Part 2 out of 8
"It is now nearly sixty years since I first knew
Ravenswood," answered the old dame, whose conversation, though
perfectly civil and respectful, seemed cautiously limited to the
unavoidable and necessary task of replying to Sir William.
"You are not, I should judge by your accent, of this country
originally?" said the Lord Keeper, in continuation.
"No; I am by birth an Englishwoman."
"Yet you seem attached to this country as if it were your own."
"It is here," replied the blind woman, "that I have drank the
cup of joy and of sorrow which Heaven destined for me. I was
here the wife of an upright and affectionate husband for more
than twenty years; I was here the mother of six promising
children; it was here that God deprived me of all these
blessings; it was here they died, and yonder, by yon ruined
chapel, they lie all buried. I had no ocuntry but theirs while
they lived; I have none but theirs now they are no more."
"But your house," said the Lord Keeper, looking at it, "is
"Do, my dear father," said Lucy, eagerly, yet bashfully,
catching at the hint, "give orders to make it better; that is, if
you think it proper."
"It will last my time, my dear Miss Lucy," said the blind woman;
"I would not have my lord give himself the least trouble about
"But," said Lucy, "you once had a much better house, and were
rich, and now in your old age to live in this hovel!"
"It is as good as I deserve, Miss Lucy; if my heart has not
broke with what I have suffered, and seen others suffer, it must
have been strong enough, adn the rest of this old frame has no
right to call itself weaker."
"You have probably witnessed many changes," said the Lord
Keeper; "but your experience must have taught you to expect
"It has taught me to endure them, my lord," was the reply.
"Yet you knew that they must needs arrive in the course of
years?" said the statesman.
"Ay; as I knew that the stump, on or beside which you sit, once
a tall and lofty tree, must needs one day fall by decay, or by
the axe; yet I hoped my eyes might not witness the downfall of
the tree which overshadowed my dwelling."
"Do not suppose," said the Lord Keeper, "that you will lose any
interest with me for looking back with regret to the days when
another family possessed my estates. You had reason, doubtless,
to love them, and I respect your gratitude. I will order some
repairs in your cottage, and I hope we shall live to be friends
when we know each other better."
"Those of my age," returned the dame, "make no new friends. I
thank you for your bounty, it is well intended undoubtedly; but
I have all I want, and I cannot accept more at your lordship's
"Well, then," continued the Lord Keeper, "at least allow me to
say, that I look upon you as a woman of sense and education
beyond your appearance, and that I hope you will continue to
reside on this property of mine rent-free for your life."
"I hope I shall," said the old dame, composedly; "I believe that
was made an article in the sale of Ravenswood to your lordship,
though such a trifling circumstance may have escaped your
"I remember--I recollect," said his lordship, somewhat confused.
"I perceive you are too much attached to your old friends to
accept any benefit from their successor."
"Far from it, my lord; I am grateful for the benefits which I
decline, and I wish I could pay you for offering them, better
than what I am now about to say." The Lord Keeper looked at her
in some surprise, but said not a word. "My lord," she continued,
in an impressive and solemn tone, "take care what you do; you are
on the brink of a precipice."
"Indeed?" said the Lord Keeper, his mind reverting to the
political circumstances of the country. "Has anything come to
your knowledge--any plot or conspiracy?"
"No, my lord; those who traffic in such commodities do not call
to their councils the old, blind, and infirm. My warning is of
another kind. You have driven matters hard with the house of
Ravenswood. Believe a true tale: they are a fierce house, and
there is danger in dealing with men when they become desperate."
"Tush," answered the Keeper; "what has been between us has been
the work of the law, not my doing; and to the law they must
look, if they would impugn my proceedings."
"Ay, but they may think otherwise, and take the law into their
own hand, when they fail of other means of redress."
"What mean you?" said the Lord Keeper. "Young Ravenswood would
not have recourse to personal violence?"
"God forbid I should say so! I know nothing of the youth but
what is honourable and open. Honourable and open, said I? I
should have added, free, generous, noble. But he is still a
Ravenswood, and may bide his time. Remember the fate of Sir
The Lord Keeper started as she called to his recollection a
tragedy so deep and so recent. The old woman proceeded:
"Chiesley, who did the deed, was a relative of Lord Ravenswood.
In the hall of Ravenswood, in my presence and in that of others,
he avowed publicly his determination to do the cruelty which he
afterwards committed. I could not keep silence, though to speak
it ill became my station. 'You are devising a dreadful crime,' I
said, 'for which you must reckon before the judgment seat.'
