld tup's'"

"Wemust please him after his own fashion"  said another"thoughit be an unlooked0for one."

"Awilful man maun hae his way" answered the oldcounsellor.

"TheKeeper will rue this before year and day are out" said athird;"the Master of Ravenswood is the lad to wind him a pirn."

"Whywhat would you domy lordswith the poor young fellow?"said anoble Marquis present.  "The Lord Keeper has got all hisestates;he has not a cross to bless himself with."

On whichthe ancient Lord Turntippet replied

"Ifhe hasna gear to fineHe hashins to pine.

And thatwas our way before the Revolution: Lucitur cum personaqui luerenon potest cum crumena.  Heghmy lordsthat's gudelawLatin."

"Ican see no motive" replied the Marquis"that any noblelordcan havefor urging this matter farther; let the Lord Keeperhave thepower to deal in it as he pleases."

"Agreeagree--remit to the Lord Keeperwith any other personforfashion's sake--Lord Hirplehoolywho is bed-ridden--one tobe aquorum.  Make your entry in the minutesMr. Clerk.  Andnowmylordsthere is that young scattergood the Laird ofBucklaw'sfine to be disposed upon.  I suppose it goes to my LordTreasurer?"

"Shamebe in my meal-pokethen" exclaimed the LordTurntippet"and your hand aye in the nook of it!  I had set thatdown for abye-bit between meals for mysell."

"Touse one of your favourite sawsmy lord" replied theMarquis"you are like the miller's dogthat licks his lipsbefore thebag is untied: the man is not fined yet."

"Butthat costs but twa skarts of a pen" said LordTurntippet;"and surely there is nae noble lord that will presumeto saythat Iwha hae complied wi' a' compliancestaen allmanner oftestsadjured all that was to be abjuredand sworn a'that wasto be swornfor these thirty years bye-paststickingfast by myduty to the state through good report and bad reportshouldnahae something now and then to synd my mouth wi' aftersicdrouthy wark?  Eh?"

"Itwould be very unreasonable indeedmy lord" replied theMarquis"had we either thought that your lordship's drought wasquenchableor observed anything stick in your throat thatrequiredwashing down."

And so weclose the scene on the privy council of that period.

 

CHAPTERVI.

Forthis are all these warriors comeTo hearan idle tale;Ando'er our death-accustom'd armsShallsilly tears prevail?

HENRYMACKENZIE.

 

ON theevening of the day when the Lord Keeper and his daughterwere savedfrom such imminent periltwo strangers were seated inthe mostprivate apartment of a small obscure innor ratheralehousecalled the Tod's Den [Hole]about three or four [fiveor six]miles from the Castle of Ravenswood and as far from theruinoustower of  Wolf's Cragbetwixt which two places it wassituated.

One ofthese strangers was about forty years of agetallandthin inthe flankswith an aquiline nosedark penetratingeyesanda shrewd but sinister cast of countenance.  The otherwas aboutfifteen years youngershortstoutruddy-facedandred-hairedwith an openresoluteand cheerful eyeto whichcarelessand fearless freedom and inward daring gave fire andexpressionnotwithstanding its light grey colour.  A stoup ofwine (forin those days it was erved out from the cask in pewterflagons)was placed on the tableand each had his quaigh orbickerbefore him.  But there was little appearance ofconviviality. With folded armsand looks of anxiousexpectationthey eyed each other in silenceeach wrapt in hisownthoughtsand holding no communication with his neighbour.At lengththe younger broke silence by exclaiming: "What thefoul fiendcan detain the Master so long?  He must havemiscarriedin his enterprise.  Why did you dissuade me from goingwith him?"

"Oneman is enough to right his own wrong" said the taller andolderpersonage; "we venture our lives for him in coming thusfar onsuch an errand."

"Yopuare but a craven after allCraigengelt" answered theyounger"and that's what many folk have thought you before now.""Butwhat none has dared to tell me" said Craigengeltlaying hishand on the hilt of his sword; "andbut that I hold ahasty manno better than a foolI would----" he paused for hiscompanion'sanswer.

"WOULDyou?" said the othercoolly; "and why do you not then?"

Craigengeltdrew his cutlass an inch or twoand then returnedit withviolence into the scabbard--"Because there is a deeperstake tobe played for than the lives of twentyharebrainedgowks like you."

"Youare right there" said his companion"for it if were notthat theseforfeituresand that last fine that the olddrivellerTurntippet is gaping forand whichI dare sayislaid on bythis timehave fairly driven me out of house andhomeIwere a coxcomb and a cuckoo to boot to trust your fairpromisesof getting me a commission in the Irish brigade.  Whathave I todo with the Irish brigade?  I am a plain Scotchmanasmy fatherwas before me; and my grand-auntLady Girningtoncannotlive for ever."

"AyBucklaw" observed Craigengelt"but she may live for manya longday; and for your fatherhe had land and livingkepthimselfclose from wadsetters and money-lenderspaid each manhis dueand lived on his own."

"Andwhose fault it it that I have not done so too?" saidBucklaw--"whosebut the devil's and yoursand such-like as youthat haveled me to the far end of a fair estate?  And now Ishall beobligedI supposeto shelter and shift about likeyourself:live one week upon a line of secret intelligence fromSaintGermains; another upon a report of a rising in theHighlands;get my breakfast and morning draught of sack from oldJacobiteladiesand give them locks of my old wig for theChevalier'shair; second my friend in his quarrel till he comesto thefieldand then flinch from him lest so important apoliticalagent should perish from the way.  All this I must dofor breadbesides calling myself a captain!"

"Youthink you are making a fine speech now" saidCraigengelt"and showing much wit at my expense.  Is starving orhangingbetter than the life I am obliged to leadbecause thepresentfortunes of the king cannot sufficiently support hisenvoys?""Starvingis honesterCraigengeltand hanging is like to bethe endon't.  But what you mean to make of this poor fellowRavenswoodI know not.  He has no money leftany more than I;his landsare all pawned and pledgedand the interest eats upthe rentsand is not satisfiedand what do you hope to make bymeddlingin his affairs?"

"ContentyourselfBucklaw; I know my business" repliedCraigengelt. "Besides that his nameand his father's servicesin 1689will make such an acquisition sound well both atVersaillesand Saint Germainsyou will also please be informedthat theMaster of Ravenswood is a very different kind of a youngfellowfrom you.  He has parts and addressas well as courageandtalentsand will present himself abroad like a young man ofhead aswell as heartwho knows something more than the speed ofa horse orthe flight of a hawk.  I have lost credit of latebybringingover no one that had sense to know more than how tounharboura stagor take and reclaim an eyas.  The Master haseducationsenseand penetration."

"Andyet is not wise enough to escape the tricks of a kidnapperCraigengelt?"replied the younger man.  "But don't be angry; youknow youwill nto fightand so it is as well to leave your hiltin peaceandquietand tell me in sober guise how you drew theMasterinto your confidence?"

"Byflattering his love of vengeanceBucklaw" answeredCraigengelt. "He has always distrusted me; but I watched mytimeandstruck while his temper was red-hot with the sense ofinsult andof wrong.  He goes now to expostulateas he saysandperhapsthinkswith Sir William Ashton.  I saythat if theymeetandthe lawyer puts him to his defencethe Master willkill him;for he had that sparkle in his eye which never deceivesyou whenyou would read a man's purpose.  At any ratehe willgive himsuch a bullying as will be construed into an assault ona privycouncillor; so there will be a total breach betwixt himandgovernment.  Scotland will be too hot for him; France willgain him;and we will all set sail together in the French brig'L'Espoir'which is hovering for us off Eyemouth."

"Contentam I" said Bucklaw; "Scotland has little left that Icareabout; and if carrying the Master with us will get us abetterreception in Francewhyso be ita God's name.  I doubtour ownmerits will procure us slender preferment; and I trust hewill senda ball through the Keeper's head before he joins us.One or twoof these scoundrel statesmen should be shot once ayearjustto keep the others on their good behaviour."

"Thatis very true" replied Craigengelt; "and it reminds methat Imust go and see that our horses have been fed and are inreadiness;forshould such deed be doneit will be no time forgrass togrow beneath their heels."  He proceeded as far as thedoorthenturned back with a look of earnestnessand said toBucklaw:"Whatever should come of this businessI am sure youwill do methe justice to remember that I said nothing to theMasterwhich could imply my accession to any act of violencewhich hemay take it into his head to commit."

"Nononot a single word like accession" replied Bucklaw;"youknow too well the risk belonging to these two terriblewords'art and part.'"  Thenas if to himselfhe recited thefollowinglines:

"Thedial spoke notbut it made shrewd signsAndpointed full upon the stroke of murder.

"Whatis that you are talking to yourself?" saidCraigengeltturning back with some anxiety.

"Nothingonly two lines I have heard upon the stage" repliedhiscompanion.

"Bucklaw"said Craigengelt"I sometimes think you should havebeen astage-player yourself; all is fancy and frolic with you."

"Ihave often thought so myself" said Bucklaw.  "Ibelieve itwould besafer than acting with you in the Fatal Conspiracy.But awayplay your own partand look after the horses like agroom asyou are.  A play-actor--a stage-player!" he repeated tohimself;"that would have deserved a stabbut that Craigengelt'sa coward. And yet I should like the profession well enough.Stayletme see; ayI would come out in Alexander:

Thus fromthe grave I  rise to save my loveDraw allyour swordsand quick as lightning move.When Irush onsure none will dare to stay:'Tis lovecommandsand glory leads the way."

As with avoice of thunderand his hand upon his swordBucklawrepeatedthe ranting couplets of poor LeeCraigengelt re-enteredwith aface of alarm.

"Weare undoneBucklaw!  The Master's led horse has casthimselfover his halter in the stableand is dead lame.  Hishackneywill be set up with the day's workand now he has nofreshhorse; he will never get off."

"Egadthere will be no moving with the speed of lightning thisbout"said Bucklawdrily.  "But stayyou can give him yours."

"What!and be taken myself?  I thank you for the proposal" saidCraigengelt.

"Why"replied Bucklaw"if the Lord Keeper should have met withamischancewhich for my part I cannot supposefor the Masteris not thelad to shoot an old and unarmed man--but IF thereshouldhave been a fray at the Castleyou are neither art notpart inityou knowso have nothing to fear."

"Truetrue" answered the otherwith embarrassment; "butconsidermy commission from Saint Germains."

"Whichmany men think is a commission of your own makingnobleCaptain. Wellif you will not give him your horsewhyd----nithemust have mine."

"Yours?"said Craigengelt.

"Aymine" repeated Bucklaw; "it shall never be said that Iagreed toback a gentleman in a little affair of honourandneitherhelped him on with it nor off from it."

"Youwill give him your horse? and have you considered theloss?"

"Loss!whyGrey Gilbert cost me twenty Jacobusesthat's true;but thenhis hackney is worth somethingand his Black Moor isworthtwice as much were he soundand I know how to handle him.Take a fatsucking mastiff whelp  flay and bowel himstuff thebody fullof black and grey snailsroast a reasonable timeandbaste withoil of spikenardsaffroncinnamonand honeyanointwith thedrippingworking it in----"

"YesBucklaw; but in the mean whilebefore the sprain iscurednaybefore the whelp is roastedyou will be caught andhung. Depend on itthe chase will be hard after Ravenswood.  Iwish wehad made our place of rendezvous nearer to the coast."

"Onmy faiththen" said Bucklaw"I had best go off just nowand leavemy horse for him.  Stay--stayhe comes: I hear ahorse'sfeet."

"Areyou sure there is only one?" said Craigengelt.  "Ifearthere is achase;  I think I hear three or four gallopingtogether. I am sure I hear more horses than one."

"Poohpoohit is the wench of the house clattering to the wellin herpattens.  By my faithCaptainyou should give up bothyourcaptainship and your secret servicefor you are as easilyscared asa wild goose.  But here comes the Master aloneandlooking asgloomy as a night in November."

The Masterof Ravenswood entered the room accordinglyhis cloakmuffledaround himhis arms foldedhis looks sternand at thesame timedejected.  He flung his cloak from him as he enteredthrewhimself upon a chairand appeared sunk in a profoundreverie.

"Whathas happened?  What have you done?" was hastily demandedbyCraigengelt and Bucklaw in the same moment.

"Nothing!"was the short and sullen answer.

"Nothing!and left usdetermined to call the old villain toaccountfor all the injuries that youweand the country havereceivedat his hand?  Have you seen him?""Ihave" replied the Master of Ravenswood.

"Seenhim--and come away without settling scores which have beenso longdue?" said Bucklaw; "I would not have expected that atthe handof the Master of Ravenswood."

"Nomatter what you expected" replied Ravenswood; "it is nottoyousirthat I shall be disposed to render any reason for myconduct."

"PatienceBucklaw" said Craigengeltinterrupting hiscompanionwho seemed about to make an angry reply.  "The Masterhas beeninterrupted in his purpose by some accident; but hemustexcuse the anxious curiosity of friends who are devoted tohis causelike you and me."

"FriendsCaptain Craigengelt!" retorted Ravenswoodhaughtily;"I am ignorant what familiarity passed betwixt us toentitleyou to use that expression.  I think our friendshipamounts tothisthat we agreed to leave Scotland together sosoon as Ishould have visited the alienated mansion of myfathersand had an interview with its present possessor--I willnot callhim proprietor."

"VerytrueMaster" answered Bucklaw; "and as we thought youhad inmind to do something to put your neck in jeopardyCraigieand I very courteously agreed to tarry for youalthoughours mightrun some risk in consequence.  As to Craigieindeedit doesnot very much signify: he had gallows written on his browin thehour of his birth; but I should not like to discredit myparentageby coming to such an end in another man's cause."

"Gentlemen"said the Master of Ravenswood"I am sorry if Ihaveoccasioned you any inconveniencebut I must claim the rightof judgingwhat is best for my own affairswithout renderingexplanationsto any one.  I have altered my mindand do notdesign toleave the country this season."

"Notto leave the countryMaster!" exclaimed Craigengelt.  "Notto gooverafter all the trouble and expense I haveincurred--afterall the risk of discoveryand the expense offreightand demurrage!"

"Sir"replied the Master of Ravenswood"when I designed toleave thiscountry in this hasteI made use of your obligingoffer toprocure me means of conveyance; but I do not recollectthat Ipledged myself to go offif I found occasion to alter mymind. For your trouble on my accountI am sorryand I thankyou; yourexpense" he addedputting his hand into his pocket"admitsa more solid compensation: freight and demurrage arematterswith which I am unacquaintedCaptain Craigengeltbuttake mypurse and pay yourself according to your own conscience."Andaccordingly he tendered a purse with some gold in it to thesoi-disantcaptain.

But hereBucklaw interposed in his turn.  "Your fingersCraigieseem to itch for that same piece of green network" saidhe; "butI make my vow to Godthat if they offer to close uponitI willchop them off with my whinger.  Since the Master haschangedhis mindI suppose we need stay here no longer; but inthe firstplace I beg leave to tell him----"

"Tellhim anything you will" said Craigengelt"if you willfirstallow me to state the inconveniences to which he willexposehimself by quitting our societyto remind him of theobstaclesto his remaining hereand of the difficultiesattendinghis proper introduction at Versailles and SaintGermainswithout the countenance of those who have establishedusefulconnexions."

"Besidesforfeiting the friendship" said Bucklaw"of at leastone man ofspirit and honour."

"Gentlemen"said Ravenswood"permit me once more to assure youthat youhave been pleased to attach to our temporaryconnexionmore importance than I ever meant that it should have.When Irepair to foreign courtsI shall not need theintroductionof an intriguing adventurernor is it necessary forme to setvalue on the friendship of a hot-headed bully."  Withthesewordsand without waiting for an answerhe left theapartmentremounted his horseand was heard to ride off.

"Mortbleu!"said Captain Craigengelt"my recruit is lost!"

"AyCaptain" said Bucklaw"the salmon is off  with hookandall. But I will after himfor I have had more of his insolencethan I canwell digest."

Craigengeltoffered to accompany him; but Bucklaw replied:  "NonoCaptainkeep you the check of the chimney-nook till I comeback; it'sgood sleeping in a haill skin.

Littlekens the auld wife that sits by the fireHowcauld the wind blaws in hurle-burle swire."

Andsinging as he wenthe left the apartment.

 

CHAPTERVII.

NowBilly Berwickkeep good heartAnd ofthey talking let me be;But ifthou art a manas I am sure thou artComeover the dike and fight with me.

OldBallad.

 

THE Masterof Ravenswood had mounted the ambling hackney whichhe beforerodeon finding the accident which had happened to hisled horseandfor the animal's easewas proceeding at a slowpace fromthe Tod's Den towards his old tower of Wolf's Cragwhen heheard the galloping of a horse behind himandlookingbackperceived that he was pursued by young Bucklawwho hadbeendelayed a few minutes in the pursuit by the irresistabletemptationof giving the hostler at the Tod's Den some recipe fortreatingthe lame horse.  This brief delay he had made up by hardgallopingand now overtook this Master where the road traversed awastemoor.  "Haltsir" cried Bucklaw; "I am nopoliticalagent--noCaptain Craigengeltwhose life is too important to behazardedin defence of his honour.  I am Frank Hayston ofBucklawand no man injures me by worddeedsignor lookbuthe mustrender me an account of it."

"Thisis all very wellMr. Hayston of Bucklaw" replied theMaster ofRavenswoodin a tone the most calm and indifferent;"butI have no quarrel with youand desire to have none.  Ourroadshomewardas well as our roads through lifelie indifferentdirections; there is no occasion for us crossing eachother."

"Isthere not?" said Bucklawimpetuously.  "By Heaven!but Isay thatthere isthough: you called us intriguingadventurers."

"Becorrect in your recollectionMr. Hayston; it was to yourcompaniononly I applied that epithetand you know him to be nobetter."

"Andwhat then?  He was my companion for the timeand no manshallinsult my companionright or wrongwhile he is in mycompany."

"ThenMr. Hayston" replied Ravenswoodwith the samecomposure"you should choose your society betteror you arelike tohave much work in your capacity of their champion.  Gohomesir;sleepand have more reason in your wrath to-morrow."

"NotsoMasteryou have mistaken your man; high airs and wisesaws shallnot carry it off thus.  Besidesyou termed me bullyand youshall retract the word before we part."

"Faithscarcely" said Ravenswood"unless you show me betterreason forthinking myself mistaken than you are now producing."

"ThenMaster" said Bucklaw"though I should be sorry to offerit to aman of your qualityif you will not justify yourincivilityor retract itor name a place of meetingyou musthereundergo the hard word and the hard blow."

"Neitherwill be necessary" said Ravenswood; "I amsatisfiedwith what I have done to avoid an affair with you.   Ifyou areseriousthis place will serve as well as another."

"Dismountthenand draw" said Bucklawsetting him an example."Ialways thought and said you were a pretty man; I should besorry toreport you otherwise."

"Youshall have no reasonsir" said Ravenswoodalightingandputtinghimself into a posture of defence.

Theirswords crossedand the combat commenced with great spiriton thepart of Bucklawwho was well accustomed to affairs of thekindanddistinguished by address and dexterity at his weapon.In thepresent casehoweverhe did not use his skill toadvantage;forhaving lost temper at the cool andcontemptuousmanner in which the Master of Ravenswood had longrefusedand at length grantedhim satisfactionand urged byhisimpatiencehe adopted the part of an assailant withinconsiderateeagerness.  The Masterwith equal skilland muchgreatercomposureremained chiefly on the defensiveand evendeclinedto avail himself of one or two advantages afforded himby theeagerness of his adversary.  At lengthin a desperatelungewhich he followed with an attempt to closeBucklaw's footslippedand he fell on the short grassy turf on which they werefighting. "Take your lifesir" said the Master of Ravenswood"andmend it if you can."

"Itwould be but a cobbled piece of workI fear" said Bucklawrisingslowly and gathering up his swordmuch less disconcertedwith theissue of the combat than could have been expected fromtheimpetuosity of his temper.  "I thank you for my lifeMaster"he pursued.  "There is my hand; I bear no ill-will toyoueither for my bad luck or your better swordsmanship."

The Masterlooked steadily at him for an instantthen extendedhis handto him.  "Bucklaw" he said"you are agenerousfellowand I have done you wrong.  I heartily ask yourpardon forthe expression which offended you; it was hastily andincautiouslyutteredand I am convinced it is totallymisapplied."

"Areyou indeedMaster?" said Bucklawhis face resuming atonce itsnatural expression of light-hearted carelessness andaudacity;"that is more than I expected of you; forMastermensay youare not ready to retract your opinion and your language."

"Notwhen I have well considered them" said the Master.

"Thenyou are a little wiser than I amfor I always give myfriendsatisfaction firstand explanation afterwards.  If one ofus fallsall accounts are settled; if notmen are never soready forpeace as after war.  But what does that bawling brat ofa boywant?" said Bucklaw.  "I wish to Heaven he had come afewminutessooner! and yet it must have been ended some timeandperhapsthis way is as well as any other."

As hespokethe boy he mentioned came upcudgelling an assonwhich hewas mountedto the top of its speedand sendinglikeone ofOssian's heroeshis voice before him:  "Gentlemen--gentlemensave yourselves! for the gudewife bade us tell yethere werefolk in her house had taen CaptainCraigengeltand were seeking for Bucklawand that ye behoved toride forit.""Bymy faithand that's very truemy man" said Bucklaw; "andthere's asilver sixpence for your newsand I would give any mantwice asmuch would tell me which way I should ride."

"Thatwill IBucklaw" said Ravenswood; "ride home to Wolf'sCrag withme.  There are places in the old tower where you mightlie hidwere a thousand men to seek you."

"Butthat will bring you into trouble yourselfMaster; andunless yoube in the Jacobite scrape alreadyit is quiteneedlessfor me to drag you in."

"Nota whit; I have nothing to fear."

"ThenI will ride with you blythelyforto say the truthI donot knowthe rendezvous that Craigie was to guide us to thisnight; andI am sure thatif he is takenhe will tell all thetruth ofmeand twenty lies of youin order to save himselffrom thewithie."

Theymounted and rode off in company accordinglystriking offtheordinary roadand holding their way by wild moorishunfrequentedpathswith which the gentlemen were wellacquaintedfrom the exercise of the chasebut through whichotherswould have had much difficulty in tracing their course.They rodefor some time in silencemaking such haste as theconditionof Ravenswood's horse permitteduntil night havinggraduallyclosed around themthey discontinued their speedbothfrom thedifficulty of discovering their pathand from the hopethat theywere beyond the reach of pursuit or observation.

"Andnow that we have drawn bridle a bit" said Bucklaw"Iwould fainask you a questionMaster."

"Askand welcome" said Ravenswood"but forgive notansweringitunless I think proper."

"Wellit is simply this" answered his late antagonist "Whatin thename of old Sathancould make youwho stand so highly onyourreputationthink for a moment of drawing up with such arogue asCraigengeltand such a scapegrace as folk callBucklaw?"

"Simplybecause I was desperateand sought desperateassociates."

"Andwhat made you break off from us at the nearest?" againdemandedBucklaw.

"BecauseI had changed my mind" said the Master"and renouncedmyenterpriseat least for the present.  And now that I haveansweredyour questions fairly and franklytell me what makesyouassociate with Craigengeltso much beneath you both inbirth andin spirit?"

"Inplain terms" answered Bucklaw"because I am a foolwhohavegambled away my land in thse times.  My grand-auntLadyGirningtonhas taen a new tack of lifeI thinkand I couldonly hopeto get something by a change of government.  Craigiewas a sortof gambling acquaintance; he saw my conditionandasthe devilis always at one's elbowtold me fifty lies about hiscredentialsfrom Versaillesand his interest at Saint Germainspromisedme a captain's commission at Parisand I have been assenough toput my thumb under his belt.  I dare sayby this timehe hastold a dozen pretty stories of me to the government.  Andthis iswhat I have got by winewomenand dicecocksdogsandhorses."

"YesBucklaw" said the Master"you have indeed nourished inyour bosomthe snakes that are now stinging you."

"That'shome as well as trueMaster" replied hiscompanion;"butby your leaveyou have nursed in your bosom onegreatgoodly snake that has swallowed all the restand is assure todevour you as my half-dozen are to make a meal on allthat'sleft of Bucklawwhich is but what lies between bonnet andboot-heel."

"Imust not" answered the Master of Ravenswood"challengethefreedom ofspeech in which I have set example.  Whatto speakwithout ametaphordo you call this monstrous passion which youcharge mewith fostering?"

"Revengemy good sir--revenge; whichif it be as gentlemanlike asin as wine and wassailwith their et coeterasisequallyunchristianand not so bloodless.  It is better breakingapark-pale to watch a doe or damsel than to shoot an old man."

"Ideny the purpose" said the Master of Ravenswood.  "OnmysoulIhad no such intention; I meant but to confront theoppressorere I left my native landand upbraid him with histyrannyand its consequences.  I would have stated my wrongs sothat theywould have shaken his soul within him."

"Yes"answered Bucklaw"and he would have collared youandcried'help' and then you would have shaken the soul OUT of himIsuppose.  Your very look and manner would have frightened theold man todeath."

"Considerthe provocation" answered Ravenswood--"consider theruin anddeath procured and caused by his hard-hearted cruelty--an ancienthouse destroyedan affectionate father murdered!Whyinour old Scottish dayshe that sat quiet under suchwrongswould have been held neither fit to back a friend nor facea foe."

"WellMasterI am glad to see that the devil deals ascunninglywith other folk as he deals with me; for whenever I amabout tocommit any follyhe persuades me it is the mostnecessarygallantgentlemanlike thing on earthand I am up tosaddlegirthsin the bog before I see that the ground is soft.And youMastermight have turned out a murd----a homicidejustout ofpure respect for your father's memory."

"Thereis more sense in your languageBucklaw" replied theMaster"than might have been expected from your conduct.  It istoo trueour vices steal upon us in forms outwardly as fair asthose ofthe demons whom the superstitious represent  asintriguingwith the human raceand are not discovered in theirnativehideousness until we have clasped them in our arms."

"Butwe may throw them from usthough" said Bucklaw"and thatis what Ishall think of doing one of these days--that iswhenold LadyGirnington dies."

"Didyou ever hear the expression of the English divine?" saidRavenswood--"'Hellis paved with good intentions'--as much as tosaytheyare more often formed than executed."

"Well"replied Bucklaw"but I will begin this blessed nightand havedetermined not to drink above one quart of wineunlessyourclaret be of extraordinary quality."

"Youwill find little to tempt you at Wolf's Crag" said theMaster. "I know not that I can promise you more than the shelterof myroof; alland more than allour stock of wine andprovisionswas exhausted at the late occasion."

"Longmay it be ere provision is needed for the likepurpose"answered Bucklaw; "but you should not drink up the lastflask at adirge; there is ill luck in that."

"Thereis ill luckI thinkin whatever belongs to me" saidRavenswood. "But yonder is Wolf's Cragand whatever it stillcontainsis at your service."

The roarof the sea had long announced their approach to thecliffsonthe summit of whichlike the nest of some sea-eaglethefounder of the fortalice had perched his eyrie.  The palemoonwhich had hitherto been contending with flitting cloudsnow shoneoutand gave them a view of the solitary and nakedtowersituated on a projecting cliff that beetled on the GermanOcean. On three sides the rock was precipitous; on the fourthwhich wasthat towards the landit had been originally fenced byanartificial ditch and drawbridgebut the latter was brokendown andruinousand the former had been in part filled upsoas toallow pasage for a horseman into the narrow courtyardencircledon two sides with low offices and stablespartlyruinousand closed on the landward front by a low embattledwallwhile the remaining side of the quadrangle was occupied bythe toweritselfwhichtall and narrowand built of a greyishstonestood glimmering in the moonlightlike the sheetedspectre ofsome huge giant.  A wilder or more disconsolatedwellingit was perhaps difficult to conceive.  The sombrous andheavysound of the billowssuccessively dashing against therockybeach at a profound distance beneathwas to the ear whatthelandscape was to the eye--a symbol of unvaried and monotonousmelancholynot unmingled with horror.

Althoughthe night was not far advancedthere was no sign oflivinginhabitant about this forlorn abodeexcepting that oneand onlyoneof the narrow and stanchelled windows whichappearedat irregular heights and distances in the walls of thebuildingshowed a small glimmer of light.

"There"said Ravenswood"sits the only male domestic thatremains tothe house of Ravenswood; and it is well that he doesremaintheresince otherwise we had little hope to find eitherlight orfire.  But follow me cautiously; the road is narrowandadmitsonly one horse in front."

In effectthe path led along a kind of isthmusat thepeninsularextremity of which the tower was situatedwith thatexclusiveattention to strength and securityin preference toeverycircumstances of conveniencewhich dictated to theScottishbarons the choice of their situationsas well as theirstyle ofbuilding.

Byadopting the cautious mode of approach recommended by theproprietorof this wild holdthey entered the courtyard insafety. But it was long ere the efforts of Ravenswoodthoughloudlyexerted by knocking at the low-browed entranceandrepeatedshouts to Caleb to open the gate and admit themreceivedany answer.

"Theold man must be departed" he began to say"or fallen intosome fit;for the noise I have made would have waked the sevensleepers."

At lengtha timid and hesitating voice replied: "Master--MasterofRavenswoodis it you?"

"Yesit is ICaleb; open the door quickly."

"Butit is you in very blood and body?  For I would sooner facefiftydeevils as my master's ghaistor even his wraith;whereforearoint yeif ye were ten times my masterunless yecome inbodily shapelith and limb.""Itis Iyou old fool" answered Ravenswood"in bodily shapeand alivesave that I am half dead with cold."

The lightat the upper window disappearedand glancing fromloopholeto loophole in slow successiongave intimation that thebearer wasin the act of descendingwith great deliberationawindingstaircase occupying one of the turrets which graced theangles ofthe old tower.  The tardiness of his descent extractedsomeexclamations of impatience from Ravenswoodand severaloaths fromhis less patient and more mecurial companion.  Calebagainpaused ere he unbolted the doorand once more asked ifthey weremen of mould that demanded entrance at this time ofnight.

"WereI near youyou old fool" said Bucklaw"I would give yousufficientproofs of MY bodily condition."

"Openthe gateCaleb" said his masterin a more soothingtonepartly from his regard to the ancient and faithfulseneschalpartly perhaps because he thought that angry wordswould bethrown awayso long as Caleb had a stout iron-clenchedoaken doorbetwixt his person and the speakers.

At lengthCalebwith a trembling handundid the barsopenedthe heavydoorand stood before themexhibiting his thin greyhairsbald foreheadand sharp high featuresilluminated by aquiveringlamp which he held in one handwhile he shaded andprotectedits flame with the other.  The timorouscourteousglancewhich he threw around himthe effect of the partial lightupon hiswhite hair and illumined featuresmight have made agoodpainting; but our travellers were too impatient for securityagainstthe rising storm to permit them to indulge themselves instudyingthe picturesque.  "Is it youmy dear master?--is it youyourselfindeed?" exclaimed the old domestic.  "I am wae yesuldhae studewaiting at your ain gate; but wha wad hae thought o'seeing yesae suneand a strange gentleman with a----  (Here heexclaimedapartas it wereand to some inmate of the towerina voicenot meant to be heard by those in the court)  Mysie--Mysiewoman! stir for dear lifeand get the fire mended; takethe auldthree-legged stoolor ony thing that's readiest thatwill makea lowe.  I doubt we are but puirly providednoexpectingye this some monthswhen doubtless ye was hae beenreceivedconform till your rankas gude right is; but natheless----"

"NathelessCaleb" said the Master"we must have our horsesput upand ourselves toothe best way we can.  I hope you arenot sorryto see me sooner than you expected?"

"Sorrymy lord! I am sure ye sall aye be my lord wi' honestfolkasyour noble ancestors hae been these three hundred yearsand neverasked a Whig's leave.  Sorry to see the Lord ofRavenswoodat ane o' his ain castles!  (Then again apart to hisunseenassociate behind the screen) Mysiekill the brood-henwithoutthinking twice on it; let them care that come ahint.  Noto sayit's our best dwelling" he addedturning to Bucklaw;"butjust a strength for the Lord of Ravenswood to flee until--that isno to FLEEbut to retreat until in troublous timeslike thepresentwhen it was ill convenient for him to livefarther inthe country in ony of his better and mair principalmanors;butfor its antiquitymaist folk think that the outsideof Wolf'sCrag is worthy of a large perusal."

"Andyou are determined we shall have time to make it" saidRavenswoodsomewhat amused with the shifts the old man used todetainthem without doors until his confederate Mysie had madeherpreparations within.

"Ohnever mind the outside of the housemy good friend" saidBucklaw;"let's see the insideand let our horses see thestablethat's all.""Ohyessir--aysir--unquestionablysir--my lord and ony ofhishonourable companions----"

"Butour horsesmy friend--our horses; they will be dead-founded bystanding here in the cold after riding hardand mineis toogood to be spoiled; thereforeonce moreour horses!"exclaimedBucklaw.

"True--ay--yourhorses--yes--I will call the grooms"; andsturdilydid Caleb roar till the old tower rang again: "John--William--Saunders! The lads are gane outor sleeping" heobservedafter pausing for an answerwhich he knew that he hadno humanchance of receiving.  "A' gaes wrang when the Master'sout-bye;but I'll take care o' your cattle mysell."

"Ithink you had better" said Ravenswood"otherwise I seelittlechance of their being attended to at all."

"Whishtmy lord--whishtfor God's sake" said Calebin animploringtoneand apart to his master; "if ye dinna regard youraincreditthink on mine; we'll hae hard eneugh wark to make adecentnight o'twi' a' the lees I can tell."

"Wellwellnever mind" said his master; "go to the stable.There ishay and cornI trust?"

"Ouayplenty of hay and corn"; this was uttered boldly andaloudandin a lower tone"there was some half fous o' aitsand soemtaits o' meadow-hayleft after the burial."

"Verywell" said Ravenswoodtaking the lamp from hisdomestic'sunwilling hand"I will show the stranger upstairsmyself."

"Icanna think o' thatmy lord; if ye wad but have fiveminutesor ten minutesorat maista quarter of an hour'spatienceand look at the fine moonlight prospect of the Bass andNorthBerwick Law till I sort the horsesI would marshal ye upas reasonis ye suld be marshalledyour lordship and yourhonourablevisitor.  And I hae lockit up the siller candlesticksand thelamp is not fit----"

"Itwill do very well in the mean time" said Ravenswood"andyou willhave no difficulty for want of light in the stableforif Irecollecthalf the roof is off."

"Verytruemy lord" replied the trusty adherentand withready witinstantly added"and the lazy sclater loons have nevercome toput it on a' this whileyour lordship."

"If Iwere disposed to jest at the calamities of my house" saidRavenswoodas he led the way upstairs"poor old Caleb wouldfurnish mewith ample means.  His passion consists inrepresentingthings about our miserable menagenot as they arebut asinhis opinionthey ought to be; andto say the truthI havebeen often diverted with the poor wretch's expedients tosupplywhat he though was essetial for the credit of the familyand hisstill more generous apologies for the want of thosearticlesfor which his ingenuity could discover no substitute.But thoughthe tower is none of the largestI shall have sometroublewithout him to find the apartment in which there is afire."

As hespoke thushe opened the door of the hall.  "Hereatleast"he said"there is neither hearth nor harbour."

It wasindeed a scene of desolation.  A large vaulted roomthebeams fowhichcombined like those of Westminster Hallwererudelycarved at the extremitiesremained nearly in thesituationin which it had been left after the entertainment at atAllan LordRavenswood's funeral.  Overturned pitchersand black-jacksandpewter stoupsand flagons still cumbered the largeoakentable; glassesthose more perishable implements ofconvivialitymany of which had been voluntarily sacrificed bythe guestsin their enthusiastic pledges to favourite toastsstrewedthe stone floor with their fragments.  As for thearticlesof platelent for the purpose by friends and kinsfolkthose hadbeen carefully withdrawn so soon as the ostentatiousdisplay offestivityequally unnecessary and strangely timedhad beenmade and ended.  Nothingin shortremained thatindicatedwealth; all the signs were those of recentwastefulnessand present desolation.  The black cloth hangingswhichonthe late mournful occasionreplaced the tattered moth-eatentapestrieshad been partly pulled downanddanglingfrom thewall in irregular festoonsdisclosed the roughstoneworkof the buildingunsmoothed either by plaster or thechisel. The seats thrown downor left in disorderintimatedthecareless confusion which had concluded the mournful revel."Thisroom" said Ravenswoodholding up the lamp--"this roomMr.Haystonwas riotous when it should have been sad; it is ajustretribution that it should now be sad when it ought to becheerful."

They leftthis disconsolate apartmentand went upstairswhereafteropening one or two doors in vainRavenswood led the wayinto alittle matted ante-roomin whichto their great joythey founda tolerably good firewhich Mysieby some suchexpedientas Caleb had suggestedhad suppied with a reasonablequantityof fuel.  Glad at the heart to see more of comfort thanthe castlehad yet seemed to offerBucklaw rubbed his handsheartilyover the fireand now listened with more complacency totheapologies which the Master of Ravenswood offered.  "Comfort"he said"I cannot provide for youfor I have it not for myself;it is longsince these walls have known itifindeedthey wereeveracquainted with it.  Shelter and safetyI thinkI canpromiseyou."

"ExcellentmattersMaster" replied Bucklaw"andwith amouthfulof food and winepositively all I can require tonight."

"Ifear" said the Master"your supper will be a poor one; Ihear thematter in discussion betwixt Caleb and Mysie.  PoorBalderstoneis something deafamongst his otheraccomplishmentsso that much of what he means should be spokenaside isoverheard by the whole audienceand especially by thosefrom whomhe is most anxious to conceal his private manoeuvres.Hark!"

Theylistenedand heard the old domestic's voice inconversationwith Mysie to the following effect:

"Justmak the best o't--make the besto'twoman; it's easy toput a fairface on ony thing."

"Butthe auld brood-hen?  She'll be as teugh as bow-strings andbend-leather!"

"Sayye made a mistake--say ye made a mistakeMysie" repliedthefaithful seneschalin a soothing and undertoned voice; "takit a' onyoursell; never let the credit o' the house suffer."

"Butthe brood-hen" remonstrated Mysie--"oushe's sitting somegateaneath the dais in the halland I am feared to gae in inthe darkfor the dogle; and if I didna see the bogleI could asill seethe henfor it's pit-mirkand there's no another lightin thehousesave that very blessed lamp whilk the Master has inhis ainhand.  And if I had the henshe's to pu'and to drawand todress; how can I do thatand them sitting by the onlyfire wehave?"

"WeelweelMysie" said the butler"bide ye there a weeandI'll tryto get the lamp wiled away frae them."

AccordinglyCaleb Balderstone entered the apartmentlittleaware thatso much of his by-play had been audible there.  "WellCalebmyold friendis there any chance of supper?" said theMaster ofRavenswood.

"CHANCEof supperyour lordship?" said Calebwith anemphasisof strong scorn at the implied doubt.  "How should therebe onyquestion of thatand us in your lordship's house?Chance ofsupperindeed!  But ye'll no be for butcher-meat?There'swalth o' fat poultryready either for spit or brander.The fatcaponMysie!" he addedcalling out as boldly as if sucha thinghad been in existence.

"Quiteunnecessary" said Bucklawwho deemed himself bound incourtesyto relieve some part of the anxious butler'sperplexity"if you have anything coldor a morsel of bread."

"Thebest of bannocks!" exclaimed Calebmuch relieve; "andforcauldmeata' that we hae is cauld eneugh--how-beitmaist ofthe cauldmeat and pastry was gien to the poor folk after theceremonyof intermentas gude reason was; nevertheless----"

"ComeCaleb" said the Master of Ravenswood"I must cut thismattershort.  This is the young Laird of Bucklaw; he is underhidingand thereforeyou know----"

"He'llbe nae nicer than your lordship's honourI'se warrant"answeredCalebcheerfullywith a nod of intelligence; "I amsorry thatthe gentleman is under distressbut I am blythe thathe cannasay muckle agane our housekeepingfor I believe his ainpinchesmay matach ours; no that we are pinchedthank God" headdedretracting the admission which he had made in his firstburst ofjoy"but nae doubt we are waur aff than we hae beenorsuld be. And for eating--what signifies telling a lee? there'sjust thehinder end of the mutton-ham that has been but threetimes onthe tableand the nearer the bane the sweeteras yourhonoursweel ken; and--there's the heel of the ewe-milk kebbuckwi' a bitof nice butterand--and--that's a' that's to trustto." And with great alacrity he produced his slender stock ofprovisionsand placed them with much formality  upon a smallroundtable betwixt the two gentlemenwho were not deterredeither bythe homely quality or limited quantity of the repastfrom doingit full justice.  Caleb in the mean while waited onthem withgrave officiousnessas if anxious to make upby hisownrespectful assiduityfor the want of all other attendance.

Butalas!how little on such occasions can formhoweveranxiouslyand scrupulously observedsupply the lack ofsubstantialfare!  Bucklawwho had eagerly eaten a considerableportion ofthe thrice-sacked mutton-hamnow began to demand ale.

"Iwadna just presume to recommend our ale" said Caleb; "themaut wasill madeand there was awfu' thunner last week; butsiccanwater as the Tower well has ye'll seldome seeBucklawand that I'se engage for."

"Butif your ale is badyou can let us have some wine" saidBucklawmaking a grimace at the mention of the pure elementwhichCaleb so earnestly recommended.

"Wine!"answered Calebundauntedly"eneugh of wine!  It wasbut twadays syne--wae's me for the cause--there was as muchwine drunkin this house as would have floated a pinnace.Therenever was lack of wine at Wolf's Crag."

"Dofetch us some then" said the master"instead of talkingaboutit."  And Caleb boldly departed.

Everyexpended butt in the old cellar did he set a-tiltandshake withthe desperate expectation of collecting enough of thegrounds ofclaret to fill the large pewter measure which hecarred inhis hand.  Alas! each had been too devoutly drained;andwithall the squeezing and manoeuvring which his craft as abutlersuggestedhe could only collect about half a quart thatseemedpresentable.  StillhoweverCaleb was too good a generaltorenounce the field without a strategem to cover his retreat.Heundauntedly threw down an empty flagonas if he had stumbledat theentrance of the apartmentcalled upon Mysie to wipe upthe winethat had never been spiltand placing the other vesselon thetablehoped there was still enough left for theirhonours. There was indeed; for even Bucklawa sworn friend tothe grapefound no encouragement to renew his first attack uponthevintage of Wolf's Cragbut contented himselfhoweverreluctantlywith a draught of fair water.  Arrangements were nowmade forhis repose; and as the secret chamber was assigned forthispurposeit furnished Caleb with a first-rate and mostplausibleapology for all deficiencies of furniturebeddingetc.

"Forwha" said he"would have thought of the secret chaumerbeingneeded?  It has not been used since the time of the GowrieConspiracyand I durst never let a woman ken of the entrance toitoryour honour will allow that it wad not hae been a secretchaumerlang."

 

 

CHAPTERVIII.

Thehearth in hall was black and deadNoboard was dight in bower withinNormerry bowl nor welcome bed;"Here'ssorry cheer" quoth the Heir of Linne.

OldBallad

 

THEfeelings of the prodigal Heir of Linneas expressed in thatexcellentold songwhenafter dissipating his whole fortunehefoundhimself the deserted inhabitant of "the lonely lodge"mightperhaps have some resemblance to those of the Master ofRavenswoodin his deserted mansion of Wolf's Crag.  The Masterhoweverhad this advantage over the spendthrift in the legendthatifhe was in similar distresshe could not impute it tohis ownimprudence.  His misery had been bequeathed to him by hisfatherandjoined to his high bloodand to a title which thecourteousmight give or the churlish withhold at their pleasureit was thewhole inheritance he had derived from his ancestry.Perhapsthis melancholy yet consolatory reflection crossed themind ofthe unfortunate young nobleman with a breathing ofcomfort. Favourable to calm reflectionas well as to theMusesthemorningwhile it dispelled the shades of nighthad acomposingand sedative effect upon the stormy passions by whichthe Masterof Ravenswood had been agitated on the preceding day.He nowfelt himself able to analyse the different feelings bywhich hewas agitatedand much resolved to combat and to subduethem. The morningwhich had arisen calm and brightgave apleasanteffect even to the waste moorland view which was seenfrom thecastle on looking to the landward; and the gloriousoceancrisped with a thousand rippling waves of silverextendedon the other sidein awful yet complacent majestytothe vergeof the horizon.  With such scenes of calm sublimity thehumanheart sympathises even in its most disturbed moodsanddeeds ofhonour and virtue are inspired by their majesticinfluence.To seekout Bucklaw in the retreat which he had afforded himwas thefirst occupation of the Masterafter he hadperformedwith a scrutiny unusually severethe important taskofself-examination.  "How nowBucklaw?" was hismorning'ssalutation--"howlike you the couch in which the exiled Earl ofAngus onceslept in securitywhen he was pursued by the fullenergy ofa king's resentment?"

"Umph!"returned the sleeper awakened; "I have little tocomplainof where so great a man was quartered before meonlythemattress was of the hardestthe vault somewhat damptheratsrather more mutinous than I would have expected from thestate ofCaleb's larder; and if there had been shutters to thatgratedwindowor a curtain to the bedI should think ituponthe wholean improvement in your accommodations."

"Itisto be sureforlorn enough" said the Masterlookingaround thesmall vault; "but if you will rise and leave itCalebwillendeavour to find you a better breakfast than your supper oflastnight."

"Praylet it be no better" said Bucklawgetting upandendeavouringto dress himself as well as the obscurity of theplacewould permit--"let itI saybe no betterif you mean metopreserve in my proposed reformation.  The very recollection ofCaleb'sbeverage has done more to suppress my longing to open theday with amorning draught than twenty sermons would have done.And youmasterhave you been able to give battle valiantly toyourbosom-snake?  You see I am in the way of smothering myvipers oneby one."

"Ihave commenced the battleat leastBucklawand I have hada fairvision of an angel who descended to my assistance"repliedthe Master.

"Woe'sme!" said his guest"no vision can I expectunless myauntLadyGriningtonshould betake herself to the tomb; andthen itwould be the substance of her heritage rather than theappearanceof her phantom that I should consider as the supportof my goodresolutions.  But this same breakfastMaster--doesthe deerthat is to make the pasty run yet on footas theballad hasit?"

"Iwill inquire into that matter" said his entertainer; andleavingthe apartmenthe went in search of Calebwhomaftersomedifficultyhe found in an obscure sort of dungeonwhichhad beenin former times the buttery of the castle.  Here the oldman wasemployed busily in the doubtful task ofburnishinga pewter flagon until it should take the hue andsemblanceof silver-plate.  "I think it may do--I think it mightpassifthey winna bring it ower muckle in the light o' thewindow!"were the ejaculations which he muttered from time totimeasif to encourage himself in his undertakingwhen he wasinterruptedby the voice of his master.

"Takethis" said the Master of Ravenswood"and get what isnecessaryfor the family."  And with these words he gave to theold butlerthe purse which had on the preceding evening sonarrowlyescaped the fangs of Craigengelt.

The oldman shook his silvery and thin locksand looked with anexpressionof the most heartfelt anguish at his master as heweighed inhis hand the slender treasureand said in asorrowfulvoice"And is this a' that's left?"

"Allthat is left at present" said the Masteraffecting morecheerfulnessthan perhaps he really felt"is just the greenpurse andthe wee pickle gowdas the old song says; but we shalldo betterone dayCaleb."

"Beforethat day domes" said Caleb"I doubt there will be anend of anauld sangand an auld serving-man to boot.  But itdisnabecome me to speak that gate to your honouradn youlookingsae pale.  Tak back the purseand keep it to be making ashowbefore company; for if your honour would just take abiddingadn be whiles taking it out afore folk and putting it upagainthere's naebody would refuse us trustfor a' that's comeand ganeyet."

"ButCaleb" said the Master"I still intend to leave thiscountryvery soonand desire to do so with the reputation of anhonestmanleaving no debty behind meat last of my owncontracting."

"Andgude right ye suld gang away as a true manand so yeshall; forauld Caleb can tak the wyte of whatever is taen on forthe houseand then it will be a' just ae man's burden; and Iwill livejust as weel in the tolbooth as out of itand thecredit ofthe family will be a' safe and sound."

The Masterendeavouredin vainto make Caleb comprehend thatthebutler's incurring the responsibility of debts in his ownpersonwould rather add to than remove the objections which hehad totheir being contracted.  He spoke to a premier too busyindevising ways and means to puzzle himself with refuting theargumentsoffered against their justice or expediency.

"There'sEppie Sma'trash will trust us for ale" said Caleb tohimself--"shehas lived a' her life under the family--and maybewi' a soupbrandy; I canna say for wine--she is but a lonewomanandgets her claret by a runlet at a time; but I'll work awee drapout o' her by fair means or foul.  For doosthere's thedoocot;there will be poultry amang the tenantsthough LuckieChirnsidesays she has paid the kain twice ower.  We'll makshiftanit like your honour--we'll mak shift; keep your heartabuneforthe house sall haud its credit as lang as auld Calebis to thefore."

Theentertainment which the old man's exertions of various kindsenabledhim to present to the young gentlemen for three or fourdays wascertainly of no splendid descriptionbut it mayreadily bebelieved it was set before no critical guests; andeven thedistressesexcusesevasionsand shifts of Calebaffordedamusement to the young menand added a sort fo interestto thescrambling and irregular style of their table.  They hadindeedoccasion to seize on every circumstance that might servetodiversify or enliven timewhich otherwise passed away soheavily.

Bucklawshut out from his usual field-sports and joyouscarousesby the necessity of remaining concealed within the wallsof thecastlebecame a joyless and uninteresting companion.When theMaster of Ravenswood would no longer fence or play atshovel-board;when he himself had polished to the extremity thecoat ofhsi palfrey with brushcurry comband hair-cloth; whenhe hadseen him eat his provenderand gently lie down in hisstallhecould hardly help envying the animal's apparentacquiescencein a life so monotonous.  "The stupid brute" hesaid"thinks neither of the race-ground or the hunting-fieldorhis greenpaddock at Bucklawbut enjoys himself as comfortablywhenhaltered to the rack in this ruinous vaultas if he hadbeenfoaled in it; "andI who have the freedom of a prisoner atlargetorange through the dungeons of this wretched old towercanhardlybetwixt whistling and sleepingcontrive to pass awaythe hourtill dinner-time."

And withthis disconsolate reflectionhe wended his way to thebartizanor battlements of the towerto watch what objectsmightappear on the distant mooror to peltwith pebbles andpieces oflimethe sea-mews and cormorants which establishedthemselvesincautiously within  the reach of an idle young man.

Ravenswoodwith a mind incalculably deeper and morepowerfulthan that of his companionhad his own anxious subjectsofreflectionwhich wrought for him the same unhappiness thatsheer enuiand want of occupation inflicted on his companion.The firstsight of Lucy Ashton had been less impressive than herimageproved to be upon reflection.  As the depth and violence ofthatrevengeful passion by which he had been actuated in seekinganinterview with the father began to abate by degreeshe lookedback onhis conduct towards the daughter as harsh and unworthytowards afemale of rank and beauty.  Her looks of gratefulacknowledgmenther words of affectionate courtesyhad beenrepelledwith something which approached to disdain; and if theMaster ofRavenswood had sustained wrongs at the hand of SirWilliamAshtonhis conscience told him they had beenunhandsomelyresented towards his daughter.  When his thoughtstook thisturn of self-reproachthe recollection of LucyAshton'sbeautiful featuresrendered yet more interesting by thecircumstancesin which their meeting had taken placemade animpressionupon his mind at once soothing and painful.  Thesweetnessof her voicethe delicacy of her expressionsthevivid glowof her filial affectionembittered his regret athavingrepulsed her gratitude with rudenesswhileat the sametimetheyplaced before his imagination a picture of the mostseducingsweetness.

Even youngRavenswood's strength of moral feeling and rectitudeof purposeat once increased the danger of cherishing theserecollectionsand the propensity to entertain them.  Firmlyresolvedas he was to subdueif possiblethepredominatingvice in his characterhe admitted withwillingness--nayhe summoned up in his imagination--the ideas bywhich itcould be most powerfully counteracted; andwhile he didsoasense of his own harsh conduct towards the daughter of hisenemynaturally induced himas if by way of recompensetoinvest herwith more of grace and beauty than perhaps she couldactuallyclaim.

Had anyone at this period told the Master of Ravenswood that hehad solately vowed vengeance against the whole lineage of himwhom heconsiderednot unjustlyas author of hisfather'sruin and deathhe might at first have repelled thecharge asa foul calumny; yetupon serious self-examinationhewould havebeen compelled to admit that it hadat one periodsomefoundation in truththoughaccording to the present toneof hissentimentsit was difficult to believe that this hadreallybeen the case.

Therealready existed in his bosom two contradictorypassions--adesire to revenge the death of his fatherstrangelyqualifiedby admiration of his enemy's daughter.  Against theformerfeeling he had struggleduntil it seemed to him upon thewane;against the latter he used no means of resistancefor hedid notsuspect its existence.  That this was actually the casewaschiefly evinced by his resuming his resolution to leaveScotland. Yetthough such was his purposehe remained dayafter dayat Wolf's Cragwithout taking measures for carrying itintoexecution.  It is truethat he had written to one or twokinsmenwho resided in a distant quarter of Scotlandandparticularlyto the Marquis of A----intimating his purpose; andwhenpressed upon the subject by Bucklawhe was wont to allegethenecessity of waiting for their replyespecially that of theMarquisbefore taking so decisive a measure.

TheMarquis was rich and powerful; and although he was suspectedtoentertain sentiments unfavourable to the governmentestablishedat the Revolutionhe had nevertheless address enoughto head aparty in the Scottish privy councilconnected with theHighChurch faction in Englandand powerful enough to menacethose towhom the Lord Keeper adhered with a probable subversionof theirpower.  The consulting with a personage of suchimportancewas a plausible excisewhich Ravenswood used toBucklawand probably to himselffor continuing his residence atWolf'sCrag; and it was rendered yet more so by a general reportwhichbegan to be current of a probable change of ministers andmeasuresin the Scottish administration.  The rumoursstronglyassertedby someand as resolutely denied by othersas theirwishes orinterest dictatedfound their way even to the ruinousTower ofWolf's Cragchiefly through the medium of Calebthebutlerwhoamong his other excellenceswas an ardentpoliticianand seldom made an excursion from the old fortress totheneighbouring village of Wolf's Hope without bringing backwhattidings were current in the vicinity.

But ifBucklaw could not offer any satisfactory objections tothe delayof the Master in leaving Scotlandhe did not the lesssufferwith impatience the state of inaction to which itconfinedhim; and it was only the ascendency which his newcompanionhad acquired over him that induced him to submit to acourse oflife so alien to his habits and inclinations.

"Youwere wont to be thought a stirring active young fellowMaster"was his frequent remonstrance; "yet here you seemdeterminedto live on and on like a rat in a holewith thistriflingdifferencethat the wiser vermin chooses a hermitagewhere hecan find food at least; but as for usCaleb's excusesbecomelonger as his diet turns more spareand I fear we shallrealisethe stories they tell of the slother: we have almost eatup thelast green leaf on the plantand have nothing left for itbut todrop from the tree and break our necks."

"Donot fear it" said Ravenswood; "there is a fate watches forusand wetoo have a stake in the revolution that is nowimpendingand which already has alarmed many a bosom."

"Whatfate--what revolution?" inquired his compation.  "Wehavehad onerevolution too much alreadyI think."

Ravenswoodinterrupted him by putting into his hands a letter.

"Oh"answered Bucklaw"my dream's out.  I thought I heardCaleb thismorning pressing some unfortunate fellow to a drink ofcoldwaterand assuring him it was better for his stomach inthemorning than ale or brandy."

"Itwas my Lord of A----'s courier" said Ravenswood"who wasdoomed toexperience his ostentatious hospitalitywhich Ibelieveended in sour beer and herrings.  Readand you will seethe newshe has brought us.""Iwill as fast as I can" said Bucklaw; "but I am no greatclerknordoes his lordship seem to be the first of scribes."

The readerwill peruse ina few secondsby the aid our friendBallantyne'stypeswhat took Bucklaw a good half hour inperusalthough assisted by the Master of Ravenswood.  The tenorwas asfollows:

"RIGHTHONOURABLE OUR COUSIN:"Ourhearty commendations premisedthese come to assure you oftheinterest which we take in your welfareand in your purposetowardsits augmentation.   If we have been less active inshowingforth our effective good-will towards you thanas alovingkinsman and blood-relativewe would willingly havedesiredwe request that you will impute it to lack foopportunityto show our good-likingnot to any coldness of ourwill. Touching your resolution to travel in foreign partsas atthis timewe hold the same little advisablein respect that yourill-willersmayaccording to the custom of such personsimputemotivesfor your journeywhereofalthough we know and believeyou to beas clear as ourselvesyet natheless their words mayfindcredence in places where the belief in them may muchprejudiceyouand which we should see with more unwillingnessanddispleasure than with means of remedy

"Havingthusas becometh our kindredgiven you our poor mindon thesubject of your journeying forth of Scotlandwe wouldwillinglyadd reasons of weightwhich might materiallyadvantageyou and your father's housethereby to determine youto abideat Wolf's Craguntil this harvest season shall bepassedover.  But what sayeth the proverbverbum sapienti--aword ismore to him that hath wisdom than a sermon to a fool.And albeitwe have written this poor scroll with our own handand arewell assured of the fidelity of our messengeras himthat ismany ways bounden to usyet so it isthat sliddery wayscrave warywalkingand that we may not peril upon paper matterswhich wewould gladly impart to you by word of mouth.  Whereforeit was ourpurpose to have prayed you heartily to come to thisour barrenHighland country to kill a stagand to treat of thematterswhich we are now more painfully inditing to you anent.Butcommodity does not serve at present for such our meetingwhichthereforeshall be deferred until sic time as we may inall mirthrehearse those things whereof we now keep silence.Meantimewe pray you to think that we areand will still beyour goodkinsman and well-wisherwaiting but for times ofwhilk wedoas it wereentertain a twilight prospectandappear andhope to be also your effectual well-doer.  And inwhich hopewe heartily write ourself

"RightHonourable"Yourloving cousin"A----."Givenfrom our poor house of B----" etc.

Superscribed--"Forthe right honourableand our honouredkinsmanthe Master of Ravenswood--Thesewith hastehasteposthaste--rideand run until these be delivered."

"Whatthink you of this epistleBucklaw?" said the Masterwhenhiscompanion had hammered out all the senseand almost all thewords ofwhich it consisted.

"Trulythat the Marquis's meaning is as great a riddle as hismanuscript. He is really in much need of Wit's Interpreterorthe*Complete Letter-Writer*and were I youI would send him acopy bythe bearer.  He writes you very kindly to remain wastingyour timeand your money in this vilestupidoppressed countrywithout somuch as offering you the countenance and shelter ofhishouse.  In my opinionhe has some scheme in view in which hesupposesyou can be usefuland he wishes to keep you at handtomake useof you when it ripensreserving the power of turningyouadriftshould his plot fail in the concoction."

"Hisplot!  Then you suppose it is a treasonable business"answeredRavenswood.

"Whatelse can it be?"  replied Bucklaw; "the Marquis hasbeenlongsuspected to have an eye to Saint Germains."

"Heshould not engage me rashly in such an adventure" saidRavenswood;"when I recollect the times of the first and secondCharlesand of the last Jamestruly I see little reason thatas a manor a patriotI should draw my sword for theirdescendants."

"Humph!"replied Bucklaw; "so you have set yourself down tomourn overthe crop-eared dogs whom honest Claver'se treated astheydeserved?"

"Theyfirst gave the dogs an ill nameand then hanged them"repliedRavenswood.  "I hope to see the day when justice shall beopen toWhig and Toryand when these nicknames shall only beused amongcoffee-house politiciansas 'slut' and 'jade' areamongapple-womenas cant terms of idle spite and rancour."

"Thatwill nto be in our daysMaster: the iron has entered toodeeplyinto our sides and our souls."

"Itwill behoweverone day" replied the Master; "men willnot alwaysstart at these nicknames as at a trumpet-sound.  Associallife is better protectedits comforts will become toodear to behazarded without some better reasons than speculativepolitics."

"Itis fine talking" answered Bucklaw; "but my heart is withthe oldsong--

To seegood corn upon the rigsAnd agallow built to hang the WhigsAnd theright restored where the right should be.Ohthatis the thing that would wanton me."

"Youmay sing as loudly as you willcantabit vacuus----"answeredthe Master; "but I believe the Marquis is too wiseatleast toowaryto join you in such a burden.  I suspect healludes toa revolution in the Scottish privy councilratherthan inthe British kingdoms."

"Ohconfusion to your state tricks!" exclaimed Bucklaw--"yourcoldcalculating manoeuvreswhich old gentlemen in wroughtnightcapsand furred gowns execute like so many games at chessanddisplace a treasurer or lord commissioner as they would takea rook ora pawn.  Tennis for my sportand battle for myearnest! And youMasterso dep and considerate as you wouldseemyouhave that within you makes the blood boil faster thansuits yourpresent hmour of moralising on political truths.  Youare one ofthose wise men who see everything with great composuretill theirblood is upand then--woe to any one who should putthem inmind of their own prudential maxims!""Perhaps"said Ravenswood"you read me more rightly than I canmyself. But to think justly will certainly go some length inhelping meto act so.  But hark!  I hear Caleb tolling thedinner-bell."

"Whichhe always does with the more sonorous grace in proportionto themeagreness of the cheer which he has provided" saidBucklaw;"as if that infernal clang and janglewhich will oneday bringthe belfry down the cliffcould convert a starved heninto a fatcaponand a blade-bone of mutton into a haunch ofvenison."

"Iwish we may be so well off as your worst conjectures surmiseBucklawfrom the extreme solemnity and ceremony with which Calebseems toplace on the table that solitary covered dish."

"UncoverCaleb! uncoverfor Heaven's sake!" said Bucklaw; "letus havewhat you can give us without preface.  Whyit standswellenoughman" he continuedaddressing impatiently theancientbutlerwhowithout replykept shifting the dishuntil hehad at length placed it with mathematical precision inthe verymidst of the table.

"Whathave we got hereCaleb?" inquired the Master in his turn.

"Ahem!sirye suld have known before; but his honour the Lairdof Bucklawis so impatient" answered Calebstill holding thedish withone hand and the cover with the otherwithevidentreluctance to disclose the contents.

"Butwhat is ita God's name--not a pair of clean spursIhopeinthe Border fashion of old times?"

"Ahem!ahem!" reiterated Caleb"your honour is pleased to befacetious;nathelessI might presume to say it was aconvenientfashionand usedas I have heardin an honourableandthriving family.  But touching your present dinnerI judgedthat thisbeing St. Magdalen's [Margaret's] Evewho was a worthyqueen ofScotland in her dayyour honours might judge itdecorousif not altogether to fastyet only to sustain naturewith someslight refectionas ane saulted herring or the like."Anduncovering the dishhe displayed four of the savoury fisheswhich hementionedaddingin a subdued tone"that they were nojustcommon herring neitherbeing every ane meltersand sautedwithuncommon care by the housekeeper (poor Mysie) for hishonour'sespecial use."

