The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Brownie of Bodsbeck, and Other Tales, Vol. II (of 2), by James Hogg

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Title: The Brownie of Bodsbeck, and Other Tales, Vol. II (of 2)

Author: James Hogg

Release Date: January 6, 2013 [eBook #41796]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8



Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See


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Transcriber’s note

The Brownie of Bodsbeck has no Chapter IV. and two Chapters III.





And other Tales.

Printed by James Ballantyne & Co.



“What, has this thing appeared again to-night?”






Continuation of the Brownie of Bodsbeck1
The Wool-Gatherer87
The Hunt of Eildon229





Next morning Davie Tait was early astir, and not having any thing better to do, he took his plaid and staff and set out towards Whithope-head, to see what was become of his five scores of ewes, the poor remains of a good stock. Davie went slowly up the brae towards Riskinhope-swire, for the events of last night were fresh in his mind, and he was conning a new prayer to suit some other great emergency; for Davie began to think that by fervent prayer very great things might be accomplished—that perhaps the floods might be restrained from[4] coming down, and the storms of the air from descending; and that even the Piper Hill, or the Hermon Law, might be removed out of its place. This last, however, was rather a doubtful point to be attained, even by prayer through the best grounded faith, for, saving the places where they already stood, there was no room for them elsewhere in the country. He had, however, his eye fixed on a little green gair before him, where he was determined to try his influence with heaven once more; for his heart was lifted up, as he afterwards confessed, and he was hasting to that little gair to kneel down and ask a miracle, nothing doubting.

Let any one guess, if he can, what Davie Tait was going to ask. It was not that the rains and storms of heaven might be restrained, nor that the mountains might be removed out of their places; but Davie was going to pray, that “when he went over at the Hewn-gate-end, as soon as he came in sight of Whithope, he might see[5] all his master’s ewes again; all his old friends, every one of which he knew by head-mark, going spread and bleating on their old walk from the Earl Hill all the way to the Braid-heads.” So intent was Davie on this grand project, that he walked himself out of breath against the hill, in order to get quickly at the little gair to put his scheme in execution; but, as he sagely observed, it had been graciously fore-ordained that he should not commit this great folly and iniquity. He paused to take his breath; and in pausing he turned about, as every man does who stops short in climbing a hill. The scene that met Davie’s eye cut his breath shorter than the steep—his looks were rivetted on the haugh at Chapelhope—he could scarcely believe his own eyes, though he rubbed them again and again, and tried their effects on all things around.—“Good Lord!” said Davie, “what a world do we live in! Gin a hale synat had sworn, I coudna hae believed[6] this! My sooth but the Brownie o’ Bodsbeck has had a busy night!”

Walter of Chapelhope had ten acres of as good corn as ever grew in a moor-land district. Davie knew that when he went to his bed the evening before, that corn was all growing in the field, dead ripe, and ready for the sickle; and he had been lamenting that very night that such a crop should be lost for want of reapers, in a season when there was so much need for it. But now Davie saw that one half of that crop at least was shorn during the night, all standing in tight shocks, rowed and hooded, with their ends turned to the south-west.—Well might Davie exclaim, “My sooth, but the Brownie of Bodsbeck has had a busy night!”

Davie thought no more of his five scores of ewes, nor of his prayer, nor the miracle that was to take place in consequence of that, but turned and ran back to Riskinhope as fast as his feet would carry him, to[7] arouse the rest of the people, and apprise them of this wonderful event that had occurred beneath their noses, as he called it. He did so, and all of them rose with wonder and astonishment, and agreed to go across the lake and look at the Brownie’s workmanship. Away they went in a body to the edge of the stubble, but durst not set foot thereon for fear of being affected by enchantment in some way or another; but they saw that the corn had been shorn exactly like other corn, except that it was rather more neat and clean than ordinary. The sheaves were bound in the same way as other bandsters bind them; and in the shocking, the corn-knots were all set outermost. “Weel, is not he a most unaccountable fellow that Brownie of Bodsbeck?” said Davie Tait.

While they were thus standing in a row at the side of the shorn field, wondering at the prowess and agility of Brownie, and trying to make some random calculations of the thousands of cuts that he had made[8] with his hook that night, Katharine went by at a little distance, driving her father’s cows afield and at the same time directing her father’s dog far up the hill to turn the ewes from the Quave Brae. She was dressed in her usual neat morning habit, with a white short-gown, green petticoat, and her dark locks bound up with a scarlet snood; she was scolding and cajoling the dog in a blithsome and good-humoured way, and scarcely bestowing a look on the workmanship of her redoubted Brownie, or seeming to regard it.

“Ay, ye may speel the brae, Keatie Laidlaw,” said Davie Tait, apostrophising her, but shaking his head all the while, and speaking in a low voice, that his fellow-servants only might hear—“Ay, ye may speel the brae, Keatie Laidlaw, an’ drive your ewes an’ your kye where ye like; but wae’s me for ye! Ye hae a weel-faurd face o’ your ain, an’ a mak that’s liker to an angel than a thing o’ flesh an’ blude; but och! what a foul heart ye boud to hae within!—And[9] how are ye to stand the aftercome? There will be a black reckoning with you some day. I wadna that my fit war i’ your shoe the night for a’ the ewes on the Lang Bank.”

Old Nanny went over, as usual, and assisted her to milk the cows, and make the butter and cheese, but spoke no word that day to her young mistress, good or bad. She regarded her with a kind of awe, and often took a long stolen look of her, as one does of a dog that he is afraid may be going mad.

As the people of Riskinhope went home, Dan chanced to say jocularly, “He’s a clever fellow the Brownie—I wish he would come and shear our croft too.”

“Foul fa’ the tongue that said it,” quoth Davie, “an’ the heart that thought the ill! Ye thinkna how easily he’s forespoken. It was but last night I said he hadna wrought to the gudeman for half his meat, an’ ye see what he has done already. I spake o’ him again, and he came in bodily. Ye should take care what ye say here, for ye little ken[10] wha’s hearing. Ye’re i’ the very same predicament, billy Dan, as the tod was in the orchard,—‘Afore I war at this speed,’ quo’ he, ‘I wad rather hae my tail cuttit off,’—he hadna the word weel said before he stepped into a trap, which struck, and snapt off his tail—‘It’s a queer place this,’ quo’ he; ‘ane canna speak a word but it is taen in nettle-earnest.’ I’ the same way is Brownie likely to guide you; an’ therefore, to prevent him taking you at your word, we’ll e’en gang an’ begin the shearing oursels.”

Davie went in to seek out the hooks; he knew there were half-a-dozen lying above the bed in the room where the spirit had been the night before. They were gone! not a sickle was there!—Davie returned, scratching his head, biting his lip, and looking steadily down to the ground. “It hasna been Kirky’s ghost after a’,” said he; “it has been Brownie, or some o’ his gang, borrowing our hooks.”

Davie lost all hope of working any great change in the country by dint of prayer.[11] His faith, which never was great, gave way; but yet he always said, that when he was hasting up to the rash-bush in the little green gair that morning, to pray for the return of his master’s ewes, it was at least equal to a grain of mustard-seed.

About eight days after that, when the moon was in the wane, the rest of Walter’s corn was all cut down in one night, and a part of the first safely stowed in the barnyard. About the same time, too, the shepherds began to smear their flocks at a small sheep-house and fold, built for the purpose up nigh to the forkings of the Chapelhope-burn. It is a custom with them to mix as much tar with grease before they begin as they deem sufficient to smear all the sheep on the farm, or at least one hirsell of them. This the herds of Chapelhope did; but, on the very second morning after they began, they perceived that a good deal of their tar was wanting; and judging that it had been stolen, they raised a terrible affray about it with their neighbours of Riskinhope and[12] Corse-cleuch. Finding no marks of it, old John Hay said, “We must just give it up, callants, for lost; there is nae doubt but some of the fishers about Dryhope has stown it for fish-lights. There are a set of the terriblest poachers live there that’s in all the Forest.”

In the afternoon John went out to the Ox-cleugh-head, to bring in a houseful of white sheep, and to his utter astonishment saw that upwards of an hundred ewes had been smeared during the night, by the officious and unwearied Brownie of Bodsbeck. “The plague be in his fingers,” quoth old John to himself, “gin he haena smeared crocks an’ fat sheep, an’ a’ that has come in his way. This will never do.”

Though the very hairs of John’s head stood, on coming near to the sheep that had been smeared by Brownie, yet seeing that his sensible dog Keilder was nothing afraid of them, but managed them in the same way as he did other sheep, John grew by degrees less suspicious of[13] them. He confessed, however, as he was shedding them from the white ones, that there was a ewe of Brownie’s smearing came running by very near him, and he could not help giving a great jump out of her way.

All shepherds are accused of indolence, and not, perhaps, without some reason. Though John dreaded as death all connection with Brownie, yet he rejoiced at the progress they were likely to make in the smearing, for it is a dirty and laborious business, and he was glad by any means to get a share of it off his hands, especially as the season was so far advanced. So John took in to the fold twice as many sheep as they needed for their own smearing, put the crocks and the fat sheep out from among them, and left them in the house to their fate, taking good care to be out of sight of the place before dark. Next morning a certain quantity of tar was again gone, and the sheep were all neatly smeared and keeled, and set to the hill. This practice[14] the shepherds continued throughout smearing-time, and whether they housed many or few at night, they were still all smeared and set to the hill again next morning. The smearing of Chapelhope was finished in less than one-third of its wonted time. Never was the labour of a farm accomplished with such expedition and exactness, although there were none to work, to superintend, or direct it, but one simple maiden. It became the wonder and theme of the whole country, and has continued to be a standing winter evening tale to this day. Where is the cottager, dwelling between the Lowthers and Cheviot, who has not heard tell of the feats of the Brownie of Bodsbeck?



Walter was hardly used in prison for some time, but at last Drummelzier found means of rendering his situation more tolerable. Several of his associates that were conducted with him from Dumfries died in jail; he said they seemed to have been forgotten both by the council and their friends, but they kept up so good a heart, and died with such apparent satisfaction, that he could scarcely be sorry for their release by death, though he acknowledged, that a happiness beyond the grave was always the last kind of happiness that he wished to his friends. His own trial was a fire-side theme for him as long as he lived, but he confounded names and law terms, and all so much[16] through other, that, were it given wholly in his own words, it would be unintelligible. It came on the 12th of November, and Sir George Lockhart and Mr Alexander Hay were his counsel. His indictment bore, that he had sheltered on his farm a set of the most notorious and irreclaimable rebels in the whole realm; that sundry of his majesty’s right honest liege subjects had been cruelly murdered there, very near to the prisoner’s house, and a worthy curate in the immediate vicinity. It stated the immense quantity of victuals found in his house, and the numbers of fugitive whigs that were seen skulking in the boundaries of his farm; and also how some false delinquents were taken and executed there.

Clavers was present, as he had a right to be when he desired it, and gave strong and decided evidence against him. The time had been, and not long agone, when, if the latter had manifested such sentiments[17] against any one, it had been sufficient for his death-warrant; but the killing time was now nearly over, and those in power were only instituting trials in order to impose heavy fines and penalties, that they might glean as much of the latter vintage of that rich harvest as possible, before the sickle was finally reft from their grasp. Several witnesses were examined to prove the above accusations, and among the rest Daniel Roy Macpherson, whose deposition was fair, manly, and candid. As soon as his examination was over, he came and placed himself near to Walter, who rejoiced to see him, and deemed that he saw in him the face of a friend.

Witnesses were next called to prove his striking Captain Bruce with his fist, and also tripping the heels from Ingles, and tossing him over a steep, while in the discharge of his duty, whereby he was rendered unable to proceed in the king’s business. Walter, being himself examined on these[18] points, confessed both, but tried to exculpate himself as well as he could.

“As to Bruce, my masters,” said he, “I didna ken that he was a captain, or what he was; he pu’d up his bit shabble of a sword an’ dang aff my bonnet, when I was a free man i’ my ain ben-end. I likit nae sic freedoms, as I had never been used wi’ them, sae I took up my neive an’ gae him a yank on the haffat till I gart his bit brass cap rattle against the wa’. I wonder ye dinna ceete me too for nippin’ Jock Graham’s neck there, as he ca’d himsel, that day, an’ his freend Tam Liviston—There’s nae word o’ that the day!—Nah! but I could tell an’ I likit what I hae been put to a’ this plague for.”

Here the advocate stopped him, by observing that he was wandering from the point in question, and his own counsel were always trembling for him when he began to speak for himself. Being asked, what defence he had to offer for kicking and[19] maltreating a king’s officer in the discharge of his duty?

“If it was that drunken dirt Ingles that ye mean,” said Walter, “I dinna ken what ye ca’ a man’s duty here, but it surely coudna be a duty, when my hands war tied ahint my back, to kick me i’ the wame; an’ that’s what he was doing wi’ a’ his pith, whan I gart him flee heels-ower-head like a batch o’ skins.”

Sir George MacKenzie and Dalrymple of Stair both laughed outright at this answer, and it was some time before the business could proceed. Sir George Lockhart, however, compelled them to relinquish these parts of the indictment, on account of the treatment offered to the prisoner, and the trial proceeded on the charges previously mentioned, which were found relevant. Walter was utterly confounded at the defence made for him by Sir George Lockhart. He was wont to say, “Aih but he’s a terrible clever body yon Geordie Lockie![20] od he kend mair about me, and mair that was in my favour, than I did mysel.”

The conclusion of this trial must be given in Walter’s own phrase. “I pretendit to be very crouse, an’ no ae bit fear’d—aha! I was unco fear’d for a’ that—I coudna swally my spittle for the hale day, an’ I fand a kind o’ foost, foost, foostin about my briskit that I coudna win aneath ava. But when the chield MacKenzie began to clink thegither the evidence against me, gude faith I thought it was a’ ower wi’ me then; I saw nae outgate, an’ lost a’ hope; mair than aince I tried to think o’ auld Maron Linton an’ the bairns, but I could think about naething, for I thought the house was heaving up i’ the tae side, and gaun to whommel a’ the judges an’ jurymen on the tap o’ me. He revertit aye to the evidence of Clerk the curate, wha had said that I had a private correspondence wi’ the whigs, an’ then he brought a’ the ither proof to bear upon that, till he made[21] my guilt perfectly plain; an’ faith I coudna say that the chiel guessed far wrang. Then my Lord Moray, wha was head judge that day, was just gaun to address the jurymen, an’ direct them to hang me, when up gat Geordie Lockie again for the hindmost time; (he had as mony links an’ wimples in his tail as an eel that body,) an’ he argyed some point o’ law that gart them a’ glowr; at last he said, that it was hard, on a point of life an’ death, to take the report of a man that wasna present to make oath to the information he had gi’en, which might be a slander to gain some selfish end; and he prayed, for the satisfaction of the jury, that his client might be examined on that point, (he ca’d me aye a client, a name that I abhorred, for I didna ken the meaning o’t, but I trowed it meant nae good,) for, says he, he has answered very freely, and much to the point, a’ that ye hae speered at him. I was just considering what I should say, but I could get nought to say ava, when I was startit wi’ a loud Hem! just amaist at[22] my elbow. I naturally liftit up my een, very stupit like, I dare say, to see what it was; and wha was it but the queer Highland chap Roy Macpherson, makin’ sic faces to me as ye never saw. I thought he was wanting to mak me recollect something, but what it was I coudna tell. I was dumfoundered sae, that when the judge put the question to me about Clerk I never answered a word, for I was forefoughten wi’ another thought. At length I mindit the daft advice that honest Macpherson gae me at parting with me in Dumfries, which was sic a ridiculous advice I had never thought o’t mair. But now, thinks I to mysel, things canna be muckle waur wi’ me; the scrow’s come fairly to the neb o’ the miresnipe now; an’ never had I better reason to be angry than at the base curate whom I had fed an’ clad sae aften. Sae I musters a’ my wrath up into my face, and when the judge, or the advocate, put the question again, I never heedit what it was, but set up my birses an’ spak to them[23] as they had been my herd callants. What the deil are ye a’ after? quoth I. G‑‑d d‑‑n the hale pack o’ ye, do ye think that auld Wat Laidlaw’s a whig, or wad do aught against his king, or the laws o’ his country? They ken little about him that say sae! I aince fought twa o’ the best o’ them armed wi’ swords, an’ wi’ nought but my staff I laid them baith flat at my feet; an’ had I ony twa o’ ye on the Chapelhope-flow thegither, if ye dared to say that I was a whig, or a traitor to my king, I wad let ye find strength o’ arm for aince. Here the wily chap Geordie Lockie stappit me in great agitation, and beggit me to keep my temper, and answer his lordship to the point, what defence I had to make against the information given by Clerk the curate? He be d‑‑d! said I: he kens the contrair o’ that ower weel; but he kend he wad be master an’ mair when he gat me away frae about the town. He wantit to wheedle my wife out o’ ilk thing she had, an’ to kiss my daughter too, if he could.[24] Vile brock! gin I war hame at him I’ll dad his head to the wa’; ay, an’ ony twa o’ ye forby, quo’ I, raising my voice, an’ shaking that neive at them,—ony twa o’ ye that dare set up your faces an’ say that I’m a whig or a rebel.—A wheen d‑‑d rascals, that dinna ken what ye wad be at!

“The hale court was thunnerstruck, an’ glowred at ane anither like wullcats. I gae a sklent wi’ my ee to Daniel Roy Macpherson, an’ he was leaned ower the back o’ the seat, and fa’n into a kink o’ laughing. The hale crowd ahint us got up wi’ a great hurra! an’ clappit their hands, an’ I thought the fock war a’ gaen mad thegither. As soon as there was a wee quiet, my lord the Earl o’ Moray he speaks across to Clavers, an’ he says: ‘This winna do, my lord; that carl’s nae whig, nor naething akin to them. Gin that be nae a sound worthy man, I never saw ane, nor heard ane speak.’ An’ wi’ that the croud shoutit an’ clappit their hands again. I sat hinging my head then, an’ looking very blate, but I was unco[25] massy for a’ that. They then spak amang themsels for five or sax minents, and they cried on my master Drumelzier, an’ he gaed up an’ crackit wi’ them too; an’ at last the judge tauld me, that the prosecution against me was drappit for the present, an’ that gin I could raise security for twa thousand merks, to appear again if cited before the first of June, 1686, I was at liberty to go about my business. I thankit his lordship; but thinks I to mysel, ye’re a wheen queer chaps! Ye shoot fock for praying an’ reading the Bible, an’ whan ane curses an’ damns ye, ye ca’ him a true honest man! I wish ye be nae the deil’s bairns, the halewort o’ ye! Drumelzier an’ Lockie cam security for me at aince, an’ away I sets for hame, as weel satisfied as ever I was a’ my life, that I mind o’.

“Weel, when I came out to the closs at the back o’ the prison, a’ the fock croudit about me; an’ he shook hands wi’ me; an’[26] he shook hands wi’ me; an’ the young chaps they hurra’d an’ waved their caps, an’ cried out, Ettrick Forest for ever!—Auld Braid-Bonnet for ever,—hurra! An’ I cam up the Lawn-Market, an’ down the Bow, wi’ sic an army at my tail, as I had been gaun away to fight Boddell-Brigg owre again.

“I now begoud to think it wad be as weel to gie the lads the slip, for my army was gathering like a snaw-ba’, an’ I little wist how sic a hobbleshue might end; sae I jinkit into Geordie Allan’s, at the West-Port, where I had often been afore, when selling my eild ewes and chasers; an’ I whispered to them to keep out my sodgers, for there were too many of them for the house to haud; but they not perfectly understanding my jest, I was not well entered ere I heard a loud altercation at the head o’ the stair, an’ the very first aith that I heard I knew it to be Macpherson.”

“Py Cot’s preath, put she shall pe coing in; were not she her friend and couhnsel?”


“You his counsel? A serjeant of dragoons his counsel? That winna do. He charged that nae sodgers should get in. Get aff wi’ your Hieland impudence—brazen-faced thief!”

“Fat? Tief? Cot t‑‑n y’ mack-en dhu na bhaish! M’Leadle!—Trocho!—Hollo! Cresorst!”

“I ran to the door to take the enraged veteran in my arms, and welcome him as my best friend and adviser, but they had bolted the inner door in his face, through which he had run his sword amaist to the hilt, an’ he was tugging an’ pu’ing at it to get it out again, swearing a’ the time like a true dragoon. I led him into my room, an’ steekit the door o’t, but there he stood wi’ his feet asperr, and his drawn sword at arm’s length ahint his back, in act to make a lounge at the door, till he had exhausted a’ his aiths, baith in Gaelic an’ English, at the fock o’ the house, and then he sheathed his sword, and there was nae mair about it.


“I speered what I could do to oblige him?”

“Hu, not creat moach at hall, man; only pe kiffing me your hand. Py Cot’s poy, put if you tit not stonish tem! Vas not I peen telling you tat him’s hearty curse pe te cood?”

“My certy,” quo’ I, “but ye did do that, or I wad never hae thought o’t; ye’re an auld-farrant honest chiel! I am sorry that I canna just now make ye sic a present as ye deserve; but ye maun come out an’ see me.”

“Present! Poo, poo, poo! Teol more, take te present tat pe coing petween friends, and she may have sharper works tan pe coing visits; put not te more, she pe haifing small favour to seek.”

“Od, man,” says I, “ye hae been the mean o’ preserving my life, an’ ye sanna ax a thing that I’ll refuse, e’en to my ain doughter. An’ by the by, serjeant, gin ye want a good wife, an’ a bonny ane, I’ll gie[29] ye sic a tocher wi’ my Keatie, as never was gi’en wi’ a farmer’s lassie i’ the Forest.”

“Hu! Cot pe plessing you! She haif cot wife, and fery hexcellent boddach, with two childs after him.”

“What is it then, serjeant? Gin the thing be in my power, ye hae naething ado but to say the word.”

“Do you know tat her nainsell pe coosin to yourself?”

“Od, man,” quo’ I, “that’s hardly possible, or else the taen o’ us has come o’ the wrang side o’ the blanket.”

“Now do you just pe holding your paice for a fery less time, for you must halways pe spaik spaiking, without knowing fat to say, unless I were putting it into your haid. I haif tould ould Simon Glas Macrhimmon, who knows all the pedigrees from the creation of the world, and he says that te Lheadles are all Macphersons; for, in the days of Rory More of Ballindalloch and Invereshie, tere was te Gordons, who would pe making grheat prhogress on te[30] Sassenach, and tere went down wit Strabogie of te clan Ahnderson, and te clan Grhaham, and one Letulloch Macpherson of Strathneshalloch, vit as bould a clan after her as any and mhore; and they would pe toing creat might upon the Sassenach, and they would pe killing her in tousands, and ten she cot crheat lhands out of King Robert on te Bhorder, and Letulloch he had a whoule country to himself. But te people could not pe putting her nhame into worts, and instead of Letulloch tey called her Leadlea and te Sassenach she called her Little, so that all tese are of Macpherson, and you may pe te chief, and te forward son of te crheat Strathneshalloch himself. Now tat I would pe te tog, and te shame, and te tisgrhace, not to help my owhn poor clansman and prhother out of te evil, tat would pe worse eneuch; and te ting tat I would pe asking of you is tis, tat you will always look upon a Macpherson as a prhother until te end of te world, and pe[31] standing py her as long as tere is peing one trop of plood in your whole poty.”

“Gude faith, serjeant,” says I, “I never was sae happy as to find, that the man to whom I hae been sae muckle obliged is sic a noble disinterested chiel; an’ there’s my hand, I’ll never gie up the cause of a Macpherson, if he’s in the right.”

“Hu! Cot t‑‑n your right! a clansman speak of the right! Any man will stand py me when I am in te right, put wit a phrother I must always pe in te right. No right or wrong tere, py Cot!—Poo, poo!”

“Od, man,” quo’ I, “that’s a stretch o’ billyhood that I was never up to afore but sin’ ye say’t, may I never see the Hermon Law again gif I winna stand by it. Come, then, we’ll hae a stoup o’ brandy, or a bottle o’ wine thegither, for a parting cup.”

“Hu!—no, no! None of your prandies or your wines for me!—I must pe on duty in less than an hour, and I would not pe tasting any of your tamn prandies or wines.[32] No, no!—Cot pless you!—And should she never pe seeing your face again, you will pe——”

“He could say nae mair, for the muckle round tears were coming hopping down owre his weather-beaten cheek, but he gae my hand a hard squeeze an’ a shake, an’ brak out at the door; an’ that was my last sight of honest Daniel Roy Macpherson, a man that I hae met few like! I was tauld lang after, that he fell fighting like a lion against the Campbells, at the battle o’ Killiekranky, and that, to the last day o’ his life, he spake o’ his kinsman, ould MacLeadle.”



It was on the inauspicious night of All-Hallow-eve, that Walter arrived again at his own house, after so long an absence; but some of the farmers of Manor-Water, his acquaintances, were so overjoyed at seeing him again, that they persuaded him to go in, taste of their cheer, and relate his adventures and his trial to them; and so long was he detained in this way, that it was dark before he left Dollar-Burn; yet so anxious was he to get home to his family, and all unconscious that it was Hallow-E’en, the great jubilee of the fairies and all the spirits of these mountain regions, he set out on his journey homeward, across the dreary moors of Meggat-dale. Walter found his way full well, for he knew every brae,[34] height, and declivity by the way, and many delightful little dreams was he cherishing in his heart, how he would surprise Maron an’ the bairns by his arrival, and how extravagantly delighted his excellent and generous dog Reaver would be; for he often said, “he had mair sense about him than what was a beast’s good right;” but, above all, his mind dwelt most on his dear lassie Kate, as he called her. He had been informed by Drummelzier of all that she had done for him, who gave her a character so high before some friends of his who were present, that Walter never was so proud in his life, and he longed, with all a father’s fondness, to clasp “his bit dear kind-heartit lassie” again in his arms.

With all these delightful and exhilarating thoughts glowing in his breast, how could that wild and darksome road, or indeed any road, be tedious to our honest goodman? For, as to the evil spirits with whom his beloved Keatie was in conjunction, the idea had died away like a thing of the imagination,[35] and he barely spent a thought upon it. He crossed the Meggat about eleven o’clock in the night, just as the waning moon began to peep over the hills to the south-east of the lake,—but such scenes, and such adventures, are not worth a farthing, unless described and related in the language of the country to which they are peculiar.

“I fand I was come again into the country o’ the fairies an’ the spirits,” said Walter; “an’ there was nae denying o’t; for when I saw the bit crookit moon come stealing o’er the kipps o’ Bowerhope-Law, an’ thraw her dead yellow light on the hills o’ Meggat, I fand the very nature an’ the heart within me changed. A’ the hills on the tae side o’ the loch war as dark as pitch, an’ the tither side had that ill-hued colour on’t, as if they had been a’ rowed in their windling sheets; an’ then the shadow o’ the moon it gaed bobbing an’ quivering up the loch fornent me, like a streek o’ cauld fire. In spite o’ my teeth I turned eiry, an’ the mair I feucht against it I grew[36] the eiryer, for whenever the spirits come near ane, that kind o’ feeling comes on.

“Weel, just as I was gaun round the end o’ the Wedder-Law, a wee bit aboon the head o’ the Braken Wood, I sees a white thing on the road afore me. At the first it appeared to be gaun away, but at length I saw it coming nearer an’ nearer me, keeping aye a little aboon the road till I came amaist close to it, an’ then it stood stane-still an’ glowred at me. What in the wide world can it be that is here at sic an untimely time o’ night as this? thinks I to mysel. However, I steps aye on, an’ wasna gaun to mak nor meddle wi’t ava, till at last, just as I was gaun by, it says in a soft low voice,—“Wow, friend, but ye gang late the night!”

“Faith, no muckle later than yoursel,” quo’ I, “gin it be your will.”

“O’er late on sic a night!” quoth the creature again; “o’er late on Hallow E’en, an’ that ye will find.”

“It elyed away o’er the brow, an’ I saw[37] nae mair o’t. “Lord sauf us! quo’ I to mysel, is this Hallow-E’en? I wish I war safe at hame, or in amang Christian creatures o’ ony kind!—Or had I but my fine dog Reaver wi’ me, to let me ken when the fairies are coming near me—Goodness to the day! I may be amang the mids o’ them ere ever I ken what I’m doing.” A’ the stories that ever I heard about fairies in my life came linkin into my mind ane after anither, and I almaist thought I was already on my road to the Fairy-land, an’ to be paid away to hell, like a kane-cock, at the end o’ seven years. I likit the boding o’ the apparition I had met wi’ unco ill, but yet I had some hopes that I was o’er muckle, an’ o’er heavy metal for the fairies. Hout, thinks I, what need I be sae feared? They’ll never take away ane o’ my size to be a fairy—Od, I wad be the daftest-like fairy ever was seen.

“I had naething for’t but to stride on as fast as I could, an’ on I comes till I comes to the bit brae at the side o’ the Ox-Cleuch-Lea,[38] an’ there I heard something fistling amang the brakens, an’ making a kind o’ wheenge, wheenge, wheenging, that gart a’ my heart loup to my mouth; an’ what was this but my poor dog Reaver, coming creeping on his wame, an’ sae fain to meet me again that he hardly kend what he was doing. I took him up in my arms an’ clappit him, an’ said a’ the kind things to him that I could, an’ O sic a wark an’ fidgetting as he made! But yet I couldna help thinking there was a kind o’ doufness and mellancholly in his looks. What ails ye, Reaver man? quo’ I. I wish a’ may be weel about Chapelhope the night; but ye canna tell me that, poor fallaw, or else ye wad. He sometimes lickit my stocking wi’ his tongue, an’ sometimes my hand, but he wadna gang away afore me as he used to do, cocking his tail sae massy like; an’ I feared sair that a’ wasna right about hame, an’ can hardly tell ony body how I felt,—fock’s ain are aye their ain!

“At length I came amaist close to the[39] bit brow o’ the Lang Bank that brought me in sight o’ my ain house, but when I lookit ower my shoulder Reaver was fled. I grew fearder than ever, an’ wistna what to think; an’ wi’ that I sees a queer-like shapen thing standing straight on the road afore me. Now, thinks I, this is the Brownie o’ Bodsbeck; I wadna face him for a’ the warld; I maun try to gie him the slip. Sae I slides aff the road, an’ down a bit howe into the side o’ the loch, thinking I wad get up within the brae out o’ sight o’ him—But aha! there was he standing straight afore me on the shore. I clamb the brae again, and sae did he. Now, thinks I, his plan is first to pit me out o’ my reason, an’ then wear me into the loch and drown me; I’ll keep an open side wi’ him. Sae up the hill I scrambles wi’ a’ my speed, an’ doun again, and up again, five or six times; but still he keepit straight afore me. By this time I was come by degrees very near him, an’ waxed quite desperate, an desperation[40] made me crouse. ‘In the name o’ God,’ cries I, ‘what are ye that winna let me by to my ain house?”

“Did you see a woman on your way?” said the creature in a deep solemn voice.

“Yes, I did,” answered I.

“Did she tell you any thing?” said the apparition again.

“No,” said I.

“Then I must,” said the creature. “You go no nearer to your own house to-night.”

“Say you sae?” said I; “but I’ll gang to my ain house the night, though sax like you stood atween me an’ it.”

“I charge you,” said the thing again, “that you go not nearer to it. For your own sake, and the sakes of those that are dearest to you, go back the gate you came, and go not to that house.”

“An’ pray wha may you be that’s sae peremptory?” said I.

“A stranger here, but a friend to you, Laidlaw. Here you do not pass to-night.”


I never could bide to be braved a’ my life. “Say you sae, friend?” quo’ I; “then let me tell ye, stand out o’ my way; or be ye brownie or fairy—be ye ghaist, or be ye deil—in the might o’ Heaven, I sall gie ye strength o’ arm for aince; an’ here’s a cudgel that never fell in vain.”

“So saying, I took my stick by the sma’ end wi’ baith my hands, an’ heaving it ower my shoulder I came straight on to the apparition, for I hardly kend what I was doing; an’ my faith it had gotten a paik! but it had mair sense than to risk it; for when it saw that I was dementit, it e’en steppit quietly aff the road, and said, wi’ a deep grane, “Ye’re a wilfu’ man, Laidlaw, an’ your wilfu’ness may be your undoing. Pass on your ways, and Heaven protect your senses.”

“I dredd sair I was doing wrang, but there was something in my nature that wadna be contrair’d; sae by I went, an’ lookit full at the thing as I past. It had[42] nouther face nor hands, nor head nor feet; but there was it standing like a lang corn sack. L‑‑d tak me, (as Serjeant Macpherson said,) if I kend whether I was gaun on my feet or the crown o’ my head.