Never shall I forget his look, as he replied, 'I must reckon then
for many things, and will reckon for this also.' Therefore I may
well say, beware of pressing a desperate man with the hand of
authority. There is blood of Chiesley in the veins of
Ravenswood, and one drop of it were enough to fire him in the
circumstances in which he is placed. I say, beware of him."
The old dame had, either intentionally or by accident, harped
aright the fear of the Lord Keeper. The desperate and dark
resource of private assassination, so familiar to a Scottish
baron in former times, had even in the present age been too
frequently resorted to under the pressure of unusual temptation,
or where the mind of the actor was prepared for such a crime.
Sir William Ashton was aware of this; as also that young
Ravenswood had received injuries sufficient to prompt him to that
sort of revenge, which becomes a frequent though fearful
consequence of the partial administration of justice. He
endeavoured to disguise from Alice the nature of the
apprehensions which he entertained; but so ineffectually, that a
person even of less penetration than nature had endowed her with
must necessarily have been aware that the subject lay near his
bosom. His voice was changed in its accent as he replied to her,
"That the Master of Ravenswood was a man of honour; and, were it
otherwise, that the fate of Chiesley of Dalry was a sufficient
warning to any one who should dare to assume the office of
avenger of his own imaginary wrongs." And having hastily uttered
these expressions, he rose and left the place without waiting
for a reply.
Is she a Capulet?
O dear account! my life is my foe's debt.
THE Lord Keeper walked for nearly a quarter of a mile in
profound silence. His daughter, naturally timid, and bred up in
those ideas of filial awe and implicit obedience which were
inculcated upon the youth of that period, did not venture to
interrupt his meditations.
"Why do you look so pale, Lucy?" said her father, turning
suddenly round and breaking silence.
According to the ideas of the time, which did not permit a young
woman to offer her sentiments on any subject of importance
unless required to do so, Lucy was bound to appear ignorant of
the meaning of all that had passed betwixt Alice and her father,
and imputed the emotion he had observed to the fear of the wild
cattle which grazed in that part of the extensive chase through
which they were now walking.
Of these animals, the descendants of the savage herds which
anciently roamed free in the Caledonian forests,. it was formerly
a point of state to preserve a few in the parks of the Scottish
nobility. Specimens continued within the memory of man to be
kept at least at three houses of distinction--Hamilton, namely,
Drumlanrig, and Cumbernauld. They had degenerated from the
ancient race in size and strength, if we are to judge from the
accounts of old chronicles, and from the formidable remains
frequently discovered in bogs and morasses when drained and laid
open. The bull had lost the shaggy honours of his mane, and the
race was small and light made, in colour a dingy white, or rather
a pale yellow, with black horns and hoofs. They retained,
however, in some measure, the ferocity of their ancestry, could
not be domesticated on account of their antipathy to the human
race, and were often dangerous if approached unguardedly, or
wantonly disturbed. It was this last reason which has occasioned
their being extirpated at the places we have mentioned, where
probably they would otherwise have been retained as appropriate
inhabitants of a Scottish woodland, and fit tenants for a
baronial forest. A few, if I mistake not, are still preserved at
Chillingham Castle, in Northumberland, the seat of the Earl of
It was to her finding herself in the vicinity of a group of
three or four of these animals, that Lucy thought proper to
impute those signs of fear which had arisen in her countenance
for a different reason. For she had been familiarised with the
appearance of the wil cattle during her walks in the chase; and
it was not then, as it may be now, a necessary part of a young
lady's demeanour to indulge in causeless tremors of the nerves.
On the present occasion, however, she speedily found cause for
Lucy had scarcely replied to her father in the words we have
mentioned, and he was just about to rebuke her supposed timidity,
when a bull, stimulated either by the scarlet colour of Miss
Ashton's mantle, or by one of those fits of capricious ferocity
to which their dispositions are liable, detached himself suddenly
from the group which was feeding at the upper extremity of a
grassy glade, that seemed to lose itself among the crossing and
entangled boughs. The animal approached the intruders on his
pasture ground, at first slowly, pawing the ground with his hoof,
bellowing from time to time, and tearing up the sand with his
horns, as if to lash himself up to rage and violence.