"Outupon all apologies!" said the Master"let us eat theherringssince there is nothing better to be had; but I begin tothink withyouBucklawthat we are consuming the last greenleafandthatin spite of the Marquis's political machinationswe mustpositively shift camp for want of foragewithout waitingthe issueof them."

 

CHAPTERIX.

Ayandwhen huntsmen wind the merry hornAndfrom its covert starts the fearful preyWhowarm'd with youth's blood in his swelling veinsWouldlike a lifeless clodoutstretched lieShutout from all the fair creation offers?

EthwaldAct I. Scene 1.

 

LIGHTmeals procure light slumbers; and therefore it is notsurprisingthatconsidering the fare which Caleb's conscienceor hisnecessityassumingas will sometimes happenthatdisguisehad assigned to the guests of Wolf's Cragtheirslumbersshould have been short.

In themorning Bucklaw rushed into his host's apartment with aloudhalloowhich might have awaked the dead.

"Up!up! in the name of Heaven!  The hunters are outthe onlypiece ofsport I have seen this month; and you lie hereMasteron a bedthat has little to recommend itexcept that it may besomethingsofter than the stone floor of your ancestor's vault."

"Iwish" said Ravenswoodraising his head peevishly"youhadforborneso early a jestMr. Hayston; it is really no pleasureto losethe very short repose which I had just begun to enjoyafter anight spent in thoughts upon fortune far harder than mycouchBucklaw."

"Pschawpshaw!" replied his guest; "get up--get up; the houndsareabroad.   I have saddled the horses myselffor old Calebwascallingfor grooms and lackeysand would never have proceededwithouttwo hours' apology for the absence of men that were ahundredmiles off.  Get upMaster; I say the hounds are out--getupI say;the hunt is up."  And off ran Bucklaw.

"AndI say" said the Masterrising slowly"that nothing canconcern meless.  Whose hounds come so near to us?"

"TheHonourable Lord Brittlebrains's" answered Calebwho hadfollowedthe impatient Laird of Bucklaw into his master'sbedroom"and truly I ken nae title they have to be yowling andhowlingwithin the freedoms and immunities of your lordship'sright offree forestry."

"NorICaleb" replied Ravenswood"excepting that they haveboughtboth the lands and the right of forestryand may thinkthemselvesentitled to exercise the rights they have paid theirmoneyfor."

"Itmay be saemy lord" replied Caleb; "but it's nogentleman'sdeed of them to come here and exercise such-likerightandyour lordship living at your ain castle of Wolf'sCrag. Lord Brittlebrains would weel to remember what his folkhavebeen."

"Andwhat we now are" said the Masterwith suppressedbitternessof feeling.  "But reach me my cloakCaleband I willindulgeBucklaw with a sight of this chase.  It is selfish tosacrificemy guest's pleasure to my own."

"Sacrifice!"echoed Calebin a tone which seemed to imply thetotalabsurdity of his master making the least concession indeferenceto any one--"sacrificeindeed!--but I crave yourhonour'spardonand whilk doublet is it your pleasure to wear?"

"Anyone you willCaleb; my wardrobeI supposeis not veryextensive."

"Notextensive!" echoed his assistant; "when there is the greyand silverthat your lordship bestowed on Hew Hildebrandyouroutrider;and the French velvet that went with my lord yourfather--begracious to him!--my lord your father's auld wardrobeto thepuir friends of the family; and the drap-de-Berry----"

"WhichI gave to youCaleband whichI supposeis the onlydress wehave any chance to come atexcept that I woreyesterday;prayhand me thatand say no more about it."

"Ifyour honour has a fancy" replied Caleb"and doubtlessit'sasad-coloured suitand you are in mourning; neverthelessIhave nevertried on the drap-de-Berry--ill wad it become me--and yourhonour having no change of claiths at this present--andit's weelbrushedand as there are leddies down yonder----"

"Ladies!"said Ravenswood; "and what ladiespray?"

"Whatdo I kenyour lordship?  Looking down at them from theWarden'sTowerI could but see them glent by wi' their bridlesringingand their feathers flutteringlike the court ofElfland."

"WellwellCaleb" replied the Master"help me on with mycloakandhand me my sword-belt.  What clatter is that in thecourtyard?"

"JustBucklaw bringing out the horses" said Calebafter aglancethrough the window"as if there werena men eneugh in thecastleoras if I couldna serve the turn of ony o' them that areout o' thegate."

"Alas!Calebwe should want little if your ability were equalto yourwill" replied the Master.

"AndI hope your lordship disna want that muckle" said Caleb;"forconsidering a' thingsI trust we support the credit ofthe familyas weel as things will permit of--only Bucklaw is ayesae frankand sae forward.  And there he has brought out yourlordship'spalfreywithout the saddle being decored wi' thebroideredsumpter-cloth! and I could have brushed it in aminute."

"Itis all very well" said his masterescaping from him anddescendingthe narrow and steep winding staircase which led tothecourtyard.

"ItMAY be a' very weel" said Calebsomewhat peevishly; "butif yourlordship wad tarry a bitI will tell you what willNOT bevery weel."

"Andwhat is that?" said Ravenswoodimpatientlybut stoppingat thesame time.

"Whyjust that ye suld speer ony gentleman hame to dinner; forI cannamak anither fast on a feast dayas when I cam owerBucklawwi' Queen Margaret; andto speak truthif yourlordshipwad but please to cast yoursell in the way of dining wi'LordBittlebrainsI'se warrand I wad cast about brawly for themorn; orifstead o' thatye wad but dine wi' them at thechange-houseye might mak your shift for the awing: ye might sayye hadforgot your purseor that the carline awed ye rentandthat yewad allow it in the settlement."

"Orany other lie that cam uppermostI suppose?" said hismaster. "Good-byeCaleb; I commend your care for the honour ofthefamily."  Andthrowing himself on his horsehe followedBucklawwhoat the manifest risk of his neckhad begun togallopdown the steep path which led from the Tower as soon as hesawRavenswood have his foot in the stirrup.

CalebBalderstone looked anxiously after themand shook histhin greylocks: "And I trust they will come to no evil; but theyhavereached the plainand folk cannot say but that the horseare heartyand in spirits."Animatedby the natural impetuosity and fire of his temperyoungBucklaw rushed on with the careless speed of a whirlwind.Ravenswoodwas scarce more moderate in his pacefor his was amindunwillingly roused from contemplative inactivitybut whichwhen onceput into motionacquired a spirit of forcible andviolentprogression.   Neither was his eagerness proportioned inall casesto the motive of impulsebut might be compared to thesped of astonewhich rushes with like fury down the hillwhether itwas first put in motion by the arm of a giant or thehand of aboy.  He feltthereforein no ordinary degreetheheadlongimpulse of the chasea pastime so natural to youth ofall ranksthat it seems rather to be an inherent passion in ouranimalnaturewhich levels all differences of rank andeducationthan an acquired habit of rapid exercise.

Therepeated bursts of the French hornwhich was then alwaysused forthe encouragement and direction of the hounds; the deepthoughdistant baying of the pack; the half-heard cries of thehuntsmen;the half-seen forms which were discoverednowemergingfrom glens which crossed the moornow sweeping over itssurfacenow picking their way where it was impeded by morasses;andaboveallthe feeling of his own rapid motionanimated theMaster ofRavenswoodat last for the momentabove therecollections of a more painful nature by which he wassurrounded. The first thing which recalled him to thoseunpleasingcircumstances was feeling that his horsenotwithstandingall the advantages which he received from hisrider'sknowledge of the countrywas unable to keep up with thechase. As he drew his bridle up with the bittle feeling that hispovertyexcluded him from the favourite recreation of hisforefathersand indeed their sole employmet when not engaged inmilitarypursuitshe was accosted by a well-mounted strangerwhounobservedhad kept near him during the earlier part of hiscareer.

"Yourhorse is blown" said the manwith a complaisance seldomused in ahunting-field.  "Might I crave your honour to make useof mine?"

"Sir"said Ravenswoodmore surprised than pleased at such aproposal. "I really do not know how I have merited such afavour ata stranger's hands."

"Neverask a question about itMaster" said Bucklawwhowithgreatunwillingnesshad hitherto reined in his own gallantsteednotto outride his host and entertainer.  "Take the goodsthe godsprovide youas the great John Dryden says; or stay--heremyfriendlend me that horse; I see you have been puzzledto reinhim up this half-hour.   I'll take the devil out of himfor you. NowMasterdo you ride minewhich will carry youlike aneagle."

Andthrowing the rein of his own horse to the Master ofRavenswoodhe sprung upon that which the stranger resigned tohimandcontinued his career at full speed."Wasever so thoughtless a being!" said the Master; "and youmyfriendhow could you trust him with your horse?"

"Thehorse" said the man"belongs to a person who will makeyourhonouror any of your honourable friendsmost welcome tohimfleshand fell."

"Andthe owner's name is----?" asked Ravenswood.

"Yourhonour must excuse meyou will learn that from himself.If youplease to take your friend's horseand leave me yourgallowayI will meet you after the fall of the stagfor I hearthey areblowing him at bay."

"Ibelievemy friendit will be the best way to recover yourgood horsefor you" answered Ravenswood; and mounting  the nagof hisfriend Bucklawhe made all the haste in his power to thespot wherethe blast of the horn announced that the stag'scareer wasnearly terminated.

Thesejovial sounds were intermixed with the huntsmen's shoutsof "Hykea Talbot!  Hyke a Teviot!  nowboysnow!" andsimilarcheeringhalloos of the olden hunting-fieldto which theimpatientyelling of the houndsnow close of the object of theirpursuitgave a lively and unremitting chorus.  The stragglingridersbegan now to rally towards the scene of actioncollectingfrom different points as to a common centre.

Bucklawkept the start which he had gottenand arrived first atthe spotwhere the stagincapable of sustaining a moreprolongedflighthad turned upon the houndsandin thehunter'sphrasewas at bay.  With his stately head bent downhis sideswhite with foamhis eyes strained betwixt rage andterrorthe hunted animal had now in his turn become an object ofintimidationto his pursuers.  The hunters came up one by oneandwatched an opportunity to assail him with some advantagewhichinsuch circumstancescan only be done with caution.  Thedogs stoodaloof and bayed loudlyintimating at once eagernessand fearand each of the sportsmen seemed to expect that hiscomradewould take upon him the perilous task of assaulting anddisablingthe animal.  The groundwhich was a hollow in thecommon ormoorafforded little advantage for approaching thestagunobserved; and general was the shout of triumph whenBucklawwith the dexterity proper to an accomplished cavalier ofthe daysprang from his horseand dashing suddenly and swiftlyat thestagbrought him to the ground by a cut on the hind legwith hisshort hunting-sword.  The packrushing in upon theirdisabledenemysoon ended his painful strugglesand solemnisedhis fallwith their clamour; the hunterswith their horns andvoiceswhooping and blowing a mortor death-notewhichresoundedfar over the billows of the adjacent ocean.

Thehuntsman then withdrew the hounds from the throttled stagand on hisknee presented his knife to a fair female formon awhitepalfreywhose terroror perhaps her compassionhad tillthen kepther at some distance.  She wore a black silk riding-maskwhich was then a common fashionas well forpreservingthe complexion from the sun and rainas from an ideaofdecorumwhich did not permit a lady to appear barefaced whileengaged ina boisterous sportand attended by a promiscuouscompany. The richness of her dresshoweveras well as themettle andform of her palfreytogether with the silvancomplimentpaid to her by the huntsmanpointed her out toBucklaw asthe principal person in the field.  It was not withouta feelingof pityapproaching even to contemptthat thisenthusiastichunter observed her refuse the huntsman's knifepresentedto her for the purpose of making the first incision inthe stag'sbreastand thereby discovering the venison.  He feltmore thanhalf inclined to pay his compliments to her; but it hadbeenBucklaw's misfortunethat his habits of life had notrenderedhim familiarly acquainted with the higher and betterclasses offemale societyso thatwith all his naturalaudacityhe felt sheepish and bashful when it became necessaryto addressa lady of distinction.

Takingunto himself heart of grace (to use his own phrase)hedid atlength summon up resolution enough to give the fairhuntressgood time of the dayand trust that her sport hadansweredher expectation.  Her answer was very courteously andmodestlyexpressedand testified some gratitude to the gallantcavalierwhose exploit had terminated the chase so adroitlywhen thehounds and huntsmen seemed somewhat at a stand.

"Udsdaggers and scabbardmadam" said Bucklawwhom thisobservationbrought at once upon his own ground"there is nodifficultyor merit in that matter at allso that a fellow isnot toomuch afraid of having a pair of antlers in his guts.  Ihavehunted at force five hundred timesmadam; and I never yetsaw thestag at bayby land or waterbut I durst have goneroundly inon him.  It is all use and wontmadam; and I'll tellyoumadamfor all thatit must be done with good heed andcaution;and you will do wellmadamto have your hunting-swordrightsharp and double-edgedthat you may strike either fore-handed orback-handedas you see reasonfor a hurt with abuck'shorn is a perilous ad somewhat venomous matter."

"I amafraidsir" said the young ladyand her smile wasscarceconcealed by her vizard"I shall have little use for suchcarefulpreparation."

"Butthe gentleman says very right for all thatmy lady" saidan oldhuntsmanwho had listened to Bucklaw's harangue with nosmalledification; "and I have heard my father saywho was aforesterat the Cabrachthat a wild boar's gaunch is more easilyhealedthan a hurt from the deer's hornfor so says the oldwoodman'srhyme--

If thou behurt with horn of hartit brings thee to they bier;

But tuskof boar shall leeches healthereof have lesser fear."

 

"An Imight advise" continued Bucklawwho was now in hiselementand desirous of assuming the whole management"as thehounds aresurbated and wearythe head of the stag should becabaged inorder to reward them; and if I may presume to speakthehuntsmanwho is to break up the stagought to drink to yourgoodladyship's health a good lusty bicker of aleor a tass ofbrandy;for if he breaks him up without drinkingthe venisonwill notkeep well."

This veryagreeable prescription receivedas will be readilybelievedall acceptation from the huntsmanwhoin requitaloffered tobucklaw the compliment of his knifewhich the younglady haddeclined.

Thispolite proffer was seconded by his mistress.  "I believesir"she saidwithdrawing herself from the circle"that myfatherfor whose amusement Lord Bittlebrain's hounds have beenoutto-daywill readily surrender all care of these matters to agentlemanof your experience."

Thenbending gracefully from her horseshe wished him goodmorningandattended by one or two domesticswho seemedimmediatelyattached to her serviceretired from the scene ofactiontowhich Bucklawtoo much delighted with an opportunityofdisplaying his woodcraft to care about man or woman eitherpaidlittle attention; but was soon stript to his doubletwithtucked-upsleevesand naked arms up to the elbows in blood andgreaseslashingcuttinghackingand hewingwith theprecisionof Sir Tristrem himselfand wrangling and disputingwith allaround him concerning nomblesbrisketsflankardsandraven-bonesthen usual terms of the art of huntingor ofbutcherywhichever the reader chooses to call itwhich are nowprobablyantiquated.

WhenRavenswoodwho followed a short pace behind his friendsaw thatthe stag had fallenhis temporary ardour for the chasegave wayto that feeling of reluctance which he endured atencounteringin his fallen fortunes the gaze whether of equalsorinferiors.  He reined up his horse on the top of a gentleeminencefrom which he observed the busy and gay scene beneathhimandheard the whoops of the huntsmengaily mingled with thecry of thedogsand the neighing and trampling of the horses.But thesejovial sounds fell sadly on the ear of the ruinednobleman. The chasewith all its train of excitationshas eversincefeudal times been accounted the almost exclusive privilegeof thearistocracyand was anciently their chief employment intimes ofpeace.  The sense that he was excluded by his situationfromemjoying the silvan sportwhich his rank assigned to him asa specialprerogativeand the feeling that new men were nowexercisingit over the downs which had been jealously reserved byhisancestors for their own amusementwhile hethe heir of thedomainwas fain to hold himself at a distance from their partyawakenedreflections calculated to depress deeply a mind likeRavenswood'swhich was naturally contemplative and melancholy.His pridehoweversoon shook off this feeling of dejectionandit gaveway to impatience upon finding that his volatile friendBucklawseemed in no hurry to return with his borrowed steedwhichRavenswoodbefore leaving the fieldwished to seerestoredto the obliging owner.  As he was about to move towardsthe groupof assembled huntsmenhe was joined by a horsemanwholikehimselfhad kept aloof during the fall of the deer.

Thispersonage seemed stricken in years.  He wore a scarletcloakbuttoning high upon his faceand his hat was unlooped andslouchedprobably by way of defence against the weather.  Hishorseastrong and steady palfreywas calculated for a riderwhoproposed to witness the sport of the day rather than to shareit. An attendant waited at some distanceand the wholeequipmentwas that of an elderly gentleman of rank and fashion.Heaccosted Ravenswood very politelybut not without someembarrassment.

"Youseem a gallant young gentlemansir" he said"and yetappear asindifferent to this brave sport as if you had my loadof yearson your shoulders."

"Ihave followed the sport with more spirit on other occasions"repliedthe Master; "at presentlate events in my family must bemyapology; and besides" he added"I was but indifferentlymounted atthe beginning of the sport."

"Ithink" said the stranger"one of my attendants had thesense toaccommodate your friend with a horse."

"Iwas much indebted to his politeness and yours" repliedRavenswood. "My friend is Mr. Hayston of Bucklawwhom I daresay youwill be sure to find in the thick of the keeestsportsmen. He will return your servant's horseand take my ponyinexchange; and will add" he concludedturning his horse'shead fromthe stranger"his best acknowledgments to mine for theaccommodation."

The Masterof Ravenswoodhaving thus expressed himselfbeganto movehomewardwith the manner of one who has taken leave ofhiscompany.  But the stranger was not so to be shaken off.  Heturned hishorse at the same timeand rode in the samedirectionso near to the Master thatwithout outriding himwhich theformal civility of the timeand the respect due to thestranger'sage and recent civilitywould have rendered improperhe couldnot easily escape from his company.

Thestranger did not long remain silent.  "Thisthen" hesaid"isthe ancient Castle of Wolf's Cragoften mentioned in theScottishrecods" looking to the old towerthen darkening undertheinfluence of a stormy cloudthat formed itsbackground;for at the distance of a short milethe chasehavingbeen circuitoushad brought the hunters nearly back tothe pointwhich they had attained when Ravenswood and Bucklaw hadsetforward to join them.

Ravenswoodanswered this observation with a cold and distantassent."Itwasas I have heard" continued the strangerunabashed byhiscoldness"one of the most early possessions of thehonourablefamily of Ravenswood."

"Theirearliest possession" answered the Master"and probablytheirlatest."

"I--I--Ishould hope notsir" answered the strangerclearinghis voicewith more than one coughand making an effort toovercome acertain degree of hesitation; "Scotland knows whatshe owesto this ancient familyand remembers their frequent andhonourableachievements.  I have little doubt thatwere itproperlyrepresented to her Majesty that so ancient and noble afamilywere subjected to dilapidation--I mean to decay--meansmight befoundad re-aedificandum antiquam domum----"

"Iwill save you the troublesirof discussing this pointfarther"interrupted the Masterhaughtily.  "I am the heir ofthatunfortunate house--I am the Master of Ravenswood.  And yousirwhoseem to be a gentleman of fashion and educationmust besensiblethat the next mortification after being unhappy is thebeingloaded with undesired commiseration."

"Ibeg your pardonsir" said the elder horseman; "I did notknow--I amsensible I ought not to have mentioned--nothing couldbe fartherfrom my thoughts than to suppose----"

"Thereare no apologies necessarysir" answeredRavenswood"for hereI supposeour roads separateand Iassure youthat we part in perfect equanimity on my side."

Asspeaking these wordshe directed his horse's head towards anarrowcausewaythe ancient approach to Wolf's Cragof which itmight betruly saidin the words of the Bard of Hopethat

Frequentedby few was the grass-cover'd roadWhere thehunter of deer and the warrior trodeTo hishills that encircle the sea.

Buterehe could disengage himself from his companionthe younglady wehave already mentioned came up to join the strangerfollowedby her servants.

"Daughter"said the stranger to the unmasked damsel"this isthe Masterof Ravenswood."

It wouldhave been natural that the gentleman should havereplied tothis introduction; but there was something in thegracefulform and retiring modesty of the female to whom he wasthuspresentedwhich not only prevented him from inquiring towhomandby whomthe annunciation had been madebut which evenfor thetime struck him absolutely mute.  At this moment thecloudwhich had long lowered above the height on which Wolf'sCrag issituatedand which nowas it advancedspread itself indarker anddenser folds both over land and seahiding thedistantobjects and obscuring those which were nearerturningthe sea toa leaden complexion and the heath to a darker brownbegan nowby one or two distant pealsto announce the thunderswith whichit was fraught; while two flashes of lightningfollowingeach other very closelyshowed in the distance thegreyturrets of Wolf's Cragandmore nearlythe rollowingbillows ofthe oceancrested suddenly with red and dazzlinglight.

The horseof the fair huntress showed symptoms of impatience andrestivenessand it became impossible for Ravenswoodas a man oragentlemanto leave her abruptly to the case of an aged fatheror hermenial attendants.  He wasor believed himselfobligedincourtesy to take hold of her bridleand assist her inmanagingthe unruly animal.  While he was thus engagedthe oldgentlemanobserved that the storm seemed to increase; that theywere farfrom Lord Bittlebrains'swhose guests they were for thepresent;and that he would be obliged to the Master of Ravenswoodto pointhim the way to the nearest place of refuge from thestorm. At the same time he cast a wistful and embarrassed looktowardsthe Tower of Wolf's Cragwhich seemed to render italmostimpossible for the owner to avoid offering an old man anda ladyinsuch an emergencythe temporary use of his house.Indeedthe condition of the young huntress made this courtesyindispensable;forin the course of the services which herenderedhe could not but perceive that she trembled muchandwasextremely agitatedfrom her apprehensionsdoubtlessof thecomingstorm.

I know notif the Master of Ravenswood shared her terrorsbuthe was notentirely free from something like a similar disorderof nervesas he observed"The Tower of Wolf's Crag has nothingto offerbeyond the shelter of its roofbut if that can beacceptableat such a moment----" he pausedas if the rest oftheinvitation stuck in his throat.  But the old gentlemanhisself-constitutedcompaniondid not allow him to recede from theinvitationwhich he had rather suffered to be implied thandirectlyexpressed.

"Thestorm" said the stranger"must be an apology for waivingceremony;his daughter's health was weakshe hadsufferedmuch from a recent alarm; he trusted their intrusion onthe Masterof Ravenswood's hospitality would not be altogetherunpardonablein the circumstances of the case: his child's safetymust bedearer to him than ceremony."

There wasno room to retreat.  The Master of Ravenswood led thewaycontinuing to keep hold of the lady's bridle to prevent herhorse fromstarting at some unexpected explosion of thunder.  Hewas not sobewildered in his own hurried reflections but that heremarkedthat the deadly paleness which had occupied her neckandtemplesand such of her features as the riding-mask leftexposedgave place to a deep and rosy suffusion; and he feltwithembarrassment that a flush was by tacit sympathy excited inhis owncheeks.  The strangerwith watchfulness which hedisguisedunder apprehensions of the safety of his daughtercontinuedto observe the expression of the Master's countenanceas theyascended the hill to Wolf's Crag.  When they stood infront ofthat ancient fortressRavenswood's emotions were of averycomplicated description; and as he led the way into the rudecourtyardand hallooed to Caleb to give attendancethere was atone ofsternnessalmost of fiercenesswhich seemed somewhatalien fromthe courtesies of one who is receiving honouredguests.

Calebcame; and not the paleness of the fair stranger at thefirstapproach of the thundernor the paleness of any otherpersoninany other circumstances whateverequalled that whichovercamethe thin cheeks of the disconsolate seneschal when hebeheldthis accession of guests to the castleand reflected thatthe dinnerhour was fast approaching.  "Is he daft?" he mutteredtohimself;--"is he clean daft a'thegitherto bring lords andleddiesand a host of folk behint themand twal o'clockchappit?" Then approaching the Masterhe craved pardon forhavingpermitted the rest of his people to go out to see thehuntobservingthat "They wad never think of his lordshipcomingback till mirk nightand that he dreaded they might playthetruant."

"SilenceBalderstone!" said Ravenswoodsternly; "your folly isunseasonable. Sir and madam" he saidturning to his guests"thisold manand a yet older and more imbecile femaledomesticform my whole retinue.  Our means of refreshing you aremorescanty than even so miserable a retinueand a dwelling sodilapidatedmight seem to promise you; butsuch as they maychance tobeyou may command them."

The elderstrangerstruck with the ruined and even savageappearanceof the Towerrendered still more disconsolate by theloweringand gloomy ksyand perhaps not altogether unmoved bythe graveand determined voice in which their host addressedthemlooked round him anxiouslyas if he half repented thereadinesswith which he had accepted the offered hospitality.But therewas now no opportunity of receding from the situationin whichhe had placed himself.

As forCalebhe was so utterly stunned by his master's publicandunqualified acknowledgment of the nakedness of the landthatfor twominutes he could only mutter within his hebdomadal beardwhich hadnot felt the razor for six days"He's daft--cleandaft--redwudand awa' wit!  But deil hae Caleb Balderstone"said hecollecting his powers of invention and resource"if thefamilyshall lose creditif he were as mad as the seven wisemasters!" He then boldly advancedand in spite of his master'sfrowns andimpatiencegravely asked"If he should not serve upsomeslight refection for the young leddyand a glass of tokayor oldsack--or----"

"Truceto this ill-timed foolery" said the Mastersternly;"putthe horses into the stableand interrupt us no more withyourabsurdities."

"Yourhonour's pleasure is to be obeyed aboon a' things" saidCaleb;"neverthelessas for the sack and tokay which it is notyour nobleguests' pleasure to accept----"

But herethe voice of Bucklawheard even above theclatteringof hoofs and braying of horns with which it mingledannouncedthat he was scaling the pathway to the Tower at thehead ofthe greater part of the gallant hunting train.

"Thedeil be in me" said Calebtaking heart in spite of thisnewinvasion of Philistines"if they shall beat me yet!  Thehellicatne'er-do-weel! to bring such a crew herethat willexpect tofind brandy as plenty as ditch-waterand he kenningsaeabsolutely the case in whilk we stand for the present!  But Itrowcould I get rid of thae gaping gowks of flunkies that haewon intothe courtyard at the back of their bettersas mony aman getsprefermentI could make a' right yet."

Themeasures which he took to execute this dauntlessresolutionthe reader shall learn in the next chapter.

 

CHAPTER X.

Withthroat unslakedwith black lips bakedAgapethey heard him call;Gramercythey for joy did grinAnd allat once their breath drew inAs theyhad been drinking all!

COLERIDGE'SRime of the Ancient Mariner.

 

HAYSTON ofBucklaw was one of the thoughtless class who neverhesitatebetween their friend and their jest.  When it wasannouncedthat the principal persons of the chase had takentheirroute towards Wolf's Cragthe huntsmenas a point ofcivilityoffered to transfer the venison to that mansion; aprofferwhich was readily accepted by Bucklawwho thought muchof theastonishment which their arrival in full body wouldoccasionpoor old Caleb Balderstoneand very little of thedilemma towhich he was about to expose his friend the Mastersoillcircumstanced to receive such a party. But in old Caleb hehad to dowith a crafty and alert antagonistprompt atsupplyingupon all emergenciesevasions and excuses suitableas hethoughtto the dignity of the family.

"Praisebe blest!" said Caleb to himself"ae leaf of the mucklegate hasbeen swung to wi' yestreen's windand I think I canmanage toshut the ither."

But he wasdesirouslike a prudent governorat the same timeto getridif possibleof the internal enemyin which light heconsideredalmost every one who eat and drankere he tookmeasuresto exclude those whom their jocund noise now pronouncedto be nearat hand.  He waitedthereforewith impatience untilhis masterhad shown his two principal guests into the Towerandthencommenced his operations.

"Ithink" he said to the stranger menials"thatas they arebringingthe stag's head to the castle in all honourwewhoareindwellersshould receive them at the gate."

The unwarygrooms had no sooner hurried outin compliance withthisinsidous hintthanone folding-door of the ancient gatebeingalready closed by the windas has been already intimatedhoenstCaleb lost no time in shutting the other with a clangwhichresounded from donjon-vault to battlement.  Having thussecuredthe passhe forthwith indulged the excludedhuntsmenin brief parleyfrom a small projecting windoworshot-holethrough whichin former daysthe warders were wonttoreconnoitre those who presented themselves before the gates.He gavethem to udnerstandin a short and pity speechthat thegate ofthe castle was never on any account opened during meal-times;that his honourthe Master of Ravenswoodand some guestsofqualityhad just sat down to dinner; that there was excellentbrandy atthe hostler-wife's at Wolf's Hope down below; and heheld outsome obscure hint that the reckoning would bedischargedby the Master; but this was uttered in a very dubiousandoracular strainforlike Louis XIV.Caleb Balderstonehesitatedto carry finesse so far as direct falsehoodand wascontent todeceiveif possiblewithout directly lying.

Thisannunciation was received with surprise by somewithlaughterby othersand with dismay by the expelled lackeyswhoendeavouredto demonstrate that their right of readmissionforthepurpose of waiting upon their master and mistresswas atleastindisputable.  But Caleb was not in a humour to understandor admitany distinctions.  He stuck to his original propositionwith thatdogged but convenient pertinacity which is armedagainstall convictionand deaf to all reasoning.  Bucklaw nowcame fromthe rear of the partyand demanded admittance in avery angrytone.  But the resolution of Caleb was immovable.

"Ifthe king on the throne were at the gate" he declared"histenfingers should never open it contrair to the established useand wontof the family of Ravenswoodand his duty as theirhead-servant."

Bucklawwas now extremely incensedand with more oaths andcursesthan we care to repeatdeclared himself most unworthilytreatedand demanded peremptorily to speak with the Master ofRavenswoodhimself.

But tothis also Caleb turned a deaf ear.  "He's as soon a-bleeze asa tap of towthe lad Bucklaw" he said; "but the deilof onymaster's face he shall see till he has sleepit and waken'don't. He'll ken himsell better the morn's morning.  It sets thelike o'himto be bringing a crew of drunken hunters herewhenhe kensthere is but little preparation to sloken his aindrought." And he disappeared from the windowleaving them allto digesttheir exclusion as they best might.

Butanother personof whose presence Calebin theanimationof the debatewas not awarehad listened in silenceto itsprogress.  This was the principal domestic of thestranger--aman of trust and consequence--the same whoin thehunting-fieldhad accommodated Bucklaw with the use of hishorse. He was in the stable when Caleb had contrived theexpulsionof his fellow-servantsand thus avoided sharing thesame fatefrom which his personal importance would certainly nothaveotherwise saved him.

Thispersonage perceived the manoeuvre of Calebeasilyappreciatedthe motive of his conductand knowing his master'sintentionstowards the family of Ravenswoodhad no difficulty asto theline of conduct he ought to adopt.  He took the place ofCaleb(unperceived by the latter) at the post of audience whichhe hadjust leftand announced to the assembled domestics"Thatit was hismaster's pleasure that Lord Bittlebrain's retinue andhis ownshould go down to the adjacent change-house and call forwhatrefreshments they might have occasion forand he shouldtake careto discharge the lawing."

The jollytroop of huntsmen retired from the inhospitable gateof Wolf'sCragexecratingas they descended the steep pathwaytheniggard and unworthy disposition of the proprietoranddamningwith more than silvan licenseboth the castle and itsinhabitants. Bucklawwith many qualities which would have madehim a manof worth and judgment in more favourablecircumstanceshad been so utterly neglected in point ofeducationthat he was apt to think and feel according to theideas ofthe companions of his pleasures.  The praises which hadrecentlybeen heaped upon himself he contrasted with the generalabuse nowlevelled against Ravenswood; he recalled to his mindthe dulland monotonous days he had spent in the Tower of Wolf'sCragcompared with the joviality of his usual life; he felt withgreatindignation his exclusion from the castlewhich heconsideredas a gross affrontand every mingled feeling led himto breakoff the union which he had formed with the Master ofRavenswood.

Onarriving at the change-house of the village of Wolf's Hopeheunexpectedly met with an acquaintance just alighting from hishorse. This was no other than the very respectable CaptainCraigengeltwho immediately came up to himandwithoutappearingto retain any recollection of the indifferent terms onwhich theyhad partedshook him by the hand in the warmestmannerpossible.  A warm grasp of the hand was what Bucklaw couldnever helpreturning with cordialityand no sooner hadCraigengeltfelt the pressure of his fingers than he knew theterms onwhich he stood with him.

"Longlife to youBucklaw!" he exclaimed; "there's life forhonestfolk in this bad world yet!"

TheJacobites at this periodwith what propriety I know notuseditmust be noticedthe term of HONEST MEN as peculiarlydescriptiveof their own party.

"Ayand for others besidesit seems" answered Bucklaw;"otherwayshow came you to venture hithernoble Captain?"

"Who--I? I am as free as the wind at Martinmasthat paysneitherland-rent nor annual; all is explained--all settled withthe honestold drivellers yonder of Auld Reekie.  Pooh! pooh!they darednot keep me a week of days in durance.  A certainperson hasbetter friends among them than you wot ofand canserve afriend when it is least likely."

"Pshaw!"answered Haystonwho perfectly knew and thoroughlydespisedthe character of this man"none of your cogginggibberish;tell me trulyare you at liberty and in safety?"

"Freeand safe as a Whig bailie on the causeway of his ownboroughor a canting Presbyterian minister in his own pulpit;and I cameto tell you that you need not remain in hiding anylonger."

"ThenI suppose you call yourself my friendCaptainCraigengelt?"said Bucklaw.

"Friend!"replied Craigengelt"my cock of the pit! whyI amthy veryAchatesmanas I have heard scholars say--hand andglove--barkand tree--thine to life and death!"

"I'lltry that in a moment" answered Bucklaw.  "Thou artneverwithoutmoneyhowever thou comest by it.  Lend me two pieces towash thedust out of these honest fellows' throats in the firstplaceandthen----"

"Twopieces!  Twenty are at thy servicemy ladand twenty tobackthem."

"Aysay you so?" said Bucklawpausingfor his naturalpenetrationled him to susprect some extraordinary motive laycouchedunder an excess of generosity.  "Craigengeltyou areeither anhonest fellow in right good earnestand I scarce knowhow tobelieve that; or you are cleverer than I took you forandI scarceknow how to believe that either."

"L'unn'empeche pas l'autre" said Craigengelt.  "Touch andtry; thegold is good as ever was weighed."

He put aquantity of gold pieces into Bucklaw's handwhich hethrustinto his pocket without either counting or looking atthemonlyobserving"That he was so circumstanced that he mustenlistthough the devil offered the press-money"; and thenturning tothe huntsmenhe called out"Come alongmy lads; allis at mycost."

"Longlife to Bucklaw!" shouted the men of the chase.

"Andconfusion to him that takes his share of the sportandleaves thehunters as dry as a drumhead" added anotherby wayofcorollary.

"Thehouse of Ravenswood was ance a gude and an honourable housein thisland" said an old man; "but it's lost its credit thisdayandthe Master has shown himself no better than a greedycullion."

And withthis conclusionwhich was unanimously agreed to by allwho hearditthey rushed tumultuously into the house ofentertainmentwhere they revelled till a late hour.  The jovialtemper ofBucklaw seldom permitted him to be nice in the choiceof hisassociates; and on the present occasionwhen his joyousdebauchreceived additional zest from the intervention of anunusualspace of sobrietyand almost abstinencehe was as happyin leadingthe revels as if his comrades had been sons ofprinces. Craigengelt had his own purposes in fooling him up tothe top ofhis bent; and having some low humourmuch impudenceand thepower of singing a good songunderstanding besidesthoroughlythe disposition of his regained associatehe headilysucceededin involving him bumper-deep in the festivity of themeeting.

 

A verydifferent scene was in the mean time passing in the Towerof Wolf'sCrag.  When the Master of Ravenswood left thecourtyardtoo much busied with his own perplexed reflections topayattention to the manoeuvre of Calebhe ushered his guestsinto thegreat hall of the castle.

Theindefatigable Balderstonewhofrom choice or habitworkedon frommorning to nighthad by degrees cleared this desolateapartmentof the confused relics of the funeral banquetandrestoredit to some order.  But not all his skill and labourindisposingto advantage the little furniture which remainedcouldremove the dark and disconsolate appearance of thoseancientand disfurnished walls.  The narrow windowsflanked bydeepindentures into the wallsseemed formed rather to excludethan toadmit the cheerful light; and the heavy and gloomyappearanceof the thunder-sky added still farther to theobscurity.

AsRavenswoodwith the grace of a gallant of that periodbutnotwithout a certain stiffness and embarrassment of mannerhanded theyoung lady to the upper end of the apartmentherfatherremained standing more near to the dooras if about todisengagehimself from his hat and cloak.  At this moment theclang ofthe portal was hearda sound at which the strangerstartedstepped hastily to the windowand looked with an air ofalarm atRavenswoodwhen he saw that the gate of the court wasshutandhis domestics excluded.

"Youhave nothing to fearsir" said Ravenswoodgravely; "thisroofretains the means of giving protectionthough not welcome.Methinks"he added"it is time that I should know who they arethat havethus highly honoured my ruined dwelling!"The younglady remained silent and motionlessand the fatherto whomthe question was more directly addressedseemed in thesituationof a performer who has ventured to take upon himself apart whichhe finds himself unable to presentand who comes to apause whenit is most to be expected that he should speak. Whileheendeavoured to cover his embarrassent with the exteriorceremonialsof a well-bred demeanourit was obvious thatinmaking hisbowone foot shuffled forwardas if to advancetheotherbackwardas if with the purpose of escape; and as he undidthe capeof his coatand raised his beaver from his facehisfingersfumbled as if the one had been linked with rusted ironor theother had weighed equal with a stone of lead.  Thedarknessof the sky seemed to increaseas if to supply the wantof thosemufflings which he laid aside with such evidentreluctance. The impatience of Ravenswood increased also inproportionto the delay of the strangerand he appeared tostruggleunderagitationthough probably from a very different cause.  Helabouredto restrain his desire to speakwhile the strangertoallappearancewas at a loss for words to express what he feltnecessaryto say.

At lengthRavenswood's impatience broke the bounds he hadimposedupon it.  "I perceive" he said"that SirWilliam Ashtonisunwilling to announced himself in the Castle of Wolf's Crag."

"Ihad hoped it was unnecessary" said the Lord Keeperrelievedfrom hissilenceas a spectre by the voice of the exorcist"andI amobliged to youMaster of Ravenswoodfor breaking the iceat oncewhere circumstances--unhappycircumstanceslet me call them--rendered self-introductionpeculiarlyawkward."

"AndI am not then" said the Master of Ravenswoodgravely"toconsiderthe honour of this visit as purely accidental?"

"Letus distinguish a little" said the Keeperassuming anappearanceof ease which perhaps his heart was a stranger to;"thisis an honour which I have eagerly desired for some timebut whichI might never have obtainedsave for the accident ofthestorm.  My daughter and I are alike grateful for thisopportunityof thanking the brave man to whom she owes her lifeand Imine."

The hatredwhich divided the great families in the feudal timeshad lostlittle of its bitternessthough it no longer expresseditself indeeds of open violence.  Not the feelings whichRavenswoodhad begun to entertain towards Lucy Ashtonnot thehospitalitydue to his guestswere able entirely to subduethoughthey warmly combatedthe deep passions which arose withinhim atbeholding his father's foe standing in the hall of thefamily ofwhich he had in a great measure accelerated the ruin.His looksglanced from the father to the daughter with anirresolutionof which Sir William Ashton did not think it properto awaitthe conclusion.  He had now disembarrassed himself ofhisriding-dressand walking up to his daughterhe undid thefasteningof her mask.

"Lucymy love" he saidraising her and leading her towardsRavenswood"lay aside your maskand let us express ourgratitudeto the Master openly and barefaced."

"Ifhe will condescend to accept it" was all that Lucy uttered;but in atone so sweetly modulatedand which seemed to imply atonce afeeling and a forgiving of the cold reception to whichthey wereexposedthatcoming from a creature so innocentand sobeautifulher words cut Ravenswood to the very heart forhisharshness.  He muttered something of surprisesomething ofconfusionandending with a warm and eager expression of hishappinessat being able to afford her shelter under his roofhesalutedheras the ceremonial of the time enjoined upon suchoccasions. Their cheeks had touched and were withdrawn from eachother;Ravenswood had not quitted the hand which he had taken inkindlycourtesy; a blushwhich attached more consequence by farthan wasusual to such ceremonystill mantled on Lucy Ashton'sbeautifulcheekwhen the apartment was suddenly illuminated by aflash oflightningwhich seemed absolutely to swallow thedarknessof the hall.  Every object might have been for aninstantseen distinctly.  The slight and half-sinking form ofLucyAshton; the well-proportioned and stately figure ofRavenswoodhis dark featuresand the fiery yet irresoluteexpressionof his eyes; the old arms and scutcheons which hung onthe wallsof the apartmentwere for an instant distinctlyvisible tothe Keeper by a strong red brilliant glare of light.Itsdisappearance was almost instantly followed by a burst ofthunderfor the storm-cloud was very near the castle; and thepeal wasso sudden and dreadfulthat the old tower rocked to itsfoundationand every inmate concluded it was falling upon them.The sootwhich had not been disturbed for centuriesshowereddown thehuge tunnelled chimneys; lime and dust flew in cloudsfrom thewall; andwhether the lightning had actually struck thecastle orwhether through the violent concussion of the airseveralheavy stones were hurled from the mouldering battlementsinto theroaring sea beneath.  It might seem as if the ancientfounder ofthe castle were bestriding the thunderstormandproclaiminghis displeasure at the reconciliation of hisdescendantwith the enemy of his house.

Theconsternation was generaland it required the efforts ofboth theLord Keeper and Ravenswood to keep Lucy fromfainting. Thus was the Master a second time engaged in the mostdelicateand dangerous of all tasksthat of affording supportandassistance to a beautiful and helpless beingwhoas seenbefore ina similar situationhad already become a favourite ofhisimaginationboth when awake and when slumbering.  If thegenius ofthe house really condemned a union betwixt the Masterand hisfair guestthe means by which he expressed hissentimentswere as unhappily chosen as if he had been a meremortal. The train of little attentionsabsolutely necessary tosoothe theyoung lady's mindand aid her in composing herspiritsnecessarily threw the Master of Ravenswood into such anintercoursewith her father as was calculatedfor the moment atleasttobreak down the barrier of feudal enemity which dividedthem. To express himself churlishlyor even coldlytowardsanold manwhose daughter (and SUCH a daughter) lay before themoverpoweredwith natural terror--and all this under his own roofthe thingwas impossible; and by the time that Lucyextending ahand toeachwas able to thank them for their kindnesstheMasterfelt that his sentiments of hostility towards the LordKeeperwere by no means those most predominant in his bosom.

Theweatherher state of healththe absence of herattendantsall prevented the possibility of Lucy Ashton renewingherjourney to Bittlebrains Housewhich was full five milesdistant;and the Master of Ravenswood could not butin commoncourtesyoffer the shelter of his roof for the rest of the dayand forthe night.  But a flush of less soft expressiona lookmuch morehabitual to his featuresresumed predominance when hementionedhow meanly he was provided for the entertainment of hisguests.

"Donot mention deficiencies" said the Lord Keepereager tointerrupthim and prevent his resuming an alarming topic; "youarepreparing to set out for the Continentand your house isprobablyfor the present unfurnished.  All this we understand;but if youmention inconvenienceyou will oblige us to seekaccommodationsin the hamlet."

As theMaster of Ravenswood was about to replythe door of thehallopenedand Caleb Balderstone rushed in.

 

CHAPTERXI.

Letthem have meat enoughwoman--half a hen;Therebe old rotten pilchards--put them off too;'Tisbut a little new anointing of themAnd astrong onionthat confounds the savour.

Love'sPilgrimage.

 

THEthunderboltwhich had stunned all who were within hearingof ithadonly served to awaken the bold and inventive genius ofthe flowerof majors-domo.  Almost before the clatter had ceasedand whilethere was yet scarce an assurance whether the castlewasstanding or fallingCaleb exclaimed"Heaven be praised!this comesto hand like the boul of a pint-stoup."  He thenbarred thekitchen door in the face of the Lord Keeper'sservantwhom he perceived returning from the party at the gateandmuttering"How the deil cam he in?--but deil may care.Mysiewhat are ye sitting shaking and greeting in the chimney-neuk for? Come here--or stay where ye areand skirl as loud asye can;it's a' ye're gude for.  I sayye auld deevilskirl--skirl--louder--louderwoman; gar the gentles hear ye in the ha'.I haveheard ye as far off as the Bass for a less matter.  Andstay--downwi' that crockery----"

And with asweeping blowhe threw down from a shelf somearticlesof pewter and earthenware.  He exalted his voice amidtheclattershouting and roaring in a manner which changedMysie'shysterical terrors of the thunder into fears that her oldfellow-servantwas gone distracted.  "He has dung down a' thebits o'pigstoo--the only thing we had left to haud a soupmilk--andhe has spilt the hatted hit that was for the Master'sdinner. Mercy save usthe auld man's gaen clean and clear wudwi' thethunner!"

"Haudyour tongueye b----!" said Calebin the impetuous andoverbearingtriumph of successful invention"a's provided now--dinner anda'thing; the thunner's done a' in a clap of a hand!"

"Puirmanhe's muckle astray" said Mysielooking at him witha mixtureof pity and alarm; "I wish he may ever come come hameto himsellagain."

"Hereye auld doited deevil" said Calebstill exulting in hisextricationfrom a dilemma which had seemed insurmountable;"keepthe strange man out of the kitchen; swear the thunner camedown thechimney and spoiled the best dinner ye ever dressed--beef--bacon--kid--lark--leveret--wild-fowl--venisonand whatnot. Lay it on thickand never mind expenses.  I'll awa' up tothe la'. Make a' the confusion ye can; but be sure ye keep outthestrange servant."

With thesecharges to his allyCaleb posted up to the hallbutstoppingto reconnoitre through an aperturewhich timefor theconvenienceof many a domestic in successionhad made in thedoorandperceiving the situation of Miss Ashtonhe hadprudenceenough to make a pauseboth to avoid adding to heralarm andin order to secure attention to his account of thedisastrouseffects of the thunder.

But whenhe perceived that the lady was recoveredand heard theconversationturn upon the accommodation and refreshment whichthe castleaffordedhe thought it time to burst into the room inthe mannerannounced in the last chapter.

"Willawins!--willawins! Such a misfortune to befa' the house ofRavenswoodand I to live to see it."

"Whatis the matterCaleb?" said his mastersomewhat alarmedin histurn; "has any part of the castle fallen?"

"Castlefa'an! nabut the sute's fa'anand the thunner's comeright downthe kitchen-lumand the things are a' lying hereawa'there awa'like the Laird o' Hotchpotch's lands; and wi'braveguests of honour and quality to entertain (a low bow hereto SirWilliam Ashton and his daughter)andnaethingleft in the house fit to present for dinneror forsuppereitherfor aught that I can see!"

"Ivery believe youCaleb" said Ravenswooddrily.Balderstonehere turned to his master a half-upbraidinghalf-imploringcountenanceand edged towards him as he repeated"Itwas naegreat matter of preparation; but just something added toyourhonour's ordinary course of fare--petty coveras they sayat theLouvre--three courses and the fruit."

"Keepyour intolerable nonsense to yourselfyou old fool!" saidRavenswoodmortified at his officiousnessyet not knowing howtocontradict himwithout the risk of giving rise to scenes yetmoreridiculous.

Caleb sawhis advantageand resolved to improve it.  But firstobservingthat the Lord Keeper's servant entered the apartmentand spokeapart with his masterhe took the same opportunity towhisper afew words into Ravenswood's ear:  "Haud your tongueforheaven's sakesir; if it's my pleasure to hazard my soul intellinglees for the honour of the familyit's nae business o'yours; andif ye let me gang on quietlyI'se be moderate in mybanquet;but if ye contradict medeil but I dress ye a dinnerfit for aduke!"

Ravenswoodin factthought it would be best to let hisofficiousbutler run onwho proceeded to enumerate upon hisfingers--"Nomuckle provision--might hae served four persons ofhonour--firstcoursecapons in white broth--roast kid--baconwithreverence; second courseroasted leveret--butter crabs--avealflorentine; third courseblackcock--it's black eneugh nowwi' thesute--plumdamas--a tart--a flam--and some nonsense sweetthingsadn comfits--and that's a'" he saidseeing theimpatienceof his master--"that's just a' was o't--forbye theapples andpears."

MissAshton had by degrees gathered her spiritsso far as topay someattention to what was going on; and observing therestrainedimpatience of Ravenswoodcontrasted with thepeculiardetermination of manner with which Caleb detailed hisimaginarybanquetthe whole struck her as so ridiculous thatdespiteevery effort to the contraryshe burst into a fit ofincontrollablelaughterin which she was joined by her fatherthoughwith more moderationand finally by the Master ofRavenswoodhimselfthough conscious that the jest was at his ownexpense. Their mirth--for a scene which we read with littleemotionoften appears extremely ludicrous to the spectators--madethe oldvault ring again.  They ceased--they renewed--theyceased--theyrenewed again their shouts of laughter!  Calebinthe meantimestood his ground with a graveangryand scornfuldignitywhich greatly enhanced the ridicule of the scene andmirth ofthe spectators.

At lengthwhen the voicesand nearly the strengthof thelaugherswere exhaustedhe exclaimedwith very little ceremony:"Thedeil's in the gentles! they breakfast sae lordlythat theloss ofthe best dinner ever cook pat fingers to makes them asmerry asif it were the best jeest in a' George Buchanan.  Ifthere wasas little in your honours' wames as there is in CalebBalderstone'sless caickling wad serve ye on sic a gravaminoussubject."

Caleb'sblunt expression of resentment again awakened the mirthof thecompanywhichby the wayhe regarded not only as anagressionupon the dignity of the familybut a special contemptof theeloquence with which he himself had summed up the extentof theirsupposed losses.  "A description of a dinner" as hesaidafterwards to Mysie"that wad hae made a fu' manhungryand them to sit there laughing at it!"

"But"said Miss Ashtoncomposing her countenance as well asshe could"are all these delicacies so totally destroyed thatno scrapcan be collected?"

"Collectedmy leddy! what wad ye collect out of the sute andthe ass? Ye may gang down yourselland look into our kitchen--thecookmaid in the trembling exies--the gude vivers lying a'about--beefcaponsand white broth--florentine and flams--baconwi'reverence--and a' the sweet confections and whim-whams--ye'llsee thema'my leddy--that is" said hecorrecting himself"ye'llno see ony of them nowfor the cook has soopit them upas wasweel her part; but ye'll see the white broth where it wasspilt. I pat my fingers in itand it tastes as like sour milkas onything else; if that isna the effect of thunnerI kennawhat is. This gentleman here couldna but hear the clash of ourhailldisheschina and silver thegither?"

The LordKeeper's domesticthough a statesman's attendantandof coursetrained to command his countenance upon alloccasionswas somewhat discomposed by this appealto which heonlyanswered by a bow.

"IthinkMr. Butler" said the Lord Keeperwho began to beafraidlest the prolongation of this scene should at lengthdispleaseRavenswood--"I think thatwere you to retire with myservantLockhard--he has travelledand is quite accustomed toaccidentsand contingencies of every kindand I hope betwixtyouyoumay find out some mode of supply at this emergency."

"Hishonour kens" said Calebwhohowever hopeless of himselfofaccomplishing what was desirablewouldlike the high-spiritedelephantrather have died in the effort than brookedthe aid ofa brother in commission--"his honour kens weel I neednaecounsellorwhen the honour of the house isconcerned."

"Ishould be unjust if I denied itCaleb" said his master;"butyour art lies chiefly in making apologiesupon which we canno moredine than upon the bill of fare of our thunder-blasteddinner. Nowpossibly Mr. Lockhard's talent may consist infindingsome substitute for that which certainly is notand hasin allprobability never been."

"Yourhonour is pleased to be facetious" said Caleb"but I amsure thatfor the warstfor a walk as far as Wolf's HopeIcould dineforty men--no that the folk there deserve yourhonour'scustom.  They hae been ill advised in the matter of theduty eggsand butterI winna deny that."

"Dogo consult together" said the Master; "go down to thevillageand do the best you can.  We must not let our guestsremainwithout refreshmentto save the honour of a ruinedfamily. And hereCalebtake my purse; I believe that willprove yourbest ally."

"Purse!purseindeed!" quoth Calebindignantly flinging out ofthe room;"what suld I do wi' your honour's purseon your aingrund? I trust we are no to pay for our ain?"

Theservants left the hall; and the door was no sooner shut thanthe LordKeeper began to apologise for the rudeness of hismirth; andLucy to hope she had given no pain or offence to thekind-heartedfaithful old man.

"Caleband I must both learnmadamto undergo with goodhumourorat least with patiencethe ridicule which everywhereattachesitself to poverty."

"Youdo yourself injusticeMaster of Ravenswoodon my word ofhonour"answered his elder guest.  "I believe I know more ofyouraffairs than you do yourselfand I hope to show you that Iaminterested in them; and that--in shortthat your prospectsare betterthan you apprehend.  In the mean timeI can conceivenothing sorespectable as the spirit which rises abovemisfortuneand prefers honourable privations to debt ordependence."

Whetherfrom fear of offending the delicacy or awakening thepride ofthe Masterthe Lord Keeper made these allusions with anappearanceof fearful and hesitating reserveand seemed to beafraidthat he was intruding too farin venturing to touchhoweverlightlyupon such a topiceven when the Master had ledto it. In shorthe appeared at once pushed on by his desire ofappearingfriendlyand held back by the fear of intrusion.  Itwas nowonder that the Master of Ravenswoodlittle acquainted ashe thenwas with lifeshould have given this consummatecourtiercredit for more sincerity than was probably to be foundin a scoreof his cast.  He answeredhoweverwith reservethathe wasindebted to all who might think well of him; andapologisingto his guestshe left the hallin order to makesucharrangements for their entertainment as circumstancesadmitted.

Uponconsulting with old Mysiethe accommodations for the nightwereeasily completedas indeed they admitted of little choice.The Mastersurrendered his apartment for the use of Miss Ashtonand Mysieonce a person of consequencedressed in a black satingown whichhad belonged of yore to the Master's grandmotherandhadfigured in the court-balls of Henrietta Mariawent to attendher aslady's-maid.  He next inquired after Bucklawandunderstandinghe was at the change-house with the huntsmen andsomecompanionshe desired Caleb to call thereand acquaint himhow he wascircumstanced at Wolf's Crag; to intimate to him thatit wouldbe most convenient if he could find a bed in the hamletas theelder guest mustnecessarilybe quartered in the secret chamberthe only sparebedroomwhich could be made fit to receive him.  The Master sawnohardship in passing the night by the hall firewrapt in hiscampaign-cloak;and to Scottish domestics of the dayeven of thehighestranknayto young men of family or fashionon anypinchclean strawor a dry hayloftwas always held good night-quarters.

For therestLockhard had his master's orders to bring somevenisonfrom the innand Caleb was to trust to his wits for thehonour ofhis family.  The Masterindeeda second time heldout hispurse; butas it was in sight of the strange servantthe butlerthought himself obliged to decline what his fingersitched toclutch.  "Couldna he hae slippit it gently into myhand?"said Caleb; "but his honour will never learn how to bearhimsell insiccan cases."

Mysieinthe mean timeaccording to a uniform custom in remoteplaces inScotlandoffered the strangers the produce of herlittledairy"while better meat was getting ready."  Andaccordingto another customnot yet wholly in desuetudeas thestorm wasnow drifting off to leewardthe Master carried theKeeper tothe top of his highest tower to admire a wide and wasteextent ofviewand to "weary for his dinner."

 

CHAPTERXII.

"Nowdame" quoth he"Je vous dis sans douteHad Inought of a capon but the liverAnd ofyour white bread nought but a shiverAndafter that a roasted pigge's head(But Ine wold for me no beast were dead)Thenhad I with you homely sufferaunce."

CHAUCERSumner's Tale.

 

IT was notwithout some secret misgivings that Caleb set outupon hisexploratory expedition.  In factit was attended with atrebledifficulty.  He dared not tell his mast the offence whichhe hadthat morning given to Bucklawjust for the honour of thefamily; hedared not acknowledge he had been too hasty inrefusingthe purse; andthirdlyhe was somewhat apprehensive ofunpleasantconsequences upon his meeting Hayston under theimpressionof an affrontand probably by this time under theinfluencealso of no small quantity of brandy.

Calebtodo him justicewas as bold as any lion where thehonour ofthe family of Ravenswood was concerned; but his wasthatconsiderate valour which does not delight in unnecessaryrisks. Thishoweverwas a secondary consideration; the mainpoint wasto veil the indigence of the housekeeping at thecastleand to make good his vaunt of the cheer which hisresourcescould procurewithout Lockhard's assistanceandwithoutsupplies from his master.  This was as prime a point ofhonourwith him as with the generous elephant with whom we havealreadycompared himwhobeing overtaskedbroke his skullthroughthe desperate exertions which he made to discharge hisdutywhenhe perceived they were bringing up another to hisassistance.

Thevillage which they now approached had frequentlyaffordedthe distressed butler resources upon similaremergencies;but his relations with it had been of late muchaltered.

It was alittle hamlet which straggled along the side of a creekformed bythe discharge of a small brook into the seaand washiddenfrom the castleto which it had been in former times anappendageby the entervention of the shoulder of a hill formingaprojecting headland.  It was called Wolf's Hope(i.e.Wolf's Haven)and the few inhabitants gained aprecarioussubsistence by manning two or three fishing-boats intheherring seasonand smuggling gin and brandy during thewintermonths.  They paid a kind of hereditary respect to theLords ofRavenswood; butin the difficulties of the familymostof theinhabitants of Wolf's Hope had contrived to get feu-rightsto theirlittle possessionstheir hutskail-yardsand rightsofcommontyso that they were emancipated from the chains offeudaldependenceand free from the various exactions withwhichunder every possible pretextor without any pretext atalltheScottish landlords of the periodthemselves in greatpovertywere wont to harass their still poorer tenants at will.They mightbeon the wholetermed independenta circumstancepeculiarlygalling to Calebwho had been wont to exercise overthem thesame sweeping authority in levying contributions whichwasexercised in former times in Englandwhen "the royalpurveyorssallying forth from under the Gothic portcullis topurchaseprovisions with power and prerogativeinstead of moneybroughthome the plunder of an hundred marketsand all thatcould beseized from a flying and hiding countryand depositedtheirspoil in an hundred caverns."

Calebloved the memory and resented the downfall of thatauthoritywhich mimickedon a petty scalethe grandcontributionsexacted by the feudal sovereigns.  And as he fondlyflatteredhimself that the awful rule and right supremacywhichassignedto the Barons of Ravenswood the first and most effectiveinterestin all productions of nature within five miles of theircastleonly slumberedand was not departed for everhe usedevery nowand then to give the recollection of the inhabitants alittle jogby some petty exaction.  These were at first submittedtowithmore or less readinessby the inhabitants of thehamlet;for they had been so long used to consider the wants ofthe Baronand his family as having a title to be preferred totheir ownthat their actual independence did not convey to themanimmediate sense of freedom.  They resembled a man that hasbeen longfetteredwhoeven at libertyfeels in imaginationthe graspof the handcuffs still binding his wrists.  But theexerciseof freedom is quickly followed with the naturalconsciousnessof its immunitiesas the enlarged prisonerby thefree useof his limbssoon dispels the cramped feeling they hadacquiredwhen bound.

Theinhabitants of Wolf's Hope began to grumbleto resistandat lengthpositively to refuse compliance with the exactions ofCalebBalderstone.  It was in vain he reminded themthat whentheeleventh Lord Ravenswoodcalled the Skipperfrom hisdelight innaval mattershad encouraged the trade of their portbybuilding the pier (a bulwark of stones rudely piled together)whichprotected the fishing-boats from the weatherit had beenmatter ofunderstanding that he was to have the first stone ofbutterafter the calving of every cow within the baronyand thefirst eggthence called the Monday's egglaid by every hen oneveryMonday in the year.

The feuarsheard and scratched their headscoughedsneezedand being pressed for answerrejoined with one voice"Theycould not say"--the universal refuge of a Scottish peasantwhenpressed to admit a claim which his conscience ownsorperhapshis feelingsand his interest inclines him to deny.

Calebhoweverfurnished the notables of Wolf's Hope with anote ofthe requisition of butter and eggswhich he claimed asarrears ofthe aforesaid subsidyor kindly aidpayable asabovementioned; and having intimated that he would not be aversetocompound the same for goods or moneyif it was inconvenientto them topay in kindleft themas he hopedto debate themode ofassessing themselves for that purpose.  On the contrarythey metwith a determined purpose of resisting the exactionandwere onlyundecided as to the mode of grounding theiroppositionwhen the coopera very important person on afishing-stationand one of the conscript fathers of the villageobserved"That their hens had caickled mony a day for the LordsofRavenswoodand it was time they suld caickle for those thatgave themroosts and barley."  An unanimous grin intimated theassent ofthe assembly.  "And" continued the orator"ifit'syour wullI'll just tak a step as far as Dunse for DavieDingwallthe writerthat's come frae the North to settle amangusandhe'll pit this job to rightsI'se warrant him."

A day wasaccordingly fixed for holding a grand palaver atWolf'sHope on the subject of Caleb's requisitionsand he wasinvited toattend at the hamlet for that purpose.

He wentwith open hands and empty stomachtrusting to fill theone on hismaster's account and the other on his own scoreattheexpense of the feuars of Wolf's Hope.  Butdeath to hishopes! ashe entered the eastern end of the straggling villagethe awfulform of Davie Dingwalla slydryhard-fistedshrewdcountryattorneywho had already acted against the family ofRavenswoodand was a principal agent of Sir William Ashtontrotted inat the western extremitybestriding a leathernportmanteaustuffed with the feu-charters of the hamletandhoping hehad not kept Mr. Balderstone waiting"as he wasinstructedand fully empowered to pay or receivecompound orcompensatandin fineto age as accords respecting all mutualandunsettled claims whatsoeverbelonging or competent to theHonourableEdgar Ravenswoodcommonly called the Master ofRavenswood----"

"TheRIGHT Honourable Edgar LORD RAVENSWOOD" said Calebwith greatemphasis; forthough conscious he had little chanceofadvantage in the conflict to ensuehe was resolved not tosacrificeone jot of honour.