“The first window that I came to was my ain, the ane o’ that room where Maron and I slept. I rappit at it wi’ a rap that wont to be weel kend, but it was barred, an’ a’ was darkness and vacancy within. I tried every door and window alang the foreside o’ the house, but a’ wi’ the same effect. I rappit an’ ca’d at them a’, an’ named every name that was in the house when I left it, but there was nouther voice, nor light, nor sound. ‘Lord have a care o’ me!’ said I to mysel, ‘what’s come o’ a’ my fock? Can Clavers hae been here in my absence an’ taen them a’ away? or has the Brownie o’ Bodsbeck eaten them up, stoop an’ roop? For a’ that I hae wearied to see them, here I find my house left unto me desolate. This is a waesome welcome[43] hame to a father, an’ a husband, an’ a master!—O Lord! O Lord! what will come o’ puir auld Wat now?’

“The Auld Room was a place I never thought o’ gangin to; but no kenning what to mak o’ mysel, round the west end o’ the house I gaes towards the door o’ the Auld Room. I soon saw through the seam atween the shutters that there was a light in it, an’ kenning weel that there was a broken lozen, I edged back the shutter naturally to see what was gaun on within—May never a father’s e’e again see sic a sight as mine saw!—There was my dear, my only daughter Katharine, sitting on the bed wi’ a dead corpse on her knee, and her hands round its throat; and there was the Brownie o’ Bodsbeck, the ill-faurd, runkled, withered thing, wi’ its eildron form and grey beard, standin at the bed side hauding the pale corpse by the hand. It had its tither hand liftit up, and was mutter, muttering some horrid spell, while a crew o’ the same kind o’ grizly beardit phantoms were standin[44] round them. I had nae doubt but there had been a murder committit, and that a dissection was neist to take place; and I was sae shock’d that I was just gaun to roar out. I tried it twice, but I had tint my voice, and could do naething but gape.

“I now fand there was a kind o’ swarf coming o’er me, for it came up, up, about my heart, an’ up, up, o’er my temples, till it darkened my een; an’ I fand that if it met on the crown o’ my head I was gane. Sae I thought it good, as lang as that wee master bit was sound, to make my escape, an’ aff I ran, an’ fell, an’ fell, an’ rase an’ ran again. As Riskinhope was the nearest house, I fled for that, where I wakened Davie Tait out o’ his bed in an unco plight. When he saw that I was a’ bedaubit wi’ mire o’er head an’ ears, (for I had faun a hunder times,) it was impossible to tell wha o’ us was maist frightit.

“Lord sauf us, goodman,” quo’ he, “are ye hangit?”


“Am I hangit, ye blockhead!” says I; “what do ye mean?”

“I m-m-mean,” says Davie, “w-w-war ye ek-ek-execute?”

“Dinna be feared for an auld acquaintance, Davie,” quo I, “though he comes to you in this guise.”

“Guise!” said Davie, staring and gasping for breath—“Gui-gui-guise! Then it se-e-e-eems ye are dead?”

“Gin I were dead, ye fool,” quoth I, “how could I be here? Give me your hand.”

“Uh-uh-uh-uuuh!” cried Davie, as I wore him up to the nook, and took haud o’ his hand by force. “Uh, goodman, ye are flesh and blude yet! But O ye’re cauld an’ ugsome!”

“Davie,” quoth I, “bring me a drink, for I hae seen something o’er-bye an’ I’m hardly just mysel.”

Davie ran and brought me a hale bowie-fu’ milk. “Tak a gude waught, goodman,” quo’ he, “an’ dinna be discouraged.[46] Ye maun lay your account to see and hear baith, sic things as ye never saw or heard afore, gin ye be gaun to bide here. Ye needna wonder that I thought ye war dead,—the dead are as rife here now as the living—they gang amang us, work amang us, an’ speak to us; an’ them that we ken to be half-rotten i’ their graves, come an’ visit our fire-sides at the howe o’ the night. There hae been sad doings here sin ye gaed away, goodman!”

“Sad doings I fear, indeed, Davie!” says I. “Can ye tell me what’s become o’ a’ my family?”

“Troth can I, goodman. Your family are a’ weel. Keatie’s at hame her lievahlane, an’ carrying on a’ the wark o’ the farm as weel as there war a hunder wi’ her. Your twa sons an’ auld Nanny bide here; an’ the honest gudewife hersel she’s away to Gilmanscleuch. But oh, gudeman, there are sad things gaun on o’er-bye yonder; an’ mony a ane thinks it will hae a black an’ a dreadfu’ end. Sit down an’ thraw aff[47] your dirty claes, an’ tell us what ye hae seen the night.”

“Na, na, Davie! unless I get some explanation, the thing that I hae seen the night maun be lockit up in this breast, an’ be carried to the grave wi’ it. But, Davie, I’m unco ill; the cauld sweat is brekking on me frae head to foot. I’m feared I gang away athegither.”

“Wow, gudeman, what can be done?” quo’ Davie. “Think ye we sudna tak the beuk?”

“I was sae faintish I coudna arguy wi’ the fool, an’ ere ever I wist he has my bonnet whuppit aff, and is booling at a sawm; and when that was done, to the prayin’ he fa’s, an’ sic nonsense I never heard prayed a’ my life. I’ll be a rogue gin he wasna speakin’ to his Maker as he had been his neighbour herd; an’ then he was baith fleetching an’ fighting wi’ him. However, I came something to mysel again, an’ Davie he thought proper to ascribe it a’ to his bit ragabash prayer.”


Walter spent a restless and a troubled morning till day-light, and Davie said, that wearied as he was, he believed he never closed his een, for he heard him frequently turning in the bed, and moaning to himself; and he heard him once saying, with deep sighs as if weeping,—“O my poor Keatie Laidlaw! what is to become o’ her! My poor lost, misled lassie! Wae’s my heart for her! I fear she is ruined for this world—an’ for the aftercome, I dare hardly venture to think about it!—O wae’s me for my poor luckless bairn!”



Next morning Walter and his two sons, and old Nanny, went all over to Chapelhope together, just as the cows came to the loan; and the farmer was sundry times remarking by the way that “day-light had mony een!” The truth was, that the phantoms of superstition had in a measure fled with the shadows of the night, which they seldom fail to do. They, indeed, remain in the bosom, hid, as it were, in embryo, ready to be embodied again at the fall of the long shadow in the moon-light, or the evening tale round the fading embers; but Walter at this time, perhaps, regarded the visions of last night as dreams scarcely remembered, and less believed, and things[50] which in the open day he would have been ashamed to have acknowledged.

Katharine had begun a-milking, but when she beheld her father coming across the meadow, she left her leglen and ran home. Perhaps it was to put his little parlour in order, for no one of the family had set foot within that house but herself for three weeks—or perhaps she did not choose that their meeting should be witnessed by other eyes. In short, she had something of importance to put to rights—for home she ran with great haste; and Walter, putting his sons to some work to detain them, followed her all alone. He stepped into the parlour, but no one being there, he sat down on his elbow chair, and began to look about him. In a few seconds his daughter entered—flung herself on her father’s knee and bosom—clasped her arms about his neck—kissed him, and shed a flood of tears on his breast. At first he felt somewhat startled at her embrace, and his arms made a feeble and involuntary effort to press her away[51] from him; but she grew to him the closer, and welcomed him home with such a burst of filial affection and tenderness, that nature in a short time regained her empire over the father’s heart; and there was to be seen old Walter with his large hands pressing her slender waist, keeping her at a little distance from him on his knee, and looking stedfastly in her face, with the large tear rolling in his eye. It was such a look as one sometimes takes of the corpse of one that was dearly beloved in life. Well did she read this look, for she had the eye of the eagle for discernment; but she hid her face again on his shoulder, and endeavoured, by familiar enquiries, to wean him insensibly from his reserve, and draw him into his wonted freedom of conversation with her.

“Ye ken o’er well,” said he at length, “how deep a haud ye hae o’ this heart, Keatie. Ye’re my ain bairn still, and ye hae done muckle for my life—but”——


“Muckle for your life!” said she, interrupting him—“I have been but too remiss. I have regretted every hour that I was not with you attending you in prison, administering to all my father’s wants, and helping to make the time of bondage and suspense pass over more lightsomely; but grievous circumstances have prevented me. I have had sad doings here since you went away, my dear father—there is not a feeling that can rack the human heart that has not been my share. But I will confess all my errors to my father, fall at his knees, and beg his forgiveness—ay, and I hope to receive it too.”

“The sooner ye do sae the better then, Keatie,” said he—“I was here last night, an’ saw a sight that was enough to turn a father’s heart to stane.”

You were here last night!” said she emphatically, while her eyes were fixed on the ground—“You were here last night! Oh! what shall become of me!”


“Ay, weel may ye say sae, poor lost and undone creature! I was here last night, though worn back by some o’ your infernals, an’ saw ye in the mids o’ your dreadfu’ game, wi’ a’ your bike o’ hell round about ye. I watna what your confession and explanation may do; but without these I hae sworn to myself, and I’ll keep my aith, that you and I shall never night thegither again in the same house, nor the same part o’ the country—ay, though it should bring down my grey hairs wi’ sorrow to the grave, I’ll keep that aith.”

“I fear it will turn out a rash vow,” said she, “and one that we may all repent to the last day that we have to live. There is danger and jeopardy in the business, and it is connected with the lives and souls of men; therefore, before we proceed farther in it, relate to me all the circumstances of your trial, and by what means you are liberated.”

“I’ll do that cheerfully,” said Walter, “gin it war but to teach you compliance.”


He then went over all the circumstances of his extraordinary trial, and the conditions on which he was discharged; and ended by requiring her positively to give him the promised explanation.

“So you are only then out on bail,” said she, “and liable to be cited again on the same charges?”

“No more,” was the reply.

“It is not then time yet for my disclosure,” said she; “and no power on earth shall wring it from me; therefore, my dear father, let me beg of you to urge your request no farther, that I may not be under the painful necessity of refusing you again.”

“I hae tauld ye my determination, Keatie,” returned he; “an’ ye ken I’m no very apt to alter. If I should bind ye in a cart wi’ my ain hands, ye shall leave Chapelhope the night, unless ye can avert that by explaining your connections to me. An’ why should ye no?—Things can never appear waur to my mind than they are just now—If hell itself had been opened to my e’e, an’[55] I had seen you ane o’ the inmates, I coudna hae been mair astoundit than I was yestreen. I’ll send ye to Edinburgh, an’ get ye safely put up there, for I canna brook things ony langer in this state. I winna hae my family scattered, an’ made a bye-word and an astonishment to the hale country this gate—Outher tell me the meaning o’t, or lay your account to leave your father’s house this day for ever.”

“You do not know what you ask, father—the thing is impossible. Was ever a poor creature so hard bestead! Will not you allow me a few days to prepare for such a departure?”

“No ae day, nor ae hour either, Kate. Ye see this is a situation o’ things that canna’ be tholed ony langer.”

She sat down as if in deep meditation, but she neither sobbed nor wept. “You are only out on bail,” said she, “and liable to be tried again on the same grounds of charge?”


“Ay, nae mair,” said Walter; “but what need ye harp on that? I’m safe enough. I forgot to tell you that the judges were sae thoroughly convinced of my loyalty and soundness, (as they ca’d it) that they wadna risk me to the vote of a jury; an’ that the bit security they sought was naething but a mere sham to get honourably quit of me. I was likewise tauld by ane that kens unco weel, that the king has gotten ither tow to teaze than persecuting whigs ony langer, an’ that there will soon be an order put out of a very different nature. There is never to be mair blood shed on account of the covenanted reformation in Scotland.”

When Walter began this speech, his daughter lifted up her downcast eyes, and fixed them on his face with a look that manifested a kind of hopeless apathy; but as he advanced, their orbs enlarged, and beamed with a radiance as if she had been some superior intelligence. She did not breathe—or, if she did, it stole imperceptibly from[57] between her parted ruby lips. “What did you say, my dear father?” said she.

“What did I say!” repeated Walter, astonished and nettled at the question—“What the deil was i’ your lugs, that ye didna hear what I said? I’m sure I spake out. Ye are thinking o’ something else, Kate.”

“Be so good as repeat every word that you said over again,” said she, “and tell me whence you drew your intelligence.”

Walter did so; repeating it in still stronger and more energetic language than he had done before, mentioning at the same time how he had his information, which could not be doubted.

“It is enough, my dear father,” said she. “Say not another word about it. I will lay open all my errors to my father this instant—come with me, and I will show you a sight!”

As she said this, she put her arm in her father’s to lead him away; but Walter looked[58] about him with a suspicious and startled eye, and drew somewhat back.

“You must go instantly,” continued she, “there is no time so fit; and whatever you may see or hear, be not alarmed, but follow me, and do as I bid you.”

“Nane o’ your cantrips wi’ me, Kate,” said Walter—“I see your drift weel eneugh, but ye’ll find yoursel disappointit. I hae lang expectit it wad come to this; but I’m determined against it.”

“Determined against what, my dear father?”

“Ye want to mak a warlock o’ me, ye imp o’ mischief,” said Walter; “but I hae taen up my resolution there, an’ a’ the temptations o’ Satan sanna shake it. Nah! Gudefaith, auld Wat o’ the Chapelhope’s no gaun to be led away by the lug an’ the horn to the deil that gate.”

Katharine’s mien had a tint of majesty in it, but it was naturally serious. She scarcely ever laughed, and but seldom smiled; but[59] when she did so, the whole soul of delight beamed in it. Her face was like a dark summer day, when the clouds are high and majestic, and the lights on the valley mellowed into beauty. Her smile was like a fairy blink of the sun shed through these clouds, than which, there is nothing in nature that I know of so enlivening and beautiful. It was irresistible;—and such a smile beamed on her benign countenance, when she heard her father’s wild suspicions expressed in such a blunt and ardent way; but it conquered them all—he went away with her rather abashed, and without uttering another word.

They walked arm in arm up by the side of the burn, and were soon out of sight of Nanny and the boys. Walter was busy all the way trying to form some conjecture what the girl meant, and what was to be the issue of this adventure, and began to suspect that his old friends, the Covenant-men, were some way or other connected with it; that it was they, perhaps, who had[60] the power of raising those spirits by which his dwelling had been so grievously haunted, for he had heard wonderful things of them. Still there was no coindication of circumstances in any of the calculations that he was able to make, for his house had been haunted by Brownie and his tribe long ere he fell in with the fugitive Covenanters. None of them had ever given him the least hint about the matter, or the smallest key to it, which he believed they would have done; nor had he ever mentioned a word of his connection with them to one of his family, or indeed to any one living. Few were the words that past between the father and daughter in the course of that walk, but it was not of long duration.

They soon came to the precipitate linn on the South Grain, where the soldiers had been slain. Katharine being a little way before, began to scramble across the face of the rock by a path that was hardly perceptible. Walter called after her, “Where[61] are ye gaun, Keatie? It’s impossible to win yont there—there’s no outgate for a mouse.”

“We will try,” answered she; “it is perhaps not so bad as it looks—Follow me—you have nothing to fear.”

Walter followed; for however much he was affrighted for brownies, and fairies, and dead corpses, and all these awful kind of things, he was no coward among rocks and precipices. They soon reached a little dass in the middle of the linn, or what an Englishman would call a small landing-place. Here she paused till her father reached her, and pointed out to him the singularity of their situation, with the burn roaring far below their feet, and the rock fairly overhanging them above.

“Is it not a romantic and tremendous spot?” said she.

“It is that!” said Walter, “an’ I believe you and I are the first that ever stood on it.”

“Well, this is the end of our journey,”[62] said she; and, turning about, she began to pull at a bush of heath that grew between two rocks.

“What can she be gaun to do wi’ the heather?” thought Walter to himself, when instantly a door opened, and showed a cavern that led into the hill. It was a door wattled with green heath, with the tops turned outward so exactly, that it was impossible for any living to know but that it was a bush of natural heath growing in the interstice. “Follow me, my dear father,” said she, “you have still nothing to fear;” and so saying she entered swiftly in a stooping posture. Walter followed, but his huge size precluded the possibility of his walking otherwise than on all fours, and in that mode he fairly essayed to follow his mysterious child; but the path winded—his daughter was quite gone—and the door closed behind him, for it was so constructed as to fall to of itself, and as Walter expressed it,—“There was he left gaun boring[63] into the hill like a moudiwort, in utter darkness.” The consequence of all this was, that Walter’s courage fairly gave way, and, by an awkward retrograde motion, he made all the haste he was able back to the light. He stood on the shelve of the rock at the door for several minutes in confused consternation, saying to himself, “What in the wide world is com’d o’ the wench? I believe she is gane away down into the pit bodily, an’ thought to wile me after her; or into the heart o’ the hill, to some enchantit cave, amang her brownies, an’ fairies, an’ hobgoblins. L‑‑d have a care o’ me, gin ever I saw the like o’ this!” Then losing all patience, he opened the door, set in his head, and bellowed out,—“Hollo, lassie!—What’s com’d o’ ye? Keatie Laidlaw—Holloa!” He soon heard footsteps approaching, and took shelter behind the door, with his back leaning to the rock, in case of any sudden surprise, but it was only his daughter, who chided him gently for his timidity and want of confidence in[64] her, and asked how he could be frightened to go where a silly girl, his own child, led the way? adding, that if he desired the mystery that had so long involved her fate and behaviour to be cleared up, he behoved to enter and follow her, or to remain in the dark for ever. Thus admonished, Walter again screwed his courage to the sticking-place, and entered in order to explore this mysterious cave, following close to his daughter, who led him all the way by the collar of the coat as he crept. The entrance was long and irregular, and in one place very narrow, the roof being supported here and there by logs of birch and alder. They came at length into the body of the cave, but it was so dimly lighted from above, the vent being purposely made among rough heath, which in part overhung and hid it from view without, that Walter was almost in the middle of it ere ever he was aware, and still creeping on his hands and knees. His daughter at last stopped short, on which he lifted his eyes,[65] and saw indistinctly the boundaries of the cave, and a number of figures standing all around ready to receive him. The light, as I said, entered straight from above, and striking on the caps and bonnets which they wore on their heads, these shaded their faces, and they appeared to our amazed goodman so many blackamoors, with long shaggy beards and locks, and their garments as it were falling from their bodies piece-meal. On the one side, right over against him, stood a coffin, raised a little on two stones; and on the other side, on a couch of rushes, lay two bodies that seemed already dead, or just in the last stage of existence; and, at the upper end, on a kind of wicker chair, sat another pale emaciated figure, with his feet and legs wrapt up in flannel, a napkin about his head, and his body wrapped in an old duffel cloak that had once belonged to Walter himself. Walter’s vitals were almost frozen up by the sight,—he uttered a hollow exclamation, something like the beginning of[66] a prayer, and attempted again to make his escape, but he mistook the entrance, and groped against the dark corner of the cavern. His daughter pulled him by the arm, intreating him to stay, and addressing the inmates of that horrid den, she desired them to speak to her father, and explain the circumstances of their case, for he was still bewildered, and the scene was too much for him to bear.

“That we will do joyfully,” said one, in a strong intelligent voice.

Walter turned his eyes on the speaker, and who was it but the redoubted Brownie of Bodsbeck, so often mentioned before, in all his native deformity; while the thing in the form of a broad bonnet that he wore on his head, kept his features, grey locks and beard, wholly in the shade; and, as he approached Walter, he appeared a being without any definitive form or feature. The latter was now standing on his feet, with his back leaned against the rock that formed the one side of the cave, and breathing[67] so loud, that every whiff sounded in the caverned arches like the rush of the winter wind whistling through the crevices of the casement.

Brownie approached him, followed by others.

“Be not alarmed, goodman,” said the creature, in the same solemn and powerful voice; “you see none here but fellow-creatures and Christians—none who will not be happy to bestow on you their blessing, and welcome you as a father.”

He stretched forth his hand to take hold of our goodman’s. It was bent to his side as by a spasm, and at the same time a volley of breath came forth from his capacious chest with such a rush, that it was actually like the snort of a horse that is frightened in the dark. The Brownie, however, laid hold of it, stiff as it was, and gave it a squeeze and a hearty shake. “You are welcome, sir!” continued the shapeless mass, “to our dismal habitation. May the God[68] of Heaven particularly bless you in your family and in all your other concerns!”

The naming of this name dispelled Walter’s wild apprehensions like a charm, for though he was no devotee, yet his mind had a strong bias to the superstitions of the country in which he was bred; therefore this benediction, pronounced in such a tone of ardour and sublimity of feeling, had a powerful effect on his mind. But the circumstance that proved the most effective of all, was perhaps the sensible assurance gained by the shaking of hands, that Brownie was really and truly a corporeal being. Walter now held out his hand to all the rest as they came forward one by one, and shook hands heartily with them all, while every one of them blessed him in the name of their Maker or Redeemer. Walter was still involved in mystery, and all this while he had never uttered a word that any man could make meaning of; and after they had all shook hands with him, he[69] looked at the coffin; then at the figures on the couch; then at the pale wretch on the wicker-seat, and then at the coffin again.

“Let us fully understand one another,” said Katharine. “Pray, Brown, be so good as detail the circumstances of this party as shortly as you can to my father, for, as is natural, he is still perplexed and bewildered.”

“You see here before you, sir,” said the little hunchbacked figure, “a wretched remnant of that long persecuted, and now nearly annihilated sect, the covenanted reformers of the west of Scotland. We were expelled from our homes, and at last hunted from our native mountains like wolves, for none of our friends durst shelter any of us on their grounds, on pain of death. Even the rest of the persecuted disowned us, and became our adversaries, because our tenets were more stern and severe than theirs; for we acted on the principle of retaliation as far as it lay in our power, holding that to be in consistency with the laws of God and[70] man; therefore were we expelled from their society, which indeed we disdained.

“We first came to Bodsbeck, where we got shelter for a few weeks. It was there that I was first supposed by the menials, who chanced to see me, to be a Brownie, and that superstitious idea the tenant thought meet to improve for our safety; but on the approach of Lag’s people he dismissed us. We then fled to Leithenhall, from whence in a few days we were again compelled to fly; and at last came to this wild, the only place in the south that soldiers had never searched, nor could search with any degree of success. After much labour we completed this cave, throwing the stuff into the torrent below, so that the most minute investigator could not distinguish the smallest difference in the linn, or face of the precipice; and here we deemed we might live for years without being discovered; and here we determined to live, till God should see fit, in his own good time, to send some relief to his persecuted church in these lands.


“But alas, the worst evil of all awaited us! We subsisted for a considerable time by bringing victuals over night from a great distance, but even the means of obtaining these failed us; so that famine, and the dampness of the air here, we being compelled to lie inactive in the bowels of the earth for days and nights together, brought on us a malignant and pestilential fever. In three days from its first symptoms appearing, one half of our number were lying unable to move, or lift an eye. What could we do? The remnant could not fly, and leave their sick and wounded brethren to perish here unseen. We were unable to carry them away with us, and if we had, we had no place to which we could have conveyed them. We durst not apply to you, for if you had taken pity on us, we knew it would cost you your life, and be the means of bereaving your family of all your well-earned wealth. In this great extremity, as a last resource, I watched an opportunity, and laid our deplorable case before that dear maid your[72] daughter—Forgive these tears, sir; you see every eye around fills at mention of her name—She has been our guardian angel—She has, under Almighty Providence, saved the lives of the whole party before you—has supplied us with food, cordials, and medicines; with beds, and with clothing, all from her own circumscribed resources. For us she has braved every danger, and suffered every privation; the dereliction of her parents, and the obloquy of the whole country. That young man, whom you see sitting on the wicker chair there, is my only surviving son of five—he was past hope when she found him—fast posting to the last gaol—her unwearied care and attentions have restored him; he is again in a state of convalescence—O may the Eternal God reward her for what she has done to him and us!

“Only one out of all the distressed and hopeless party has perished, he whose body lies in that coffin. He was a brave, noble, and pious youth, and the son of a worthy[73] gentleman. When our dear nurse and physician found your house deserted by all but herself, she took him home to a bed in that house, where she attended him for the last seven days of his life with more than filial care. He expired last night at midnight, amid our prayers and supplications to heaven in his behalf, while that dear saint supported his head in his dying moments, and shed the tear of affliction over his lifeless form. She made the grave-clothes from her own scanty stock of linen—tied her best lawn napkin round the head; and”——

Here Walter could contain himself no longer; he burst out a crying, and sobbed like a child.

“An’ has my Keatie done a’ this?” cried he, in a loud broken voice—“Has my woman done a’ this, an’ yet me to suspect her, an’ be harsh till her? I might hae kend her better!” continued he, taking her in his arms, and kissing her cheek again and again. “But she sall hae ten silk gowns, an’ ten satin anes, for the bit linen[74] she has bestowed on sic an occasion, an’ a’ that she has wared on ye I’ll make up to her a hunder an’ fifty fauld.”

“O my dear father,” said she, “you know not what I have suffered for fear of having offended you; for I could not forget that their principles, both civil and religious, were the opposite of yours—that they were on the adverse side to you and my mother, as well as the government of the country.”

“Deil care what side they war on, Kate!” cried Walter, in the same vehement voice; “ye hae taen the side o’ human nature; the suffering and the humble side, an’ the side o’ feeling, my woman, that bodes best in a young unexperienced thing to tak. It is better than to do like yon bits o’ gillflirts about Edinburgh; poor shilly-shally milk-an’-water things! Gin ye but saw how they cock up their noses at a whig, an’ thraw their bits o’ gabs; an’ downa bide to look at aught, or hear tell o’ aught, that isna i’ the top fashion. Ye hae done very right, my[75] good lassie—od, I wadna gie ye for the hale o’ them, an’ they war a’ hung in a strap like ingans.”

“Then, father, since you approve I am happy. I have no care now save for these two poor fellows on that couch, who are yet far from being out of danger.”

“L‑‑d sauf us!” said Walter, turning about, “I thought they had been twa dead corpse. But now, when my een are used to the light o’ the place, I see the chaps are living, an’ no that unlife-like, as a body may say.”

He went up to them, spoke to them kindly, took their wan bleached sinewy hands in his, and said, he feared they were still very ill?

“Better than we have been,” was the reply—“Better than we have been, goodman. Thanks to you and yours.”

“Dear father,” said Katharine, “I think if they were removed down to Chapelhope, to dry comfortable lodgings, and had more regular diet, and better attendance, their[76] health might soon be re-established. Now that you deem the danger over, will you suffer me to have them carried down there?”

“Will I no, Kate? My faith, they shall hae the twa best beds i’ the house, if Maron an’ me should sleep in the barn! An’ ye sal hae naething ado but to attend them, an’ nurse them late an’ aire; an’ I’ll gar Maron Linton attend them too, an’ she’ll rhame o’er bladds o’ scripture to them, an’ they’ll soon get aboon this bit dwam. Od, if outher gude fare or drogs will do it, I’ll hae them playin’ at the pennystane wi’ Davie Tait, an’ prayin’ wi’ him at night, in less than twa weeks.”

“Goodman,” said old Brown, (for this celebrated Brownie was no other than the noted Mr John Brown, the goodman of Caldwell)—“Goodman, well may you be proud this day, and well may you be uplifted in heart on account of your daughter. The more I see and hear of her, the more am I struck with admiration; and I am persuaded of this, that, let your past life have been[77] as it may, the Almighty will bless and prosper you on account of that maid. The sedateness of her counsels, and the qualities of her heart, have utterly astonished me—She has all the strength of mind, and energy of the bravest of men, blent with all the softness, delicacy, and tenderness of femininity—Neither danger nor distress can overpower her mind for a moment—tenderness does it at once. If ever an angel appeared on earth in the form of woman, it is in that of your daughter”—

“I wish ye wad haud your tongue,” said Walter, who stood hanging his head, and sobbing aloud. The large tears were not now dropping from his eyes—they were trickling in torrents. “I wish ye wad haud your tongue, an’ no mak me ower proud o’ her. She’s weel eneugh, puir woman——It’s a—It’s a shame for a great muckle auld fool like me to be booin an’ greetin like a bairn this gate!—but deil tak the doer gin I can help it!—I watna what’s ta’en me the day!—She’s weel eneugh, puir[78] lassie. I daresay I never learned her ony ill, but I little wat where she has gotten a’ the gude qualities ye brag sae muckle o’, unless it hae been frae Heaven in gude earnest; for I wat weel, she has been brought up but in a ramstamphish hamely kind o’ way wi’ Maron an’ me.—But come, come! let us hae done wi’ this fuffing an’ blawing o’ noses, an’ making o’ wry faces. Row the twa puir sick lads weel up, an’ bring them down in the bed-claes to my house. An’ d’ye hear, callants—gudesake get your beards clippit or shaven a wee, an’ be something warld like, an’ come a’ down to Chapelhope; I’ll kill the best wedder on the Hermon-Law, an’ we shall a’ dine heartily thegither for aince; I’ll get ower Davie Tait to say the grace, an’ we’ll be as merry as the times will allow.”

They accepted the invitation, with many expressions of gratitude and thankfulness, and the rays of hope once more enlightened the dejected countenances that had so long been overshadowed with the gloom of despair.


“But there’s ae thing, callants,” said Walter, “that has astonished me, an’ I canna help speering. Where got ye the coffin sae readily for the man that died last night?”

“That coffin,” said Brown, “was brought here one night by the friends of one of the men whom Clavers caused to be shot on the other side of the ridge there, which you saw. The bodies were buried ere they came; it grew day on them, and they left it; so, for the sake of concealment, we brought it into our cave. It has been useful to us; for when the wretched tinker fell down among us from that gap, while we were at evening worship, we pinioned him in the dark, and carried him in that chest to your door, thinking he had belonged to your family. That led to a bloody business, of which you shall hear anon. And in that coffin, too, we carried off your ungrateful curate so far on his journey, disgraced for ever, to come no more within twenty miles of Chapelhope, on pain[80] of a dreadful death in twenty-four hours thereafter; and I stand warrandice that he shall keep his distance. In it we have now deposited the body of a beloved and virtuous friend, who always foretold this, from its first arrival in our cell.—But he rejoiced in the prospect of his dissolution, and died as he had lived, a faithful and true witness; and his memory shall long be revered by all the just and the good.”



I hate long explanations, therefore this chapter shall be very short; there are, however, some parts of the foregoing tale, which require that a few words should be subjoined in elucidation of them.

This John Brown was a strenuous and desperate reformer. He was the son of a gentleman by a second marriage, and half-brother to the Laird of Caldwells. He was at the battle of Pentland, with five brave sons at his back, two of whom were slain in the action, and he himself wounded. He was again at Bothwell Bridge with the remaining three, where he was a principal mover of the unhappy commotions in the army that day, owing to his violent irreclaimable principles of retaliation. A little[82] before the rout became general, he was wounded by a musket bullet, which grazed across his back, and deprived him of all power. A dragoon coming up, and seeing him alive, struck him again across the back with his sword, which severed the tendons, and cut him to the bone. His sons had seen him fall, and, knowing the spot precisely, they returned overnight, and finding him still alive, they conveyed him to a place of safety, and afterwards to Glasgow, where he remained concealed in a garret in a friend’s house for some months; and, after great sufferings in body and mind, recovered of his wounds; but, for want of surgical assistance, he was so crooked and bowed down, that his nearest friends could not know him; for in his youth, though short in stature, he was strong and athletic. At length he reached his own home, but found it ransacked and desolate, and learned that his wife was carried to prison, he knew not whether. His powerful eloquence, and wild Cameronian principles,[83] made him much dreaded by the other party; a high reward was offered for apprehending him, so that he was driven to great straits, yet never failed to wreak his vengeance on all of the persecuting party that fell within his power, and he had still a number of adherents.

At length there was one shot in the fields near Kirkconnel that was taken for him, and the promised reward actually paid; on which the particular search after him subsided. His two youngest sons both died for the same cause with the former, but James, his third son, always kept by his father, until taken prisoner by Clavers as he was fishing one day in Coulter Water. Clavers ordered him to be instantly shot, but the Laird of Coulteralloes being present, interceded for him, and he was detained a prisoner, carried about from place to place, and at length confined in the gaol at Selkirk. By the assistance of his father and friends he effected his escape, but not before being grievously wounded; and, by[84] reason of the hurts he received, and the fever that attacked them in the cave, when Katharine was first introduced there, he was lying past hope; but, by her unwearied care and attention, he, with others, was so far recovered as to be able to sit up, and walk about a little. He was poor Nanny’s own son; and this John was her husband, whom she had long deemed in another and a happier state—No wonder that she was shocked and affrighted when she saw him again in such a form at midnight, and heard him speak in his own natural and peculiar voice. Their meeting that day at Chapelhope must be left to the imagination; it is impossible for any pen to do it justice.