"LordRavenswoodthen" said the man of business--"we shall notquarrelwith you about titles of courtesy--commonly called LordRavenswoodor Master of Ravenswoodheritable proprietor of thelands andbarony of Wolf's Cragon othe ne partand to JohnWhitefishand othersfeuars in the town of Wolf's Hopewithinthe baronyaforesaidon the other part."

Caleb wasconsciousfrom sad experiencethat he would wage averydifferent strife with this mercenary champion than with theindividualfeuars themselvesupon whose old recollectionspredilectionsand habits of thinking he might have wrought by anhundredindirect argumentsto which their deputy-representativewastotally insensible.  The issue of the debate proved thereality ofhis apprehensions.  It was in vain he strained hiseloquenceand ingenuityand collected into one mass allargumentsarising from antique custom and hereditary respectfrom thegood deeds done by the Lords of Ravenswood to thecommunityof Wolf's Hope in former daysand from what might beexpectedfrom them in future.  The writer stuck to thecontentsof his feu-charters; he could not see it: 'twas not inthe bond. And when Calebdetermined to try what a little spiritwould dodeprecated the consequences of Lord Ravenswood'swithdrawinghis protection from the burghand even hinted in hisusingactive measures of resentmentthe man of law sneered inhis face.

"Hisclients" he said"had determined to do the best theycould fortheir own townand he thought Lord Ravenwoodsince hewas alordmight have enough to do to look after his owncastle. As to any threats of stouthrief oppressionby rule ofthumborvia factias the law termed ithe would have Mr.Balderstonerecollectthat new times were not as old times; thatthey livedon the south of the Forthand far from the Highlands;that hisclients thought they were able to protect themselves;but shouldthey find themselves mistakenthey would apply to thegovernmentfor the protection of a corporal and four red-coatswho"said Mr. Dingwallwith a grin"would be perfectly able tosecurethem against Lord Ravenswoodand all that he or hisfollowerscould do by the strong hand."

If Caleb could have concentrated all the lightnings ofaristocracyin his eyeto have struck dead this contemner ofallegianceand privilegehe would have launched them at hisheadwithout respect to the consequences.  As it washe wascompelledto turn his course backward to the castle; and there heremainedfor full half a day invisible and inaccessible even toMysiesequestered in his own peculiar dungeonwhere he satburnishinga single pewter plate and whistling "Maggie Lauder"six hourswithout intermission.

The issueof this unfortunate requisition had shut against Caleballresources which could be derived from Wolf's Hope and itspurlieusthe El Doradoor Perufrom whichin all formercases ofexigencehe had been able to extract some assistance.He hadindeedin a manner vowed that the deil should have himif ever heput the print of his foot within its causeway again.He hadhitherto kept his word; andstrange to tellthissecessionhadas he intendedin some degreethe effect of apunishmentupon the refractory feuars.  Mr. Balderstone had beena personin their eyes connected with a superior order of beingswhosepresence used to grace their little festivitieswhoseadvicethey found useful on many ocassionsand whosecommunicationsgave a sort of credit to their village.  Theplacethey ackowledged"didna look as it used to doandshould dosince Mr. Caleb keepit the castle sae closely; butdoubtlesstouching the eggs and butterit was a mostunreasonabledemandas Mr. Dingwall had justly made manifest."

Thus stoodmatters betwixt the partieswhen the old butlerthough itwas gall and wormwood to himfound himself obligedeither toackowledge before a strange man of qualityandwhatwas muchworsebefore that stranger's servantthe totalinabilityof Wolf's Crag to produce a dinneror he must trust tothecompassion of the feuars of Wofl's Hope.  It was a dreadfuldegradation;but necessity was equally imperious and lawless.With thesefeelings he entered the street of the village.

Willing toshake himself from his companion as soon as possiblehedirected Mr. Lockhard to Luckie Sma-trash's change-housewhere adinproceeding from the revels of BucklawCraigengeltand theirpartysounded half-way down the streetwhile the redglare fromthe window overpowered the grey twilight which was nowsettlingdownand glimmered against a parcel of old tubskegsandbarrelspiled up in the cooper's yardon the other side ofthe way.

"IfyouMr. Lockhard" said the old butler to hiscompanion"will be pleased to step to the change-house wherethat lightcomes fromand whereas I judgethey are nowsinging'Cauld Kail in Aberdeen' ye may do your master's errandabout thevenisonand I will do mine about Bucklaw's bedas Ireturnfrae getting the rest of the vivers.  It's no that thevenison isactually needfu'" he addeddetaining his colleagueby thebutton"to make up the dinner; but as a compliment to thehuntersye ken; andMr. Lockhardif they offer ye a drink o'yillor acup o' wineor a glass o' brandyye'll be a wise manto takeitin case the thunner should hae soured ours at thecastlewhilk is ower muckle to be dreaded."

He thenpermitted Lockhard to depart; and with foot heavy asleadandyet far lighter than his heartstepped on through theunequalstreet of the straggling villagemeditating on whom heought tomake his first attack.  It was necessary he should findsome onewith whom old acknowledged greatness should weigh morethanrecent independenceand to whom his application mightappear anact of high dignityrelenting at once and soothing.But hecould not recollect an inhabitant of a mind soconstructed. "Our kail is like to be cauld eneugh too" hereflectedas the chorus of "Cauld Kail in Aberdeen" againreachedhis ears.  The minister--he had got his presentation fromthe latelordbut they had quarrelled about teinds; thebrewster'swife--she had trusted longand the bill was ayescored upand unless the dignity of the family should actuallyrequireitit would be a sin to distress a widow woman.  Nonewas soable--buton the other handnone was likely to be lesswilling--tostand his friend upon the present occasionthanGibbieGirderthe man of tubs and barrels already mentionedwhohad headedthe insurrection in the matter of the egg and buttersubsidy. "But a' comes o' taking folk on the right sideItrow"quoted Caleb to himself; "and I had ance the ill hap tosay he wasbut a Johnny New-come in our townand the carle borethe familyan ill-will ever since.  But he married a bonny youngqueanJean Lightbodyauld Lightbody's daughterhim that was inthesteading of Loup-the-Dyke; and auld Lightbody was marriedhimsell toMarionthat was about my lady in the family fortyyearssyne.  I hae had mony a day's daffing wi' Jean's mitherand theysay she bides on wi' them.  The carle has Jacobuses andGeorgiusesbaithan ane could get at them; and sure I amit'sdoing himan honour him or his never deserved at our handtheungracioussumph; and if he loses by us a'thegitherhe is e'encheap o't:he can spare it brawly."Shakingoff irresolutionthereforeand turning at once uponhis heelCaleb walked hastily back to the cooper's houselifted thelatch withotu ceremonyandin a momentfoundhimselfbehind the "hallan" or partitionfrom which position hecouldhimself unseenreconnoitre the interior of the "but" orkitchenapartmentof the mansion.

Reverse ofthe sad menage at the Castle of Wolf's Cragabickeringfire roared up the cooper's chimney.   His wifeon theone sidein her pearlings and pudding-sleevesput the lastfinishingtouch to her holiday's apparelwhile she contemplateda veryhandsome and good-humoured face in a broken mirrorraisedupon the"bink" (the shelves on which the plates are disposed)for herspecial accommodation.  Her motherold Luckie Loup-the-Dyke"acanty carline" as was within twenty miles of heraccordingto the unanimous report of the "cummers" or gossipssat by thefire in the full glory of a grogram gownlammerbeadsanda clean cockernonywhiffing a snug pipe of tobaccoandsuperintending the affairs of the kitchen; for--sight moreinterestingto the anxious heart and craving entrails of thedespondingseneschal than either buxom dame or canty cummer--therebubbled on the aforesaid bickering fire a huge potorrathercauldronsteaming with beef and brewis; while before itrevolvedtwo spitsturned each by one of the cooper'sapprenticesseated in the opposite corners of the chimneytheone loadedwith a quarter of muttonwhile the other was gracedwith a fatgoose and a brace of wild ducks.  The sight and scentof such aland of plenty almost wholly overcame the droopingspirits ofCaleb.  He turnedfor a moment's space to reconnoitrethe "ben"or parlour end of the houseand there saw a sightscarceless affecting to his feelings--a large round tablecoveredfor ten or twelve personsdecored (according to his ownfavouriteterms) with napery as white as snowgrand flagons ofpewterintermixed with one or two silver cupscontainingaswasprobablesomethingworthy the brilliancy of their outward appearancecleantrencherscutty spoonsknives and forkssharpburnishedand prompt for actionwhich lay all displayed as foranespecial festival.

"Thedevil's in the peddling tub-coopering carl!" mutteredCalebinall the envy of astonishment; "it's a shame to see thelike o'them gusting their gabs at sic a rate.  But if some o'that gudecheer does not find its way to Wolf's Crag this nightmy name isnot Caleb Balderstone."

Soresolvinghe entered the apartmentandin allcourteousgreetingsaluted both the mother and the daughter.Wolf'sCrag was the court of the baronyCaleb prime minister atWolf'sCrag; and it has ever been remarked thatthough themasculinesubject who pays the taxes sometimes growls at thecourtiersby whom they are imposedthe said courtiers continueneverthelesswelcome to the fair sexto whom they furnish thenewestsmall-talk and the earliest fashions.  Both the dameswerethereforeat once about old Caleb's necksetting up theirthroatstogether by way of welcome.

"AysirsMr. Balderstoneand is this you?  A sight of you isgude forsair een.  Sit down--sit down; the gudeman will beblythe tosee you--ye nar saw him sae cadgy in your life; but weare tochristen our bit wean the nightas ye will hae heardanddoubtlessye will stay and see the ordinance.  We hae killed awetherand ane o' our lads has been out wi' his gun at the moss;ye used tolike wild-fowl."

"Nanagudewife" said Caleb; "I just keekit in to wish yejoyand Iwad be glad to hae spoken wi' the gudemanbut----"movingasif to go away.

"Thene'er a fit ye's gang" said the elder damelaughing andholdinghim fastwith a freedom which belonged to their oldacquaintance;"wha kens what ill it may bring to the bairnifyeowerlook it in that gate?"

"ButI'm in a preceese hurrygudewife" said the butlersufferinghimself to be dragged to a seat without muchresistance;"and as to eating" for he observed the mistress ofthedwelling bustling about to place a trencher for him-- "as foreating--lack-a-daywe are just killed up yonder wi' eating fraemorning tonight!  It's shamefu' epicurism; but that's what wehae gottenfrae the English pock-puddings.""Houtnever mind the English pock-puddings" said LuckieLightbody;"try our puddingsMr. Balderstone; there is blackpuddingand white-hass; try whilk ye like best."

"Baithgude--baith excellent--canna be better; but the verysmell iseneugh for me that hae dined sae lately (the faithfulwretch hadfasted since daybreak).  But I wadna affront yourhousewifeskepgudewife; andwith your permissionI'se e'en pitthem in mynapkinand eat them to my supper at e'enfor I amwearied ofMysie's pastry and nonsense; ye ken landward daintiesayepleased me bestMarionand landward lasses too (looking atthecooper's wife).  Ne'er a bit but she looks far better thanwhen shemarried Gilbertand then she was the bonniest lass inourparochine and the neist till't.  But gawsie cowgoodlycalf."

The womensmiled at the compliment each to herselfand theysmiledagain to each other as Caleb wrapt up the puddings in atowelwhich he had brought with himas a dragoon carries hisforagingbag to receive what my fall in his way.

"Andwhat news at the castle?" quo' the gudewife.

"News! The bravest news ye ever heard--the Lord Keeper's upyonder wi'his fair daughterjust ready to fling her at mylord'sheadif he winna tak her out o' his arms; and I'sewarranthe'll stitch our auld lands of Ravenswood to herpetticoattail."

"Eh!sirs--ay!--and will hae her? and is she weel-favoured? andwhat's thecolour o' her hair? and does she wear a habit or arailly?"were the questions which the females showered upon thebutler.

"Houttout! it wad tak a man a day to answer a' yourquestionsand I hae hardly a minute.  Where's the gudeman?"

"Awa'to fetch the minister" said Mrs. Girder"precious Mr.PeterBide-the-Bentfrae the Mosshead; the honest man has therheumatismwi' lying in the hills in thepersecution."

"Ay! Whig and a mountain-mannae less!" said Calebwith apeevishnesshe could not suppress.  "I hae seen the dayLuckiewhenworthy Mr. Cuffcushion and the service-book would hae servedyour turn(to the elder dame)or ony honest woman in likecircumstances."

"Andthat's true too" said Mrs. Lightbody"but what can a bodydo? Jean maun baith sing her psalms and busk her cockernony thegate thegudeman likesand nae ither gate; for he's maister andmair athameI can tell yeMr. Balderstone."

"Ayayand does he guide the gear too?" said Calebto whoseprojectsmasculine rule boded little good."Ilkapenny on't; but he'll dress her as dink as a daisyas yesee; saeshe has little reason to complain: where there's anebetter affthere's ten waur."

"Aweelgudewife" said Calebcrestfallenbut not beaten off"thatwasna the way ye guided your gudeman; bt ilka land has itsainlauch.  I maun be ganging.  I just wanted to round in thegudeman'slugthat I heard them say up-bye yonder that PeterPuncheonthat was cooper to the Queen's stores at the TimmerBurse atLeithis dead; sae I though that maybe a word frae mylord tothe Lord Keeper might hae served Gilbert; but since he'sfraehame----"

"Obut ye maun stay his hame-coming" said the dame.  "Iayetelled thegudeman ye meant weel to him; but he taks the tout atevery bitlippening word."

"AweelI'll stay the last minute I can."

"Andso" said the handsome young spouse of Mr. Girder"yethink thisMiss Ashton is weel-favoured?  Trothand sae shouldshetoset up for our young lordwith a face and a handand aseat onhis horsethat might become a king's son.  D'ye ken thathe ayeglowers up at my windowMr. Balderstonewhen he chauncesto ridethro' the town?  Sae I hae a right to ken what like heisasweel as ony body."

"Iken that brawly" said Caleb"for I hae heard his lordshipsay thecooper's wife had the blackest ee in the barony; and Isaid'Weel may that bemy lordfor it was her mither's aforeheras Iken to my cost.'  EhMarion?  Hahaha!  Ah! thesewere merrydays!"

"Houtawa'auld carle" said the old dame"to speak sicdaffing toyoung folk.  ButJean--fiewomandinna ye hear thebairngreet?  I'se warrant it's that dreary weid has come ower'tagain."

Up gotmother and grandmotherand scoured awayjostling eachother asthey raninto some remote corner of the tenementwhere theyoung hero of the evening was deposited.  When Calebsaw thecoast fairly clearhe took an invigorating pinch ofsnufftosharpen and confirm his resolution.

"Cauldbe my cast" thought he"if either Bide-the-Bent orGirdertaste that broach of wild-fowl this evening"; and thenaddressingthe eldest turnspita boy of about eleven years oldandputting a penny into his handhe said"Here is twalpenniesmy man; carry that ower to Mrs. Sma'trashand bid herfill mymill wi' snishingand I'll turn the broche for ye in themean time;and she will gie ye a ginge-bread snap for yourpains."

No soonerwas the elder boy departed on this mission than Caleblookingthe remaining turnspit gravely and steadily in the faceremovedfrom the fire the spit bearing the wild-fowl of which hehadundertaken the chargeclapped his hat on his headandfairlymarched off with it.  he stopped at the door of thechange-houseonly to sayin a few brief wordsthat Mr. Haystonof Bucklawwas not to expect a bed that evening in the castle.

If thismessage was too briefly delivered by Calebit becameabsoluterudeness when convenyed through the medium of a suburblandlady;and Bucklaw wasas a more calm and temperate man mighthave beenhighly incensed.  Captain Craigengelt proposedwiththeunanimous applause of all presentthat they should coursethe oldfox (meaning Caleb) ere he got to coverand toss him inablanket.  But Lockhard intimated to hismaster'sservants and those of Lord Bittlebrainsin a tone ofauthoritythat the slightest impertinence to the Master ofRavenswood'sdomestic would give Sir William Ashton the highestoffence. And having so saidin a manner sufficient to preventanyaggression on their parthe left the public-housetakingalong withhim two servants loaded with such provisions as he hadbeen ableto procureand overtook Caleb just when he had clearedthevillage.

 

CHAPTERXIII.

ShouldI take aught of you?  'Tis true I begged now;Andwhat is worse than thatI stole a kindness;Andwhat is worst of allI lost my way in't.

WitWithout Money.

 

THE faceof the little boysole witness of Caleb'sinfringementupon the laws at once of property and hospitalitywould havemade a good picture.  He sat motionlessas if he hadwitnessedsome of the spectral appearances which he had heardtold of ina winter's evening; and as he forgot his own dutyandallowedhis spit to stand stillhe added to the misfortunes oftheevening by suffering the mutton to burn as black as a coal.He wasfirst recalled from his trance of astonishment by a heartycuffadministered by Dame Lightbodywhoin whatever otherrespectsshe might conform to her namewas a woman strong ofpersonand expert in the use of her handsas some say herdeceasedhusband had known to his cost.

"Whatgarr'd ye let the roast burnye ill-clerkit gude-for-nought?"

"Idinna ken" said the boy.

"Andwhere's that ill-deedy gettGiles?"

"Idinna ken" blubbered the astonished declarant.

"Andwhere's Mr. Balderstone?--and abune a'and in the name ofcounciland kirk-sessionthat I suld say saewhere's thebroche wi'the wild-fowl?"As Mrs.Girder here enteredand joined her mother'sexclamationsscreaming into one ear while the old lady deafenedthe otherthey succeeded in so utterly confounding the unhappyurchinthat he could not for some time tell his story at alland it wasonly when the elder boy returned that the truth beganto dawn ontheir minds.

"Weelsirs!" said Mrs. Lightbody"wha wad hae thought o' CalebBalderstoneplaying an auld acquaintance sic a pliskie!"

"Ohweary on him!" said the spouse of Mr. Girder; "and what amI to sayto the gudeman?  He'll brain meif there wasna anitherwoman ina' Wolf''s Hope."

"Houttoutsilly quean" said the mother; "nanait's come tomucklebut it's no come to that neither; for an he brain you hemaun brainmeand I have garr'd his betters stand back.  Handsaff isfair play; we maunna heed a bit flyting."

The trampof horses now announced the arrival of the cooperwith theminister.  They had no sooner dismounted than they madefor thekitchen firefor the evening was cool after thethunderstormand the woods wet and dirty.  The young gudewifestrong inthe charms of her Sunday gown and biggonetsthrewherself inthe way of receiving the first attackwhile hermotherlike the veteran division of the Roman legionremainedin therearready to support her in case of necessity.  Bothhoped toprotract the discovery of what had happened--the motherbyinterposing her bustling person betwixt Mr. Girder and thefireandthe daughterby the extreme cordiality with which shereceivedthe minister and her husbandand the anxious fearswhich sheexpressed lest they should have "gotten cauld.""Cauld!"quoted the husbandsurlilyfor he was not of thatclass oflords and amsters whose wives are viceroys over them"we'llbe cauld eneughI thinkif ye dinna let us in to thefire."

And sosayinghe burst his way through both lines of defence;andas hehad a careful eye over his property of every kindheperceivedat one glance the absence of the spit with its savouryburden. "What the deilwoman----"

"Fiefor shame!" exclaimed both the women; "and before Mr. Bide-the-Bent!"

"Istand reproved" said the cooper; "but----"

"Thetaking in our mouths the name of the great enemy of oursouls"said Mr. Bide-the-Bent----

"Istand reproved" said the cooper.

"--Isan exposing ourselves to his temptations" continued thereverendmonitor"and in invitingorin some sortacompellingof him to lay aside his other trafficking withunhappypersonsand wait upon those in whose speech his name isfrequent."

"WeelweelMr. Bide-the-Bentcan a man do mair than standreproved?"said the cooper; "but jest let me ask the women whatfor theyhae dished the wild-fowl before we came."

"Theyarena dishedGilbert" said his wife; "but--but anaccident----"

"Whataccident?" said Girderwith flashing eyes.  "Nae illcomeower themI trust?  Uh?"

His wifewho stood much in awe of himdurst not replybut hermotherbustled up to her supportwith arms disposed as if theywere aboutto be a-kimbo at the next reply.--"I gied them to anacquaintanceof mineGibbie Girder; and what about it now?"

Her excessof assurance struck Girder mute for an instant.  "AndYE giedthe wild-fowlthe best end of our christening dinnerto afriend of yoursye auld rudas!  And what might HIS namebeI prayye?"

"Justworthy Mr. Caleb Balderstone--frae Wolf's Crag" answeredMarionprompt and prepared for battle.

Girder'swrath foamed over all restraint.  If there was acircumstancewhich could have added to the resentment he feltitwas thatthis extravagant donation had been made in favour ofour friendCalebtowards whomfor reasons to which the readeris nostrangerhe nourished a decided resentment.  He raised hisriding-wandagainst the elder matronbut she stood firmcollectedin herselfand undauntedly brandished the iron ladlewith whichshe had just been "flambing" (Anglicebasting) theroast ofmutton.  Her weapon was certainly the betterand herarm notthe weakest of the two; so that Gilbert thought it safestto turnshort off upon his wifewho had by this time hatched asort ofhysterical whinewhich greatly moved the ministerwhowas infact as simple and kind-hearted a creature as everbreathed. "And youye thowless jadeto sit still and see mysubstancedisponed upon to an idledrunkenreprobateworm-eatenserving-manjust because he kittles the lugs o' a sillyauld wifewi' useless claversand every twa words a lee?  I'llgar you asgude----"

Here theminister interposedboth by voice and actionwhileDameLightbody threw herself in front of her daughterandflourishedher ladle.

"Am Ino to chastise my ain wife?" exclaimed the cooper veryindignantly.

"Yemay chastise your ain wife if ye like" answered DameLightbody;"but ye shall never lay finger on my daughterandthat yemay found upon.""ForshameMr. Girder!" said the clergyman; "this is what Ilittleexpected to have seen of youthat you suld give rein toyoursinful passions against your nearestt and your dearestandthis nighttoowhen ye are called to the most solemn duty of aChristianparent; and a' for what?  For a redundancy of creature-comfortsas worthless as they are unneedful."

"Worthless!"exclaimed the cooper.  "A better guse never walkitonstubble; two finerdentier wild ducks never wat a feather."

"Beit saeneighbour" rejoined the minister; "but see whatsuperfluitiesare yet revolving before your fire.  I have seenthe daywhen ten of the bannocks which stand upon that boardwould havebeen an acceptable dainty to as many menthat werestarvingon hills and bogsand in caves of the earthfor theGospel'ssake."

"Andthat's what vexes me maist of a'" said the cooperanxiousto getsome one to sympathise with his not altogether causelessanger; "anthe quean had gien it to ony suffering santor to onybody avabut that reavinglyingoppressing Tory villainthatrade inthe wicked troop of militia when it was commanded outagainstthe sants at Bothwell Brig by the auld tyrant AllanRavenswoodthat is gane to his placeI wad the less hae mindedit. But to gie the principal parts o' the feast to the like o'him----!"

"AweelGilbert" said the minister"and dinna ye see a highjudgmentin this?  The seed of the righteous are not seenbeggingtheir bread: think of the son of a powerful oppressorbeingbrought to the pass of supporting his household from yourfulness."

"Andbesides" said the wife"it wasna for Lord Ravenswoodneitheran he wad hear but a body speak: it was to help toentertainthe Lord Keeperas they ca' himthat's up yonder atWolf'sCrag."

"SirWilliam Ashton at Wolf's Crag!" ejaculated theastonishedman of hoops and staves.

"Andhand and glove wi' Lord Ravenswood" added DameLightbody.

"Doitedidiot! that auldclavering sneckdrawer wad gar ye trowthe moonis made of green cheese.  The Lord Keeper andRavenswood!they are cat and doghare and hound."

"Itell ye they are man and wifeand gree better than someothersthat are sae" retorted the mother-in-law; "forbyePeterPuncheonthat's cooper the Queen's storesis deadand theplace isto filland----"

"Odguide uswull ye haud your skirling tongues!" said Girder--for we areto remarkthat this explanation was given like acatch fortwo voicesthe younger damemuch encouraged by theturn ofthe debatetaking up and repeating in a higher tone thewords asfast as they were uttered by her mother.

"Thegudewife says naething but what's truemaister" saidGirder'sforemanwho had come in during the fray.  "I saw theLordKeeper's servants drinking and driving ower at LuckieSma'trash'sower-bye yonder."

"Andis their maister up at Wolf's Crag?" said Girder.

"Aytroth is he" replied his man of confidence.

"Andfriends wi' Ravenswood?"

"It'slike sae" answered the foreman"since he is putting upwi' him."

"AndPeter Puncheon's dead?"

"AyayPuncheon has leaked out at lastthe auld carle" saidtheforeman; "mony a dribble o' brandy has gaen through him inhis day. But as for the broche and the wild-fowlthesaddle'sno aff your mare yetmaisterand I could follow andbring itbackfor Mr. Balderstone's no far aff the town yet."

"DosaeWill; and come hereI'll tell ye what to do when yeowertakehim."

Herelieved the females of his presenceand gave Will hisprivateinstructions.

"Abonny-like thing" said the mother-in-lawas the cooper re-enteredthe apartment"to send the innocent lad after an armedmanwhenye ken Mr. Balderstone aye wears a rapierand whiles adirk intothe bargain."

"Itrust" said the minister"ye have reflected weel on whatyehave donelest you should minister cause of strifeof which itis my dutyto sayhe who affordeth matteralbeit he himselfstrikethnotis in no manner guiltless."

"Neverfash your beardMr. Bide-the-Bent" replied Girder; "anecanna gettheir breath out here between wives and ministers.  Iken besthow to turn my ain cake.  Jeanserve up the dinnerand naemair about it."

Nor did heagain allude to the deficiency in the course of theevening.

Meantimethe foremanmounted on his master's steedandchargedwith his special orderspricked swiftly forth in pursuitof themarauder Caleb.  That personageit may be imagineddidnot lingerby the way.  He intermitted even his dearly-belovedchatterfor the purpose of making more hasteonly assuring Mr.Lockhardthat he had made the purveyor's wife give the wild-fowla fewturns before the firein case that Mysiewho had been somuchalarmed by the thundershould not have her kitchen-grate infullsplendour.  Meanwhilealleging the necessity of being atWolf'sCrag as soon as possiblehe pushed on so fast that hiscompanionscould scarce keep up with him.  He began already tothink hewas safe from pursuithaving gained the summit of theswellingeminence which divides Wolf's Crag from the villagewhen heheard the distant tread of a horseand a voice whichshouted atintervals"Mr. Caleb--Mr. Balderstone--Mr. CalebBalderstone--hollo--bidea wee!"

Calebitmay be well believedwas in no hurry toacknowledgethe summons.  Firsthe would not heart itand facedhiscompanions downthat it was the echo of the wind; then hesaid itwas not worth stopping for; andat lengthhaltingreluctantlyas the figure of the horseman appeared through theshades ofthe eveninghe bent up his whole soul to the task ofdefendinghis preythrew himself into an attitude of dignityadvancedthe spitwhich is his grasp might with its burden seemboth spearand shieldand firmly resolved to die rather thansurrenderit.

What washis astonishmentwhen the cooper's foremanriding upandaddressing him with respecttold him:  "His master wasverysorry hewas absent when he came to his dwellingand grievedthat hecould not tarry the christening dinner; and that he hadtaen thefreedom to send a sma' runlet of sackand ane anker ofbrandyashe understood there were guests at the castleandthat theywere short of preparation."

I haveheard somewhere a story of an elderly gentleman who waspursued bya bear that had gotten loose from its muzzleuntilcompletelyexhausted.  In a fit of desperationhe faced roundupon Bruinand lifted his cane; at the sight of which theinstinctof discipline prevailedand the animalinstead oftearinghim to piecesrose up upon his hind-legs and instantlybegan toshuffle a saraband.  Not less than the joyful surpriseof theseniorwho had supposed himself in the extremity of perilfrom whichhe was thus unexpectedly relievedwas that of ourexcellentfriend Calebwhen he found the pursuer intended to addto hisprizeinstead of bereaving him of it.  He recovered hislatitudehoweverinstantlyso soon as the foremanstoopingfrom hisnagwhere he sate perched betwixt the two barrelswhisperedin his ear:  "If ony thing about Peter Puncheon's placecould beairted their wayJohn [Gibbie] Girder wad mak it betterto theMaster of Ravenswood than a pair of new gloves; and thathe wad beblythe to speak wi' Maister Balderstone on that headand he wadfind him as pliant as a hoop-willow in a' that hecould wishof him."

Calebheard all this without rendering any answerexcept thatof allgreat men from Louis XIV. downwardsnamely"We will seeabout it";and then added aloudfor the edification of Mr.Lockhard: "Your master has acted with becoming civility andattentionin forwarding the liquorsand I will not fail torepresentit properly to my Lord Ravenswood.  Andmy lad" hesaid"youmay ride on to the castleand if none of the servantsarereturnedwhilk is to be dreadedas they make day and nightof it whenthey are out of sightye may put them into theporter'slodgewhilk is on the right hand of the great entry;the porterhas got leave to go to see his friendssae ye willmet no aneto steer ye."

Theforemanhaving received his ordersrode on; and havingdepositedthe casks in the deserted and ruinous porter's lodgehereturned unquestioned by any one.  Having thus executed hismaster'scommissionand doffed his bonnet to Caleb and hiscompany ashe repassed them in his way to the villagehereturnedto have his share of the christening festivity.

 

CHAPTERXIV.

Astothe Autumn breeze's bugle soundVariousand vague the dry leaves dance their round;Orfrom the garner-dooron ether borneThechaff flies devious from the winnow'd corn;                 Sovagueso deviousat the breath of heavenFromtheir fix'd aim are mortal counsels driv'n.

Anonymous.

 

WE leftCaleb Balderstone in the extremity of triumph at thesuccess ofhis various achievements for the honour of the houseofRavenswood.  When he had mustered and marshalled his dishes ofdiverskindsa more royal provision had not been seen in Wolf'sCrag sincethe funeral feast of its deceased lord.  Great was theglory ofthe serving-manas he "decored" the old oaken tablewith aclean clothand arranged upon it carbonaded venison androastedwild-fowlwith a glanceevery now and thenas if toupbraidthe incredulity of his master and his guests; and withmany astorymore or less truewas Lockhard that eveningregaledconcerning the ancient grandeur of Wolf's Cragand thesway ofits barons over the country in theirneighbourhood.

"Avassal scarce held a calf or a lamb his aintill he hadfirstasked if the Lord of Ravenswood was pleased to accept it;and theywere obliged to ask the lord's consent before theymarried inthese daysand mony a merry tale they tell about thatright asweel as others.  And although" said Caleb"thesetimesare notlike the gude auld timeswhen authority had its rightyet trueit isMr. Lockhardand you yoursell may partly haveremarkedthat we of the house of Ravenswood do our endeavour  inkeepingupby all just and lawful exertion of our baronialauthoritythat due and fitting connexion betwixt superior andvassalwhilk is in some danger of falling into desuetudeowingto thegeneral license and misrule of these present unhappytimes."

"Umph!"said Mr. Lockhard; "and if I may inquireMr.Balderstonepray do you find your people at the village yonderamenable?for I must needs saythat at Ravenswood Castlenowpertainingto my master the Lord Keeperye have not left behindye themost compliant set of tenantry."

"Ah!but Mr. Lockhard" replied Caleb"ye must consider therehas been achange of handsand the auld lord might expect twaturns fraethemwhen the new-comer canna get ane.  A dour andfractiousset they werethae tenants of Ravenswoodand ill tolive wi'when they dinna ken their master; and if your masterput themmad ancethe whole country will not put them down."

"Troth"said Mr. Lockhard"an such be the caseI think thewisestthing for us a ' wad be to hammer up a match between youryoung lordand our winsome young leddy up-bye there; and SirWilliammight just stitch your auld barony to her gown-sleeveand he wadsune cuitle another out o' somebody elsesic a langhead as hehas."

Calebshook his head.  "I wish" he said--"I wish thatmayanswerMr. Lockhard.  There are auld prophecies about this houseI wad likeill to see fulfilled wi' my auld eenthat has seenevileneugh already."

"Pshaw!never mind freits" said his brother butler; "if theyoung folkliked ane anitherthey wad make a winsome couple.Buttosay truththere is a leddy sits in our hall-neukmaunhave herhand in that as weel as in every other job.  But there'sno harm indrinking to their healthsand I will fill Mrs. Mysiea cup ofMr. Girder's canary."

 

While theythus enjoyed themselves in the kitchenthe companyin thehall were not less pleasantly engaged.  So soon asRavenswoodhad determined upon giving the Lord Keeper suchhospitalityas he had to offerhe deemed it incumbent on him toassume theopen and courteous brow of a well-pleased host.  Ithas beenoften remarkedthat when a man commences by acting acharacterhe frequently ends by adopting it in good earnest.  Inthe courseof an hour or twoRavenswoodto his own surprisefoundhimself in the situation of one who frankly does his besttoentertain welcome and honoured guests.  How much of thischange inhis disposition was to be ascribed to the beauty andsimplicityof Miss Ashtonto the readiness with which sheaccommodatedherself to the inconveniences of her situation; howmuch tothe smooth and plausible conversation of the Lord Keeperremarkablygifted with those words which win the earmust beleft tothe reader's ingenuity to conjecture.  But Ravenswood wasinsensibleto neither.

The LordKeeper was a veteran statesmanwell acquainted withcourts andcabinetsand intimate with all the various turns ofpublicaffairs during the last eventful years of the 17thcentury. He could talkfrom his own knowledgeof men andeventsina way which failed not to win attentionand had thepeculiarartwhile he never said a word which committed himselfat thesame time to persuade the hearer that he was speakingwithoutthe least shadow of scrupulous caution or reserve.Ravenswoodin spite of his prejudices and real grounds ofresentmentfelt himself at once amused and instructed inlisteningto himwhile the statesmanwhose inward feelings hadat firstso much impeded his efforts to make himself knownhadnowregained all the ease and fluency of a silver-tongued lawyerof thevery highest order.

Hisdaughter did not speak muchbut she smiled; and what shedid sayargued a submissive gentlenessand a desire to givepleasurewhichto a proud man like Ravenswoodwas morefascinatingthan the most brilliant wit.  Above allhe could notbe observethatwhether from gratitude or from some othermotivehehimselfin his deserted and unprovided hallwas asmuch theobject of respectful attention to his guests as he wouldhave beenwhen surrounded by all the appliances and means ofhospitalityproper to his high birth.  All deficiencies passedunobservedorif they did not escape noticeit was to praisethesubstitutes which Caleb had contrived to supply the want ofthe usualaccommodations.  Where a smile was unavoidableit wasa verygood-humoured oneand often coupled with some well-turnedcomplimentto show how much the guests esteemed the merits oftheirnoble hosthow little they thought of the inconvenienceswith whichthey were surrounded.  I am not sure whether the prideof beingfound to outbalancein virtue of his own personalmeritallthe disadvantages of fortunedid not make asfavourablean impression upon the haughty heart of the Master ofRavenswoodas the conversation of the father and the beauty ofLucyAshton.

The hourof repose arrived.  The Keeper and his daughter retiredto theirapartmentswhich were "decored" more properly thancould havebeen anticipated.  In making the necessaryarrangementsMysie had indeed enjoyed the assistance of a gossipwho hadarrived from the village upon an exploratory expeditionbut hadbeen arrested by Caleband impressed into the domesticdrudgeryof the evening; so thatinstead of returning home todescribethe dress and person of the grand young ladyshe foundherselfcompelled to be active in the domestic economy of Wolf'sCrag.

Accordingto the custom of the timethe Master ofRavenswoodattended the Lord Keeper to his apartmentfollowed byCalebwhoplaced on the tablewith all the ceremonials due totorches ofwaxtwo rudely-framed tallow-candlessuch as inthose dayswere only used by the peasantryhooped in paltryclasps ofwirewhich served for candlesticks.  He thendisappearedand presently entered with two earthen flagons (thechinahesaidhad been little used since my lady's time)onefilledwith canary winethe other with brandy.  The canary sackunheedingall probabilities of detectionhe declared had beentwentyyears in the cellars of Wolf's Crag"though it was notfor him tospeak before their honours; the brandy--it was weel-kenn'dliquoras mild as mead and as strong as Sampson; it hadbeen inthe house ever since the memorable revelin which auldMicklestobhad been slain at the head of the stair by Jamie ofJenklebraeon account of the honour of the worshipful LadyMuirendwha was in some sort an ally of the family; natheless----"

"Butto cut that matter shortMr. Caleb" said the Keeper"perhapsyou will favour me with a ewer of water."

"Godforbid your lordship should drink water in thisfamily"replied Caleb"to the disgrace of so honourable anhouse!"

"Neverthelessif his lordship have a fancy" said the Mastersmiling"I think you might indulge him; forif I mistake notthere hasbeen water drank here at no distant dateand with goodrelishtoo."

"Tobe sureif his lordship has a fancy" said Caleb; and re-enteringwith a jug of pure element--"He will scarce find suchwateronywhere as is drawn frae the well at Wolf's Crag;nevertheless----"

"Neverthelesswe must leave the Lord Keeper to his repose inthis poorchamber of ours" said the Master of Ravenswoodinterruptinghis talkative domesticwho immediately turning tothedoorwaywith a profound reverenceprepared to usher hismasterfrom the secret chamber.

But theLord Keeper prevented his host's departure.--"I have butone wordto say to the Master of RavenswoodMr. Caleband Ifancy hewill excuse your waiting."

With asecond reverencelower than the formerCaleb withdrew;and hismaster stood motionlessexpectingwith considerableembarrassmentwhat was to close the events of a day fraught withunexpectedincidents.

"Masterof Ravenswood" said Sir William Ashtonwith someembarrassment"I hope you understand the Christian law too wellto sufferthe sun to set upon your anger."

The Masterblushed and replied"He had no occasion that eveningtoexercise the duty enjoined upon him by his Christian faith."

"Ishould have thought otherwise" said his guest"consideringthe various subjects of dispute and litigation whichhaveunhappily occurred more frequently than was desirable ornecessarybetwixt the late honourable lordyour fatherandmyself."

"Icould wishmy lord" said Ravenswoodagitated by suppressedemotion"that reference to these circumstances should be madeanywhererather than under my father's roof."

"Ishould have felt the delicacy of this appeal at anothertime"said Sir William Ashton"but now I must proceed with whatI mean tosay.  I have suffered too much in my own mindfrom thefalsedelicacy which prevented my soliciting with earnestnesswhatindeed I frequently requesteda personal communing withyourfather: much distress of mind to him and to me might havebeenprevented."

"Itis true" said Ravenswoodafter a moment's reflection"Ihave heardmy father say your lordship had proposed a personalinterview."

"Proposedmy dear Master?  I did indeed propose it; but I oughtto havebeggedentreatedbeseeched it.  I ought to have tornaway theveilwhich interested persons had stretched betwixt usand shownmyself as I waswilling to sacrifice a considerablepart evenof my legal rightsin order to conciliate feelings sonatural ashis must be allowed to have been.  Let me say formyselfmyyoung friendfor so I will call youthat had yourfather andI spent the same time together which my good fortunehasallowed me to-day to pass in your companyit is possible theland mightyet have enjoyed one of the mostrespectableof its ancient nobilityand I should have beenspared thepain of parting in enmity from a person whose generalcharacterI so much admired and honoured."

He put hishandkerchief to his eyes.  Ravenswood also was movedbutawaited in silence the progress of this extraordinarycommunication.

"Itis necessary" continued the Lord Keeper"and proper thatyou shouldunderstandthat there have been many points betwixtusinwhichalthough I judged it proper that there should be anexactascertainment of my legal rights by the decree of a courtofjusticeyet it was never my intention to press them beyondthe vergeof equity."

"Mylord" said the Master of Ravenswood"it is unnecessary topursuethis topic farther.  What the law will give youor hasgiven youyou enjoy--or you shall enjoy; neither my father norI myselfwould have received anything on the footing of favour."

"Favour! Noyou misunderstand me" resumed the Keeper; "orrather youare no lawyer.  A right may be good in lawandascertainedto be sowhich yet a man of honour may not in everycase careto avail himself of."

"I amsorry for itmy lord" said the Master.

"Naynay" retorted his guest"you speak like a youngcounsellor;your spirit goes before your wit.  There are manythingsstill open for decision betwixt us.  Can you blame meanold mandesirous of peaceand in the castle of a young noblemanwho hassaved my daughter's life and my ownthat I am desirousanxiouslydesirousthat these should be settled on the mostliberalprinciples?"The oldman kept fast hold of the Master's passive hand as hespokeandmade it impossible for himbe his predeterminationwhat itwouldto return any other than an acquiescent reply; andwishinghis guest good-nighthe postponed farther conferenceuntil thenext morning.

Ravenswoodhurried into the hallwhere he was to spend thenightandfor a time traversed its pavement with adisorderedand rapid pace.  His mortal foe was under his roofyet hissentiments towards him were neither those of a feudalenemy norof a true Christian.  He felt as if he could neitherforgivehim in the one characternor follow forth his vengeancein theotherbut that he was making a base and dishonourablecompositionbetwixt his resentment against the father and hisaffectionfor his daughter.  He cursed himselfas he hurried toand fro inthe pale moonlightand more ruddy gleams of theexpiringwood-fire.  He threw open and shut the latticed windowswithviolenceas if alike impatient of the admission andexclusionof free air.  At lengthhoweverthe torrent ofpassionfoamed off its madnessand he flung himself into thechairwhich he proposed as his place of repose for the night.

"Ifin reality" such were the calmer thoughts thatfollowedthe first tempest of his pasion--"ifin realitythismandesires no more than the law allows him--if he is willing toadjusteven his acknowledged rights upon an equitable footingwhat couldbe my father's cause of complaint?--what is mine?Those fromwho we won our ancient possessions fell under thesword ofmy ancestorsand left lands and livings to theconquerors;we sink under the force of the lawnow too powerfulfor theScottish cavalry.  Let us parley with the victors of thedayas ifwe had been besieged in our fortressand without hopeofrelief.  This man may be other than I have thought him; andhisdaughter--but I have resolved not to think of her."

He wrapthis cloak around himfell asleepand dreamed of LucyAshtontill daylight gleamed through the lattices.

 

CHAPTERXV.

Weworldly menwhen we see friends and kinsmenPasthope sunk in their fortuneslend no handTo liftthem upbut rather set our feetUpontheir heads to press them to the bottomAs Imust yield with you I practised it;But nowI see you in a way to riseI canand will assist you.

New Wayto Pay Old Debts.

 

THE LordKeeper carried with himto a couch harder than he wasaccustomedto stretch himself uponthe same ambitious thoughtsandpolitical perplexities which drive sleep from the softestdown thatever spread a bed of state.  He had sailed long enoughamid thecontending tides and currents of the time to besensibleof their periland of the necessity of trimming hisvessel tothe prevailing windif he would have her escapeshipwreckin the storm.  The nature of his talentsand thetimorousnessof disposition connected with themhad made himassume thepliability of the versatile old Earl of Northamptonwhoexplained the art by which he kept his ground during all thechanges ofstatefrom the reign of Henry VIII. to that ofElizabethby the frank avowalthat he was born of the willownot of theoak.  It had accordingly been Sir William Ashton'spolicyonall occasionsto watch the changes in the politicalhorizonandere yet the conflict was decidedto negotiate someinterestfor himself with the party most likely to provevictorious. His time-serving disposition was well-knownandexcitedthe contempt of the more daring leaders of both factionsin thestate.  But his talents were of a useful and practicalkindandhis legal knowledge held in high estimation; and theyso farcounterbalanced other deficiencies that those in powerwere gladto use and to rewardthough without absolutelytrustingor greating respectinghim.

TheMarquis of A---- had used his utmost influence to effect achange inthe Scottish cabinetand his schemes had been of lateso welllaid and so ably supportedthat there appeared a verygreatchance of his proving ultimatelysuccessful. He did nothoweverfeel so strong or so confidentas toneglect any means of drawing recruits to his standard.  Theacquisitionof the Lord Keeper was deemed of some importanceanda friendperfectly acquainted with his circumstances andcharacterbecame responsible for his political conversion.

When thisgentleman arrived at Ravenswood Castle upon a visitthe realpurpose of which was disguised under general courtesyhe foundthe prevailing fear which at present beset the LordKeeper wasthat of danger to his own person from the Master ofRavenswood. The language which the blind sibylOld Alicehadused; thesudden appearance of the Masterarmedand within hisprecinctsimmediately after he had been warned against dangerfrom him;the cold and haughty return received in exchange fortheacknowledgments with which he loaded him for his timelyprotectionhad all made a strong impression on his imagination.

So soon asthe Marquis's political agent found how the windsatehebegan to insinuate fears and doubts of another kindscarceless calculated to affect the Lord Keeper.  He inquiredwithseeming interestwhether the proceedings in Sir William'scomplicatedlitigation with the Ravenswood family were out ofcourtandsettled without the possibility of appeal.  The LordKeeperanswered in the affirmative; but his interrogator was toowellinformed to be imposed upon.  He pointed out to himbyunanswerableargumentsthat some of the most important pointswhich hadbeen decided in his favour against the house ofRavenswoodwere liableunder the Treaty of Unionto be reviewedby theBritish House of Peersa court of equity of which theLordKeeper felt an instinctive dread.  This course came insteadof anappeal  to the old Scottish Parliamentoras it wastechnicallytermed"a protestation for remeid in law."

The LordKeeperafter he had for some time disputed thelegalityof such a proceedingwas compelledat lengthtocomforthimself with the improbability of the young Master ofRavenswood'sfinding friends in parliament capable of stirringin soweighty an affair.

"Donot comfort yourself with that false hope" said his wilyfriend;"it is possible thatin the next session ofParliamentyoung Ravenswood may find more friends and favoureven thanyour lordship."

"Thatwould be a sight worth seeing" said the Keeperscornfully.

"Andyet" said his friend"such things have been seen ere nowand in ourown time.  There are many at the head of affairs evennow that afew years ago were under hiding for their lives; andmany a mannow dines on plate of silver that was fain to eat hiscrowdywithout a bicker; and many a high head has been broughtfull lowamong us in as short a space.  Scott of Scotsarvet'sStaggeringState of Scots Statesmenof which curious memoir youshowed mea manuscripthas been outstaggered in our time."

The LordKeeper answered with a deep sigh"That these mutationswere nonew sights in Scotlandand had been witnessed longbefore thetime of the satirical author he had quoted.  It wasmany along year" he said"since Fordun had quoted as anancientproverb'Neque divesneque fortissed nec sapiensScotuspraedominante invidiadiu durabit in terra.'"

"Andbe assuredmy esteemed friend" was the answer"that evenyour longservices to the stateor deep legal knowledgewillnot saveyouor render your estate stableif the Marquis of A---- comesin with a party in the British Parliament.  You knowthat thedeceased Lord Ravenswood was his near allyhis ladybeingfifth in descent from the Knight of Tillibardine; and I amwellassured that he will take young Ravenswood by the handandbe hisvery good lord and kinsman.  Why should he not?  TheMaster isan active and stirring young fellowable to helphimselfwith tongue and hands; and it is such as he that findsfriendsamong their kindredand not those unarmed and unableMephiboshethsthat are sure to be a burden to every one thattakes themup.  And soif these Ravenswood cases be called overthe coalsin the House of Peersyou will find that the Marquiswill havea crow to pluck with you."

"Thatwould be an evil requital" said the Lord Keeper"for mylongservices to the stateand the ancient respect in which Ihave heldhis lordship's honourable family and person."

"Aybut" rejoined the agent of the Marquis"it is in vain tolook backon past service and auld respectmy lord; it will bepresentservice and immediate proofs of regard whichin theseslidderytimeswill be expected by a man like the Marquis."

The LordKeeper now saw the full drift of his friend's argumentbut he wastoo cautious to return any positive answer.

"Heknew not" he said"the service which the Lord Marquiscouldexpect from one of his limited abilitiesthat had notalwaysstood at his commandstill saving and reserving his dutyto hisking and country."

Havingthus said nothingwhile he seemed to say everythingfortheexception was calculated to cover whatever he mightafterwardsthink proper to bring under itSir William Ashtonchangedthe conversationnor did he again permit the same topicto beintroduced.  His guest departedwithout having brought thewily oldstatesman the length of committing himselfor ofpledginghimself to any future line of conductbut with thecertaintythat he had alarmed his fears in a most sensible pointand laid afoundation for future and farther treaty.

When herendered an account of his negotiation to the Marquisthey bothagreed that the Keeper ought not to bepermittedto relapse into securityand that he should be pliedwith newsubjects of alarmespecially during the absence of hislady. They were well aware that her proudvindictiveandpredominatingspirit would be likely to supply him with thecourage inwhich he was deficient; that she was immovablyattachedto the party now in powerwith whom she maintained aclosecorrespondence and alliance; and that she hatedwithoutfearingthe Ravenswood family (whose more ancient dignity threwdiscrediton the newly acquired grandeur of her husband) to sucha degreethat she would have perilled the interest of her ownhouse tohave the prospect of altogether crushing that of herenemy.

But LadyAshton was now absent.  The business which had longdetainedher in Edinburgh had afterwards induced her to travel toLondonnot without the hope that she might contribute her sharetodisconcert the intrigues of the Marquis at court; for shestood highin favour with the celebrated Sarah Duchesss ofMarlboroughto whomin point of charactershe boreconsiderableresemblance.  It was necessary to press her husbandhardbefore her return; andas a preparatory stepthe Marquiswrote tothe Master of Ravenswood the letter which we rehearsedin aformer chapter.  It was cautiously wordedso as to leave itin thepower of the writer hereafter to take as deep or as slightaninterest in the fortunes of his kinsmen as the progress of hisownschemes might require.  But however unwillingas astatesmanthe Marquis might be to commit himselfor assume thecharacterof a patronwhile he had nothing to give awayit mustbe said tohis honour that he felt a strong inclinationeffectuallyto befriend the Master of Ravenswoodas well as touse hisname as a means of alarming the terrors of the LordKeeper.

As themessenger who carried this letter was to pass near thehouse ofthe Lord Keeperhe had it in direction thatin thevillageadjoining to the park-gate of the castlehis horseshouldlose a shoeand thatwhile it was replaced by the smithof theplacehe should express the utmost regret for thenecessaryloss of timeand in the vehemence of his impatiencegive it tobe understood that he was bearing a message from theMarquis ofA---- to the Master of Ravenswood upon a matter oflife anddeath.

This newswith exaggerationswas speedily carried from variousquartersto the ears of the Lord Keeperand eachreporterdwelt upon the extreme impatience of the courierandthesurprising short time in which he had executed his journey.Theanxious statesman heard in silence; but in private Lockhardreceivedorders to watch the courier on his returnto waylay himin thevillageto ply him with liquorif possibleand to useall meansfair or foulto learn the contents of the letter ofwhich hewas the bearer.  But as this plot had been foreseenthemessengerreturned by a different and distant roadand thusescapedthe snare that was laid for him.

After hehad been in vain expected for some timeMr. Dingwallhad ordersto made especial inquiry among his clients of Wolf'sHopewhether such a domestic belonging to the Marquis of A----hadactually arrived at the neighbouring castle.  This waseasilyascertained; for Caleb had been in the village one morningby fiveo'clockto borrow "twa chappins of ale and a kipper" forthemessenger's refreshmentand the poor fellow had been ill fortwenty-fourhours at Luckie Sma'trash'sin consequence of diningupon "sautsaumon and sour drink."  So that the existence of acorrespondencebetwixt the Marquis and his distressed kinsmanwhich SirWilliam Ashton had sometimes treated as a bugbearwasprovedbeyond the possibility of further doubt.

The alarmof the Lord Keeper became very serious; since theClaim ofRightthe power of appealing from the decisions of thecivilcourt to the Estates of Parliamentwhich had formerlybeen heldincompetenthad in many instances been claimedand insomeallowedand he had no small reason to apprehend the issueif theEnglish House of Lords should be disposed to act upon anappealfrom the Master of Ravenswood "for remeid in law."  Itwouldresolve into an equitable claimand be decidedperhapsupon thebroad principles of justicewhich were not quite sofavourableto the Lord Keeper as those of strict law.  Besidesjudgingthough most inaccuratelyfrom courts which he hadhimselfknown in the unhappy times preceding the Scottish Unionthe Keepermight have too much right to think thatin the Houseto whichhis lawsuits were to be transferredthe old maxim mightprevailwhich was too well recognised in Scotland in formertimes: "Show me the manand I'll show you the law."  Thehighandunbiassed character of English judicial proceedings was thenlittleknown in Scotlandand the extension of them to thatcountrywas one of the most valuable advantages which it gainedby theUnion.  But this was a blessing which the Lord Keeperwhohad livedunder another systemcould not have the means offoreseeing. In the loss of his politicalconsequencehe anticipated the loss of his lawsuit.  Meanwhileeveryreport which reached him served to render the success oftheMarquis's intrigues the more probableand the Lord Keeperbegan tothink it indispensable that he should look round forsome kindof protection against the coming storm.  The timidityof histemper induced him to adopt measures of compromise andconciliation. The affair of the wild bullproperly managedmighthethoughtbe made to facilitate a personal communicationandreconciliation betwixt the Master and himself.  He would thenlearnifpossiblewhat his own ideas were of the extent of hisrightsand the means of enforcing them; and perhaps mattersmight bebrought to a compromisewhere one party was wealthy andthe otherso very poor.  A reconciliation with Ravenswood waslikely togive him an opportunity to play his own game with theMarquis ofA----.  "And besides" said he to himself"itwill bean act ofgenerosity to raise up the heir of this distressedfamily;and if he is to be warmly and effectually befriended bythe newgovernmentwho knows but my virtue may prove its ownreward?"

Thusthought Sir William Ashtoncovering with no unusual self-delusionhis interested views with a hue of virtue; and havingattainedthis pointhis fancy strayed still farther.  He beganto bethinkhimself"That if Ravenswood was to have adistinguishedplace of power and trustand if such a union wouldsopite theheavier part of his unadjusted claimsthere might beworsematches for his daughter Lucy: the Master might be reponedagainstthe attainder.  Lord Ravenswood was an ancient titleandthealliance wouldin some measurelegitimate his ownpossessionof the greater part of the Master's spoilsand makethesurrender of the rest a subject of less bitter regret."

With thesemingled and multifarious plans occupying his headthe LordKeeper availed himself of my Lord Bittlebrains'srepeatedinvitation to his residenceand thus came within a veryfew milesof Wolf's Crag.  Here he found the lord of the mansionabsentbut was couteously received by the ladywho expected herhusband'simmediate return.  She expressed her particular delightat seeingMiss Ashtonand appointed the hounds to be taken outfor theLord Keeper's special amusement. He readily entered intotheproposalas giving him anopportunityto reconnoitre Wolf's Cragand perhaps to make someacquaintancewith the ownerif he should be tempted from hisdesolatemansion by the chase.  Lockhard had his orders toendeavouron his part to make some acquaintance with the inmatesof thecastleand we have seen how he played his part.

Theaccidental storm did more to further the Lord Keeper's planof forminga personal acquaintance with young Ravenswood than hismostsanguine expectations could have anticipated.  His fear ofthe youngnobleman's personal resentment had greatly decreasedsince heconsidered him as formidable from his legal claims andthe meanshe might have of enforcing them.  But although hethoughtnot unreasonablythat only desperate circumstancesdrove menon desperate measuresit was not without a secretterrorwhich shook his heart within himthat he first felthimselfinclosed within the desolate Tower of Wolf's Crag; aplace sowell fittedfrom solitude and strengthto be a sceneofviolence and vengeance.  The stern reception at first given tothem bythe Master of Ravenswoodand the difficulty he felt inexplainingto that injured nobleman what guests were under theshelter ofhis roofdid not soothe these alarms; so that whenSirWilliam Ashton heard the door of the courtyard shut behindhim withviolencethe words of Alice rung in his ears"That hehad drawnon matters too hardly with so fierce a race as those ofRavenswoodand that they would bide their time to be avenged."

Thesubsequent frankness of the Master's hospitalityas theiracquaintanceincreasedabated the apprehensions theserecollectionswere calculated to excite; and it did not escapeSirWilliam Ashtonthat it was to Lucy's grace and beauty heowed thechange in their host's behavior.

All thesethoughts thronged upon him when he took possession ofthe secretchamber.  The iron lampthe unfurnished apartmentmoreresembling a prison than a place of ordinary reposethehoarse andceaseless sound of the waves rushing against the baseof therock on which the castle was foundedsaddened andperplexedhis mind.  To his own successfulmachinationsthe ruin of the family had been in a great measureowingbuthis disposition was craftyand not cruel; so thatactuallyto witness the desolation and distress he had himselfoccasionedwas as painful to him as it would be to the humanemistressof a family to superintend in person the execution ofthe lambsand poultry which are killed by her own directions.  Atthe sametimewhen he thought of the alternative of restoring toRavenswooda large proportion of his spoilsor of adoptingasan allyand member of his own familythe heir of thisimpoverishedhousehe felt as the spider may be supposed to dowhen hiswhole webthe intricacies of whyich had been plannedwith somuch artis destroyed by the chance sweep of a broom.And thenif he should commit himself too far in this matteritgave riseto a perilous questionwhich many a good husbandwhenundertemptation to act as a free agenthas asked himselfwithoutbeing able to return a satisfactory answer:  "What willmywife--what will Lady Ashton say?"  On the wholehe came atlength tothe resolution in which minds of a weaker cast so oftentakerefuge.  He resolved to watch eventsto take advantage ofcircumstancesas they occurredand regulate his conductaccordingly. In this spirit of temporising policyhe at lengthcomposedhis mind to rest.

 

 

CHAPTERXVI.

Aslight note I have about me for youfor the delivery of whichyoumust excuse me.  It is an offer that friendship calls upon meto doand no way offensive to yousince I desire nothing butrightupon both sides.

Kingand no King.

 

WHENRavenswood and his guest met in the morningthe gloom oftheMaster's spirit had in part returned.  Healsohad passed anightrather of reflection that of slumber; and the feelingswhich hecould not but entertain towards Lucy Ashton had tosupport asevere conflict against those which he had so longnourishedagainst her father.  To clasp in friendship the hand ofthe enemyof his houseto entertain him under his rooftoexchangewith him the courtesies and the kindness of domesticfamiliaritywas a degradation which his proud spirit could notbe bent towithout a struggle.

But theice being once brokenthe Lord Keeper was resolved itshould nothave time against to freeze.  It had been part of hisplan tostun and confuse Ravenswood's ideasby acomplicatedand technical statement of the matters which had beenin debatebetwixt their familiesjustly thinking that it wouldbedifficult for a youth of his age to follow the expositions ofapractical lawyerconcerning actions of compt and reckoningand ofmultiplepoindingsand adjudications and wadsetsproperandimproperand poindings of the groundand declarations ofthe expiryof the legal.  "Thus" thought Sir William"Ishallhave allthe grace of appearing perfectly communicativewhile myparty willderive very little advantage from anything I may tellhim." He therefore took Ravenswood aside into the deep recess ofa windowin the halland resuming the discourse of the procedingeveningexpressed a hope that his young friend would assume somepatiencein order to hear him enter in a minute and explanatorydetail ofthose unfortunate circumstances in which his latehonourablefather had stood at variance with the Lord Keeper.The Masterof Ravenswood  coloured highlybut was silent; andthe LordKeeperthough not greatly approving the suddenheighteningof his auditor's complexioncommenced the historyof a bondfor twenty thousand merksadvanced by his father tothe fatherof Allan Lord Ravenswoodand was proceeding to detailtheexecutorial proceedings by which this large sum had beenrendered adebitum fundiwhen he was interrupted by the Master.

"Itis not in this place" he said"that I can hear SirWilliamAshton'sexplanation of the matters in question between us.  Itis notherewhere my father died of a broken heartthat I canwithdecency or temper investigate the cause of his distress.  Imightremember that I was a sonand forget the duties of a host.A timehoweverthere must comewhen these things shall bediscussedin a place and in a presence where both of us willhave equalfreedom to speak and to hear."

"Anytime" the Lord Keeper said"any placewas alike to thosewho soughtnothing but justice.  Yet it would seem he wasinfairnessentitled to some premonition respecting the groundsupon whichthe Master proposed to impugn the whole train of legalproceedingswhich had been so well and ripely advised in theonlycourts competent."

"SirWilliam Ashton" answered the Masterwith warmth"thelandswhich you now occupy were granted to my remote ancestor forservicesdone with his sword against the English invaders.  Howthey haveglided from us by a train of proceedings that seem tobe neithersalenor mortgagenor adjudication for debtbut anondescriptand entangled mixture of all these rights; how annualrent hasbeen accumulated upon principaland no nook or coign oflegaladvantage left unoccupieduntil our interest in ourhereditaryproperty seems to have melted away like an icicle inthaw--allthis you understand better than I do.  I am willinghoweverto supposefrom the frankness of your conduct towardsmethat Imay in a great measure have mistaken your personalcharacterand that things may have appeared right and fitting toyouaskilful and practised lawyerwhich to my ignorantunderstandingseem very little short of injustice and grossoppression."

"Andyoumy dear Master" answered Sir William--"youpermit meto sayhave been equally misrepresented to me.  I was taught tobelieveyou a fierceimperioushot-headed youthreadyat theslightestprovocationto throw your sword into the scales ofjusticeand to appeal to those rude and forcible measures fromwhichcivil polity has long protected the people of Scotland.Thensince we were mutually mistaken in each otherwhy shouldnot theyoung nobleman be willing to listen to the old lawyerwhileatleasthe explains the points of difference betwixtthem?"

"Nomy lord" answered Ravenswood; "it is in the House ofBritishPeerswhose honour must be equal to their rank--it is inthe courtof last resort that we must parley together.  Thebeltedlords of Britainher ancient peersmust decideif it istheir willthat a housenot the least noble of their membersshall bestripped of their possessionsthe reward of thepatriotismof generationsas the pawn of a wretched mechanicbecomesforfeit to the usurer the instant the hour of redemptionhas passedaway.  If they yield to the grasping severity of thecreditorand to the gnawing usury that eats into our lands asmoths intoa raimentit will be of more evil consequence to themand theirposterity than to Edgar Ravenswood.  I shall still havemy swordand my cloakand can follow the profession of armswherever atrumpet shall sound."

As hepronounced these wordsin a firm yet melancholy toneheraised hiseyesand suddenly encountered those of Lucy Ashtonwho hadstolen unawares on their interviewand observed herlooksfastened on them with an expression of enthusiasticinterestand admirationwhich had wrapt her for the momentbeyond thefear of discovery.  The noble form and fine featuresofRavenswoodfired with the pride of birth and sense ofinternaldignitythe mellow and expressive tones of his voicethedesolate state of his fortunesand the indifference withwhich heseemed to endure and to dare the worst that mightbefallrendered him a dangerous object of contemplation for amaidenalready too much disposed to dwell upon recollectionsconnectedwith him.  When their eyes encountered each otherbothblusheddeeplyconscious of some strong internal emotionanshunnedagain to meet each other's looks.  Sir William Ashtonhadofcourseclosely watched the expression of theircountenances. "I need fear" said he internally"neitherParliamentnor protestation; I have an effectual mode ofreconcilingmyself with this hot-tempered young fellowin casehe shallbecome formidable.  The present object isat alleventstoavoid committing ourselves.   The hook is fixed; wewill ntostrain the line too soon: it is as well to reserve theprivilegeof slipping it looseif we do not find the fish worthlanding."

In thisselfish and cruel calculation upon the supposedattachmentof Ravenswood to Lucyhe was so far from consideringthe painhe might give to the formerby thus dallying with hisaffectionsthat he even did not think upon the risk of involvinghis owndaughter in the perils of an unfortunate passion; as ifherpredilectionwhich could not escape his attentionwere likethe flameof a taper which might be lighted or extinguished atpleasure. But Providence had prepared a dreadful requital forthis keenobserver of human passionswho had spent his life insecuringadvantages to himself by artfully working upon thepassionsof others.

CalebBalderstone now came to announce that breakfast wasprepared;for in those days of substantial feedingthe relics ofthe suppersimply furnished forth the morning meal.  Neither didhe forgetto present to the Lord Keeperwith great reverenceamorningdraught in a large pewter cupgarnished with leaves ofparsleyand scurvy-grass.  He craved pardonof courseforhavingomitted to serve it in the great silver standing cup asbehovedbeing that it was at present in a silversmith's inEdinburghfor the purpose of being overlaid with gilt.

"InEdinburgh like enough" said Ravenswood; "but in whatplaceor forwhat purposeI am afraid neither you nor I know."

"Aweel!"said Calebpeevishly"there's a man standing at thegatealready this morning--that's ae thing that I ken.  Doesyourhonour ken whether ye will speak wi' him or no?"

"Doeshe wish to speak with meCaleb?"

"Lesswill no serve him" said Caleb; "but ye had best take avisie ofhim through the wicket before opening the gate; it's noevery anewe suld let into this castle."

"What!do you suppose him to be a messenger come to arrest mefor debt?"said Ravenswood.

"Amessenger arrest your honour for debtand in your Castle ofWolf'sCrag!  Your honour is jesting wi' auld Caleb thismorning." Howeverhe whispered in his earas he followed himout"Iwould be loth to do ony decent man aprejudicein your honour's gude opinion; but I would tak twalooks o'that chield before I let him within these walls."

He was notan officer of the lawhowever; being no less apersonthan Captain Craigengeltwith his nose as red as acomfortablecup of brandy could make ithis laced cocked hat seta littleaside upon the top of his black riding periwiga swordby hisside and pistols at his holstersand his person arrayedin ariding suitlaid over with tarnished lace--the very moralof one whowould say"Stand to a true man."

When theMaster had recognised himhe ordered the gates to beopened. "I suppose" he said"Captain Craigengeltthere areno suchweighty matters betwixt you and mebut may be discussedin thisplace.  I have company in the castle at presentand theterms uponwhich we last parted must excuse my asking you to makepart ofthem."

Craigengeltalthough possessing the very perfection ofimpudencewas somewhat abashed by this unfavourable reception."Hehad no intention" he said"to force himself upon theMaster ofRavenswood's hospitality; he was in the honourableservice ofbearing a message to him from a friendotherwise theMaster ofRavenswood should not have had reason to complain ofthisintrusion."

"Letit be shortsir" said the Master"for that will be thebestapology.  Who is the gentleman who is so fortunate as tohave yourservices as a messenger?"

"MyfriendMr. Hayston of Bucklaw" answered Craigengeltwithconsciousimportanceand that confidence which theacknowledgedcourage of his principal inspired"who conceiveshimself tohave been treated by you with something much short oftherespect which he had reason to demandandtherefore isresolvedto exact satisfaction.  I bring with me" said hetaking apiece of paper out of his pocket"the precise length ofhis sword;and he requests you will meet himaccompanied by afriendand equally armedat any place within a mile of thecastlewhen I shall give attendance as umpireor secondon hisbehoof."

"Satisfaction!and equal arms!" repeated Ravenswoodwhothereaderwill recollecthad no reason to suppose he had given theslightestoffence to his late intimate; "upon my wordCaptainCraigengelteither you have invented the most improbablefalsehoodthat ever came into the mind of such a personor yourmorningdraught has been somewhat of the strongest.  What couldpersuadeBucklaw to send me such a message?"

"Forthatsir" replied Craigengelt"I am desired to refer youto whatin duty to my friendI am to term yourinhospitalityin excluding him from your housewithout reasonsassigned."

"Itis impossible" replied the Master; "he cannot be such afool as tointerpret actual necessity as an insult.  Nor do Ibelievethatknowing my opinion of youCaptainhe would haveemployedthe services of so slight and inconsiderable a person asyourselfupon such an errandas I certainly could expect no manof honourto act with you in the office of umpire."

"Islight and inconsiderable?" said Craigengeltraising hisvoiceandlaying his hand on his cutlass; "if it were not thatthequarrel of my friend craves the precedenceand is independencebefore my ownI would give you to understand----"

"Ican understand nothing upon your explanationCaptainCraigengelt. Be satisfied of thatand oblige me with yourdeparture."

"D----n!"muttered the bully; "and is this the answer which I amto carryback to an honourable message?"

"Tellthe Laird of Bucklaw" answered Ravenswood"if you arereallysent by himthatwhen he sends me his cause ofgrievanceby a person fitting to carry such an errand betwixt himand meIwill either explain it or maintain it."

"ThenMasteryou will at least cause to be returned toHaystonby my handshis property which is remaining in yourpossession."

"Whateverproperty Bucklaw may have left behind himsir"repliedthe Master"shall be returned to him by my servantasyou do notshow me any credentials from him which entitle you toreceiveit."

"WellMaster" said Captain Craigengeltwith malice which evenhis fearof the consequences could not suppress"you have thismorningdone me an egregious wrong adn dishonourbut far more toyourself. A castle indeed!" he continuedlooking around him;"whythis is worse than a coupe-gorge housewhere theyreceivetravellers to plunder them of their property."

"Youinsolent rascal" said the Masterraising his caneandmaking agrasp at the Captain's bridle"if you do not departwithoututtering another syllableI will batoon you to death!"

At themotion of the Master towards himthe bully turned sorapidlyroundthat with some difficulty he escaped throwing downhis horsewhose hoofs struck fire from the rocky pavement ineverydirection.  Recovering himhoweverwith the bridlehepushed forthe gateand rode sharply back again in the directionof thevillage.

AsRavenswood turned round to leave the courtyard after thisdialoguehe found that the Lord Keeper had descended from thehallandwitnessedthough at the distance prescribed bypolitenesshis interview with Craigengelt.

"Ihave seen" said the Lord Keeper"that gentleman's faceandat nogreat distance of time; his name is Craig--Craig--somethingis it not?"

"Craigengeltis the fellow's name" said the Master"at leastthat bywhich he passes at present."

"Craig-in-guilt"said Calebpunning upon the word "craig"which inScotch signifies throat; "if he is Craig-in-guilt justnowhe isas likely to be Craig-in-peril as ony chield I eversaw; theloon has woodie written on his very visnomyand I wadwager twaand a plack that hemp plaits his cravat yet."

"Youunderstand physiognomygood Mr. Caleb" said the Keepersmiling;"I assure you the gentleman has been near such aconsummationbefore now; for I most distinctly recollect thatuponoccasion of a journey which I made about a fortnight ago toEdinburghI saw Mr. Craigengeltor whatever is his nameundergo asevere examination before the privy council."

"Uponwhat account?" said the Master of Ravenswoodwith someinterest.

Thequestion led immediately to a tale which the Lord Keeper hadbeen veryanxious to introducewhen he could find a gracefulandfitting opportunity.  He took hold of the Master's armandled himback towards the hall.  "The answer to your question"hesaid"though it is a ridiculous businessis only fit for yourown ear."

As theyentered the hallhe again took the Master apart intoone of therecesses of the windowwhere it will be easilybelievedthat Miss Ashton did not venture again to intrude upontheirconference.

 

CHAPTERXVII.

Here isa father nowWilltruck his daughter for a foreign ventureMakeher the stop-gap to some canker'd feudOrfling her o'erlike Jonahto the fishesToappease the sea at highest.

Anonymous.

 

THE LordKeeper opened his discourse with an appearance ofunconcernmarkinghoweververy carefullythe effect of hiscommunicationupon young Ravenswood.

"Youare aware" he said"my young friendthat suspicion isthenatural vice of our unsettled timesand exposes the bestand wisestof us to the imposition of artful rascals.  If I hadbeendisposed to listen to such the other dayor even if I hadbeen thewily politicians which you have been taught to believemeyouMaster of Ravenswoodinstead of being at freedomandwith fullyliberty to solicit and act against me as you pleasein defenceof what you suppose to be your rightswould have beenin theCastle of Edinburghor some other state prison; orifyou hadescaped that destinyit must have been by flight to aforeigncountryand at the risk of a sentence of fugitation."

"MyLord Keeper" said the Master"I think you would not jeston such asubject; yet it seems impossible you can be inearnest."

"Innocence"said the Lord Keeper"is also confidentandsometimesthough very excusablypresumptuously so."

"I donot understand" said Ravenswood"how a consciouness ofinnocencecan bein any case  accounted presumtuous."

"Imprudentat leastit may be called" said Sir WilliamAshton"since it is apt to lead us into the mistake ofsupposeingthat sufficiently evident to others of whichin factwe areonly conscious ourselves.  I have known a roguefor thisveryreasonmake a better defence than an innocent man couldhave donein the same circumstances of suspicion.  Having noconsciousnessof innocence to support himsuch a fellow applieshimself toall the advantages which the law will afford himandsometimes--ifhis counsel be men of talent--succeeds incompellinghis judges to receive him as innocent.  I remember thecelebratedcase of Sir Coolie Condiddle of Condiddlewho wastried fortheft under trustof which all the world knew himguiltyand yet was not only acquittedbut lived to sit injudgmenton honester folk."

"Allowme to beg you will return to the point" said the Master;"youseemed to say that I had suffered under somesuspicion."

"SuspicionMaster!  Aytrulyand I can show you the proofs ofit; if Ihappen only to have them with me.  HereLockhard." Hisattendantcame.  "Fetch me the little private mail with thepadlocksthat I recommended to your particular charged'yehear?"

"Yesmy lord."  Lockhard vanished; and the Keepercontinuedas if half speaking to himself.

"Ithink the papers are with me--I think soforas I was to bein thiscountryit was natural for me to bring them with me.  Ihave themhoweverat Ravenswood Castlethat I am sure; soperhapsyou might condescend----"

HereLockhard enteredand put the leathern scrutoireor mail-boxintohis hands.  The Keeper produced one or two papersrespectingthe information laid before the privy councilconcerningthe riotas it was termedat the funeral of AllanLordRavenswoodand the active share he had himself taken inquashingthe proceedings against the Master.  These documents hadbeenselected with careso as to irritate the natural curiosityofRavenswood upon such a subjectwithout gratifying ityet toshow thatSir William Ashton had acted upon that trying occasionthe partof an advocate and peacemaker betwixt him and thejealousauthorities of the day.  Having furnished his host withsuchsubjects for examinationthe Lord Keeper went to thebreakfast-tableand entered into light conversationaddressedpartly toold Calebwhose resentment against the usurper of theCastle ofRavenswood began to be softened by his familiarityandpartly tohis daughter.

Afterperusing these papersthe Master of Ravenswood remainedfor aminute or two with his hand pressed against his browindeep andprofound meditation.  He then again ran his eye hastilyover thepapersas if desirous of discovering in them some deeppurposeor some mark of fabricationwhich had escaped him atfirstperusal.  Apparently the second reading confirmed theopinionwhich had pressed upon him at the firstfor he startedfrom thestone bench on which he was sittingandgoing to theLordKeepertook his handandstrongly pressing itasked hispardonrepeatedly for the injustice he had done himwhen itappearedhe was experiencingat his handsthe benefit ofprotectionto his person and vindication to his character.

Thestatesman received these acknowledgments at first with well-feignedsurpriseand then with an affectation of frankcordiality. The tears began already to start from Lucy's blueeyes atviewing this unexpected and moving scene.  To see theMasterlate so haughty and reservedand whom she had alwayssupposedthe injured personsupplicating her father forforgivenesswas a change at once surprisingflatteringandaffecting.

"Dryyour eyesLucy" said her father; "why should you weepbecauseyour fatherthough a lawyeris discovered to be a fairandhonourable man?  What have you to thank me formy dearMaster"he continuedaddressing Ravenswood"that you would nothave donein my case?  'Suum cuique tribuito' was the Romanjusticeand I learned it when I studied Justinian.  Besideshave younot overpaid me a thousand timesin saving the life ofthis dearchild?"

"Yes"answered the Masterin all the remorse of self-accusation;"but the little service _I_ did was an act of merebrutalinstinct; YOUR defence of my causewhen you knew howill Ithought of youand how much I was disposed to be yourenemywasan act of generousmanlyand considerate wisdom."

"Pshaw!"said the Lord Keeper"each of us acted in his own way;you as agallant soldierI as an upright judge and privy-councillor. We could notperhapshave changed parts; at leastI shouldhave made a very sorry tauridorand youmy goodMasterthough your cause is so excellentmight have pleaded itperhapsworse yourself than I who acted for you before thecouncil."

"Mygenerous friend!" said Ravenswood; and with that brief wordwhich theKeeper had often lavished upon himbut which hehimselfnow pronounced for the first timehe gave to his feudalenemy thefull confidence of an haughty but honourable heart.The Masterhad been remarked among his contemporaries for senseandacutenessas well as for his reservedpertinaciousandirasciblecharacter.  His prepossessions accordinglyhoweverobstinatewere of a nature to give way before love andgratitude;and the real charms of the daughterjoined to thesupposedservices of the fathercancelled in his memory the vowsofvengeance which he had taken so deeply on the eve of hisfather'sfuneral.  But they had been heard and registered in thebook offate.

Caleb waspresent at this extraordinary sceneand he couldconceiveno other reason for a proceeding so extraordinary thananalliance betwixt the housesand Ravenswood Castle assignedfor theyoung lady's dowry.  As for Lucywhen Ravenswood utteredthe mostpassionate excuses for his ungrateful negligenceshecould butsmile through her tearsandas she abandoned her handto himassure himin broken accentsof the delight with whichshe beheldthe complete reconciliation between her father and herdeliverer. Even the statesman was moved and affected by thefieryunreservedand generous self-abandonment with which theMaster ofRavenswood renounced his feudal enmityand threwhimselfwithout hesitation upon his forgiveness.  His eyesglistenedas he looked upon a couple who were obviously becomingattachedand who seemed made for each other.   He thought howhigh theproud and chivalrous character of Ravenswood might riseunder manycircumstances in which HE found himself "overcrowed"to use aphrase of Spenserand kept underby his briefpedigreeand timidity of disposition.  Then his daughter--hisfavoritechild--his constant playmate--seemed formed to livehappy in aunion with such a commanding spirit as Ravenswood; andeven thefinedelicatefragile form of Lucy Ashton seemed torequirethe support of the Master's muscular strength andmasculinecharacter.  And it was not merely during a few minutesthat SirWilliam Ashton looked upon their marriage as a probableand evendesirable eventfor a full hour intervened ere hisimaginationwas crossed by recollection of the Master's povertyand thesure displeasure of Lady Ashton.   It is certainthatthe veryunusual flow of kindly feeling with which the LordKeeper hadbeen thus surprisedwas one of the circumstanceswhich gavemuch tacit encouragement to the attachment between theMaster andhis daughterand led both the lovers distinctly tobelievethat it was a connexion which would be most agreeable tohim. He himself was supposed to have admitted this in effectwhenlongafter the catastrophe of their lovehe used to warnhishearers against permitting their feelings to obtain anascendencyover their judgmentand affirmthat the greatestmisfortunteof his life was owing to a very temporarypredominanceof sensibility over self-interest.  It must beownedifsuch was the casehe was long and severely punishedfor anoffence of very brief duration.

After somepausethe Lord Keeper resumed the conversation.--

"Inyour surprise at finding me an honester man than youexpectedyou have lost your curiosity about this CraigengeltmygoodMaster; and yet your name was brought inin the course ofthatmatter too."

"Thescoundrel!" said Ravenswood.  "My connexion with himwas ofthe mosttemporary nature possible; and yet I was very foolish tohold anycommunication with him at all.  What did he say of me?"

"Enough"said the Keeper"to excite the very loyal terrors ofsome ofour sageswho are for proceeding against men on themeregrounds of suspicion or mercenary information.  Somenonsenseabout your proposing to enter into the service ofFranceorof the PretenderI don't recollect whichbut whichtheMarquis of A----one of your best friendsand anotherpersonwhom some call one of your worst and most interestedenemiescould notsomehowbe brought to listen to."

"I amobliged to my honourable friend; and yet" shaking theLordKeeper's hand--"and yet I am still more obliged to myhonourableenemy."

"Inimicusamicissimus" said the Lord Keeperreturning thepressure;"but this gentleman--this Mr. Hayston of Bucklaw--I amafraid thepoor young man--I heard the fellow mention his name--is undervery bad guidance."

"Heis old enough to govern himself" answered the Master.

"Oldenoughperhapsbut scarce wise enoughif he has chosenthisfellow for his fidus Achates.  Whyhe lodged aninformationagainst him--that issuch a consequence might haveensuedfrom his examinationhad we not looked rather at thecharacterof the witness than the tenor of his evidence."

"Mr.Hayston of Bucklaw" said the master"isI believeamosthonourable manand capable of nothing that is mean ordisgraceful."

"Capableof much that is unreasonablethough; that you mustneedsallowmaster.  Death will soon put him in possession of afairestateif he hath it not already; old Lady Girnington--anexcellentpersonexcepting that her inveterate ill-naturerenderedher intolerable to the whole world--is probably dead bythistime.  Six heirs portioners have successively died to makeherwealthy.  I know the estates well; they march with my own--anobleproperty."

"I amglad of it" said Ravenswood"and should be more sowereIconfident that Bucklaw would change his company and habitswith hisfortunes.  This appearance of Craigengeltacting in thecapacityof his friendis a most vile augury for his futurerespectability."

"Heis a bird of evil omento be sure" said the Keeper"andcroaks ofjail and gallows-tree.  But I see Mr. Caleb growsimpatientfor our return to breakfast."

 

CHAPTERXVIII.

Sirstay at home and take an old man's counsel;Seeknot to bask you by a stranger's hearth;Our ownblue smoke is warmer than their fire.Domesticfood is wholesomethough 'tis homelyAndforeign dainties poisonousthough tasteful.

TheFrench Courtezan.

 

THE Masterof Ravenswood took an opportunity to leave his gueststo preparefor their departurewhile he himself made the briefarrangementsnecessary previous to his absence from Wolf's Cragfor a dayor two.  It was necessary to communicate with Caleb onthisoccasionand he found that faithful servitor in his sootyandruinous dengreatly delighted with the departure of theirvisitorsand computing how longwith good managementtheprovisionswhich had been unexpended might furnish the Master'stable. "He's nae belly godthat's ae blessing; and Bucklaw'sganethatcould have eaten a horse behind the saddle.  Cressesorwater-purpieand a bit ait-cakecan serve the Master forbreakfastas weel as Caleb.  Then for dinner--there's no muckleleft onthe spule-bane; it will branderthough--it will branderveryweel."

Histriumphant calculations were interrupted by the Masterwhocommunicatedto himnot without some hesitationhis purpose toride withthe Lord Keeper as far as Ravenswood Castleand toremainthere for a day or two.

"Themercy of Heaven forbid!" said the old serving-manturningas pal asthe table-cloth which he was folding up.

"AndwhyCaleb?" said his master--"why should the mercy ofHeavenforbid my returning the Lord Keeper's visit?"

"Ohsir!" replied Caleb--"ohMr. Edgar!  I am yourservantand it ill becomes me to speak; but I am an auldservant--haveserved baith your father and gudesireand mind tohave seenLord Randalyour great-grandfatherbut that was whenI was abairn."

"Andwhat of all thisBalderstone?" said the Master; "what canitpossibly have to do with my paying some ordinary civility to aneighbour."

"OhMr. Edgar--that ismy lord!" answered the butler"yourainconscience tells you it isna for your father's son to beneighbouringwi' the like o' him; it isna for the credit of thefamily. An he were ance come to termsand to gie ye back youraine'enthough ye suld honour his house wi' your allianceIsuldna sayna; for the young leddy is a winsome sweet creature.But keepyour ain state wi' them--I ken the race o' them weel--they willthink the mair o' ye."

"Whynowyou go father than I doCaleb" said the Masterdrowning acertain degree of consciousness in a forced laugh;"youare for marrying me into a family that you will nto allow meto visithow this? and you look as pale as death besides."

"Ohsir" repeated Caleb again"you would but laugh if I tauldit; butThomas the Rhymerwhose tongue couldna be fausespokethe wordof your house that will e'en prove ower true if you gotoRavenswood this day.  Oh  that it should e'er have beenfulfilledin my time!"

"Andwhat is itCaleb?" said Ravenswoodwishing to soothe thefears ofhis old servant.

Calebreplied:  "He had never repeated the lines to livingmortal;they were told to him by an auld priest that had beenconfessorto Lord Allan's father when the family were Catholic.But mony atime" he said"I hae soughed thae dark words ower tomyselfandwell-a-day! little did I think of their coming roundthis day."

"Trucewith your nonsenseand let me hear the doggerel whichhas put itinto your head" said the Masterimpatiently.

With aquivering voiceand a cheek pale with apprehensionCalebfaltered out the following lines:

"Whenthe last Laird of Ravenswood to Ravenswood shall rideAnd woo adead maiden to be his brideHe shallstable his steed in the Kelpie's flowAnd hisname shall be lost for evermoe!"

"Iknow the Kelpie's flow well enough" said the Master; "Isupposeat leastyou mean the quicksand betwixt this tower andWolf'sHope; but why any man in his senses should stable a steedthere----"

"Ohever speer ony thing about thatsir--God forbid we shouldken whatthe prophecy means--but just bide you at hameand letthestrangers ride to Ravenswood by themselves.  We have doneeneugh forthem; and to do mair would be mair against the creditof thefamily than in its favour."

"WellCaleb" said the Master"I give you the bestpossiblecredit for your good advice on this occasion; but as Ido not goto Ravenswood to seek a bridedead or aliveI hope Ishallchoose a better stable for my horse than the Kelpie'squicksandand especially as I have always had a particular dreadof itsince the patrol of dragoons were lost there ten yearssince. My father and I saw them from the tower strugglingagainstthe advancing tideand they were lost long before anyhelp couldreach them."

"Andthey deserved it weelthe southern loons!" said Caleb;"whathad they ado capering on our sandsand hindering a wheenhonestfolk frae bringing on shore a drap brandy?  I hae seenthem thatbusythat I wad hae fired the auld culverin or thedemi-sakerthat's on the south bartizan at themonly I wasfearedthey might burst in the ganging aff."

Caleb'sbrain was now fully engaged with abuse of the Englishsoldieryand excisemenso that his master found no greatdifficultyin escaping from him and rejoining his guests.  Allwas nowready for their departure; and one of the Lord Keeper'sgroomshaving saddled the Master's steedthey mounted in thecourtyard.

Caleb hadwith much toilopened the double doors of theoutwardgateand thereat stationed himselfendeavouringby thereverentialand at the same time consequentialair which heassumedto supplyby his own gauntwastedand thin persontheabsence of a whole baronial establishment of porterswardersand liveried menials.

The Keeperreturned his deep reverence with a cordial farewellstoopingat the same time from his horseand sliding into thebutler'shand the remuneration which in those days was alwaysgiven by adeparting guest to the domestics of the family wherehe hadbeen entertained.   Lucy smiled on the old man with herusualsweetnessbade him adieuand deposited her guerdon with agrace ofaction and a gentleness of accent which could not havefailed tohave won the faithful retainer's heartbut for ThomastheRhymerand the successful lawsuit against his master.  As itwashemight have adopted the language of the Duke in As YouLike It:

Thouwouldst have better pleased me with this deedIf thouhadst told me of another father.

Ravenswoodwas at the lady's bridle-reinencouraging hertimidityand guiding her horse carefully down the rocky pathwhich ledto the moorwhen one of the servants announed from therear thatCaleb was calling loudly after themdesiring to speakwith hismaster.  Ravenswood felt it would look singular toneglectthis summonsalthough inwardly cursing Caleb for hisimpertinentofficiousness; therefore he was compelled torelinquishto Mr. Lockhard the aggreeable duty in which he wasengagedand to ride back to the gate of the courtyard.  Here hewasbeginningsomewhat peevishlyto ask Caleb the cause of hisclamourwhen the good old man exclaimed: "Whishtsir!--whishtand let mespeak just ae word that I couldna say afore folk;there(putting into his lord's hand the money he had justreceived)--there'sthree gowd pieces; and ye'll want siller up-byeyonder.  But staywhishtnow!" for the Master wasbeginningto exclaimagainst this transference"never say a wordbut justsee to getthem changed in the first town ye ride throughforthey arebran new frae the mintand ken-speckle a wee bit."

"YouforgetCaleb" said his masterstriving to force back themoney onhis servantand extricate the bridle from his hold--"youforget that I have some gold pieces left of my own.  Keepthese toyourselfmy old friend; andonce moregood day toyou. I assure youI have plenty.  You know you have managedthat ourliving should cost us little or nothing."

"Aweel"said Caleb"these will serve for you another time; butsee ye haeeneughfordoubtlessfor the credit of the familythere maunbe some civility to the servantsand ye maun haesomethingto mak a show with when they say'Masterwill youbet abroad piece?'  Then ye maun tak out your purseand say'Icarena ifI do'; and tak care no to agree on the articles of thewagerandjust put up your purse againand----"

"Thisis intolerableCaleb; I really must be gone."

"Andyou will gothen?" said Calebloosening his hold upon theMaster'scloakand changing his didactics into a pathetic andmournfultone--"and you WILL gofor a' I have told you abouttheprophecyand the dead brideand the Kelpie'squicksand? Aweel! a wilful man maun hae his way: he that will toCupar maunto Cupar.  But pity of your lifesirif ye befowling orshooting in the Parkbeware of drinking at theMermaiden'sWell----  He's gane! he's down the path arrow-flightafterher!  The head is as clean taen aff the Ravenswood familythis dayas I wad chap the head aff a sybo!"

The oldbutler looked long after his masteroften clearing awaythe dew asit rose to his eyesthat he mightas long aspossibledistinguish his stately form from those of the otherhorsemen. "Close to her bridle-rein--ayclose to her bridle-rein! Wisely saith the holy man'By this also you may know thatwoman hathdominion over all men'; and without this lass wouldnot ourruin have been a'thegither fulfilled."

With aheart fraught with such sad auguries did Caleb return tohisnecessary duties at Wofl's Cragas soon as he could nolongerdistinguish the object of his anxiety among the group foriderswhich diminished in the distance.

In themean time the party pursued their route joyfully.  Havingonce takenhis resolutionthe Master of Ravenswood  was not of acharacterto hesitate or pause upon it.  He abandoned himself tothepleasure he felt in Miss Ashton's companyand displayed anassiduousgallantry which approached as nearly to gaiety as thetemper ofhis mind and state of his familypermitted. The Lord Keeper was much struck with his depth ofobservationand the unusual improvement which he had derivedfrom hisstudies.  Of these accomplishments Sir William Ashton'sprofessionand habits of society rendered him an excellent judge;and hewell knew how to appreciate a quality to which he himselfwas atotal stranger--the brief and decided dauntlessness of theMaster ofRavenswood's fear.  In his heart the Lord Keeperrejoicedat having conciliated an adversary so formidablewhilewith amixture of pleasure and anxietyhe anticipated the greatthings hisyoung companion might achievewere the breath ofcourt-favourto fill his sails.

"Whatcould she desire" he thoughthis mind alwaysconjuringup opporition in the person of Lady Ashton to his newprevailingwish--"what could a woman desire in a match more thanthesopiting of a very dangerous claimand the alliance of ason-in-lawnoblebravewell-giftedand highly connected; sureto floatwhenever the tide sets his way; strongexactly where weare weakin pedigree and in the temper of a swordsman?  Surenoreasonablewoman would hesitate.  But alas----!"  Here hisargumentwas stopped by the consciousness that Lady Ashton wasnot alwaysreasonablein his sense of the word.  "To prefer someclownishMerse laird to the gallant young noblemanand to thesecurepossession of Ravenswood upon terms of easy compromise--itwould bethe act of a madwoman!"

Thuspondered the veteran politicianuntil they reachedBittlebrainsHousewhere it had been previously settled theywere todine and repose themselvesand prosecute their journeyin theafternoon.

They werereceived with an excess of hospitality; and the mostmarkedattention was offered to the Master of Ravenswoodinparticularby their noble entertainers.  The truth wasthatLordBittlebrains had obtained his peerage by a good deal ofplausibilityan art of building up a character for wisdom upon avery tritestyle of commonplace eloquencea steady observationof thechanges of the timesand the power of rendering certainpoliticalservices to those who could best reward them.  His ladyand henot feeling quite easy under their new honoursto whichuse hadnot adapted their feelingswere very desirous to procurethefraternal countenance of those who were born denizens of theregionsinto which they had been exalted from a lower sphere.Theextreme attention which they paid to the Master of Ravenswoodhad itsusual effect in exalting his importance in the eyes ofthe LordKeeperwhoalthough he had a reasonable degree ofcontemptfor Lord Bittlebrains's general partsentertained ahighopinion of the acuteness of his judgment in all matters ofself-interest.

"Iwish Lady Ashton had seen this" was his internalreflection;"no man knows so well as Bittlebrains on which sidehis breadis buttered; and he fawns on the Master like a beggar'smessan ona cook.  And my ladytoobringing forward her beetle-browedmisses to skirl and play upon the virginalsas if shesaid'Pick and choose.'  They are no more comparable to Lucythan anowl is to a cygnetand so they may carry their blackbrows to afarther market."

Theentertainment being endedour travellerswho had still tomeasurethe longest part of their journeyresumed their horses;and afterthe Lord Keeperthe Masterand the domestics haddrunkdoch-an-dorrochor the stirrup-cupin the liquorsadapted totheir various ranksthe cavalcade resumed itsprogress.

It wasdark by the time they entered the avenue ofRavenswoodCastlea long straight line leading directly to thefront ofthe houseflanked with huge elm-treeswhich sighed tothenight-windas if they compassionated the heir of theirancientproprietorswho now returned to their shades in thesocietyand almost in the retinueof their new master.  Somefeelingsof the same kind oppressed the mind of the Masterhimself. He gradually became silentadn dropped a littlebehind theladyat whose bridle-rein he had hitherto waited withsuchdevotion.  He well recollected the period whenat the samehour inthe eveninghe had accompanied his fatheras thatnoblemanleftnever again to return to itthe mansion fromwhich hederived his name and title.  The extensive front of theoldcastleon which he remembered having often looked backwasthen "asblack as mourning weed."  The same front now glancedwith manylightssome throwing far forward into the night afixed andstationary blazeand others hurrying from one windowtoanotherintimating the bustle and busy preparation precedingtheirarrivalwhich had been intimated by an avant-courier.  Thecontrastpressed so strongly upon the Master's heart as toawakensome of the sterner feelings with which he had beenaccustomedto regard the new lord of his paternal domainand toimpresshis countenance with an air of servere gravitywhenalightedfrom his horsehe stood in the hall no longer his ownsurroundedby the numerous menials of its present owner.

The LordKeeperwhen about to welcome him with thecordialitywhich their late intercourse seemed to render properbecameaware of the changerefrained from his purposeand onlyintimatedthe ceremony of reception by a deep reverence to hisguestseeming thus delicately to share the feelings whichpredominatedon his brow.

Two upperdomesticsbearing each a huge pair of silvercandlesticksnow marshalled the company into a large saloonorwithdrawing-roomwhere new alterations impressed uponRavenswoodthe superior wealth of the present inhabitants of thecastle. The mouldering tapestrywhichin his father's timehad halfcovered the walls of this stately apartmentand halfstreamedfrom them in tattershad given place to a completefinishingof wainscotthe cornice of whichas well as theframes ofthe various compartmentswere ornamented with festoonsof flowersand with birdswhichthough carved in oakseemedsuch wasthe art of the chiselactually to swell their throatsandflutter their wings.  Several old family portraits of armedheroes ofthe house of Ravenswoodtogether with a suit or two ofold armourand some military weaponshad given place to those ofKingWilliam and Queen Maryor Sir Thomas Hope and Lord Stairtwodistinguished Scottish lawyers.  The pictures of the LordKeeper'sfather and mother were also to be seen; the lattersourshrewishand solemnin her black hood and close pinnerswith abook of devotion in her hand; the formerexhibitingbeneath ablack silk Geneva cowlor skull-capwhich sate asclose tothe head as if it had been shavena pinchedpeevishPuritanicalset of featuresterminating in a hungryreddishpeakedbeardforming on the whole a countenance in theexpressionof which the hypocrite seemed to contend with themiser andthe knave.  "And it is to make room for such scarecrowsas these"thought Ravenswood"that my ancestors have been torndown fromthe walls which they erected!"  he looked at themagainandas he lookedthe recollection of Lucy Ashtonforshe hadnot entered the apartment with themseemed less livelyin hisimagination.  There were also two or three Dutchdrolleriesas the pictures of Ostade and Teniers were thentermedwith one good painting of the Italian school.  There wasbesidesanoble full-length of the Lord Keeper in his robes ofofficeplaced beside his lady in silk and erminea haughtybeautybearing in her looks all the pride of the house ofDouglasfrom which she was descended.  The painternotwithstandinghis skillovercome by the realityorperhapsfrom asuppressed sense of humourhad not been able to give thehusband onthe canvas that air of awful rule and right supremacywhichindicates the full possession of domestic authority.  Itwasobvious at the first glance thatdespite mace and goldfrogstheLord Keeper was somewhat henpecked.  The floor of thisfinesaloon was laid with rich carpetshuge fires blazed in thedoublechimneysand ten silver sconcesreflecting with theirbrightplates the lights which they supportedmade the wholeseem asbrilliant as day.

"Wouldyou choose any refreshmentMaster?" said Sir WilliamAshtonnot unwilling to break the awkward silence.

Hereceived no answerthe Master being so busily engaged inmarkingthe various changes which had taken place in theapartmentthat he hardly heard the Lord Keeper address him.  Arepetitionof the offer of refreshmentwith the additionthatthe familymeal would be presently readycompelled hisattentionand reminded him that he acted a weakperhaps even aridiculouspart in suffering himself to be overcome by thecircumstancesin which he found himself.  He compelled himselfthereforeto enter into conversation with Sir William Ashtonwith asmuch appearance of indifference as he could well command.

"Youwill not be surprisedSir Williamthat I aminterestedin the changes you have made for the better in thisapartment. In my father's timeafter our misfortunes compelledhim tolive in retirementit was little usedexcept by me as aplay-roomwhen the weather would not permit me to go abroad.  Inthatrecess was my little workshopwhere I treasured the fewcarpenters'tools which old Caleb procured for meand taught mehow touse; therein yonder cornerunder that handsome silversconceIkept my fishing-rods and hunting polesbows andarrows."

"Ihave a young birkie" said the Lord Keeperwilling to changethe toneof the conversation"of much the same turn.  He isneverhappy save when he is in the field.  I wonder he is nothere. HereLockhard; send William Shaw for Mr. Henry.  Isuppose heisas usualtied to Lucy's apron-string; thatfoolishgirlMasterdraws the whole family after her at herpleasure."

Even thisallusion to his daughterthough artfully thrown outdid notrecall Ravenswood from his own topic."Wewere obliged to leave" he said"some armour and portraitsin thisapartment; may I ask where they have been removed to?"

"Why"answered the Keeperwith some hesitation"the room wasfitted upin our absenceand cedant arma togae is the maxim oflawyersyou know: I am afraid it has been here somewhat tooliterallycomplied with.  I hope--I believe they are safeI am sureI gave orders; may I hope that when they are recoveredand put inproper orderyou will do me the honour to accept themat myhandas an atonement for their accidental derangement?"

The Masterof Ravenswood bowed stifflyandwith folded armsagainresumed his survey of the room.

Henryaspoilt boy of fifteenburst into the roomand ran upto hisfather.  "Think of Lucypapa; she has come home so crossand sofractiousthat she will not go down to the stable to seemy newponythat Bob Wilson brought from the Mull of Galloway."

"Ithink you were very unreasonable to ask her" said theKeeper.

"Thenyou are as cross as she is" answered the boy; "but whenmammacomes homeshe'll claw up both your mittens."

"Hushyour impertinenceyou little forward imp!" said hisfather;"where is your tutor?"

"Goneto a wedding at Dunbar; I hope he'll get a haggis to hisdinner";and he began to sing the old Scottish song: "Therewas a haggis in DunbarFal deraletc.Monybetter and few waurFal deral" etc.

"I ammuch obliged to Mr. Cordery for his attentions" said theLordKeeper; "and pray who has had the charge of you while I wasawayMr.Henry?"

"Normanand Bob Wilsonforbye my own self."

"Agroom and a gamekeeperand your own silly self--properguardiansfor a young advocate!  Whyyou will never know anystatutesbut those against shooting red-deerkilling salmonand----"

"Andspeaking of red-game" said the young scapegraceinterruptinghis father without scruple or hesitation"Normanhas shot abuckand I showed the branches to Lucyand she saysthey havebut eight tynes; and she says that you killed a deerwith LordBittlebrains's houndswhen you were west awayanddoyou knowshe says it had ten tynes; is it true?"

"Itmay have had twentyHenryfor what I know; but if you goto thatgentlemanhe can tell you all about it.  Go speak tohimHenry; it is the Master of Ravenswood."

While theyconversed thusthe father and son were standing bythe fire;and the Masterhaving walked towards the upper end oftheapartmentstood with his back towards themapparentlyengaged inexamining one of the paintings.  The boy ran up tohimandpulled him by the skirt of the coat with the freedom ofa spoiltchildsaying"I saysirif you please to tell me----" butwhen the Master turned roundand Henry saw his facehebecamesuddenly and totally disconcerted; walked two or threestepsbackwardand still gazed on Ravenswood with an air offear andwonderwhich had totally banished from his featurestheirusual expression of pert vivacity.

"Cometo meyoung gentleman" said the Master"and I will tellyou all Iknow about the hunt."

"Goto the gentlemanHenry" said his father; "you are notusedto be soshy."

Butneither invitation nor exhortation had any effect on theboy. On the contraryhe turned round as soon as he hadcompletedhis survey of the Masterand walking as cautiously asif he hadbeen treading upon eggshe glided back to his fatherandpressed as close to him as possible.  Ravenswoodto avoidhearingthe dispute betwixt the father and the overindulged boythought itmost polite to turn his face once more towards thepicturesand pay no attention to what they said.

"Whydo you not speak to the Masteryou little fool?" said theLordKeeper.

"I amafraid" said Henryin a very low tone of voice.

"Afraidyou goose!" said his fathergiving him a slight shakeby thecollar.  "What makes you afraid?"

"Whatmakes him to like the picture of Sir Malise Ravenswoodthen?"said the boywhispering.

"Whatpictureyou natural?" said his father.  "I used tothinkyou only ascapegracebut I believe you will turn out a bornidiot."

"Itell youit is the picture of old Malise of Ravenswoodandhe is aslike it as if he had loupen out of the canvas; and it isup in theold baron's hall that the maids launder the clothes in;and it hasarmourand not a coat like the gentleman; and he hasnot abeard and whiskers like the picture; and it has anotherkind ofthing about the throatand no band-strings as he has;and----"

"Andwhy should not the gentleman be like his ancestoryousillyboy?" said the Lord Keeper.

"Ay;but if he is come to chase us all out of the castle" saidthe boy"and has twenty men at his back in disguise; and iscome tosaywith a hollow voice'I bide my time'; and is tokill youon the hearth as Malise did the other manand whoseblood isstill to be seen!"

"Hush!nonsense!" said the Lord Keepernot himself much pleasedto hearthese disagreeable coicidences forced on his notice."Masterhere comes Lockhard to say supper is served."

Andatthe same instantLucy entered at another doorhavingchangedher dress since her return.  The exquisitefemininebeauty of her countenancenow shaded only by aprofusionof sunny tresses; the sylph-like formdisencumbered ofher heavyriding-skirt and mantled in azure silk; the grace ofher mannerand of her smileclearedwith a celerity whichsurprisedthe Master himselfall the gloomy and unfavourablethoughtswhich had for some time overclouded his fancy.  In thosefeaturesso simply sweethe could trace no alliance with thepinchedvisage of the peak-beardedblack-capped Puritanor hisstarchedwithered spousewith the craft expressed in the LordKeeper'scountenanceor the haughtiness which predominated inthat ofhis lady; andwhile he gazed on Lucy Ashtonshe seemedto be anangel descended on earthunallied to the coarsesmortalsamong whom she deigned to dwell for a season.  Such isthe powerof beauty over a youthful and enthusiastic fancy.

 

CHAPTERXIX.

I dotoo ill in thisAndmust not think but that a parent's plaintWillmove the heavens to pour forth miseryUponthe head of disobediency.Yetreason tells usparents are o'erseenWhenwith too strict a rein they do hold inTheirchild's affectionand control that loveWhichthe high powers divine inspire them with.

The Hoghath lost his Pearl.

 

THE feastof Ravenswood Castle was as remarkable for itsprofusionas that of Wolf's Crag had been for its ill-veiledpenury. The Lord Keeper might feel internal pride at thecontrastbut he had too much tact to suffer it to appear.  Onthecontraryhe seemed to remember with pleasure what he calledMr.Balderstone's bachelor's mealand to be rather disgustedthanpleaseed with the display upon his own groaning board.

"Wedo these things" he said"because others do them; but Iwas bred aplain man at my father's frugal tableand I shouldlike wellwould my wife and family permit me to return to mysowens andmy poor-man-of-mutton."

This was alittle overstretched.  The Master only answered"Thatdifferent ranks--I mean" said hecorrecting himself"differentdegrees of wealth require a different style ofhousekeeping."

This dryremark put a stop to further conversation on thesubjectnor is it necessary to record that which was substitutedin itsplace.  The evening was spent with freedomand evencordiality;and Henry had so far overcome his firstapprehensionsthat he had settled a party for coursing a stagwith therepresentative and living resemblance of grim Sir MaliseofRavenswoodcalled the Revenger.  The next morning was theappointedtime.  It rose upon active sportsmen and successfulsport. The banquet came in course; and a pressing invitation totarry yetanother day was given and accepted.  This Ravenswoodhadresolved should be the last of his stay; but he recollectedhe had notyet visited the ancient and devoted servant of hishouseOldAliceand it was but kind to dedicate one morning tothegratification of so ancient an adherent.

To visitAlicethereforea day was devotedand Lucy was theMaster'sguide upon the way.  Henryit is trueaccompaniedthemandtook from their walk the air of a tete-a-tetewhileinrealityit was little elseconsidering the variety ofcircumstanceswhich occurred to prevent the boy from giving theleastattention to what passed between his companions.  Now arooksettled on a branch within shot; anon a hare crossed theirpathandHenry and his greyhound went astray in pursuit of it;then hehad to hold a long conversation with the foresterwhichdetainedhim a while behind his companions; and again he went toexaminethe earth of a badgerwhich carriued him on a good waybeforethem.

Theconversation betwixt the Master and his sistermeanwhiletook an interestingand almost a confidentialturn.She couldnot help mentioning her sense of the pain he must feelinvisiting scenes so well known to himbearing now an aspect sodifferent;and so gently was her sympathy expressedthatRavenswoodfelt it for a moment as a full requital of all hismisfortunes. Some such sentiment escaped himwhich Lucy heardwith moreof confusion than displeasure; and she may be forgiventheimprudence of listening to such langaugeconsidering thatthesituation in which she was placed by her father seemed toauthoriseRavenswood to use it.  Yet she made an effort to turntheconversationand she succeeded; for the Master also hadadvancedfarther than he intendedand his conscience hadinstantlychecked him when he found himself on the verge ofspeakingof love to the daughter of Sir William Ashton.

They nowapproached the hut of Old Alicewhich had of late beenrenderedmore comfortableand presented an appearance lesspicturesqueperhapsbut far neater than before.  The old womanwas on heraccustomed seat beneath the weeping birchbaskingwith thelistless enjoyment of age and infirmityin the beams ofthe autumnsun.  At the arrival of her visitors she turned herheadtowards them.  "I hear your stepMiss Ashton" shesaid"butthe gentleman who attends you is not my lordyour father."

"Andwhy should you think soAlice?" said Lucy; "or how is itpossiblefor you to judge so accurately by the sound of a stepon thisfirm earthand in the open air?"

"Myhearingmy childhas been sharpened by my blindnessand Ican nowdraw conclusions from the slightest soundswhichformerlyreached my ears as unheeded as they niw approach yours.Necessityis a stern but an excellent schoolmistressand shethat haslost her sight must collect her information from othersources."

"Wellyou hear a man's stepI grant it" said Lucy; "but whyAlicemayit not be my father's?"

"Thepace of agemy loveis timid and cautious: the foot takesleave ofthe earth slowlyand is planted down upon it withhesitation;it is the hasty and determined step of youth that Inow hearand --could I give credit to so strange a thought--Ishould sayis was the step of a Ravenswood."

"Thisis indeed" said Ravenswood"an acuteness of organ whichI couldnot have credited had I not witnessed it.  I am indeedthe Masterof RavenswoodAlice--the son of your old master."

"You!"said the old womanwith almost a scream of surprise--"youthe Master of Ravenswood--here--in this placeand thusaccompanied! I cannot believe it.  let me pass my old hand overyour facethat my touch may bear witness to my ears."

The Mastersate down beside her on the earthen bankandpermittedher to touch his features with her trembling hand.

"Itis indeed!" she said--"it is the features as well as thevoice ofRavenswood--the high lines of prideas well as the boldandhaughty tone.  But what do you hereMaster of Ravenwsood?--what doyou in your enemy's domainand in company with hischild?"As OldAlice spokeher face kindledas probably that of anancientfeudal vassal might have done in whose presence hisyouthfulliege-lord had showed some symptom of degenerating fromthe spiritof his ancestors.

"TheMaster of Ravenswood" said Lucywho liked not the tone ofthisexpostulationand was desirous to abridge it"is upon avisit tomy father."

"Indeed!"said the old blind womanin an accent ofsurprise.

"Iknew" continued Lucy"I should do him a pleasure byconductinghim to your cottage."

"Whereto say the truthAlice" said Ravenswood"I expected amorecordial reception."

"Itis most wonderful!" said the old womanmuttering toherself;"but the ways of Heaven are not like our waysand itsjudgmentsare brought about by means far beyond our fathoming.Hearkenyoung man" she said; "your fathers were implacablebutthey werehonourablefoes; they sought not to ruin their enemiesunder themast of hospitality.  "What have you to do with LucyAshton? why should your steps move in the same footpath withhers? whyshould your voice sound in the same chord and time withthose ofSir William Ashton's daughter?  Young manhe who aimsat revengeby dishonourable means----"

"Besilentwoman!" said Ravenswoodsternly; "it is the devilthatprompts your voice?  Know that this young lady has not onearth afriend who would venture farther to save her from injuryor frominsult."

"Andis it even so?" said the old womanin an altered butmelancholytone"then God help you both!"

"Amen! Alice" said Lucywho had not comprehended the importof whatthe blind woman had hinted"and send you your sensesAliceandyour good humour.  If you hold this mysteriouslanguageinstead of welcoming your friendsthey will think ofyou asother people do."

"Andhow do other people think?" said Ravenswoodfor he alsobegan tobelieve the old woman spoke with incoherence.

"Theythink" said Henry Ashtonwho came up at that momentandwhisperedinto Ravenswood's ear"that she is a witchthatshouldhave been burned with them that suffered at Haddington."

"Whatis it you say?" said Aliceturning towards the boyhersightlessvisage inflamed with passion; "that I am a witchandought tohave suffered with the helpless old wretches who weremurderedat Haddington?"

"Hearto that now" again whispered Henry"and mewhisperinglower than a wren cheeps!"

"Ifthe usurerand the oppressorand the grinder of the poorman'sfaceand the remover of ancient landmarksand thesubverterof ancient houseswere at the same stake with meIcould say'Light the firein God's name!'"

"Thisis dreadful" said Lucy; "I have never seen the poordesertedwoman in this state of mind; but age and poverty can illbearreproach.  ComeHenrywe will leave her for the present;she wishesto speak with the Master alone.  We will walkhomewardand rest us" she addedlooking at Ravenswood"by theMermaiden'sWell.""AndAlice" said the boy"if you know of any hare that comesthroughamong the deerand makes them drop their calves out ofseasonyou may tell herwith my compliments to commandthat ifNorman hasnot got a silver bullet ready for herI'll lend himone of mydoublet-buttons on purpose."

Alice madeno answer till she was aware that the sister andbrotherwere out of hearing.  She then said to Ravenswood:  "Andyoutooare angry with me for my love?  It is just thatstrangersshould be offendedbut youtooare angry!"

"I amnot angryAlice" said the Master"only surprised thatyouwhosegood sense I have ehard so often praisedshould giveway tooffensive and unfounded suspicions."

"Offensive!"said Alice.   "Aytrust is ever offensive; butsurelynot unfounded."

"Itell youdamemost groundless" replied Ravenswood.

"Thenthe world has changed its wontand the Ravenswoods theirhereditarytemperand the eyes of Old Alice'sunderstandingare yet more blind than those of her countenance.When did aRavenswood seek the house of his enemy but with thepurpose ofrevenge? and hither are you comeEdgar Ravenswoodeither infatal anger or in still more fatal love."

"Inneither" said Ravenswood"I give you mine honour--I meanI assureyou."

Alicecould not see his blushing cheekbut she noticed hishestitationand that he retracted the pledge which he seemed atfirstdisposed to attach to his denial.

"Itis sothen" she said"and therefore she is to tarry bytheMermaiden's Well!  Often has it been called a place fatal tothe raceof Ravenswood--often has it proved so; but never was itlikely toverify old sayings as much as on this day."

"Youdrive me to madnessAlice" said Ravenswood; "you are moresilly andmore superstitious than old Balderstone.  Are you sucha wretchedChristian as to suppose I would in the present daylevy waragainst the Ashton familyas was the sanguinary customin eldertimes? or do you suppose me so foolishthat I cannotwalk by ayoung lady's side without plunging headlong in lovewith her?"

"Mythoughts" replied Alice"are my own; and if my mortalsight isclosed to objects present with meit may be I can lookwith moresteadiness into future events.  Are you prepared tosit lowestat the board which was once your father's ownunwillinglyas a connexion and ally of his proud successor?  Areyou readyto live on his bounty; to follow him in the bye-pathsofintrigue and chicanewhich none can better point out to you;to gnawthe bones of his prey when he has devoured the substance?Can yousay as Sir William Ashton saysthink as he thinksvoteas hevotesand call your father's murderer your worshipfulfather-in-lawand revered patron?  Master of RavenswoodI amthe eldestservant of your houseand I would rather see youshroudedand coffined!"

The tumultin Ravenswood's mind was uncommonly great; she struckupon andawakened a chord which he had for some timesuccessfullysilenced.  He strode backwards and forwards throughthe littlegarden with a hasty pace; and at length checkinghimselfand stopping right opposite to Alicehe exclaimed:"Woman!on the verge of the gravedare you urge the son of yourmaster toblood and to revenge?"

"Godforbid!" said Alicesolemnly; "and therefore I would haveyou departthese fatal boundswhere your loveas well as yourhatredthreatens sure mischiefor at least disgraceboth toyourselfand others.  I would shieldwere it in the power ofthiswithered handthe Ashtons from youand you from themandboth fromtheir own passions.  You can have nothing--ought tohavenothingin common with them.   Begone from among them; andif God hasdestined vengeance on the oppressor's housedo notyou be theinstrument."

"Iwill think on what you have saidAlice" saidRavenswoodmore composedly.  "I believe you mean truly andfaithfullyby mebut you urge the freedom of an ancient domesticsomewhattoo far.  But farewell; and if Heaven afford me bettermeansIwill not fail to contribute to your comfort."

Heattempted to put a piece of gold into her handwhich sherefused toreceive; andin the slight struggle attending hiswish toforce it upon herit dropped to the earth.

"Letit remain an instant on the ground" said Aliceas theMasterstooped to raise it; "and believe methat piece of goldis anemblem of her whom you love; she is as preciousI grantbut youmust stoop even to abasement before you can win her.  FormeI haveas little to do with gold as with earthly passions;and thebest news that the world has in store for me isthatEdgarRavenswood is an hundred miles distant from the seat of hisancestorswith the determination never again to behold it."

"Alice"said the Masterwho began  to think thisearnestnesshad some more secret cause than arose from anythingthat theblind woman could have gathered from this casual visit"Ihave heard you praised by my mother for your senseacutenessandfidelity; you are no fool to start at shadowsor to dreadoldsuperstitious sawslike Caleb Balderstone; tell medistinctlywhere my danger liesif you are aware of any which istendingtowards me.  If I know myselfI am free from all suchviewsrespecting Miss Ashton as you impute to me.  I havenecessarybusiness to settle with Sir William; that arrangedIshalldepartand with as little wishas you may easily believeto returnto a place full of melancholy subjects of reflectionas youhave to see me here."Alice benther sightless eyes on the groundand was for sometimeplunged in deep meditation.  "I will speak the truth"shesaid atlengthraising up her head--"I will tell you the sourceof myapprehensionswhether my candour be for good or for evil.LucyAshton loves youLord of Ravenswood!"

"Itis impossible" said the Master.

"Athousand circumstances have proved it to me" replied theblindwoman.  "Her thoughts have turned on no one else since yousaved herfrom deathand that my experienced judgment has wonfrom herown conversation.  Having told you this--if you areindeed agentleman and your father's son--you will make it amovtivefor flying from her presence.  Her passion will die likea lamp forwant of that the flame should feed upon; butif youremainhereher destructionor yoursor that of bothwill betheinevitable consequence of her misplaced attachment.  I tellyou thissecret unwillinglybut it could not have been hid longfrom yourown observationand it is better you learn it frommine. DepartMaster of Ravenswood; you have my secret.  If youremain anhour under Sir William Ashton's roof without theresolutionto marry his daughteryou are a villain; if with thepurpose ofallying yourself with kinyou are an infatuated andpredestinedfool."

So sayingthe old blind woman aroseasumed her staffandtotteringto her hutentered it and closed the doorleavingRavenswoodto his own reflections.

 

CHAPTERXX.

Lovelierin her own retired abode....thanNaiad by the sideOfGrecian brook--or Lady of the MereLonesitting by the shores of old romance.

WORDSWORTH.

 

THEmeditations of Ravenswood were of a very mixedcomplexion. He saw himself at once in the very dilemma which hehad forsome time felt apprehensive he might be placed in.  Thepleasurehe felt in Lucy's company had indeed approached tofascinationyet it had never altogether surmounted his internalreluctanceto wed with the daughter of his father's foe; and eveninforgiving Sir William Ashton the injuries which his family hadreceivedand giving him credit for the kind intentions heprofessedto entertainhe could not bring himself to contemplateaspossible an alliance betwixt their houses.  Stillhe feltthat Alicepoke truthand that his honour now required he shouldtake aninstant leave of Ravenswood Castleor become a suitor ofLucyAshton.  The possibility of being rejectedtooshould hemakeadvances to her wealthy and powerful father--to sue for thehand of anAshton and be refused--this were a consummation toodisgraceful. "I wish her well" he said to himself"and for hersake Iforgive the injuries her father has done to my house; butI willnever--nonever see her more!"

With onebitter pang he adopted this resolutionjust as he cameto wheretwo paths parted: the one to the Mermaiden's Fountainwhere heknew Lucy waited himthe other leading to the castle byanotherand more circuitous road.  He paused an instant whenabout totake the latter paththinking what apology he shouldmake forconduct which must needs seem extraordinaryand hadjustmuttered to himself"Sudden news from Edinburgh--anypretextwill serve; only let me dally no longer here" whenyoungHenry came flying up to himhalf out of breath: "MasterMaster youmust give Lucy your arm back to the castlefor Icannotgive her mine; for Norman is waiting for meand I am togo withhim to make his ring-walkand I would not stay away fora goldJacobus; and Lucy is afraid to walk home alonethough allthe wildnowt have been shotand so you must come awaydirectly."

Betwixttwo scales equally loadeda feather's weight will turnthescale.  "It is impossible for me to leave the young lady inthe woodalone" said Ravenswood; "to see her once more can beof littleconsequenceafter the frequent meetings we have had.I oughttooin courtesyto apprise her of my intention to quitthecastle."

And havingthus satisfied himself that he was taking not only awisebutan absolutely necessarystephe took the path to thefatalfountain.  Henry no sooner saw him on the way to join hissisterthan he was off like lightning in anotherdirectionto enjoy the society of the forester in theircongenialpursuits.  Ravenswoodnot allowing himself to give asecondthought to the propriety of his own conductwalked with aquick steptowards the streamwhere he found Lucy seated aloneby theruin.

She sateupon one of the disjointed stones of the ancientfountainand seemed to watch the progress of its currentas itbubbledforth to daylightin gay and sparkling profusionfromunder theshadow of the ribbed and darksome vaultwith whichvenerationor perhaps remorsehad canopied its source.  To asuperstitiouseyeLucy Ashtonfolded in her plaided mantlewith herlong hairescaping partly from the snood and fallingupon hersilver neckmight have suggested the idea of themurderedNymph of the fountain.  But Ravenswood only saw a femaleexquisitelybeautifuland rendered yet more so in his eyes--howcould itbe otherwise?--by the consciousness that she had placedheraffections on him.  As he gazed on herhe felt his fixedresolutionmelting like wax in the sunand hastenedthereforefrom hisconcealment in the neighbouring thicket.  She salutedhimbutdid not arise from the stone on which she was seated.

"Mymadcap brother" she said"has left mebut I expect himback in afew minutes; forfortunatelyas anything pleases himfor aminutenothing has charms for him much longer."

Ravenswooddid not feel the power of informing Lucy that herbrothermeditated a distant excursionand would not return inhaste. He sate himself down on the grassat some littledistancefrom Miss Ashtonand both were silent for a shortspace.

"Ilike this spot" said Lucy at lengthas if she found thesilenceembarrassing; "the bubbling murmur of the clear fountainthe wavingof the treesthe profusion of grass and wild-flowersthat rise among the ruinsmake it like a scene inromance. I thinktooI have heard it is a spot connected withthelegendary lore which I love so well."

"Ithas been thought" answered Ravenswood"a fatal spot to myfamily;and I have some reason to term it sofor it was here Ifirst sawMiss Ashton; and it is here I must take my leave ofher forever."

The bloodwhich the first part of this speech called intoLucy'scheekswas speedily expelled by its conclusion.

"Totake leave of usMaster!" she exclaimed; "what can havehappenedto hurry you away?  I know Alice hates--I mean dislikesmy father;and I hardly understood her humour to-dayit was somysterious. But I am certain my father is sincerely grateful forthe highservice you rendered us.  Lt me hope thathaving wonyourfriendship hardlywe shall not lose it lightly."

"LoseitMiss Ashton!" said the Master of Ravenswood.  "No;wherevermy fortune calls me--whatever she inflicts upon me--itis yourfriend--your sincere friendwho acts or suffers.  Butthere is afate on meand I must goor I shall add the ruin ofothers tomy own."

"Yetdo not go from usMaster" said Lucy; and she laid herhandinall simplicity and kindnessupon the skirt of hiscloakasif to detain him.  "You shall not part from us.  Myfather ispowerfulhe has friends taht are more so than himself;do not gotill you see what his gratitude will do for you.Believemehe is already labouring in your behalf with thecouncil."

"Itmay be so" said the Masterproudly; "yet it is not toyourfatherMiss Ashtonbut to my own exertionsthat I ought to owesuccess inthe career on which I am about to enter.  Mypreparationsare already made--a sword and a cloakand a boldheart anda determined hand."

Lucycovered her face her handsand the tearsin spite of herforcedtheir way between her fingers.

"Forgiveme" said Ravenswoodtaking her right handwhichafterslight resistanceshe yielded to himstill continuing toshade herface with the left--"I am too rude--too rough--toointractableto deal with any being so soft and gentle as you are.Forgetthat so stern a vision has crossed your path of life; andlet mepursue minesure that I can meet with no worse misfortuneafter themoment it divides me from your side."

Lucy weptonbut her tears were less bitter.  Each attemptwhich theMaster made to explain his purpose of departure onlyproved anew evidence of his desire to stay; untilat lengthinstead ofbidding her farewellhe gave his faith to her foreverandreceived her troth in return.  The whole passed sosuddenlyand arose so much out of the immediate impulse of themomentthat ere the Master of Ravenswood could reflect upon theconsequencesof the step which he had takentheir lipsas wellas theirhandshad pledged the sincerity of their affection.

"Andnow" he saidafter a moment's consideration"it is fit Ishouldspeak to Sir William Ashton; he must know of ourengagement. Ravenswood must not seem to dwell under his roof tosolicitclandestinely the affections of his daughter."

"Youwould not speak to my father on the subject?" said Lucydoubtingly;and then added more warmly: "Oh do not--do not!  Letyour lotin life be determined--your station and purposeascertainedbefore you address my father.  I am sure he lovesyou--Ithink he will consent; but then my mother----!"

Shepausedashamed to express the doubt she felt how far herfatherdared to form any positive resolution on this mostimportantsubject without the consent of his lady.

"Yourmothermy Lucy!" replied Ravenswood.  "She is of thehouse ofDouglasa house that has intermarried with mine evenwhen itsglory and power were at the highest; what could yourmotherobject to my alliance?"

"Idid not say object" said Lucy; "but she is jealous of herrightsand may claim a mother's title to be consulted in thefirstinstance."

"Beit so" replied Ravenswood.  "London is distantbut aletterwill reach it and receive an answer within a fortnight; Iwill notpress on the Lord Keeper for an instant reply to myproposal."

"But"hesitated Lucy"were it not better to wait--to wait afewweeks?  Were my mother to see you--to know youI am sureshe wouldapprove; but you are unacquainted personallyand theancientfeud between the families----"

Ravenswoodfixed upon her his keen dark eyesas if he wasdesirousof penetrating into her very soul.

"Lucy"he said"I have sacrificed to you projects of vengeancelongnursedand sworn to with ceremonies little better thanheathen--Isacrificed them to your imageere I knew the worthwhich itrepresented.  In the evening which succeeded my poorfather'sfuneralI cut a lock from my hairandas it consumedin thefireI swore that my rage and revenge should pursue hisenemiesuntil they shrivelled before me like that scorched-upsymbol ofannihilation."

"Itwas a deadly sin" said Lucyturning pale"to make a vowso fatal."