It is only necessary to add, that Walter seems to have been as much respected and beloved by his acquaintances and domestics, at least as any neighbour or master of the present day, as will appear from the few following remarks. The old session-clerk and precentor at Ettrick said, “It was the luckiest thing that could have happened[85] that he had come home again, for the poor’s ladle had been found to be a pund Scots short every Sunday since he and his family had left church.” And fat Sandy Cunningham, the conforming clergyman there, a very honest inoffensive man, remarked, “that he was very glad to hear the news, for the goodman always gave the best dinners at the visitations and examinations of any farmer in his parish; and one always felt so comfortable in his house.” Davie Tait said, that “Divine Providence had just been like a stell dike to the goodman. It had bieldit him frae the bitter storm o’ the adversary’s wrath, an’ keepit a’ the thunner-bolts o’ the wicked frae brikking on his head; that, for his part, he wad sit down on his knees an’ thank Heaven, Sunday and Saturday, for his return, for he could easily lend his master as muckle siller as wad stock a’ Riskinhope ower again, an’ there was little doubt but he wad do it.” Even old John of the Muchrah remarked, “that it was just as[86] weel that his master was come back, for he had an unco gude e’e amang the sheep when ought was gaun wrang on the hill, an’ the ewes wadna win nae mair into the hogg fence o’ the Quave Brae, i’ the day time at ony rate.”

If there are any incidents in this Tale that may still appear a little mysterious, they will all be rendered obvious by turning to a pamphlet, entitled, A Cameronian’s Tale, or The Life of John Brown, written by himself. But any reader of common ingenuity may very easily solve them all.






Love is a passion so capricious, so violent, and so productive of whimsical expedients, that there is no end of its varieties. Dramas may be founded, plots arranged, and novels written on the subject, yet the simple truth itself generally outlasts them all. The following story, which relates to an amiable family still existing, is so like a romance, that perhaps the word of a narrator is insufficient to stamp it with that veracity to which it is entitled. The principal incidents, however, are set down precisely as they were related to me; only I have deemed it meet to change the designations of[90] the individuals, so far that they cannot be recognised by any one not previously acquainted with the circumstances.

The late Laird of Earlhall dying in the fiftieth year of his age, as his grave-stone intimates, left behind him a widow, and two sons both in their minority. The eldest was of a dashing impatient character—he had a kind and affectionate heart, but his actions were not always tempered with prudence. He entered at an early age into the army, and fell in the Peninsular War when scarcely twenty-two years of age. The estate thus devolved wholly on the youngest, whose name for the present shall be Lindsey, that being his second Christian name, and the one by which his mother generally called him. He had been intended for the law, but on his brother’s death gave up the study as too laborious for his easy and careless disposition. He was attached to literature; and after his return home his principal employment consisted in poring over his books, and managing a little flower-garden[91] in which he took great delight. He was studious, absent, and sensible, but paid little attention to his estate, or the extensive farm which he himself occupied.

The old lady, who was a stirring, talkative, industrious dame, entertained him constantly with long lectures on the ill effects of idleness. She called it the blight of youth, the grub of virtue, and the mildew of happiness; and sometimes, when roused into energy, she said it was the devil’s langsettle on which he plotted all his devices against human weal. Lindsey bore all with great patience, but still continued his easy and indolent way.

The summer advanced—the weather became peculiarly fine—labourers were busy in every field, and the shepherd’s voice, and the bleating of his flocks, sounded from the adjacent mountains by break of day. This lively and rousing scene gave a new edge to the old lady’s remonstrances; they came upon poor Lindsey thicker and faster, like the continued dropping of a rainy day,[92] until he was obliged in some degree to yield. He tried to reason the matter with her, in somewhat near to the following words; but there, lawyer as he was, he had no chance. He was fairly overcome.

“My dear mother,” said he, “what does all this signify?—Or what is it that I can effect by my superintendance? Our farmers are all doing well, and pay their rents regularly; and as for our farm-servants, they have each of them filled the same situation so long and so creditably, that I feel quite awkward when standing looking over them,—it looks as if I suspected their integrity, which has been so often proved. Besides, it is a leading maxim with me, that if a man, and more particularly a woman, know or believe that trust is reposed in them, they will, in ten out of eleven instances, deserve it; but if once they see that they are suspected, the feeling towards you is changed, and they will in a little time as likely deserve the one as the other. Our wealth is annually increasing, at least[93] as fast as necessary, and it is my principal wish, that every one under us may be as easy and comfortable as possible.”

This was true, for the old lady being parsimonious in the extreme, their riches had increased rapidly since the death of the late laird. As for Lindsey, he never spent any thing, save some trifle that he laid out yearly in payment of Reviews, and new books, and in relieving some poor families in the neighbourhood. The article of dress he left entirely to his mother: Whatever she bought or made for him he approved of, and whatever clothes or linen she laid down in his chamber, he put on without any observations. He acted upon the same principle with regard to his meals, but he sometimes was obliged to insist on a little addition being made to the comforts of the family servants, all of whom loved him as a friend and benefactor. He could at any time have swayed his mother so far as to make her a little more liberal towards the[94] men-servants, but with regard to the maids he had no such power. She and they lived at constant variance,—an irreconcileable jealousy seemed always to subsist between them, and woe to them if the young laird interested himself in their favour! Matters being in this state, he was obliged to witness this mutual animosity; this tyranny on the one hand, and discontent on the other, without having the power to amend it.

“But then, my dear Lindsey,” returned she to his former remonstrance, “making allowance for a’ that you say—allowing that your weel-spoken arguments are a’ foundit in truth, for laith wad you be to say an untruth, an’ I never heard an argument that wasna sound come out o’ your mouth,—but then I say, what’s to hinder you to gang a fishing like other gentlemen, or shooting moor-cocks, an’ paetricks, an’ black-cocks, as a’ ither countrymen o’ your age an’ station do? Some manly exercise in the field is absolutely necessary to keep your form[95] robust, your colour fresh, and your mind active; an’, indeed, you maunna be discontentit, nor displeased, if I insist on it, while the weather is so fine.”

“With regard to fowling, my dear mother, I am perfectly ignorant; I know nothing about the sport, and I never can delight in it, for often has it given me pain to see others pursuing it. I think the pleasure arising from it can scarcely originate in any thing else than a principle of cruelty. Fishing is little better. I never regret the killing of an ox, or sheep, by which we have so much necessary food for our life, but I think it hard to take a precious life for a single mouthful.”

“His presence be about us! Lindsey! what’s that ye say? Wha heard ever tell of a trout’s precious life? Or a salmon’s precious life? Or a ged’s precious life? Wow, man, but sma’ things are precious i’ your een! Or wha can feel for a trout? A cauldrife creature that has nae feeling itsel; a greedy grampus of a thing, that worries its[96] ain kind, an’ eats them whenever it can get a chance. Na, na, Lindsey, let me hear nae mair o’ sickan lang-nebbit fine-spun arguments; but do take your father’s rod, like a man, and a gentleman, and gang a fishing, if it were but an hour in the day; there are as many hooks and lines in the house as will serve you for seven years to come; an’ it is weel kend how plenty the trouts are in your ain water. I hae seen the day when we never wanted plenty o’ them at this time o’ the year.”

“Well, well,” said Lindsey, taking up a book, “I shall go to please you, but I would rather be at home.”

She rung the bell, and ordered in old John the barnman, one well skilled in the art of angling. “John,” said she, “put your master’s fishing-rod and tackle in order, he is going a fishing at noon.”

John shrugged up his shoulders when he heard of his master’s intent, as much as to say, “sic a fisher as he’ll mak!” however,[97] he went away in silence, and the order was quickly obeyed.

Thus equipt, away trudged Lindsay to the fishing for the first time in his life; slowly and indifferently he went, and began at the first pool he came to. John offered to accompany him, to which he assented, but this the old lady resisted, and bid him go to his work; he, however, watched his master’s motions slyly for some time, and on joining his fellow labourers remarked, that “his master was a real saft hand at the fishing.”

An experienced angler certainly would have been highly amused at his procedure. He pulled out the line, and threw it in again so fast, that he appeared more like one threshing corn than angling; he, moreover, fixed always upon the smoothest parts of the stream, where no trout in his right senses could possibly be inveigled. But the far greater part of his employment consisted in loosening the hook from different objects with which it chanced to come[98] in contact. At one time he was to be seen stooping to the arm-pits in the middle of the water, disengaging it from some officious twig that had intercepted its progress; at another time on the top of a tree tearing off a branch on which it had laid hold. A countryman happening to pass by just as he stood stripped to the shirt cutting it out of his clothes, in which it had fastened behind, observed, by way of friendly remark, that “they were fashous things them hooks.” Lindsey answered, that “they certainly had a singular knack of catching hold of things.”

He went through all this without being in the least disconcerted, or showing any impatience; and towards dinner-time, the trouts being abundant, and John having put on a fly that answered the weather, he caught some excellent fish, and might have caught many more had he been diligent; but every trout that he brought ashore took him a long time to contemplate. He surveyed his eye, his mouth, and the structure[99] of his gills with tedious curiosity; then again laid him down, and fixed his eyes on him in deep and serious meditation.

The next day he needed somewhat less persuasion from his mother to try the same amusement; still it was solely to please her that he went, for about the sport itself he was quite careless. Away he set the second day, and prudently determined to go farther up the water, as he supposed that part to be completely emptied of fish where he had been the day before. He sauntered on in his usual thoughtful and indifferent mood, sometimes throwing in his line without any manner of success. At length, on going over an abrupt ridge, he came to a clear pool where the farmers had lately been washing their flocks, and by the side of it a most interesting female, apparently not exceeding seventeen years of age, gathering the small flakes of wool in her apron that had fallen from the sheep in washing; while, at the same time, a beautiful well-dressed child, about two years old,[100] was playing on the grass. Lindsey was close beside her before any of them were aware, and it is hard to say which of the two were most surprised. She blushed like scarlet, but pretended to gather on, as if wishing he would pass without taking any notice of them; but Lindsey was rivetted to the spot; he had never in his life seen any woman half so beautiful, and at the same time her array accorded with the business in which she was engaged. Her form was the finest symmetry; her dark hair was tucked up behind with a comb, and hung waving in ringlets over her cheeks and brow, “like shadows on the mountain snow;” and there was an elegance in the model of her features, arms, and hands, that the youth believed he had never before seen equalled in any lady, far less a country girl.

“What are you going to do with that wretched stuff, lassie?” said Lindsey; “it has been trampled among the clay and sand, and is unfit for any human use.”

“It will easily clean again, sir,” said she,[101] in a frank and cheerful voice, “and then it will be as good as ever.”

“It looks very ill; I am positive it is for no manner of use.”

“It is certainly, as you say, not of great value, sir; but if it is of any, I may as well lift it as let it lie and rot here.”

“Certainly, there can be no harm in it; only I am sorry to see such a girl at such an employment.”

“It is better doing this than nothing,” was the reply.

The child now rolled himself over to get his face turned towards them; and, fixing his large blue eyes on Lindsey, looked at him with the utmost seriousness. The latter observing a striking likeness between the girl and the child, had no doubt that she was his sister; and, unwilling to drop the conversation, he added, abruptly enough, “Has your mother sent you to gather that stuff?”

“I have neither father nor mother, sir.”


“But one who supplies both their places, I hope. You have a husband, have not you?”

“Not as yet, sir; but there is no time lost.”

She blushed; but Lindsey coloured ten times deeper when he cast his eyes upon the child. His heart died within him at the thoughts that now obtruded themselves; it was likewise wrung for his imprudence and indelicacy. What was his business whether she was married or not, or how she was connected with the child? She seemed likewise to be put into some confusion at the turn the conversation was taking; and, anxious to bring it to a conclusion as soon as possible, she tucked up the wool in her apron below one arm, and was lifting up the child with the other to go away, when Lindsey stepped forward, saying, “Will not you shake hands with me, my good little fellow, before you go?”

“Ay,” said the child, stretching out his little chubby hand; “how d’ye doo, sil?”


Lindsay smiled, shook his hand heartily, and put a crown piece into it.

“Ah, sir, don’t give him that,” said she, blushing deeply.

“It is only a play-thing that he must keep for my sake.”

“Thank you, sil,” said the child. “Great muckle shilling, mamma.”

This last appellation, mamma, struck Lindsey motionless;—he had not another word to say;—while the two went away prattling to one another.

“Vely lalge fine-looking shilling, mamma.”

“Ay, it is a very bonny shilling, dear,” said she, kissing him, and casting a parting look at the petrified fisher.

“Mamma, mamma!” repeated Lindsey to himself an hundred times, trying it with every modulation of his voice. “This is the most extraordinary circumstance I ever witnessed. Now, who in the world can comprehend that thing called woman?—Who would not have sworn that that rural[104] beauty there was the most pure, innocent, and untainted of her sex?—And yet, behold! she has a fine boy running at her side, and calling her mamma!—Poor girl, is she not to be pitied?—When one thinks how some tender parent might rejoice over her, anticipating so much better things of her! It is plain she has been very indifferently used by the world—most cruelly used—and is she the less interesting on that account? I wish I knew how to make her some amends.”

Thus reasoned our moral fisher with himself, keeping all the while a sidelong glance towards her, till he saw her enter a little neat white-washed cottage not far from the side of the stream; there were sundry other houses inhabited by cottagers in the hamlet, and the farm-house stood at the head of the cluster. The ground belonged to Lindsey, and the farmer was a quiet sober man, a widower, with a large family. Lindsey now went up the water a-fishing every day; and though he often hovered a considerable[105] while at the washing-pool, and about the crook opposite to the cot, pretending all the while to be extremely busy fishing, he could never get another sight of the lovely Wool-gatherer, though he desired it above all present earthly things; for, some way or other, he felt that he pitied her exceedingly; and though he was not greatly interested in her, yet he was very much so in the child—he was certain it was the child that interested him so much—nevertheless, he was sorry too on account of the mother, for she seemed very gentle, and very amiable, and must have been abominably used; and therefore he could not help feeling very sorry for her indeed, as well as deeply interested in the child. On the second and third day that he went up, little George came out paddling to meet him at the water side, on which he always sent him in again with a fish in one hand, and some little present in the other; but after that, he appeared no more, which Lindsey[106] easily perceived to originate in the Wool-gatherer’s diffidence and modesty, who could not bear the idea of her little man receiving such gifts.

The same course was continued for many days, and always with the same success, as far as regarded the principal motive, for the trouts were only a secondary one—the beauteous Wool-gatherer was thenceforward invisible. After three weeks perseverance, it chanced to come on a heavy rain one day when he was but a little way above the farm-house. Robin the farmer, expecting that he would fly into his house until the shower abated, was standing without his own door to receive him; but he kept aloof, passed by, and took shelter in the Wool-gatherer’s cottage; though not without some scruples of conscience as to the prudence of the step he was taking. When he went in she was singing a melodious Scotch air, and plying at her wheel. “What a thoughtless creature she must be,” said he to himself; “and how little conscious of the state to[107] which she has fallen.” He desired her to go on with her song, but she quitted both that and her wheel instantly, set a chair for him, and sitting down on a low form herself, lighted sticks on the fire to warm and dry him, at the same time speaking and looking with the utmost cheerfulness, and behaving with all that ease and respect as if she had been his equal, and an old intimate acquaintance. He had a heart of the greatest integrity, and this was the very manner that delighted him; and indeed he felt that he was delighted in the highest degree by this fair mystery. He would gladly have learned her story, but durst not hint at such a thing for fear of giving her pain, and he had too much delicacy to enquire after her at any other person, or even to mention her name. He observed that though there was but little furniture in the house, yet it was not in the least degree like any other he had ever seen in such a cottage, and seemed very lately to[108] have occupied a more respectable situation. Little George was mounching at a lump of dry bread, making very slow progress. He kept his eyes fixed on his benefactor, but said nothing for a considerable time, till at length he observed him sitting silent as in pleasing contemplation; he then came forward with a bounce upon his knee, and smiled up in his face, as much as to say, “You are not minding little George?”

“Ah, my dear little fellow, are you there? Will you have a muckle shilling of me to-day?”

“Na, na; be vely solly. Mamma quite angly. She scold me.”

“Well, but since you have never come to help me to catch the fish for so long a time, I will only give you a very little one to-day.”

“Dear sir, if you would not distress me, don’t mind him; he is a little impudent fellow.—Go off from the gentleman, George.”

George clapped both his hands upon his[109] head, and went back without hesitation, gloomed at his mamma, and took again up his luncheon of dry bread.

“Nay, pardon me,” continued Lindsey; “but you must always suffer me to give my little new acquaintance something.” So saying, he put a guinea into the child’s hand.

“Hank you, sil,” said George,—“O no be angy, mamma—only ittle wee half-penny—ook ye, mamma.”

“Oh sir,” said she, “you distress me by these presents. I have no need of money, and what can he do with it but throw it away?”

“Nay, nay; pray don’t notice it; that is nothing between two friends like George and me.”

Lindsey dried himself; talked of indifferent matters, and then took the child on his knee and talked to him. The conversation had as yet been as free and unrestrained as possible, but Lindsey, by a blunder quite natural to a studious and absent man,[110] cut it short at once. “Tell me your name, good lad?” said he to the child. “Let me hear you say your name?”

“Geoge,” was the reply.

“But what more than George? Tell me what they call you more than George?”

“Just Geoge, sil. Mamma’s Geoge.”

“Pray, what is my young friend’s surname?” said Lindsey, with the greatest simplicity.

The Wool-gatherer stooped to the floor as if lifting something, in order that she might keep her face out of the light; two or three times an answer seemed trembling on her tongue, but none came. There was a dead silence in the cot, which none had the courage to break. How our unfortunate fisher’s heart smote him! He meant only to confer happiness, in place of which he had given unnecessary pain and confusion. The shower was past; he arose abruptly, said, “Goodb’ye, I will call and see my little George to-morrow,” and home he went, more perplexed than ever, and[111] not overmuch pleased with himself. But the thing that astonished him most of all was, the chearful serenity of her countenance and manners under such grievous misfortunes. He did not know whether to blame or approve of her for this; however, he continued to go up the water for the most part every day, and seldom failed to call at the cot. He meant no ill—he was certain he meant no harm to any one—it was only to see the child that he went, and why should any man be ashamed to go and see a child? Very well reasoned, gentle fisher! but beware that this is not the reverse of what you feel within. At all events, it is the world that must judge of your actions and mine, not we ourselves. Scandal is a busy vixen, and none can make fame fly so fast on an errand as she.

Robin, the farmer, was hurt in the tenderest part that day when his laird went by his door, and took shelter in the Wool-gatherer’s cot; and, on going in, he mentioned it in such a way, that his old maiden sister,[112] Meg, took note of it, and circulated it among the men-servants, with strong injunctions of secrecy. The continuation of his visits confirmed their worst suspicions: It was now no longer a matter of doubt with them what was going on, but an obvious certainty. The shameful and sudden attachment was blabbed from tongue to tongue, until every ear in the parish had drunk the delicious draught, save those of the parties implicated, and the old lady, the original cause of all. When he was seen go into the cot, an event that was strictly watched, the lasses would smile to each other,—the plowmen broke jests upon it,—and Meg would hold up both her hands and say,—“Hech wow, sirs! I wonder what our young gentles will turn to by an’ by. It winna be lang till marriage be out o’ the fashion a’ thegither, an’ the fock that pretend to be Christians a’ living through other like the wild Tartarers.”

Little wist the old lady of what was going on! She dreamed not once of a beautiful[113] stranger among the cottagers at Todburn (the name of Robin’s farm), that was working such deray, else woe would have been to her and all concerned; for there was nothing short of the sin not to be forgiven, that she dreaded so much as her son forming any attachment or connection with the country maidens. She had been congratulating herself mightily on the success of her expedient, in making him take such delight in a manly and healthful exercise, and one which led him insensibly to be acquainted with his people, and every part of his estate. She had even been boasting aloud of it to every one with whom she conversed; indeed her conversation with others was mostly about her son, for he being her only surviving child, she loved him with her whole heart, and her cares were all for him.

It happened one day that a little pert girl had come down from one of the cottages at Todburn to buy some milk, which the lady supplied to them from her dairy, and[114] while skimming and measuring it, she fell into conversation with this little sly and provoking imp.

“Did you see my son fishing in the water as you came down?”

“Na, na, mim; he was safe landit or I came away. He was fishing wi’ Hoy’s net.”

“Safe landit? Fishing wi’ Hoy’s net?—How do you mean?”

“He was gane in to tak a rest, mim,—that’s a’.”

“Oh, that was a’—was it? I’m glad to hear o’ that. I never knew he had called upon his tenants, or looked after them at all!”

“I trow he disna look muckle after them, mim. He’s keener o’ lookin’ after something else.”

“Oh ay, the trouts! To be sure they hae almaist gane between him an’ his wits for some time; but he’ll aye be seeing something o’ his land, an’ something o’ his fock. It was I that perswaded him to it. There are some lucky hits in life.”


“Ay, an’ some lucky misses too, mim, that some think he likes as weel.”

“He’s sae tender-hearted, I believe he may be as happy oft to miss the fish as to hit them; but that will soon wear away, as I tell him. He’s tender-hearted to a fault.”

“An’ there’s mae tender-heartit nor him. There’s some other kind o’ misses forbye trouts up the water.”

“What is it you say?”

“I’ll say nae mair about it—ane may very easily speak muckle nonsense.”

“Didna ye say that my son was gane into Robin’s house afore ye came away?”

“I never said sic a word, begging your pardon, mim. He wadna gang into Robin’s, though it war raining auld wives and Jeddart staves.”

“What house was he gone into then?”

“Into Jeany’s, mim.”

“Jeany’s! What Jeany?”

“I dinna ken what they ca’ her mair than Jeany. Little George’s mother, ye[116] ken, that lives at the head o’ the Washing-green.”

“Jeany!—Little George’s mother!—That lives at the head o’ the Washing-green!—Wha is she? Where comes she frae? Has she a husband?”

“Na, na, mim—nae husband.”

The lady breathed as short as if in the heat of a fever—hasted out to the air, and then returned with equal haste into the house, without being able to accomplish any thing, for her hands trembled like the aspin leaf; and, finally, after ordering the girl to send Robin down to her immediately, she took to her bed, and lay brooding over the great calamity of her son’s shameful attachment. These low-bred women were her bane; especially if they were beautiful, she loathed, she hated, and, if she could, would have cleared the country of them. This, therefore, was a great trial; and before Robin arrived, she had made out to herself a picture of as many disagreeable[117] objects as ever a distempered imagination conceived. Instead of a genteel respected wife, the head of a lovely family, a disgraceful connection, and an illegitimate offspring! Ills followed on ills, a dreadful train! She could think of nothing else, and the more she thought of it the worse did the consequences appear. Before her messenger reached Robin, she had regularly determined on the young woman’s dismissal from the estate, and, if possible, from the district.

We shall pass over a long conversation that took place between the old dame and Robin. It was maintained with great bitterness on the one hand, and servility on the other; but the final resolution was, that Jane should be ordered to depart from Todburn that night, or early the next morning; and if she refused, Robin was to bribe her to a compliance with any moderate sum of money, rather than that she should be suffered to remain longer; for the lady sagely observed, she might corrupt[118] and lead astray all the young men in the country side, and would likely, at the long run, cost the parish more than if it were to maintain a company of soldiers. Last of all, it was decreed that their proceedings should be kept a profound secret from Lindsey.

Robin went home; and waiting upon Jane, told her abruptly to prepare for her immediate departure from the house that she occupied, for that she could not be longer there; and that he would be answerable for her furniture until she sent for it, or otherwise disposed of it; that she needed not to ask any questions as to his motives, for that he was obliged to do as he did, and the thing was decided that she was not to remain longer there.

She answered not a word; but, with the tears in her eyes, and many a half-smothered sob, she packed up a small bundle of clothes, and, taking that below her arm and little George on her back, she went away, having first locked the door and given[119] the key to the farmer. “Farewell, Robin,” said she; “you are turning two very helpless and friendless creatures out to the open fields; but think you, you may not rue this on a day when you cannot help it?”

Robin was affected, but he was obliged to do as he was desired, and therefore made no defence, but said simply, “Farewell! Farewell!—God help thee, poor thing!”—He then kept an eye on her, that she might not communicate with any of the rest until she was fairly across the end of the Todburn-Law, and he was agreeably surprised at seeing her take that direction.

As soon as she got out of sight of her late dwelling, she sought a retired spot by the side of a clear mountain rivulet, where she sat down and gave free vent to her tears. “My poor child,” said she, clasping little George to her breast, “what is now to become of us, and where will our sorrows terminate? Here we are turned out[120] on the wide world, and have neither house nor home to cover our heads; we have no bed now, George, but the cold earth, and no covering but that sky that you see over us.”

“O no geet, mamma—no geet; Geoge vely wae,” said the child, clasping her neck in return, and sobbing aloud; “no geet, else Geoge tuln bad child, and geet too.”

“No, for your sake, my dear, I will not greet; therefore cheer up thy little kind heart, for there is One who will provide for us still, and will not suffer two helpless inexperienced beings like you and I to perish.”

“Geoge like ’at man.”

“It is no man that we must now depend on, my dear; we must depend on God, who will never forsake us.”

“Geoge like God.”

Here she kissed him and wept anew, yet was all the while trying to console him. “Let us be of good cheer, George; while[121] I have health I will work for you, for you have no one else on earth that cares for you.”

“But no geet, mamma, I tell you; Geoge wulk too. When Geoge tuln geat big man, Geoge wulk mole ’an two mans.”

Here their tender prattle was interrupted by a youth named Barnaby, who was close at their side before they observed him. He was one of Robin’s servants, who herded a few young sheep at the back of the hill where Jane was sitting. He was fifteen years of age, tall and thin, but had fine features, somewhat pitted with the small-pox. He had an inexhaustible fund of good-humour and drollery, and playing the fool among the rest of the servants to keep them laughing was his chiefest delight; but his folly was all affected, and the better part of his character lay concealed behind the screen of a fantastic exterior. He never mended his clothes like the rest of the servant lads, but suffered them to[122] fall into as many holes as they inclined; when any expostulated with him on the subject, he said, “he likit them nae the waur o’ twa or three holes to let in the air;” and, in truth, he was as ragged a youth as one would see in a summer day. His hat was remarkably broad-brimmed and supple, and hung so far over his eyes, that, when he looked any person in the face, he had to take the same position as if looking at a vertical star. This induced him often, when he wanted to see fairly about him, to fold in the fore part of the brim within the crown, which gave it the appearance of half a hat, and in this way was he equipped when he joined Jane and little George. They had been intimately acquainted from the first; he had done many little kind offices for her, and had the sagacity to discover that there was something about her greatly superior to the other girls about the hamlet; and he had never used the same freedom with her in his frolics that he was wont to do with them.


“What ails you, Jeany?” said he; “I thought I heard you greeting.”

“No, no, Barnaby; I do not ail any thing; I was not crying.”

“Why, woman, you’re crying yet, as you call it; tell me what ails you, and whar ye’re gaun this wild gate?”

“I’m going to leave you, Barnaby. I am going far from this.”

“I fear ye’re gaun awa frae us a’thegether. Hae ye been obliged to leave your ain wee house for want o’ meat?”

“I had plenty of meat; but your master has turned me out of my cot at an hour’s warning; he would not even suffer me to remain overnight, and I know of no place to which I can go.”

“O, deil be i’ the auld hard-heartit loon! Heard ever ony body the like o’ that?—What ailed him at ye? Hae ye done ony thing, Jeany, or said ony thing wrang?”

“It is that which distresses me. I have[124] not been given to know my offence, and I can form no conjecture of it.”

“If I had a hame, Jeany, ye should hae a share o’t. I dinna ken o’ ane I wad make mair welcome, even though I should seek a bed for mysel. War ye at my father’s cottage, I could insure you a month’s good hamely lodging, but it is far away, an’ a wild road till’t. I hae indeed an auld aunt about twa miles frae this, but she’s no muckle to lippen to, unless it come frae her ain side o’ the house; an’ then she’s a’ hinny and joe. If ye like I’ll gang that length wi’ ye, an’ try if she’ll put ye up a while till we see how matters turn.”

Jane was now so much confused in her mind, that, not being able to form any better measure for the present, she arose and followed her ragged conductor, and they arrived at his aunt’s house before sun-set.

“My dear aunt,” said Barnaby, “here is a very good an’ a very helpless lassie turned away frae her hame this same day,[125] and has nae place to gang to; if ye’ll be sae good, an’ sae kind, as to let her stay a while wi’ you, I will do ten times as muckle for you again some ither day.”

“My faith, stirra!” said she, setting up a face like a fire-brand, and putting her arms a-kimbo—“My faith, man, but ye’re soon begun to a braw trade!—How can ye hae the assurance, ye brazen-faced rascal, to come rinning to me wi’ a hizzy an’ bairn at your tail, an’ desire me to keep them for ye? I’ll sooner see you an’ her, an’ that little limb, a’ hung up by the links o’ the neck, than ony o’ ye sal crook a hough or break bread wi’ me.”

“There’s for’t now! There’s for’t! When the deil gets in, the fire maun flee out!—But aunt, I ken the first word’s aye the warst wi’ ye; ye’re never sae ill as ye say. Think like a Christian. How wad ye hae likit, when ye war as young, to hae been turned out to the open hills wi’ a bairn in your arms?”

“Hear to the tatterdemallion!—Christian![126] Bairn i’ my arms!—Ye impudent, hempy-looking tike that ye are! Pack out o’ my house, I say, or I’ll gar the bluid blind your een—ay, an’ your bit toastit pie too, wi’ its piece barrell’d beef! Gang after your braw gallaunt, wi’ your oxterfu’ ket!—A bonny pair, troth!—A light head makes a heavy fitt!”

Barnaby retired with his back foremost, facing up his aunt all the way till fairly in the open fields, for fear of actual violence; but the epithets he bestowed on her there in the bitterness of his heart cannot here be set down. Jane trembled, yet was obliged to smile at his extravagance, for it had no bounds; while his aunt stood in her door, exulting and calling after him every thing that she could construe to mortify and provoke him. Tears for a space choked his utterance; at length he forced out the following sentence in vollies.

“Wae—wae be to the—the auld randy—witch!—Had I but the—owrance o’ the land for ae day—I—I should gar some look[127] about them. My master an’ she hae this wark to answer for yet; they’ll get their dichens for’t some day—that’s ae comfort! Come away, Jeany—they’ll squeel for this—let them tak it!—Come away, Jeany.”

“Where would you have me to go now, Barnaby?”

“Out-by aff that auld witch at ony rate! I’ll hae ye put up though I should travel a hunder mile.”

“Let me beseech you to return to your flock, and trouble yourself no farther about my infant and I. Heaven will take care of us.”

“It disna look very like it just now. I dinna argy that it is wrang to trust in Heaven—only, gin we dinna use the means, Heaven’s no obliged to work miracles for us. It is hard upon the gloamin’, an’ there is not another house near us; if we sit down and trust, ye’ll hae to sleep in the fields, an’ then baith you an’ that dear bairn may get what ye will never cast. Let[128] us make a wee exertion the night, and I hae resolved what ye shall do to-morrow.”

“And what shall I do to-morrow, Barnaby?”

“Go with me to my parents; they hae nae doughter o’ their ain, an’ my mither will be muckle the better o’ your help, an’ they will baith be very glad to see you, Jeany. Gudeness be thankit! the warld’s no just a’ alike. I’ the meantime my pickle gimmers dinna need muckle at my hand just now, sae I’ll gae an’ ax my master for a day to see my fock, and gang fit for fit wi’ ye the morn.”

She fixed her humid eyes on him in pleasing astonishment; she had never before witnessed such earnest and disinterested benevolence; the proposal was made in such a way that she could not refuse it, else she saw that she would give a kind and feeling heart pain. “I have a great mind to make trial of your expedient, good Barnaby,” said she; “all parts of the country[129] are now alike to me; I must go somewhere; and as it is but a hard day’s journey, I will go and see the parents of so good a lad.”

“Now that’s spoken like yoursel, an’ I’m glad to hear ye say’t—But what’s to come o’ ye the night?”

“I have some victuals with me, and I can lie in the fields this pleasant night; it is a good one to begin with, for who knows what’s before one?”

“I canna think o’ that ava. If ye war to lay that bonny red cheek on the cauld dew, an’ the wind blawin’ i’ little George’s face, there wad some sleep nane the night; but there is a little snug sheep-house in our Hope, a wee bit frae this; let us gang there, an’ I will take little George in my bosom, an’ hap you wi’ my plaid.—O, but I forgot—that will never do,” continued he, in a melancholy tone, and looking at his ragged doublet and riven clothes. Away, however, to the sheep-cot they went, where[130] they found plenty of old hay, and Jane instantly proposed that he should go home and leave them alone, get leave of his master, and join them next morning.