"Iacknowledge it" said Ravenswood"and it had been a worsecrime tokeep it.  It was for your sake that I abjured thesepurposesof vengeancethough I scarce knew that such was theargumentby which I was conquereduntil I saw you once moreand becameocnscious of the influence you possessed over me."

"Andwhy do you now" said Lucy"recall sentiments soterrible--sentimentsso inconsistent with those you profess for me--withthose yourimportunity has prevailed on me to acknowledge?"

"Because"said her lover"I would impress on you the price atwhich Ihave bought your love--the right I have to expect yourconstancy. I say not that I have bartered for it the honour ofmy houseits last remaining possession; but though I say it notand thinkit notI cannot conceal from myself that the world maydo both."

"Ifsuch are your sentiments" said Lucy"you have played acruel gamewith me.  But it is not too late to give it over: takeback thefaith and troth which you could not plight to me withoutsufferingabatement of honour--let what is passed be as if it hadnotbeen--forget me; I will endeavour to forget myself."

"Youdo me injustice" said the Master of Ravenswood--"by all Ihold trueand honourableyou do me the extremity of injustice;if Imentioned the price at which I have bought your loveit isonly toshow how much I prize itto bind ourengagementby a still firmer tieand to showby what I havedone toattain this atation in your regardhow much I mustsuffershould you ever break your faith."

"AndwhyRavenswood" answered Lucy"should you think thatpossible? Why should you urge me with even the mention ofinfidelity? Is it because I ask you to delay applying to myfather fora little space of time?  Bind me by what vows youplease; ifvows are unnecessary to secure constancythey may yetpreventsuspicion."Ravenswoodpleadedapologisedand even kneeledto appease herdispleasure;and lucyas placable as she was single-heartedreadilyforgave the offence which his doubts had implied.  Thedisputethus agitatedhoweverended by the lovers going throughanemblematic ceremony of their troth-plightof which the vulgarstillpreserve some traces.  They broke betwixt them the thinbroad-pieceof gold which Alice had refused to receive fromRavenswood.

"Andnever shall this leave my bosom" said Lucyas she hungthe pieceof gold round her neckand concealed it with herhandkerchief"until youEdgar Ravenswoodask me to resign itto you;andwhile I wear itnever shall that heart acknowledgeanotherlove than yours."

With likeprotestationsRavenswood placed his portion of thecoinopposite to his heart.  And nowat lengthit struck themthat timehad hurried fast on during this interviewand theirabsence atthe castle would be subject of remarkif not ofalarm. As they arose to leave the fountain which had beenwitness oftheir mutual engagementan arrow whistled through theairandstruck a raven perched on the sere branch of an old oaknear towhere they had been seated.  The bird fluttered a fewyards anddropped at the feet of Lucywhose dress was stainedwith somespots of its blood.

MissAshton was much alarmedand Ravenswoodsurprised andangrylooked everywhere for the marksmanwho had given them aproof ofhis skill as little expected as desired.  He was notlong ofdiscovering himselfbeing no other than Henry Ashtonwho camerunning up with a crossbow in his hand.

"Iknew I should startle you" he said; "and do you knowyoulooked sobusy that I hoped it would have fallen souse on yourheadsbefore you were aware of it.  What was the Master saying toyouLucy?"

"Iwas telling your sister what an idle lad you werekeeping uswaitinghere for you so long" said Ravenswoodto save Lucy'sconfusion.

"Waitingfor me!  WhyI told you to see Lucy homeand that Iwas to goto make the ring-walk with old Norman in the Hayberrythicketand you may be sure that would take a good hourand wehave allthe deer's marks and furnishes gotwhile you weresittinghere with Lucylike a lazy loon."

"WellwellMr. Henry" said Ravenswood; "but let us see howyou willanswer to me for killing the raven.  Do you knowtheravens areall under the protection of the Lords ofRavenswoodand to kill one in their presence is such bad luckthat itdeserves the stab?"

"Andthat's what Norman said" replied the boy; "he came as farwith me aswithin a flight-shot of youand he said he never sawa ravensit still so near living folkand he wished it might befor goodluckfor the raven is one of the wildest birds thatfliesunless it be a tame one; and so I crept on and ontill Iwas withinthreescore yards of himand then whiz went the boltand therehe liesfaith!  Was it not well shot? andI dare sayI have notshot in a crossbow!--not ten timesmaybe."

"Admirablyshotindeed" said Ravenswood; "and you will be afinemarksman if you practise hard."

"Andthat's what Norman says" answered the boy; "but I am sureit is notmy fault if I do not practise enough; forof freewillIwould do little elseonly my father and tutor are angrysometimesand only Miss Lucy there gives herself airs about mybeingbusyfor all she can sit idle by a wellside the whole daywhen shehas a handsome young gentleman to prate with.  I haveknown herdo so twenty timesif you will believe me."

The boylooked at his sister as he spokeandin the midst ofhismischievous chatterhad the sense to see that he was reallyinflictingpain upon herthough without being able tocomprehendthe cause or the amount.

"ComenowLucy" he said"don't greet; and if I have saidanythingbeside the markI'll deny it again; and what does theMaster ofRavenswood care if you had a hundred sweethearts? sone'er putfinger in your eye about it."

The Masterof Ravenswood wasfor the momentscarcesatisfiedwith what he heard; yet his good sense naturallyregardedit as the chatter of a spoilt boywho strove to mortifyhis sisterin the point which seemed most accessible for thetime. Butalthough of a temper equally slow in receivingimpressionsand obstinate in retaining themthe prattle of Henryserved tonourish in his mind some vague suspicion that hispresentengagement might only end in his being exposedlike aconqueredenemy in a Roman triumpha captive attendant on thecar of avictor who meditated only the satiating his pride at theexpense ofthe vanquished.  There waswe repeat itno realgroundwhatever for such an apprehensionnor could he be saidseriouslyto entertain such for a moment.  Indeedit wasimpossibleto look at the clear blue eye of Lucy Ashtonandentertainthe slightest permanent doubt concerning the sincerityof herdisposition.  Stillhoweverconscious pride andconsciouspoverty combined to render a mind suspecious which inmorefortunate circumstances would have been a stranger to thatas well asto every other meanness.

Theyreached the castlewhere Sir William Ashtonwho had beenalarmed bythe length of their staymet them in the hall.

"HadLucy" he said"been in any other company than that of onewho hadshown he had so complete power of protecting herheconfessedhe should have been very uneasyand would havedespatchedpersons in quest of them.  Butin the company of theMaster ofRavenswoodhe knew his daughter had nothing to dread."Lucycommenced some apology for their long delaybutconscience-struckbecames confused as she proceeded; and whenRavenswoodcoming to her assistanceendeavoured to render theexplanationcomplete and satisfactoryhe only involved himselfin thesame disorderlike one whoendeavouring to extricate hiscompanionfrom a sloughentangles himself in the same tenaciousswamp. It cannot be supposed that the confusion of the twoyouthfullovers escaped the observation of the sublte lawyeraccustomedby habit and professionto trace human naturethroughall her windings.  But it was not his present policy totake anynotice of what he observed.  He desired to hold theMaster ofRavenswood boundbut wished that he himself shouldremainfree; and it did not occur to him that his plan might bedefeatedby Lucy's returning the passion which he hoped she mightinspire. If she should adopt some romantic feelings towardsRavenswoodin which circumstancesor the positive and absoluteoppositionof Lady Ashtonmight render it unadvisable to indulgehertheLord Keeper conceived they might be easily supersededandannulled by a journey to Edinburghor even to Londona newset ofBrussels laceand the soft whispers of half a dozenloversanxious to replace him whom it was convenient she shouldrenounce. This was his provision for the worst view of the case.Butaccording to its more probable issueany passing favoursshe mightentertain for the Master of Ravenswood might requireencouragementrather than repression.

Thisseemed the more likelyas he had that very morningsincetheirdeparture from the castlereceived a letterthe contentsof whichhe hastened to communicate to Ravenswood.  A foot-posthadarrived with a packet to the Lord Keeper from that friendwhom wehave already mentionedwho was labouring hard underhandtoconsolidate a band of patriotsat the head of whom stood SirWilliam'sgreatest terrorthe active and ambitious Marquis of A----. The success of this convenient friend had been suchthathe hadobtained from Sir Williamnot indeed adirectlyfavourable answerbut certainly a most patient hearing.This hehad reported to his principalwho had replied by theancientFrench adage"Chateau qui parleet femme qui ecoutel'un etl'autre va se rendre."  A statesman who hears youpropose achange of measures without reply wasaccording to theMarquis'sopinionin the situation of the fortress which parleysand thelady who listensand he resolved to press the siege ofthe LordKeeper.

Thepacketthereforecontained a letter from his friend andallyandanother from himselfto the Lord Keeperfranklyofferingan unceremonious visit.  They were crossing the countryto go tothe southward; the roads were indifferent; theaccommodationof the inns as execrable as possible; the LordKeeper hadbeen long acquainted intimately with one of hiscorrespondentsandthough more slightly known to the Marquishad yetenough of his lordship's acquaintance to render the visitsufficientlynaturaland to shut the mouths of those who mightbedisposed to impute it to a political intrigue.  He instantlyacceptedthe offered visitdeterminedhoweverthat he wouldnot pledgehimself an inch farther for the furtherance of theirviews thanREASON (by which he meant his own self-interest)shouldplainly point out to him as proper.

Twocircumstances particularly delighted him--the presence ofRavenswoodand the absence of his own lady.  By having theformerunder his roofhe conceived he might be able to quash allsuchhazardous and hostile proceedings as he might otherwise havebeenengaged inunder the patronage of the Marquis; and Lucyheforesawwould makefor his immediate purpose of delay andprocrastinationa much better mistress of his family than hermotherwho wouldhe was surein some shape or othercontrivetodisconcert his political schemes by her proud and implacabletemper.

Hisanxious solicitations that the Master would stay toreceivehis kinsmanwereof coursereadily complied withsince theeclaircissement which had taken place at theMermaiden'sFountain had removed all wish for sudden departure.Lucy andLockhardhadthereforeorders to provide all thingsnecessaryin their different departmentsfor receiving theexpectedguests with a pomp and display of luxury very uncommoninScotland at that remote period.

 

CHAPTERXXI.

Marall: Sirthe man of honour's come                   Newlyalighted----Overreach: In without replyAnd doas I command....Is theloud music I gave order forReadyto receive him?

New Wayto pay Old Debts.

 

SIRWILLIAM ASHTONalthough a man of senselegalinformationand great practical knowledge of the worldhad yetsomepoints of character which corresponded better with thetimidityof his disposition and the supple arts by which he hadrisen inthe worldthan to the degree of eminence which he hadattained;as they tended to show an original mediocrity ofunderstandinghowever highly it had been cultivatedand anativemeanness of dispositionhowever carefully veiled.  Heloved theostentatious display of his wealthless as a man towhom habithas made it necessarythan as one to whom it is stilldelightfulfrom its novelty.  The most trivial details did notescapehim; and Lucy soon learned to watch the flush of scornwhichcrossed Ravenswood's cheekwhen he heard her fathergravelyarguing with Lockhardnayeven with the oldhousekeeperupon circumstances whichin families of rankareleftuncared forbecause it is supposed impossible they can beneglected.

"Icould pardon Sir William" said Ravenswoodone evening afterhe hadleft the room"some general anxiety upon this occasionfor theMarquis's visit is an honourand should be received assuch; butI am worn out by these miserable minutiae of thebutteryand the larderand the very hencoop--they drive mebeyond mypatience; I would rather endure the poverty of Wolf'sCrag thanbe pestered with the wealth of Ravenswood Castle."

"Andyet" said Lucy"it was by attention to these minutiaethat myfather acquired the property----"

"Whichmy ancestors sold for lack of it" repliedRavenswood. "Be it so; a porter still bears but a burdenthoughthe burdenbe of gold."

Lucysighed; she perceived too plainly that her lover held inscorn themanners and habits of a father to whom she had longlooked upas her best and most partial friendwhose fondnesshad oftenconsoled her for her mother's contemptuous harshness.

The loverssoon discovered that they differed upon other and nolessimportant topics.  Religionthe mother of peacewasinthose daysof discordso much misconstrued and mistakenthather rulesand forms were the subject of the most oppositeopinionsand the most hotsile animosities.  The Lord Keeperbeing aWhigwasof coursea Presbyterianand had found itconvenientat different periodsto express greater zeal for thekirk thanperhaps he really felt.  His familyequally of courseweretrained under the same institution.  Ravenswoodas we knowwas a HighChurchmanor Episcopalianand frequently objected toLucy thefanaticism of some of her own communionwhile sheintimatedrather than expressedhorror at the latitudinarianprincipleswhich she had been taught to think connected with theprelaticalform of church government.

Thusalthough their mutual affection seemed to increase ratherthan to bediminished as their characters opened more fully oneachotherthe feelings of each were mingled with some lessagreeableingredients.  Lucy felt a secret aweamid all heraffectionfor Ravenswood.  His soul was of an higherproudercharacterthan those with thom she had hitherto mixed inintercourse;his ideas were more fierce and free; and hecontemnedmany of the opinions which had been inculcated upon heras chieflydemanding her veneration.  On the other handRavenswoodsaw in Lucy a soft and flexible characterwhichinhis eyesat leastseemed too susceptible of being moulded to anyform bythose with whom she lived.  He felt that his own temperrequired apartner of a more independent spiritwho could setsail withhim on his course of liferesolved as himself to dareindifferentlythe storm and the favouring breeze.  But Lucy wassobeautifulso devoutly attached to himof a temper soexquisitelysoft and kindthatwhile he could have wished itwerepossible to inspire her with a greater degree of firmnessandresolutionand while he sometimes became impatient of theextremefear which she expressed of their attachment beingprematurelydiscoveredhe felt that the softness of a mindamountingalmost to feeblenessrendered her even dearer to himas a beingwho had voluntarily clung to him for protectionandmade himthe arbiter of her fate for weal or woe.  His feelingstowardsher at such moments were those which have been since sobeautifullyexpressed by our immortal Joanna Baillie:

Thousweetest thingThate'er did fix its lightly-fibred spraysTo therude rockah! wouldst thou cling to me?Roughand storm-worn I am; yet love me asThoutruly dostI will love thee againWithtrue and honest heartthough all unmeetTo bethe mate of such sweet gentleness.

 

Thus thevery points in which they differed seemedin somemeasureto ensure the continuance of their mutual affection.Ifindeedthey had so fully appreciated each other's characterbefore theburst of passion in which they hastily pledged theirfaith toeach otherLucy might have feared Ravenswood too muchever tohave loved himand he might have construed her softnessand dociletemper as imbecilityrendering her unworthy of hisregard. But they stood pledged to each other; and Lucy onlyfearedthat her lover's pride might one day teach him to regrethisattachment; Ravenswoodthat a mind so ductile as Lucy'smightinabsence or difficultiesbe inducedby the entreatiesorinfluence of those around herto renounce the engagement shehadformed.

"Donot fear it" said Lucywhen upon one occasion a hint ofsuchsuspicion escaped her lover; "the mirrors which receive thereflectionof all successive objects are framed of hardmaterialslike glass or steel; the softer substanceswhen theyreceive animpressionretain it undefaced."

"Thisis poetryLucy" said Ravenswood; "and in poetry there isalwaysfallacyand sometimes fiction."

"Believemethenonce morein honest prose" said Lucy"thatthough I will never wed man without the consent of myparentsyet neither force nor persuasion shall dispose of myhand tillyou renounce the right I have given you to it."

The lovershad ample time for such explanations.  Henry was nowmoreseldom their companionbeing either a most unwillingattendantupon the lessons of his tutoror a forward volunteerunder theinstructions of the foresters or grooms.  As for theKeeperhis mornings were spent in his studymaintainingcorrespondencesof all kindsand balancing in his anxious mindthevarious intelligence which he collected from every quarterconcerningthe expected change of Scottish politicsand theprobablestrength of the parties who were about to struggle forpower. At other times he busied himself about arrangingandcoutermandingand then again arrangingthe preparations whichhe judgednecessary for the reception of the Marquis of A----whosearrival had been twice delayed by some necessary cause ofdetention.

In themidst of all these various avocationspolitical anddomestiche seemed not to observe how much his daughter and hisguest werethrown into each other's societyand was censured bymany ofhis neighboursaccording to the fashion of neighbours inallcountriesfor suffering such an intimate connexion to takeplacebetwixt two young persons.  The only natural explanationwasthathe designed them for each other; whilein truthhisonlymotive was to temporise and procrastinate until he shoulddiscoverthe real extent of the interest which the Marquis tookinRavenswood's affairsand the power which he was likely topossess ofadvancing them.  Until these points should be madeboth clearand manifestthe Lord Keeper resolved that he woulddo nothingto commit himselfeither in one shape or other; andlike manycunning personshe overreached himself deplorably.

Amongstthose who had been disposed to censurewith thegreatestseveritythe conduct of Sir William Ashtoninpermittingthe prolonged residence of Ravenswood under his roofand hisconstant attendance on Miss Ashtonwas the new Laird ofGirningtonand his faithful squire and bottleholderpersonagesformerlywell known to us by the names of Hayston and Bucklawand hiscompanion Captain Craigengelt.  The former had at lengthsucceededto the extensive property of his long-lived grand-auntand toconsiderable wealth besideswhich he had employed inredeeminghis paternal acres (by the title appertaining to whichhe stillchose to be designated)notwithstanding CaptainCraigengelthad proposed to him a most advantageous mode ofvestingthe money in Law's schemewhich was just then broachedandoffered his services to travel express to Paris for thepurpose. But Bucklaw had so far derived wisdom from adversitythat hewould listen to no proposal which Craigengelt couldinventwhich had the slightest tendency to risk his newly-acquiredindependence.  He that had once eat pease-bannocksdrank sourwineand slept in the secret chamber at Wolf's Cragwouldhesaidprize good cheer and a soft bed as long as helivedandtake special care never to need such hospitalityagain.

Craigengeltthereforefound himself disappointed in the firsthopes hehad entertained of making a good hand of the Laird ofBucklaw. Stillhoweverhe reaped many advantages from hisfriend'sgood fortune.  Bucklawwho had never been at allscrupulousin choosing his companionswas accustomed toandentertainedbya fellow whom he could either laugh with orlaugh atas he had a mindwho would takeaccording to Scottishphrase"the bit and the buffet" understood all sportswhetherwithin orwithout doorsandwhen the laird had a mind for abottle ofwine (no infrequent circumstance)was always ready tosave himfrom the scandal of getting drunk by himself.  UponthesetermsCraigengelt was the frequentalmost the constantinmate ofthe house of Girnington.

In notimeand under no possibility of circumstancescouldgood havebeen derived from such an intimacyhowever its badconsequencesmight be qualified by the thorough knowledge whichBucklawpossessed of his dependant's characterand the highcontemptin which he held it.  Butas circumstances stoodthisevilcommunication was particularly liable to corrupt what goodprinciplesnature had implanted in the patron.

Craigengelthad never forgiven the scorn with whichRavenswoodhad torn the mask of courage and honesty from hiscountenance;and to exasperate Bucklaw's resentment against himwas thesafest mode of revenge which occurred to his cowardlyyetcunning and malignantdisposition.

He broughtup on all occasions the story of the challenge whichRavenswoodhad declined to acceptand endeavouredby everypossibleinsinuationto make his patron believe that his honourwasconcerned in bringing that matter to an issue by a presentdiscussionwith Ravenswood.  But respecting this subject Bucklawimposed onhimat lengtha peremptory command of silence.

"Ithink" he said"the Master has treated me unlike agentlemanand I see no right he had to send me back a cavalieranswerwhen I demanded the satisfaction of one.  But he gave memy lifeonce; andin looking the matter over at presentI putmyself buton equal terms with him.  Should he cross me againIshallconsider the old accompt as balancedand his Mastershipwill dowell to look to himself."

"Thathe should" re-echoed Craigengelt; "for when you are inpracticeBucklawI would bet a magnum you are through himbefore thethird pass."

"Thenyou know nothing of the matter" said Bucklaw"and younever sawhim fence."

"AndI know nothing of the matter?" said the dependant--"a goodjestIpromise you!  And though I never saw Ravenswood fencehave I notbeen at Monsieur Sagoon's schoolwho was the firstmaitred'armes at Paris; and have I not been at Signor Poco'satFlorenceand Meinheer Durchstossen's at Viennaand have Inot seenall their play?"

"Idon't know whether you have or not" said Bucklaw; "butwhatabout itthough you had?"

"Onlythat I will be d--d if ever I saw FrenchItalianorHigh-Dutchmanever make foothandand eye keep time half sowell asyouBucklaw."

"Ibelieve you lieCraigie" said Bucklaw; "howeverI canholdmy ownboth with single rapierbackswordsword and daggerbroadswordor case of falchions--and that's as much as anygentlemanneed know of the matter."

"Andthe doublt of what ninety-nine out of a hundred know" saidCraigengelt;"they learn to chanage a few thrusts with the smallswordandthenforsooththey understand the noble art ofdefence! Nowwhen I was at Rouen in the year 1695there was aChevalierde Chapon and I went to the operawhere we found threebits ofEnglish birkies----""Isit a long story you are going to tell?" said Bucklawinterruptinghim without ceremony.

"Justas you like" answered the parasite"for we made shortwork ofit."

"ThenI like it short" said Bucklaw.  "Is it serious ormerry?"

"DevilishseriousI assure youand so they found it; for theChevalierand I----"

"ThenI don't like it at all" said Bucklaw; "so fill a brimmerof my auldauntie's claretrest her heart!   Andas theHielandmansaysSkioch doch na skiall."

"Thatwas what tough old Sir Even Dhu used to say to me when Iwas outwith the metall'd lads in 1689.  'Craigengelt' he usedto say'you are as pretty a fellow as ever held steel in hisgripbutyou have one fault.'"

"Ifhe had known you as long as I have don" said Bucklaw"hewould havefound out some twenty more; but hand long storiesgive usyour toastman."

Craigengeltrosewent a -tiptoe to the doorpeeped outshutitcarefullycame back againclapped his tarnished gold-lacedhat on oneside of his headtook his glass in one handandtouchingthe hilt of his hanger with the othernamed"The Kingover thewater."

"Itell you what it isCaptain Craigengelt" said Bucklaw; "Ishall keepmy mind to myself on thse subjectshaving too muchrespectfor the memory of my venerable Aunt Girnington to puther landsand tenements in the way of committing treason againstestablishedauthority.  Bring me King James to EdinburghCaptainwith thirty thousand men at his backand I'll tell youwhat Ithink about his title; but as for running my neck into anooseandmy good broad lands into the statutory penalties'inthat casemade and provided' rely upon ityou will find me nosuchfool.  Sowhen you mean to vapour with your hanger and yourdram-cupin support of treasonable toastsyou must find yourliquor andcompany elsewhere."

"Wellthen" said Craigengelt"name the toast yourselfand beit what itlikeI'll pledge youwere it a mile to the bottom."

"AndI'll give you a toast that deserves itmy boy" saidBucklaw;"what say you to Miss Lucy Ashton?"

"Upwith it" said the Captainas he tossed off hisbrimmer"the bonniest lass in Lothian!  What a pity the oldsneckdrawingWhigamoreher fatheris about to throw her awayupon thatrag of pride and beggarythe Master of Ravenswood!"

"That'snot quite so clear" said Bucklawin a tone whichthough itseemed indifferentexcited his companion's eagercuriosity;and not that onlybut also his hope of workinghimselfinto soem sort of confidencewhich might make himnecessaryto his patronbeing by no means satisfied to rest onmeresufferanceif he could form by art or industry a morepermanenttitle to his favour.

"Ithought" said heafter a moment's pause"that was asettledmatter; they are continually togetherand nothing elseis spokenof betwixt Lammer Law and Traprain."

"Theymay say what they please" replied his patron"but I knowbetter;and I'll give you Miss Lucy Ashton's health againmyboy."

"AndI woul drink it on my knee" said Craigengelt"if Ithoughtthe girl had the spirit to jilt that d--d son of aSpaniard."

"I amto request you will not use the word 'jilt' and MissAshton'sname together" said Bucklawgravely.

"Jiltdid I say?  Discardmy lad of acres--by JoveI meant todiscard"replied Craigengelt; "and I hope she'll discard himlike asmall card at piquetand take in the king of heartsmyboy! But yet----"

"Butwhat?" said his patron.

"Butyet I know for certain they are hours together aloneandin thewoods and the fields."

"That'sher foolish father's dotage; that will be soon put outof thelass's headif it ever gets into it" answered Bucklaw."Andnow fill your glass againCaptain; I am going to make youhappy; Iam going to let you into a secret--a plot--a noosingplot--onlythe noose is but typical."

"Amarrying matter?" said Craigengeltand his jaw fell as heasked thequestionfor he suspected that matrimony would renderhissituation at Girnington much more precarious than during thejolly daysof his patron's bachelorhood.

"Aya marriageman" said Bucklaw; "but wherefore droops theymightspiritand why grow the rubies on they cheek so pale?The boardwill have a cornerand the corner will have atrencherand the trencher will have a glass beside it; and theboard-endshall be filledand the trencher and the glass shallbereplenished for theeif all the petticoats in Lothian hadsworn thecontrary.  Whatman!  I am not the boy to put myselfintoleading-strings."

"Sosays many an honest fellow" said Craigengelt"and some ofmy specialfriends; butcurse me if I know the reasonthewomencould never bear meand always contrived to trundle me outof favourbefore the honeymoon was over."

"Ifyou could have kept your ground till that was overyoumight havemade a good year's pension" said Bucklaw.

"ButI never could" answered the dejected parasite.  "Therewasmy LordCastle-Cuddy--we were hand and glove: I rode his horsesborrowedmoney both for him and from himtrained his hawksandtaught himhow to lay his bets; and when he took a fancy ofmarryingI married him to Katie Gleggwhom I thought myself assure of asman could be of woman.  Egadshe had me out of thehouseasif I had run on wheelswithin the firstfortnight!"

"Well!"replied Bucklaw"I think I have nothing of Castle-Cuddyabout meor Lucy of Katie Glegg.  But you see the thingwill go onwhether you like it or no; the only question iswillyou beuseful?"

"Useful!"exclaimed the Captain"and to theemy lad of landsmy darlingboywhom I would tramp barefooted through the worldfor! Name timeplacemodeand circumstancesand see if Iwill notbe useful in all uses that can be devised."

"Whythenyou must ride two hundred miles for me" said thepatron.

"Athousandand call them a flea's leap" answered thedependant;"I'll cause saddle my horse directly."

"Betterstay till you know where you are to goand what you areto do"quoth Bucklaw.  "You know I have a kinswoman inNorthumberlandLady Blenkensop by namewhose old acquaintance Ihad themisfortune to lose in the period of my povertybut thelight ofwhose countenance shone forth upon me when the sun of myprosperitybegan to arise."

"D--nall such double-faced jades!" exclaimed Craigengeltheroically;"this I will say for John Craigengeltthat he is hisfriend'sfriend through good report and bad reportpoverty andriches;and you know something of that yourselfBucklaw."

"Ihave not forgot your merits" said his patron; "I dorememberthatinmy extremitiesyou had a mind to CRIMP me for theservice ofthe French kingor of the Pretender; andmoreoverthat youafterwards lent me a score of pieceswhenas I firmlybelieveyou had heard the news that old Lady Girnington had atouch ofthe dead palsy.  But don't be downcastJohn; Ibelieveafter allyou like me very well in your wayand it ismymisfortune to have no better counsellor at present.  To returnto thisLady Blenkensopyou must knowshe is a closeconfederateof Duchess Sarah."

"What!of Sall Jennings?" exclaimed Craigengelt; "then she mustbe a goodone."

"Holdyour tongueand keep your Tory rants to yourselfif itbepossible" said Bucklaw.  "I tell youthat throughtheDuchess ofMarlborough has this Northumbrian cousin of minebecome acrony of Lady Ashtonthe Keeper's wifeorI may saythe LordKeeper's Lady Keeperand she has favoured LadyBlenkensopwith a visit on her return from Londonand is justnow at herold mansion-house on the banks fo the Wansbeck.  Nowsiras ithas been the use and wont of these ladies to considertheirhusbands as of no importance in the management of their ownfamiliesit has been their present pleasurewithout consultingSirWilliam Ashtonto put on the tapis a matrimonial allianceto beconcluded between Lucy Ashton and my own right honourableselfLadyAshton acting as self-constituted plenipotentiary onthe partof her daughter and husbandand Mother Blenkensopequallyunaccrediteddoing me the honour to be myrepresentative. You may suppose I was a little astonished when Ifound thata treatyin which I was so considerably interestedhadadvanced a good way before I was even consulted."

"Capotme! if I think that was according to the rules of thegame"said his confidant; "and praywhat answer did youreturn?"

"Whymy first thought was to send the treaty to the devilandthenegotiators along with itfor a couple of meddling oldwomen; mynext was to laugh very hearily; and my third and lastwas asettled opinion that the thing was reasonableand wouldsuit mewell enough."

"WhyI thought you had never seen the wench but onceand thenshe hadher riding-mask on; I am sure you told me so."

"Aybut I liked her very well then.  And Ravenswood's dirtyusage ofme--shutting me out of doors to dine with the lackeysbecause hehad the Lord Keeperforsoothand his daughtertobe guestsin his beggarly castle of starvation--d--n meCraigengeltif I ever forgive him till I play him as good atrick!"

"Nomore you shouldif you are a lad of mettle" saidCraigengeltthe matter now taking a turn in which he couldsympathise;"and if you carry this wench from himit will breakhisheart."

"Thatit will not" said Bucklaw; "his heart is all steeled overwithreason and philosophythings that youCraigieknownothingabout more than myselfGod help me.  But it will breakhis pridethoughand that's what I'm driving at."

"Distanceme!" said Craigengelt"but I know the reason now ofhisunmannerly behaviour at his old tumble-down tower yonder.Ashamed ofyour company?--nono!  Gadhe was afraid you wouldcut in andcarry off the girl."

"Eh! Craigengelt?" said Bucklaw"do you really think so? butnono! heis a devilish deal prettier man than I am.""Who--he?"exclaimed the parasite.  "He's as black as the crook;and forhis size--he's a tall fellowto be surebut give me alightstoutmiddle-sized----"

"Plagueon thee!" said Bucklawinterrupting him"and on me forlisteningto you!  You would say as much if I were hunch-backed. But as to Ravenswood--he has kept no terms with meI'll keepnone with him; if I CAN win this girl from himI WILL winher."

"Winher! 'sbloodyou SHALL win herpointquintandquatorzemy king of trumps; you shall piquerepiqueandcapothim."

"Pritheestop thy gambling cant for one instant" said Bucklaw."Thingshave come thus farthat I have entertained the proposalof mykinswomanagreed to the terms of jointureamount offortuneand so forthand that the affair is to go forward whenLadyAshton comes downfor she takes her daughter and her son inher ownhand.  Now they want me to send up a confidential personwith somewritings."

"Bythis good winI'll ride to the end of the world--the verygates ofJerichoand the judgment-seat of Prester Johnforthee!"ejaculated the Captain.

"WhyI believe you would do something for meand a great dealforyourself.  Nowany one could carry the writings; but youwill havea little more to do.  You must contrive to drop outbefore myLady Ashtonjust as if it were a matter of littleconsequencethe residence of Ravenswood at her husband's houseand hisclose intercourse with Miss Ashton; and you may tell herthat allthe country talks of a visit from the Marquis of A----as it issupposedto make up the match betwixt Ravenswood andherdaughter.  I should like to hear what she says to all this;forratme! if I have any idea of starting for the plate at allifRavenswood is to win the raceand he has odds against mealready."

"Nevera bit; the wench has too much senseand in that belief Idrink herhealth a third time; andwere time and place fittingI woulddrink it on bended kneesand he that would not pledgemeIwould make his guts garter his stockings."

"HarkyeCraigengelt; as you are going into the society ofwomen ofrank" said Bucklaw"I'll thank you to forget yourstrangeblackguard oaths and 'damme's.'  I'll write to themthoughthat you are a bluntuntaught fellow."

"Ayay" replied Craigengelt--"a plainblunthonestdownrightsoldier."

"Nottoo honestnot too much of the soldier neither; but suchas thouartit is my luck to need theefor I must have spursput toLady Ashton's motions.""I'lldash them up to the rowel-heads" said Craigengelt; "sheshall comehere at the galloplike a cow chased by a whole nestofhornetsand her tail over her rump like a corkscrew."

"Andhear yeCraigie" said Bucklaw; "your boots and doubletare goodenough to drink inas the man says in the  playbutthey aresomewhat too greasy for tea-table service; pritheegetthyself alittle better rigged outand here is to pay allcharges."

"NayBucklaw; on my soulmanyou use me ill.  However" addedCraigengeltpocketing the money"if you will have me so farindebtedto youI must be conforming."

"Wellhorse and away!" said the patron"so soon as you havegot yourriding livery in trim.  You may ride the black crop-ear;andharkyeI'll make you a present of him to boot."

"Idrink to the good luck of my mission" answered theambassador"in a half-pint bumper."

"Ithank yeCraigieand pledge you; I see nothing against itbut thefather or the girl taking a tantrumand I am told themother canwind them both round her little finger.  Take carenot toaffront her with any of your Jacobite jargon."

"Ohaytrue--she is a Whigand a friend of old Sall ofMarlborough;thank my starsI can hoist any colours at a pinch!I havefought as hard under John Churchill as ever I did underDundee orthe Duke of Berwick."

"Iverily believe youCraigie" said the lord of the mansion;"butCraigiedo youpraystep down to the cellarand fetchus up abottle of the Burgundy1678; it is in the fourth binfrom theright-hand turn.  And I sayCraigieyou may fetch uphalf adozen whilst you are about it.  Egadwe'll make a nighton't!"

 

CHAPTERXXII.

Andsoon they spied the merry-men greenAnd ekethe coach and four.

Dukeupon Duke.

 

CRAIGENGELTset forth on his mission so soon as his equipage wascompleteprosecuted his journey with all diligenceandaccomplishedhis commission with all the dexterity for whichbucklawhad given him credit.  As he arrived with credentialsfrom Mr.Hayston of Bucklawhe was extremely welcome to bothladies;and those who are prejudiced in favour of a newacquaintancecanfor a time at leastdiscoverexcellenciesin his very faults and perfections in hisdeficiencies. Although both ladies were accustomed to goodsocietyyetbeing pre-determined to find out an agreeable andwell-behavedgentleman in Mr. Hayston's friendthey succeededwonderfullyin imposing on themselves.  It is true thatCraigengeltwas now handsomely dressedand that was a point ofno smallconsequence.  Butindependent of outward showhisblackguardimpudence of address was construed into honourablebluntness.becoming his supposed military profession; hishectoringpassed for courageand his sauciness for wit.  Lesthoweverany one should think this a violation of probabilitywemust addin fairness to the two ladiesthat their discernmentwasgreatly blindedand their favour propitiatedby theopportunearrival of Captain Craigengelt in the moment when theywerelonging for a third hand to make a party at tredrilleinwhichasin all gameswhether of chance or skillthat worthyperson wasa great proficient.

When hefound himself established in favourhis next point washow bestto use it for the furtherance of his patron's views.He foundLady Ashton prepossessed strongly in favour of themotionwhich Lady Blenkensoppartly from regard to herkinswomanpartly from the spirit of match-makinghad nothesitatedto propose to her; so that his task was an easy one.Bucklawreformed from his prodigalitywas just the sort ofhusbandwhich she desired to have for her Shepherdess ofLammermoor;and while the marriage gave her an easy fortuneandarespectable country gentleman for her husbandLady Ashton wasof opinionthat her destinies would be fully and most favourablyaccomplished. It so chancedalsothat Bucklawamong his newacquisitionshad gained the management of a little politicalinterestin a neighbouring county where the Douglas familyoriginallyheld large possessions.  It was one of the bosom-hopesof LadyAshton that her eldest sonSholtoshould represent thiscounty inthe British Parliamentand she saw this alliance withBucklaw asa circumstance which might be highly favourable toherwishes.

Craigengeltwhoin his wayby no means wanted sagacitynosoonerdiscovered in what quarter the wind of Lady Ashton'swishessatethan he trimmed his course accordinly.  "There waslittle toprevent Bucklaw himself from sitting for the county; hemust carrythe heat--must walk the course.  Two cousins-germansix moredistant kinsmen  his factor and his chamberlainwereall hollowvotes; and the Girnington interest had always carriedbetwixtlove and fearabout as many more.  But Bucklaw cared nomore aboutriding the first horseand that sort of thingthanheCraigengeltdid about a game at birkie: it was a pity hisinterestwas not in good guidance."

All thisLady Ashton drank in with willing and attentive earsresolvinginternally to be herself the person who should take themanagementof the political influence of her destined son-in-lawfor thebenefit of her eldest-bornSholtoand all other partiesconcerned.

When hefound her ladyship thus favourably disposedthe Captainproceededto use his employer's phraseto set spurs to herresolutionby hinting at the situation of matters atRavenswoodCastlethe long residence which the heir of thatfamily hadmade with the Lord Keeperand the reports which--though hewould be d--d ere he gave credit to any of them--hadbeen idlycirculated in the neighbourhood.  It was not theCaptain'scue to appear himself to be uneasy on the subject oftheserumours; but he easily saw from Lady Ashton's flushedcheekhesitating voiceand flashing eyethat she had caughtthe alarmwhich he intended to communicate.  She had not heardfrom herhusband so often or so regularly as she though himbound induty to have writtenand of this very interestingintelligenceconcerning his visit to the Tower of Wolf's Cragand theguest whomwith such cordialityhe had received atRavenswsoodCastlehe had suffered his lady to remain altogetherignorantuntil she now learned it by the chance information of astranger. Such concealment approachedin her apprehensionto amisprisionat lastof treasonif not to actual rebellionagainsther matrimonial authority; and in her inward sould shedid vow totake vengeance on the Lord Keeperas on a subjectdetectedin meditating revolt.  Her indignation burned the morefiercelyas she found herself obliged to suppress it in presenceof LadyBlenkensopthe kinswomanand of Craigengelttheconfidentialfriendof Bucklawof whose alliance she now becametreblydesiroussince it occurred to her alarmed imaginationthat herhusband mightin his policy or timidityprefer that ofRavenswood.

TheCaptain was engineer enough to discover that the train wasfired; andtherefore heardin the course of the same daywithoutthe least surprisethat Lady Ashton had resolved toabridgeher visit to Lady Blenkensopand set forth with the peepof morningon her return to Scotlandusing all the despatchwhich thestate of the roads and the mode of travelling wouldpossiblypermit.

UnhappyLord Keeper!  little was he aware what a storm wastravellingtowards him in all the speed with which an old-fashionedcoach and six could possibly achieve its journey.  Helike DonGayferos"forgot his lady fair and true" and was onlyanxiousabout the expected visit of the Marquis of A----.Soothfasttidings had assured him that this nobleman was atlengthand without failto honour his castle at one in theafternoonbeing a late dinner-hour; and much was the bustle inconsequenceof the annunciation.  The Lord Keeper traversed thechambersheld consultation with the butler in the cellarsandevenventuredat the risk of a demele with a cook of a spiritloftyenough to scorn the admonitions of Lady Ashton herselftopeep intothe kitchen.  Satisfiedat lengththat everything wasin asactive a train of preparation as was possiblehe summonedRavenswoodand his daughter to walk upon the terracefor thepurpose ofwatchingfrom that commanding positionthe earliestsymptomsof his lordship's approach.   For this purposewithslow andidle stephe paraded the terracewhichflanked with aheavystone battlementstretched in front of the castle upon alevel withthe first story; while visitors found access to thecourt by aprojecting gatewaythe bartizan or flat-leaded roofof whichwas accessible from the terrace by an easy flight of lowand broadsteps.  The whole bore a resemblance partly to acastlepartly to a nobleman's seat; and though calculatedinsomerespectsfor defenceevinced that it had been constructedunder asense of the power and security of the ancient Lords ofRavenswood.

Thispleasant walk commanded a beautiful and extensive view.But whatwas most to our present purposethere were seen fromtheterrace two roadsone leading from the eastand one fromthewestwardwhichcrossing a ridge opposed to the eminence onwhich thecastle stoodat different anglesgradually approachedeachotheruntil they joined not far from the gate of theavenue. It was to the westward approach that the Lord Keeperfrom asort of fidgeting anxietyhis daughterfrom complaisanceto himand Ravenswoodthough feeling some symptoms of internalimpatienceout of complaisance to his daughterdirected theireyes tosee the precursors of the Marquis's approach.

These werenot long of presenting themselves.  Two runningfootmendressed in whitewith black jockey-capsand longstaffs intheir handsheaded the train; and such was theiragilitythat they found no difficulty in keeping the necessaryadvancewhich the etiquette of their station requiredbeforethecarriage and horsemen.  Onward they came at a long swingingtrotarguing unwearied speed in their long-breathed calling.Suchrunning footmen are often alluded to in old plays (I wouldparticularlyinstance Middleton's Mad Worldmy Masters)andperhapsmay be still remembered by some old persons in Scotlandas part ofthe retinue of the ancient nobility when travelling infullceremony.  Behind these glancing meteorswho footed it asif theAvenger of Blood had been behind themcame a cloud ofdustraised by riders who precededattendedor followed thestate-carriageof the Marquis.

Theprivilege of nobilityin those dayshad something in itimpressiveon the imagination.  The dresses and liveries andnumber oftheir attendantstheir style of travellingtheimposingand almost warlikeair of the armed men who surroundedthemplace them far above the lairdwho travelled with hisbrace offootmen; and as to rivalry from the mercantile part ofthecommunitythese would as soon have thought of imitating thestateequipage of the Sovereign.  At present it is different; andI myselfPeter Pattiesonin a late journey to Edinburghhadthehonourin the mail-coach phrasem to "change a leg" with apeer ofthe realm.  It was not so in the days of which I write;and theMarquis's approachso long expected in vainnow tookplace inthe full pomp of ancient aristocracy.  Sir WilliamAshton wasso much interested in what he beheldand inconsideringthe ceremonial of receptionin case anycircumstancehad been omittedthat he scarce heard his son Henryexclaim:"There is another coach and six coming down the eastroadpapa; can they both belong to the Marquis of A----?"

At lengthwhen the youngster had fairly compelled his attentionby pullinghis sleeve

He turnedhis eyesandas he turnedsurvey'dAn awfulvision.

Sureenoughanother coach and sixwith four servants oroutridersin attendancewas descending the hill from theeastwardat such a pace as made it doubtful which of thecarriagesthus approaching from different quarters would firstreach thegate at the extremity of the avenue.  The one coach wasgreentheother blue; and not the green and blue chariots in thecircus ofRome or Constantinople excited more turmoil among thecitizensthan the double apparition occasioned in the mind of theLordKeeper.

We allremember the terrible exclamation of the dyingprofligatewhen a friendto destroy what he supposed thehypochondriacidea of a spectre appearing in a certain shape at agivenhourplaced before him a person dressed up in the mannerhedescribed.  "Mon Dieu!" said the expiring sinnerwhoitseemssawboth the real and polygraphic apparition"il y en adeux!" The surprise of the Lord Keeper was scarcely lessunpleasingat the duplication of the expected arrival; his mindmisgavehim strangely.  There was no neighbour who would haveapproachedso unceremoniouslyat a time when ceremony was heldin suchrespect.  It must be Lady Ashtonsaid his conscienceandfollowed up the hint with an anxious anticipation of thepurpose ofher sudden and unannounced return.  He felt that hewas caught"in the manner."  That the company in which she had sounluckilysurprised him was likely to be highly distasteful tohertherewas no question; and the only hope which remained forhim washer high sense of dignified proprietywhichhe trustedmightprevent a public explosion.  But so active were his doubtsand fearsas altogether to derange his purposed ceremonial forthereception of the Marquis.

Thesefeelings of apprehension were not confined to Sir WilliamAshton. "It is my mother--it is my mother!" said Lucyturningas pale asashesand clasping her hands together as she lookedatRavenswood.

"Andif it be Lady Ashton" said her lover to her in a low tone"whatcan be the occasion of such alarm?  Surely the return of alady tothe family from which she has been so long absent shouldexciteother sensations than those of fear and dismay."

"Youdo not know my mother" said Miss Ashtonin a tone almostbreathlesswith terror; "what will she say when she sees you inthisplace!"

"Mystay has been too long" said Ravenswoodsomewhathaughtily"if her displeasure at my presence is likely to be soformidable. My dear Lucy" he resumedin a tone of soothingencouragement"you are too childishly afraid of Lady Ashton; sheis a womanof family--a lady of fashion--a person who must knowthe worldand what is due to her husband and her husband'sguests."Lucy shookher head; andas if her motherstill at thedistanceof half a milecould have seen and scrutinised herdeportmentshe withdrew herself from besdie Ravenswoodandtaking herbrother Henry's armled him to a different part oftheterrace.  The Keeper also shuffled down towards the portal ofthe greatgatewithout inviting Ravenswood to accompany him; andthus heremained standing alone on the terracedeserted andshunnedas it wereby the inhabitants of the mansion.Thissuited not the mood of one who was proud in proportion tohispovertyand who thought thatin sacrificing his deep-rootedresentments so far as to become Sir William Ashton'sguestheconferred a favourand received none.  "I can forgiveLucy"he said to himself; "she is youngtimidand conscious ofanimportant engagement assumed without her mother's sanction;yet sheshould remember with whom it has been assumedand leaveme noreason to suspect that she is ashamed of her choice.  FortheKeepersensespiritand expression seem to have left hisface andmanner since he had the first glimpse of Lady Ashton'scarriage. I must watch how this is to end; andif they give mereason tothink myself an unwelcome guestmy visit is soonabridged."

With thesesuspicions floating on his mindhe left the terraceandwalking towards the stables of the castlegave directionsthat hishorse should be kept in readinessin case he shouldhaveoccasion to ride abroad.

In themean whilethe drivers of the two carriagestheapproachof which had occasioned so much dismay at the castlehad becomeaware of each other's presenceas they approachedupondifferent lines to the head of the avenueas a ocmmoncentre. Lady Ashton's driver and postilions instantly receivedorders toget foremostif possibleher ladyship being desirousofdespatching her first interview with her husband before thearrival ofthese guestswhoever they might happen to be.  On theotherhandthe coachman of the Marquisconscious of his owndignityand that of his masterand observing the rivalcharioteerwas mending his paceresolvedlike a true brother ofthe whipwhether ancient or modernto vindicate his right ofprecedence. So thatto increase the confusion of the LordKeeper'sunderstandinghe saw the short time which remained forconsiderationabridged by the haste of the contending coachmenwhofixing their eyes sternly on each otherand applying thelashsmartly to their horsesbegan to thunder down the descentwithemulous rapiditywhile the horsemen who attended them wereforced toput on to a hand-gallop.

SirWilliam's only chance now remaining was the possibility ofanoverturnand that his lady or visitor might break theirnecks. I am not aware that he formed any distinct wish on thesubjectbut I have no reason to think that his grief in eithercase wouldhave been altogether inconsolable.  This chancehoweveralso disappeared; for Lady Ashtonthough insensible tofearbegan to see the ridicule of running a race with a visitorofdistinctionthe goal being the portal of her own castleandcommandedher coachmanas they approached the avenueto slackenhis paceand allow precedence to the stranger's equipage; acommandwhich he gladly obeyedas coming in time to save hishonourthe horses of the Marquis's carriage being betteroratleastfresher than his own.  He restrained his pacethereforeandsuffered the green coach to enter the avenuewith all itsretinuewhich pass it occupied with the speed of a whirlwind.TheMarquis's laced charioteer no sooner found the pas d'avancewasgranted to him than he resumed a more deliberate paceatwhich headvanced under the embowering shade of the lofty elmssurroundedby all the attendants; while the carriage of LadyAshtonfollowedstill more slowlyat some distance.

In thefront of the castleand beneath the portal whichadmittedguests into the inner courtstood Sir William Ashtonmuchperplexed in mindhis younger son and daughter beside himand intheir rear a train of attendants of various ranksin andout oflivery.  The nobility and gentry of Scotlandat thisperiodwere remarkable even to extravagance for the number oftheirservantswhose services were easily purchased in a countrywhere menwere numerous beyond proportion to the means ofemployingthem.

Themanners of a man trained like Sir William Ashton are toomuch athis command to remain long disconcerted with the mostadverseconcurrence of circumstances.  He received the Marquisas healighted from his equipagewith the usual compliments ofwelcome;andas he ushered him into the great hallexpressedhis hopethat his journey had been pleasant.  The Marquis was atallwell-made manwith a thoughtful and intelligentcountenanceand an eye in which the fire of ambition had forsome yearsreplaced the vivacity of youth; a boldproudexpressionof countenanceyet chastened by habitual cautionandthe desirewhichas the head of a partyhe necessarilyentertainedof acquiring popularity.  He answered with courtesythecourteous inquiries of the Lord Keeperand was formallypresentedto Miss Ashtonin the course of which ceremony theLordKeeper gave the first symptom of what was chiefly occupyinghis mindby introducing his daughter as "his wifeLady Ashton."

Lucyblushed; the Marquis looked surprised at the extremelyjuvenileappearance of his hostessand the Lord Keeper withdifficultyrallied himself so far as to explain.  "I should havesaid mydaughtermy lord; but the truth isthat I saw LadyAshton'scarriage enter the avenue shortly after your lordship'sand----"

"Makeno apologymy lord" replied his noble guest; "let meentreatyou will wait on your ladyand leave me to cultivateMissAshton's acquaintance.  I am shocked my people should havetakenprecedence of our hostess at her own gate; but yourlordshipis aware that I supposed Lady Ashton was still in thesouth. Permit me to beseech you will waive ceremonyand hastento welcomeher."

This wasprecisely what the Lord Keeper longed to do; and heinstantlyprofited by his lordship's obliging permission.  To seeLadyAshtonand encounter the first burst of her displeasure inprivatemight prepare herin some degreeto receive herunwelcomeguests with due decorum.  As her carriagethereforestoppedthe arm of the attentive husband was ready to assistLadyAshton in dismounting.  Looking as if she saw him notsheput hisarm asideand requested that of Captain Craigengeltwhostood bythe coach with his laced hat under his armhaving actedascavaliere serventeor squire in attendanceduring thejourney. Taking hold of this respectable person's arm as if tosupportherLady Ashton traversed the courtuttering a wod ortwo by wayof direction to the servantsbut not one to SirWilliamwho in vain endeavoured to attract her attentionas heratherfollowed than accompanied her into the hallin which theyfound theMarquis in close conversation with the Master ofRavenswood. Lucy had taken the first opportunity of escaping.There wasembarrassment on every countenance except that of theMarquis ofA----; for even Craigengelt's impudence was hardlyable toveil his fear of Ravenswoodan the rest felt theawkwardnessof the position in which they were thus unexpectedlyplaced.

Afterwaiting a moment to be presented by Sir William AshtontheMarquis resolved to introduce himself.  "The Lord Keeper"hesaidbowing to Lady Ashton"has just introduced to me hisdaughteras his wife; he might very easily present Lady Ashton ashisdaughterso little does she differ from what I remember hersome yearssince.  Will she permit an oldacquaintancethe privilege of a guest?"

He salutedthe lady with too good a grace to apprehend arepulseand then proceeded: "ThisLady Ashtonis a peacemakingvisitandtherefore I presume to introduce my cousinthe youngMaster ofRavenswoodto your favourable notice."

LadyAshton could not choose but courtesy; but there was in herobeisancean air of haughtiness approaching to contemptuousrepulse. Ravenswood could not choose but bow; but his mannerreturnedthe scorn with which he had been greeted.

"Allowme" she said"to present to your lordship MY friend."Craigengeltwith the forward impudence which men of his castmistakefor easemade a sliding bow to the Marquiswhich hegraced bya flourish of his gold-laced hat.  The lady turned toherhusband.  "You and ISir William" she saidandthese werethe firstwords she had addressed to him"have acquired newacquaintancessince we parted; let me introduce the acquisition Ihave madeto mine--Captain Craigengelt."

Anotherbowand another flourish of the gold-laced hatwhichwasreturned by the Lord Keeper without intimation of formerrecognitionand with that sort of anxious readiness whichintimatedhis wish that peace and amnesty should take placebetwixtthe contending partiesincluding the auxiliaries on bothsides. "Let me introduce you to the Master of Ravenswood" saidhe toCaptain Craigengeltfollowing up the same amicable system.

 

But theMaster drew up his tall form to the full extent of hisheightand without so much as looking towards the person thusintroducedto himhe saidin a marked tone: "CaptainCraigengeltand I are already perfectly well acquainted with eachother."

"Perfectly--perfectly"replied the Captainin a mumbling tonelike thatof a double echoand with a flourish of his hatthecircumferenceof which was greatly abridgedcompared with thosewhich hadso cordially graced his introduction to the Marquis andthe LordKeeper.

Lockhardfollowed by three menialsnow entered with wine andrefreshmentswhich it was the fashion to offer as a whet beforedinner;and when they were placed before the guestsLady Ashtonmade anapology for withdrawing her husband from them for someminutesupon business of special import.  The Marquisofcourserequested her ladyship would lay herself under norestraint;and Craigengeltbolting with speed a second glass ofracycanaryhastened to leave the roomfeeling no greatpleasurein the prospect of being left alone with the Marquis ofA---- andthe Master of Ravenswood; the presence of the formerholdinghim in aweand that of the latter in bodily terror.

Somearrangements about his horse and baggage formed the pretextfor hissudden retreatin which he perseveredalthough LadyAshtongave Lockhard orders to be careful most particularly toaccommodateCaptain Craigengelt with all the attendance which hecouldpossibly require.  The Marquis and the Master ofRavenswoodwere thus left to communicate to each other theirremarksupon the reception which they had met withwhile LadyAshton ledthe wayand her lord followed somewhat like acondemnedcriminalto her ladyship's dressing-room.

So soon asthe spouses had both enteredher ladyship gave wayto thatfierce audacity of temper which she had withdifficultysuppressedout of respect to appearances.  She shutthe doorbehind the alarmed Lord Keepertook the key out of thespring-lockand with a countenance which years had not bereft ofitshaughty charmsand eyes which spoke at once resolution andresentmentshe addressed her astounded husband in these words:"MylordI am not greatly surprised at the connexions you havebeenpleased to form during my absencethey are entirely inconformitywith your birth and breeding; and if I did expectanythingelseI heartily own my errorand that I meritbyhavingdone sothe disappointment you had prepared for me."

"Mydear Lady Ashton--my dear Eleanor [Margaret]" said the LordKeeper"listen to reason for a momentand I will convince you Ihave actedwith all the regard due to the dignityas well as theinterestof my family."

"Tothe interest of YOUR family I conceive you perfectlycapable ofattending" returned the indignant lady"and even tothedignity of your own family alsoas far as it requires anylookingafter.  But as mine happens to be inextricably involvedwith ityou will excuse me if I choose to give my own attentionso far asthat is concerned."

"Whatwould you haveLady Ashton?" said the husband.  "Whatisit thatdispleases you?  Why is it thaton your return after solong anabsenceI am arraigned in this manner?""Askyour own conscienceSir Williamwhat has prompted you tobecome arenegade to your political party and opinionsand ledyouforwhat I knowto be on the point of marrying your onlydaughterto a beggarly Jacobite bankruptthe inveterate enemy ofyourfamily to the boot."

"Whywhatin the name of common sense and common civilitywould youhave me domadam?" answered her husband.  "Is itpossiblefor mewith ordinary decencyto turn a younggentlemanout of my housewho saved my duaghter's life and myownbutthe other morningas it were?"

"Savedyour life!  I have heard of that story" said the lady."TheLord Keeper was scared by a dun cowand he takes the youngfellow whokilled her for Guy of Warwick: any butcher fromHaddingtonmay soon have an equal claim on your hospitality."

"LadyAshton" stammered the Keeper"this is intolerable; andwhen I amdesiroustooto make you easy by any sacrificeifyou wouldbut tell me what you would be at."

"Godown to your guests" said the imperious dame"and makeyourapology to Ravenswoodthat the arrival of CaptainCraigengeltand some other friends renders it impossible for youto offerhim lodgings at the castle.  I expect young Mr. HaystonofBucklaw."

"Goodheavensmadam!" ejaculated her husband.  "Ravenswoodtogive placeto Craigengelta common gambler and an informer!  Itwas all Icould do to forbear desiring the fellow to get out ofmy houseand I was much surprised to see him in yourladyship'strain."

"Sinceyou saw him thereyou might be well assured" answeredthis meekhelpmate"that he was proper society.  As to thisRavenswoodhe only meets with the treatment whichto mycertainknowledgehe gave to a much-valued friend of minewhohad themisfortune to be his guest some time since.  But takeyourresolution; forif Ravenswood does not quit the houseIwill."

SirWilliam Ashton paced up and down the apartment in the mostdistressingagitation; fearand shameand anger contendingagainstthe habitual deference he was in the use of rendering tohis lady. At length it endedas is usual with timid mindsplaced insuch circumstancesin his adopting a mezzo termine--a middlemeasure.

"Itell you franklymadamI neither can nor will be guilty oftheincivility you propose to the Master of Ravenswood; he hasnotdeserved it at my hand.  If you will be so unreasonable asto insulta man of quality under your own roofI cannot preventyou; but Iwill not at least be the agent in such a preposterousproceeding."

"Youwill not?" asked the lady.

"Noby heavensmadam!" her husband replied; "ask me anythingcongruentwith common decencyas to drop hisacquaintanceby degreesor the like; but to bid him leave myhouse iswhat I will nto and cannot consent to."

"Thenthe task of supporting the honour of the family will fallon measit has often done before" said the lady.

She satdownand hastily wrote a few lines.  The Lord Keepermadeanother effort to prevent her taking a step so decisivejust asshe opened the door to call her femaleattendantfrom the ante-room.  "Think what you are doingLadyAshton:you are making a mortal enemy of a young man who is liketo havethe means of harming us----"

"Didyou ever know a Douglas who feared an enemy?" answered theladycontemptuously.

"Aybut he is as proud and vindictive as an hundredDouglassesand an hundred devils to boot.  Think of it for anightonly."

"Notfor another moment" answered the lady.  "HereMrs.Patullogive this billet to young Ravenswood."

"Tothe Mastermadam!" said Mrs. Patullo.

"Ayto the Masterif you call him so."

"Iwash my hands of it entirely" said the Keeper; "and Ishallgo downinto the gardenand see that Jardine gathers the winterfruit forthe dessert."

"Doso" said the ladylooking after him with glances ofinfinitecontempt; "and thank God that you leave one behind youas fit toprotect the honour of the family as you are to lookafterpippins and pears."

The LordKeeper remained long enough in the garden to give herladyship'smind time to explodeand to letas he thoughtatleast thefirst violence of Ravenswood's displeasure blow oever.When heentered the hallhe found the Marquis of A----givingorders tosome of his attendants.  He seemed in highdispleasureand interrupted an apology which Sir William hadcommencedfor having left his lordship alone.

"IpresumeSir Williamyou are no stranger to thissingularbillet with which MY kinsman of Ravenswood (anemphasison the word 'my') has been favoured by your lady; andof coursethat you are prepared to receive my adieus.  Mykinsman isalready gonehaving thought it unnecessary to offerany on hispartsince all former civilities had been cancelledby thissingular insult."

"Iprotestmy lord" said Sir Williamholding the billet inhis hand"I am not privy to the contents of this letter.  Iknow LadyAshton is a warm-tempered and prejudiced womanand Iamsincerely sorry for any offence that has been given or taken;but I hopeyour lordship will consider that a lady----"

"Shouldbear herself towards persons of a certain rank with thebreedingof one" said the Marquiscompleting the half-utteredsentence.

"Truemy lord" said the unfortunate Keeper; "but Lady Ashtonis still awoman----"

"Andas suchmethinks" said the Marquisagaininterruptinghim"should be taught the duties which correspondto herstation.  But here she comesand I will learn from herown mouththe reason of this extraordinary and unexpected affrontoffered tomy near relationwhile both he and I were herladyship'sguests."

LadyAshton accordingly entered the apartment at this moment.Herdispute with Sir Williamand a subsequent interview with herdaughterhad not prevented her from attending to the duties ofhertoilette.  She appeared in full dress; andfrom thecharacterof her countenance and mannerwell became thesplendourwith which ladies of quality then appeared on suchoccasions.

TheMarquis of A---- bowed haughtilyand she returned thesalutewith equal pride and distance of demeanour.  He then tookfrom thepassive hand of Sir William Ashton the billet he hadgiven himthe moment before he approached the ladyand was aboutto speakwhen she interrupted him.  "I perceivemy lordyouare aboutto enter upon an unpleasant subject.  I am sorry anysuchshould have occurred at this timeto interrupt in theslightestdegree the respectful reception due to your lordship;but so itis.  Mr. Edgar Ravenswoodfor whom I have addressedthe billetin your lordship's handhas abused the hospitality ofthisfamilyand Sir William Ashton's softness of temperinorder toseduce a young person into engagements without herparents'consentand of which they never can approve."

Bothgentlemen answered at once.  "My kinsman is incapable----"said theLord Marquis.

"I amconfident that my daughter Lucy is still moreincapable----"said the Lord Keeper.

LadyAshton at once interrupted and replied to them both: "MyLordMarquisyour kinsmanif Mr. Ravenswood has the honour tobe sohasmade the attempt privately to secure theaffectionsof this young and inexperienced girl.  Sir WilliamAshtonyour daughter has been simple enough to give moreencouragementthan she ought to have done to so very improper asuitor."

"AndI thinkmadam" said the Lord Keeperlosing hisaccustomedtemper and patience"that if you had nothing betterto tellusyou had better have kept this family secret toyourselfalso."

"Youwill pardon meSir William" said the ladycalmly; "thenobleMarquis has a right to know the cause of the treatment Ihave foundit necessary to use to a gentleman whom he calls hisblood-relation."

"Itis a cause" muttered the Lord Keeper"which has emergedsince theeffect has taken place; forif it exists at allI amsure sheknew nothing of it when her letter toRavenswoodwas written."

"Itis the first time that I have heard of this" said theMarquis;"butsince your ladyship has tabled a subject sodelicatepermit me to saythat my kinsman's birth andconnexionsentitled him to a patient hearingand at least acivilrefusaleven in case of his being so ambitious as toraise hiseyes to the daughter of Sir William Ashton."

"Youwill recollectmy lordof what blood Miss Lucy Ashton iscome bythe mother's side" said the lady.

"I doremember your descent--from a younger branch of the houseof Angus"said the Marquis; "and your ladyship--forgive melady--oughtnot to forget that the Ravenswoods have thriceintermarriedwith the main stem.  ComemadamI know how mattersstand--oldand long-fostered prejudices are difficult to getoverImake every allowance for them; I ought notand I wouldnototherwise have suffered my kinsman to depart aloneexpelledin a mannerfrom this housebut I had hopes of beingamediator.  I am still unwilling to leave you in angerandshall notset forward till after noonas I rejoin the Master ofRavenswoodupon the road a few miles from hence.  Let us talkover thismatter more coolly."