“But I dinna ken about it,” said Barnaby, hanging his head and looking serious; “that linn’s an unco uncanny place for bogles; an’ by this time o’ night they’ll be keeking ower the black haggs o’ the Cairny Moss to see what’s gaun on. If ony o’ them war to come on ye here, they might terrify you out o’ your wits, or carry ye baith aff, lith and limb—Is the callant baptized?”

Jane answered in the affirmative, smiling; and farther assured him, that he needed to be under no apprehensions on account of spirits, for she was perfectly at ease on that score, having a good assurance that no spirit had power over her.

“Ay, ye are maybe a gospel minister’s bairn, or an auld Cameronian; that is, I mean come o’ the saints and martyrs—they had unco power—I hae heard o’ some o’[131] them that fought the deil, hand to fist, for an hour and forty minutes, and dang him at the last—yethered him and yerked him till he couldna mou’ another curse. But these times are gane! yet it’s no sae lang sin’ auld Macmillan (ye hae heard o’ auld Macmillan?) was coming through that linn i’ the derk wi’ twa o’ his elders an’ they spak o’ the bogle, but Macmillan jeered at it; an’ when they came to the tap o’ yon steep brae they stoppit to take their breath; and there they heard a loud nichering voice come out o’ the howe o’ the linn, an’ it cried,

“Ha, ha, Macky! had ye been your lane,
Ye should never hae crackit through either wood or water again.”

“Say ye sae, fause loun,” quo’ the auld hardy veteran; “than be at your speed, for I’ll gang through that wood my lane in spite o’ your teeth, an’ a’ hell at your back.” An’ what does the carl do, but leaves his twa elders yonder, standin glowrin i’ the[132] howe night, an’ trodges his way back through the linn to the very farrest side o’t—said the hunder-an’-ninth psalm against him, an’ came back wi’ never a turned hair on his head. But yet for a’ that, Jeany, dinna lippen ower muckle to bygane things; there have been fairy raids i’ the Hope, an’ mony ane ill fleyed. I could tell ye sic a story of a wicked laird here!”

Jane entreated him not to tell it that night, but amuse them with it to-morrow as they journeyed. He was passive—left them his plaid—went home and got leave of absence from his master for two days, but hinted nothing of what had passed in the Hope. He was again back at the sheep-house by the time the sun arose; and, early as it was, he found Jane walking without, while little George was sleeping soundly on the hay, wrapped in the plaid. She said she had got a sound and short sleep, but awakening at dawn she had stepped out to taste the fresh mountain air, and see the sun rise. When they lifted the child he[133] was somewhat fretful—a thing not customary with him; but he was soon pacified, and they proceeded without delay on their journey.

Until once they had cleared the boundaries of the farm of Todburn, Barnaby was silent, and looked always around with a jealous eye, as if dreading a surprise. When his fellow-traveller asked the reasons of his anxiety, he remained silent; but as soon as they got fairly into the next glen he became as gay and talkative as ever. She deemed it to be some superstitious dread that discomposed him, but was left to guess the cause.

“Jeany,” said he, “you said you had a short and sound sleep last night—so had I. Pray, did you dream ony?”

“Not that I remember of; but I put no faith in dreams.”

“Weel, how different fock’s bodies, or their souls, or something about them maun be frae ane anither! For I’m come this length in the warld, an’ I never yet dreamed[134] a regular dream, in a sound sleep, that I didna get as plainly read to me as the A B C. I had a strange dream last night, Jeany, an’ it was about you. I am sure I’ll live to see it fulfilled; but what it means even now, I canna in the least comprehend.”

“Well, Barnaby, suppose you give us it. I have read the Book of Knowledge, and may lend you a hand at the interpretation.”

“I thought I saw ye lying in a lonesome place, an’ no ane in the wide world to help or heed ye, till there was a poor bit black mootit-like corby came down frae the hills an’ fed ye. I saw it feeding ye, an’ I thought ye war as contentit, an’ as bonny, an’ as happy as ever. But ere ever I wist, down comes there a great majestic eagle some gate frae about the e’e-bree o’ the heavens, an’ cleeks ye away up to the lowne bieldy side o’ a sunny hill, where ye had a’ braw things. An’ I dinna ken how it was, I thought ye war a she eagle sitting amang[135] your young, an’ I thought aye ye war a woman too, an’ I coudna separate the tane frae the tither; but the poor bit plottit forefoughen corby gaed alang w’ye, an’ ye war kind to him, an’ fed him in your turn, an’ I saw him hoppin, an’ pickin, an’ dabbin round about ye, as happy as ever I saw a beast, an’ the erne didna chase him away, but was kind to him; but somehow, or I wakened, I thought it was the confusedest thing I ever saw. Na, ye needna laugh nor smile, for we’ll baith live to see it read.”

“Believe me, Barnaby, it will never be apparent; you may force circumstances to agree with it, but these will not be obvious ones.”

“It’s needless for me to arguy wi’ you unless I can bring things hame to your ain conscience; but can ye say that ye never got a dream read?”

“Never that I noted; for I never thought of them.”

“Or, for instance, have ye never, when[136] you saw a thing for the first time, had a distinct recollection of having seen it sometime afore?”


“How wonderfu’! I have done so a thousand an’ a thousand times. I have remembered of having seen exactly the same scene, the same faces, the same looks, and heard the same words, though I knew all the while that I never had seen them in reality; and that I could only have seen them in some former vision, forgotten, or perhaps never remembered.”

She now saw clearly that dreams, visions, and apparitions, were Barnaby’s region of existence—His very thoughts and language seemed elevated whenever he entered on the subject; and it being a trait in the shepherd’s character that she had never thought of before, she resolved to encourage it, and asked for a single instance of that strange foresight alluded to.

“You’ll surely acknowledge,” said Barnaby,[137] “that it is impossible I could ever have come up that strait swire before with a bairn on my back, an’ a young woman gaun beside me exactly like you; an’ that while in that condition, I should have met wi’ a bull an’ a cow coming out the path by themsels, an’ thought o’ yon craig for a shelter to the bairn that I was carrying; yet when that happened about an hour ago, I remembered so distinctly of having gone through it some time long before, that I knew every step that would next be taken, and every word that would next be said. It made me very thoughtful; but I can remember nothing of where or when I dreamed it, or what was the issue.

“There was another instance that I’ll never forget. The winter afore last, I gaed out wi’ my father in the morning to help him to gather the sheep; for the rime had sitten down, an’ the clouds war creepin, and we kend the drift wad be on. Weel, away we sets, but a’ the hills were wrappit i’ the clouds o’ rime as they had been rowed[138] in a fleece o’ frosty woo, an’ we couldna see a stime; we were little better than fock gaun graeping for sheep; an’ about twal o’clock, (I mind it weel,) just when I was in the very straitest and steepest part o’ the Shielbrae-Hope, the wind gae a swirl, an’ I lookit up an’ saw the cloud screwing up to heaven—the brow o’ the hill cleared, an’ I saw like a man cringing and hanging ower the point o’ the rock, an’ there was seven white ewes an’ a black ane gaun bleetin in a raw yont aneath him. That was a’; but the sight strak me motionless. I mindit that I had seen the very thing afore; the very clouds—the very rocks—an’ the man standing courin’ and keekin’ ower, wi’ the white rime hingin’ about his lugs like feathers; an’ I mindit that it endit ill—it endit awsomely!—for I thought it endit in death. I could speak nae mair a’ that day; for I expectit that either my father or I wad never gang hame living. He aften said to me, ‘What ails ye, callant? Are ye weel eneugh? Od, ye’re gane stupid.’[139] We saved some sheep, an’ lost some, like mony ane, for it was a dreadfu’ afternoon; however, we wan baith safe hame. But that night, afore we gaed to bed, our neighbour, auld Robin Armstrang, was brought into our house a corp. Our fock had amaist gane out o’ their judgment; but the very features, the white rime frozen about the cauld stiff een, an’ the iceshogles hangin’ at the grey hair, war nae new sight to me: I had seen them a’ before, I kendna when. Ah, Jeany! never tell me that we haena some communication wi’ intelligences, far ayont our capacity to comprehend.”

The seriousness of Barnaby’s manner made it evident to his fellow traveller that he believed in the reality of every word he had said; there was an inconceivable sublimity in the whole idea, and she fancied herself going to reside, perhaps for a season, in the regions of imagination and romance, and she asked him if his father[140] and mother had faith in dreams an’ apparitions?

“Aye, that they hae,” answered he; “ye had need to tak care how ye dispute the existence of fairies, brownies, and apparitions there; ye may as weel dispute the gospel o’ Sant Mathew. We dinna believe in a’ the gomral fantastic bogles an’ spirits that fley light-headed fock up an’ down the country, but we believe in a’ the apparitions that warn o’ death, that save life, an’ that discover guilt. I’ll tell you what we believe, ye see.

“The deil an’ his adgents, they fash nane but the gude fock; the Cameronians, an’ the prayin’ ministers, an’ sic like. Then the bogles, they are a better kind o’ spirits, they meddle wi’ nane but the guilty; the murderer, an’ the mansworn, an’ the cheater o’ the widow an’ fatherless, they do for them. Then the fairies, they’re very harmless; they’re keener o’ fun an’ frolic than aught else; but if fock neglect kirk ordinances,[141] they see after them. Then the brownie, he’s a kind o’ half-spirit half-man; he’ll drudge an’ do a’ the wark about the town for his meat, but then he’ll no work but when he likes for a’ the king’s dominions. That’s precisely what we a’ believe here awa’, auld an’ young; an’ I’ll tell ye twa or three stories that we a’ ken to be true, an’ which I wadna misbelieve for a’ that I’m worth.

“Sandy Shiel, the herd o’ the Birky-Cleuch, was standing afore his sheep ae fine day in winter. The snaw had been drifted ower the brae-head to the size of another hill, but it was blawn bare aneath; an’ there was Sandy standin’ i’ the sun afore his sheep, whistling an’ singing, and knitting his stocking. Ere ever he wist there comes a broken-leggit hare by his very foot—Every Scotsman’s keen of a hunt—Sandy flings the plaid frae him, an’ after the hare what he can streik, hallooing, and crying on his dog to kep. As he gaed o’er the brow he was close upon her, an’ had up his stick[142] just to knock her dead—Tut! the hare vanished in a moment! Sandy jumpit round-about an’ round about—‘What the devil’s come o’ my hare now? Is she santit? or yirdit? or flown awa’?’—Sandy lookit up into the air, but she wasna to be seen there neither. She was gane, an’ for ever! Sandy was amaist swarf’d, the cauld sweat brak on him, an’ he clew his head. ‘Now, gude faith, I hae seen muckle,’ quo’ Sandy, ‘but the like o’ that I saw never.’ Sandy trodged back, wantin’ his hare, to lift his plaid. But what think ye? The hale volume o’ snaw on the hill aboon had shot away and burried it fifty feet deep; it was nae mair seen till the month o’ May. Sandy kneeled down among the snaw and thankit his Maker; he saw brawly what the hare had been.

“I’ll tell you another that I like still better. The shepherd’s house at Glen-Tress, in Tweeddale, had ance been a farm-steading, but it was at the time this happened inhabited by an honest respectable shepherd,[143] his wife, and six children. One evening after the sun had set, the eldest girl came running in, crying, ‘Bless me, sirs, come here—Here is the grandest lady coming to the house that ever was seen in the world.’ They all ran to the door, young and old, and they every one saw her coming at the distance of only about twenty paces—She was never more seen! But that very moment the house fell in, gable and all, with a dreadful crash; and thus a worthy family was saved from momentary destruction. Ah! I wadna hae given that man’s feelings of gratitude that night toward his Maker and Preserver, for a’ the dogmas of a thousand cauld-heartit philosophers!”

“Nor would I,” said Jane; and they walked on in deep silence.

Barnaby always carried the child one-half of the way as nearly as they could agree, but after carrying him often two miles, he would contend that it was but one; they got plenty of bread and milk at[144] the farm-houses and cottages as they passed, for there was no house of accommodation near the whole of their track. One time, after they had refreshed and rested themselves, Jane reminded her conductor that he had promised the evening before to entertain her on their journey with the story of the profligate laird.

“That’s an awfu’ story,” said Barnaby, “but it is soon tauld. It was the Laird o’ Errickhaw; he that biggit his house amang the widow’s corn, and never had a day to do weel in it. It isna yet a full age sin’ the foundation-stane was laid, an’ for a’ the grandeur that was about it, there’s nae man at this day can tell where the foundation has been, if he didna ken afore. He was married to a very proud precise lady, come o’ high kin, but they greed aye weel eneugh till bonny Molly Grieve came to the house to serve. Molly was as light-hearted as a kid, an’ as blithe as a laverock, but she soon altered. She first grew serious, then sad, and unco pale at times; an’ they whiles[145] came on her greetin by hersel. It was ower weel seen how matters stood, an’ there was nae mair peace about the house. At length it was spread ower a’ the parish that the lady had gotten Molly a fine genteel service in Edinburgh, an’ up comes hurkle-backit Charley Johnston, the laird’s auld companion in wickedness, wi’ a saddle an’ a pad to take her away. When they set her on ahint him, Molly shook hands wi’ a’ the servants, but couldna speak, for she little kend when she would see them again. But, instead o’ taking her away i’ the fair day-light, i’ the ee o’ God an’ man, he took her away just when the lave war gaun to their beds: an’ instead o’ gaeing the road to Edinburgh, they war seen riding ower the Cacra-cross at twal o’clock at night. Bonny Molly Grieve was never seen again, nor heard of mair in this world! But there war some banes found about the Alemoor Loch that the doctors said had belanged to a woman. There was some yellow hair, too,[146] on the scull, that was unco like Molly’s, but nae body could say.

“Then there was a fine strapping lass came in her place, a farmer’s daughter, that had mony a lad running after her, but it wasna a year and a half till a service was to provide in Edinburgh for her too. Up came hurkle-backit Charley to take her away, but no gin they should a’ hae sutten down on their knees wad she gae wi’ him; she grat an’ pray’d, an’ they fleeched an’ flait; but she stayed in the parish in spite o’ their teeth, and shamed them a’. She had a son, but Charley got him to take to the nursing, far away some gate, an’ there was nae body ony mair fashed wi’ him.

“It wad be endless to tell ye ower a’ their wickedness, for it can hardly be believed. Charley had mony sic job to do, baith at hame and at a distance. They grew baith odious in the country, for they turned aye the langer the waur, and took less pains to hide it; till ae night that the[147] laird was walking at the back o’ his garden, in the moon-light. It was thought he was waiting for a woman he had some tryste with, but that was conjecture, for he never said sae. At length he saw ane coming towards him, and hasted to meet her, but just as he approached, she held up her hand at him, as it war to check him, or make him note who she was; and when he lookit in her face, and saw what it was like, he uttered a loud cry, and fell senseless on the ground. Some fock heard the noise, and ran to the place, and fand him lying streekit in a deep dry seuch at the back of the garden. They carried him in, and he soon came to himself; but after that he was never like the same man, but rather like ane dementit. He durst never mair sleep by himsel while he lived; but that wasna lang, for he took to drinking, and drank, and swore, and blasphemed, and said dreadfu’ things that folk didna understand. At length, he drank sae muckle ae night out o’ desperation, that the blue lowe came burning out at his mouth, and he died on[148] his ain hearth-stane, at a time o’ life when he should scarcely have been at his prime.

“But it wasna sae wi’ Charley! He wore out a lang and hardened life; and, at the last, when death came, he coudna die. For a day and two nights they watched him, thinking every moment would be the last, but always a few minutes after the breath had left his lips, the feeble cries of infants arose from behind the bed, and wakened him up again. The family were horrified; but his sons and daughters were men and women, and for their ain sakes they durstna let ane come to hear his confessions. At last, on the third day at two in the morning, he died clean away. They watched an hour in great dread, and then streekit him, and put the dead-claes on him, but they hadna weel done before there were cries, as if a woman had been drowning, came from behind the bed, and the voice cried, “O, Charley, spare my life!—Spare my life! For your own soul’s sake and mine, spare my life!” On which the corpse again sat up in the bed, pawled wi’ its hands, and[149] stared round wi’ its dead face. The family could stand it nae langer, but fled the house, and rade and ran for ministers, but before any of them got there, Charley was gane. They sought a’ the house, and in behind the bed, and could find naething; but that same day he was found about a mile frae his ain house, up in the howe o’ the Baileylee-linn, a’ torn limb frae limb, an’ the dead-claes beside him. There war twa corbies seen flying o’er the muir that day, carrying something atween them, an’ fock suspectit it was Charley’s soul, for it was heard makin’ a loud maen as they flew o’er Alemoor. At the same time it was reportit, that there was to be seen every morning at two a clock, a naked woman torfelling on the Alemoor loch, wi’ her hands tied behind her back, and a heavy stane at her neck. It’s an awsome story. I never dare tell it but in the middle o’ the day, and even then it gars a’ my flesh creep; but the hale country has heard it, and God only kens whether it be true or no. It has been a warning to mony ane.”


Our fair wanderer asked for no more ghost stories. The last had sufficed her,—it having been even more shocking than the former ones were delightful; so they travelled on, conversing about common or casual events, save that she gave him a short sketch of her history, whereof to inform his parents, with strong injunctions of secrecy. They came in view of his father’s cottage before sunset. It was situated in the very wildest and most romantic glen in the shire of Peebles, at the confluence of two rough but clear mountain streams, that ran one on each side of the house and kail-yard, and mingled their waters immediately below these. The valley was level, green, and beautiful, but the hills on each side high, steep, and romantic; and while they cast their long black shadows aslant the glen, the beams of the sun were shed over these like streamers in the middle air. It was a scene of tranquillity and repose, if not indeed the abode of the genii and fairies. Jane’s heart danced within her when her eye turned to the varied scenery of the[151] mountains, but again sunk when it fell on the cottage at which she was going to seek a retreat. She dreaded her reception, knowing how equivocal her appearance there must be; but she longed and thirsted for such a retreat, and as she was not destitute of money, she determined to proffer more for her board than she could well afford to pay, rather than be refused. Barnaby also spoke less as they advanced up the glen, and seemed struggling with a kind of dryness about his tongue, which would not suffer him to pronounce the words aright. Two fine shaggy healthy-looking collies came barking down the glen to meet them, and at a timid distance behind them, a half-grown puppy, making more noise than them both. He was at one time coming brattling forward, and barking fiercely, as if going to attack them, and at another, running yelping away from them with his tail between his legs. Little George laughed as he had been tickled at him. When the dogs came near, and saw that it was their old fire-side acquaintance and friend, they coured at his[152] feet, and whimpered for joy; they even licked his fair companion’s hand, and capered around her, as if glad to see any friend of Barnaby’s. The whelp, perceiving that matters were amicably made up, likewise ventured near; and though he had never seen any of them before, claimed acquaintance with all, and was so kind and officious that he wist not what to do; but at last he fell on the expedient of bearing up the corner of Jane’s mantle in his mouth, which he did all the way to the house.—George was perfectly delighted.

“I think,” said Jane, “the kindness of these creatures betokens a hearty welcome within!”

“Ay, that it does,” answered Barnaby; “a dog that is brought up with a man in a wild place, is always of the very same disposition with himself.”

Strangers seldom approached that sequestered spot—passengers never. They observed, while yet at a good distance, Barnaby’s mother standing amid her burly boys at the end of the cottage, watching their approach,[153] and they heard her calling distinctly to her husband, “Aigh! Geordie, yon’s our ain Barny, I ken by auld Help’s motions; but wha she is that he’s bringing wi’ him, is ayont my comprehension.”

She hurried away in to put her fire-side in some order, and nought was then to be seen but two or three bare-headed boys, with their hair the colour of peat-ashes, setting their heads always now and then by the corner of the house, and vanishing again in a twinkling. The old shepherd was sitting on his divot-seat, without the door, mending a shoe. Barnaby strode up to him. “How are ye the night, father?”

“No that ill, Barny lad—is that you? How are ye yoursel?” said a decent-looking middle-aged man, scratching his head at the same time with the awl, and fixing his eyes, not on his son, but the companion that he had brought with him. When he saw her so young, so beautiful, and the child in her arms, the enquiring look that he cast on his son was unutterable. Silence[154] reigned for the space of a minute. Barnaby made holes in the ground with his staff—the old shepherd began again to sew his shoe, and little George prattled to his mamma, “It’s a vely good bonny halp, mamma; Geoge nevel saw sic a good halp.”

“An’ how hae ye been sin’ we saw ye, Barny?”


“I think ye hae brought twa young strangers wi’ ye?”

“I wat have I.”

“Whar fell ye in wi’ them?”

“I want to speak a word to you, father.”

The old shepherd flung down his work, and followed his son round the corner of the house. It was not two minutes till he came back. Jane had sat down on the sod-seat.

“This is a pleasant evening,” said he, addressing her.

“It is a very sweet evening,” was the reply.

“Ye’ll be weary; ye had better gang in an’ rest ye.”


She thanked him, and was preparing to go.

“It’s a muckle matter,” continued he, “whan fock can depend on their ain. My Barny never deceived me a’ his life, an’ you are as welcome here as heart can mak ye. The flower in May is nae welcomer than ye are to this bit shieling, and your share of a’ that’s in it. Come your ways in, my bonny woman, an’ think nae shame. Ye shall never be lookit on as either a beggar or borrower here, but just ane o’ oursels.” So saying he took her hand in both his, and led her into the house.

“Wife, here’s a young stranger our son has brought to bide a while wi’ ye; mak her welcome i’ the mean time, an’ ye’ll be better acquaintit by and by.”

“In troth I sal e’en do sae. Come awa in by to the muckle chair—Whar is he himsel, the muckle duddy feltered gouk?”

“Ah, he’s coming, poor fellow—he’s takin a pipe to himsel at the house-end—there’s a shower i’ the heads wi’ Barny—his heart can stand naething—it is as saft[156] as a snaw-ba’, an’ far mair easily thawed, but it is aye in the right place for a’ that.”

It was a happy evening; the conversation was interesting, and kept up till a late hour; and when the old couple learned from Jane of the benevolent disinterested part that their son had acted, their eyes glowed with delight, and their hearts waxed kinder and kinder. Before they retired to rest, the old shepherd performed family worship, with a glow of devotional warmth which Jane had never before witnessed in man. The psalm that he sung, the portion of Scripture that he read, and the prayer that he addressed to the throne of Grace, savoured all of charity and benevolence to our fellow-creatures. The whole economy of the family was of that simple and primitive cast, that the dwellers in a large city never dream of as existing. There was to be seen contentment without affluence or ambition, benevolence without ostentation, and piety without hypocrisy; but at the same time such a mixture of gaiety, good[157] sense, and superstitious ideas, blent together in the same minds, as was altogether inscrutable. It was a new state of existence to our fair stranger, and she resolved with avidity to improve it to the best advantage.

But we must now leave her in her new habitation, and return with Barnaby to the families of Earlhall and Todburn. Lindsey went up the water every day fishing, as he had done formerly, but was astonished at observing, from day to day, that his fair Wool-gatherer’s cottage was locked, and no smoke issuing from it. At first he imagined that she might have gone on a visit, but at length began to suspect that some alteration had taken place in her circumstances; and the anxiety that he felt to have some intelligence, whether that change was favourable or the reverse, was such that he himself wondered at it. He could not account for it even to his own mind. It was certainly the child that so much interested[158] him, else he could not account for it. Lindsey might easily have solved the difficulty had he acquiesced freely in the sentiments of his own heart, and acknowledged to himself that he was in love. But no!—all his reasoning, as he threw the line across the stream and brought it back again, went to disprove that. “That I can be in love with the girl is out of the question—there is no danger of such an event; for, in the first place, I would not wrong her, or abuse her affections, for the whole world; and in the next, I have a certain rank and estimation to uphold in society. I am a proprietor to a large extent—a freeholder of the county—come of a good family, at least by the father’s side, and that I should fall in love with and marry a poor vagrant Wool-gatherer, with a”——! He was going to pronounce a word, but it stuck, not in his throat, but in the very utmost perceptible avenues that lead to the heart. “It is a very fine child, however,—I wish I had[159] him under my protection, then his mother might come and see him; but I care not for that, provided I had the child. I’ll have the child, and for that purpose I will enquire after the mother directly.”

He went boldly up to the cot, and peeped in at the little window. The hearth was cold, and the furniture neatly arranged. He examined the door, but the step and threshold had not been swept as they wont for many days, and the green grass was beginning to peep up around them. “There is something extremely melancholy in this!” said he to himself. “I could not endure the veriest wretch on my estate to be thus lost, without at least enquiring after him.”

He turned his eyes to the other cottages, and to the farm-house, but lacked the courage to go boldly up to any of them, and ask after the object of his thoughts. He returned to the fishing, but caught no fish, or if he did it was against his will.

On Barnaby’s return he made some sly enquiries about the causes that induced to[160] Jane’s removal without effect, the farmer had kept all so snug. But haverel Meg, (as they called her for a nick-name,) his sister, knew, and though she was an excellent keeper of secrets among her own sex, yet she could not help blabbing them sometimes to the young fellows, which her brother always accounted a very ridiculous propensity;—whether or not it is a natural one among old maids, the relater of this tale does not pretend to decide; he is induced to think it is, but is not dogmatic on that side, not having bestowed due consideration on the subject.

One day, when Barnaby came home to his breakfast rather later than usual, and while he was sitting hewing away at a good stiff bicker of paritch, mixed with butter-milk, his excellent dog Nimrod all the time sitting with his head leaned on his master’s knee, watching the progress of every spoonful, thinking the latter was rather going near him that day in their wonted proportions—while Barnaby, I say, was thus delightfully[161] and busily employed, in comes Meg, bare-footed, with a clean white wrapper and round-eared cap on. “Barny, will ye hae time to help me to the water wi’ a boucking o’ claes? Ye’ll just only hae to carry the tae end o’ the hand-barrow to the water, wait till I sinde up the sarks, an’ help me hame wi’ them again.”

“That I will, Miss Peggy, wi’ heart an’ hand.”

“Miss Peggy! Snuffs o’ tobacco! Meg’s good enough! Troth, I’m nane o’ your molloping, precise flegaries, that want to be miss’d an’ beckit, an’ bowed to—Na, sooth! Meg’s good enough—plain downright Meg o’ the Todburn.”

“Weel, weel; haud your tongue, I’ll do a’ that ye bid me, an’ mair, Meg, my bonny woman.”

“How war a’ your focks, Barny, when ye war ower seeing them?”

“Unco weel, an’ they’re muckle behadden to you for your kind speering.”


“I kend your father weel; he’s a good cannie man.”

“I wish he had beltit your shoulders as aft as he has done mine, ye maybe wadna hae said sae muckle for him.”

“Ay, it’s weel o’ you to say sae; but he’s a douse, respectable man, and he’s no disgraced in his son.”

Barnaby rose with his bicker in his hand; gave it a graceful swing, as a gentleman does his hat when he meets a lady, made a low bow, and set down Nimrod his share of the paritch.

When they went to the river Barnaby sat him down on the bank, and Meg went into the running stream, and began with great agility, and much splashing, to wash up her clothes. Barnaby perceived her smiling to herself, and was sure that a volley of some stuff or other was forthcoming. She cast her eyes towards the laird’s house, then looked up the water, then down, in case any one might be angling on it; and[163] after perceiving that there was nobody within a mile of them, she spoke as follows to Barnaby, in a half whisper, lest any one should overhear her.

“Gude sauf us to the day, Barny man! What think ye o’ our laird?”

“Very muckle. I think him a decent worthy lad.”

“Decent! Shame fa’ his decency!—I watna what will be countit undecent soon! Sae ye haena heard o’ his shamfu’ connection wi’ the bit prodigal, dinnagood lassie, that was here?”


“It’s a’ ower true though; but say nae a word about it. My billy Rob was obliged to chase her out o’ the country for it; an’ a burnin shame an’ a disgrace it was to the laird to take up wi’ the likes o’ her.—Deil a bit o’ her has the pith o’ a pipe-stapple!—Fich, fy! Away wi’ your spindle-shankit babyclouts—they’re no the gear.”

“As ye say, Meg. I like nane o’ the women that stand pon trifles.”


“Stand on trifles!—Ha! ha! that’s real good! that’s devilish clever for a—young man! Ha! ha!—Tut! that water’s weetin’ a’ my claes.—Wad ye hae made sic a choice, Barny?”

“D’ye think that I’m blind? or that I dinna ken what’s what?—Na, na, Meg! let me alane; I’m no sae young a cat but I ken a mouse by a feather.”

“If a’ our young men had the sense o’ you, Barny, some o’ them might get a pock an’ a wheen rustit nails to jingle in’t; they might get something better than a bit painted doll, wi’ a waist like a thread-paper, an’ hae nought ado foreby but to draw in the chair an’ sit down; but they’ll rin after a wheen clay-cakes baken i’ the sun, an’ leave the good substantial ait-meal bannocks to stand till they moul, or be pouched by them that draff an’ bran wad better hae mensed!—Tut! I’m ower deep into the stream again, without ever thinkin’ o’t.”

“That’s a’ ower true that ye hae been sayin’, Meg—ower true, indeed! But as to[165] your news about the laird and Jane, I dinna believe a word o’t.”

“Oh! it’s maybe no true, ye ken! It’s very likely a lee! There’s naething mair likely, than that a’ their correspondence was as pure as the morning snaw. For a laird, ye ken, worth three thousand pund o’ yearly rental, to frequent the house o’ a bit lassie for an hour ilka day, an’ maybe ilka night to, wha kens; ye ken it’s a’ fair! there’s nought mair likely than that they’re very innocent! An’ sic a ane too as she is! little better, I trow, than she should be, gin a’ war kend. To be sure she has a son, that may arguy something for her decency. But after a’, I dinna blame her, for I ken by mysel——”

“Haud your tongue now, Meg, my bonny quean; for I ken ye are gaun to lee on yoursel, an’ speak nonsense into the bargain.”

“Ah! Barny! but ye are a queer ane!” (then in a whisper.) “I say—Barny—What do ye think o’ the bit farm o’ Hesperslack?[166] How wad ye like to be tenant there yoursel, an’ hae servants o’ your ain?”

“I haena thought about that yet; but yonder’s my master keekin ower the knowe; he’ll be thinkin I’m stayin unco lang frae my sheep.”

“Ah! is my billy Rob yonder?—No a word ye ken now, Barny. No a cheip aboon your breath about yon.”

Sad and heavy were Barnaby’s reflections that day as he herded his sheep all alone. “And this is the girl that I have taken and recommended so warmly to my parents! I do not believe the hateful slander; but I will go and inform them of all. It is proper they should know all that I know, and then let them judge for themselves. Poor luckless Jeany! I fear she is a ruined creature, be she as innocent and harmless as she will!”

Barnaby was resolved to go, but day past on after day, and still he had not the heart to go and tell his parents, although every[167] whisper that he heard tended rather to strengthen suspicion than dispel it.

On the very day that we left Lindsey in such distress for the loss of his amiable Wool-gatherer, Barnaby and he met by the side of the stream, at the foot of the Todburn-Hope. They were both alike anxious to speak to one another, but neither of them had the courage to begin, although both were burning to talk on the same theme. Lindsey fished away, swimming the fly across the ripple as dexterously and provokingly as he was able. Barnaby stood and looked on in silence; at length a yellowfin rose. “Aigh, that was a great chap! I wish your honour had hookit that ane.”

“It was better for him that I did not. Do you ever fish any?”

“O yes. I gump them whiles.”

Gump them? pray what mode of fishing is that?”

“I guddle them in aneath the stanes an’ the braes like.”

“I do not exactly understand the terms[168] nor the process. Pray will you be so good,” continued he, holding out the fishing-rod to Barnaby, “as give me a specimen how you gump the fish?”

“Od bless you, sir, I can do naething wi’ that goad; but if ye’ll gang wi’ me a wee piece up the Todburn-Hope, or up to the Rowntree-Linn, I’ll let ye see gumping to perfection.”

On being assured that it was not above half a mile to either of the places, the laird accompanied Barnaby without hesitation, to witness this pastoral way of fishing. By the way their converse became very interesting to both parties, but we cannot interrupt the description of such a favourite rural sport just now. Let it suffice that their discourse was all concerning a fair unfortunate, of whom the reader has heard a good deal already, and of whom he shall hear more in due time.

They crossed over a sloping ground, at the bottom of a green steep hill, and soon came into the Todburn-Hope. It was a[169] narrow level valley between two high hills, and terminated in the haunted linn, above the sheep-house formerly mentioned. Down this narrow vale the Tod Burn ran with a thousand beautiful serpentine windings, and at every one of these turns there were one or two clear deep pools, overhung by little green banks. Into the first of these pools Barnaby got with his staff, plunging and poaching to make all the fish take into close cover; then he threw off his ragged coat, tucked up the sleeves of his shirt to the shoulders, tying them together behind, and into the pool he got again, knees and elbows, putting his arms in below the green banks, into the closest and most secret recesses of the trouts. There was no eluding him; he threw them out one after another, sometimes hitting the astonished laird on the face, or any other part of the body without ceremony, for his head being down sometimes close with the water, and sometimes below it, he did not see where he flung them. The trouts being a little startled[170] at this momentary change from one element to another, jumped about on the grass, and cast so many acute somersets, that the laird had greater difficulty in getting hold of them the second time to put them into his basket, than Barnaby had at first; and when the latter had changed the scene of plunder to a new pool, Lindsey was commonly to be seen beside the old one, moving slowly about on his hands and knees. “I think ye’re pinched to catch them on the dry grund, sir,” said Barnaby to him.

“No, no,” returned he, with the utmost simplicity; “but I was looking lest some of them had made their way among the long grass and eluded me; and besides they are so very active and slippery that I seldom can keep the hold of them that I get.”

As they were going from one of these little pools to another, he said to our shepherd, “So this is what you call gumping?”

“Yes, sir, this is gumping, or guddling, ony o’ them ye like to ca’t.”


“I do not think this is altogether a fair way of fishing.”

“Now, I think it is muckle fairer than the tither way, sir. Your way is founded on the lowest artifice and deceit, but I come as an avowed enemy, and let them escape me if they can. I come into a family as a brave mountain robber or free-booter; but you come as a deceitful friend, promising to treat the family with all good things, that you may poison them every one unawares. A mountaineer’s sports are never founded on cunning; it’s a’ sheer and main force wi’ us.”

Lindsey confessed that the shepherd’s arguments had some foundation in nature and truth, but that they savoured of a period exempt from civilization and the fine arts. “At all events,” said he, “it is certainly the most downright way of fishing that I ever beheld.” In short, it was not long till the laird was to be seen wading in the pools, and gumping as busily as the other; and, finally, he was sometimes so[172] intent on his prey, that the water was running over his back, so that when he raised himself up it poured in torrents from his fine Holland shirt and stained cambrick ruffles. “Ye hae settled the pletts o’ your sark,” said Barnaby. Never did the family of Earlhall behold such a basket of trouts; and never had its proprietor such a day’s sport at the fishing, as he had at the gumping or guddling the trouts among the links of the Todburn-Hope.

Though the sport occupied their minds completely during the time they were engaged in it, yet it was only a relaxation from concerns of a more serious nature. From Barnaby’s information the laird now saw exactly how the land lay; and though he got no hint of the part that his mother had acted in it, yet he rather suspected, for he well knew her sentiments regarding all the young and beautiful part of her own sex. Barnaby gave him no notice that he had ever seen the girl after her dismissal, or that he knew to what part of the world[173] she had retired; and before they parted he desired him to tell his master to come down and speak with him that night.

Robin came as appointed; Lindsey and his mother were sitting by themselves in the parlour when the servant announced him; he was ordered to join them, and as soon as he came in Lindsey said, “Come away, Robin. I had a piece of information within these few days of you, that has somewhat distressed me, and I sent for you to make enquiry concerning it. What reasons had you for turning away the poor stranger girl and child from her cot before the term of your agreement expired?”

Robin looked to the window, then to the lady, and then to the window again, and finally looked down to the carpet, twirled his bonnet with both hands, and remained silent. Though a strong and speaking look of appeal was turned on the old lady by Robin from time to time, yet she, hearing her son speak in that determined manner,[174] likewise sat still without opening her lips.

“Why don’t you answer me?” continued Lindsey. “I ask you simply what were your reasons for turning her away? you certainly must be able to state them.”

“Hem! We war feared, sir—we war feared that she was a bad ane.”

“You were afraid she was bad? Had you no other proofs of her badness farther than your own fears?”

“Indeed, sir, I never saw ony ill behaviour about the lassie. But ye ken weel enough that ane wha had forsaken the paths o’ virtue and honesty sae early as it appears she had done, wi’ sic an enchanting manner, an’ weelfaurd face into the boot, was rather a dangerous neighbour for sae mony young chiels.”

“I think what Robin says is very true, and good sense,” said the old lady.

“You certainly ought to have taken all these things into consideration before you[175] bargained with her at first, Robin,” said Lindsey. “I suppose you cannot argue that she is either grown younger or more beautiful since that period? I rather suspect, Robin, that you have used this young woman extremely ill; and if you cannot give any better reasons for your severity towards her, I can find out a method of forcing you to make an ample retribution.”

“Indeed then, sir, sin’ I maun tell the truth, I will tell the truth; it was my lady, your worthy mother there, that persuaded, and ordered me to turn her away; for we had observed how great a favourite she was with you, and dreaded the consequences.”

“It is then exactly as I suspected. You two have done me a great injury, and one that will not be easily wiped away. I hope neither of you intended it; but I would gladly know what trait in my character justified the conclusion you made? I think you might both have known my dispositions better than to have so readily believed[176] that I would injure youth and beauty, that had already been unfortunate in the world—that I would add to her state of wretchedness, by annihilating for ever that innate principle of virtue and modesty, inherent in every young female’s breast, which never man loved more, or delighted more to view, exerting all its primitive and untainted sway. If you had reflected at all, you could not have believed me capable of it. You have taken the readiest means in your power of injuring my character in the eyes of the world. It must naturally be concluded, that there was a profligate and criminal intercourse subsisting between us, which rendered such an act of cruelty and injustice necessary. You have hurt my honour and my feelings, and wronged a defenceless and amiable young woman. It is on my account that she is thus innocently suffering, and I am determined, for my own satisfaction, to see her righted, as far as redress is in my power, though equivalent for an injured reputation there is none; but[177] every vile insinuation on my account shall be fairly dispelled. To make, therefore, an end of all reflections at once, I warn you, Robin, that if she is not found, and restored to her rights, in less than a fortnight at farthest, you need not be surprised if you are some day removed on as short notice as you gave to her.”

The old lady and farmer had an inward view of matters in a different light: They perceived that the world would say he had brought her back to keep her there as his mistress, but this elegant and inflated harangue they were unable to answer. The young man’s conscience was hurt, and they were no casuists. The lady, it is true, uttered some involuntary sounds as he was speaking, but it was not easy to determine whether they were groans or hems of approbation. If one might have judged from her countenance, they were like the former, but the sounds themselves were certainly modulations of the latter. She was[178] dependant on her son! Robin was studying a friendly reply, by way of remonstrance, all the time of the speech; but Robin was a widower, had a good farm, a large family, and was a tenant at will, and the conclusion of the said speech was a stumbling-block to Robin.

Pray, gentle reader, did you ever see a country maiden baking pease-meal bannocks? If you ever did you must have noted, that before she committed them one by one to the gridiron, she always stood straight up, with her head gracefully turned to one side, and moulded them with her two hands to an orb, as nearly resembling the full moon as she could. You must likewise have remarked, that while engaged in this becoming part of her avocation, she was never once looking at her work, but that while her head had that sly cast to the one side, her eyes were ever and anon fixed on the window, noting what was going on without, looking perhaps for her lad coming from the hill, or whistling at the[179] plough. If you have ever seen this, you can easily comprehend the attitude I mean—if you have never, it is a great pity!

Exactly in such a situation stood our honest farmer, Robin Muckerland, plying his bonnet round with both hands in the same way—his head was likewise turned to one side, and his eyes immoveably fixed on the window—it was the girl’s position to a hair. Let any man take his pen and describe the two attitudes, there is not the slightest shade of difference to be discerned—the one knee of both is even slackened and bent gently forward, the other upright and firm, by its own weight made steadfast and immoveable. Yet how it comes I do not comprehend, and should like much to consult my friend, David Wilkie, about it—it is plain that the attitudes are precisely the same, yet the girl’s is quite delightful—Robin’s was perfectly pitiable. He had not one word to say, but baked his bonnet and stood thus.

“This is my determination,” continued[180] Lindsey, “and you may pay what attention to it you please.”

“Od, sir, I’m excessively vexed at what has happened, now when ye hae letten me see it in its true light, an’ I sal do what I can to find her again, an’ mak her what amends I am able. But, od ye see, naebody kens where she’s ye see. She may be gane into the wild Highlands, or away to that outlandish country ayont the sea that they ca’ Fife, an’ how am I to get her? therefore, if I canna an’ dinna get her, I hope you will excuse me, especially as neither the contrivance nor the act was mine.”

“You and my honoured mother settle that betwixt you. I will not abate a tittle of that I have said; but, to encourage your people in the search, or whomsoever you are pleased to employ, I shall give ten guineas to the person who finds her and restores her to her home.”

“Aweel, son Lindsey,” said the lady, moving her head like the pendulum of a clock, “your mother meant ye good, an’[181] nae ill, in what she has done; but them that will to Cupar maun to Cupar. For the sake o’ Robin and his family, and no for the neighbourhood o’ this whilly-wha of a young witch, I shall gi’e the body that finds her half as muckle.”

“And I,” said Robin, “shall gi’e the same, which will make up the reward to twenty guineas, an’ it is mair than I can weel spare in sic hard times. I never saw better come o’ women’s schemes, as I say whiles to my titty Meg.”

The company parted, not on the most social terms; and that night, before Robin dismissed his servants to their beds, he said, “Lads, my master informs me that I am to be plaguit wi’ the law for putting away that lassie Jeany an’ her bit brat atween term-days. I gi’e ye a’ your liberty frae my wark until the end o’ neist week, if she be not found afore that time, to search for her; and whoever finds her, and brings her back to her cottage, shall have a reward o’ twenty guineas in his loof.”


A long conversation then ensued on the best means of recovering her; but Barnaby did not wait on this, but hasted away to the stable loft, where his chest stood at the head of his bed, dressed himself in his Sunday clothes, and went without delay to the nearest stage where horses were let out for hire, got an old brown hack equipped with a bridle, saddle, and pad, and off he set directly for his father’s cottage, where he arrived next morning by the time the sun was up.

To describe all Barnaby’s adventures that night would take a volume by itself, for it was the very country of the ghosts and fairies that he traversed. As his errand was, however, solely for good, he was afraid for none of them meddling with him, save the devil and the water-kelpie; yet so hardly was he beset with these at times, that he had no other resource but to shut his eyes close, and push on his horse. He by this resolute contrivance got on without interruption, but had been so near his in[183]fernal adversaries at times, that twice or thrice he felt a glow on his face as if a breath of lukewarm air had been breathed against it, and a smell exactly resembling (he did not like to say brimstone, but) a coal fire just gaun out!—But it is truly wonderful what a man, with a conscience void of offence towards God and towards his neighbour, will go through!

When the day-light began to spring up behind the hills of Glenrath, what a blithe and grateful man was Barnaby! “The bogles will be obliged to thraw aff their black claes now,” said he, “an’ in less than half an hour the red an’ the green anes too. They’ll hae to pit on their pollonians o’ the pale colour o’ the fair day-light, that the e’e o’ Christian maunna see them; or gang away an’ sleep in their dew-cups an’ foxter-leaves till the gloaming come again. O, but the things o’ this warld are weel contrived!”

Safely did he reach the glen, at the head of which his father’s cottage stood, with its little kail-yard in the forkings of the burn;[184] there was no dog, nor even little noisy pup, came out to give note of his approach, for his father and canine friends had all gone out to the heights at a very early hour to look after the sheep. The morning was calm and lovely; but there was no sound in the glen save the voice of his mother’s grey cock, who was perched on the kail-yard dike, and crowing incessantly. The echoes were answering him distinctly from the hills; and as these aerial opponents were the only ones he ever in his life had to contend with, he had learned to value himself extremely on his courage, and was clapping his wings, and braving them in a note louder and louder. Barnaby laughed at him, although he himself had been struggling with beings as unreal and visionary during the whole night; so ready we are to see the follies of others, yet all the while to overlook our own!

The smoke was issuing from his mother’s chimney in a tall blue spire that reached to the middle of the hill; but when there, it[185] spread itself into a soft hazy cloud, and was resting on the side of the green brae in the most still and moveless position. The rising sun kissed it with his beams, which gave it a light woolly appearance, something like floating down; it was so like a vision that Barnaby durst scarcely look at it. “My mither’s asteer,” said he to himself, “I ken by her morning reek; she’ll be fiking up an’ down the house, an’ putting a’ things to rights; an’ my billies they’ll be lying grumphing and snoring i’ their dens, an’ Jeany will be lying waking, listening what’s gaun on, an’ wee George will be sniffing an’ sleeping sound in her bosom. Now I think, of a’ things i’ the warld a young mother an’ her first son is the maist interesting—if she has been unfortunate it is ten times mair sae—to see how she’ll sit an’ look at him!—(here Barnaby blew his nose.)—I was my mother’s first son; if she had been as bonny, an’ as gentle, an’ as feele as Jeany, aih! but I wad hae likit weel!”


No one being aware of Barnaby’s approach, he rode briskly up to the door and rapped, causing at the same time his horse’s feet make a terrible clamping on the stones. His mother, who had been sweeping the house, came running out with the heather besom in her hand. “Bless my heart, callant, is that you? Sic a gliff as I hae gotten w’ye! What’s asteer w’ye? or whar ir ye gaun sae early i’ the morning on that grand cut-luggit beast?”

“I’m turned a gentleman now, mother, that’s a’; an’ I thought I wad g’ye a ca’ as I gaed by for auld lang syne—Hope ye’re all well?”

“Deed we’re a’ no that ill. But, dear Barny, what ir ye after?—Hae ye a’ your senses about ye?”

“I thank ye, I dinna miss ony o’ them that I notice. I’m come for my wife that I left w’ye—How is she?”

Your wife! Weel I wat ye’ll never get the like o’ her, great muckle hallanshaker-like guff.”


“Haud your tongue now, mother, ye dinna ken wha I may get; but I can tell ye o’ something that I’m to get. If I take hame that lassie Jeany safe to her house, ony time these ten days, there’s naebody kens where I hae her hidden, an’ I’m to get twenty guineas in my loof for doing o’t.”

“Ay, I tauld ye sae, my dear bairn.”

“Ye never tauld me sic a word, mother.”

“I hae tauld ye oft, that ae good turn never misses to meet wi’ another, an’ that the king may come i’ the beggar’s way.”

“Ramsay’s Scots Proverbs tell me that.”

“It will begin a bit stock to you, my man; an’ I sal say it o’ her, gin I sude never see her face again, she’s the best creature, ae way an’ a’ ways, that ever was about a poor body’s house. Ah, God bless her!—she’s a dear creature!—Ye’ll never hae cause to rue, my man, the pains ye hae ta’en about her.”

Jane was very happy at meeting with her romantic and kind-hearted Barnaby again, who told her such a turn as affairs had[188] taken in her favour, and all that the laird had said to him about her, and the earnest enquiries he had made; and likewise how he had put Robin to his shifts. She had lived very happy with these poor honest people, and had no mind to leave them; indeed, from the day that she entered their house she had not harboured a thought of it; but now, on account of her furniture, which was of considerable value to her, and more particularly for the sake of Barnaby’s reward, she judged it best to accompany him. So after they had all taken a hearty breakfast together at the same board, the old shepherd returned thanks to the Bestower of all good things, and then kissing Jane, he lifted her on the horse behind his son. “Now fare-ye-weel, Jeany woman,” said he; “I think you will be happy, for I’m sure you deserve to be sae. If ye continue to mind the thing that’s good, there is Ane wha will never forsake ye; I come surety for him. An’ if ever adversity should again fa’ to your lot, ye shall be as wel[189]come to our bit house as ever, and to your share o’ ilka thing that’s in it; an’ if I should see you nae mair, I’ll never bow my knee before my Maker without remembering you. God bless you, my bonny woman! Fareweel.”

Jane dropped a tear on her benefactor’s hand, for who could stand such unaffected goodness? Barnaby, who had folded his plaid and held little George on it before him, turned his face towards the other side of the horse, and contracted it into a shape and contortion that is not often seen, every feature being lengthened extremely the cross way; but after blowing his nose two or three times he recovered the use of his rod, with which he instantly began a thrashing his nag, that he might get out of this flood of tenderness and leave-taking. It is not easy to conceive a more happy man than he was that day, he was so proud of his parents’ kindness to Jane, and of the good he thought he was doing to all parties, and, besides, the twenty guineas was a for[190]tune to him. He went on prating to George, who was quite delighted with the ride on such a grand horse; yet at times he grew thoughtful, and testified his regret for the horse, lest he should be tired with carrying them all. “Geoge vely solly fol poole holse, Balny! Geoge no like to be a holse.”

Many were the witch and fairy tales that Barnaby related that day to amuse his fellow travellers. He set down Jane and George safe at their cottage before evening, and astonished Robin not a little, who was overjoyed to see his lost gimmer and lamb (as he termed them,) so soon. He paid Barnaby his twenty guineas that night in excellent humour, making some mention, meantime, of an old proverb, “They that hide ken where to seek,” and without delay sent information to the mansion-house that Jane was found, and safely arrived at her own house, a piece of news which created no little stir at Earlhall.

The old lady had entertained strong hopes that Jane would not be found; or[191] that she would refuse to return after the treatment she had met with, and the suspicions that were raised against her; in short, she wished her not to return, and she hoped she would not; but now all her fond hopes were extinguished, and she could see no honourable issue to the affair. It was like to turn out a love intrigue; a low and shameful business, her son might pretend what he chose. She instantly lost all command of her temper, hurried from one part of the house to another, quarrelled with every one of the maid servants, and gave the two prettiest ones warning to leave their places.

Lindsey was likewise a little out of his reason that night, but his feelings were of a very different kind. He loved all the human race; he loved the little birds that sung upon the trees almost to distraction. The deep blue of the heavens never appeared so serene—the woods, the fields, and the flowers, never so delightful! such a[192] new and exhilarating tone did the return of this beautiful girl (child, I mean) give to his whole vital frame. “What a delightful world this is!” said he to himself; “and how happy might all its inhabitants live, if they would suffer themselves to do so!” He did not traverse the different apartments of the house with the same hasty steps as his mother did, but he took many rapid turns out to the back garden, and in again to the parlour.

In the middle of one of these distant excursions his ears were assailed by the discordant tones of anger and reproach—Proud and haughty contumely on the one side, and the bitter complaints of wronged but humble dependance on the other.

“This is some one of my mother’s unreasonable imputations,” said he to himself; “it is hard that the fairer and more delicate part of my servants, who are in fact my servants, receiving meat and wages from me, and whom I most wish to be happy[193] and comfortable in their circumstances should be thus harassed and rendered miserable—I will interfere in spite of all obloquy.” He went in to the fore-kitchen, “What is the matter? What is the meaning of all this disturbance here?”

“Matter, son! The matter is, that I will not be thus teased and wronged by such a worthless scum of menials as your grieve has buckled on me. I am determined to be rid of them for the present, and to have no more servants of his hiring.”

So saying, she bustled away by him, and out of the kitchen. Sally, one of the maidens that wrought afield, whose bright complexion and sly looks had roused the lady’s resentment, was standing sobbing in a corner. “What is this you have done, Sally, thus to irritate my mother?”

“I hae done naething ava that’s wrang, sir; but she’s never aff my tap; an’ I’m glad I’m now free frae her. Had she tauld me my fault, an’ turned me away, I wad never[194] hae regrettit; but she has ca’d me names sic afore a’ these witnesses, that I’ll never get mair service i’ the country. I see nae right ony body has to guide poor servants this gate.”

“Nor I either, Sally; but say no more about it; I know you to be a very faithful and conscientious servant, for I have often enquired; remain in your place, and do not go away—remember I order it—give no offence to my mother that you can avoid—be a good girl, as you have heretofore been, and here is a guinea to buy you a gown at next fair.”

“Oh, God bless him for a kind good soul!” said Sally, as he went out, and the benediction was echoed from every corner of the kitchen.

He rambled more than half-way up the river side to Todburn; but it was too late to call and see the dear child that night, so he returned—joined his mother at supper; was more than usually gay and talkative, and at last proposed to invite this fair ram[195]bler down to Earlhall to breakfast with them next morning. The lady was almost paralyzed by this proposal, and groaned in spirit!

“Certainly, son! certainly! your house is your ain; invite ony body to it you like; nane has a better right! a man may keep ony company he chooses. Ye’ll hae nae objections, I fancy, that I keep out o’ the party?”

“Very great objections, mother; I wish to see this girl, and learn her history; if I call privately, you will be offended; is it not better to do this before witnesses? And I am likewise desirous that you should see her, and be satisfied that she is at all events worthy of being protected from injury. Let us make a rustic party of it, for a little variety—we will invite Robin, and his sister Miss Margaret, and any other of that class you chuse.”

“O certainly! invite them ilk ane, son—invite a’ the riff-raff i’ the parish; your mother has naething to say.”

He was stung with this perversity, as well[196] as with his love for the child on the other hand—he did invite them, and the invitation was accepted. Down came Robin Muckerland, tenant of the Todburn, dressed in his blue and gray thread-about coat, with metal buttons, broader than a Queen Ann’s half-crown, dark corduroy breeches, and drab-coloured leggums (the best things, by the bye, that ever came in fashion;) and down came haverel Meg, his sister, alias Miss Peggy, for that day, with her cork-heeled shoon, and long-waisted gown, covered with broad stripes, like the hangings of an ancient bed. She had, moreover, a silken bonnet on her head for laying aside in the lobby, under that a smart cap, and under that, again, an abundance of black curly hair, slightly grizzled, and rendered more outrageously bushy that morning by the effects of paper-curls over night. Meg was never seen dressed in such style before, and I wish from my heart that any assembly of our belles had seen her. She viewed the business as a kind of show of cattle before the laird, in the same way[197] as the young ladies long ago were brought in before King Ahasuerus; and she was determined to bear down Jane to the dust, and carry all before her. The very air and swagger with which she walked was quite delightful, while her blue ribbon-belt, half a foot broad, and proportionally long, having been left intentionally loose, was streaming behind her, like the pennon of a ship. “It is rather odd, billy Rob,” said she, “that we should thus be invited alang wi’ our ain cottar—However, the laird’s ha’ levels a’—if she be fit company for him, she maunna be less for us—fock maun bow to the bush that they seek beild frae.”

“E’en sae, Meg; but let us see you behave yoursel like a woman the day, an’ no get out wi’ ony o’ your vollies o’ nonsense.”

“Deed, Rob, I’ll just speak as I think; there sall naething gyzen i’ my thrapple that my noddle pits there. I like nane o’ your kind o’ fock that dare do naething but chim chim at the same thing ower again, like the gouk in a June day. Meg[198] maun hae out her say, if it sude burst Powbeit on her head.”

As they came down by the washing-green, Jane joined them, dressed in a plain brown frock, and leading little George, who was equipt like an earl’s son; and a prettier boy never paddled at a mother’s side.

The old lady was indisposed that day, and unable to come down to breakfast; and it was not till after the third visit from her son, who found he was like to be awkwardly situated with his party, that she was prevailed on to appear. Robin entered first, and made his obeisance; Meg came in with a skip and a courtesy, very like that of the water-owzel when she is sitting on a stone in the middle of the stream. Poor Jane appeared last, leading her boy; her air was modest and diffident, yet it had nothing of that awkward timidity, inseparable from low life, and a consciousness that one has no right to be there. The lady returned a slight nod to her courtesy, for she had nearly dropt down when she first cast her eyes[199] upon her beauty, and elegance of form and manner. It was the last hope that she had remaining, that this girl would be a vulgar creature, and have no pretensions to that kind of beauty admired in the higher circles; now that last hope was blasted. But that which astonished every one most, was the brilliancy of her eyes, which all her misfortunes had nothing dimmed; their humid lustre was such, that it was impossible for any other eye to meet their glances without withdrawing abashed. The laird set a seat for her, and spoke to her as easily as he could, but of that he was no great master; he then lifted little George, kissed him, and, setting him on his knee, fell a talking to him. “And where have you been so long away from me, my dear little fellow? Tell me where you have been all this while.”

“Fal away, at auld Geoldie’s, little Davie’s falel, ye ken; him ’at has ’e fine bonny ’halp wi’ a stipe down hele, and anole[200]l down hele.—Little Davie vely good till Geoge, an vely queel callant.”

Every one laughed aloud at George’s description of the whelp, and his companion little Davie, save Jane, who was afraid he would discover where their retreat had been, rather prematurely. Breakfast was served; the old lady forced a complaisance and chatted to Meg, who answered her just with what chanced to come uppermost, never once to the point or subject on which she was previously talking; for all the time the good old dowager was addressing her, she was busied in adjusting some part of her dress—looking at the shape of her stays—casting a glance at the laird, and occasionally at Jane—then adjusting a voluptuous curl that half-hid her grey eye. She likewise occasionally uttered a vacant hem! when the lady paused; and, as soon as she ceased, began some observation of her own. Robin was quite in the fidgets. “Dear Meg, woman,[201] that’s no what her ladyship was speaking about. That’s no to the purpose ava.”

“Speak ye to the purpose then, Rob. Ye think naebody can speak but yoursel, hummin an’ hawin. Let us hear how weel ye’ll speak to the purpose.—Whisht, sirs! haud a’ your tongues; my billy Rob’s gaun to mak a speech.”

“Humph!” quoth Robin, and gave his head a cast round.

“Humph!” returned Meg, “what kind of a speech is that? Is that to the purpose? If that be to the purpose, a sow could hae made that speech as weel as you, and better. The truth is, mem, that our Rob’s aye wantin to be on his hich horse afore grit folk; now I says till him, Rob, says I, for you to fa’ to afore your betters, and be tryin to speak that vile nicky-nacky language they ca’ English, instead o’ being on your hich horse then, ye are just like a heron walkin on stilts, an’ that’s but a daft-like beast. Ye sude mind, says I,—Rob,[202] man, says I, that her ladyship’s ane o’ our ain kind o’ fock, an’ was bred at the same heck an’ manger wi’ oursels; an’ although she has lightit on a good tethering, ye’re no to think that she’s to gi’e hersel airs, an’ forget the good auld haemilt blude that rins in her veins.”

The lady’s cheek was burning with indignation, for, of all topics, Meg was fallen on the most unlucky; nothing hurt her feelings half so much as hints of her low extraction. Lindsey, though vexed, could not repress a laugh at the proud offence on the one side, and the untameable vulgarity on the other. Meg discerned nothing wrong, and, if she had, would not have regarded it. She went on. “Ah, Meg, woman! quo’ he, ye ken little thing about it, quo’ he; when the sole of a shoe’s turned uppermost, it maks aye but an unbowsome overleather; if ye corn an auld glide-aver weel, she’ll soon turn about her heels, and fling i’ your face.”


Robin’s whole visage changed; his eyes were set on Meg, but his brows were screwed down, and his cheeks pursed up in such a manner, that those were scarcely discernible; his mouth had meanwhile assumed the form and likeness of one of the long S’s on the belly of a fiddle. Meg still went on. “Dear Rob, says I, man, says I, that disna apply to her ladyship ava, for every thing that she does, an’ every thing that she says, shows her to be a douse hamely body; the very way that she rins bizzin through the house, an’ fliting on the servants, proves that she maks nae pretensions to high gentility.”

Lindsey, who now dreaded some explosion of rage subversive of all decorum, began and rallied Meg, commended her flow of spirits and fresh looks, and said she was very much of a lady herself.

“I wat, laird,” said she, “I think aye if a body behaves wi’ ease, an’ without ony stiffness an’ precision, that body never behaves ill; but, to be sure, you grand fock[204] can say an’ do a hantle o’ things that winna be ta’en aff our hands. For my part, when the great fike rase about you an’ Jeany there, I says—says I”——

This was a threatening preface. Lindsey durst not stand the sequel. “I beg your pardon for the present, Miss Peggy,” said he; “we shall attend to your observations on this topic after we have prepared the way for it somewhat. I was, and still am convinced, that this young woman received very harsh and unmerited treatment from our two families. I am desirous of making her some reparation, and to patronize her, as well as this boy, if I find her in any degree deserving of it. This protection shall, moreover, be extended to her in a manner that neither suspicion nor blame shall attach to it; and, as we are all implicated in the wrong, I have selected you as judges in this matter.—It is impossible,” continued he, addressing himself to Jane, “to be in your company half an hour, and not discern that your education has been much above[205] the sphere of life which you now occupy; but I trust you will find us all disposed to regard you with the eye of friendship, if you will be so good as relate to us the incidents of your life which have contributed to your coming among us.”

“The events of my life, sir,” said she, “have been, like the patriarch’s days, few and evil, and my intention was, never to have divulged them in this district—not on my own account, but for the sake of their names that are connected with my history, and are now no more. Nevertheless, since you have taken such an interest in my fortunes, it would both be ungrateful and imprudent to decline giving you that satisfaction. Excuse me for the present in withholding my family name, and I will relate to you the incidents of my short life in a very few words.

“My father was an eminent merchant. Whether ever he was a rich one or not I cannot tell, but he certainly was looked upon as such, for his credit and dealings[206] were very extensive. My mother died twelve years ago, leaving my father with no more children than another daughter and myself. I received my education in Edinburgh along with my sister, who was two years older than I. She began to manage my father’s household affairs at thirteen years of age, and I went to reside with an aunt in East-Lothian, who had been married to a farmer, but was now a widow, and occupied a farm herself.

“Whether it originated in his not finding any amusement at home, or in consciousness of his affairs getting into confusion, I know not, but our father about this time fell by degrees from attending to his business in a great measure, and sunk into despondency. My sister’s letters to me were full of regret; my aunt being in a declining state of health I could not leave her for some months. At last she died, leaving me a legacy of five hundred pounds, when I hastened home, and did all in my power to assist my sister in comforting our father,[207] but he did not long survive, and dying insolvent, we not only lost our protector, but had nothing to depend on save my little legacy and our own industry and exertions. We retired to a small lodging; none of our friends thought proper to follow us to our retreat; and now, bereaved as we were of our natural protector, we could not help perceiving that we were a friendless and helpless pair. My sister never recovered her spirits; a certain dejection and absence of mind from this time forth began to prey upon her, and it was with real sorrow and concern that I perceived it daily gaining ground, and becoming more and more strongly marked. I tried always to console her as much as I could for our loss, and often, to cheer her, assumed a gaiety that was foreign to my heart; but we being quite solitary, her melancholy always returned upon her with double weight. About this time I first saw a young officer with my sister, who introduced him carelessly to me as the Captain.[208] She went out with him, and when she returned I asked who he was. “Bless me, Jane,” said she, “do you not know the Captain?” I was angry at the flippancy of her manner, but she gave me no further satisfaction.”

At the mention of this officer Lindsey grew restless and impatient, changing his position on the seat every moment.

“Things went on in this manner,” continued Jane, “for some time longer, and still my sister grew more heartless and dejected. Her colour grew pale, and her eye heavy, and I could not help feeling seriously alarmed on her account.

“For nine or ten days she went out by herself for an hour or so every day, without informing me where she had been. But one morning, when I arose my sister was gone. I waited until noon before I took any breakfast; but nothing of my sister appearing, I became distracted with dreadful apprehensions. I went about to every place where I thought there was the least chance of hearing any news of her, yet[209] durst I not ask for her openly at any one for fear of the answer I might receive; for, on considering the late dejected state of her mind, I expected nothing else than to hear that she had put an end to her existence. My search was fruitless; night came, and still no word of my sister; I passed it without sleep; but, alas! the next night, and many others, came and past over without bringing a trace of her steps, or throwing a gleam of light on her fate. I was now obliged to set on foot a strict and extensive search, and even to have her advertised; yet still all my exertions proved of no avail.

“During this long and dreadful pause of uncertainty I thought there could not be conceived a human being more thoroughly wretched than I was. Only seventeen years of age; the last of all my father’s house; left in a lodging by myself; all my neighbours utter strangers to me, and not a friend on earth to whom I could unbosom my griefs; wretched I was, and deemed it impossible[210] to be more so; but I had over-rated my griefs, and was punished for my despondency.

“When some months had passed away, one spring morning, I remember it well! after a gentle rap at the door, the maid entered, and said, a man wanted to see me. ‘A man!’ said I; ‘What man wishes to speak with me?’

“‘I don’t know, mem, he is like a countryman.’

“He was shown in; a pale man, of a dark complexion, and diminutive size. I was certain I had never seen him before, for his features were singularly marked. He asked my name, and seemed at a loss to deliver his message, and there was something in his air and manner that greatly alarmed me. ‘So you said your name is so so?’ said he again.

“‘I did; pray, tell me what is your business with me?’

“‘There is a lady at our house, who I suppose wishes to speak with you.’


“‘What lady wishes to see me? Where is your house?’

“He named some place on the London road towards Berwick.

“‘What lady can possibly be there,’ said I, ‘that knows any thing of me?’