"Itis what I anxiously desiremy lord" said Sir WilliamAshtoneagerly.  "Lady Ashtonwe will not permit my Lord of A---- toleave us in displeasure.  We must compel him to tarrydinner atthe castle."

"Thecastle" said the lady"and all that it containsare atthecommand of the Marquisso long as he chooses to honour itwith hisresidence; but touching the farther discussion of thisdisagreeabletopic----"

"Pardonmegood madam" said the Marquis; "but I cannot allowyou toexpress any hasty resolution on a subject soimportant. I see that more company is arriving; andsince Ihave thegood fortune to renew my former acquaintance with LadyAshtonIhope she will give me leave to avoid perilling what Iprize sohighly upon any disagreeable subject of discussion--atleast tillwe have talked over more pleasant topics."

The ladysmiledcourtesiedand gave her hand to the Marquisby whomwith all the formal gallantry of the timewhich did notpermit theguest to tuck the lady of the house under the armasa rusticdoes his sweetheart at a wakeshe was ushered to theeating-room.

Here theywere joined by BucklawCraigengeltand otherneighbourswhom the Lord Keeper had previously invited to meettheMarquis of A----.  An apologyfounded upon a slightindispositionwas alleged as an excuse for the absence of MissAshtonwhose seat appeared unoccupied.  The entertainment wassplendidto profusionand was protracted till a late hour.

 

CHAPTERXXIII.

Suchwas our fallen father's fateYetbetter than mine own;Heshared his exile with his mateI'mbanish'd forth alone.

WALLER

 

I WILL notattempt to describe the mixture of indignation andregretwith which Ravenswood left the seat which had belonged tohisancestors.  The terms in which Lady Ashton's billet wascouchedrendered it impossible for himwithout being deficientin thatspirit of which he perhaps had too muchto remain aninstantlonger within its walls.  The Marquiswho had his sharein theaffrontwasneverthelessstill willing to make someefforts atconciliation.  He therefore suffered his kinsman todepartalonemaking him promisehoweverthat he would waitfor him atthe small inn called the Tod's Holesituatedas ourreadersmay be pleased to recollecthalf-way betwixt RavenswoodCastle andWolf's Cragand about five Scottish miles distantfromeach.  Here the Marquis proposed to join the Master ofRavenswoodeither that night or the next morning.  His ownfeelingswould have induced him to have left the castle directlybut he wasloth to forfeitwithout at least one efforttheadvantageswhich he had proposed from his visit to the LordKeeper;and the Master of Ravenswood waseven in the very heatof hisresentmentunwilling to foreclose any chance ofreconciliationwhich might arise out of the partiality which SirWilliamAshton had shown towards himas well as the intercessoryargumentsof his noble kinsman.  He himself departed without amoment'sdelayfarther than was necessary to make thisarrangement.

At firsthe spurred his horse at a quick pace through an avenueof theparkas ifby rapidity of motionhe could stupify theconfusionof feelings with which he was assailed.  But as theroad grewwilder and more sequesteredand when the trees hadhidden theturrets of the castlehe graduallyslackenedhis paceas if to indulge the painful reflectionswhich hehad in vain endeavoured to repress.  The path in whichhe foundhimself led him to the Mermaiden's Fountainand to thecottage ofAlice; and the fatal influence which superstitiousbeliefattached to the former spotas well as the admonitionswhich hadbeen in vain offered to him by the inhabitant of thelatterforced themselves upon his memory.  "Old saws speaktruth"he said to himself"and the Mermaiden's Well has indeedwitnessedthe last act of rashness of the heir of Ravenswood.Alicespoke well" he continued"and I am in the situation whichsheforetold; or ratherI am more deeply dishonoured--not thedependantand ally of the destroyer of my father's houseas theold sibylpresagedbut the degraded wretch who has aspired tohold thatsubordinate characterand has been rejected withdisdain."

We arebound to tell the tale as we have received it; andconsideringthe distance of the timeand propensity of thosethroughwhose mouths it has passed to the marvellousthis couldnot becalled a Scottish story unless it manifested a tinge ofScottishsuperstition.  As Ravenswood approached the solitaryfountainhe is said to have met with the following singularadventure:His horsewhich was moving slowly forwardsuddenlyinterruptedits steady and composed pacesnortedrearedandthoughurged by the spurrefused to proceedas if some objectof terrorhad suddenly presented itself.  On looking to thefountainRavenswood discerned a female figuredressed in awhiteorrather greyishmantleplaced on the very spot onwhich LucyAshton had reclined while listening to the fatal taleof love. His immediate impression was that she had conjecturedby whichpath he would traverse the park on his departureandplacedherself at this well-known and sequestered place ofrendezvousto indulge her own sorrow and his parting interview.In thisbelief he jumped from his horseandmaking its bridlefast to atreewalked hastily towards the fountainpronouncingeagerlyyet under his breaththe words"Miss Ashton!--Lucy!"

The figureturned as he addressed itand displayed to hiswonderingeyes the featuresnot of Lucy Ashtonbut of old blindAlice. The singularity of her dresswhich rather resembled ashroudthan the garment of a living woman; the appearance of herpersonlargeras it struck himthan it usually seemed to be;above allthe strange circumstance of a blindinfirmanddecrepitperson being found alone and at a distance from herhabitation(considerableif her infirmities be taken intoaccount)combined to impress him with a feeling of wonderapproachingto fear.  As he approachedshe arose slowly from herseatheldher shrivelled hand up as if to prevent his comingmore nearand her withered lips moved fastalthough no soundissuedfrom them.  Ravenswood stopped; and asafter a moment'spauseheagain advanced towards herAliceor her apparitionmoved orglided backwards towards the thicketstill keeping herfaceturned towards him.  The trees soon hid the form from hissight;andyielding to the strong and terrificimpressionthat the being which he had seen was not of thisworldtheMaster of Ravenswood remained rooted to the groundwhereon hehad stood when he caught his last view of her.  Atlengthsummoning up his couragehe advanced to the spot onwhich thefigure had seemed to be seated; but neither was therepressureof the grass nor any other circumstance to induce him tobelievethat what he had seen was real and substantial.

Full ofthose strange thoughts and confused apprehensions whichawake inthe bosom of one who conceives he has witnessed somepreternaturalappearancethe Master of Ravenswood walked backtowardshis horsefrequentlyhoweverlooking behind himnotwithoutapprehensionas if expecting that the vision wouldreappear. But the apparitionwhether it was real or whether itwas thecreation of a heated and agitated imaginationreturnednot again;and he found his horse sweating and terrifiedas ifexperiencingthat agony of fear with which the presence of asupernaturalbeing is supposed to agitate the brute creation.The Mastermountedand rode slowly forwardsoothing his steedfrom timeto timewhile the animal seemed internally to shrinkandshudderas if expecting some new object of fear at theopening ofevery glade.  The riderafter a moment'sconsiderationresolved to investigate the matter further.  "Canmy eyeshave deceived me" he said"and deceived me for such aspace oftime?   Or are this woman's infirmities but feignedinorder toexcite compassion?  And even thenher motion resemblednot thatof a living and existing person.  Must I adopt thepopularcreedand think that the unhappy being has formed aleaguewith the powers ofdarkness? I am determined to be resolved; I will not brookimpositioneven from my own eyes."

In thisuncertainty he rode up to the little wicket of Alice'sgarden. Her seat beneath the birch-tree was vacantthough theday waspleasant and the sun was high.  He approached the hutand heardfrom within the sobs and wailing of a female.  Noanswer wasreturned when he knockedso thatafter a moment'spausehelifted the latch and entered.  It was indeed a house ofsolitudeand sorrow.  Stretched upon her miserable pallet lay thecorpse ofthe last retainer of the house of Ravenswood who stillabode ontheir paternal domains!  Life had but shortly departed;and thelittle girl by whom she had been attended in her lastmomentswas wringing her hands and sobbingbetwixt childish fearandsorrowover the body of her mistress.

The Masterof Ravenswood had some difficulty to compose theterrors ofthe poor childwhom his unexpected appearance had atfirstrather appalled than comforted; and when he succeededthefirstexpression which the girl used intimated that "he had cometoolate."  Upon inquiring the meaning of this expressionhelearnedthat the deceasedupon the first attack of the mortalagonyhadsent a peasant to the castle to beseech an interviewof theMaster of Ravenswoodand had expressed the utmostimpatiencefor his return.  But the messengers of the poor aretardy andnegligent: the fellow had not reached the castleaswasafterwards learneduntil Ravenswood had left itand hadthen foundtoo much amusement maong the retinue of the strangersto returnin any haste to the cottage of Alice.  Meantime heranxiety ofmind seemed to increase with the agony of her body;andtouse the phrase of Babieher only attendant"she prayedpowerfullythat she might see her master's son once moreandrenew herwarning."  She died just as the clock in the distantvillagetolled one; and Ravenswood rememberedwith internalshudderingthat he had heard the chime sound through the woodjustbefore he had seen what he was now much disposed to consideras thespectre of the deceased.

It wasnecessaryas well from his respect to the departed as incommonhumanity to her terrified attendantthat he should takesomemeasures to relieve the girl from her distressingsituation. The deceasedhe understoodhad expressed a desireto beburied in a solitary churchyardnear the little inn of theTod'sHolecalled the Hermitageor more commonly Armitageinwhich layinterred some of the Ravenswood familyand many oftheirfollowers.  Ravenswood conceived it his duty to gratifythispredilectioncommonly found to exist among the Scottishpeasantryand despatched Babie to the neighbouring village toprocurethe assistance of some femalesassuring her thatin themeanwhilehe would himself remain with the dead bodywhichasinThessaly of oldit is accounted highly unfit to leave withouta watch.

Thusinthe course of a quarter of an hour or little morehefoundhimself sitting a solitary guard over the inanimate corpseof herwhose dismissed spiritunless his eyes hadstrangelydeceived himhad so recently manifested itself beforehim. Notwithstanding his natural couragethe Master wasconsiderablyaffected by a concurrence of circumstances soextraordinary. "She died expressing her eager desire to see me.Can it bethen" was his natural course of reflection--"canstrong andearnest wishesformed during the last agony ofnaturesurvive its catastrophesurmount the awful bounds of thespiritualworldand place before us its inhabitants in the huesandcolouring of life?  And why was that manifested to the eyewhichcould not unfold its tale to the ear? and wherefore shoulda breachbe made in the laws of natureyet its purpose remainunknown? Vain questionswhich only deathwhen it shall make melike thepale and withered form before mecan ever resolve."

He laid aclothas he spokeover the lifeless faceupon whosefeatureshe felt unwilling any longer to dwell.  He then took hisplace inan old carved oaken chairornamented with his ownarmorialbearingswhich Alice had contrived to appropriate toher ownuse in the pillage which took place among creditorsofficersdomesticsand messengers of the law when his fatherleftRavenswood Castle for the last time.  Thus seatedhebanishedas much as he couldthe superstitious feelings whichthe lateincident naturally inspired.  His own were sad enoughwithoutthe exaggeration of supernatural terrorsince he foundhimselftransferred from the situation of a successful lover ofLucyAshtonand an honoured and respected friend of her fatherinto themelancholy and solitary guardian of the abandoned andforsakencorpse of a common pauper.

He wasrelievedhoweverfrom his sad office sooner that hecouldreasonably have expectedconsidering the distance betwixtthe hut ofthe deceased and the villageand the age andinfirmitiesof three old women who came from thencein militaryphrasetorelieve guard upon the body of the defunct.  On anyotheroccasion the speed of these reverend sibyls would have beenmuch moremoderatefor the first was eighty years of age andupwardsthe second was paralyticand the third lame of a legfrom someaccident.  But the burial duties rendered to thedeceasedareto the Scottish peasant of either sexa labour oflove. I know not whether it is from the temper of the peoplegrave andenthusiastic as it certainly isor from therecollectionof the ancient Catholic opinionswhen the funeralrites werealways considered as a period of festival to theliving;but feastinggood cheeerand even inebrietywereandarethefrequent accompaniments of a Scottish old-fashionedburial. What the funeral feastor "dirgie" as it is calledwas to thementhe gloomy preparations of the dead body for thecoffinwere to the women.  To straight the contorted limbs upon aboard usedfor that melancholy purposeto array the corpse incleanlinenand over that in its woollen shroadwere operationscommittedalways to the old matrons of the villageand in whichthey founda singular and gloomy delight.

The oldwomen paid the Master their salutations with a ghastlysmilewhich reminded him of the meeting betwixt Macbeth and thewitches onthe blasted heath of Forres.  He gave them some moneyandrecommended to them the charge of the dead body of theircontemporaryan office which they willingly undertook;intimatingto him at the same time that he must leave the hutinorder thatthey might begin their mournful duties.  Ravenswoodreadilyagreed to departonly tarrying to recommend to them dueattentionto the bodyand to receive information where he was tofind thesextonor beadlewho had in charge the desertedchurchyardof the Armitagein order to prepare matters for thereceptionof Old Alice in the place of repose which she hadselectedfor herself.

"Ye'llno be pinched to find out Johnie Mortsheugh" said theeldersibyland still her withered cheek bore a grisly smile;"hedwells near the Tod's Holean house of entertainment wherethere hasbeen mony a blythe birlingfor death and drink-drainingare near neighbours to ane anither."

"Ay!and that's e'en truecummer" said the lame hagproppingherselfwith a crutch which supported the shortness of her leftleg"forI mind when the father of this Master of Ravenswoodthat isnow standing before us sticked young Blackhall with hiswhingerfor a wrang word said ower their wineor brandyorwhat not:he gaed in as light as a larkand he came out wi' hisfeetforemost.  I was at the winding of the corpse; and when thebluid waswashed offhe was a bonny bouk of man's body."It may beeasily believed that this ill-timed anecdote hastenedtheMaster's purpose of quitting a company so evil-omened and soodious. Yetwhile walking to the tree to which his horse wastiedandbusying himself with adjusting the girhts of thesaddlehecould not avoid hearingthrough the hedge of thelittlegardena conversation respecting himselfbetwixt thelame womanand the octagenarian sibyl.  The pair had hobbled intothe gardento gather rosemarysouthernwoodrueand otherplantsproper to be strewed upon the bodyand burned by way offumigationin the chimney of the cottage.  The paralytic wretchalmostexhausted by the journeywas left guard upon the corpselestwitches or fiends might play their sport with it.

Thefollowing lawcroaking dialogue was necessarilyoverheardby the Master of Ravenswood:

"That'sa fresh and full-grown hemlockAnnie Winnie; mony acummerlang syne wad hae sought nae better horse to flee overhill andhowthrough mist and moonlightand light down in thethe Kingof France's cellar."

"Aycummer! but the very deil has turned as hard-hearted now asthe LordKeeper and the grit folkthat hae breasts likewhinstane. They prick us and they pine usand they pit us onthepinnywinkles for witches; andif I say my prayers backwardsten timesowerSatan will never gie me amends o' them."

"Didye ever see the foul thief?" asked her neighbour.

"Na!"replied the other spokeswoman; "but I trow I hae dreamedof himmony a timeand I think the day will come they will burnme for't. But ne'er mindcummer! we hae this dollar of theMaster'sand we'll send doun for bread and for yillandtobaccoand a drap brandy to burnand a wee pickle saft sugar;and bethere deilor nae deillasswe'll hae a merry nighto't."

Here herleathern chops uttered a sort of cacklingghastlylaughresemblingto a certain degreethe cry of the screech-owl.

"He'sa frank manand a free-handed manthe Master" saidAnnieWinnie"and a comely personage--broad in the shouthersand narrowaround the lunyies.  He wad mak a bonny corpse; I wadlike tohae the streiking and winding o' him."

"Itis written on his browAnnie Winnie" returned  theoctogenarianher companion"that hand of womanor of maneitherwill never straught him: dead-deal will never be laid onhis backmake you your market of thatfor I hae it frae a surehand."

"Willit be his lot to die on the battle-ground thenAilsieGourlay? Will he die by the sword or the ballas his forbearshad dunebefore himmony ane o' them?""Asknae mair questions about it--he'll no be graced sae far"repliedthe sage.

"Iken ye are wiser than ither folkAislie Gourlay.  But whatell'd yethis?""Fashnayour thumb about thatAnnie Winnie" answered thesibyl"Ihae it frae a hand sure eneugh."

"Butye said ye never saw the foul thief" reiterated herinquisitivecompanion.

"Ihae it frae as sure a hand" said Ailsie"and frae themthatspaed hisfortune before the sark gaed ower his head."

"Hark!I hear his horse's feet riding aff" said the other;"theydinna sound as if good luck was wi' them."

"Makhastesirs" cried the paralytic hag from the cottage"andlet us do what is needfu'and say what is fitting; forifthe deadcorpse binna straughtedit will girn and thrawandthat willfear the best o' us."

Ravenswoodwas now out of hearing.  He despised most of theordinaryprejudices about witchcraftomensand vaticinationtowhich hisage and country still gave such implicit credit that toexpress adoubt of them was accounted a crime equal to theunbeliefof Jews or Saracens; he knew also that the prevailingbeliefconcerning witchesoperating upon the hypochondriachabits ofthose whom ageinfirmityand poverty rendered liabletosuspicionand enforced by the fear of death and the pangs ofthe mostcruel torturesoften extorted those confessions whichencumberand disgrace the criminal records of Scotland during the17thcentury.  But the vision of that morningwhether real orimaginaryhad impressed his mind with a superstitious feelingwhich hein vain endeavoured to shake off.  The nature of thebusinesswhich awaited him at the little inncalled Tod's Holewhere hesoon after arrivedwas not of a kind to restore hisspirits.

It wasnecessary he should see Mortsheughthe sexton of the oldburial-groundat Armitageto arrange matters for the funeral ofAlice;andas the man dwelt near the place of her lateresidencethe Masterafter a slight refreshmentwalked towardsthe placewhere the body of Alice was to be deposited.  It wassituatedin the nook formed by the eddying sweep of a streamwhichissued from the adjoining hills.  A rude cavern in anadjacentrockwhichin the interiorwas cut into the shape ofa crossformed the hermitagewhere some Saxon saint had inancienttimes done penanceand given name to the place.  Therich Abbeyof Coldinghame hadin latter daysestablished achapel inthe neighbourhoodof which no vestige was now visiblethough thechurchyard which surrounded it was stillas upon thepresentoccasionused for the interment of particular persons.One or twoshattered yew-trees still grew within the precincts ofthat whichhad once been holy ground.  Warriors and barons hadbeenburied there of oldbut their names were forgottenandtheirmonuments demolished.  The only sepulchral memorials whichremainedwere the upright headstonres which mark the graves ofpersons ofinferior rank.  The abode of the sexton was a solitarycottageadjacent to the ruined wall of the cemeterybut so lowthatwithits thatchwhich nearly reached the groundcoveredwith athick crop of grassfogand house-leeksit resembled anovergrowngrave.  On inquiryhoweverRavenswood found that theman of thelast mattock was absent at a bridalbeing fiddler aswell asgrave-digger to the vicinity.  He therefore retired tothe littleinnleaving a message that early next morning hewouldagain call for the person whose double occupation connectedhim atonce with the house of mourning and the house of feasting.

Anoutrider of the Marquis arrived at Tod's Hole shortly afterwith amessageintimating that his master would join Ravenswoodat thatplace on the following morning; and the Masterwho wouldotherwisehave proceeded to his old retreat at Wolf's Cragremainedthere accordingy to give meeting to his noble kinsman.

 

CHAPTERXXIV.

Hamlet: Has this fellow no feeling of his business? he sings atgravemaking. Horatio:   Custom hath made it in him a propertyofeasiness. Hamlet:  'Tis e'en so: the hand of littleemploymenthath the daintier sense.

HamletAct V. Scene 1.

 

THE sleepof Ravenswood was broken by ghastly and agitatingvisionsand his waking intervals disturbed by melancholyreflectionson the past and painful anticipations of the future.He wasperhaps the only traveller who ever slept in thatmiserablekennel without complaining of his lodgingsor feelinginconveniencefrom their deficiencies.  It is when "the mind isfree thebody's delicate."  Morninghoweverfound the Master anearlyriserin hopes that the fresh air of the dawn might affordtherefreshment which night had refused him.  He took his waytowardsthe solitary burial-groundwhich lay about half a milefrom theinn.

The thinblue smokewhich already began to curl upwardand todistinguishthe cottage of the living from the habitation of thedeadapprised him that its inmate had returned and wasstirring. Accordinglyon entering the little churchyardhe sawthe oldman labouring in a half-made grave.  "My destiny"thoughtRavenswood"seems to lead me to scenes of fate and ofdeath; butthese are childish thoughtsand they shall not masterme. I will not again suffer my imagination to beguile mysenses." The old man rested on his spade as the Masterapproachedhimas if to receive his commands; and as he did notimmediatelyspeakthe sexton opened the discourse in his ownway.

"Yewill be a wedding customersirI'se warrant?"

"Whatmakes you think sofriend?" replied the Master.

"Ilive by twa tradessir" replied the blythe old man--"fiddlesirand spade; filling the worldand emptying of it;and I suldken baith cast of customers by head-mark in thirtyyears'practice."

"Youare mistakenhoweverthis morning" repliedRavenswood.

"AmI?" said the old manlooking keenly at him"troth and itmay be;sincefor as brent as your brow isthere issomethingsitting upon it this day that is as near akin to deathas towedlock.  Weel--weel; the pick and shovel are as ready toyour orderas bow and fiddle."

"Iwish you" said Ravenswood"to look after the descentintermentof an old womanAlice Graywho lived at the GraigfootinRavenswood Park."

"AliceGray!--blind Alice!" said the sexton; "and is she gane atlast?that's another jow of the bell to bid me be ready.  I mindwhenHabbie Gray brought her down to this land; a likely lass shewas thenand looked ower her southland nose at us a'.  I trowher pridegot a downcome.  And is she e'en gane?"

"Shedied yesterday" said Ravenswood; "and desired to be buriedherebeside her husband; you know where he liesno doubt?"

"Kenwhere he lies!" answered the sextonwith nationalindirectionof response.  "I ken whar a'body liesthat lieshere. But ye were speaking o' her grave?  Lord help usit's noan ordinargrave that will haud her inif a's true that folksaid ofAlice in her auld days; and if I gae to six feet deep--and awarlock's grave shouldna be an inch mair ebbor her ainwitchcummers would soon whirl her out of her shroud for a' theirauldacquaintance--and be't six feetor be't threewha's to paythe makingo'tI pray ye?"

"Iwill pay thatmy friendand all other reasonable charges."

"Reasonablecharges!" said the sexton; "outhere'sgrundmail--andbell-sillerthough the bell's brokennae doubt--and thekist--and my day's wark--and my bit fee--and some brandyand yillto the dirgieI am no thinking that you can inter herto ca'decentlyunder saxteen pund Scots."

"Thereis the moneymy friend" said Ravenswood"and somethingover. Be sure you know the grave."

"Ye'llbe ane o' her English relationsI'se warrant" said thehoary manof skulls; "I hae heard she married far below herstation. It was very right to let her bite on the bridle whenshe waslivingand it's very right to gie her a secent burialnow she'sdeadfor that's a matter o' credit to yoursell ratherthan toher.  Folk may let their kindred shift for themsells whenthey arealiveand can bear the burden fo their ain misdoings;but it'san unnatural thing to let them be buried like dogswhena' thediscredit gangs to the kindred.  What kens the dead corpseabout it?"

"Youwould not have people neglect their relations on a bridaloccasionneither?" said Ravenswoodwho was amused with theprofessionallimitation of the grave-digger's philanthropy.

The oldman cast up his sharp grey eyes with a shrewd smileasif heunderstood the jestbut instantly continuedwith hisformergravity: "Bridals--wha wad neglect bridals that had onyregard forplenishing the earth?  To be surethey suld becelebratedwith all manner of good cheerand meeting of friendsandmusical instruments--harpsackbutand psaltery; or gudefiddle andpipeswhen these auld-warld instruments of melody arehard to becompassed."

"Thepresence of the fiddleI dare say" repliedRavenswood"would atone for the absence of all the others."

The sextonagain looked sharply up at himas he answered.  "Naedoubt--naedoubtif it were weel played; but yonder" he saidas if tochange the discourse"is Halbert Gray's lang hamethatye werespeering afterjust the third bourock beyond the mucklethrough-stanethat stands on sax legs yonderabune some ane oftheRavenswoods; for there is mony of their kin and followersheredeillift them! though it isna just their main burial-place."

"Theyare no favouritesthenof yoursthese Ravenswoods?"said theMasterno much pleased with the passing benedictionwhich wasthus bestowed on his family and name.

"Ikenna wha should favour them" said the grave-digger; "whenthey hadlands and powerthey were ill guides of them baithandnow theirhead's downthere's few care how lang they may be oflifting itagain."

"Indeed!"said Ravenswood; "I never heard that this unhappyfamilydeserved ill-will at the hands of their country.  I granttheirpovertyif that renders them contemptible."

"Itwill gang a far way till't" said the sexton ofHermitage"ye may tak my word for that; at leastI ken naethingelse thatsuld mak myself contemptibleand folk are far fraerespectingme as they wad do if I lived in a twa-lofted sclatedhouse. But as for the RavenswoodsI hae seen three generationsof themand deil ane to mend other."

"Ithought they had enjoyed a fair character in thecountry"said their descendant.

"Character! Ouye seesir" said the sexton"as for the auldgudesirebody of a lordI lived on his land when I was aswankingyoung chieldand could hae blawn the trumpet wi' onybodyforI had wind eneugh then; and touching this trumpeterMarinethat I have heard play afore the lords of  the circuitIwad haemade nae mair o' him than of a bairn and a bawbeewhistle. I defy him to hae played 'Boot and saddle' or 'Horseand away'or 'Gallantscome trot' with me; he hadna thetones."

"Butwhat is all this to old Lord Ravenswoodmy friend?" saidtheMasterwhowith an anxiety not unnatural in hiscircumstanceswas desirous of prosecuting the musician's firsttopic--"whathad his memory to do with the degeneracy of thetrumpetmusic?"

"Justthissir" answered the sexton"that I lost my wind inhisservice.  Ye see I was trumpeter at the castleand hadallowancefor blawing at break of dayand at dinner timeandotherwhiles when there was company aboutand it pleased mylord; andwhen he raised his militia to caper awa' to BothwellBrigagainst the wrang-headed westland WhigsI behovedreasonor nameto munt a horse and caper awa' wi' them."

"Andvery reasonable" said Ravenswood; "you were his servantandvassal."

"Servitorsay ye?" replied the sexton"and so I was; but itwas toblaw folk to their warm dinneror at the warst to adecentkirkyardand no to skirl them awa' to a bluidy braesidewherethere was deil a bedral but the hooded craw.  But bide yeye shallhear what cam o'tand how far I am bund to be bedesmanto theRavenswoods.  Till'tye seewe gaed on a braw simmermorningtwenty-fourth of Junesaxteen hundred and se'enty-nineof a' thedays of the month and year--drums beatguns rattledhorseskicked and trampled.  Hackstoun of Rathillet keepit thebrig wi'mustket and carabine and pikesword and scythe for whatI kenandwe horsemen were ordered down to cross at the ford--Ihate fordsat a' timeslet abee when there's thousands of armedmen on theother side.  There was auld Ravenswood brandishing hisAndrewFerrara at the headand crying to us to come and buckletoas ifwe had been gaun to a fair; there was CalebBalderstonethat is living yetflourishing in the rearandswearingGog and Magoghe would put steel through the gus of onyman thatturned bridle; there was young Allan Ravenswoodthatwas thenMasterwi' a bended pistol in his hand--it was a mercyit gaed naaff!--crying to methat had scarce as much wind leftas servethe necessary purpose of my ain lungs'Soundyoupoltroon!--soundyou damned cowardly villainor I will blowyourbrains out!' andto be sureI blew sic points of war thatthescraugh of a clockin-hen was music to them."

"Wellsircut all this short" said Ravenswood.

"Short! I had like to hae been cut short mysellin the flowerof myyouthas Scripture says; and that's the very thing that Icompleeno'.  Weel! in to the water we behoved a' to splashheels owerheadsit or fa'--ae horse driving on anitheras isthe way ofbrute beastsand riders that hae as little sense; theverybushes on the ither side were ableeze wi' the flashes of theWhig guns;and my horse had just taen the grundwhen ablackavisedwestland carle--I wad mind the face o' him a hundredyearsyet--an ee like a wild falcon'sand a beard as broad as myshovel--clappedthe end o' his lang black gun within a quarter'slength ofmy lug!  By the grace o' Mercythe horse swarvedroundandI fell aff at the tae side as the ballwhistledby at the titherand the fell auld lord took the Whigsuch aswauk wi' his broadsword that he made twa pieces o' hisheadanddown fell the lurdance wi' a' his bouk abune me."

"Youwere rather obliged to the old lordI think" saidRavenswood.

"WasI? my sartie! first for bringing me into jeopardywould Inould Iand then for whomling a chield on the tap o' me thatdang thevery wind out of my body?  I hae been short-breathedever sinceand canna gang twenty yards without peghinglike amiller's aiver."

"Youlostthenyour place as trumpeter?" said Ravenswood.

"Lostit! to be sure I lost it" replied the sexton"for Icouldnahae played pew upon a dry hemlock; but I might hae duneweeleneughfor I keepit the wage and the free houseand littleto do butplay on the fiddle to thembut for Allanlast LordRavenswoodthat was far waur than ever his father was."

"What"said the Master"did my father--I meandid hisfather'sson--this last Lord Ravenswooddeprive you of what thebounty ofhis father allowed you?"

"Aytroth did he" answered the old man; "for he loot hisaffairsgang to the dogsand let in this Sir William Ashton onusthatwill gie naething for naethingand just removed me anda' thepuir creatures that had bite and soup at the castleand ahole toput our heads inwhen things were in the auld way."

"IfLord Ravenswood protected his peoplemy friendwhile hehad themeans of doing soI think they might spare his memory"repliedthe Master.

"Yeare welcome to your ain opinionsir" said the sexton; "butye winnapersuade me that he did his dutyeither to himsell orto huzpuir dependent creaturesin guiding us the gate he hasdone; hemight hae gien us life-rent tacks of our bits o' housesand yards;and methat's an auld manliving in you miserablecabinthat's fitter for the dead than the quickand killed wi'rheumatiseand John Smith in my dainty bit mailingand hiswindowglazenand a' because Ravenswood guided his gear like afule!"

"Itis but too true" said Ravenswoodconscience-struck; "thepenaltiesof extravagance extend far beyond the prodigal's ownsufferings.""However"said the sexton"this young man Edgar is like toavenge mywrangs on the haill of his kindred.""Indeed?"said Ravenswood; "why should you suppose so?"

"Theysay he is about to marry the daughter of Leddy Ashton; andlet herleddyship get his head ance under her oxterand see youif shewinna gie his neck a thraw.  Sorra a bitif I were him!Let heralane for hauding a'thing in het water that draws nearher. Sae the warst wish I shall wish the lad isthat he maytake hisain creditable gate o'tand ally himsell wi' hisfather'senemiesthat have taken his broad lands and my bonnykail-yardfrom the lawful owners thereof."

Cervantesacutely remarksthat flattery is pleasing even fromthe mouthof a madman; and censureas well as praiseoftenaffectsuswhile we despise the opinions and motives on which itis foundedand expressed.  Ravenswoodabruptly reiterating hiscommandthat Alice's funeral should be attended toflung awayfrom thesextonunder the painful impression that the great aswell asthe small vulgar would think of his engagement with Lucylike thisignorant and selfish peasant.

"AndI have stooped to subject myself to these calumniesand amrejectednotwithstanding!  Lucyyour faith must be true andperfect asthe diamond to compensate for the dishonour whichmen'sopinionsand the conduct of your motherattach to theheir ofRavenswood!"

As heraised his eyeshe beheld the Marquis of A----whohavingarrived at the Tod's Holehad walked forth to look forhiskinsman.

Aftermutual greetingshe made some apology to the Master fornot comingforward on the preceding evening.  "It was his wish"he said"to have done sobut he had come to theknowledgeof some matters which induced him to delay his purpose.I find"he proceeded"there has been a love affair herekinsman;and though I might blame you for not having communicatedwith meas being in some degree the chief of your family----"

"Withyour lordship's permission" said Ravenswood"I am deeplygratefulfor the interest you are pleased to take in mebut _I_am thechief and head of my family."

"Iknow it--I know it" said the Marquis; "in a strictheraldicandgenealogical senseyou certainly are so; what I mean isthat beingin some measure under my guardianship----"

"Imust take the liberty to saymy lord----" answeredRavenswoodand the tone in which he interrupted the Marquisboded nolong duration to the friendship of the noble relativeswhen hehimself was interrupted by the little sextonwho campuffingafter themto ask if their honours would choose music atthechange-house to make up for short cheer.

"Wewant no music" said the Masterabruptly.

"Yourhonour disna ken what ye're refusingthen" said thefiddlerwith the impertinent freedom of his profession.  "I canplay'Wilt thou do't again' and 'The Auld Man's Mear's Dead'sax timesbetter than ever Patie Birnie.  I'll get my fiddle intheturning of a coffin-screw."

"Takeyourself awaysir" said the Marquis.

"Andif your honour be a north-country gentleman" said theperseveringminstrel"whilk I wad judge from your tongueI canplay'Liggeram Cosh' and 'Mullin Dhu' and 'The Cummers ofAthole.'"

"Takeyourself awayfriend; you interrupt ourconversation."

"Orifunder your honour's favourye should happen to be athoughthonestI can play (this in a low and confidential tone)'Killiecrankie'and 'The King shall hae his ain' and 'The AuldStuartsback again'; and the wife at the change-house is adecentdiscreet bodyneither kens nor cares what toasts aredruckenand what tunes are playedin her house: she's deaf toa'thingbut the clink o' the siller."

TheMarquiswho was sometimes suspected of Jacobitismcouldnot helplaughing as he threw the fellow a dollarand bid him goplay tothe servants if he had a mindand leave them at peace.

"Aweelgentlemen" said he"I am wishing your honours gudeday. "I'll be a' the better of the dollarand ye'll be thewaurof wantingmusicI'se tell ye.  But I'se gang hameand finishthe gravein the tuning o' a fiddle-stringlay by my spadeandthen getmy tother bread-winnerand awa' to your folkand seeif theyhae better lugs than their masters."

 

CHAPTERXXV.

Truelovean thou be trueThouhas ane kittle part to play;Forfortunefashionfancyand thouMaunstrive for many a day. I'vekend by mony a friend's taleFarbetter by this heart of mineWhattime and change of fancy availAtrue-love knot to untwine.

HENDERSOUN.

 

"IWISHED to tell youmy good kinsman" said the Marquis"nowthat weare quit of that impertinent fiddlerthat I had tried todiscussthis love affair of yours with Sir William Ashton'sdaughter. I never saw the young lady but for a few minutes to-day; sobeing a stranger to her personal meritsI pay acomplimentto youand offer her no offencein saying you mightdobetter."

"MylordI am much indebted for the interest you have taken inmyaffairs" said Ravenswood.  "I did not intend to havetroubledyou in any matter concerning Miss Ashton.  As myengagementwith that young lady has reached your lordshipI canonly saythat you must necessarily suppose that I was aware oftheobjections to my marrying into her father's familyand ofcoursemust have been completely satisfied with the reasons bywhichthese objections are overbalancedsince I have proceededso far inthe matter."

"NayMasterif you had heard me out" said his noble relation"youmight have spared that observation; forwithotuquestioningthat you had reasons which seemed to you tocounterbalanceevery other obstacleI set myselfby every meansthat itbecame me to use towards the Ashtonsto persuade them tomeet yourviews."

"I amobliged to your lordship for your unsolicitedintercession"said Ravenswood; "especially as I am sure yourlordshipwould never carry it beyond the bounds which it becameme touse."

"Ofthat" said the Marquis"you may be confident; I myselffelt thedelicacy of the matter too much to place a gentlemannearlyconnected with my house in a degrading or dubioussituationwith these Ashtons.  But I pointed out all theadvantagesof their marrying their daughter into a house sohonourableand so nearly related with the first of Scotland; Iexplainedthe exact degree of relationship in which theRavenswoodsstand to ourselves; and I even hinted how politicalmatterswere like to turnand what cards would be trumps nextParliament. I said I regarded you as a son--or a nephewor so--ratherthan as a more distant relation; and that I made youraffairentirely my own."

"Andwhat was the issue of your lordship's explanation?" saidRavenswoodin some doubt whether he should resent or expressgratitudefor his interference.

"Whythe Lord Keeper would have listened to reason" said theMarquis;"he is rather unwilling to leave his placewhichinthepresent view of a changemust be vacated; andto saytruthheseemed to have a liking for youand to be sensible ofthegeneral advantages to be attained by such a match.  But hisladywhois tongue of the trumpMaster----"

"Whatof Lady Ashtonmy lord?" said Ravenswood; "let me knowthe issueof this extraordinary conference: I can bear it."

"I amglad of thatkinsman" said the Marquis"for I amashamed totell you half what she said.  It is enough--her mindis madeupand the mistress of a first-rate boarding-schoolcould nothave rejected with more haughty indifference the suitof ahalf-pay Irish officerbeseeching permission to wait upontheheiress of a West India planterthan Lady Ashton spurnedeveryproposal of mediation which it could at all become me tooffer inbehalf of youmy good kinsman.  I cannot guess what shemeans. A more honourable connexion she could not formthat'scertain. As for money and landthat used to be her husband'sbusinessrather than hers; I really think she hates you forhaving therank which her husband has notand perhaps for nothaving thelands that her goodman has.  But I should only vex youto saymore about it--here we are at the change-house."

The Masterof Ravenswood paused as he entered the cottagewhichreekedthrough all its crevicesand they were not fewfrom theexertionsof the Marquis's travelling-cooks to supply good cheerandspreadas it werea table in the wilderness.

"MyLord Marquis" said Ravenswood"I already mentioned thataccidenthas put your lordship in possession of a secret whichwith myconsentshould have remained one even to youmykinsmanfor some time.  Since the secret was to part from my owncustodyand that of the only person besides who was interestedin itIam not sorry it should have reached your lordship'searsasbeing fully aware that you are my noble kinsman andfriend."

"Youmay believe it is safely lodged with meMaster ofRavenswood"said the Marquis; "but I should like well to hearyou saythat you renounced the idea of an alliance which you canhardlypursue without a certain degree of degradation."

"Ofthatmy lordI shall judge" answered Ravenswood"and Ihope withdelicacy as sensitive as any of my friends.  But Ihave noengagement with Sir William and Lady Ashton.  It is withMissAshton alone that I have entered upon the subjectand myconduct inthe matter shall be entirely ruled by hers.  If shecontinuesto prefer me in my poverty to the wealthier suitorswhom herfriends recommendI may well make some sacrifice to hersincereaffection: I may well surrender to her the less tangibleand lesspalpable advantages of birthand the deep-rootedprejudicesof family hatred.  If Miss Lucy Ashton should changeher mindon a subject of such delicacyI trust my friends willbe silenton my disappointmentand I shall know how to make myenemiesso."

"Spokelike a gallant young nobleman" said the Marquis; "for mypartIhave that regard for youthat I should be sorry thething wenton.  This Sir William Ashton was a pretty enoughpettifoggingkind of a lawyer twenty years agoand betwixtbattlingat the bar and leading in committees of Parliament hehas gotwell on; the Darien matter lent him a liftfor he hadgoodintelligence and sound viewsand sold out in time; but thebest workis had out of him.  No government will take him at hisownorrather his wife's extravagantvaluation; and betwixt hisindecisionand her insolencefrom all I can guesshe willoutsit hismarketand be had cheap when no one will bid for him.I saynothing of Miss Ashton; but I assure youa connexion withher fatherwill be neither useful nor ornamentalbeyond thatpart ofyour father's spoils which he may be prevailed upon todisgorgeby way of tocher-good; and take my word for ityou willget moreif you have spirit to bell the cat with him in the Houseof Peers. And I will be the mancousin" continued hislordship"will course the fox for youand make him rue the daythat everhe refused a composition too honourable for himandproposedby me on the behalf of a kinsman."

There wassomething in all this thatas it wereovershot themark. Ravenswood could not disguise from himself that his noblekinsmanhad more reasons for taking offence at thereceptionof his suit than regarded his interest and honouryethe couldneither complain nor be surprised that it should be so.Hecontented himselfthereforewith repeatingthat hisattachmentwas to Miss Ashton personally; that he desired neitherwealth noraggrandisement from her father's means and influence;and thatnothing should prevent his keeping his engagementexceptingher own express desire that it should be relinquished;and herequested as a favour that the matter might be no morementionedbetwixt them at presentassuring the Marquis of A----that heshould be his confidant or its interruption.

TheMarquis soon had more agreeableas well as moreinterestingsubjects on which to converse.  A foot-postwho hadfollowedhim from Edinburgh to Ravenswood Castleand had tracedhis stepsto the Tod's Holebrought him a packet laden with goodnews. The political calculations of the Marquis had proved justboth inLondon and at Edinburghand he saw almost within hisgrasp thepre-eminence for which he had panted.  The refreshmentswhich theservants had prepared were now put on the tableand anepicurewould perhaps have enjoyed them with additional zest fromthecontrast which such fare afforded to the miserable cabin inwhich itwas served up.

The turnof conversation corresponded with and added to thesocialfeelings of the company.  The Marquis expanded withpleasureon the power which probably incidents were likely toassign tohimand on the use which eh hoped to make of it inservinghis kinsman Ravenswood.  Ravenswood could but repeat thegratitudewhich he really felteven when he considered the topicas toolong dwelt upon.  The wine was excellentnotwithstandingits havingbeen brought in a runlet from Edinburgh; and thehabits ofthe Marquiswhen engaged with such good cheerweresomewhatsedentary.  And so it fell out that they delayed theirjourneytwo hours later than was their original purpose.

"Butwhat of thatmy good young friend?" said the Marquis."YourCastle of Wolf's Crag is at but five or six miles'distanceand will afford the same hospitality to your kinsman ofA----thatit gave to this same Sir William Ashton."

"SirWilliam took the castle by storm" said Ravenswood"andlike manya victorhad little reason to congratulate himself onhisconquest.""Well--well!"said Lord A----whose dignity was somethingrelaxed bythe wine he had drunk"I see I must bribe you toharbourme.  Comepledge me in a bumper health to the lastyoung ladythat slept at Wolf's Cragand liked her quarters.  Mybones arenot so tender as hersand I am resolved to occupy herapartmentto-nightthat I may judge how hard the couch is thatlove cansoften."

"Yourlordship may choose what penance you please" saidRavenswood;"but I assure youI should expect my old servant tohanghimselfor throw himself from the battlementsshould yourlordshipvisit him so unexpectedly.  I do assure youwe aretotallyand literally unprovided."

But hisdeclaration only brought from his noble patron anassuranceof his own total indifference as to every species ofaccommodationand his determination to see the Tower of Wolf'sCrag. His ancestorhe saidhad been feasted therewhen hewentforward with the then Lord Ravenswood to the fatal battle ofFloddenin which they both fell.  Thus hard pressedthe Masteroffered toride forward to get matters put in such preparation astime andcircumstances admitted; but the Marquis protested hiskinsmanmust afford him his companyand would only consent thatanavant-courier should carry to the desinted seneschalCalebBalderstonethe unexpected news of this invasion.

The Masterof Ravenswood soon after accompanied the Marquis inhiscarriageas the latter had proposed; and when they becamebetteracquainted in the progress of the journeyhis noblerelationexplained the very liberal views which he entertainedfor hisrelation's prefermentin case of the success of his ownpoliticalschemes.  They related to a secret and highly importantcommissionbeyond seawhich could only be entrusted to a personof ranktalentand perfect confidenceand whichas itrequiredgreat trust and reliance on the envoy employedcouldbut notprove both honourable and advantageous to him.  We neednot enterinto the nature and purpose of this commissionfartherthan toacquaint our readers that the charge was in prospecthighlyacceptable to the Master of Ravenswoodwho hailed withpleasurethe hope of emerging from his present state of indigenceandinaction into independence and honourable exertion.

While helistened thus eagerly to the details with which theMarquisnow thought it necessary to entrust himthe messengerwho hadbeen despatched to the Tower of Wolf's Crag returned withCalebBalderstone's humble dutyand an assurance that "a' shouldbe inseemly ordersic as the hurry of time permittedtoreceivetheir lordships as it behoved."

Ravenswoodwas too well accustomed to his seneschal's mode ofacting andspeaking to hope much from this confidentassurance. He knew that Caleb acted upon the principle of theSpanishgeenralsin the campaign of ----whomuch to theperplexityof the Prince of Orangetheir commander-in-chiefused toreport their troops as full in numberand possessed ofallnecessary points of equipmentnot considering it consistentwith theirdignityor the honour of Spainto confess anydeficiencyeither in men or munitionuntil the want of both wasunavoidablydiscovered in the day of battle.  AccordinglyRavenswoodthought it necessary to give the Marquis some hintthat thefair assurance which they had just received from Calebdid not byany means ensure them against a very indifferentreception.

"Youdo yourself injusticeMaster" said the Marquis"or youwish tosurprise me agreeably.  From this window I see a greatlight inthe direction whereif I remember arightWolf's Craglies; andto judge from the splendour which the old Tower shedsaround itthe preparations for our reception must be of noordinarydescription.  I remember your father putting the samedeceptionon mewhen we went to the Tower for afew days'hawkingabout twenty years sinceand yet we spent our time asjollily atWolf's Crag as we could have done at my own huntingseat atB----."

"YourlordshipI fearwill experience that the faculty of thepresentproprietor to entertain his friends is greatlyabridged"said Ravenswood; "the willI need hardly sayremainsthe same. But I am as much at a loss as your lordship to accountfor sostrong and brilliant a light as is now above Wolf's Crag;thewindows of the Tower are few and narrowand those of thelowerstory are hidden from us by the walls of the court.  Icannotconceive that any illumination of an ordinary nature couldaffordsuch a blaze of light."

Themystery was soon explained; for the cavalcade almostinstantlyhaltedand the voice of Caleb Balderstone was heardp278at thecoach windowexclaimingin accents broken by grief andfear"Ochgentlemen!  Ochmy gude lords!  Ochhaud totheright! Wolf's Crag is burningbower and ha'--a' the richplenishingoutside and inside--a' the fine graithpicturestapestriesneedle-warkhangingsand other decorements--a' in ableezeasif they were nae mair than sae mony peatsor asmucklepease-strae!  Haud to the rightgentlemenI implore ye;there issome sma' provision making at Luckie Sma'trash's; butohwaefor this nightand wae for me that lives to see it!"

Ravenswoodwas first stunned by this new and unexpectedcalamity;but after a moment's recollection he sprang from thecarriageand hastily bidding his noble kinsman goodnightwasabout toascend the hill towards the castlethe broad and fullconflagrationof which now flung forth a high column of redlightthat flickered far to seaward upon the dashing waves ofthe ocean.

"Takea horseMaster" exclaimed the Marquisgreatly affectedby thisadditional misfortuneso unexpectedly heaped upon hisyoungprotege; "and give me my ambling palfrey; and hasteforwardyou knavesto see what can be done to save thefurnitureor to extinguish the fire--rideyou knavesfor yourlives!"

Theattendants bustled togetherand began to strike theirhorseswith the spurand call upon Caleb to show them the road.But thevoice of that careful seneschal was heard above thetumult"Ohstop sirsstop--turn bridlefor the luve of Mercy;add notloss of lives to the loss of warld's gean!  Thirtybarrels ofpowtherlanded out of a Dunkirk dogger in the auldlord'stime--a' in the vau'ts of the auld tower--the fire cannabe far offitI trow.  Lord's saketo the rightlads--to theright;let's pit the hill atween us and peril--a wap wi' acorner-staneo' Wolf's Crag wad defy the doctor!"

It willreadily be supposed that this annunciation hurried theMarquisand his attendants into the route which Calebprescribeddragging Ravenswood along with themalthough therewas muchin the matter which he could not possibly comprehend."Gunpowder!"he exclaimedlaying hold of Calebwho in vainendeavouredto escape from him; "whatgunpowder? How any quantity of powder could be in Wolf's Cragwithout myknowledgeI cannot possibly comprehend."

"ButI can" interrupted the Marquiswhispering him"I cancomprehendit thoroughly; for God's sakeask him no morequestionsat present."

"Thereit isnow" said Calebextricating himself from hismasterand adjusting his dress"your honour will believe hislordship'shonourable testimony.  His lordship minds weel howinthe yearthat him they ca'd King Willie died----"

"Hush!hushmy good friend!" said the Marquis; "I shall satisfyyourmaster upon that subject."

"Andthe people at Wolf's Hope" said Ravenswood"did none ofthem cometo your assistance before the flame got so high?"

"Aydid theymony ane of themthe rapscallions!" said Caleb;"buttruly I was in nae hurry to let them into the Towerwherethere wereso much plate and valuables."

"Confoundyou for an impudent liar!" said Ravenswoodinuncontrollableire"there was not a single ounce of----"

"Forbye"said the butlermost irreverently raising his voiceto a pitchwhich drowned his master's"the fire made fast on usowing tothe store of tapestry and carved timmer in thebanqueting-ha'and the loons ran like scaulded rats sae sune asthey heardof the gunpouther."

"I doentreat" said the Marquis to Ravenswood"you will askhim nomore questions."

"Onlyonemy lord.  What has become of poor Mysie?"

"Mysie!"said Caleb"I had nae time to look about ony Mysie;she's inthe TowerI'se warrantbiding her awful doom.""Byheaven" said Ravenswood"I do not understand all this !The lifeof a faithful old creature is at stake; my lordI willbewithheld no longer; I will at least ride upand see whetherthe dangeris as imminent as this old fool pretends."

"Weelthenas I live by bread" said Caleb"Mysie is weel andsafe. I saw her out of the castle before I left it mysell.  WasI gangingto forget an auld fellow-servant?"

"Whatmade you tell me the contrary this moment?" said hismaster.

"DidI tell you the contrary?" said Caleb; "then I maun hae beendreamingsurelyor this awsome night has turned myjudgment;but safe she isand ne'er a living soul in the castlea' thebetter for them: they wau have gotten an unco heezy."

The Masterof Ravenswoodupon this assurance being solemnlyreiteratedand notwithstanding his extreme wish to witness thelastexplosionwhich was to ruin to the ground the mansion ofhisfatherssuffered himself to be dragged onward towards thevillage ofWolf's Hopewhere not only the change-housebut thatof ourwell-known friend the cooperwere all prepared forreceptionof himself and his noble guestwith a liberality ofprovisionwhich requires some explanation.

We omittedto mention in its placethat Lockhard having fishedout thetruth concerning the mode by which Caleb had obtained thesuppliesfor his banquetthe Lord Keeperamused with theincidentand desirous at the time to gratifyRavenswoodhad recommended the cooper of Wolf''s Hope to theofficialsituation under government the prospect of which hadreconciledhim to the loss of his wild-fowl.  Mr. Girder'sprefermenthad occasioned a pleasing surprise to old Caleb; forwhensomedays after his master's departurehe found himselfabsolutelycompelledby some necessary businessto visit thefishinghamletand was gliding like a ghost past the door of thecooperfor fear of being summoned to give some account of theprogressof the solicitation in his favourormore probablythat theinmates might upbraid him with the false hope he hadheld outupon the subjecthe heard himselfnot without someapprehensionsummoned at once in trebletenorand bass--a trioperformedby the voices of Mrs. Girderold Dame Loup-the-Dykeand thegoodman of the dwelling--"Mr. Caleb!--Mr. CalebBalderstone! I hope ye arena ganging dry-lipped by our doorandwe saemuckle indebted to you?"

This mightbe said ironically as well as in earnest.  Calebauguredthe worstturned a deaf ear to the trio aforesaidandwas movingdoggedly onhis ancient castor pulled over his browsand hiseyes bent on the groundas if to count the flintypebbleswith which the rude pathway was causewayed.  But on asudden hefound himself surrounded in his progresslike astatelymerchantman in the Gut of Gibraltar (I hope the ladieswillexcuse the tarpaulin phrase) by three Algerine galleys."Gudeguide usMr. Balderstone!" said Mrs. Girder."Whawad hae thought it of an auld and kenn'd friend!" said themother.

"Andno sae muckle as stay to receive our thanks" said thecooperhimself"and frae the like o' me that seldom offers them!I am sureI hope there's nae ill seed sawn between usMr.Balderstone. Ony man that has said to ye I am no gratefu' forthesituation of Queen's cooperlet me hae a whample at him wi'mineeatchethat's a'."

"Mygood friends--my dear friends" said Calebstill doubtinghow thecertainty of the matter might stand"what needs a' thisceremony? Ane tries to serve their friendsandsometimesthey may happen to prosperand sometimes to misgie.Naething Icare to be fashed wi' less than thanks; I never couldbidethem."

"FaithMr. Balderstoneye suld hae been fashed wi' few o'mine"said the downright man of staves and hoops"if I had onlyyourgude-will to thank ye for: I suld e'en hae set the guseandthe wilddeukesadn the runlet of sack to balance that account.Gude-willmanis a geizen'd tubthat hauds in nae liquor; butgudedeed's like the casktightroundand soundthat willhaudliquor for the king."

"Haveye no heard of our letter" said the mother-in-law"makingour John [Gibbie] the Queen's cooper for certain? andscarce achield that had ever hammered gird upon tub but wasapplyingfor it?"

"HaveI heard!!!" said Calebwho now found how the wind setwith anaccent of exceeding contemptat the doubtexpressed--"haveI heardquo'she!!!" and as he spoke he changedhisshamblingskulkingdodging pace into a manly andauthoritativestepreadjusted his cocked hatand suffered hisbrow toemerge from under it in all the pride of aristocracylike thesun from behind a cloud.

"Tobe surehe canna but hae heard" said the good woman.

"Ayto be sure it's impossible but I should" said Caleb; "andsae I'llbe the first to kiss yejoeand wish youcoopermuch joyof your prefermentnaething doubting but ye ken wha areyourfriendsand HAVE helped yeand CAN help ye.  I thoughtit rightto look a wee strange upon it at first" added Caleb"justto see if ye were made of the right mettle; but ye ringtruelad--ye ring true!"

So sayingwith a most lordly air he kissed the womenandabandonedhis handwith an air of serene patronageto theheartyshake of Mr. Girder's horn-hard palm.  Upon this completeand toCaleb most satisfactoryinformation he did notit mayreadily bebelievedhesitate to accept an invitation to a solemnfeasttowhich were invitednot only all the NOTABLES of thevillagebut even his ancient antagonistMr. Dingwallhimself.At thisfestivity he wasof coursethe most welcome and mosthonouredguest; and so well did he ply the company with storiesof what hecould do with his masterhis master with the LordKeeperthe Lord Keeper with the counciland the council withthe king[queen]that before the company dismissed (which wasindeedrather at an early hour than a late one)every man ofnote inthe village was ascending to the top-gallant of someidealpreferment by the ladder of ropes which Caleb had presentedto theirimagination.  Naythe cunning butler regained in thatmoment notonly all the influence he possessed formerly over thevillagerswhen the baronial family which he served were at theproudestbut acquired even an accession of importance.  Thewriter--thevery attorney himselfsuch is the thirst ofpreferment--feltthe force of the attractionand taking anopportunityto draw Caleb into a cornerspokewith affectionateregretofthe declining health of the sheriff-clerk of thecounty.

"Anexcellent man--a most valuable manMr. Caleb; but fat sallI say! weare peer feckless bodieshere the day and awa' bycock-screechthe morn; and if he failyiesthere maun be somebodyin hisplace; and gif that ye could airt it my wayI sall bethankfulman--a gluve stuffed wi gowd nobles; an' hark yemansomethingcanny till yourselland the Wolf's Hope carles tosettlekindly wi' the Master of Ravenswood--that isLordRavenswood--Godbless his lordship!"

A smileand a hearty squeeze by the handwas the suitableanswer tothis overture; and Caleb made his escape from thejovialpartyin order to avoid committing himself by any specialpromises.

"TheLord be gude to me" said Calebwhen he found himself inthe openairand at liberty to give vent to the self-exultationwith which he wasas it weredistended; "did everony mansee sic a set of green-gaislings?  The very pickmaws andsolan-geeseout-bye yonder at the Bass hae ten times their sense!Godan Ihad been the Lord High Commissioner to the Estates o'Parliamentthey couldna hae beflumm'd me mair; andto speakHeaven'struthI could hardly hae beflumm'd them better neither!But thewriter--ha! ha! ha!--ahha! ha! ha! mercy on methat Isuld livein my auld days to gie the ganag-bye to the verywriter! Sheriff-clerk!!!  But I hae an auld account to settlewi' thecarle; and to make amends for bye-ganesthe office shalljust costhim as much time-serving and tide-serving as if he wereto get itin gude earnestof whilk there is sma' appearanceunless theMaster learns mair the ways of this warldwhilk it ismuckle tobe doubted that he never will do."

 

CHAPTERXXVI.

Whyflames yon far summit--why shoot to the blastThoseemberslike stars from the firmament cast?'Tisthe fire-shower of  ruinall dreadfully drivenFromthine eyriethat beacons the darkness of Heaven.

CAMPBELL.

 

THEcircumstances announced in the conclusion of the lastchapterwill account for the ready and cheerful reception of theMarquis ofA---- and the Master of Ravenswood in the village ofWolf'sHope.  In factCaleb had no sooner announced theconflagrationof the tower than the whole hamlet were upon footto hastento extinguish the flames.  And although that zealousadherentdiverted their zeal by intimating the formidablecontentsof the subterranean apartmentsyet the check onlyturnedtheir assiduity into another direction.  Never had therebeen suchslaughtering of caponsand fat geeseand barndoorfowls;never such boiling of "reested" hams; never such making ofcar-cakesand sweet sconesSelkirk bannockscookiesandpetticoat-tails--delicacieslittle known to the presentgeneration. Never had there been such a tapping of barrelsandsuchuncorking of greybeardsin the village of Wolf's Hope.  Alltheinferior houses were thrown open for the reception of theMarquis's dependantswho cameit was thoughtas precursors ofthe showerof preferment which hereafter was to leave the rest ofScotlanddryin order to distil its rich dews on the village ofWolf'sHope under Lammermoor.  The minister put in his claim tohave theguests of distinction lodged at the mansehaving hiseyeitwas thoughtupon a neighbouring prefermentwhere theincumbentwas sickly; but Mr. Balderstone destined that honour tothecooperhis wifeand wife's motherwho danced for joy atthepreferences thus assigned them.

Many abeck and many a bow welcomed these noble guests to asgoodentertainment as persons of such rank could set before suchvisitors;and the old damewho had formerly lived in RavenswoodCastleand knewas she saidthe ways of the nobilitywas inno whitwanting in arranging mattersas well as circumstancespermittedaccording to the etiquette of the times.  Thecooper'shouse was so roomy that each guest had his separateretiring-roomto which they were ushered with all due ceremonywhile theplentiful supper was in the act of being placed uponthe table.

Ravenswoodno sooner found himself alone thanimpelled by athousandfeelingshe left the apartmentthe houseand thevillageand hastily retraced his steps to the brow of the hillwhich rosebetwixt the village and screened it from the towerinorder toview the final fall of the house of his fathers.  Someidle boysfrom the hamlet had taken the same direction out ofcuriosityhaving first witnessed the arrival of the coach andsix andits attendants.  As they ran one by one past the Mastercalling toeach other to "Come and see the auld tower blaw up inthe liftlike the peelings of an ingan" he could not but feelhimselfmoved with indignation.  "And these are the sons of myfather'svassals" he said--"of men boundboth by law andgratitudeto follow our steps through battleand fireandflood; andnow the destruction of their liege lord's house is butaholiday's sight to them"

Theseexasperating reflections were partly expresssed in theacrimonywith which he exclaimedon feeling himself pulled bythe cloak:"What do you wantyou dog?"

"I ama dogand an auld dog too" answered Calebfor it was hewho hadtaken the freedom"and I am like to get a dog's wages;but itdoes not signification a pinch of sneesingfor I am owerauld a dogto learn new tricksor to follow a new master."

As hespokeRavenswood attained the ridge of the hill fromwhichWolf's Crag was visible; the flames had entirely sunk downandtohis great surprisethere was only a dusky reddening uponthe cloudsimmediately over the castlewhich seemed thereflectionof the embers of the sunken fire.

"Theplace cannot have blown up" said the Master; "we must haveheard thereport: if a quarter of the gunpowder was there youtell meofit would have been heard twenty miles off."

"It'vevery like it wad" said Balderstonecomposedly.

"Thenthe fire cannot have reached the vaults?"

"It'slike no" answered Calebwith the same impenetrablegravity.

"HarkyeCaleb" said his master"this grows a little too muchfor mypatience.  I must go and examine how matters stand atWolf'sCrag myself."

"Yourhonour is ganging to gang nae sic gate" said Calebfirmly.

"Andwhy not?" said Ravenswoodsharply; "who or what shallpreventme?"

"EvenI mysell" said Calebwith the same determination.

"YouBalderstone!" replied the Master; "you are forgettingyourselfI think."

"ButI think no" said Balderstone; "for I can just tell ye a'about thecastle on this knowe-head as weel as if ye were at it.Only dinnapit yoursell into a kippageand expose yoursellbefore theweansor before the Marquiswhen ye gang down-bye."

"Speakoutyou old fool" replied his master"and let me knowthe bestand the worst at once."

"Outhe best and the warst isjust that the tower is standinghail andfeiras safe and as empty as when ye left it."

"Indeed!and the fire?" said Ravenswood."Nota gleed of firethenexcept the bit kindling peatandmaybe aspunk in Mysie's cutty-pipe" replied Caleb.

"Butthe flame?" demanded Ravenswood--"the broad blaze whichmight havebeen seen ten miles off--what occasioned that?"

"Houtawa'! it's an auld saying and a true--

Little'sthe lightWill beseen far in a mirk night.

A wheenfern and horse little that I fired in the courtyardaftersending back the loon of a footman; andto speak Heaven'struththenext time that ye send or bring ony body hereletthem gegentles allenarlywithout ony fremd servantslike thatchieldLockhardto be gledging and gleeing aboutand lookingupon thewrang side of ane's housekeepingto the discredit ofthefamilyand forcing ane to damn their souls wi' telling aelee afteranother faster than I can count them: I wad rather setfire tothe tower in gude earnestand burn it ower my ain headinto thebargainor I see the family dishonoured in the sort."

"Uponmy wordI am infinitely obliged by the proposalCaleb"said hismasterscarce able to to restrain his laughterthoughratherangry at the same time.  "But the gunpowder--is there sucha thing inthe tower?  The Marquis seemed to know of it.""Thepoutherha! ha! ha!--the Marquisha! ha! ha!" repliedCaleb--"ifyour honour were to brain meI behooved to laugh--theMarquis--the pouther!  Was it there?  Ayit was there. Didhe keno't?  My certie! the Marquis kenn'd o'tand it was thebest o'the game; forwhen I couldna pacify your honour wi' a'that Icould sayI aye threw out a word mair about thegunpoutherand garr'd the Marquis tak the job in his ain hand."