“He looked at me again.—‘Pray, mem, have you a sister? Or had you ever any that you know of?’

“This query paralyzed me. I sunk down on the sofa; but as soon as I could speak, I asked how long the lady had been with him?

“‘Only since Friday evening last,’ said he. ‘She was taken ill at the inn on her way to Edinburgh, from whence she was conveyed to my house, for the sake of better and more quiet accommodation; but she has been very ill,—very ill, indeed. There is now hope that she will recover, but she is still very ill. I hope you are the lady she named when all was given over; at all events, you must go and see.’

“Scarcely knowing what I did, I desi[212]red the man to call a post-chaise. We reached the place before even. I entered her apartment, breathless and impatient; but how shall I relate to you the state in which I found her! My heart bleeds to this day, when remembrance presents me with the woeful spectacle! She was lying speechless, unable to move a hand or lift an eye, and posting on, with rapid advances, to eternity, having some days before been delivered of this dear child on my knee.”

At this moment the eyes of all the circle were fixed on Jane, expressing strongly a mixture of love, pity, and admiration. Lindsey could contain himself no longer. He started to his feet—stretched his arms toward her, and, after gasping a little for breath,—“Wh—wh—what!” said he, sighing, “are you not then the mother of little George?”

“A poor substitute only for a better, sir; but the only parent he has ever known, or is likely to know.”


“And you have voluntarily suffered all these privations, trouble, and shame, for the sake of a poor little orphan, who, it seems, is no nearer a kin to you than a nephew? If ever the virtuous principles and qualities of a female mind deserved admiration—But proceed. I am much to blame for interrupting you.”

“I never for another moment departed from my sister’s bed-side until she breathed her last, which she did in about thirty hours after my arrival. During that time, there was only once that she seemed to recollect or take the slightest notice of me, which was a little before her final exit; but then she gave me such a look!—So full of kindness and sorrow, that language could not have expressed her feelings half so forcibly. It was a farewell look, which is engraven on the tablets of my mind, never to be obliterated while that holds intercourse with humanity.

“The shock which my feelings received by the death of the only friend of my heart,[214] with the mysterious circumstances which accompanied it, deprived me for some time of the powers of recollection. My dreams by night, and my reflections during the day, were all so much blent and inter-mingled, and so wholly of the same tendency, that they became all as a dream together; so that I could not, on a retrospect, discover in the least, nor ever can to this day, what part of my impressions were real, or what were mere phantasy, so strongly were the etchings of fancy impressed on my distempered mind. If the man I mentioned before, who owned the house, had not looked after the necessary preparations for the funeral, I know not how or when it would have been set about by any orders of mine. They soon enticed me away from the body, which they suffered me to visit but seldom, and, it seems, I was perfectly passive. That such a thing as my sister’s funeral was approaching, occurred but rarely to my mind, and then, it in a manner surprised me as a piece of unexpected in[215]telligence was wont to do, and it as suddenly slipped away, leaving my imagination again to wander in a maze of inextricable confusion.

“The first thing that brought me to myself was a long fit of incessant weeping, in which I shed abundance of tears. I then manifested an ardent desire to see the child, which I recollect perfectly well. I considered him as the only remembrance left to me of a respectable and well-descended family, and of the dearest friend ever I remembered upon earth. When I first saw him, he was lying on an old woman’s knee; and when I stooped to look at him, he, with a start of his whole frame, fixed his young unstable eyes on me, and stretched out his little spread hands toward me, in which position he remained steadily for a considerable time. This was so marked and uncommon, that all the standers-by took notice of it; and the woman who held him said, ‘See! saw ye ever the like o’ that? I ne[216]ver saw the like o’ that a’ my life! It is surely impossible he can ken ye?’

“It was, without doubt, an involuntary motion of the babe, but I could not help viewing it as a movement effected by the Great Spirit of universal nature. I thought I saw the child beseeching me to protect his helpless innocence, and not to abandon him to an injurious world, in which he had not another friend remaining, until he could think and act for himself. I adopted him that moment in my heart as my son—I took him into my arms as a part of myself!—That simple motion of my dear child fixed my resolution with respect to him at once, and that resolution never has been altered nor injured in the smallest part.

“I hired a nurse for him; and, it being term time, gave up my house, and sold all my furniture, save the little that I have still, and retired to a cottage at Slateford, not far from Edinburgh. Here I lived frugally with the nurse and child; and became so[217] fond of him, that no previous period of my life, from the days of childhood, was ever so happy; indeed, my happiness was centered solely in him, and if he was well, all other earthly concerns vanished. I found, however, that after paying the rent of the house, the expences of the two funerals, and the nurse’s wages, that my little stock was reduced nearly one-third; and fearing that it would in a little while be wholly exhausted, I thought the sooner I reconciled myself to hardships the better; so leaving the remainder of my money in the bank as a fund in case of sickness or great necessity, I came and took this small cottage and garden from your farmer. I had no ambition but that of bringing up the child, and educating him, independent of charitable assistance; and I cannot describe to you how happy I felt at the prospect, that the interest of my remaining property, with the small earnings of my own industry, was likely to prove more than an equivalent to[218] my yearly expences. I have from the very first acknowledged little George as my own son. I longed for a retirement, where I should never be recognised by any former acquaintance. In such a place I thought my story might gain credit; nor could I think in any degree to stain the name of my dear departed sister by any surmises or reflections that might in future attach to it by telling the story as it was. How I should have felt had he really been my son, I cannot judge; but instead of feeling any degradation at being supposed his mother, so wholly is my existence bound up in him, that I could not bear the contrary to be supposed.

“Who his father is, remains a profound, and, to me, unaccountable mystery. I never had the slightest suspicion of the rectitude of her behaviour, and cannot understand to this day how she could possibly carry on an amour without suffering me to perceive any signs of it. She had spoke but little to the people with whom I found[219] her; but their impressions were, that she was not married, and I durst not enquire farther; for, rather than have discovered his father to be unworthy, I chose to remain in utter ignorance concerning it, and I could not think favourably of one who had deserted her in such circumstances. There was no man whom I had ever seen that I could in the least suspect, if it was not the young officer that I formerly mentioned, and he was the least likely to be guilty of such an act of any man I ever saw.”

Here Lindsey again sprung to his feet. “Good God!” said he, “there is something occurs to my mind—the most extraordinary circumstance—if it be really so. You wished to be excused from giving your surname, but there is a strange coincidence in your concerns with my own, which renders it absolutely necessary that I should be informed of this.”

Jane hesitated, and said she could not think of divulging that so as to make it[220] public, but that she would trust his honour, and tell it him in his ear. She then whispered the name M’‑‑‑‑y.

“What!” said he aloud, forgetting the injunction of secrecy, “of the late firm M’‑‑‑‑, Reynolds and Co.?”

“The same, sir.”

The positions into which he now threw himself, and the extravagant exclamations that he uttered, cannot here be all described. The other three personages in the room all supposed that he was gone out of his reason. After repeating, till quite out of breath, “It is she! it is she! it is the same! it is the same!” and, pressing both her hands in his, he exclaimed, “Eternal Providence! how wonderful are thy ways, and how visible is thy superintendance of human affairs, even in the common vicissitudes of life! but never was it so visible as in this! My dear child,” continued he, taking little George in his arms, who looked at him with suspicion and wonder, “by how many fatal and untoward events, all seem[221]ingly casual, art thou at last, without the aid of human interference, thrown into the arms of thy natural guardian! and how firmly was my heart knit to thee from the very first moment I saw thee! But thou art my own son, and shalt no more leave me; nor shall your beautiful guardian either, if she will accept of a heart that her virtues have captivated. This house shall henceforth be a home to you both, and all my friends shall be friends to you, for you are my own.”

Here the old lady sprung forward, and, laying hold of her son by the shoulder, endeavoured to pull him away. “Consider what you are saying, Lindsey, and what you are bringing on yourself, and your name, and your family. You are raving mad—that child can no more be yours than it is mine. Will you explain yourself, or are we to believe that you have indeed lost your reason? I say, where is the consistency in supposing that child can be yours?”

“It is impossible,” said Robin.


“I say it’s nae sic a thing as unpossible, Rob,” quoth Meg. “Hand your tongue, ye ken naething about it—it’s just as possible that it may be his as another’s—I sal warrant whaever be aught it, it’s no comed there by sympathy! Od, if they war to come by sympathy”——

Here Meg was interrupted by Lindsey, who waved his hand for silence,—a circumstance that has sorely grieved the relater of this tale,—for of all things he would have liked to have had Meg’s ideas, at full length, of children being produced by sympathy.

“I beg your pardon,” said Lindsey. “I must have appeared extravagant in my rapturous enthusiasm, having forgot but that you knew all the circumstances as well as myself. The whole matter is, however, very soon, and very easily explained.”

He then left the room, and all the company gazing upon one another. Jane scarcely blushed on receiving the vehement proffer from Lindsey, for his rhapsody had thrown her into a pleasing and tender delirium of[223] amazement, which kept every other feeling in suspense.

In a few seconds he returned, bringing an open letter in his hand.—“Here is the last letter,” said he, “ever I received from my brave and only brother; a short extract from which will serve fully to clear up the whole of this very curious business.”

He then read as follows:—“Thus, you see, that for the last fortnight the hardships and perils we have encountered have been many and grievous; but TO-MORROW will be decisive one way or another. I have a strong prepossession that I will not survive the battle; yea, so deeply is the idea impressed on my mind, that with me it amounts to an absolute certainty; therefore, I must confide a secret with you which none in the world know, or in the least think of, save another and myself. I was privately married before I left Scotland, to a young lady, lovely in her person, and amiable in her manners, but without any fortune. We resolved, for reasons that must be obvious to[224] you, to keep our marriage a secret, until I entered to the full possession of my estate, and if possible till my return; but now, (don’t laugh at me, my dear brother,) being convinced that I shall never return, I entreat you, as a last request, to find her out and afford her protection. It is probable, that by this time she may stand in need of it. Her name is Amelia M’‑‑‑‑y, daughter to the late merchant of that name of the firm M’‑‑‑‑y and Reynolds. She left her home with me in private, at my earnest request, though weeping with anguish at leaving a younger sister, a little angel of mercy, whom, like the other, you will find every way worthy of your friendship and protection. The last letter that I had from her was dated from London, the 7th of April, on which day she embarked in the packet for Leith, on her way to join her sister, in whose house, near Bristo-Port, you will probably find her. Farewell, dear brother. Comfort our mother; and O, for my sake, cherish and support my dear wife! We have[225] an awful prospect before us, but we are a handful of brave determined friends, resolved to conquer or die together.”

The old lady now snatched little George up in her arms, pressed him to her bosom, and shed abundance of tears over him.—“He is indeed my grandson! he is! he is!” cried she. “My own dear George’s son, and he shall henceforth be cherished as my own.”

“And he shall be mine too, mother,” added Lindsey; “and heir of all the land which so rightly belongs to him. And she, who has so disinterestedly adopted and brought up the heir of Earlhall, shall still be his mother, if she will accept of a heart that renders her virtues every homage, and beats in unison with her own to every tone of pity and benevolence.”

Jane now blushed deeply, for the generous proposal was just made while the tears of joy were yet trickling over her cheeks on account of the pleasing intelligence she had[226] received of the honour of her regretted sister, and the rank of her child.—She could not answer a word—she looked stedfastly at the carpet, through tears, as if examining how it was wrought—then at a little pearl ring she wore on her finger, and finally fell to adjusting some of little George’s clothes. They were all silent—It was a quaker meeting, and might have continued so much longer, had not the spirit fortunately moved Meg.

“By my certy, laird! but ye hae made her a good offer! an’ yet she’ll pretend to tarrow at takin’t! But ye’re sure o’ her, tak my word for it.—Ye dinna ken women. Bless ye! the young hizzies mak aye the greatest fike about the things that they wish maist to hae. I ken by mysel;—when Andrew Pistolfoot used to come stamplin in to court me i’ the dark, I wad hae cried whispering, ‘Get away wi’ ye! ye bowled-like shurf!—whar are ye comin pechin an’ fuffin to me?’ Bless your heart! gin Andrew had[227] run away when I bade him, I wad hae run after him, an’ grippit him by the coat-tails, an’ brought him back. Little wist I this morning, an’ little wist mae than I, that things war to turn out this way, an’ that Jeany was to be our young lady! She was little like it that night she gaed away greetin wi’ the callant on her back! Dear Rob, man, quo’ I to my billy, what had you and my lady to do wi’ them? Because her day an’ yours are ower, do ye think they’ll no be courting as lang as the warld stands; an’ the less that’s said about it the better—I said sae!”

“And you said truly, Meg,” rejoined Lindsey. “Now, pray, Miss Jane, tell me what you think of my proposal?”

“Indeed, sir,” answered she, “you overpower me. I am every way unworthy of the honour you propose for my acceptance; but as I cannot part with my dear little George, with your leave I will stay with my lady and take care of him.”

“Well, I consent that you shall stay with[228] my mother as her companion. A longer acquaintance will confirm that affection, which a concurrence of events has tended so strongly to excite.”

It was not many months until this amiable pair were united in the bonds of matrimony, and they are still living, esteemed of all their acquaintances. Barnaby is the laird’s own shepherd, and overseer of all his rural affairs, and he does not fail at times to remind his gentle mistress of his dream about the eagle and the corbie.







“I hope the king will not hunt to-day,” said Gale, as he sat down on the top of the South Eildon, and stretched out his lazy limbs in the sun. “If he keep within doors to-day with his yelping beagles, I shall have one day’s peace and ease; and my lambs shall have one day’s peace and ease; and poor Trimmy shall have one day’s peace and ease too. Come hither to me, Trimmy, and tell me what is the reason that you will not hunt with the king’s two beagles?”


Trimmy came near, laid her paw on her master’s knee, and looked him in the face, but she could not tell him what was the reason that she would not hunt with the king’s two beagles, Mooly and Scratch.

“I say, tell me my good Trimmy, what you ail at these beautiful hounds? You wont to be the best follower of a track in all the Merse and Leader; but now, whenever you hear the sound of the horn, and the opening swell of the harriers, you take your tail between your legs and set off for home, as there were something on the hill that were neither good nor cannie. You are a very sensible beast, Trimmy, but you have some strange fancies and prejudices that I cannot comprehend.”

Trimming cocked her ears, and looked towards the Abbey, then at her master, and then at the Abbey again.

“Ah! I fear you hear them coming that you are cocking your ears at that rate. Then if that be the case, good morning to you, Trimmy.”


It was neither the king nor his snow-white beagles that Trimmy winded, but poor Croudy, Gale’s neighbour shepherd, who was coming sauntering up the brae, with his black lumpish dog at his foot, that was fully as stupid as himself, and withal as good-natured. Croudy was never lifting his eyes from the ground, but moving on as if he had been enumerating all the little yellow flowers that grew on the hill. Yet it was not for want of thought that Croudy was walking in that singular position, with his body bent forward, and the one ear turned down towards the ground, and the other up. No, no! for Croudy was trying to think all that he could; and all that he could do he could make nothing of it. Croudy had seen and heard wonderful things! “Bless me and my horn!” said he, as he sat down on a stone to rest himself, and try if he could bring his thoughts to any rallying point. It was impossible—they were like a hive of bees when the queen is taken from their head.


He took out the little crooked ewe-horn that he kept as a charm; he had got it from his mother, and it had descended to him from many generations; he turned it round in the one hand, and then round in the other hand—he put it upon his finger and twirled it. “Bless me an’ my horn!” said he again. Then leaning forward upon his staff, he looked aslant at the ground, and began to moralize. “It is a growing world—ay—the gerse grows; the lambs eat it—they grow—ay—we eat them—we grow—there it goes!—men, women, dogs, bairns, a’ eat—a’ grow; the yird eats up a’—it grows—men eat women—they grow—what comes o’ them?—Hoh! I’m fixed now!—I’m at the end o’ my tether.—I might gang up the hill to Gale, an’ tell him what I hae seen an’ what I hae heard; but I hae four great fauts to that chiel. In the first place, he’s a fool—good that! In the second place, he’s a scholar, an’ speaks English—bad! In the third place, he likes the women—warst ava!—and, fourthly and lastly, he[235] misca’s a’ the words, and ca’s the streamers the Roara Boriawlis—ha! ha! ha!—Wha wad converse wi’ a man, or wha can converse wi’ a man, that ca’s the streamers the Roara Boriawlis? Fools hae aye something about them no like ither fock! Now, gin I war to gang to sic a man as that, an’ tell him that I heard a dog speakin’, and another dog answering it, what wad he say? He wad speak English; sae ane wad get nae sense out o’ him. If I war to gang to the Master o’ Seaton an’ tak my aith, what wad he say? Clap me up i’ the prison for a daft man an’ a fool. I couldna bide that. Then again, if we lose our king—an’ him the last o’ the race—Let me see if I can calculate what wad be the consequence? The English—Tut! the English! wha cares for them? But let me see now—should the truth be tauld or no tauld?—That’s the question. What’s truth? Ay, there comes the crank! Nae man can tell that—for what’s truth to ane is a lee to another—Mumps, ye’re very hard on thae fleas the[236] day—Truth?—For instance; gin my master war to come up the brae to me an’ say, ‘Croudy, that dog’s useless,’ that wadna be truth to me—But gin I war to say to him, ‘Master, I heard a dog speak, an’ it said sae an’ sae; an’ there was another dog answered it, an’ it said sae an’ sae,’ that wad be truth to me; but then it wadna be truth to him—Truth’s just as it is ta’en—Now, if a thing may be outher truth or no truth, then a’ things are just the same—No—that disna haud neither—Mumps, ye’re no gaun to leave a sample o’ thae fleas the day, man—Look up, like a farrant beast—have ye nae pity on your master, nor nae thought about him ava, an’ him in sic a plisky?—I wadna be just sae like a stump an’ I war you, man——Bless me an’ my horn! here’s the Boreawlis comin’ on me—here’s the northern light.”

“Good-morrow to you, Croudy.”


“You seem to be very thoughtful and heavy-hearted to-day, honest Croudy. I[237] fear pretty Pery has given you a bad reception last night.”


“I hope she did not mention the kiln-logie, Croudy? That was a sad business! Croudy; some men are ill to know!”

“See, whaten white scares are yon, Gale, aboon the Cowdyknowes an’ Gladswood linn? Look ye, they spread an’ tail away a’ the gate to the Lammer-Law—What ca’ ye yon, Gale?”

“Some exhalation of the morning.”

“What?—Bless me an’ my horn! that’s warst ava!—I thought it wad be some Boriawlis, Gale—some day Boriawlis; but I didna think o’ aught sae high as this—ha! ha! ha! ha!”

Croudy went his way laughing along the side of the hill, speaking to Mumps one while, moralizing about truth and the language of dogs and fairies another, and always between taking a hearty laugh at Gale. “Come away, Mumps,” said he; “I can crack some wi’ you, though ye’re[238] rather slow i’ the uptake; but I can crack nane wi’ a man that ca’s the streamers a Roara Boriawlis, an’ a white clud, an’ Exaltation—Na, na, that will never do.”

Croudy sauntered away down into the Bourgeon to be out of sight, and Gale went lightsomely away to the top of the North-east Eildon; and there, on one of the angles of the old Roman Camp, laid him down to enjoy the glorious prospect; and, sure, of all the lovely prospects in our isle, this is the most lovely. What must it have been in those days when all the ruins of monastery, tower, and citadel, which still make the traveller to stand in wonder and admiration, were then in their full splendour. Traveller! would you see Scotland in all its wild and majestic grandeur? sail along its western firths from south to north—Would you see that grandeur mellowed by degrees into softness? look from the top of Ben-Lomond—But would you see an amphitheatre of perfect beauty, where nothing is wanting to enrich the scene? seat[239] yourself on the spot where Gale now lay, at the angle of the Roman Camp, on the top of the North-east Eildon.

Short time did he enjoy the prospect and the quiet in which he delighted. First the heads of two noblemen appeared on the hill beneath him, then came a roe by him at full speed. Trimmy would fain have hunted her, but as the shepherd deemed that the business was some way connected with the royal sport, he restrained her. The two noblemen some time thereafter sounded a bugle, and then in a moment the king and his attendants left the Abbey at full speed; and how beautiful was their winding ascent up the hill! The king had betted with the Earl of Hume and Lord Belhaven, seven steers, seven palfreys, seven deer-greyhounds, and seven gold rings, that his two snow-white hounds, Mooly and Scratch, would kill a roe-deer started on any part of the Eildon hills, and leave the Abbey walk with him after she was started. After the bet was fairly taken, the king[240] said to the two noblemen, “You are welcome to your loss, my lords. Do you know that I could bet the half of my realm on the heads of these two hounds?”

The two lords held their peace, but they were determined to win if they could, and they did not blow the horn, as agreed on, immediately when the roe started, but sauntered about, to put off time, and suffer the trail to cool. The two hounds were brought up, and loosed at the spot; they scarcely shewed any symptoms of having discovered the scent. The king shook his head; and Hume, who loved the joke dearly, jeered the king about his wager, which his majesty only answered by speaking to one of the hounds that stood next to him. “Ah! Mooly, Mooly, if you deceive me, it is the first time; but I have another matter to think on than you this morning, Mooly.” Mooly fawned on her royal master; jumped up at the stirrup, and took his foot playfully in her mouth, while Keryl, the king’s steed, laid back his ears, and[241] snapped at her, in a half-angry, half-playful mood. This done, Mooly turned her long nose to the wind; scented this way and that way, and then scampering carelessly over the brow of the hill, she opened in a tone so loud and so sprightly that it made all the Eildons sound in chorus to the music. Scratch joined with her elegant treble, and away they went like two wild swans, sounding over the hill.

“Trimmy! Trimmy! my poor Trimmy!” cried Gale, vexed and astonished; “Trimmy, halloo! hie, hunt the deer, Trimmy! Here, here, here!”

No; Trimmy would never look over her shoulder, but away she ran with all her might home to Eildon-Hall. “The plague be in the beast,” said Gale to himself, “if ever I saw any thing like that! There is surely something about these two hounds that is scarcely right.”

Round and round the hills they went side by side, and still the riders kept close[242] up with them. The trail seemed to be warm, and the hounds keen, but yet no deer was to be discovered. They stretched their course to the westward, round Cauldshields Hill, back over Bothendean Moor, and again betook them to the Eildons; still no deer was to be seen! The two hounds made a rapid stretch down towards Melrose; the riders spurred in the same direction. The dogs in a moment turning short, went out between the two eastern hills, distancing all the riders, whom they left straggling up the steep after them as they could, and when these came over the height there was a fine roe-deer lying newly slain, and the two snow-white hounds panting and rolling themselves on the grass beside her. The king claimed his wager, but Hume objected, unless his majesty could prove that it was the same deer that they had started at the same place in the morning. The king had the greatest number of voices in his favour, but the earl[243] stood to his point. “Is it true, my liege lord,” said an ancient knight to the king, “that these two beautiful hounds have never yet been unlieshed without killing their prey?”

“Never,” returned the king.

“And is it equally true,” continued the old knight, “that to this day they have never been seen kill either roe, deer, or any other creature?”

“That is a most extraordinary circumstance,” said the king; “pause until I recollect—No; I do not know that any eye hath ever yet seen them take their prey.”

“I heard it averred last night,” said the old man, “that if they are kept sight of for a whole day the deer is never seen, nor do they ever catch any thing; and that the moment they get out of sight, there the deer is found slain, nobody knows how. I took note of it, and I have seen it this day verified. Pray, is this a fact, my liege?”

“I never before thought of it, or noted[244] it,” said the king; “but as far as my memory serves me, I confess that it has uniformly been as you say.”

“Will your majesty suffer me to examine these two hounds?” said the old man. “Methinks there is something very odd about them—Sure there was never any animal on earth had eyes or feet such as they have.”

The two beagles kept aloof, and pretended to be winding some game round the top of the hill.

“They will not come now,” said the king; “you shall see them by and by.”

“If consistent with your majesty’s pleasure,” continued the aged knight, “where—how—or when did you get these two hounds?”

“I got them in a most extraordinary way, to be sure!” replied the king, in a thoughtful and hesitating mood.

“Your majesty does not then chuse to say how, or where, or from whom it was that you had them?” said the old knight.


The king shook his head.

“I will only simply ask this,” continued he; “and I hope there is no offence.—Is it true that you got these hounds at the very same time that the beautiful Elen, and Clara of Rosline, were carried off by the fairies?”

The king started—fixed his eyes upon the ground—raised his hands, and seemed gasping for breath. All the lords were momentarily in the same posture; the query acted on them all like an electrical shock. The old man seemed to enjoy mightily the effect produced by his insinuations—He drew still nearer to the king.

“What is it that troubles your majesty?” said he. “What reflections have my simple questions raised in your mind?—Your majesty, I am sure, can have no unpleasant reflections on that score?”

“Would to the Virgin Mary that it were even so!” said the king.

“How is it possible,” continued the offi[246]cious old man, “that any thing relating to two dogs can give your majesty trouble? Pray tell us all about them—Who was it you got them from?”

“I do not know, and if I did——”

“Would you know him again if you saw him?”

The king looked at the old man, and held his peace.

“Did you buy them, or borrow them?” continued he.

“Neither!” was the answer.

“What then did you give in exchange for them?”

“Only a small token.”

“And pray, if your majesty pleases, what might that token be?”

“Who dares to ask that?” said the king, with apparent trouble of mind.

“Would you know your pledge again if you saw it?” said the old man, sarcastically.

“Who are you, sir?” said the king, proudly, “that dares to question your sovereign in such a manner?”


“Who am I!” said the old man. “That is a good jest! That is such a question to ask at one who has scarcely ever been from your side, since you were first laid in your cradle!”

“I know the face,” said the king, “but all this time I cannot remember who you are.—My Lord of Hume, do you know who the reverend old gentleman is?” And in saying this his majesty turned a little aside with the earl.

“Do I know who he is?” said Hume. “Yes, by Saint Lawrence I do—I know him as well as I do your majesty. Let me see—It is very singular that I cannot recollect his name—I have seen the face a thousand times—Is he not some abbot, or confessor, or——No—Curse me, but I believe he is the devil!”

The earl said this in perfect jocularity, because he could not remember the old man’s name; but when he looked at the king, he perceived that his eyes were fixed on him in astonishment. The earl’s, as by[248] sympathy, likewise settled by degrees into as much seriousness as they were masters of, and there the two stood for a considerable time, gazing at one another, like two statues.

“I was only saying so in jest, my liege,” said Hume; “I did not once think that the old gentleman was the devil. Why are you thoughtful?”

“Because, now when I think of it, he hinted at some things which I am certain no being on earth knew of, save myself, and another, who cannot possibly divulge them.”

They both turned slowly about at the same instant, curious to take another look of this mysterious old man; but when fairly turned round they did not see him.

“What has become of the old man,” said the king, “that spoke to me just now?”

“Here, sire!” said one.

“Here!” said another.

“Here!” said a third; all turning at the[249] same time to the spot where the old man and his horse stood, but neither of them were there.

“How is this?” said the king, “that you have let him go from among you without noting it?”

“He must have melted into air, he and his horse both,” said they; “else he could not otherwise have left us without being observed.”

The king blessed himself in the name of the Holy Virgin, and all the chief saints in the calendar. The Earl of Hume swore by the greater part of them, and cursed himself that he had not taken a better look at the devil when he was so near him, as no one could tell if ever he would have such a chance again. Douglas said he hoped there was little doubt of that.



The hunt was now over, and Gale’s lambs were all scattered abroad; he threw off his coat and tried to gather them, but he soon found that, without the assistance of Trimmy, it was impossible; so he was obliged to go home and endeavour to persuade her again out to the hill, by telling her that Mooly and Scratch had both left it. Trimmy then came joyfully, and performed in half an hour what her master could not have effected before night.

When he had gotten them all collected, and settled at their food, he went away in the evening to seek for his friend Croudy, to have some amusement with him. He found him lying in a little hollow, conver[251]sing with himself, and occasionally with Mumps, who paid very little attention to what he said. He now and then testified his sense of the honour intended to him, by giving two or three soft indolent strokes with his tail upon the ground, but withall neither lifted his head nor opened his eyes. Gale addressed his friend Croudy in a jocund and rallying manner, who took no notice of it, but continued to converse with Mumps.

“Ye’re nae great gallaunt, after a’ now, Mumps. Gin I had been you, man, an’ had seen sic twa fine beasts as Mooly an’ Scratch come to our hills, I wad hae run away to them, an’ fiddled about them, an’ smelt their noses, an’ kissed them, an’ cockit up my tail on my rigging wi’ the best o’ them; but instead o’ that, to tak the pet an’ rin away far outbye, an’ there sit turnin up your nose an’ bow-wowing as ye war a burial-boding!—hoo, man, it is very bairnly like o’ ye! Humph! fools do ay as they[252] are bidden! Ye’re nae fool, Mumps, for ye seldom do as ye’re bidden.”

“Tell me, Croudy,” said Gale, “does Mumps really run away in a panic when he perceives the king’s hounds?”

Panic when he perceives the king’s hounds! Are ye gaun to keep on at bletherin’ English? Tell me, ye see—for if ye be, I’m gaun to clatter nane to ye.”

“Dear Croudy, I have often told you that there is not such a thing as English and Scotch languages; the one is merely a modification of the other, a refinement as it were”——

“Ay, an exaltation like—ation! ation! I’m sure nae Scot that isna a fool wad ever let that sound, ation, come out o’ his mouth. Mumps, what say ye tilt?”

“But, Croudy, I have news to tell you that will delight you very much; only, ere I begin, tell me seriously, Does your dog really run off when he sees or hears the king’s two white hounds?”

“Really he does—Is that ony wonder?[253] D’ye think Mumps sic a fool as no to ken a witch by a brute beast?”

“What do you mean to insinuate, Croudy?”

Sinuate—What’s that?”

“I mean, What would you infer when you talk of witches? I have some strange doubts about these dogs myself.”

“Can you keep a secret?”

“Yes, if it is worth keeping.”

“At ony rate, swear that if ever you do tell it, it is not to be in English. Nane o’ your awlis’s an’ ations in it. Gale, I hae the maist wonderfu’ story to tell ye that ever happened sin’ Nimrod first gaed out to the hunting wi’ a bull-dog an’ a pouch-fu’ stanes. Ye see, yesterday at morn, when the hunt began, I clamb up into the Eildon tree, an’ haid mysel’ amang the very thickest o’ its leaves, where I could see every thing, but naething could see me. I saw the twa white hounds a’ the gate, but nae appearance of a deer; an’ aye they came nearer an’ nearer to me, till at last I saw a[254] bonny, braw, young lady, a’ clad i’ white, about a hunder paces frae me, an’ she was aye looking back an’ rinning as gin she wantit to be at the Eildon tree. When she saw the hounds comin on hard behind her, she cried out; but they soon o’ertook her, threw her down, an’ tore her, an’ worried her; an’ I heard her makin’ a noise as gin she had been laughin’ ae while an’ singin’ another, an’ O I thought her sang was sweet; it was something about the fairies. Weel, this scene, sae contrair to a’ nature, didna end here, for I heard the tae dog sayin’ to the tither, in plain language,—‘Wha’s this has been the deer to-day?’ An it answered again an’ said, ‘Lady Marrion of Coomsley, ye may see by her goud rings; she is the twenty-third, and our task will soon be dune.’

‘Sister, read me my riddle,’ said the first.

‘I ate my love an’ I drank my love,
An’ my love she gae me light;
An’ the heart o’ the deer may lie right near
Where it lay yesternight.’


‘Ha! that’s nae riddle!’ said the other; ‘little does some wat what they’re to eat an’ what they’re to drink the night! Can ye tell me, sister, if the wicked deed will be done?—Will the king die to-night?

‘The poison’s distill’d, and the monk is won,
And to-night I fear it will be done.
Hush!—hush!—we are heard an’ seen;
Wae be to the ears, and wae be to the een!’

“An wi’ that, they rowed themsels on the bonny corpse; and when I lookit again, there was a fine, plump, bausined roe-deer lying, an’ the blude streamin’ frae her side; an’ down comes the king an’ his men, an’ took her away hame to their supper.”

“Now, Croudy, of all the tales I ever heard that is the most improbable and unnatural! But it is too singular and out of the common course of nature for you to have framed it; and besides, I never knew[256] you to tell a manifest lie—Are you certain that you did not dream it?”

“How could I dream on the top of a tree? Ye may either believe it or no as ye like—it’s a’ true.”

“I was sure there was something more than ordinary about these dogs; but what to make of your story I know not. Saint Waldave be our shield! Do you think the king and his nobles have been feasting upon changed human creatures all this while? There is something in the whole business so revolting to human nature, a man cannot think of it! It seems, too, that there is a plot against the life of the king—What shall we do in this?—The fairies have again been seen at the Eildon Tree, that is certain; and it is said some more young people are missing.”

“They’ll soon hae us a’ thegither—I like that way o’ turnin’ fock into deers an’ raes, and worrying them, warst ava—Mumps, lad, how wad ye like to be turned into a[257] deer, an’ worried an’ eaten?—Aigh, man! ye wad like it ill! I think I see how ye wad lay yoursel out for fear—Ha, ha! I wad like to see ye get a bit hunt, man, if I thought ye wad win away wi’ the life—I wad like to see ye streek yoursel for aince.”

“I wonder, Croudy, after seeing such a sight as you have just now described, that you can descend from that to speak such nonsense.”

“Tongues maun wag—an’ when they gang it’s no for naething—It’s a queer thing speaking!—Mumps, ye can speak nane, man—It’s no for want of a tongue, I’m sure.”

“Let us consider what’s to be done—The king should be warned.”

“I dinna see what’s to hinder you to speak, Mumps, as weel as ony white beagle i’ the country.”

“I have it—I will go home directly and tell pretty Pery—she will apprize the abbot, and we shall have the two hounds,[258] Mooly and Scratch, burnt at the stake to-morrow.”

“You tell Pery? No; that will never do; for you will speak English—That tale winna tell in English; for the twa witches, or fairies, or changed fock, or whatever they may be, didna speak that language themsels—sin’ the thing is to be tauld, I’ll rather tell Pery mysel, if it is the same thing to you.”

This Pery was a young volatile maiden at Eildon Hall, who was over head and ears in love with Gale. She would have given the whole world for him; and in order to tease him somewhat, she had taken a whim of pretending to be in love with Croudy. Croudy hated all the women, and more particularly Pery, who had been the plague of his life; but of late he had heard some exaggerated accounts of the kind sentiments of her heart respecting him, which had wonderfully altered Croudy, although he still kept up as well as he could[259] the pretence of disliking the sex. He went to Pery that evening as she was gathering in some clothes from the bushes, and desired her, with a most important face, to meet him at the Moss Thorn in half an hour, for he had something to tell her that would surprise her.

“Indeed and that I will with all my heart, Croudy,” said she; “how glad I am that I have got you this length! I can guess what your secret will be.”

“Ye can do nae sic thing,” said Croudy, “nor nae woman that ever was born.”

“I’ll wager three kisses with you, Croudy, at the Old Moss Thorn, that I do,” returned she.

Croudy hung his head to one side, and chuckled, and crowed, and laid on the ground with his staff; and always now and then cast a sly look-out at the wick of his eye to Pery.

“It’s a queer creature a woman,” said Croudy—“very bonny creature though!”

“Well, Croudy, I’ll meet you at the[260] Moss Thorn,” said Pery, “and pay you your wager too, provided you have either spirit to ask, or accept of it when offered.”

Croudy went away laughing till his eyes blinded with tears, and laying on the ground with his stick.—“I watna what I’ll do now,” said he to himself, “little impudent thing that she is!—She’s eneugh to pit a body mad!—Mumps—O, man, ye’re an unfarrant beast!—Three kisses at the Moss Thorn!—I wish I had this meeting by!—Mumps, I never saw sic an unfeasible creature as you, man, when ane thinks about a bonny woman—A woman!—What is a woman?—Let me see!—’Tis no easy to ken!—But I ken this—that a ewe lamb is a far nicer, bonnier, sweeter, innocenter, little creature than a toop lamb. Oh! I wish it war night, for I’m no weel ava!—Mumps, ye’re a perfect blockhead, man!”

Precisely while this was going on at Eildon-Hall, there were two ladies met hurriedly on the Abbey Walk. No one knew who they were, or whence they came,[261] but they were lovely beyond expression, although their eyes manifested a kind of wild instability. Their robes were white as snow, and they had that light, elegant, sylph-like appearance, that when they leaned forward to the evening air, one could hardly help suspecting that they would skim away in it like twin doves.

“Sister,” said the one, “haste and tell me what we are to do?”

“There is much to do to-night,” said the other. “That clown who saw us, and heard us speak, will blab the news; and then, think what the consequences may be! He must be silenced, and that instantly.”

“And tell me,” said the first, “is the plot against the king’s life to be put in execution to-night?”

“I fear it is,” answered the other; “and the abbot, his own kinsman, is in it.”

“Alas, sister, what shall we do! Give me Philamy’s rod, and trust the clown to me. But do you make all possible haste, and find your way into the banquet hall,[262] and be sure to remain there in spite of all opposition.”

The two sisters parted; and she that got the wand from the other repaired straight to the Moss Thorn, where honest Croudy, and his dog Mumps, were lying at a little distance from each other; the one very busy biting for fleas, that he supposed had made a lodgment among his rough matted hair, and the other conversing with himself about the properties of women, fairies, and witches. All of a sudden he beheld this beautiful angelic creature coming towards him, which made his heart thrill within him.

“Saint Mary be my guide!” exclaimed Croudy to himself; “saw ever ony body the like o’ yon? I declare Pery has dressed hersel like a princess to come an’ speak to me!—An’ to think o’ me kissing a creature like yon! I maun do it, too, or else I’ll never hear the end o’t.—Och! what will I do!—I’ll lie down an’ pretend to be sleepin.”


Croudy drew his plaid up over his face, stretched out his limbs, and snored as in a profound sleep. The fair lady came up, gave him three strokes with her wand, and uttered certain words at every stroke; and, lo! the whole mortal frame of Croudy was in five seconds changed into that of a huge bristly boar! The transformation was brought about so suddenly, and Mumps was so much engaged, that he never once noticed, in the slightest degree, till all was over, and the lady had withdrawn. Let any man judge of the honest colley’s astonishment, when, instead of his master, he beheld the boar standing hanging his ears, and shaking his head at him. He betook himself to immediate flight, and ran towards the house faster than ever he ran in his life, yelping all the way for perfect fright. Croudy was very little better himself. At first he supposed that he was in a dream, and stood a long time considering of it, in hopes the fantasy would go off;[264] but on seeing the consternation of Mumps, he looked first to the one side, and then to the other, and perceiving his great bristly sides and limbs, he was seized with indescribable terror, and fled at full speed. It is well known what a ridiculous figure a hog makes at any time when frightened, and exerting itself to escape from the supposed danger—there is not any thing so calculated to make one laugh—his stupid apprehension of some approaching mischief—the way that he fixes his head and listens—gives a grunt like the crack of a musket, and breaks away again. Every one who has witnessed such a scene, will acknowledge, that it is a masterpiece of the ludicrous. Consider, then, what it would be to see one in such a fright as this poor beast was, and trying to escape from himself; running grunting over hill and dale, hanging out his tongue with fatigue, and always carrying the object of his terror along with him. It was an ineffectual exertion of[265] mind to escape from matter; for, though Croudy’s form and nature were changed, he still retained the small and crude particles of the reasoning principle which he had before. All feelings else were, however, for the present swallowed up in utter dismay, and he ran on without any definitive aim, farther than a kind of propensity to run to the end of the world. He did not run a great way for all that; for he lost his breath in a very short time; but even in that short time, he run himself into a most imminent danger.

Squire Fisher of Dernaway Tower had a large herd of cows—they were all standing in the loan, as the milking green is called in that country, and the maidens were engaged in milking them, singing the while in full chorus, (and a sweet and enlivening chorus it was, for the evening was mild and serene), when down comes this unearthly boar into the loan, all fatigued as he was, gaping and running on without stop or stay. The kine soon perceived that there was something super-human about[266] the creature, for even the most dull of animals have much quicker perceptions than mankind in these matters; and in one moment they broke all to the gate as they had been mad, overturning the milk, maidens, and altogether. The boar ran on; so did the kine, cocking their heads and roaring in terror, as if every one of them had been bewitched, or possessed by some evil spirit. It was a most dismal scene!—The girls went home with the rueful tidings, that a mad boar had come into the loan, and bitten the whole herd, which was all run off mad, along with the furious and dreadful animal. The dogs were instantly closed in for fear of further danger to the country; and all the men of the village armed themselves, and sallied out to surround and destroy this outrageous monster.

It chanced, however, that the boar in his progress ran into a large field of strong standing corn, which so impeded his course that he fell down breathless, and quite exhausted; and thus he lay stretched at full[267] length, panting in a furrow, while all the men of the country were running round and round him, every one with a sword, spear, or fork, ready to run into his body.

Croudy, or the Boar, as it is now more proper to designate him, got here some time to reflect. He found that he was transformed by witchcraft or enchantment, and as he had never looked up from under his plaid during the moments of his transformation, he conceived it to have been the beautiful and wicked Pery that had wrought this woful change upon him; therefore he had no hopes of regaining his former shape, save in her returning pity and compassion; and he had strong hopes that she would ere long relent, as he had never wilfully done her any ill. Pery knew nothing about the matter; but actually went up with a heart as light as a feather to have some sport with Croudy at the Old Thorn; and when she found that he was not there, she laughed and went home again, saying[268] to herself, that she knew he durst not stand such an encounter.

The poor boar arose from his furrow in the midst of the field of corn, as soon as it was day-light next morning, and with a heavy and forlorn heart went away back to the Old Moss Thorn, in hopes that the cruel Pery would seek him there, and undo the enchantment. When he came, he discovered honest Mumps lying on the very spot where he had last seen his master in his natural shape. He had sought it again over night, notwithstanding the horrible fright that he had got, for he knew not where else to find his master; and stupid as he was, yet, like all the rest of his species, he lived only in his master’s eye. He was somewhat alarmed when he saw the boar coming slowly toward him, and began first to look over the one shoulder, and then over the other, as if meditating an escape; but, seeing that it came grunting in such a peaceable and friendly manner, Mumps ven[269]tured to await the issue, and by the time the monster approached within twenty paces of him, this faithful animal went cowring away to meet him, prostrated himself at the boar’s feet, and showed every symptom of obedience and affection. The boar, in return, patted him with his cloven hoof, and stroaked him with his bristly cheek. Matters were soon made up—thenceforward they were inseparable.

The boar lay all that day about the Moss Thorn, and Mumps lay in his bosom, but no pitying damsel, witch, or fairy, came near him. He grew extremely hungry in the evening, and was deeply distressed what to do for food, for he pitied Mumps more than himself. At length he tried to plow up the earth with his nose, as he remembered of having seen swine do before, but at that he made small progress, doing it very awkwardly, and with great pain to his face. Moreover, for all his exertion, he found nothing to eat, save one or two moss-corns, and a ground walnut, with which he[270] was obliged to content himself; and, for his canine friend, there was nothing at all.

Next morning he saw his neighbour servants seeking for him, and calling his name, but he could make them no answer, save by long and mournful sounds between a grunt and groan. He drew near to several of them, but they regarded him in no other light than as a boar belonging to some one in the neighbourhood, straying in the fields. His case was most deplorable; but as he still conceived there was one who knew his situation well, he determined to seek her. He went down to Eildon-Hall, with the faithful Mumps walking close by his side—tried to work his way into the laundry, but being repulsed, he waited with patience about the doors for an opportunity to present himself before Pery. She came out at length, and went away singing to the well. The boar followed, uttering the most melancholy sounds that ever issued from the chest of distressed animal. Pery could not help noticing him a little. “What[271] strange animal can this be?” said she to herself; but perceiving that Mumps too was following her, her attention was soon directed solely to him.

“Alas, poor Mumps,” said she, “you are famishing. What can be become of your master?”

The boar laid his ungraceful foot softly on that of Pery, looked ruefully in her face, and uttered a most melancholly sound; as much as to say, “You know well what is become of him! Have you no pity nor remorse in your heart?”

It was impossible Pery could comprehend this. She judged, like others, that the animal had strayed from home, and was complaining to her for food. She looked at him, and thought him a very docile and valuable swine, and one that would soon be ready for the knife. He was astonished at her apparent indifference, as well as moved with grief and vengeance, seeing the abject state to which she had reduced him; and in[272] his heart he cursed the whole sex, deeming them all imps of Satan, witches, and enchantresses, each one. He followed her back to the house.

“Come in, Mumps,” said she, “and you shall have your breakfast for the sake of him you belonged to, whatever is become of him, poor fellow!”

The boar ran forward, and kneeled at her feet moaning, on which she kicked him, and drove him away, saying, “What does the vile beast want with me? Mumps, come you in and get some meat, honest brute.”

Mumps would not come in, but when the boar was expelled, turned back with him, looking very sullen. She brought him out a bicker of cold parritch mixed with milk, but he would not taste them until the boar had first taken his share; after which they went and lay down in the yard together, the dog in the boar’s bosom. Thus did they continue for many days. At length[273] the master of Eildon had the boar cried at the church-door, and at the cross of Melrose, and as no one appeared to claim him, he put him up for slaughter.



But to return from this necessary digression.—The king and his nobles had a banquet in the Abbey that night on which Croudy was changed, and it was agreed by all present, that the venison of the roe-deer of Eildon exceeded in quality that of any other part of the kingdom. The king appeared thoughtful and absent during the whole of the evening; and at mass, it was observed that he was more fervent in his devotions than ever he was wont to be. The words of the old mysterious stranger—his sudden disappearance—the rumours of fairies and witchcrafts that were abroad, together with another vision which he had seen, but not yet disclosed, preyed upon his mind,[275] as it was little wonder they should, and made him apprehend that every step he took was on enchanted ground. The hound, Mooly, had slipt into the banquet-hall at the time of vespers, and neither soothing, threatening, nor the lash, would drive her hence. She clung to the king’s foot until he took pity on her, and said, “Cease, and let the poor animal stay, since she insists on it. I will not have her maltreated for the fault of those who have the charge of her, and should have put her better up.” So Mooly got leave to remain, and kept her station the whole night without moving.

The glass circulated until a late hour. At length the king said, “My lords, I crave a cup full to the brim, which I mean to dedicate to the health of a lady, whom I think I saw yesterday morning; the mentioning of whose name will a little astonish you.”

“My royal son and sire,” said the abbot, “for your majesty is both, in the general acceptation of the terms, shall it not be of[276] your far-famed Malmsey that you will drink this beloved toast?”

“If you so please,” said his majesty.

“Ralpho,” said the abbot, “here is the key. You alone know where the portion of old Malmsey is to be found among his majesty’s stores here deposited; bring one bottle only to his majesty, and pour it carefully yourself.”

Ralpho obeyed; poured out the wine till the cup was full, and turned the remainder into a sewer. The king then arose, and lifting his cup on high—“My lords,” said he, “I give you the fairest, the loveliest, and the most angelic maid that ever Scotland bred—I give you Elen of Rosline.”

Every one started at the name till the wine was spilled all around the table. Astonishment was in every look, for the king had said he had seen her yesterday at morn.

“To the bottom,” cried the king.

Every one drank off his cup with avidity, anxious to hear the explanation. The[277] king kept the position in which he stood until he saw every cup drained, and then brought his slowly and gracefully to his lips, with the intention of emptying it at one draught. But the moment that it reached them, Mooly sprung up, snatched the cup and wine out of his hand, and threw them on the floor.

“Strike the animal dead,” cried one.

“Kick her out of the hall,” said another.

“Take her out and let her be hung up,” cried a third.

Mooly cowered at her royal master’s feet, as if begging pardon, or begging to remain.

“Let her alone,” said the king; “let us see what the beast means, and if she persists in the outrage.”

He filled his cup of the wine before him, and brought it slowly to his head in the same manner as he did before. He even took it away and brought it back several times, in order to see if she would be pro[278]voked to do the like again. But no!—Mooly appeared perfectly satisfied, and suffered her master to drink it off piece-meal. A certain consternation reigned in the royal apartment for some time; sharp arguments followed; and, in the mean time, Angus and the abbot were heard whispering apart, and the one said, “It must be accomplished this night, or abandoned for ever.”

The nobles again took their seats, and the king appeared as formerly to be growing thoughtful and dejected.

“Pray cheer up your heart and be merry, my liege,” said Douglas, “and let not the casual frolic of a pampered animal tend to cast down your majesty’s spirits. Your majesty has not yet drank the extraordinary toast you proposed.”

“But that I shall do presently,” said the king.

“Ay,” said the abbot, “and your majesty shall do it too in the wine of which I have heard your majesty so much approve. Fetch another bottle, Ralpho.”


Ralpho brought it.—“I will pour for myself,” said the king; and taking the bottle, he poured about one-half of it into his cup; again named the name of Elen of Rosline with rapturous enthusiasm, and again as he put the cup to his lips, Mooly sprung up, snatched the cup from his hand, and dashed it on the floor more furiously than before, and then cowered at her master’s feet as if begging not to be struck.

“There is something more than ordinary in this,” said the king, “and I will have it investigated instantly.”

“There is nothing in it at all,” said the abbot. “Pardon me, sire; but it is a fault in your majesty, for which I have grieved, and often done penance myself. You are, and have always been a visionary, and nothing will ever wean you from it. You make idols of these two animals; they have sometime been taught a number of pranks, and for one of these would you augur aught against the monastery, your nobles, or your majesty’s own peace of mind?”


“Are you certain that is the genuine Old Malmsey wine, Ralpho?” said the king.

“I am certain, sire, it is the wine that was shown to me as such.”

The king poured out the remainder that was in the bottle. “Drink thou that, Ralpho,” said he, “and tell me if it be really and truly the genuine Malmsey.”

Ralpho thanked his majesty, bowed, and drank off the cup without hesitation.

“Is it genuine, Ralpho?”

“I don’t know, your majesty; I think it tastes a little of the earth.”

The circle laughed at Ralpho’s remark; and the conversation began again to grow general, when, some time thereafter, Ralpho, who was bustling about, sat down in a languid and sickly posture on one of the window seats. They looked at him, and saw that his face was becoming black.

“What is the matter, Ralpho?” said one.


“I do not know what is the matter with me,” returned he; “I think I feel as if that wine were not like to agree with my stomach.”

He fell into immediate convulsions, and in ten minutes he was lying a swollen and disfigured corpse.

Douglas was the first to cry out treason. He bolted the door, and stood inside with his sword drawn, vowing that he would search the soul of every traitor in the room. Angus’s great power made the other lords to stand in awe of him; although it was obvious to them all, that he was at least as likely to have a hand in this as any other. Hume charged him boldly to his face with it, and made proffer to abide by the proof; but he pretended to receive the charge only with scorn and derision, as one which no reasonable man could suppose. The king was greatly affected, and, upon the whole, showed rather more apprehension on account of his personal safety, than was, perhaps, becoming in a sovereign. He cried[282] out that “they were all of them traitors! and that he would rather be at the head of a band of moss-troopers, than be thus condemned to have such a set about him whom he could not trust.”

After some expostulation he acquitted the Earl of Angus, more, it was thought, through fear, than conviction of his innocence; but from an inference, the most natural in the world, he fixed the blame on the abbot.

“My liege,” said the reverend father, “I know no more how this has happened than the child that is unborn. There can be no doubt but that, instigated by some of your majesty’s enemies, the wretch, Ralpho, has mixed the poison himself, and has met with the fate he justly deserved.”

“No!” replied the king, “If that had been the case, he would not have been so ready in participating of the draught. I will not believe, but that there is a combination among you to take my life.”


Every one protested his innocence more strenuously than another.

The abbot was seized; and said, in his justification, “That he would show his majesty the set of wine from which he had ordered Ralpho to bring it, and he was willing to drink a share of any bottle of it that they chose;” which he did.

But this did not convince the king. He sent off privately a messenger to assemble the Border Chiefs, and bring them to his rescue—took his two favourite hounds with him into his chamber, placed a strong guard, counted his beads, and retired to rest.

Every means were tried next day by the nobles to dispel his majesty’s fears, and regain his confidence; and as nothing decisive could be produced against any one, they succeeded in some degree. New perplexities, however, continued to way-lay him, for he was throughout his whole life the prey of witches and evil spirits; and though he wrecked due vengeance on many,[284] they still continued to harass him the more.

After high mass he had retired to his chamber to meditate, when the nobleman in waiting came in, and said, that a stranger wanted to speak with him on some urgent business. He was introduced, and any one may judge of the king’s astonishment, when he saw that it was the identical old man who had spoken to him on the mountain, and vanished, the day before. The king’s lip grew pale, and quivered as the stranger made his obeisance.

“Thou herald of danger, treason, and confusion, what seekest thou again with me?” said the king.

“I come, my liege,” said he, “to seek redress for the injured, and justice on the offenders. Your two favourite hounds came last night to the houses of two widows in Newstead, and have carried off their two children from their bosoms, which they have doubtlessly devoured, as no traces of them can be found.”


“Thou art a liar!” said the king, “and an inventor of lies, if not the father of them; for these two dogs were locked up with me in my chamber last night, and a guard placed on the door, so that what you aver is impossible.”

“I declare to your majesty,” said the stranger, “by the truth of that right hand, that I myself saw the two hounds at liberty this morning at daylight. I saw them come along the Monk’s Meadow, carrying something across on their necks.”

“It is easy to prove the falsehood of all that thou hast said,” replied the king; “and thy malicious intent shall not go unpunished.”

He then called in the guards, and bade them declare before that audacious stranger, if his two white hounds, Mooly and Scratch, were not in his chamber all the night. The guards were mute, and looked one to another.

“Why are you ashamed to declare the truth?” said the king to them. “Say, were[286] the two hounds in my chamber all night, or were they not?”

The men answered, “that the hounds were certainly out. How it came they knew not, but that they were let in in the morning.”

“There is a conspiracy among you again,” said the king; “if not to deprive your king of life, to deprive that life of every kind of quiet and social comfort.”

“I demand justice,” said the stranger, “in the names of two weeping and distracted mothers! In the name of all that is right, and held dear among men! I demand that these two obnoxious and devouring animals be hung upon a tree, or burnt alive before the sun go down. Then shall the men of Scotland see that their sovereign respects their feelings and privileges, even though they run counter to his own pleasures.”

“One of these dogs saved my life last night,” said the king; “and it is very hard indeed that I should be compelled to do[287] this. I will have better testimony; and if I find that these children have actually been devoured, (as most unlikely it is,) the depredators shall be punished.”

The old man bowed, and was preparing to reply, when the knight in waiting entered hastily, and told the king that there was a woman in the outer court, crying bitterly for justice, and who was very urgent to speak with him. The king ordered that she should be admitted, and in a moment she stood before him, pale, shrivelled, hagard, and wild, and altogether such a figure as one scarcely can see, or could see, without the impression that she was scarce earthly. Her appearance was that of a lady of quality, of great age; she had large ear-rings, a tremendous ruff, a head-dress of a thousand intricate flutings, projecting before and tapering upward behind, cork-heeled shoes, a low hoop, and a waist of length and stiffness, not to be described.


“Revenge! Revenge! my lord, O king!” cried she. “I crave justice of your majesty—justice, and nothing more. You have two hounds, that came into my house early this morning, and have devoured, or taken away my only daughter, my sole stay and hope in this world, and nothing is left but a part of her garments. These dogs have some power deputed to them that is not of thy giving, therefore grant me that I may see vengeance done upon them, and their bodies burnt at a stake before the going down of the sun.”

“That is a true and worthy gentlewoman, my liege,” said the old stranger; “and you may take her word for whatever she advances.”

The ancient dame turned about—stared on the stranger with wild astonishment—dropped a low courtesy, and then said, “I crave you pardon, my lord and master. I noted not that you were so nigh. I hope your errand here coincides with mine.”


“It does,” said he; “there are more sufferers than one; and, by the head that bows to thee!—I swear by none greater—we shall have justice if it be in the land!”

“This is a combination,” said the king; “I pay no regard to it. Bring witnesses to establish your charges, and you shall have justice done.”

They went forth to bring their proof, and behold they had them all in the outer court. In the mean time the king sent for some men of the place to come, and made enquiry of them who the old dame was, and what was the character that she bore. They informed him that she was a noted witch, and kept the whole country in terror and turmoil, and that she had indeed an only daughter, who was an impious and malevolent minx, devoted to every species of wickedness.

“The wrinkled beldame shall be burnt at the stake,” said the king. “It is proper that the land should be cleansed of these[290] disturbers of its peace; as for that old stranger, I have my own surmises concerning him, and we shall find a way to deal with his subtilty.”

He then sent for a reverend old friar of the name of Rubely, who was well versed in all the minutiæ of diablery and exorcism, whose skill had often been beneficial to the king in the trying and intricate parts of his duty that related to these matters, and with him he conferred on this important subject. Father Rubely desired the king to defer the further examination of these people for a very little while; and, in the mean time, he brought in a basin of holy water, consecrated seven times, and set apart for sacred uses, after which the examination went on, and a curious one it was. The old witch lady deposed, “That as she was lying pondering on her bed, and wide awake, about the dawn of the morning, she heard a curious and uncommon noise somewhere about the house: That,[291] rising, she went out silently to discover what it could be, and to her utter astonishment, beheld the king’s two hounds, Mooly and Scratch, spring from her daughter’s casement, and in a short space a beautiful roe-deer followed them and bounded away to the Eildons: That she hasted to her daughter’s apartment, and found that her darling was gone.” The stories of the other two were exactly similar to one another, only that the one blamed one hound, and the other the other. It was as follows: “I was lying awake in the morning very early, with my son in my arms, when one of the king’s hounds came into my house. I saw it, and wist not how it had got there. A short time after I heard it making a strange scraping and noise in the other end of the house, on which I arose to turn it out; but on going to the place from whence the sound seemed to come, I found nothing. I searched all the house, and called the hound by her name, but still could find nothing; and at last I lighted a candle and sought all[292] the house over again, without being able to discover any traces of her. I went back to return to my bed, wondering greatly what had become of the animal; but having opened the door before to let her make her escape, I conceived that she had stolen off without my having perceived it. At that very instant, however, I beheld her coming softly out of the bed where I had left my child, and in a moment she was out at the door and away. I ran to the bed with the light in my hand, but my dear child was gone, and no part, not even a palm of his hand, remaining!”

Ques. “Was there any blood in the bed, or any symptoms of the child having been devoured?”

A. “No; I could discover none.”

Q. “Did the hound appear to have any thing carrying in her mouth, or otherwise, when she escaped from the house?”

A. “No; I did not notice that she had any thing.”

Q. “Was there any thing else in the[293] house at the time; any other appearance that you could not account for?”

A. “Yes; there was something like a leveret followed her out at the door, but I paid no regard to it.”

Q. “Was the child baptized in a Christian church?” (No answer.)

Q. “Were you yourself ever baptized in a Christian church?” (No answer.)

Q. “Why do you not answer to these things?”

A. “Because I see no connection that they have with the matter in question.”

“None in the least,” said the old stranger, who still kept by their side.

When the king heard that the answers of the two women were so exactly similar, though the one was examined before the other was brought in, he said,—“This is some infernal combination; they are all of them witches, and their friend there is some warlock or wizard; and they shall all be burnt at the stake together before the going down of the sun.”


“It is a judgment worthy of such a monarch,” said the stranger.

“Father Rubely,” said the king, “you who know all the men in this part of my dominions, Do you know any thing of this old man, who refuseth to give account of himself?”

“I have often seen the face,” said Rubely; “but I cannot tell at present from whence he is.—Pray, sir, are you not he who has supplied the monastery with cattle for these many moons?”

“I am the same,” said the stranger; “And were they not the best that ever were furnished to the Abbey?”

“They were,” said Rubely.

“Were they not exquisite and delicious above all food ever before tasted?” said the old man.

“They were indeed,” said Rubely; “and I think I have heard it reported that no one ever knew from whence you brought these cattle.”


“I knew myself,” said the stranger, “and that was sufficient for me.”

“I have heard of this before,” said the king, “and I think I divine something of the matter. Tell me, I insist on it, from whence you brought these cattle?”

“I brought them from among the poor and the indigent,” said the old man, “on whom kings and priests for ever feed. For Christian carrion, I provide food from among themselves.”

“They shall all be worried and burnt at the stake,” said the king; “and this man’s torments shall be doubled.”

“Have patience, my lord, O king,” said Rubely, “and let us not destroy the reclaimable with those of whom there is no hope.” Then going near to the first woman who had lost her son, he said to her,—“It is better to do well late than never—are you content to be baptized even now?”

The woman bowed consent. He put the same question to the other, who bowed likewise. The old man stood close by their[296] side, and appeared to be in great trouble and wrath. Rubely brought his goblet of consecrated water, and, as he past, he threw a portion of it on the wrinkled face of the old man, pronouncing, at the same time, the sacred words of baptism. The whole form and visage of the creature was changed in a moment to that of a furious fiend: He uttered a yell that made all the Abbey shake to its foundations, and forthwith darted away into the air, wrapt in flame; and, as he ascended, he heaved his right hand, and shook his fiery locks at his inquisitors. The old withered beldame yelped forth hysteric gigglings, something between laughing and shrieks—the king fell on his knees, clasped the rood and kissed it—the two women trembled—and even old Rubely counted his beads, and stood for a short space in mute astonishment. He next proposed trying the same experiment with the old witch lady, but she resisted it so furiously, with cursing and blasphemy, that they abandoned her to her fate, and had[297] her burnt at St Miles’s Cross before the going down of the sun. It was said by some that the old stranger appeared among the crowd to witness her latter end; and that she stretched out her hands towards him, with loud supplications, but he only flouted and mocked at her, and seemed to enjoy the sport with great zest. When Father Rubely heard of this, he said that it would happen so to every one who sold themselves to be slaves of sin in the hour of their extremity.

The other two women confessed their sins, and received absolution. They acknowledged that they had been acquainted with the stranger for a long season; that he had often pressed them to sign and seal, which they had always declined, but that nevertheless he had such an influence over them, that he in a manner led them as he pleased; that at first they took him for a venerable apostle, but at length discovered that he was a powerful sorcerer, and could[298] turn people into the shapes of such beasts as he pleased, but that they never knew he was the devil till then.

Friar Rubely assured them, that it was only such as slighted church-ordinances over whom he was permitted to exert that power, and in this the king passionately acquiesced. They confessed farther, that they were still greatly afraid of him, for that he could turn himself into any shape or form that he pleased; that he had often tempted them in the form of a beautiful young man; and there was nothing more common with him than to tempt men in the form of a lovely and bewitching woman, by which means he had of late got many of them into his clutches. When the king heard that, he counted his beads with redoubled fervency, and again kissed the rood, for it reminded him of a lovely vision he had seen of late, as well as some things of a former day. The women added, that the stranger had of late complained grievously[299] of two mongrel spirits, who had opposed and counteracted him in every movement; and that they had done it so effectually, that, for every weak Christian that he had overcome and devoured, they had found means to destroy one of his servants, or emissaries, so that his power in the land remained much upon a par as in former times, although his means and exertions had both been increased sevenfold.[1]

A consultation of holy men was next called, and measures adopted for the recovery of the two children. There it was resolved, that prayers should be offered up for them in seven times seven holy chapels and cells at the same instant of time, and the like number of masses said, with all due solemnity; and that then it would be out of the power of all the spirits of the infernal[300] regions—all of them that were permitted to roam the earth, or any of their agents, to detain the children longer, into whatever shape or form they might change them. But for these solemnities some delay was necessary.



[1] From several parts of this traditionary tale it would appear, that it is a floating fragment of some ancient allegorical romance, the drift of which it is not easy to comprehend.


Great was the consumpt of victuals at the Abbey during the stay of the royal visitor!—the parsimonious brethren were confounded, and judged that the country would to a certainty be eaten up, and a dearth of all the necessaries of life ensue on the Border. When they beheld the immense droves of bullocks—the loads of wild hogs and fallow-deer that arrived daily from the royal forests of Ettrick and the mountains of the Lowes, together with the flocks of fat black-headed wedders,—they pressed their hands upon their lank sides, looked at their spare forms, and at one another; but not daring to make any verbal remarks, they only shaked their heads, and looked up to heaven!


Victuals were again wearing short. Gudgel, the fat caterer for that immense establishment, was out riding from morn till even in search of fat things; he delighted in the very sight of a well-fed sleek animal; it was health to his stomach, and marrow to his bones. It was observed, that, whenever he came in sight of one, he stroaked down his immense protuberance of paunch with both hands, and smacked his lips. He had been out the whole day, and was very hungry; and when hungry, he enjoyed the sight of a fat animal most. Gudgel certainly fed by the eye as well as the mouth; for it was noted, that when he was very hungry, he would have given the yeomen any price for a well-fed beast.

He had been out the whole day—had procured but little stuff, and that not of the first metal—but, on his way home, he heard of a fine well-fed boar at Eildon-Hall; so he rode off the road, and alighted to take a look of him. In a little triangular inclosure, at one corner of the yard, there[303] he beheld the notable boar lying at his ease, with Mumps in his bosom. Of the dog he took no notice, but the sight of the boar exhilarated him; he drew in a great mouthful of breath, closed his lips, puffed out his cheeks, and made his two hands descend with a semi-circular sweep slowly down over the buttons of his doublet. It is impossible to tell how much the sight of such a carcase delighted Gudgel!—Immoderately fat himself, his eye feasted on every thing that was so; he could not even pass by a corpulent man, nor a pampered overgrown matron, without fixing a keen glance upon them, as if calculating exactly, or to a nearness, how much they would weigh, sinking offal.