"Butyou have not answered my question" said the Masterimpatiently;"how came the powder thereand where is it now?"

"Ouit came therean ye maun needs ken" said Caleblookingmysteriouslyand whispering"when there was like to be a weebit risinghere; and the Marquisand a' the great lords of thenorthwere a' in itand mony a gudely gun and broadsword wereferriedower frae Dunkirk forbye the pouther.  Awfu' work we hadgettingthem into the tower under cloud o' nightfor ye maunthink itwasna everybody could be trusted wi' sic kittle jobs.But if yewill gae hame to your supperI will tell you a' aboutit as yegang down."

"Andthese wretched boys" said Ravenswood"is it your pleasurethey areto sit there all nightto wait for the blowing up of atower thatis not even on fire?"

"Surelynotif it is your honour's pleasure that they suld ganghame;although" added Caleb"it wadna do them a grain'sdamage:they wad screigh less the next dayand sleep thesounder ate'en.  But just as your honour likes."

Steppingaccordingly towards the urchins who manned the knollsnear whichthey stoodCaleb informed themin anauthoritativetonethat their honours Lord Ravenswood and theMarquis ofA---- had given orders that the tower was not to beblow uptill next day at noon.  The boys dispersed upon thiscomfortableassurance.  One or twohoweverfollowed Caleb formoreinformationparticularly the urchin whom he had cheatedwhileofficiating as turnspitwho screamed"Mr. Balderstone!--Mr.Balderstone! then the castle's gane out like an auld wife'sspunk?"

"Tobe sure it iscallant" said the butler; "do ye think thecastle ofas great a lord as Lord Ravenswood wad continue in ableezeand him standing looking on wi' his ain very een?  It'sayeright" continued Calebshaking off his ragged pageandclosing into his Master"to train up weansas the wise mansaysinthe way they should goandaboon a'to teach themrespect totheir superiors."

"Butall this whileCalebyou have never told me what becameof thearms and powder" said Ravenswood.

"Whyas for the arms" said Caleb"it was just like thebairn'srhyme--Some gaedeast and some gaed westAnd somegaed to the craw's nest.

And forthe poutherI e'en changed itas occasion servedwiththeskippers o' Dutch luggers and French vesselsfor gin andbrandyand is served the house mony a year--a gude swap toobetweenwhat cheereth the soul of man and that which hingeth itclean outof his body; forbyeI keepit a wheen pounds of it foryoursellwhen ye wanted to take the pleasure o' shooting: whilesin theselatter daysI wad hardly hae kenn'd else whar to getpoutherfor your pleasure.  And now that your anger is owersirwasna thatweel managed o' meand arena ye far better sorteddounyonder than ye could hae been in your ain auld ruins up-byeyonderasthe case stands wi' us now? the mair's the pity!"

"Ibelieve you may be rightCaleb; butbefore burning down mycastleeither in jest or in earnest" said Ravenswood"I thinkI had aright to be in the secret."

"Fiefor shameyour honour!" replied Caleb; "it fits an auldcarle likeme weel eneugh to tell lees for the credit of thefamilybut it wadna beseem the like o' your honour's sell;besidesyoung folk are no judicious: they cannot make the maistof a bitfigment.  Now this fire--for a fire it sall beif Isuld burnthe auld stable to make it mair feasible--this firebesidesthat it will be an excuse for asking ony thing we wantthroughthe countryor doun at the haven--this fire will settlemonythings on an honourable footing for the family's creditthat costme telling twenty daily lees to a wheen idle chaps andqueansandwhat's waurwithout gaining credence.""Thatwas hard indeedCaleb; but I do not see how this fireshouldhelp your veracity or your credit."

"Thereit is now?" said Caleb; "wasna I saying that young folkhad agreen judgment?  How suld it help mequotha?  It will be acreditableapology for the honour of the family for this score ofyears tocomeif it is weel guided.  'Where's the familypictures?'says ae meddling body.  'The great fire at Wolf'sCrag'answers I.  'Where's the family plate?' says another.'The greatfire' says I; 'wha was to think of platewhen lifeand limbwere in danger?'  'Where's the wardrobe and the linens?--where'sthe tapestries and the decorements?--beds of statetwiltspands and testorsnapery and broidered wark?'  'Thefire--thefire--the fire.'  Guide the fire weeland it willserve yefor a' that ye suld have and have not; andin somesortagude excuse is better than the things themselves; forthey mauncrack and wear outand be consumed by timewhereas agudeoffcomeprudently and creditably handledmay serve anoblemanand his familyLord kens how lang!"

Ravenswoodwas too well acquainted with his butler'spertinacityand self-opinion to dispute the point with him anyfarther. Leaving Calebthereforeto the enjoyment of his ownsuccessfulingenuityhe returned to the hamletwhere he foundtheMarquis and the good women of the mansion under some anxiety--theformer on account of his absencethe others for thediscredittheir cookery might sustain by the delay of the supper.All werenow at easeand heard with pleasure that the fire atthe castlehad burned out of itself without reaching the vaultswhich wasthe only information that Ravenswood thought it properto give inpublic concerning the event of his butler's strategem.

They satdown to an excellent supper.  No invitation couldprevail onMr. and Mrs. Girdereven in their own houseto sitdown attable with guests of such high quality.  They remainedstandingin the apartmentand acted the part of respectful andcarefulattendants on the company.  Such were the manners of thetime. The elder dameconfident through her age and connexionwith theRavenswood familywas lessscrupulouslyceremonious.  She played a mixed part betwixt thatof thehostess of an inn and the mistress of a private housewhoreceivesguests above her own degree.  She recommendedand evenpressedwhat she thought bestand was herself easily entreatedto take amoderate share of the good cheerin order to encourageher guestsby her own example.  Often she interrupted herselftoexpressher regret that "my lord did not eat; that the Master waspyking abare bane; thatto be surethere was naething therefit to setbefore their honours; that Lord Allanrest his saulused tolike a pouthered guseand said it was Latin for a tasso' brandy;that the brandy came frae France direct; forfor a'theEnglish laws and gaugersthe Wolf's Hope brigs hadnaforgottenthe gate to Dunkirk."

Here thecooper admonished his mother-in-law with his elbowwhichprocured him the following special notice in the progressof herspeech:

"Yeneedna be dunshin that gateJohn [Gibbie]" continued theold lady;"naebody says that YE ken whar the brandy comesfrae; andit wadna be fitting ye shouldand you the Queen'scooper;and what signifies't" continued sheaddressing LordRavenswood"to kingqueenor kaiser whar an auld wife like mebuys herpickle sneeshinor her drap brandy-wineto haud herheart up?"

Havingthus extricated herself from her supposed false stepDameLoup-the-Dyke proceededduring the rest of the eveningtosupplywith great animationand very little assistance from hergueststhe funds necessary for the support of the conversationuntildeclining any further circulation of their glassherguestsrequested her permission to retire to their apartments.

TheMarquis occupied the chamber of daiswhichin every houseabove therank of a mere cottagewas kept sacred for such highoccasionsas the present.  The modern finishing with plaster wasthenunknownand tapestry was confined to the houses of thenobilityand superior gentry.  The cooperthereforewho was aman ofsome vanityas well as some wealthhad imitated thefashionobserved by the inferior landholders and clergywhousuallyornamented their state apartments with hangings of a sortof stampedleathermanufactured in the Netherlandsgarnishedwith treesand aminals executed in copper foiland with many apithysentence of moralitywhichalthough couched in Low Dutchwereperhaps as much attended to inpracticeas if written in broad Scotch.  The whole had somewhatof agloomy aspect; but the firecomposed of old pitch-barrelstavesblazed merrily up the chimney; the bed was decorated withlinen ofmost fresh and dazzling whitenesswhich had neverbeforebeen usedand mightperhapshave never been used atallbutfor this high occasion.  On the toilette besidestoodanold-fashioned mirrorin a fillagree framepart of thedispersedfinery of the neighbouring castle.  It was flanked by along-neckedbottle of Florence wineby which stood a glassenarly astallresembling in shape that which Teniers usuallyplaces inthe hands of his own portraitwhen he paints himselfasmingling in the revels of a country village.  Tocounterbalancethose foreign sentinelsthere mounted guard onthe otherside of the mirror two stout warders of Scottishlineage; ajugnamelyof double alewhich held a Scotch pintand aquaighor bickerof ivory and ebonyhooped with silverthe workof John Girder's own handsand the pride of his heart.Besidesthese preparations against thirstthere was a goodlydiet-loafor sweet cake; so thatwith such auxiliariestheapartmentseemed victualled against a siege of two or three days.

It onlyremains to saythat the Marquis's valet was inattendancedisplaying his master's brocaded nightgownandrichlyembroidered velvet caplined and faced with Brusselslaceupona huge leathern easy-chairwheeled round so as tohave thefull advantage of the comfortable fire which we havealreadymentioned.  We therefore commit that eminent person tohisnight's reposetrusting he profited by the amplepreparationsmade for his accommodation--preparations which wehavementioned in detailas illustrative of ancient Scottishmanners.

It is notnecessary we should be equally minute indescribingthe sleeping apartment of the Master of Ravenswoodwhich wasthat usually occupied by the goodman and goodwifethemselves. It was comfortably hung with a sort of warm-colouredworstedmanufactured in Scotlandapproaching in trexture towhat isnow called shalloon.  A staring picture of John [Gibbie]Girderhimself ornamented this dormiorypainted by a starvingFrenchmanwho hadGod knows how or whystrolled over fromFlushingor Dunkirk to Wolf's Hope in a smuggling dogger.  Thefeatureswereindeedthose of the stubbornopinionativeyetsensibleartisanbut Monsieur had contrived to throw a Frenchgrace intothe look and mannerso utterly inconsistent with thedoggedgravity of the originalthat it was impossible to look atit withoutlaughing.  John and his familyhoweverpiquedthemselvesnot a little upon this pictureand wereproportionablycensured by the neighbourhoodwho pronounced thatthecooperin sitting for the sameand yet more in presuming tohang it upin his bedchamberhad exceeded his privilege as therichestman of the village; at once stept beyond the bounds ofhis ownrankand encroached upon those of the superior orders;andinfinehad been guilty of a very overweening act of vanityandpresumption.  Respect for the memory of my deceased friendMr.Richard Tintohas obliged me to treat this matter at somelength;but I spare the reader his prolix though curiousobservationsas well upon the character of the French school asupon thestate of painting in Scotland at the beginning of the18thcentury.

The otherpreparations of the Master's sleeping apartment weresimilar tothose in the chamber of dais.

At theusual early hour of that periodthe Marquis of A---- andhiskinsman prepared to resume their journey.  This could not bedonewithout an ample breakfastin which cold meat and hot meatandoatmeal flummerywine and spiritsand milk varied by everypossiblemode of preparationevinced the same desire to dohonour totheir guests which had been shown by the hospitableowners ofthe mansion upon the evening before.  All the bustle ofpreparationfor departure now resounded through Wolf's Hope.There waspaying of bills and shaking of handsand saddling ofhorsesand harnessing of carriagesand distributing of drink-money. The Marquis left a broad piece for the gratification ofJohnGirder's householdwhich hethe said Johnwas for sometimedisposed to convert to his own use; Dingwallthe writerassuringhim he was justified in so doingseeing he was thedisburserof those expenses which were the occasion of thegratification. Butnotwithstanding this legal authorityJohncould notfind in his heart to dim the splendour of his latehospitalityby picketing anything in the nature of a gratuity.He onlyassured his menials he would consider them as a damnedungratefulpack if they bought a gill of brandy elsewhere thanout of hisown stores; and as the drink-money was likely to go toitslegitimate usehe comforted himself thatin this mannertheMarquis's donative wouldwithout any impeachment of creditandcharactercome ultimately into his own exclusive possession.

Whilearrangements were making for departureRavenswood madeblythe theheart of his ancient butler by informing himcautiouslyhowever (for he knew Caleb's warmth of imagination)of theprobably change which was about to take place in hisfortunes. He deposited with Balderstoneat the same timethegreaterpart of his slender fundswith an assurancewhich hewasobliged to reiterate more than oncethat he himself hadsufficientsupplies in certain prospect. He therefore enjoinedCalebashe valued his favourto desist from all farthermaneouvresagainst the inhabitants of Wolf's Hopetheir cellarspoultry-yardsand substance whatsoever.  In this prohibitionthe olddomestic acquiesced more readily than his masterexpected.

"Itwas doubtless" he said"a shamea discreditand a sintoharry thepuir creatureswhen the family were incircumstancesto live honourably on their ain means; and theremight bewisdom" he added"in giving them a while's breathing-time atany ratethat they might be the more readily brougthforwardupon his honour's future occasions."

Thismatter being settledand having taken an affectionatefarewellof his old domesticthe Master rejoined his noblerelativewho was now ready to enter his carriage.  The twolandladiesold and younghaving received in all kindly greetinga kissfrom each of their noble guestsstood simpering at thedoor oftheir houseas the coach and sixfollowed by its trainofclattering horsementhundered out of the village.  JohnGirderalso stood upon his thresholdnow looking at his honouredrighthandwhich had been so lately shaken by a marquis and alordandnow giving a glance into the interior of his mansionwhichmanifested all the disarray of the late revelas ifbalancingthe distinction which he had attained with theexpensesof the entertainment.

At lengthhe opened his oracular jaws.  "Let every man and womanhere setabout their ain businessas if there was nae sic thingas marquisor masterduke or drakelaird or lordin thisworld. Let the house be redd upthe broken meat set byeand ifthere isony thing totally uneatablelet it be gien to the puirfolk; andgude mother and wifeI hae just ae thing to entreatyethatye will never speak to me a single wordgood or badanent a'this nonsense warkbut keep a' your cracks about it toyoursellsand your kimmersfor my head is weel-nigh dung donnartwi' italready."

As John'sauthority was tolerably absoluteall departed totheirusual occupationsleaving him to build castles in the airif he hada mindupon the court favour which he had acquired bytheexpenditure of his worldly substance.

 

CHAPTERXXVII.

Whynow I have Dame Fortune by the ForelockAnd ifshe escapes my graspthe fault is mine;He thathath buffeted with stern adversityBestknows the shape his course to favouring breezes.

OldPlay.

 

OURtravellers reach Edinburgh without any fartheradventureand the Master of Ravenswoodas had been previouslysettledtook up his abode with his noble friend.

In themean timethe political crisis which had been expectedtookplaceand the Tory party obtained in the Scottishas intheEnglishcouncils of Queen Anne a short-livedascendencyof which it is not our business to trace either thecause orconsequences.  Suffice it to saythat it affected thedifferentpolitical parties according to the nature of theirprinciples. In Englandmany of the High Church partywithHarleyafterwards Earl of Oxfordat their headaffected toseparatetheir principles from those of the Jacobitesandonthataccountobtained the denomination of Whimsicals.  TheScottishHigh Church partyon the contraryoras they termedthemselvesthe Cavalierswere more consistentif not soprudentin their politicsand viewed all the changes now madeaspreparatory to calling to the throneupon the queen's demiseherbrother the Chevalier de St. George.  Those who had sufferedin hisservice now entertained the most unreasonable hopesnotonly ofindemnificationbut of vengeance upon their politicaladversaries;while families attached to the Whig interest sawnothingbefore them but a renewal of the hardships they hadundergoneduring the reigns of Charles the Second and hisbrotherand a retaliation of the confiscation which had beeninflictedupon the Jacobites during that of King William.

But themost alarmed at the change of system was that prudentialset ofpersonssome of whom are found in allgovernmentsbut who abound in a provincial administration likethat ofScotland during the periodand who are what Cromwellcalledwaiters upon Providenceorin other wordsuniformadherentsto the party who are uppermost.  Many of these hastenedto readtheir recantation to the Marquis of A----; andas it waseasilyseen that he took a deep interest in the affairs of hiskinsmanthe Master of Ravenswoodthey were the first to suggestmeasuresfor retrieving at least a part of his propertyand forrestoringhim in blood against his father's attainder.

Old LordTurntippet professed to be one of the most anxious forthesuccess of these measures; for "it grieved him to the verysaul"he said"to see so brave a young gentlemanof sic auldandundoubted nobilityandwhat was mair than a' thata bluidrelationof the Marquis of A----the man whom" he swore"hehonouredmost upon the face of the earthbrougth to so severe apass. For his ain puir peculiar" as he said"and tocontributesomething to the rehabilitation of sae auld anehouse"the said Turntippet sent in three family pictures lackingtheframesand six high-backed chairswith worked Turkeycushionshaving the crest of Ravenswood broidered thereonwithoutcharging a penny either of the principal or interest theyhad costhimwhen he bought themsixteen years beforeat aroup ofthe furniture of Lord Ravenswood's lodgings in theCanongate.

Much moreto Lord Turntippet's dismay than to his surprisealthoughhe affected to feel more of the latter than the formertheMarquis received his gift very drilyand observedthat hislordship'srestitutionif he expected it to be received by theMaster ofRavenswood and his friendsmust comprehend a prettylargefarmwhichhaving been mortgaged to Turntippet for a veryinadequatesumhe had contrivedduring the confusion of thefamilyaffairsand by means well understood by the lawyers ofthatperiodto acquire to himself in absolute property.

The oldtime-serving lord winced excessively under therequisitionprotesting to Godthat he saw no occasion the ladcould havefor the instant possession of the landseeing hewoulddoubtless now recover the bulk of his estate from SirWilliamAshtonto which he was ready to contribute by everymeans inhis poweras was just and reasonable; and finallydeclaringthat he was willing to settle the land on the younggentlemanafter his own natural demise.

But allthese excuses availed nothingand he was compelled todisgorgethe propertyon receiving back the sum for which ithad beenmortgaged.  Having no other means of making peace withthe higherpowershe returned home sorrowful and malcontentcomplainingto his confidants"That every mutation or change inthe statehad hitherto been productive of some sma' advantage tohim in hisain quiet affairs; but that the present had--pize uponit!--costhim one of the best penfeathers o' his wing."

Similarmeasures were threatened against others who had profitedby thewreck of the fortune of Ravenswood; and Sir WilliamAshtoninparticularwas menaced with an appeal to the House ofPeersacourt of equityagainst the judicialsentencesproceeding upon a strict and severe construction ofthe letterof the lawunder which he held the castle and baronyofRavenswood.  With himhoweverthe Masteras well for Lucy'ssake as onaccount of the hospitality he had received from himfelthimself under the necessity of proceeding with greatcandor. He wrote to the late Lord Keeperfor he no longer heldthatofficestating frankly the engagement which existed betweenhim andMiss Ashtonrequesting his permission for their unionandassuring him of his willingness to put the settlement of allmattersbetween them upon such a footing as Sir William himselfshouldthink favourable.

The samemessenger was charged with a letter to Lady Ashtondeprecatingany cause of displeasure which the Master mightunintentionallyhave given herenlarging upon his attachment toMissAshtonand the length to which it had proceededandconjuringthe ladyas a Douglas in nature as well as in namegenerouslyto forget ancient prejudices and misunderstandingsand tobelieve that the family had acquired a friendand sheherself arespectful and attached humble servantin him whosubscribedhimself"EdgarMaster of Ravenswood."A thirdletter Ravenswood addressed to Lucyand themessengerwas instructed to find some secret and secure means ofdeliveringit into her own hands.  It contained the strongestprotestationsof continued affectionand dwelt upon theapproachingchange of the writer's fortunesas chiefly valuableby tendingto remove the impediments to their union.  He relatedthe stepshe had taken to overcome the prejudices of her parentsandespecially of her motherand expressed his hope they mightproveeffectual.  If nothe still trusted that his absence fromScotlandupon an important and honourable mission might give timeforprejudices to die away; while he hoped and trusted MissAshton'sconstancyon which he had the most implicit reliancewouldbaffle any effort that might be used to divert herattachment. Much more there waswhichhowever interesting tothe loversthemselveswould afford the reader neither interestnorinformation.  To each of these three letters the Master ofRavenswoodreceived an answerbut by different means ofconveyanceand certainly couched in very different styles.

LadyAshton answered his leetter by his own messengerwho wasnotallowed to remain at Ravenswood a moment longer than she wasengaged inpenning these lines.  "For the hand of Mr.Ravenswoodof Wolf's Crag--These:

"SIRUNKNOWN:"Ihave received a lettersigned 'EdgarMaster ofRavenswood'concerning the writer whereof I am uncertainseeingthat thehonours of such a family were forfeited for high reasonin theperson of Allanlate Lord Ravenswood.  Sirif you shallhappen tobe the person so subscribing yourselfyou will pleaseto knowthat I claim the full interest of a parent in Miss LucyAshtonwhich I have disposed of irrevocably in behalf of aworthyperson.  Andsirwere this otherwiseI would not listento aproposal from youor any of your houseseeing their handhas beenuniformly held up against the freedom of the subject andtheimmunities of God's kirk.  Sirit is not a flightering blinkofprosperity which can change my constant opinion in thisregardseeing it has been my lot before nowlike holy Davidtosee thewicked great in power and flourishing like a green bay-tree;nevertheless I passedand they were notand the placethereofknew them no more.  Wishing you to lay these things toyour heartfor your own sakeso far as they may concern youIpray youto take no farther notice of her who desires to remainyourunknown servant"MARGARETDOUGLAS"otherwiseASHTON."

About twodays after he had received this veryunsatisfactoryepistlethe Master of Ravenswoodwhile walkingup theHigh Street of Edinburghwas jostled by a personinwhomasthe man pulled off his hat to make an apologyherecognizedLockhardthe confidential domestic of Sir WilliamAshton. The man bowedslipt a letter into his handanddisappeared. The packet contained four close-written foliosfromwhichhoweveras is sometimes incident to the compositionsof greatlawyerslittle could be extractedexcepting that thewriterfelt himself in a very puzzling predicament.

SirWilliam spoke at length of his high value and regard for hisdear youngfriendthe Master of Ravenswoodand of his veryextremehigh value and regard for the Marquis of A----his verydear oldfriend; he trusted that any measures that they mightadoptinwhich he was concernedwould be carred on with dueregard tothe sanctity of decreets and judgments obtained inforocontentioso; protestingbefore men and angelsthat if thelaw ofScotlandas declared in her supreme courtswere toundergo areversal in the English House of Lordsthe evils whichwouldthence arise to the public would inflict a greater woundupon hisheart than any loss he might himself sustain by suchirregularproceedings.  He flourished much on generosity andforgivenessof mutual injuriesand hinted at the mutability ofhumanaffairsalways favourite topics with the weaker party inpolitics. He pathetically lamentedand gently censuredthehastewhich had been used in depriving him of his situation ofLordKeeperwhich his experience had enabled him to fill withsomeadvantage to the publicwithout so much as giving him anopportunityof explaining how far his own views of generalpoliticsmight essentially differ from those now in power.  Hewasconvinced the Marquis of A---- had as sincere intentionstowardsthe public as himself or any man; and ifupon aconferencethey could have agreed upon the measures by which itwas to bepursuedhis experience and his interest should havegone tosupport the present administration.  Upon the engagementbetwixtRavenswood and his daughterhe spoke in a dry andconfusedmanner.  He regretted so premature a step as theengagementof the young people should have been takenandconjuredthe Master to remember he had never given anyencouragementthereunto; and observed thatas a transactioninterminoresand without concurrence of his daughter'snaturalcuratorsthe engagement was ineptand void in law.Thisprecipitate measurehe addedhad produced a very badeffectupon Lady Ashton's mindwhich it was impossible atpresent toremove.  Her sonColonel Douglas Ashtonhad embracedherprejudices in the fullest extentand it was impossible forSirWilliam to adopt a course disagreeable to them without afatal andirreconcilable breach in his family; which was not atpresent tobe thought of.  Timethe great physicianhe hopedwould mendall.

In apostscriptSir William said something more explicitlywhichseemed to intimate thatrather than the law of Scotlandshouldsustain a severe wound through his sidesby a reversal ofthejudgment of her supreme courtsin the case of the barony ofRavenswoodthrough the intervention of whatwith allsubmissionhe must term a foreign court of appealhe himselfwouldextrajudically consent to considerable sacrifices.

From LucyAshtonby some unknown conveyancethe Masterreceivedthe following lines:  "I received yoursbut it was atthe utmostrisk; do not attempt to write again till bettertimes. I am sore besetbut I will be true to my wordwhile theexerciseof my reason is vouchsafed to me.  That you are happyandprosperous is some consolationand my situation requires itall." The note was signed "L.A."

Thisletter filled Ravenswood with the most lively alarm.  Hemade manyattemptsnotwithstanding her prohibitionto conveyletters toMiss Ashtonand even to obtain an interview; but hisplans werefrustratedand he had only the mortification to learnthatanxious and effectual precautions had been taken to preventthepossibility of their correspondence.  The Master was themoredistressed by these circumstancesas it became impossibleto delayhis departure from Scotlandupon the important missionwhich hadbeen confided to him.  Before his departurehe put SirWilliamAshton's letter into the hands of the Marquis of A----whoobserved with a smilethat Sir William's day of grace waspastandthat he had now to learn which side of the hedge thesun hadgot to.  It was with the greatest difficulty thatRavenswoodextorted from the Marquis a promise that he wouldcompromisethe proceedings in Parliamentproviding Sir Williamshould bedisposed to acquiesce in a union between him and LucyAshton.

"Iwould hardly" said the Marquis"consent to yourthrowingaway your birthright in this mannerwere I notperfectlyconfident that Lady Ashtonor Lady Douglasorwhatevershe calls herselfwillas Scotchmen saykeep herthreep;and that her husband dares not contradict her."

"Butyet" said the Master"I trust your lordship will considermyengagement as sacred."

"Believemy word of honour" said the Marquis"I would be afriendeven to your follies; and having thus told you MYopinionIwill endeavouras occasion offersto serve youaccordingto your own."

The masterof Ravenswood could but thank his generous kinsmanandpatronand leave him full power to act in all his affairs.Hedeparted from Scotland upon his missionwhichit wassupposedmight detain him upon the continent for some months.

 

CHAPTERXXVIII.

Wasever woman in this humor wooed?Wasever woman in this humour won?I'llhave her.

RichardIII.

 

TWELVEmonths had passed away since the Master ofRavenswood'sdeparture for the continentandalthough hisreturn toScotland had been expected in a much shorter spaceyettheaffairs of his missionoraccording to a prevailing reportothers ofa nature personal to himselfstill detained himabroad. In the mean timethe altered state of affairs in SirWilliamAshton's family may be gathered from the followingconversationwhich took place betwixt Bucklaw and hisconfidentialbottle companion and dependantthe noted CaptainCraigengelt. They were seated on either side of the hugesepulchral-lookingfreestone chimney in the low hall atGirnington. A wood fire blazed merrily in the grate; a roundoakentableplaced between themsupported a stoup of excellentclarettwo rummer glassesand other good cheer; and yetwithall theseappliances and means to bootthe countenance of thepatron wasdubiousdoubtfuland unsatisfiedwhile theinventionof his dependant was taxed to the utmost to parry whathe mostdreadeda fitas he called itof the sullenson thepart ofhis protector.  After a long pauseonly interrupted bythedevil's tattoowhich Bucklaw kept beating against the hearthwith thetoe of his bootCraigengelt at last ventured to breaksilence. "May I be double distanced" said he"if ever I saw aman in mylife have less the air of a bridegroom!  Cut me out offeatherif you have not more the look of a man condemned to behanged!"

"Mykind thanks for the compliment" replied Bucklaw; "but Isupposeyou think upon the predicament in which you yourself aremostlikely to be placed; and prayCaptain Craigengeltif itpleaseyour worshipwhy should I look merrywhen I'm sadanddevilishsad too?"

"Andthat's what vexes me" said Craigengelt.  "Here isthismatchthebest in the whole countryandwhich were so anxiousaboutison the point of being concludedand you are as sulkyas a bearthat has lost its whelps."

"I donot know" answered the Lairddoggedly"whether I shouldconcludeor notif it was not that I am too far forwards to leapback."

"Leapback!" exclaimed Craigengeltwith a well-assumed air ofastonishment"that would be playing the back-game with awitness! Leap back!  Whyis not the girl's fortune----"

"Theyoung lady'sif you please" said Haystoninterruptinghim.

"Well--wellno disrespect meant.  Will Miss Ashton's tocher notweighagainst any in Lothian?"

"Granted"answered Bucklaw; "but I care not a penny for hertocher; Ihave enough of my own."

"Andthe motherthat loves you like her own child?"

"Betterthan some of her childrenI believe" said Bucklaw"ortherewould be little love wared on the matter."

"AndColonel Sholto Douglas Ashtonwho desires the marriageabove allearthly things?"

"Because"said Bucklaw"he expects to carry the county of ---- throughmy interest."

"Andthe fatherwho is as keen to see the match concluded asever Ihave been to win a main?"

"Ay"said Bucklawin the same disparaging manner"it lieswith SirWilliam's policy to secure the next best matchsince hecannotbarter his child to save the great Ravenswood estatewhich theEnglish House of Lords are about to wrench out of hisclutches."

"Whatsay you to the young lady herself?" said Craigengelt; "thefinestyoung woman in all Scotlandone that you used to be sofond ofwhen she was crossand now she consents to have youand givesup her engagement with Ravenswoodyou are for jibbing.I mustsaythe devil's in yewhen ye neither know what youwould havenor what you would want."

"I'lltell you my meaning in a word" answered Bucklawgettingup andwalking through the room; "I want to know what the devilis thecause of Miss Ashton's changing her mind sosuddenly?"

"Andwhat need you care" said Craigengelt"since the change isin yourfavour?"

"I'lltell you what it is" returned his patron"I never knewmuch ofthat sort of fine ladiesand I believe they may be ascapriciousas the devil; but there is something in Miss Ashton'schange adevilish deal too sudden and too serious for a mereflisk ofher own.  I'll be boundLady Ashton understands everymachinefor breaking in the human mindand there are as many asthere arecannon-bitmartingalesand cavessons for youngcolts."

"Andif that were not the case" said Craigengelt"how thedevilshould we ever get them into training at all?"

"Andthat's true too" said Bucklawsuspending his marchthroughthe dining-roomand leaning upon the back of a chair."Andbesideshere's Ravenswood in the way stilldo you thinkhe'll giveup Lucy's engagement?"

"Tobe sure he will" answered Craigengelt; "what good can itdohim torefusesince he wishes to marry another woman and sheanotherman?"

"Andyou believe seriously" said Bucklaw"that he is going tomarry theforeign lady we heard of?"

"Youheard yourself" answered Craigengelt"what CaptainWestenhosaid about itand the great preparation made for theirblythesomebridal."

"CaptainWestenho" replied Bucklaw"has rather too much ofyour owncast aboutCraigieto make what Sir William would calla 'famouswitness.'  He drinks deepplays deepswears deepandI suspectcan lie and cheat a little into the bargain; usefulqualitiesCraigieif kept in their proper spherebut whichhave alittle too much of the freebooter to make a figure in acourt ofevidence."

"Wellthen" said Craigengelt"will you believe ColonelDouglasAshtonwho heard the Marquis of A---- say in a publiccirclebut not aware that he was within ear-shotthat hiskinsmanhad made a better arrangement for himself than to givehisfather's land for the pale-cheeked daughter of a broken-downfanaticand that Bucklaw was welcome to the wearing ofRavenswood'sshaughled shoes."

"Didhe say soby heavens!" cried Bucklawbreaking out intoone ofthose incontrollable fits of passion to which he wasconstitutionallysubject; "if I had heard himI would have tornthe tongueout of his throat before all his peats and minionsandHighland bullies into the bargain.  Why did not Ashton runhimthrough the body?"

"Capotme if I know" said the Captain.  "He deserved it sureenough;but he is an old manand a minister of stateand therewould bemore risk than credit in meddling with him.  You hadmore needto think of making up to Miss Lucy Ashton the disgracethat'slike to fall upon her than of interfering with a man tooold tofightand on too high a tool for your hand to reach him."

"ItSHALL reach himthoughone day" said Bucklaw"and hiskinsmanRavenswood to boot.  In the mean timeI'll take careMissAshton receives no discredit for the slight they have putupon her. It's an awkward jobhoweverand I wish it wereended; Iscarce know how to talk to her--but fill a bumperCraigieand we'll drink her health.  It grows lateand a night-cowl ofgood claret is worth all the considering-caps in Europe."

 

CHAPTERXXIX.

It wasthe copy of our conference.In bedshe slept notfor my urging it;Atboard she fed notfor my urging it;Aloneit was the subject of my theme;Incompany I often glanced at it.

Comedyof Errors.

 

THE nextmorning saw Bucklaw and his faithful AchatesCraigengeltat Ravenswood Castle.  They were most courteouslyreceivedby the knight and his ladyas wellas by their sonand heirColonel Ashton.  After a good deal of stammering andblushing--forBucklawnotwithstanding his audacity in othermattershad all the sheepish bashfulness common to those whohave livedlittle in respectable society--he contrived at lengthto explainhis wish to be admitted to a conference with MissAshtonupon the subject of their approaching union.  Sir Williamand hisson looked at Lady Ashtonwho replied with the greatestcomposure"That Lucy would wait upon Mr. Hayston directly.  Ihope"she added with a smile"that as Lucy is very youngandhas beenlately trepanned into an engagement of which she is nowheartilyashamedour dear Bucklaw will excuse her wish that Ishould bepresent at their interview?"

"Intruthmy dear lady" said Bucklaw"it is the very thingthat Iwould have desired on my own account; for I have been solittleaccustomed to what is called gallantrythat I shallcertainlyfall into some cursed mistake unless I have theadvantageof your ladyship as an interpreter."

It wasthus that Bucklawin the perturbation of hisembarrassmentupon this critical occasionforgot the justapprehensionshe had entertained of Lady Ashton's overbearingascendencyover her daughter's mindand lost an opportunity ofascertainingby his own investigationthe real state of Lucy'sfeelings.

The othergentlemen left the roomand in a shrot time LadyAshtonfollowed by her daughterentered the apartment.  Sheappearedas he had seen her on former occasionsrathercomposedthan agitated; but a nicer judge than he could scarcehavedetermined whether her calmness was that of despair or ofindifference. Bucklaw was too much agitated by his own feelingsminutelyto scrutinise those of the lady.  He stammered out anunconnectedaddressconfounding together the two or three topicsto whichit relatedand stopt short before he brought it to anyregularconclusion.  Miss Ashton listenedor looked as if shelistenedbut returned not a single word in answercontinuing tofix hereyes on a small piece of embroidery on whichas if byinstinctor habither fingers were busily employed.  Lady Ashtonsat atsome distancealmost screened from notice by the deepembrasureof the window in which she had placed her chair.  Fromthis shewhisperedin a tone of voice whichthough soft andsweethadsomething in it of admonitionif not command: "Lucymy dearremember--have you heard what Bucklaw has been saying?"

The ideaof her mother's presence seemed to have slipped fromtheunhappy girl's recollection.  She starteddropped herneedleand repeated hastilyand almost in the same breaththecontradictoryanswers: "Yesmadam--nomy lady--I beg pardonIdid nothear."

"Youneed not blushmy loveand still less need you look sopale andfrightened" said Lady Ashtoncoming forward; "we knowthatmaiden's ears must be slow in receiving a gentleman'slanguage;but you must remember Mr. Hayston speaks on a subjecton whichyou have long since agreed to give him a favourablehearing. You know how much your father and I have our hearts setupon anevent so extremely desirable."

In LadyAshton's voicea tone of impressiveand even sterninnuendowas  sedulously and skilfully concealed under anappearanceof the most affectionate maternal tenderness.  Themanner wasfor Bucklawwho was easily enough imposed upon; thematter ofthe exhortation was for the terrified Lucywho wellknew howto interpret her mother's hintshowever skilfully theirrealpurport might be veiled from general observation.

MissAshton sat upright in her chaircast round her a glance inwhich fearwas mingled with a still wilder expressionbutremainedperfectly silent.  Bucklawwho had in the mean timepaced theroom to and frountil he had recovered his composurenowstopped within two or three yards of her chairand broke outasfollows: "I believe I have been a d--d foolMiss Ashton; Ihave triedto speak to you as people tell me young ladies like tobe talkedtoand I don't think you comprehend what I have beensaying;and no wonderfor d--n me if I understand it myself!Buthoweveronce for alland in broad Scotchyour father andmotherlike what is proposedand if you can take a plain youngfellow foryour husbandwho will never cross you in anything youhave amind toI will place you at the head of the bestestablishmentin the three Lothians; you shall have LadyGirnington'slodging in the Canongate of Edinburghgo where youpleasedowhat you pleaseand see what you please--and that'sfair. Only I must have a corner at the board-end for a worthlessoldplayfellow of minewhose company I would rather want thanhaveifit were not that the d--d fellow has persuaded me that Ican't dowithout him; and so I hope you won't except againstCraigiealthough it might be easy to find much better company."

"Nowout upon youBucklaw" said Lady Ashtonagaininterposing;"how can you think Lucy can have any objection tothatblunthonestgood-natured creatureCaptain Craigengelt?"

"Whymadam" replied Bucklaw"as to Craigie's sincerityhonestyand good-naturethey areI believepretty much upon apar; butthat's neither here nor there--the fellow knows my waysand hasgot useful to meand I cannot well do without himas Isaidbefore.  But all this is nothing to the purpose; for since Ihavemustered up courage to make a plain proposalI would fainhear MissAshtonfrom her own lipsgive me a plain answer."

"Mydear Bucklaw" said Lady Ashton"let me spare Lucy'sbashfulness. I tell youin her presencethat she has alreadyconsentedto be guided by her father and me in this matter.Lucymylove" she addedwith that singular combination ofsuavity oftone and pointed energy which we have already noticed--"Lucymy dearest love! speak for yourselfis it not as I say?"

Her victimanswered in a tremulous and hollow voice: "I HAVEpromisedto obey you--but upon one condition."

"Shemeans" said Lady Ashtonturning to Bucklaw"she expectsan answerto the demand which she has made upon the man atViennaorRatisbonor Paris--or where is he?--forrestitutionof the engagement in which he had the art to involveher. You will notI am suremy dear friendthink it is wrongthat sheshould feel much delicacy upon this head; indeeditconcernsus all."

"Perfetlyright--quite fair" said Bucklawhalf humminghalfspeakingthe end of the old song--

"Itis best to be off wi' the old loveBefore yoube on wi' the new.

But Ithought" said hepausing"you might have had an answersix timestold from Ravenswood.  D--n meif I have not a mind togo fetchone myselfif Miss Ashton will honour me with thecommission."

"Byno means" said Lady Ashton; "we have had the utmostdifficultyof preventing Douglasfor whom it would be moreproperfrom taking so rash a step; and do you think we couldpermityoumy good friendalmost equally dear to usto go to adesperateman upon an errand so desperate?  In factall thefriends ofthe family are of opinionand my dear Lucy herselfought soto thinkthatas this unworthy person has returned noanswer toher lettersilence must on thisas in other casesbe held togive consentand a contract must be supposed to begiven upwhen the party waives insisting upon it.  Sir Williamwho shouldknow bestis clear upon this subject; and thereforemy dearLucy----"

"Madam"said Lucywith unwonted energy"urge me no farther;if thisunhappy engagement be restoredI have already said youshalldispose of me as you will; till then I should commit aheavy sinin the sight of God and man in doing what yourequire.""Butmy loveif this man remains obstinately silent----"

"Hewill NOT be silent" answered Lucy; "it is six weeks sinceI sent hima double of my former letter by a sure hand."

"Youhave not--you could not--you durst not" said Lady Ashtonwithviolence inconsistent with the tone she had intended toassume;but instantly correcting herself"My dearest Lucy"said shein her sweetest tone of expostulation"how could youthink ofsuch a thing?"

"Nomatter" said Bucklaw; "I respect Miss Ashton for hersentimentsand I only wish I had been her messenger myself."

"Andpray how longMiss Ashton" said her motherironically"are we to wait the return of your Pacolet--yourfairymessenger--since our humble couriers of flesh and bloodcould notbe trusted in this matter?"

"Ihave numbered weeksdayshoursand minutes" said MissAshton;"within another week I shall have an answerunless he isdead. Till that timesir" she saidaddressing Bucklaw"letme be thusfar beholden to youthat you will beg my mother toforbear meupon this subject."

"Iwill make it my particular entreaty to Lady Ashton" saidBucklaw. "By my honourmadamI respect your feelings; andalthoughthe prosecution of this affair be rendered dearer to methan everyetas I am a gentlemanI would renounce itwere itso urgedas to give you a moment's pain."

"Mr.HaystonI thinkcannot comprehend that" said LadyAshtonlooking pale with anger"when the daughter's happinesslies inthe bosom of the mother.  Let me ask youMiss Ashtoninwhat termsyour last letter was couched?"

"Exactlyin the samemadam" answered Lucy"which you dictatedon aformer occasion."

"Wheneight days have elapsedthen" said her motherresumingher toneof tenderness"we shall hopemy dearest lovethat youwill endthis suspense."

"MissAshton must not be hurriedmadam" said Bucklawwhosebluntnessof feeling did not by any means arise from want ofgood-nature;"messengers may be stopped or delayed.  I haveknown aday's journey broke by the casting of a foreshoe.  Staylet me seemy calendar: the twentieth day from this is St.Jude'sand the day before I must be at Caverton Edgeto see thematchbetween the Laird of Kittlegirth's black mare and Johnstonthemeal-monger's four-year-old-colt; but I can ride all nightor Craigiecan bring me word how the match goes; and I hopeinthe meantimeas I shall not myself dstress Miss Ashton with anyfurtherimportunitythat your ladyship yourselfand SirWilliamand Colonel Douglas will have the goodness to allow heruninterruptedtime for making up her mind."

"Sir"said Miss Ashton"you are generous."

"Asfor thatmadam" answered Bucklaw"I only pretend to be aplaingood-humoured young fellwas I said beforewho willwillinglymake you happy if you will permit himand show him howto do so."Havingsaid thishe saluted her with more emotion than wasconsistentwith his usual train of feelingand took his leave;LadyAshtonas she accompanied him out of the apartmentassuringhim thta her daughter did full justice to the sincerityof hisattachmentand requesting him to see Sir William beforehisdeparture"since" as she saidwith a keen glancerevertingtowardsLucy"against St. Jude's daywe must all be ready toSIGN ANDSEAL."

"Tosign and seal!" echoed Lucyin a muttering toneas thedoor ofthe apartment closed--"to sign and seal--to do and die!"andclasping her extenuated hands togethershe sunk back ontheeasy-chair she occupiedin a state resembling stupor.

From thisshe was shortly after awakened by the boisterous entryof herbrother Henrywho clamorously reminded her of a promiseto givehim two yards of carnation ribbon to make knots to hisnewgarters.  With the most patient composure Lucy aroseandopening alittle ivory cabinetsought out the ribbon the ladwanedmeasured it accuratelycut it off into proper lengthsandknotted it into the fashion his boyish whim required.

"Dinnashut the cabinet yet" said Henry"for I must have someof yoursilver wire to fasten the bells to my hawk'sjesses--andyet the new falcon's not worth them neither; for doyou knowafter all the plague we had to get her frm an eyrieall theway at Possoin Mannor Watershe's going to proveafter allnothing better than a rifler: she just wets hersingles inthe blood of the partridgeand then breaks awayandlets herfly; and what good can the poor bird do after thatyouknowexcept pine and die in the first heather-cow or whin-bushshe cancrawl into?"

"RightHenry--right--very right" said Luchmournfullyholdingthe boy fast by the handafter she had given him thewire hewanted; "but there are more riflers in the world thanyourfalconand more wounded birds that seek but to die inquietthat can find neither brake nor whin-bush to hide theirhead in."

"Ah!that's some speech out of your romances" said the boy;"andSholto says they have turned your head.  But I hear Normanwhistlingto the hawk; I must go fasten on the jesses."

And hescampered away with the thoughtless gaiety ofboyhoodleaving his sister to the bitterness of her ownreflections.

"Itis decreed" she said"that every living creatureeventhose whoowe me most kindnessare to shun meand leave me tothose bywhom I am beset.  It is just it should be thus.  AloneanduncounselledI involved myself in these perils; alone anduncounselledI must extricate myself or die."

 

CHAPTERXXX.

Whatdoth ensueButmoody and dull melancholyKinsmanto grim and comfortless despairAnd ather heela huge infectious troopOf paledistemperaturesand foes to life?

Comedyof Errors.

 

AS somevindication of the ease with which Bucklaw (whootherwiseas he termed himselfwas really a very good-humouredfellow)resigned his judgment to the management of Lady Ashtonwhilepaying his addresses to her daughterthe reader must callto mindthe strict domestic discipline whichat this periodwasexercisedover the females of a Scottish family.

Themanners of the country in thisas in many otherrespectscoincided with those of France before the Revolution.Youngwomen of the higher rank seldom mingled in society untilaftermarriageandboth in law and factwere held to be underthe stricttutelage of their parentswho were too apt to enforcethe viewsfor their settlement in life without paying any regardto theinclination of the parties chiefly interested.  On suchoccasionsthe suitor expected little more from his bride than asilentacquiescence in the will of her parents; and as fewopportunitiesof acquaintancefar less of intimacyoccurredhemade hischoice by the outsideas the lovers in the Merchant ofVeniceselect the casketcontented to trust to chance the issueof thelottery in which he had hazarded a venture.

It was nottherefore surprisingsuch being the general mannersof theagethat Mr. Hayston of Bucklawwhom dissipated habitshaddetached in some degree from the best societyshould notattendparticularly to those feelings in his elected bride towhich manymen of more sentimentexperienceand reflectionwouldinall probabilityhave been equally indifferent.  Heknew whatall accounted the principal pointthat her parents andfriendsnamelywere decidedly in his favourand that thereexistedmost powerful reasons for their predilection.

In truththe conduct of the Marquis of A----sinceRavenswood'sdeparturehad been such as almost to bar thepossibilityof his kinsman's union with Lucy Ashton.  The MarquiswasRavenswood's sincere but misjudging friend; or ratherlikemanyfriends and patronshe consulted what he considered to behisrelation's true interestalthough he knew that in doing sohe runcounter to his inclinations.

TheMarquis drove onthereforewith the plentitude ofministerialauthorityan appeal to the British House of Peersagainstthose judgments of the courts of law by which Sir Williambecamepossessed of Ravenswood's hereditary property.  As thismeasureenforced with all the authority of powerwas new inScottishjudicial proceedingsthough now so frequently resortedtoit wasexclaimed against by the lawyers on the opposite sideofpoliticsas an interference with the civil judicature of thecountryequally newarbitraryand tyrannical.  And if it thusaffectedeven strangers connected with them only by politicalpartyitmay be guessed what the Ashton family themselves saidandthought under so gross a dispensation.  Sir Williamstillmoreworldly-minded than he was timidwas reduced to despair bythe lossby which he was threatened.  His son's haughtier spiritwasexalted into rage at the idea of being deprived of hisexpectedpatrimony.  But to Lady Ashton's yet more vindictivetemper theconduct of Ravenswoodor rather of his patronappearedto be an offence challenging the deepest and mostimmortalrevenge.  Even the quiet and confiding temper of Lucyherselfswayed by the opinions expressed by all around hercould notbut consider the conduct of Ravenswood as precipitateand evenunkind.  "It was my father" she repeated with a sigh"whowelcomed him to this placeand encouragedor at leastallowedthe intimacy between us.  Should he not have rememberedthisandrequited it with at least some moderate degree ofprocrastinationin the assertion of his own alleged rights?  Iwould haveforfeited for him double the value of these landswhich hepursues with an ardour that shows he has forgotten howmuch I amimplicated in the matter."

Lucyhowevercould only murmur these things to herselfunwillingto increase the prejudices against her loverentertainedby all around herwho exclaimed against the stepspursued onhis account as illegalvexatiousand tyrannicalresemblingthe worst measures in the worst times of the worstStuartsand a degradation of Scotlandthe decisions of whoselearnedjudges were thus subjected to the review of a courtcomposedindeed of men of the highest rankand who were nottrained tothe study of any municipal lawand might be supposedspeciallyto hold in contempt that of Scotland.  As a naturalconsequenceof the alleged injustice meditated towards herfatherevery means was restored toand every argument urged toinduceMiss Ashton to break off her engagement with Ravenswoodas beingscandalousshamefuland sinfulformed with the mortalenemy ofher familyand calculated to add bitterness to thedistressof her parents.

Lucy'sspirithoweverwas highandalthough unaided andaloneshecould have borne much: she could have endured therepiningsof her father; his murmurs against what he called thetyrannicalusage of the ruling party; his ceaseless charges ofingratitudeagainst Ravenswood; his endless lectures on thevariousmeans by which contracts may be voided an annulled; hisquotationsfrom the civilmunicipaland the canon law; and hisprelectionsupon the patria potestas.

She mighthave borne also in patienceor repelled with scornthe bittertaunts and occasional violence of her brotherColonelDouglas Ashtonand the impertinent and intrusiveinterferenceof other friends and relations.  But it was beyondher powereffectually to withstand or elude the constant andunceasingpersecution of Lady Ashtonwholaying every otherwishasidehad bent the whol efforts of her powerful mind tobreak herdaughter's contract with Ravenswoodand to place aperpetualbar between the loversby effecting Lucy's union withBucklaw. Far more deeply skilled than her husband in therecessesof the human heartshe was aware that in this way shemightstrike a blow of deep and decisive vengeance upon one whomsheesteemed as her mortal enemy; nor did she hestitate atraisingher armalthough she knew that the wound must be dealtthroughthe bosom of her daughter.  With this stern and fixedpurposeshe sounded every deep and shallow of her daughter'ssoulassumed alternately every disguise of manner which couldserve herobjectand prepared at leisure every species of diremachineryby which the human mind can be wrenched from itssettleddetermination.  Some of these were of an obviousdescriptionand require only to be cursorilymentioned;others were characteristic of the timethe countryand thepersons engaged in this singular drama.

It was ofthe last consequence that all intercourse betwixt theloversshould be stoppedandby dint of gold and authorityLadyAshton contrived to possess herself of such a completecommand ofall who were placed around her daughterthatiffactnoleaguered fortress was ever more completely blockaded;whileatthe same timeto all outward appearance Miss Ashtonlay underno restriction.  The verge of her parents' domainsbecameinrespect to herlike the viewless and enchanted linedrawnaround a fairy castlewhere nothing unpermitted can eitherenter fromwithout or escape from within.  Thus every letterinwhichRavenswood conveyed to Lucy Ashton the indispensablereasonswhich detained him abroadand more than one note whichpoor Lucyhad addressed to him through what she thought a securechannelfell into the hands of her mother.  It could not be butthat thetenor of these intercepted lettersespecially those ofRavenswoodshould contain something to irritate the passions andfortifythe obstinacy of her into whose hands they fell; but LadyAshton'spassions were too deep-rooted to require this freshfood. She burnt the papers as regularly as she perused them; andas theyconsumed into vapour and tinderregarded them with asmile uponher compressed lipsand an exultation in her steadyeyewhichshowed her confidence that the hopes of the writersshouldsoon be rendered equally unsubstantial.

It usuallyhappens that fortune aids the machinations of thosewho areprompt to avail themselves of every chance that offers.A reportwas wafted from the continentfoundedlike others ofthe samesortupon many plausible circumstancesbut without anyrealbasisstating the Master of Ravenswood to be on the eve ofmarriagewith a foreign lady of fortune anddistinction. This was greedily caught up by both the politicalpartieswho were at once struggling for power and for popularfavourand who seizedas usualupon the most privatecircumstancesin the lives of each other's partisans t convertthem intosubjects of political discussion.

TheMarquis of A---- gave his opinion aloud and publiclynotindeed inthe coarse terms ascribed to him by CaptainCraigengeltbut in a manner sufficiently offensive to theAshtons. "He thought the report" he said"highly probablyandheartilywished it might be true.  Such a match was fitter andfar morecreditable for a spirited young fellow than a marriagewith thedaughter of an old Whig lawyerwhose chicanery had sonearlyruined his father."

The otherpartyof courselaying out of view theoppositionwhich the Master of Ravenswood received from MissAshton'sfamilycried shame upon his fickleness and perfidyasif he hadseduced the young lady into an engagementand wilfullyandcauselessly abandoned her for another.

Sufficientcare was taken that this report should find its waytoRavenswood Castle through every various channelLady Ashtonbeing wellaware that the very reiteration of the same rumourfrom somany quarterscould not but give it a semblance oftruth. By some it was told as a piece of ordinary newsby somecommunicatedas serious intelligence; now it was whispered toLucyAshton's ear in the tone of malignant pleasantryand nowtransmittedto her as a matter of grave and serious warning.

Even theboy henry was made the instrument of adding to hissister'storments.  One morning he rushed into the room with awillowbranch in his handwhich he told her had arrived thatinstantfrom Germany for her special wearing.  Lucyas we haveseenwasremarkably fond of her younger brotherand at thatmoment hiswanton and thoughtless unkindness seemed more keenlyinjuriousthan even the studied insults of her elder brother.Her griefhoweverhad no shade of resentment; she folded herarms aboutthe boy's neckand saying faintly"Poor Henry! youspeak butwhat they tell you" she burst into a flood ofunrestrainedtears.  The boy was movednotwithstanding thethoughtlessnessof his age and character.  "The devil take me"said he"Lucyif I fetch you any more of these tormentingmessagesagain; for I like you better" said hekissing away thetears"than the whole pack of them; and you shall have my greypony toride onand you shall canter him if you like--ayandridebeyond the villagetooif you have a mind."

"Whotold you" said Lucy"that I am not permitted to ridewhere Iplease?"

"That'sa secret" said the boy; "but you will find you cannever ridebeyond the village but your horse will cast a sheorfall lameor the catle bell will ringor something will happento bringyou back.  But if I tell you more of these thingsDouglaswill nto get me the pair of colours they have promisedmeand sogood-morrow to you."

Thisdialogue plunged Lucy in still deeper dejectionas ittended toshow her plainly what she had for some time suspectedthat shewas little better than a prisoner at large in herfather'shouse.  We have described her in the outsdet of ourstory asof a romantic dispositiondelighting in tales of loveandwonderand readily identifying herself with the situation ofthoselegendary heroines with whose adventuresfor want ofbetterreadingher memory had become stocked.   The fairy wandwith whichin her solitude she had delighted to raise visions ofenchantmentbecame now the rod of a magicianthe bond slave pofevilgeniiserving only to invoke spectres at which the exorcisttrembled. She felt herself the object of suspicionof scornofdislike atleastif not of hatredto her own family; and itseemed toher that she was abandoned by the very person on whoseaccountshe was exposed to the enmity of all around her.  Indeedtheevidence of Ravenswood's infidelity began to assume every daya moredetermined character.  A soldier of fortuneof the nameofWestenhoan old familiar of Craigengelt'schanced to arrivefromabroad about this time.  The worthy Captianthough withoutanyprecise communication with Lady Ashtonalways acted mostregularlyand sedulously in support of her plansand easilyprevailedupon his friendby dint of exaggeration of realcircumstancesandcoining ofothersto give explicit testimony to the truth ofRavenswood'sapproaching marriage.

Thus beseton all handsand in a manner reduced to despairLucy'stemper gave way under the pressure of constant afflictionandpersecution.  She became gloomy and abstractedandcontraryto her natural and ordinary habit of mindsometimesturnedwith spiritand even fiercenesson those by whom she waslong andclosely annoyed.  Her health also began to be shakenand herhectic cheek and wandering eye gave symptoms of what iscalled afever upon the spirits.  In most mothers this would havemovedcompassion; but Lady Ashtoncompact and firm of purposesaw thesewaverings of health and intellect with no greatersympathythan that with which the hostile engineer regards thetowers ofa beleaguered city as they reel under the discharge ofhisartillery; or rathershe considered these starts andinequalitiesof temper as symptoms of Lucy's expiring resolution;as theanglerby the throes and convulsive exertions of the fishwhich hehas hookedbecomes aware that he soon will be able toland him. To accelerate the catastrophe in the present caseLadyAshton had recourse to an expedient very consistent with thetemper andcredulity of those timesbut which the reader willprobablypronounce truly detestable and diabolical.

 

CHAPTERXXXI.

Inwhich a witch did dwellin loathly weedsAndwilful wantall careless of her deeds;Sochoosing solitary to abideFarfrom all neighboursthat her devilish deedsAndhellish arts from people she might hideAndhurt far offunknownwhome'er she envied.

FaerieQueene.

 

THE healthof Lucy Ashton soon required the assistance of apersonmore skilful in the office of a sick-nurse than the femaledomesticsof the family.  Ailsie Gourlaysometimes called theWise Womanof Bowdenwas the person whomfor her own strongreasonsLady Ashton selected as an attendant upon her daughter.

This womanhad acquired a considerable reputation among theignorantby the pretended cures which she performedespeciallyin"oncomes" as the Scotch call themor mysterious diseaseswhichbaffle the regular physician.  Her pharmacopoeia consistedpartly ofherbs selected in planetary hourspartly of wordssignsandcharmswhich sometimesperhapsproduced afavourableinfluence upon the imagination of her patients.  Suchwas theavowed profession of Luckie Gourlaywhichas may wellbesupposedwas looked upon with a suspicious eyenot only byherneighboursbut even by the clergy of the district.  Inprivatehowevershe traded more deeply in the occult sciences;fornotwithstanding the dreadful punishments inflicted upon thesupposedcrime of witchcraftthere wanted not those whosteeledby wantand bitterness of spiritwere willing to adopt thehatefuland dangerous characterfor the sake of the influencewhich itsterrors enabled them to exercise in the vicinityandthewretched emolument which they could extract by the practiceof theirsupposed art.

AilsieGourlay was not indeed fool enough to acknowledge acompactwith the Evil Onewhich would have been a swift andready roadto the stake and tar-barrel.  Her fairyshe saidlikeCaliban'swas a harmless fairy.  Neverthelessshe "spaedfortunes"read dreamscomposed philtresdiscovered stolengoodsandmade and dissolved matches as successfully as ifaccordingto the belief of the whole neighbourhoodshe had beenaided inthose arts by Beelzebub himself.  The worst of thepretendersto these sciences wasthat they were generallypersonswhofeeling themselves odious to humanitywere carelessof whatthey did to deserve the public hatred.  Real crimes wereoftencommitted under pretence of magical imposture; and itsomewhatrelieves the disgust with which we readin the criminalrecordsthe conviction of these wretchesto be aware that manyof themmeritedas poisonerssubornersand diabolical agentsin secretdomestic crimesthe severe fate to which they werecondemnedfor the imaginary guilt of witchcraft.

Such wasAislie Gourlaywhomin order to attain the absolutesubjugationof Lucy Ashton's mindher mother thought it fittingto placenear her person.  A woman of less consequence than LadyAshton hadnot dared to take such a step; but her high rank andstrengthof character set her above the censure of the worldandshe wasallowed to have seleced for her daughter's attendant thebest andmost experienced sick-nurse and"mediciner"in the neighbourhoodwhere an inferior person wouldhavefallen under the reproach of calling in the assistance of apartnerand ally of the great Enemy of mankind.

The beldamcaught her cue readily and by innuendowithoutgivingLady Ashton the pain of distinct explanation.  She was inmanyrespects qualified for the part she playedwhich indeedcould notbe efficiently assumed without some knowledge of thehumanheart and passions.  Dame Gourlay perceived that Lucyshudderedat her external appearancewhich we have alreadydescribedwhen we found her in the death-chamber of blind Alice;and whileinternally she hated the poor girl for the involuntaryhorrorwith which she saw she was regardedshe commenced heroperationsby endeavouring to efface or overcome those prejudiceswhichinher heartshe resented as mortal offences.  This waseasilydonefor the hag's external ugliness was soon balanced bya show ofkindness and interestto which Lucy had of late beenlittleaccustomed; her attentive services and real skill gainedher theearif not the confidenceof her patient; and underpretenceof diverting the solitude of a sick-roomshe soon ledherattention captive by the legends in which she was wellskilledand to which Lucy's habit of reading and reflectioninducedher to "lend an attentive ear."  Dame Gourlay's taleswere atfirst of a mild andinterestingcharacter--

Of faysthat nightly dance upon the woldAndlovers doom'd to wander and to weepAndcastles highwhere wicked wizards keepTheircaptive thralls.

Graduallyhoweverthey assumed a darker and moremysteriouscharacterand became such astold by the midnightlampandenforced by the tremulous tonethe quivering and lividliptheuplifted skinny forefingerand the shaking head of theblue-eyedhagmight have appalled a less credulous imaginationin an agemore hard of belief.  The old Sycorax saw heradvantageand gradually narrowed her magic circle around thedevotedvictim on whose spirit she practised.  Her legends beganto relateto the fortunes of the Ravenswood familywhose ancientgrandeurand portentous authority credulity had graced with somanysuperstitious attributes.  The story of the fatal fountainwasnarrated at full lengthand with formidable additionsbytheancient sibyl.  The prophecyquoted by Calebconcerning thedead bridewho was to be won by the last of the Ravenswoodshadits ownmysterious commentary; and the singular circumstance oftheapparition seen by the Master of Ravenswood in the foresthavingpartly transpired through his hasty inquiries in thecottage ofOld Aliceformed a theme for many exaggerations.

Lucy mighthave despised these tales if they had been relatedconcerninganother familyor if her own situation had been lessdespondent. But circumstanced as she wasthe idea that an evilfate hungover her attachment became predominant over her otherfeelings;and the gloom of superstition darkened a mind alreadysufficientlyweakned by sorrowdistressuncertaintyand anoppressivesense of desertion and desolation.  Stories were toldby herattendant so closely resembling her own in theircircumstancesthat she was gradually led to converse upon suchtragic andmystical subjects with the beldamand to repose asort ofconfidence in the sibylwhom she still regarded withinvoluntaryshuddering.  Dame Gourlay knew how to avail herselfof thisimperfect confidence.  She directed Lucy's thoughts tothe meansof inquiring into futurity--the surest mode perhapsofshakingthe understanding and destroying the spirits.  Omens wereexpoundeddreams were interpretedand other tricks of juggleryperhapsresorted toby which the pretended adepts of the perioddeceivedand fascinated their deluded followers.  I find itmentionedin the articles of dittay against Ailsie Gourlay--forit is somecomfort to know that the old hag was triedcondemnedand burnedon the top of North Berwick Lawby sentence of acommissionfrom the privy council--I findI sayit was chargedagainstheramong other offencesthat she hadby the aid anddelusionsof Satanshown to a young person of qualityin amirrorglassa gentleman then abroadto whom the said youngperson wasbetrothedand who appeared in the vision to be in theact ofbestowing his hand upon another lady.  But this and someotherparts of the record appear to have been studiously leftimperfectin names and datesprobably out of regard to thehonour ofthe families concerned.  If Dame Gourlay was ableactuallyto play off such a piece of juggleryit is clear shemust havehad better assistance to practise thedeceptionthan her own skill or funds could supply.  Meanwhilethismysterious visionary traffic had its usual effect inunsettlingMiss Ashton's mind.  Her temper became unequalherhealthdecayed dailyher manners grew mopingmelancholyanduncertain. her fatherguessing partly at the cause of theseappearancesmade a point of banishing Dame Gourlay from thecastle;but the arrow was shotand was rankling barb-deep in theside ofthe wounded deer.

It wasshortly after the departure of this womanthat LucyAshtonurged by her parentsannounced to themwith a vivacityby whichthey were startled"That she was concious heaven andearth andhell had set themselves against her union withRavenswood;still her contract" she said"was a bindingcontractand she neither would nor could resign it without theconsent ofRavenswood.  Let me be assured" she concluded"thathe willfree me from my engagementand dispose of me as youpleaseIcare not how.  When the diamonds are gonewhatsignifiesthe casket?"

The toneof obstinacy with which this was saidher eyesflashingtwith unnatural lightand her hands firmly clenchedprecludedthe possibility of dispute; and the utmost length whichLadyAshton's art could attainonly got her the privilege ofdictatingthe letterby which her daughter required to know ofRavenswoodwhether he intended to abide by or to surrender whatshe termed"their unfortuante engagement."  Of this advantageLadyAshton so far and so ingeniously availed herself thataccordingto the wording of the letterthe reader would havesupposedLucy was calling upon her lover to renounce a contractwhich wascontrary to the interests and inclinations of both.Nottrusting even to this point of deceptionLady Ashton finallydeterminedto suppress the letter altogetherin hopes thatLucy'simpatience would induce her to condemn Ravenswood unheardand inabsence.  In this she was disappointed.  The timeindeedhad longelapsed when an answer should have been received fromthecontinent.  The faint ray of hope which still glimmered inLucy'smind was well nigh extinguished.  But the idea neverforsookher that her letter might not have been duly forwarded.One of hermother's new machinations unexpectedly furnished herwith themeans of ascertaining what she most desired to know.

The femaleagent of hell having been dismissed from the castleLadyAshtonwho wrought by all variety of meansresolvedto employfor working the same end on Lucy's mindanagent of avery different character.  This was no other than theReverentMr. Bide-the-Benta presbyterian clergymanformerlymentionedof the very strictest order and the most rigidorthodoxywhose aid she called inupon the principle of thetyrant inthe tragedy:

I'll havea priest shall preach her from her faithAnd makeit sin not to renounce that vowWhich I'dhave broken.

But LadyAshton was mistaken in the agent she had selected.  Hisprejudicesindeedwere easily enlisted on her sideand it wasnodifficult matter to make him regard with horror the prospectof a unionbetwixt the daughter of a God-fearingprofessingandPresbyterianfamily of distinction and the heir of a bloodthirstyprelatistand persecutorthe hands of whose fathers had beendyed tothe wrists in the blood of God's saints.  This resembledin thedivine's opinionthe union of a Moabitish stranger with adaughterof Zion.  But with all the more severe prejudices andprinciplesof his sectBide-the-Bent possessed a sound judgmentand hadlearnt sympathy even in that very school of presecutionwhere theheart is so frequently hardened.  In a privateinterviewwith Miss Ashtonhe was deeply moved by her distressand couldnot but admit the justice of her request to bepermitteda direct communication with Ravenswood upon the subjectof theirsolemn contract.  When she urged to him the greatuncertaintyunder which she laboured whether her letter had beeneverforwardedthe old man paced the room with long stepsshookhis greyheadrested repeatedly for a space on his ivory-headedstaffandafter much hesitationconfessed that he thought herdoubts soreasonable that he would himself aid in the removal ofthem.

"Icannot but opineMiss Lucy" he said"that yourworshipfullady mother hath in this matter an eagerness whilkalthoughit ariseth doubtless from love to your best interestshere andhereafterfor the man is of persecuting bloodandhimself apersecutora Cavalier or Malignantand a scofferwhohath noinheritance in Jesse; neverthelesswe are commanded todo justiceunto alland to fulfil our bond and covenantas wellto thestranger as to him who is in brotherhood with us.Whereforemyselfeven I myselfwill be aiding unto the deliveryof yourletter to the man Edgar Ravenswoodtrusting that theissuetherof may be your deliverance from the nets in which hehathsinfully engaged you.  And that I may do in this neithermore norless than hath been warranted by your honourableparentsIpray you to transcribewithout increment orsubtractionthe letter formerly expeded under the dictation ofyour righthonourable mother; and I shall put it into such surecourse ofbeing deliveredthat ifhonourable young madamyoushallreceive no answerit will be necessary that you concludethat theman meaneth in silence to abandon that naughtycontractwhichperadventurehe may be  unwilling directly torestore."

Lucyeagerly embraced the expedient of the worthy divine.  A newletter waswritten in the precise terms of the formerandconsignedby Mr. Bide-the-Bent to the charge of SaundersMoonshinea zealous elder of the church when on shoreand whenon boardhis brig as bold a smuggler as ever ran out a slidingbowspritto the winds that blow betwixt Campvere and the eastcoast ofScotland.  At the recommendation of his pastorSaundersreadilyundertook that the letter should be securely conveyed tothe Masterof Ravenswood at the court where he now resided.

Thisretrospect became necessary to explain the conferencebetwixtMiss Ashtonher motherand Bucklaw which we havedetailedin a preceding chapter.

Lucy wasnow like the sailor whowhile drifting through atempestuousoceanclings for safety to a single plankhispowers ofgrasping it becoming every moment more feebleand thedeepdarkness of the night only checkered by the flashes oflightninghissing as they show the white tops of the billowsinwhich heis soon to be engulfed.

Week creptaway after weekand day after day.  St. Jude's dayarrivedthe last and protracted term to which Lucy had limitedherselfand there was neither letter nor news ofRavenswood.

 

CHAPTERXXXII.

Howfair these nameshow much unlike they lookTo allthe blurr'd subscriptions in my book!Thebridegroom's letters stand in row aboveTaperingyet straightlike pine-trees in his grove;Whilefree and fine the bride's appear belowAslight and slender as her jessamines grow.

CRABBE.

 

ST. JUDE'sday camethe term assigned by Lucy herself as thefurthestdate of expectationandas we have already saidthere wereneither letters from nor news of Ravenswood.  Butthere werenews of Bucklawand of his trusty associateCraigengeltwho arrived early in the morning for the completionof theproposed espousalsand for signing the necessary deeds.

These hadbeen carefully prepared under the revisal of SirWilliamAshton himselfit having been resolvedon account ofthe stateof Miss Ashton's healthas it was saidthat nonesave theparties immediately interested should be present whentheparchments were subscribed.  It was further determined thatthemarriage should be solemnised upon the fourth day aftersigningthe articlesa masure adopted by Lady Ashtonin orderthat Lucymight have as little time as possible to recede orrelapseinto intractability.  There was no appearancehoweverof herdoing either.  She heard the proposed arrangement with thecalmindifference of despairor rather with an apathy arisingfrom theoppressed and stupified state of her feelings.  To aneye sounobserving as that of Bucklawher demeanour had littlemore ofreluctance than might suit the character of a bashfulyoungladywhohoweverhe could not disguise from himselfwascomplyingwith the choice of her friends rather than exercisinganypersonal predilection in his favour.

When themorning compliment of the bridegroom had been paidMissAshton was left for some time to herself; her motherremarkingthat the deeds must be signed before the hour of noonin orderthat the marriage might be happy.  Lucy suffered herselfto beattired for the occasion as the taste of her attendantssuggestedand was of course splendidly arrayed.  Her dress wascomposedof white satin and Brussels laceand her hair arrangedwith aprofusion of jewelswhose lustre made a strange contrastto thedeadly paleness of her complexionand to the troublewhichdwelt in her unsettled eye.

Hertoilette was hardly finished ere Henry appearedto conductthepassive bride to the state apartmentwhere all was preparedforsigning the contract.  "Do you knowsister" he said"I amglad youare to have Bucklaw after allinstead of Ravenswoodwho lookedlike a Spanish grandee come to cute our throats andtrampleour bodies under foot.  And I am glad the broad seas arebetween usthis dayfor I shall never forget how frightened Iwas when Itook him for the picture of old Sir Malise walked outof thecanvas.  Tell me trueare you not glad to be fairly shotof him?"

"Askme no questionsdear Henry" said his unfortunate sister;"thereis little more can happen to make me either glad or sorryin thisworld."

"Andthat's what all young brides say" said Henry; "and so donot becast downLucyfor you'll tell another tale atwelvemonthhence; and I am to be bride's-manand ride beforeyou to thekirk; and all our kithkinand alliesand allBucklaw'sare to be mounted and in order; and I am to have ascarletlaced coatand a feathered hatand a swordbeltdoubleborderedwith goldand point d'Espagneand a dagger insteadof asword; and I should like a sword much betterbut my fatherwon't hearof it.  All my thingsand a hundred besidesare tocome outfrom Edinburgh to-night with old Gilbert and the sumptermules; andI will bring them and show them to you the instanttheycome."

The boy'schatter was here interrupted by the arrival of LadyAshtonsomewhat alarmed at her daughter's stay.  With one of hersweetestsmilesshe took Lucy's arm under her own.

There wereonly presentSir William Ashton and Colonel DouglasAshtonthe last in full regimentals; Bucklawin bridegroomtrim;Craigengeltfreshly equipt from top to toe by the bountyof hispatronand bedizened with as much lace as might havebecome thedress of the Copper Captain; together with the Rev.Mr.Bide-the-Bent; the presence of a minister beingin strictPresbyterianfamiliesan indispensable requisite upon alloccasionsof unusual solemnity.

Wines andrefreshments were placed on a tableon which thewritingswere displayedready for signature.

But beforeproceeding either to business or refreshmentMr.Bide-the-Bentat a signal from Sir William Ashtoninvited thecompany tojoin him in a short extemporary prayerin which heimplored ablessing upon the contract now to be solemnisedbetweenthe honourable parties then present.  With the simplicityof histimes and professionwhich permitted strong personalallusionshe petitioned that the wounded mind of one of thesenobleparties might be healedin reward of her compliance withthe adviceof her right honourable parents; and thatas she hadprovedherself a child after God's commandmentby honouring herfather andmothershe and hers might enjoy the promisedblessing--lengthof days in the land hereand a happy portionhereafterin a better country.  He prayed fartherthat thebridegroommight be weaned from those follies which seduced youthfrom thepath of knowledge; that he might cease to take delightin vainand unprofitable companyscoffersriotersand thosewho sitlate at the wine (here Bucklaw winked at Craigengelt)and ceasefrom the society that causeth to err.  A suitablesupplicationin behalf of Sir William and Lady Ashton and theirfamilyconcluded this religious addresswhich thus embracedeveryindividual present excepting Craigengeltwhom the worthydivineprobably considered as past all hopes of grace.

Thebusiness of the day now went forward:  Sir William Ashtonsigned thecontract with legal solemnity and precision; his sonwithmilitary nonchalance; and Bucklawhavingsubscribedas rapidly as Craigengelt could manage to turn theleavesconcluded by wiping his pen on that worthy's new lacedcravat. It was now Miss Ashton's turn to sign the writingsandshe wasguided by her watchful mother to the table for thatpurpose. At her first attemptshe began to write with a drypenandwhen the circumstance was pointed outseemed unableafterseveral attemptsto dip it in the massive silver ink-standishwhich stood full before her.  Lady Ashton's vigilancehastenedto supply the deficiency.  I have myself seen the fataldeedandin the distinct characters in which the name of LucyAshton istraced on each page there is only a very slighttremulousirregularityindicative of her state of mind at the time of thesubscription. But the last signature is incompletedefacedandblotted;forwhile her hand was employed in tracing itthehastytramp of a horse was heard at the gatesucceeded by a stepin theouter galleryand a voice whichin a commanding tonebore downthe opposition of the menials.  The pen dropped fromLucy'sfingersas she exclaimed with a faint shriek: "He iscome--heis come!"

 

CHAPTERXXXIII.

This byhis tongue should be a Montague!Fetchme my rapierboy;Nowbythe faith and honour of my kinTostrike him dead I hold it not a sin.

Romeoand Juliet.

 

HARDLY hadMiss Ashton dropped the penwhen the door of theapartmentflew openand the Master of Ravenswood entered theapartment.

Lockhardand another domesticwho had in vain attempted tooppose hispassage through the gallery or antechamberwere seenstandingon the threshold transfixed with surprisewhich wasinstantlycommunicated to the whole party in the staterroom.That ofColonel Douglas Ashton was mingled with resentment; thatof Bucklawwith haughty and affected indifference; the restevenLadyAshton herselfshowed signs of fear; and Lucy seemedstiffenedto stone by this unexpected apparition.  Apparition itmight wellbe termedfor Ravenswood had more the appearance ofonereturned from the dead than of a living visitor.

He plantedhimself full in the middle of the apartmentoppositeto thetable at which Lucy was seatedon whomas if she hadbeen alonein the chamberhe bent his eyes with a mingledexpressionof deep grief and deliberate indignation.  His dark-colouredriding cloakdisplaced from one shoulderhung aroundone sideof his person in the ample folds of the Spanish mantle.The restof his rich dress was travel-soiledandderangedby hard riding.  He had a sword by his sideand pistolsin hisbelt.  His slouched hatwhich he had not removed atentrancegave an additional gloom to his dark featureswhichwasted bysorrow and marked by the ghastly look communicated bylongillnessadded to a countenance naturally somewhat stern andwild afierce and even savage expression.  The matted anddishevelledlocks of hair which escaped from under his hattogetherwith his fixed and unmoved posturemade his head moreresemblethat of a marble bust than that of a living man.  Hesaid not asingle wordand there was a deep silence in thecompanyfor more than two minutes.

It wasbroken by Lady Ashtonwho in that space partly recoveredhernatural audacity.  She demanded to know the cause of thisunauthorisedintrusion.

"Thatis a questionmadam" said her son"which I have thebest rightto ask; and I must request of the Master of Ravenswoodto followme where he can answer it at leisure."

Bucklawinterposedsaying"No man on earth should usurp hispreviousright in demanding an explanation from the Master.Craigengelt"he addedin an undertone"d--n yewhy do youstandstaring as if you saw a ghost? fetch me my sword from thegallery."

"Iwill relinquish to none" said Colonel Ashton"my right ofcalling toaccount the man who has offered this unparalleledaffront tomy family.""Bepatientgentlemen" said Ravenswoodturning sternlytowardsthemand waving his hand as if to impose silence ontheiraltercation.  "If you are as weary of your lives as I amI willfind time and place to pledge mine against one or both;atpresentI have no leisure for the disputes of triflers."

"Triflers!"echoed Colonel Ashtonhalf unsheathing his swordwhileBucklaw laid his hand on the hilt of that whichCraigengelthad just reached him.

SirWilliam Ashtonalarmed for his son's safetyrushed betweenthe youngmen and Ravenswoodexclaiming: "My sonI command you--BucklawI entreat you--keep the peacein the name of the Queenand of thelaw!"

"Inthe name of the law of God" said Bide-the-Bentadvancingalso with uplifted hands between Bucklawthe Coloneland theobject of their resentment--"in the name of Him whobroughtpeace on earth and good-will to mankindI implore--Ibeseech--Icommand you to forbear violence towards each other!God hateththe bloodthirsty man; he who striketh with the swordshallperish with the sword."

"Doyou take me for a dogsir" said Colonel Ashtonturningfiercelyupon him"or something more brutally stupidto endurethisinsult in my father's house?  Let me goBucklaw!  He shallaccount tomeorby HeavensI will stab him where he stands!"

"Youshall not touch him here" said Bucklaw; "he once gave memy lifeand were he the devil come to fly away with the wholehouse andgenerationhe shall have nothing but fair play."

Thepassions of the two young men thus counteracting each othergaveRavenswood leisure to exclaimin a stern and steady voice:"Silence!--lethim who really seeks danger take the fitting timewhen it isto be found; my mission here will be shortlyaccomplished. Is THAT your handwritingmadam?" he added in asoftertoneextending towards Miss Ashton her last letter.

Afaltering "Yes" seemed rather to escape from her lips thantobe utteredas a voluntary answer.

"Andis THIS also your handwriting?" extending towards her themutualengagement.

Lucyremained silent.  Terrorand a yet stronger and moreconfusedfeelingso utterly disturbed her understanding that sheprobablyscarcely comprehended the question that was put to her.

"Ifyou design" said Sir William Ashton"to found any legalclaim onthat papersirdo not expect to receive any answer toanextrajudicial question."

"SirWilliam Ashton" said Ravenswood"I pray youand all whohear methat you will not mistake my purpose.  If this youngladyofher own free willdesires the restoration of thiscontractas her letter would seem to implythere is not awitheredleaf which this autumn wind strews on the heath that ismorevalueless in my eyes.  But I must and will hear the truthfrom herown mouth; without this satisfaction I will not leavethisspot.  Murder me by numbers you possibly may; but I am anarmedman--I am a desperate manand I will nto die without amplevengeance. This is my resolutiontake it as you may.  I WILLhear herdetermination from her own mouth; from her own mouthaloneandwithout witnesseswill I hear it.  Nowchoose" hesaiddrawing his sword with the right handandwith the leftby thesame motion taking a pistol from his belt and cocking itbutturning the point of one weapon and the muzzle of the otherto theground--"choose if you will have this hall floated withbloodorif you will grant me the decisive interview with myaffiancedbride which the laws of God and the country alikeentitle meto demand."

Allrecoiled at the sound of his voice and the determined actionby whichit was accompanied; for the ecstasy of real desperationseldomfails to overpower the less energeticpassionsby which it may be opposed.  The clergyman was the firstto speak. "In the name of God" he said"receive an overture ofpeace fromthe meanest of His servants.  What this honourablepersondemandsalbeit it is urged with over violencehath yetin itsomething of reason.  Let him hear from Miss Lucy's ownlips thatshe hath dutifully acceded to the will of her parentsandrepenteth her of her covenant with him; and when he isassured ofthis he will depart in peace unto his own dwellingand cumberus no more.  Alas! the workings of the ancient Adamare strongeven in the regenerate; surely we should have long-sufferingwith those whobeing yet in the gall of bitterness andbond ofiniquityare swept forward by the uncontrollable currentof worldlypassion.  Letthenthe Master of Ravenswood have theinterviewon which he insisteth; it can but be as a passing pangto thishonourable maidensince her faith is now irrevocablypledged tothe choice of her parents.  Let itI saybe this: itbelongethto my functions to entreat your honours' compliancewith thisheadling overture."

"Never!"answered Lady Ashtonwhose rage had now overcome herfirstsurprise and terror--"never shall this man speak inprivatewith my daughterthe affianced bride of another!  passfrom thisroom who willI remain here.  I fear neither hisviolencenor his weaponsthough some" she saidglancing alooktowards Colonel Ashton"who bear my name appear more movedby them."

"ForGod's sakemadam" answered the worthy divine"add notfuel tofirebrands.  The Master of Ravenswood cannotI am sureobject toyour presencethe young lady's state of health beingconsideredand your maternal duty.  I myself will also tarry;peradventuremy grey hairs may turn away wrath."

"Youare welcome to do sosir" said Ravenswood; "and LadyAshton isalso welcome to remainif she shall think proper; butlet allothers depart."

"Ravenswood"said Colonel Ashtoncrossing him as he went out"youshall account for this ere long."

"Whenyou please" replied Ravenswood.

"ButI" said Bucklawwith a half smile"have a prior demandon yourleisurea claim of some standing."

"Arrangeit as you will" said Ravenswood; "leave me but thisday inpeaceand I will have no dearer employment on earth to-morrowthan to give you all the satisfaction you can desire."

The othergentlemen left the apartment; but Sir William Ashtonlingered.

"Masterof Ravenswood" he saidin a conciliating tone"Ithink Ihave not deserved that you should make this scandal andoutrage inmy family.  If you will sheathe your swordand retirewith meinto my studyI will prove to youby the mostsatisfactoryargumentsthe inutility of your present irregularprocedure----"

"To-morrowsir--to-morrow--to-morrowI will hear you atlength"reiterated Ravenswoodinterrupting him; "this day hathits ownsacred and indispensable business."

He pointedto the doorand Sir William left the apartment.

Ravenswoodsheathed his sworduncocked and returned his pistolto hisbelt; walked deliberately to the door of the apartmentwhich hebolted; returnedraised his hat from his foreheadandgazingupon Lucy with eyes in which an expression of sorrowovercametheir late fiercenessspread his dishevelled locks backfrom hisfaceand said"Do you know meMissAshton? I am still Edgar Ravenswood."  She was silentand hewent onwith increasing vehemence: "I am still that EdgarRavenswoodwhofor your affectionrenounced the dear ties bywhichinjured honour bound him to seek vengeance.  I am thatRavenswoodwhofor your sakeforgavenayclasped hands infriendshipwiththe oppressor and pillager of his housethetraducerand murderer of his father."

"Mydaughter" answered Lady Ashtoninterrupting him"has nooccasionto dispute the identity of your person; the venom ofyourpresent language is sufficient to remind her that shespeakswith the moral enemy of her father."

"Ipray you to be patientmadam" answered Ravenswood; "myanswermust come from her own lips.  Once moreMiss Lucy AshtonI am thatRavenswood to whom you granted the solemn engagementwhich younow desire to retract and cancel."

Lucy'sbloodless lips could only falter out the words"It wasmymother."

"Shespeaks truly" said Lady Ashton"it WAS I whoauthorisedalike by the laws of God and manadvised herandconcurredwith herto set aside an unhappy and precipitateengagementand to annul it by the authority of Scriptureitself."

"Scripture!"said Ravenswoodscornfully.

"Lethim hear the text" said Lady Ashtonappealing to thedivine"on which you yourselfwith cautious reluctancedeclaredthe nullity of the pretended engagement insisted upon bythisviolent man."

Theclergyman took his clasped Bible from his pocketand readthefollowing words: "If a woman vow a vow unto the Lordandbindherself by a bondbeing in her father's house in heryouthandher father hear her vowand her bond wherewith shehath boundher souland her father shall hold his peace at her;then allher vows shall standand every vow wherewith she hathbound hersoul shall stand."

"Andwas it not even so with us?" interrrupted Ravenswood.

"Controlthy impatienceyoung man" answered the divine"andhear whatfollows in the sacred text: 'But if her fatherdisallowher in the day that he hearethnot any of her vowsorof herbonds wherewith she hath bound her soulshall stand; andthe Lordshall forgive herbecause her father disallowed her."

"Andwas not" said Lady Ashtonfiercely and triumphantlybreakingin--"was not ours the case stated in the Holy Writ?Will thisperson denythat the instant her parents heard of thevoworbondby which our daughter had bound her soulwedisallowedthe same in the most express termsand informed himby writingof our determination?"

"Andis this all?" said Ravenswoodlooking at Lucy.  "Areyouwilling tobarter sworn faiththe exercise of free willandthefeelings of mutual affection to this wretched hypocriticalsophistry?"

"Hearhim!" said Lady Ashtonlooking to the clergyman--"heartheblasphemer!"

"MayGod forgive him" said Bide-the-Bent"and enlighten hisignorance!"

"Hearwhat I have sacrificed for you" said RavenswoodstilladdressingLucy"ere you sanction what has been done in yourname. The honour of an ancient familythe urgent advice of mybestfriendshave been in vain used to sway my resolution;neitherthe arguments of reason nor the portents of superstitionhaveshaken my fidelity.  The very dead have arisen to warn meand theirwarning has been despised.  Are youpreparedto pierce my heart for its fidelity with the very weaponwhich myrash confidence entrusted to your grasp?"

"Masterof Ravenswood" said Lady Ashton"you have asked whatquestionsyou thought fit.  You see the total incapacity of mydaughterto answer you.  But I will reply for herand in amannerwhich you cannot dispute.  You desire to know whether LucyAshtonofher own free willdesires to annual the engagementinto whichshe has been trepanned.  You have her letter under herown handdemanding the surrender of it; andin yet more fullevidenceof her purposehere is the contract which she has thismorningsubscribedin presence of this reverence gentlemanwithMr.Hayston of Bucklaw."

Ravenswoodgazed upon the deed as if petrified.  "And it waswithoutfraud or compulsion" said helooking towards theclergyman"that Miss Ashton subscribed this parchment?"

"Icouch it upon my sacred character."

"Thisis indeedmadaman undeniable piece of evidence" saidRavenswoodsternly; "and it will be equally unnecessary anddishonourableto waste another word in useless remonstrance orreproach. Theremadam" he saidlaying down before Lucy thesignedpaper and the broken piece of gold--"there are theevidencesof your first engagement; may you be more faithful tothat whichyou have just formed.  I will trouble you to returnthecorresponding tokens of my ill-placed confidence; I oughtrather tosayof my egregious folly."

Lucyreturned the scornful glance of her lover with a gaze fromwhichperception seemed to have been banisshed; yet she seemedpartly tohave understood his meaningfor she raised her handsas if toundo a blue ribbon which she wore around her neck.  Shewas unableto accomplish her purposebut Lady Ashton cut theribbonasunderand detached the broken piece of goldwhich MissAshton hadtill then worn concealed in her bosom; the writtencounterpartof the lovers' engagement she for some time had hadin her ownpossession.  With a haughty courtesyshe deliveredboth toRavenswoodwho was muchsoftenedwhen he took the piece of gold.

"Andshe could wear it thus" he saidspeaking to himself--"couldwear it in her very bosom--could wear it next to herheart--evenwhen----  But complain avails not" he saiddashingfrom hiseye the tear which had gathered in itand resuming thesterncomposure of his manner.  He strode to the chimneyandthrew intothe fire the paper and piece of goldstamping uponthe coalswith the heel of his bootas if to ensure theirdestruction. "I will be no longer" he then said"an intruderhere. Your evil wishesand your worse officesLady AshtonIwill onlyreturn by hoping these will be your last machinationsagainstyour daughter's honour and happiness.  And to youmadam"he saidaddressing Lucy"I have nothing farther to sayexcept topray to God that you may not become a world's wonderfor thisact of wilful and deliberate perjury."  Having utteredthesewordshe turned on his heel and left the apartment.

SirWilliam Ashtonby entreaty and authorityhad detained hisson andBucklaw in a distant part of the castlein order topreventtheir again meeting with Ravenswood; but as the Masterdescendedthe great staircaseLockhard delivered him a billetsigned"Sholto Douglas Ashton" requesting to know where theMaster ofRavenswood would be heard of four or five days fromhenceasthe writer had business of weight to settle with himso soon asan important family event had taken place.

"TellColonel Ashton" said Ravenswoodcomposedly"I shall befound atWolf's Crag when his leisure serves him."

As hedescended the outward stair which led from theterracehe was a second time interrupted by Craigengeltwhoonthe partof his principalthe Laird of Bucklawexpressed ahope thatRavenswood would not leave Scotland within ten days atleastashe had both former and recent civilities for which toexpresshis gratitude.

"Tellyour master" said Ravenswoodfiercely"to choose his owntime. He will find me at Wolf's Cragif his purpose is notforestalled."

"MYmaster!" replied Craigengeltencouraged by seeing ColonelAshton andBucklaw at the bottom of the terrace.  "Give me leaveto say Iknow of no such person upon earthnor will I permitsuchlanguage to be used to me!"

"Seekyour masterthenin hell!" exclaimed Ravenswoodgivingway to thepassion he had hitherto restrainedandthrowingCraigengelt from him with such violence that he rolleddown thesteps and lay senseless at the foot of them.   "I am afool"he instantly added"to vent my passion upon a caitiff soworthless."

He thenmounted his horsewhich at his arrival he had securedto abalustrade in front of the castlerode very slowly pastBucklawand Colonel Ashtonraising his hat as he passed eachandlooking in their faces steadily while he offered this mutesalutationwhich was returned by both with the same sterngravity. Ravenswood walked on with equal deliberation until hereachedthe head of the avenueas if to show that he rathercourtedthan avoided interruption.  When he had passed the uppergateheturned his horseand looked at the castle with a fixedeye; thenset spurs to his good steedand departed with thespeed of ademon dismissed by the exorcist.

 

CHAPTERXXXIV.

Whocomes from the bridal chamber?It isAzraelthe angel of death.

Thalaba.

 

AFTER thedreadful scene that had taken place at the castleLucy wastransported to her own chamberwhere she remained forsome timein a state of absolute stupor.  Yet afterwardsin thecourse ofthe ensuing dayshe seemed to have recoverednotmerely herspirits and resolutionbut a sort of flighty levitythat wasforeign to her character and situationand which was attimeschequered by fits of deep silence and melancholy and ofcapriciouspettishness.  Lady Ashton became much alarmed andconsultedthe family physicians.  But as her pulse indicated nochangethey could only say that the disease was on the spiritsandrecommended gentle exercise andamusement. Miss Ashton never alluded to what had passed in thestate-room. It seemed doubtful even if she was conscious of itfor shewas often observed to raise her hands to her neckas ifin searchof the ribbon that had been taken from itand mutterinsurprise and discontentwhen she could not find it"It wasthe linkthat bound me to life."

Notwithstandingall these remarkable symptomsLady Ashton wastoo deeplypledged to delay her daughter's marriage even in herpresentstate of health.  It cost her much trouble to keep up thefair sideof appearances towards Bucklaw.  She was well awarethat if heonce saw any reluctance on her daughter's parthewouldbreak off the treatyto her great personal shame anddishonour. She therefore resolved thatif Lucy continuedpassivethe marriage should take place upon the day that hadbeenpreviously fixedtrusting that a change of placeofsituationand of character would operate a more speedy andeffectualcure upon the unsettled spirits of her daughter thancould beattained by the slow measures which the medical menrecommended. Sir William Ashton's views of familyaggrandisementand his desire to strengthen himself against themeasuresof the Marquis of A----readily induced him toacquiescein what he could not have perhaps resisted if willingto do so. As for the young menBucklaw and Colonel Ashtontheyprotestedthatafter what had happenedit would be mostdishonourableto postpone for a single hour the time appointedfor themarriageas it would be generally ascribed to theirbeingintimidated by the intrusive visit and threats ofRavenswood.

Bucklawwould indeed have been incapable of suchprecipitationhad he been aware of the state of Miss Ashton'shealthorrather of her mind.  But customupon these occasionspermittedonly brief and sparing intercourse between thebridegroomand the betrothed; a circumstance so well improved byLadyAshtonthat Bucklaw neither saw nor suspected the realstate ofthe health and feelings of his unhappy bride.

On the eveof the bridal dayLucy appeared to have one of herfits oflevityand surveyed with a degree of girlishinterestthe various preparations of dressetc.etc.which thedifferentmembers of the family had prepared for the occasion.

Themorning dawned bright and cheerily.  The bridal guestsassembledin gallant troops from distant quarters.  Not only therelationsof Sir William Ashtonand the still more dignifiedconnexionsof his ladytogether with the numerous kinsmen andallies ofthe bridegroomwere present upon this joyful ceremonygallantlymountedarrayedand caparisonedbut almost everyPresbyterianfamily of distinction within fifty miles made apoint ofattendance upon an occasion which was considered asgiving asort of triumph over the Marquis of A----in the personof hiskinsman.  Splendid refreshments awaited the guests ontheirarrivaland after these were finishedthe cray was "Tohorse." The bride was led forth betwixt her brother Henry andhermother.  Her gaiety of the preceding day had given rise[place] toa deep shade of melancholywhichhoweverdid notmisbecomean occasion so momentous.  There was a light in hereyes and acolour in her cheek which had not been kindled formany adayand whichjoined to her great beautyand thesplendourof her dressoccasioned her entrance to be greetedwith anuniversal murmur of applausein which even the ladiescould notrefrain from joining.  While the cavalcade weregetting tohorseSir William Ashtona man of peace and of formcensuredhis son Henry for having begirt himself with a militarysword ofpreposterous lengthbelonging to his brotherColonelAshton.

"Ifyou must have a weapon" he said"upon such a peacefuloccasionwhy did you not use the short poniard sent fromEdinburghon purpose?"

The boyvindicated himself by saying it was lost.

"Youput it out of the way yourselfI suppose" said hisfather"out of ambition to wear that preposterous thingwhichmight haveserved Sir William Wallace.  But never mindget tohorse nowand take care of your sister."

The boydid soand was placed in the centre of the gallanttrain. At the timehe was too full of his own appearancehisswordhislaced cloakhis feathered hatand his managed horseto paymuch regard to anything else; but he afterwards rememberedto thehour of his deaththat when the hand of his sisterbywhich shesupported hersel on the pillion behind himtouched hisownitfelt as wet and cold as sepulchral marble.

Glancingwide over hill and dalethe fair bridal procession atlastreached the parish churchwhich they nearly filled; forbesidesdomesticsabove a hundred gentlemen and ladies werepresentupon the occasion.  The marriage ceremony was performedaccordingto the rites of the Presbyterian persuasionto whichBucklaw oflate had judged it proper to conform.

On theoutside of the churcha liberal dole was distributed tothe poorof the neighbouring parishesunder the direction ofJohnieMortheuch [Mortsheugh]who had lately been promoted fromhisdesolate quarters at the Hermitage to fill the more eligiblesituationof sexton at the parish church of Ravenswood.  DameGourlaywith two of her contemporariesthe same who assisted atAlice'slate-wakeseated apart upon a flat monumentor"through-stane"sate enviously comparing the shares which hadbeenallotted to them in dividing the dole.

"JohnieMortheuch" said Annie Winnie"might hae minded auldlang syneand thought of his auld kimmersfor as braw as he iswith hisnew black coat.  I hae gotten but five herring insteado' saxand this disna look like a gude saxpennysand I dare saythis bitmorsel o' beef is an unce lighter than ony that's beendealtround; and it's a bit o' the tenony houghmair by tokenthatyoursMaggieis out o' the back-sey."

"Minequo' she!" mumbled the paralytic hag--"mine is halfbanesItrow.  If grit folk gie poor bodies ony thing for comingto theirweddings and burialsit suld be something that wad dothem gudeI think."

"Theirgifts" said Ailsie Gourlay"are dealt for nae love ofusnorout of respect for whether we feed or starve.  They wadgie uswhinstanes for loavesif it would serve their ain vanityand yetthey expect us to be as gratefu'as they ca' itas iftheyserved us for true love and liking."

"Andthat's truly said" answered her companion.

"ButAislie Gourlayye're the auldest o' us three--did ye eversee a mairgrand bridal?"

"Iwinna say that I have" answered the hag; "but I think soonto see asbraw a burial."

"Andthat wad please me as weel" said Annie Winnie; "forthere's aslarge a doleand folk are no obliged to girn andlaughandmak murgeonsand wish joy to these hellicat qualitythat lordit ower us like brute beasts.  I like to pack the dead-dole in mylap and rin ower my auld rhyme--

My loaf inmy lapmy penny in my purseThou artne'er the betterand I'm ne'er the worse."

"That'srightAnnie" said the paralytic woman; "God send us agreen Yuleand a fat kirkyard!"

"ButI wad like to kenLuckie Gourlayfor ye're the auldestand wisestamang uswhilk o' these revellers' turn it will be tobestreikit first?"

"D'yesee yon dandilly maiden" said Dame Gourlay"a'glistenin'wi' gowd and jewelsthat they are lifting up on thewhitehorse behind that hare-brained callant in scarletwi' thelang swordat his side?"

"Butthat's the bride!" said her companionher cold hearttouchedwith some sort of compassion--"that's the very bridehersell! Ehwhow! sae youngsae brawand sae bonny--and isher timesae short?"

"Itell ye" said the sibyl"her winding sheet is up as highasher throatalreadybelieve it wha list.  Her sand has but fewgrains torin out; and nae wonder--they've been weel shaken.  Theleaves arewithering fast on the treesbut she'll never see theMartinmaswind gar them dance in swirls like the fairy rings.""Yewaited on her for a quarter" said the paralytic woman"andgot twared piecesor I am far beguiled?"

"Ayay" answered Ailsiewith a bitter grin; "and Sir WilliamAshtonpromised me a bonny red gown to the boot o' that--a stakeand achainand a tar-barrellass! what think ye o' that for apropine?--forbeing up early and doun late forfourscorenights and mair wi' his dwining daughter.  But he maykeep itfor his ain leddycummers."

"Ihae heard a sough" said Annie Winnie"as if Leddy Ashtonwas naecanny body."

"D'yesee her yonder" said Dame Gourlay"as she prances on hergreygelding out at the kirkyard?  There's mair o' utterdeevilryin that womanas brave and fair-fashioned as she ridesyonderthan in a' the Scotch withces that ever flew by moonlightower NorthBerwick Law."

"What'sthat ye say about witchesye damned hags?" said JohnieMortheuch[Mortsheugh]; "are ye casting yer cantrips in the verykirkyardto mischieve the bride and bridegroom?  Get awa' hamefor if Itak my souple t'yeI'll gar ye find the road fasterthan yewad like."

"Heghsirs!" answered Ailsie Gourlay; "how bra' are we wi' ournew blackcoat and our weel-pouthered headas if we had neverkenn'dhunger nor thirst oursells! and we'll be screwing up ourbitfiddledoubtlessin the ha' the nightamang a' the otherelbo'-jiggersfor miles round.  Let's see if the pins haudJohnie--that'sa'lad."

"Itake ye a' to witnessgude people" said Morheuch"thatshethreatensme wi' mischiefand forespeaks me.  If ony thing butgudehappens to me or my fiddle this nightI'll make it theblackestnight's job she ever stirred in.  I'll hae her beforepresbyteryand synod: I'm half a minister mysellnow that I'm abedral inan inhabited parish."

Althoughthe mutual hatred betwixt these hags and the rest ofmankindhad steeled their hearts against all impressions offestivitythis was by no means the case with the multitude atlarge. The splendour of the bridal retinuethe gay dressesthespiritedhorsesthe blythesome appearance of the handsome womenandgallant gentlemen assembled upon the occasionhad the usualeffectupon the minds of the populace.  The repeated shouts of"Ashtonand Bucklaw for ever!" the discharge of pistolsgunsandmusketoonsto give what was called the bridal shotevincedtheinterest the people took in the occasion of the cavalcadeastheyaccompanied it upon their return to the castle.  If therewas hereand there an elder peasant or his wife who sneered atthe pompof the upstart familyand remembered the days of thelong-descendedRavenswoodseven theyattracted by the plentifulcheerwhich the castle that day afforded to rich and poorheldtheir waythitherand acknowledgednotwithstanding theirprejudicesthe influence of l'Amphitrion ou l'on dine.

Thusaccompanied with the attendance both of rich and poorLucyreturnedto her father's house.  Bucklaw used his privilege ofridingnext to the bridebutnew to such a situationratherendeavouredto attract attention by the display of his person andhorsemanshipthan by any attempt to address her in private.Theyreached the castle in safetyamid a thousand joyousacclamations.

It is wellknown that the weddings of ancient days werecelebratedwith a festive publicity rejected by the delicacy ofmoderntimes.  The marriage guestson the present occasionwereregaledwith a banquet of unbounded profusionthe relics ofwhichafter the domestics had feasted in their turnweredistributedamong the shouting crowdwith as many barrels of aleas madethe hilarity without correspond to that within thecastle. The gentlemenaccording to the fashion of the timesindulgedfor the most partin deep draughts of the richestwineswhile the ladiesprepared for the ball which alwaysclosed abridal entertainmentimpatiently expected theirarrival inthe state gallery.  At length the social party brokeup at alate hourand the gentlemen crowded into the saloonwhereenlivened by wine and the joyful occasionthey laid asidetheirswords and handed their impatient partners to the floor.The musicalready rung from the galleryalong the fretted roofof theancient state apartment.  According to strict etiquettethe brideought to have opened the ball; but Lady Ashtonmakingan apologyon account of her daughter's healthoffered her ownhand toBucklaw as substitute for her daughter's.But asLady Ashton raised her head gracefullyexpecting thestrain atwhich she was to begin the danceshe was so muchstruck byan unexpected alteration in the ornaments of theapartmentthat she was surprised into an exclamation"Who hasdared tochange the pictures?"

All lookedupand those who knew the usual state of theapartmentobservedwith surprisethat the picture of SirWilliamAshton's father was removed from its placeand in itsstead thatof old Sir Malise Ravenswood seemed to frown wrath andvengeanceupon the party assembled below.  The exchange must havebeen madewhile the apartments were emptybut had not beenobserveduntil the torches and lights in the sconces were kindledfor theball.  The haughty and heated spirits of the gentlemenled themto demand an immediate inquiry into the cause of whattheydeemed an affront to their host and to themselves; but LadyAshtonrecovering herselfpassed it over as the freak of acrazywench who was maintained about the castleand whosesusceptibleimagination had been observed to be much affected bythestories which Dame Gourlay delighted to tell concerning "theformerfamily" so Lady Ashton named the Ravenswoods.  Theobnoxiouspicture was immediately removedand the ball wasopened byLady Ashtonwith a grace and dignity which suppliedthe charmsof youthand almost verified the extravagantencomiumsof the elder part of the companywho extolled herperformanceas far exceeding the dancing of the risinggeneration.

When LadyAshton sat downshe was not surprised to find thatherdaughter had left the apartmentand she herselffollowedeager to obviate any impression which might have beenmade uponher nerves by an incident so likely to affect them asthemysterious transposition of the portraits.  Apparently shefound herapprehensions groundlessfor she returned in about anhourandwhispered the bridegroomwho extricated himself fromthedancersand vanished from the apartment.  The instrumets nowplayedtheir loudest strains; the dancers pursued their exercisewith allthe enthusiasm inspired by youthmirthand highspiritswhen a cry was heard so shrill and piercing as at onceto arrestthe dance and the music.  All stood motionless; butwhen theyell was again repeatedColonel Ashton snatched a torchfrom thesconceand demanding the key of the bridal-chamber fromHenrytowhomas bride's-manit had been entrustedrushedthitherfollowed by Sir William Ashton and Lady Ashtonand oneor twoothersnear relations of the family.  The bridal guestswaitedtheir return in stupified amazement.

Arrived atthe door of the apartmentColonel Ashton knocked andcalledbut received no answer except stifled groans.  Hehesitatedno longer to open the door of the apartmentin whichhe foundopposition from something which lay against it.  When hehadsucceeded in opening itthe body of the bridegroom was foundlying onthe threshold of the bridal chamberand all around wasfloodedwith blood.  A cry of surprise and horror was raised byallpresent; and the companyexcited by this new alarmbegan torushtumultuously towards the sleeping apartment.  ColonelAshtonfirst whispering to his mother"Search for her; she hasmurderedhim!" drew his swordplanted himself in the passageanddeclared he would suffer no man to pass excepting theclergymanand a medical person present.  By their assistanceBucklawwho still breathedwas raised from the groundandtransportedto another apartmentwhere his friendsfull ofsuspicionand murmuringassembled round him to learn the opinionof thesurgeon.

In themean whileLady Ashtonher husbandand theirassistantsin vain sought Lucy in the bridal bed and in thechamber. There was no private passage from the roomand theybegan tothink that she must have thrown herself from the windowwhen oneof  the companyholding his torch lower than the restdiscoveredsomething white in the corner of the great old-fashionedchimney of the apartment.  Here they found theunfortunategirl seatedor rather couched like a hare upon itsform--herhead-gear dishevelledher night-clothes torn anddabbledwith bloodher eyes glazedand her features convulsedinto awild paroxysm of insanity.  When she saw herselfdiscoveredshe gibberedmade mouthsand pointed at them withher bloodyfingerswith the frantic gestures of an exultingdemoniac.

Femaleassistance was now hastily summoned; the unhappy bridewasoverpowerednot without the use of some force.  As theycarriedher over the thresholdshe looked downandutteredthe only articulate words that she had yet spokensayingwith a sort of grinning exultation"Soyou have ta'enup yourbonny bridegroom?"  She wasby the shudderingassistantsconveyed to another and more retired apartmentwhereshe wassecured as her situation requiredand closely watched.Theunutterable agony of the parentsthe horror and confusion ofall whowere in the castlethe fury of contending passionsbetweenthe friends of the different parties--passions augmentedbyprevious intemperance--surpass description.

Thesurgeon was the first who obtained something like a patienthearing;he pronounced that the wound of Bucklawthough severeanddangerouswas by no means fatalbut might readily berenderedso by disturbance and hasty removal.  This silenced thenumerousparty of Bucklaw's friendswho had previously insistedthat heshouldat all ratesbe transported from the castle tothenearest of their houses.  They still demandedhoweverthatinconsideration of what had happenedfour of their numbershouldremain to watch over the sick-bed of their friendandthat asuitable number of their domesticswell armedshouldalsoremain in the castle.  This condition being acceded to onthe partof Colonel Ashton and his fatherthe rest of thebridegroom'sfriends left the castlenotwithstanding the hourand thedarkness of  the night.  The cares of the medical manwere nextemployed in behalf of Miss Ashtonwhom he pronouncedto be in avery dangerous state.  Farther medical assistance wasimmediatelysummoned.  All night she remained delirious.  On themorningshe fell into a state of absolute insensibility.  Thenexteveningthe physicians saidwould be the crisis of hermalady. It proved so; for although she awoke from her trancewith someappearance of calmnessand suffered her night-clothes tobe changedor put in orderyet so soon as she puther handto her neckas if to search for the for the fatal flueribbonatide of recollections seemed to rush upon herwhichher mindand body were alike incapable of bearing.  Convulsionfollowedconvulsiontill they closed in deathwithout her beingable toutter a word explanatory of the fatal scene.

Theprovincial judge of the district arrived the day after theyoung ladyhad expiredand executedthough with allpossibledelicacy to the afflicted familythe painful duty ofinquiringinto this fatal transaction.  But there occurrednothing toexplain the general hypothesis that the bridein asudden fitof insanityhad stabbed the bridegroom at thethresholdof the apartment.  The fatal weapon was found in thechambersmeared with blood.  It was the same piniard which Henryshouldhave worn on the widding-dayand the unhappy sister hadprobablycontrived to secrete on the preceding eveningwhen ithad beenshown to her among other articles of preparation for thewedding.

Thefriends of Bucklaw expected that on his recovery he wouldthrow somelight upon this dark storyand eagerly pressed himwithinquirieswhich for some time he evaded under pretext ofweakness. Whenhoweverhe had been transported to his ownhouseandwas considered in a state of convalescenceheassembledthose personsboth male and femalewho had consideredthemselvesas entitled to press him on this subjectand returnedthemthanks for the interest they had exhibited in his behalfand theiroffers of adherence and support.  "I wish you all" hesaid"myfriendsto understandhoweverthat I have neitherstory totell nor injuries to avenge.  If a lady shall questionmehenceforward upon the incident of that unhappy nightI shallremainsilentand in future consider her as one who has shownherselfdesirous to break of her friendship with me; in a wordIwill neverspeak to her again.  But if a gentleman shall ask methe samequestionI shall regard the incivility as equivalent toaninvitation to meet him in the Duke's Walkand I expect thathe willrule himself accordingly."

Adeclaration so decisive admitted no commentary; and it wassoon afterseen that Bucklaw had arisen from the bed of sicknessa sadderand a wiser man than he had hitherto shown himself.  HedismissedCraigengelt from his societybut not without such aprovisionasif well employedmight secure him againstindigenceand against temptation.Bucklawafterwards went abroadand never returned to Scotland;nor was heknown ever to hint at the circumstances attending hisfatalmarriage.  By many readers this may be deemed overstrainedromanticand composed by the wild imagination of an authordesirousof gratifying the popular appetite for the horrible; butthose whoare read in the private family history of Scotlandduring theperiod in which the scene is laidwill readilydiscoverthrough the disguise of borrowed names and addedincidentsthe leading particulars of AN OWER TRUE TALE.

 

CHAPTERXXXV.

Whosemind's so marbledand his heart so hardThatwould notwhen this huge mishap was heardTo th'utmost note of sorrow set their songTo seea gallantwith so great a graceSosuddenly unthought onso o'erthrownAnd soto perishin so poor a placeBy toorash riding in a ground unknown!

POEMINNISBET'S Heraldryvol. ii.

 

WE haveanticipated the course of time to mention Bucklaw'srecoveryand fatethat we might not interrupt the detail ofeventswhich succeeded the funeral of the unfortunate LucyAshton. This melancholy ceremony was performed in the misty dawnof anautumnal morningwith such moderate attendance andceremonyas could not possibly be dispensed with.  A very few ofthenearest relations attended her body to the same churchyard towhich shehad so lately been led as a bridewith as little freewillperhapsas could be now testified by her lifeless andpassiveremains.  An aisle adjacent to the church had been fittedup by SirWilliam Ashton as a family cemetery; and herein acoffinbearing neither name nor datewere consigned to dust theremains ofwhat was once lovelybeautifuland innocentthoughexasperatedto frenzy by a long tract of unremitting persecution.

While themourners were busy in the vaultthe three villagehagswhonotwithstanding the unwonted earliness of the hourhadsnuffed the carrion like vultureswere seated on the"through-stane"and engaged in their wonted unhallowedconference.

"Didnot I say" said Dame Gourlay"that the braw bridal wouldbefollowed by as braw a funeral?"

"Ithink" answered Dame Winnie"there's little bravery atit:neithermeat nor drinkand just a wheen silver tippences to thepoor folk;it was little worth while to come sae far a road forsae sma'profitand us sae frail."

"Outwretch!" replied Dame Gourlay"can a' the dainties theycould gieus be half sae sweet as this hour's vengeance?  Therethey arethat were capering on their prancing nags four dayssinceandthey are now ganging as dreigh and sober as oursellsthe day. They were a' glistening wi' gowd and silver; they'renow asblack as the crook.  And Miss Lucy Ashtonthat grudgedwhen anhonest woman came near her--a taid may sit on her coffinthat dayand she can never scunner when he croaks.  And LadyAshton hashell-fire burning in her breast by this time; and SirWilliamwi' his gibbetsand his faggotsand his chainshowlikes hethe witcheries of his ain dwelling-house?"

"Andis it truethen" mumbled the paralytic wretch"that thebride wastrailed out of her bed and up the chimly by evilspiritsand that the bridegroom's face was wrung round ahinthim?"

"Yeneedna care wha did itor how it was done" said AislieGourlay;"but I'll uphaud it for nae stickit joband that thelairds andleddies ken weel this day."

"Andwas it true" said Annie Winnie"sin ye ken sae muckleabout itthat the picture of auld Sir Malise Ravenswood camedown onthe ha' floorand led out the brawl before them a'?"

"Na"said Ailsie; "but into the ha' came the picture--and I kenweel howit came there--to gie them a warning that pride wad geta fa'. But there's as queer a ploycummersas ony o' thaethat'sgaun on even now in the burial vault yonder: ye saw twallmournerswi' crape and cloakgang down the steps pair andpair!"

"Whatshould ail us to see them?" said the one old woman.

"Icounted them" said the otherwith the eagerness of a personto whomthe spectacle had afforded too much interest to beviewedwith indifference.

"Butye did not see" said Ailsieexulting in her superiorobservation"that there's a thirteenth amang them that they kennaethingabout; andif auld freits say truethere's ane o' thatcompanythat'll no be lang for this warld.   But come awa'cummers;if we bide hereI'se warrant we get the wyte o'whateverill comes of itand that gude will come of it nane o'them needever think to see."

And thuscroaking like the ravens when they anticipatepestilencethe ill-boding sibyls withdrew from the churchyard.

In factthe mournerswhen the service of interment was endeddiscoveredthat there was among them one more than the invitednumberand the remark was communicated in whispers to eachother. The suspicion fell upon a figure whichmuffled in thesame deepmourning with the otherswas reclinedalmost in astate ofinsensibilityagainst one of the pillars of thesepulchralvault.  The relatives of the Ashton family wereexpressingin whispers their surprise and displeasure at theintrusionwhen they were interrupted by Colonel Ashtonwhoinhisfather's absenceacted as principal mourner.  "I know"hesaid in awhisper"who this person ishe hasor shall soonhaveasdeep cause of mourning as ourselves; leave me to dealwith himand do not disturb the ceremony by unnecessaryexposure." So sayinghe separated himself from the group of hisrelationsand taking the unknown mourner by the cloakhe saidto himina tone of suppressed emotion"Follow me."

Thestrangeras if starting from a trance at the sound of hisvoicemechanically obeyedand they ascended the broken ruinousstairwhich led from the sepulchre into the churchyard.  Theothermourners followedbut remained grouped together at thedoor ofthe vaultwatching with anxiety the motions of ColonelAshton andthe strangerwho now appeared to be in closeconferencebeneath the shade of a yew-treein the most remotepart ofthe burial-ground.

To thissequestered spot Colonel Ashton had guided the strangerand thenturning roundaddressed him in a stern and composedtone.--"Icannot doubt that I speak to the Master ofRavenswood?" No answer was returned.  "I cannot doubt" resumedtheColoneltrembling with rising passion"that I speak to themurdererof my sister!"

"Youhave named me but too truly" said Ravenswoodin a hollowandtremulous voice.

"Ifyou repent what you have done" said the Colonel"may yourpenitenceavail you before God; with me it shall serve younothing. Here" he saidgiving a paper"is the measure of myswordanda memorandum of the time and place of meeting.Sunriseto-morrow morningon the links to the east of Wolf'sHope."

The Masterof Ravenswood held the paper in his handand seemedirresolute. At length he spoke--"Do not" he said"urge tofartherdesperation a wretch who is already desperate.  Enjoyyour lifewhile you canand let me seek my death from another."

"Thatyou nevernever shall!" said Douglas Ashton.  "Youshalldie by myhandor you shall complete the ruin of my family bytaking mylife.  If you refuse my open challengethere is noadvantageI will not take of youno indignity with which I willnot loadyouuntil the very name of Ravenswood shall be the signofeverything that is dishonourableas it is already of allthat isvillainous."

"Thatit shall never be" said Ravenswoodfiercely; "if I amthe lastwho must bear itI owe it to those who once owned itthat thename shall be extinguished without infamy.  I acceptyourchallengetimeand place of meeting.  We meetI presumealone?"

"Alonewe meet" said Colonel Ashton"and alone will thesurvivorof us return from that place of rendezvous."

"ThenGod have mercy on the soul of him who falls!" saidRavenswood.

"Sobe it!" said Colonel Ashton; "so far can my charity reacheven forthe man I hate most deadlyand with the deepestreason. Nowbreak offfor we shall be interrupted.  The linksby thesea-shore to the east of Wolf's Hope; the hoursunrise;our swordsour only weapons."

"Enough"said the Master"I will not fail you."

Theyseparated; Colonel Ashton joining the rest of the mournersand theMaster of Ravenswood taking his horsewhich was tied toa treebehind the church.  Colonel Ashton returned to the castlewith thefuneral guestsbut found a pretext for detachinghimselffrom them in the eveningwhenchanging his dress to ariding-habithe rode to Wolf's Hopethat nightand took up hisabode inthe little innin order that he might be ready for hisrendezvousin the morning.

It is notknown how the Master of Ravenswood disposed of therest ofthat unhappy day.  Late at nighthoweverhe arrived atWolf'sCragand aroused his old domesticCaleb Balderstonewhohad ceasedto expect his return.  Confused and flying rumours ofthe latetragical death of Miss Ashtonand of its mysteriouscausehadalready reached the old manwho was filled with theutmostanxietyon account of the probable effect these eventsmightproduce upon the mind of his master.

Theconduct of Ravenswood did not alleviate hisapprehensions. To the butler's trembling entreaties that hewould takesome refreshmenthe at first returned no answerandthensuddenly and fiercely demanding winehe drankcontrary tohishabitsa very large draught.  Seeing that his master wouldeatnothingthe old man affectionately entreated that he wouldpermit himto light him to his chamber.  It was not until therequestwas three or four times repeated that Ravenswood made amute signof compliance.  But when Balderstone conducted him toanapartment which had been comfortably fitted upand whichsince hisreturnhe had usually occupiedRavenswood stoppedshort onthe threshold.

"Nothere" said hesternly; "show me the room in which myfatherdied; the room in which SHE slept the night the were atthecastle."

"Whosir?" said Calebtoo terrified to preserve his presenceof mind.

"SHELucy Ashton!  Would you kill meold manby forcing me torepeat hername?"

Calebwould have said something of the disrepair of the chamberbut wassilenced by the irritable impatience which was expressedin hismaster's countenance; he lighted the waytremblingand in silenceplaced the lamp on the table of thedesertedroomand was about to attempt some arrangement of thebedwhenhis master big him begone in a tone that admitted ofno delay. The old man retirednot to restbut to prayer; andfrom timeto time crept to the door of the apartmentin order tofind outwhether Ravenswood had gone to repose.  His measuredheavy stepupon the floor was only interrupted by deep groans;and therepeated stamps of the heel of his heavy boot intimatedtooclearly that the wretched inmate was abandoning himself atsuchmoments to paroxysms of uncontrolled agony.  The old manthoughtthat the mroningfor which he longedwould never havedawned;but timewhose course rolls on with equal currenthowever itmay seem more rapid or more slow to mortalapprehensionbrought the dawn at lastand spread a ruddy lighton thebroad verge of the glistening ocean.  It was early inNovemberand the weather was serene for the season of the year.But aneasterly wind had prevailed during the nightand theadvancingtide rolled nearer than usual to the foot of the cragson whichthe castle was founded.

With thefirst peep of lightCaleb Balderstone again resortedto thedoor of Ravenswood's sleeping apartmentthrough a chinkof whichhe observed him engaged in measuring the length of twoor threeswords which lay in a closet adjoining to the apartment.Hemuttered to himselfas he selected one of these weapons: "Itisshorter: let him have this advantageas he has every other."

CalebBalderstone knew too wellfrom what he witnesseduponwhatenterprise his master was boundand how vain allinterferenceon his part must necessarily prove.  He had buttime toretreat from the doorso nearly was he surprised by hismastersuddenly coming out and descending to the stables.  Thefaithfuldomestic followed; and from the dishevelled appearanceof hismaster's dressand his ghastly lookswas confirmed inhisconjecture that he had passed the night without sleep orrepose. He found him busily engaged in saddling his horseaservicefrom which Calebthough with faltering voice andtremblinghandsoffered to relieve him.  Ravenswood rejected hisassistanceby a mute signand having led the animal into thecourtwasjust about to mount himwhen the old domestic's feargiving wayto the strong attachment which was the principalpassion ofhis mindhe flung himself suddenly at Ravenswood'sfeetandclasped his kneeswhile he exclaimed: "Ohsir! ohmaster!kill me if you willbut do not go out on this dreadfulerrand! Oh! my dear masterwait but this day; the Marquis of A---- comesto-morrowand a' will be remedied."

"Youhave no longer a masterCaleb" said Ravenswoodendeavouringto extricate himself; "whyold manwould you clingto afalling tower?"

"ButI HAVE a master" cried Calebstill holding him fast"whilethe heir of Ravenswood breathes.  I am but aservant;but I was born your father's--your grandfather'sservant. I was born for the family--I have lived for them--Iwould diefor them!  Stay but at homeand all will be well!"

"Wellfool! well!" said Ravenswood.  "Vain old mannothinghereafterin life will be well with meand happiest is the hourthat shallsoonest close it!"

So sayinghe extricated himself from the old man's holdthrewhimself onhis horseand rode out the gate; but instantlyturningbackhe threw towards Calebwho hastened to meet himaheavypurse of gold.

"Caleb!"he saidwith a ghastly smile"I make you myexecutor";and again turning his bridlehe resumed his coursedown thehill.

The goldfell unheeded on the pavementfor the old man ran toobservethe course which was taken by his masterwho turned tothe leftdown a small and broken pathwhich gained the sea-shorethrough a cleft in the rockand led to a sort of covewhereinformer timesthe boats of the castle were wont to bemoored. Observing him take this courseCaleb hastened to theeasternbattlementwhich commanded the prospect of the wholesandsvery near as far as the village of Wolf's Hope.  He couldeasily seehis master riding in that directionas fast as thehorsecould carry him.  The prophecy at once rushed onBalderstone'smindthat the Lord of Ravenswood should perish ontheKelpie's flowwhich lay half-way betwixt the Tower and thelinksorsand knollsto the northward of Wolf's Hope.  He sawhimaccording reach the fatal spot; but he never saw him passfurther.

 

ColonelAshtonfrantic for revengewas already in the fieldpacing theturf with eagernessand looking withimpatiencetowards the Tower for the arrival of his antagonist.The sunhad now risenand showed its broad disk above theeasternseaso that he could easily discern the horseman whorodetowards him with speed which argued impatience equal to hisown. At once the figure became invisibleas if it had meltedinto theair.  He rubbed his eyesas if he had witnessed anapparitionand then hastened to the spotnear which he was metbyBalderstonewho came from the opposite direction.  No tracewhatever ohorse or rider could be discerned; it only appearedthat thelate winds and high tides had greatly extended the usualbounds ofthe quicksandand that the unfortunate horsemanasappearedfrom the hoof-tracksin his precipitate hastehad notattendedto keep on the firm sands on the foot of the rockbuthad takenthe shortest and most dangerous course.  One onlyvestige ofhis fate appeared.  A large sable feather had beendetachedfrom his hatand the rippling waves of the rising tidewafted itto Caleb's feet.  The old man took it updried itandplaced itin his bosom.

Theinhabitants of Wolf's Hope were now alarmedand crowded tothe placesome on shoreand some in boatsbut their searchavailednothing.  The tenacious depths of the quicksandas isusual insuch casesretained its prey.

 

Our taledraws to a conclusion.  The Marquis of A----alarmedat thefrightful reports that were currentand anxious for hiskinsman'ssafetyarrived on the subsequent day to mourn hisloss; andafter renewing in vain a search for the bodyreturnedto forget what had happened amid the bustle of politicsand stateaffairs.

Not soCaleb Balderstone.  If wordly profit could have consoledthe oldmanhis age was better provided for than his earlieryears hadever been; but life had lost to him its salt and itssavour. His whole course of ideashis feelingswhether ofpride orof apprehensionof pleasure or of painhad all arisenfrom itsclose connexion with the family which was nowextinguished. He held up his head no longerforsook all hisusualhaunts and occupationsand seemed only to find pleasure inmopingabout those apartments in the old castle which the MasterofRavenswood had last inhabited.  He ate without refreshmentandslumbered without repose; andwith a fidelity sometimesdisplayedby the canine race  but seldom by human beingshepined anddied within a year after the catastrophe which we havenarrated.

The familyof Ashton did not long survive that ofRavenswood. Sir William Ashton outlived his eldest sontheColonelwho was slain in a duel in Flanders; and Henryby whomhe wassucceededdied unmarried.  Lady Ashton lived to the vergeof extremeold agethe only survivor of the group of unhappypersonswhose misfortunes were owing to her implacability.  Thatshe mightinternally feel compunctionand reconcile herself withHeavenwhom she had offendedwe will notand we dare notdeny; butto those around her she did not evince the slightestsymptomeither of repentance or remorse.  In all externalappearanceshe bore the same boldhaughtyunbending characterwhich shehad displayed before these unhappy events.  A splendidmarblemonument records her nametitlesand virtueswhile hervictimsremain undistinguished by tomb or epitath.

 

 

 




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