“Oh, gracious heaven! what a fine hog! Goodman Fletcher, could you think of putting such a delicious morsel as that by your masters? For shame, goodman, not to let me know before this time of such a prize as this!—The very thing!—No words: the hog is mine. Name your price—Good security,[304] Goodman Fletcher—a king and a priest—I am so glad I have found him—I’ll have him slaughtered, and cut neatly up, as I shall direct, before I leave the house.”

A piece of sad news this for the poor boar! (Croudy the shepherd, that once was.) When Gudgel pronounced the last sentence, the animal sprung to his feet, gave a great snuff, and grunted out a moan that would have pierced any heart but Gudgel’s. “St Elijah!” said he, “what a fine animal!” and gave him a lash with his whip as he rose. Mumps snarled, and tried to bite the voluptuary in return for the unprovoked attack on his master.

Precisely about the same time that Gudgel alighted at Eildon-Hall, the two lovely and mysterious sisters met at their accustomed place in the Abbey Walk, for it chanced to be the few minutes of their appearance in mortal frame. Their eyes had still the wild unearthly dash of sublimity in them; and human eye could not scan[305] to which state of existence they pertained, but their miens were more beautiful and serene than when they last met.

“I give you joy, dear sister,” said the one, “of our happy release! Our adversary is baffled and driven from his usurped habitation—Our woeful work of annihilation will henceforth cease, for the evil principle shall not, as we dreaded, prevail in this little world of man, in which we have received for a time a willing charge. Say what more is to be done before we leave these green hills and the Eildon Tree.”

“Much is yet to be done, my beloved Ellen,” answered the other. “As I was this day traversing the air in the form of a wild swan, I saw the Borderers coming down in full array; with a Chieftain of most undaunted might at their head. We must find means to warn the haughty Douglas, else they will cut his whole retinue to pieces; and the protector of the faithful must not fall into the hands of such men as these.”


“He hath preyed on the vitals of his subjects,” said she that spoke first; and as she spoke she fixed her eyes on the ground in a thoughtful attitude.

“It is meet he should,” said the other—“And think ye he will not meet with his guerdon better where he is than among these freemen of the Border? Think not so seriously of this matter, for it will not abide a thought—from the spider to the king, all live upon one another!—What numbers one overgrown reptile must devour, to keep the balance of nature in equipoise!”

The two lovely sisters, as she spoke this, held each other by the hand; their angelic forms were bent gently forward, and their faces toward the ground; but as they lifted these with a soft movement towards heaven, a tear was glistening in each eye. Whether these had their source from the fountain of human feelings, or from one more sublimed and pure, no man to this day can determine.


“And then what is to become of the two little changelings?” said the last speaker. “All the spells of priests and friars will avail nought without our aid.—And the wild roe-deer? And the boar of Eildon? He, I suppose, may take his fate—he is not worthy our care farther.—A selfish grovelling thing, that had much more of the brute than the man (as he should be) at first—without one principle of the heart that is worthy of preservation.”

“You are ever inclined to be severe,” said the other. “If you but saw the guise in which he is lying with his faithful dog, I think your heart would be moved to pity.”

“If I thought there was one spark of the heavenly principle of gratitude in his heart, even to his dog,” said she, “I would again renovate his frame to that image which he degraded; but I do not believe it.—Mere selfishness, because he cannot live without his dog.”

“Here is Philany’s rod,” answered the[308] other, “go, and reconnoitre for yourself, and as you feel so act.”

She took the golden wand, and went away toward Eildon Hall; but her motion over the fields was like a thing sailing on the wind. The other glided away into the beechen grove, for there were voices heard approaching.

“Let us proceed to business, Goodman Fletcher,” said Gudgel. “I insist on seeing that fine animal properly slaughtered, blooded, and cut up, before I go away. I have a man who will do it in the nicest style you ever beheld.” The boar looked pitifully to Gudgel, and moaned so loud that Mumps fell a howling. “And I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” continued Gudgel; “we’ll have his kidneys roasted on a brander laid on the coals, and a stake cut from the inside of the shoulder.—How delicious they will be!—Pooh! I wish they were ready just now—But we’ll not be long—And we’ll have a bottle of your March beer to[309] accompany them.—Eh? Your charge may well afford that, goodman—Eh?”

The boar made a most determined resistance; and it was not till after he was quite spent, and more hands had been procured, that he was dragged at last forcibly to the slaughter-house, and laid upon the killing-stool, with ropes tied round his legs; these they were afraid were scarcely strong enough, and at the request of the butcher, Pery lent her garters to strengthen the tie. Never was there a poor beast in such circumstances! He screamed so incessantly that he even made matters worse. His very heart was like to break when he saw Pery lend her garters to assist in binding him. Mumps was very sorry too; he whined and whimpered, and kissed his braying friend.

The noise became so rending to the ears, that all who were present retired for a little, until the monster should be silenced. The butcher came up with his bleeding-knife, in shape like an Andro Ferrara, and[310] fully half as long—felt for the boar’s jugular vein, and then tried the edge and point of his knife against his nail—“He has a hide like the soal of a shoe,” said the butcher; “I must take care and sort him neatly.” And so saying he went round the corner of the house to give his knife a whet on the grinding-stone.

At that very instant the beautiful angelic nymph with the golden rod came into the court-yard at Eildon-Hall, and hearing the outrageous cries in the slaughter-house, she looked in as she was passing, that being the outermost house in the square. There she beheld the woful plight of the poor boar, and could not help smiling; but when she saw honest Mumps standing wagging his tail, with his cheek pressed to that of the struggling panting victim, and always now and then gently kissing him, her heart was melted with pity. The dog cast the most beseeching look at her as she approached, which when she saw her resolution was fixed. She gave the monster three strokes[311] with her wand, at each of which he uttered a loud squeak; but when these were done, and some mystic words of powerful charm uttered, in half a quarter of a minute there lay—no bristly boar—but the identical Croudy the shepherd! in the same garb as when transformed at the Moss Thorn; only that his hands and feet were bound with straw ropes, strengthened and secured by the cruel Pery’s red garters.

“Bless me an’ my horn!” said Croudy, as he raised up his head from the spokes of the killing-stool; “I believe I’m turned mysel again!—I wad like to ken wha the bonny queen is that has done this; but I’m sair mistaen gin I didna see the queen o’ the fairies jink by the corner. I wonder gin the bloody hash will persist in killing me now. I’m fear’d Gudgel winna can pit aff wantin’ his pork steaks. May Saint Abednego be my shield, gin I didna think I fand my ears birstling on a brander!”

The butcher came back, singing to himself the following verse, to the tune of[312] Tibby Fowler, which augured not well for Croudy.

“Beef stakes and bacon hams
I can eat as lang’s I’m able;
Cutlets, chops, or mutton pies,
Pork’s the king of a’ the table.”

As he sung this he was still examining the edge of his knife, so that he came close to his intended victim, without once observing the change that had taken place.

“Gude e’en t’ye, neighbour,” said Croudy.

The butcher made an involuntary convulsive spring, as if a thunder-bolt had struck him and knocked him away about six yards at one stroke. There he stood and stared at what he now saw lying bound with the ropes and garters, and the dog still standing by. The knife fell out of his hand—his jaws fell down on his breast, and his eyes rolled in their sockets.—“L‑‑d G‑d!” cried the butcher, as loud as he could roar,[313] and ran through the yard, never letting one bellow abide another.

The servants met him, asking what was the matter—“Was he cut? Had he sticked or wounded himself?”

He regarded none of their questions; but dashing them aside, ran on, uttering the same passionate ejaculation with all the power that the extreme of horror could give to such a voice. Gudgel beheld him from a window, and meeting him in the entry to the house, he knocked him down. “I’ll make you stop, you scoundrel,” said he, “and tell me what all this affray means.”

“O L‑‑d, sir! the boar—the boar!” exclaimed the butcher as he raised himself with one arm from the ground, and defended his head with the other.

“The boar, you blockhead!” said Gudgel,—“what of the boar? Is he not like to turn well out?”

“He turns out to be the devil, sir—gang an’ see, gang an see,” said the butcher.


Gudgel gave him another rap with his stick, swearing that they would not get their brandered kidneys, and pork steak from the inside of the shoulder, in any reasonable time, by the madness and absurdity of that fellow, and waddled away to the slaughter-house as fast as his posts of legs could carry him. When he came there, and found a booby of a clown lying bound on the killing-stool, instead of his highly esteemed hog, he was utterly confounded, and wist not what to say, or how to express himself. He was in a monstrous rage, but he knew not on whom to vend it, his greasy wits being so completely bemired, that they were incapable of moving, turning, or comprehending any thing farther than a grievous sensation of a want not likely to be supplied by the delicious roasted kidneys, and pork steak from the inside of the shoulder. He turned twice round, puffing and gasping for breath, and always apparently looking for something he supposed he had[315] lost, but as yet never uttering a distinct word.

The rest of the people were soon all around him—the Goodman, Pery, Gale, and the whole household of Eildon-Hall were there, all standing gaping with dismay, and only detained from precipitate flight by the presence of one another. The defrauded Gudgel first found expression—“Where is my hog, you scoundrel?” cried he, in a tone of rage and despair.

“Ye see a’ that’s to the fore o’ him,” said Croudy.

“I say, where is my hog, you abominable caitiff?—You miserable wretch!—you ugly whelp of a beast!—tell me what you have made of my precious hog?”

“Me made o’ him!” said Croudy, “I made naething o’ him; but some ane, ye see, has made a man o’ him—It was nae swine, but me.—I tell ye, that ye see here a’ that’s to the fore o’ him.”

“Oh! oh!” groaned Gudgel, and he stroaked down his immense flanks three or[316] four times, every one time harder than the last. “Pooh! so then I am cheated, and betrayed, and deceived; and I shall have nothing to eat!—nothing to eat!—nothing to eat!—Goodman Fletcher, you shall answer for this;—and you, friend beast, or swine, or warlock, or whatever you may be, shall not ’scape for nought;” and, so saying, he began to belabour Croudy with his staff, who cried out lustily; and it was remarked somewhat in the same style and tenor, too, as he exhibited lately in a different capacity.

The rest of the people restrained the disappointed glutton from putting an end to the poor clown; and notwithstanding that appearances were strangely against him, yet, so well were they accustomed to Croudy’s innocent and stupid face, that they loosed him with trembling hands, Pery being as active in the work as any, untying her red garters. “I know the very knots,” said she,—“No one can tie them but myself.”


“By the Rood, my woman! gin I war but up, I’ll knot you weel eneuch,” said Croudy; and if he had not been withheld by main force, he would have torn out her hair and her eyes. He, however, accused her of being a witch, and took witnesses on it; and said, he would make oath that she had changed him into a boar on such an evening at the Moss Thorn.

Pery only laughed at the accusation, but all the rest saw it in a different light. They all saw plainly that Croudy had been metamorphosed for a time by some power of witchcraft or enchantment—they remembered how Mumps had still continued to recognise and acknowledge him in that degraded state; and hearing, as they did, his bold and intrepid accusal of Pery, they all judged that it would stand very hard with her.

When Gudgel had heard all this, he seized the first opportunity of taking Pery aside, and proposed to her, for the sake of[318] her own preservation, instantly to change the clown again; “And, as it is all one to you,” said he, “suppose you make him a little fatter—if you do so, I shall keep your secret—if you do not, you may stand by the consequences.”

Pery bade him, “Look to himself,—keep the secret, or not keep it, as he chose;—there were some others, who should be nameless, that were as well worth changing as Croudy.”

Gudgel’s peril appeared to him now so obvious, and the consequences so horrible, that his whole frame became paralysed from head to foot. In proportion with his delight in killing and eating the fat things of the earth, did his mind revolt at being killed and eaten himself; and when he thought of what he had just witnessed, he little wist how soon it might be his fate. He rode away from Eildon-Hall a great deal more hungry and more miserable than he came. The tale, however, soon spread, with many[319] aggravations; and the ill-starred Pery was taken up for a witch, examined, and committed to prison in order to stand her trial; and in the mean time the evidences against her were collected.



The Keylan Rowe.

An’ round, an’ round, an’ seven times round,
An’ round about the Eildon tree!
For there the ground is fairy ground,
And the dark green ring is on the lea.
The prayers were pray’d, and the masses said,
And the waning Moon was rising slow;
And ane dame sits at the Eildon-tree,
Whose cheike is pale as April snow.
Ane cross is claspit in her hand,
Ane other lyis on her breiste bone;
And the glaize of feire is on her ee,
As she looks to the Eildon-stone.
And aye she sung her holy hymn;
It was made to charm the elfin band,
And lure the little wilderit things,
[321] Whose dwelling is in Fairy-land.
And first she heard the horses’ tread,
Like drifting leaves come through the dell;
And then she heard their bridles ring,
Like rain drops tinkling on a bell.
Then the wild huntsmen first came on,
An’ sic ane band was never seen!
Some wanted cheike, some wanted chin,
And some had nouthir nose nor een;
One had ane ee in his forehead,
That ee was like ane glaizit pole;
His breiste was like ane heck of hay;
His gobe ane rounde and boral hole.
And ilk ane held ane bugle horn,
And loud they toutit as they gaed by—
“Ycho! ycho! The Keylan Rowe!
Hie to the weird-hill! huntsmen hie!
“The little wee hare o’ Eildon Brae
May trip it o’er the glen, O;
But nane shall bear the prize away.
But Keylan and his men, O.
“Gil-Mouly’s raid, and Keylan’s Rowe,
Shall sweep the moore and lea, O;
And the little wee hare o’ Eildon Brae
[322] In heaven shall never be, O.
“O’er wizard ground, with horse and hound,
Like rattling hail we’ll bear, O—
Ycho! ycho! The Keylan Rowe!
The quick and dead are here, O!”
Then came their collarit phantom tykis,
Like ouf-dogs, an’ like gaspin grews;
An’ their crukit tungis were dry for blood,
An’ the red lowe firled at their flews;
Then came the troopis of the Fairy folke,
And O they wore ane lovely hue!
Their robes were greine like the hollin leife,
And thin as the web of the wiry dew.
And first went by the coal-black steedis,
And then a troop o’ the bonny bay;
And then the milk-white bandis came on,
An’ last the mooned and the merlit gray.
An’ aye the sang, an’ the bridles rang,
As they rode lightly rank an’ file;
It was like the sound of ane maydenis voice
Heard through the greene-wood many a mile.
“Hey, Gil-Mouly! Ho, Gil-Mouly!
On we fly o’er steep and stile!
Hey, Gil-Mouly! Ho, Gil-Mouly!
[323] Hunt the hare another mile.
“Over fen and over fountain,
Over downe and dusky lea;
Over moss, and moore, and mountain,
We will follow, follow thee!
“O’er the dewy vales of even,
Over tower and over tree;
O’er the clouds and clefts of heaven,
We will follow, follow thee!
“Nae mair the dame shall young son rock,
And sing her lilli-lu the while;
Hey, Gil-Mouly! Ho, Gil-Mouly!
Hunt the hare another mile!”
The phantom huntsmen scaled the steep,
“Ycho! ycho! for Keylan’s fame.”
The Fairy barbs were light and fleet;
The chirling echoes went and cam.
The roe fled into the greine-woode,
The dun deire boundit far away;
But nought wald serve the hunteris rude,
But the little wee hare o’ Eildon-Brae.
She heard, she knew, an’ sped alone,
Away, away, with panting breiste;
The fairy houndis are lilting on,
[324] Like Redwings wheepling through the mist.
Around, around the Eildons greine,
Dashit the wild huntsmen furiouslye!
Och! sic ane night was never seine,
Sin’ Michael cleft these hills in three!
The sky was bright, and the dame beheld
The brattling chace o’er moonlight brow;
Then in the darksome shade they rushit,
With yelp, and yowle, and loud halloo.
O, but the little Fairy grews
Swept lightly o’er the Eildon-Brae;
The houndis came youffing up behind,
As fast as they could win their way.
And the wild huntsmen’s gruesome tykis
All urgit the chace, but stop or stande.
“Ycho! ycho! The Keylan Rowe!
For earth, an’ death, or Fairy-lande!”
The dame she claspit the halye roode,
And dreddour wilde was in her ee;
And round, and round, and seven times round,
And round about the Eildon-Tree!
The hunt still near and nearer drew—
Weel moght the matronis herte be wae!
For hard they pressit, and aft they turnit
[325] The little wee hare o’ Eildon-Brae.
They mouthit her aince, they mouthit her twice;
Loud did she scream throu fear and dread;
That scream was like ane bairnyis cry
Quhen it is piercit in cradle-bed.
But the dame behelde ane bonny hounde,
White as the newly driftit snaw,
That close beside the leveret kept,
And wore the elfin grews awa.
Hard did she toil the hare to save,
For the little wee hare was sair foreworne;
And the ghaistly huntsmen gatherit on,
With whoop, and whoo, and bugle-horne.
O but the hounde was hard bestedd!
For round and round they harder press’d,—
At length, beneath the Eildon-Tree,
The little wee leveret found its rest.
It sprung into the matronis lap,
Wha row’d it in her kirtle gray;
And round, and round, came horse and hound,
With snort, and neigh, and howl, and bay.
But the white hounde stood by her side,
And wore them back full powerfullye;
And round, and round, and seven times round,
[326] And round about the Eildon-Tree!
They turn’d the hare within her arms
A cockatrice and adder sterne;
They turn’d the hare within her arms
A flittering reide het gaud o’ ern.
But still within her kirtle row’d,
She sung her hymn and held it fast;
And ere the seventh time round was won,
Her child clung to his parent’s breast.
“Ycho! ycho! The Keylan Rowe;”
Away the fairy music sped,
“The day is lost, a maid has wonne,
The babe maun lie amang the dead.
“The babe maun grow as grass has grown,
And live, and die, and live anew,
Ycho! ycho! The Keylan Rowe
Must vanish like the morning dew.”



As the beautiful fairy-dame, or guardian spirit, or whatever she was, had predicted, so it came to pass. The Borderers, alarmed at the danger of the king, came down a thousand strong, thinking to surprise Douglas, and take their monarch out of his hands by force; and they would have effected it with ease, had not the Earl received some secret intelligence of their design. No one ever knew whence he had this intelligence, nor could he comprehend or explain it himself, but it had the effect of defeating the bold and heroic attempt. They found him fully prepared—a desperate battle ensued—120 men were left dead on the field—and then things remained pre[328]cisely in the same state as they had been before.

The court left Melrose shortly after—the king felt as if he stood on uncertain ground—a sort of mystery always hung around him, which he never could develope; but ere he went, he presided at the trial of the maiden Pery, who stood indicted, as the Choronikkle of Mailros bears, for being “Ane ranke wytche and enchaunteresse, and leigged hand and kneife with the devil.”

A secret examination of the parties first took place, and the proof was so strong against the hapless Pery, that all hopes of escape vanished. There was Croudy ready to make oath to the truth of all that he had advanced with regard to his transmutation, and there were others who had seen her coming down from the Moss-Thorn at the very time that Croudy appeared to have been changed, just before he made his dashing entry into the loan among the cows; and even old Father Rubely had, after mi[329]nute investigation, discovered the witch-mark, both on her neck and thumb-nail. The king would gladly have saved her, when he beheld her youth and beauty, but he had sworn to rid the country of witches, and no excuse could be found. All the people of the country were sorry on account of Pery, but all believed her guilty, and avoided her, except Gale, who, having had the courage to visit her, tried her with the repetition of prayers and creeds, and found that she not only said them without hesitation, but with great devotional warmth; therefore he became convinced that she was not a witch. She told him her tale with that simplicity, that he could not disbelieve it, and withal confessed, that her inquisitors had very nearly convinced her that she was a witch; and that she was on the point of making a confession that had not the slightest foundation in truth. The shepherd was more enlightened than the worthy clergyman, as[330] shepherds generally are, and accounted for this phenomenon in a truly philosophical way. Pery assented; for whatever Gale said sounded to her heart as the sweetest and most sensible thing that ever was said. She loved him to distraction, and adversity had subtilized, not abated the flame. Gale found his heart interested—he pitied her, and pity is allied to love. How to account for the transformation of Croudy, both were completely at a loss; but they agreed that it was the age of witchery, and no one could say what might happen! Gale was never from the poor culprit’s side: He condoled with her—wept over her—and even took her in his arms, and impressed a tender kiss on her pale lips. It was the happiest moment of Pery’s existence! She declared, that since she was pure in his eyes, she would not only suffer without repining, but with delight.

As a last resource, Gale sought out Croudy, and tried to work upon him to give a[331] different evidence at the last and final trial; but all that he could say, Croudy remained obstinately bent on her destruction.

“It’s needless for ye to waste your wind clatterin English, man,” said Croudy, “for foul fa’ my gab gin I say ony sic word. She didna only change me intil an ill-faurd he-sow, but guidit me shamefully ill a’ the time I was a goossy—kickit me wi’ her fit, an’ yerkit me wi’ a rung till I squeeled, and then leuch at me—An’ warst ava, gae the butcher her gairtens to bind me, that he might get me bled, an’ plottit, an’ made into beef-steaks—de’il be on her gin I be nae about wi’ her now!”

Gale, hoping that he would relent if he saw her woeful plight, besought of him to go and see her; but this he absolutely refused, for fear lest she should “turn him into some daft-like beast,” as he expressed it. “Let her tak it,” said he, “she weel deserves a’ that she’s gaun to get—the sooner she gets a fry the better—Odd, there’s nae body sure o’ himsel a minute that’s near[332] her—I never gang ower the door but I think I’ll come in a goossy or a cuddy-ass—How wad ye like to gang plowin up the gittars for worms and dockan-roots wi’ your nose, as I did!”

It was in vain that Gale assured him of her innocence, and told him how religious she was, and how well she loved him. Croudy remained obstinate.

“I wadna gie a boddle,” said he, “for a woman’s religion, nor for her love neither—mere traps for moudiworts. They may gar a fool like you trow that ae thing’s twa, an’ his lug half a bannock—Gin I wad rue an’ save her life, it wadna be lang till I saw her carrying you out like a taed in the erntings, an’ thrawin ye ower the ass-midden.”

Gale asked if he would save her, if she would pledge herself to marry him, and love him for ever?

“Me marry a witch!” said Croudy—“A bonny hand she would make o’ me, sooth! Whenever I displeased her, turn me into a beast—But ilka woman has that[333] power,” added he with a grin,—“an’ I fancy few o’ them mislippin it. The first kind thought I ever had toward a woman made a beast o’ me—an’ it will do the same wi’ every man as weel as me, gin he wist it. As she has made her bed, she may lie down. I shall fling a sprot to the lowe.”

Gale was obliged to give him up, but in the deepest bitterness of soul he gave him his malison, which, he assured him, would not fall to the ground. Pery was tried, and condemned to be choaked and burnt at the stake on the following day; and Croudy, instead of relenting, was so much afraid of himself, that he was all impatience until the cruel scene should be acted. His behaviour had, however, been witnessed and detested by some of whom he was not aware; for that very evening, as he was on his way home, he beheld a nymph coming to meet him, whom he took for Pery, dressed in her Sunday clothes, for one of the mysterious maids had taken her form. He[334] was terrified out of his wits when he beheld her at liberty, and falling flat on his face, he besought her, with a loud voice, to have mercy on him.

“Such as you have bestowed,” said she; and giving him three strokes with her wand, he was changed into a strong brindled cat, in which form, he remains to this day; and the place of his abode is no secret to the relater of this tale. He hath power one certain night in the year to resume his natural shape, and all the functions of humanity; and that night he dedicates to the relation of the adventures of each preceding year. Many a secret and unsuspected amour, and many a strange domestic scene, hath he witnessed, in his capacity of mouser, through so many generations; and a part of these are now in the hands of a gentleman of this country, who intends making a good use of them.

Poor Pery, having thus fallen a victim to the superstition of the times, she wist not[335] how, was pitied and shunned by all except Gale, whom nothing could tear from her side; and all the last day and night that were destined for her to live, they lay clasped in each other’s arms. While they were thus conversing in the most tender and affectionate way, Pery told her lover a dream that she had seen the night before. She dreamed, she said, that they were changed into two beautiful birds, and had escaped away into a wild and delightful mountain, where they lived in undecaying happiness and felicity, and fed on the purple blooms of the heath.

“O that some pitying power—some guardian angel over the just and the good, would but do this for us!” said Gale, “and release my dearest Pery from this ignominious death!” and as he said this, he clasped his beloved maiden closer and closer in his arms. They both wept, and, in this position, they sobbed themselves sound asleep.


Next morning, before the rising of the sun, two young ladies, beautiful as cherubs, came to the jailor and asked admittance to the prisoner, by order of the king. The jailor took off his bonnet, bowed his grey head, and opened to them. The two lovers were still fast asleep, locked in each other’s arms, in a way so endearing, and at the same time so modest, that the two sisters stood for a considerable time bending over them in delightful amazement.

“There is a delicacy and a pathos in this love,” said the one, “into which the joys of sense have shed no ingredient. As their innocence in life hath been, so shall it remain;” and kneeling down, she gave three gentle strokes with her small golden rod, touching both with it at a time. The two lovers trembled, and seemed to be in slight convulsions; and in a short time they fluttered round the floor two beautiful moor-fowl, light of heart, and elated with joy. The two lovely and mysterious visitors then took them up, wrapt them in their[337] snowy veils, and departed, each of them carrying one; and coming to Saint Michael’s Cross, they there dismissed them from their palms, after addressing them severally as follows:

“Hie thee away, my bonny moor-hen!
Keep to the south of the Skelf-hill Pen;
Blithe be thy heart, and soft thy bed,
Amang the blooms of the heather so red.
When the weird is sped that I must dree,
I’ll come and dwell in the wild with thee.
Keep thee afar from the fowler’s ken—
Hie thee away, my bonny moor-hen.”
“Cock of the mountain, and king of the moor,
A maiden’s bennison be thy dower;
For gentle and kind hath been thy life,
Free from malice, and free from strife.
Light be thy heart on the mountain grey,
And loud thy note at the break of day.
When five times fifty years are gone,
I’ll seek thee again ’mong the heath alone,
And change thy form, if that age shall prove
An age that virtue and truth can love.
True be thy love, and far thy reign,
On the Border dale, till I see thee again.”


When the jailor related what had happened, it may well be conceived what consternation prevailed over the whole country. The two moor-fowl were soon discovered on a wild hill in Tiviotdale, where they have remained ever since, until last year, that Wauchope shot the hen. He suspected what he had done, and was extremely sorry, but kept the secret to himself. On viewing the beauty of the bird, however, he said to himself,—“I believe I have liked women as well as any man, but not so well as to eat them; however, I’ll play a trick upon some, and see its effect. Accordingly he sent the moor-hen to a friend of his in Edinburgh, at whose table she was divided among a circle of friends and eaten, on the 20th of October 1817, and that was the final end of poor Pery, the Maid of Eildon. The effect on these gentlemen has been prodigious—the whole structure of their minds and feelings has undergone a complete change, and that[339] grievously to the worse; and even their outward forms, on a near inspection, appear to be altered considerably. This change is so notorious as to have become proverbial all over the New Town of Edinburgh. When any one is in a querulous or peevish humour, they say,—“He has got a wing of Wauchope’s moor-hen.”

The cock is still alive, and well known to all the sportsmen on the Border, his habitation being on the side of Caret Rigg, which no moor-fowl dares to approach. As the five times fifty years are very nearly expired, it is hoped no gentleman will be so thoughtless as wantonly to destroy this wonderful and mysterious bird, and we may then live to have the history of the hunting, the fowling, fishing, and pastoral employments of that district, with all the changes that have taken place for the last two hundred and fifty years, by an eye-witness of them.

The king returned towards Edinburgh[340] on the 14th of September, and on his way had twelve witches condemned and burnt at the Cross of Leader, after which act of duty his conscience became a good deal lightened, and his heart cheered in the ways of goodness; he hoped, likewise, to be rid of the spells of those emissaries of Satan that had beleaguered him all his life.

After they had passed the Esk, his two favourite white hounds were missing; the huntsmen judged them to be following some track, and waited till night, calling them always now and then aloud by their names. They were however lost, and did not return, nor could they ever be found, although called at every Cross in the kingdom, and high rewards offered.

On that very eve Elen and Clara of Rosline returned to their native halls, after having been lost for seven weeks. They came to the verge of the tall cliff towards the east, from whence they had a view of the stately towers of Rosline, then in their[341] pride of baronial strength. The sun had shed his last ray from the summit of the distant Ochils; the Esk murmured in obscurity far below their feet; its peaceful bendings here and there appeared through the profusion of woodland foliage, uniting the brightness of crystal with the hues of the raven. All the linns and woody banks of the river re-echoed the notes of the feathered choir. To have looked on such a scene, one might have conceived that he dwelt in a world where there was neither sin nor sorrow; but, alas! the imperfections of our nature cling to us; they wind themselves round the fibres of the conscious heart, so that no draught of pure and untainted delight can ever allay its immortal earnings. How different would such a scene appear to perfect and sinless creatures, whose destiny did not subject them to the terrors of death, and the hideous and mouldy recesses of the grave! Were it possible for us to conceive that two such[342] beings indeed looked on it, we might form some idea of their feelings, and even these faint ideas would lend a triple grandeur and beauty to such an evening, and indeed to every varied scene of nature, on which our eyes chanced to rest.

“Sister,” said Clara, “we are again in sight of our native home, and the walks of our days of innocence; say, are our earthly forms and affections to be resumed, or are our bonds with humanity to be broken for ever? You have now witnessed the king of Scotland’s private life—all his moods, passions, and affections—are you content to be his queen, and sovereign of the realm?”

“Sooner would I be a worm that crawls among these weeds, than subject myself to the embraces, humours, and caprices of such a thing—A king is a block, and his queen a puppet—happiness, truth, and purity of heart are there unknown—Mention some other tie to nature, or let us bid it adieu for ever without a sigh.”


“We have a widowed mother, beautiful, affectionate, and kind.”

“That is the only bond with mortality which I find it difficult to break, for it is a wicked and licentious world—snares were laid for us on every side—our innocence was no shield—and, sister, do not you yet tremble to think of the whirlpool of conflicting passions and follies from which we were so timeously borne away?”

The lovely Clara bowed assent; and away they went hand in hand once more to visit and embrace their earthly parent. They found her in the arms of a rude and imperious pirate, to whom she had subjected herself and her wide domains. They found themselves step-daughters in the halls that of right belonged to them, and instead of fond love and affection, regarded with jealousy and hate. Short and sorrowful was their stay; they embraced their mother once again; bade her farewell with looks of sorrow, and walking out to the[344] fairy ring in the verge of the wood, vanished from the world for ever. It is said, that once in every seven years their forms are still to be seen hovering nigh to the ruins of Rosline. Many are the wild and incomprehensible traditions that remain of them over the country, and there are likewise some romantic scraps of song, besides the verses that are preserved in the foregoing chapter, which are supposed to relate to them. Many have heard the following verses chaunted to a tune resembling a dirge:

“Lang may our king look,
An’ sair mot he rue;
For the twin flowers o’ Rosline
His hand shall never pu’.
Lie thy lane, step-dame;
An’ liefu’ be thy lair;
For the bonny flowers o’ Rosline
Are gane for evermair.”
“O tell nae the news in the kitchen,
An’ tell nae the news in the ha’,
An’ tell nae the news in the hee hee tower
Amang our fair ladies a’.
How damp were the dews o’ the gloamin’,
How wet were her hose and her shoon;
Or wha met wi’ fair Lady Rosline
By the ee light o’ the moon!”

“Douglas has lost his bassonet,
The king his hawk, and milk-white hound;
And merry Maxwell has taen the bent,
And its hey! and its ho! for the English ground!”

“When seven lang years were come an’ gane,
By yon auld castle wa’;
There she beheld twa bonny maids
[346] A playing at the ba;
But wha shall speak to these fair maids
Aneath the waning moon;
O they maun dree a waesome weird,
That never will be doone!”


Printed by James Ballantyne & Co.

Transcriber’s note

Duplicate title headings before each story have been removed.

The following errors in the printed text have been corrected:

The following possible errors in the printed text have been left as printed:

Quotation marks are used inconsistently where the narrator reports dialogue, and apostrophes are used inconsistently to indicate elision; these inconsistencies have been retained.

The following are used inconsistently in the text:

The following were not clearly printed and are conjectural:




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