The Lord Keeper, who observed the animal's demeanour, was aware
that he was about to become mischievous, and, drawing his
daughter's arm under his own, began to walk fast along the
avenue, in hopes to get out of his sight and his reach. This was
the most injudicious course he could have adopted, for,
encouraged by the appearance of flight, the bull began to pursue
them at full speed. Assailed by a danger so imminent, firmer
courage than that of the Lord Keeper might have given way. But
paternal tenderness, "love strong as death," sustained him. He
continued to support and drag onward his daughter, until her
fears altogether depriving her of the power of flight, she sunk
down by his side; and when he could no longer assist her to
escape, he turned round and placed himself betwixt her and the
raging animal, which, advancing in full career, its brutal fury
enhanced by the rapidity of the pursuit, was now within a few
yards of them. The Lord Keeper had no weapons; his age and
gravity dispensed even with the usual appendage of a walking
sword--could such appendage have availed him anything.
It seemed inevitable that the father or daughter, or both,
should have fallen victims to the impending danger, when a shot
from the neighbouring thicket arrested the progress of the
animal. He was so truly struck between the junction of the spine
with the skull, that the wound, which in any other part of his
body might scarce have impeded his career, proved instantly
fatal. Stumbling forward with a hideous bellow, the progressive
force of his previous motion, rather than any operation of his
limbs, carried him up to within three yards of the astonished
Lord Keeper, where he rolled on the ground, his limbs darkened
with the black death-sweat, and quivering with the last
convulsions of muscular motion.
Lucy lay senseless on the ground, insensible of the
wonderful deliverance which she had experience. Her father was
almost equally stupified, so rapid and unexpected had been the
transition from the horrid death which seemed inevitable to
perfect security. He gazed on the animal, terrible even in
death, with a species of mute and confused astonishment, which
did not permit him distinctly to understand what had taken place;
and so inaccurate was his consciousness of what had passed, that
he might have supposed the bull had been arrested in its career
by a thunderbolt, had he not observed among the branches of the
thicket the figure of a man, with a short gun or musquetoon in
This instantly recalled him to a sense of their situation: a
glance at his daughter reminded him of the necessity of procuring
her assistance. He called to the man, whom he concluded to be
one of his foresters, to give immediate attention to Miss Ashton,
while he himself hastened to call assistance. The huntsman
approached them accordingly, and the Lord Keeper saw he was a
stranger, but was too much agitated to make any farther remarks.
In a few hurried words he directed the shooter, as stronger and
more active than himself, to carry the young lady to a
neighbouring fountain, while he went back to Alice's hut to
procure more aid.
The man to whose timely itnerference they had been so much
indebted did not seem inclined to leave his good work half
finished. He raised Lucy from the ground in his arms, and
convenying her through the glades of the forest by paths with
which he seemed well acquainted, stopped not until he laid her in
safety by the side of a plentiful and pellucid fountain, which
had been once covered in, screened and decorated with
architectural ornaments of a Gothic character. But now the vault
which had covered it being broken down and riven, and the Gothic
font ruined and demolished, the stream burst forth from the
recess of the earth in open day, and winded its way among the
broken sculpture and moss-grown stones which lay in confusion
around its source.
Tradition, always busy, at least in Scotland, to grace with a
legendary tale a spot in itself interesting, had ascribed a
cause of peculiar veneration to this fountain. A beautiful young
lady met one of the Lords of Ravenswood while hunting near this
spot, and, like a second Egeria, had captivated the affections of
the feudal Numa. They met frequently afterwards, and always at
sunset, the charms of the nymph's mind completing the conquest
which her beauty had begun, and the mystery of the intrigue
adding zest to both. She always appeared and disappeared close
by the fountain, with which, therefore, her lover judged she had
some inexplicable connexion. She placed certain restrictions on
their intercourse, which also savoured of mystery. They met only
once a week--Friday was the appointed day--and she explained to
the Lord of Ravenswood that they were under the necessity of
separating so soon as the bell of a chapel, belonging to a
hermitage in the adjoining wood, now long ruinous, should toll
the hour of vespers. In the course of his confession, the Baron
of Ravenswood entrusted the hermit with the secret of this
singular amour, and Father Zachary drew the necessary and
obvious consequence that his patron was enveloped in the toils of
Satan, and in danger of destruction, both to body and soul. He
urged these perils to the Baron with all the force of monkish
rhetoric, and described, in the most frightful colours, the real
character and person of the apparently lovely Naiad, whom he
hesitated not to denounce as a limb of the kingdom of darkness.
The lover listened with obstinate incredulity; and it was not
until worn out by the obstinacy of the anchoret that he consented
to put the state and condition of his mistress to a certain
trial, and for that purpose acquiesced in Zachary's proposal that
on their next interview the vespers bell should be rung half an
hour later than usual. The hermit maintained and bucklered his
opinion, by quotations from Malleus Malificarum, Sprengerus,
Remigius, and other learned demonologists, that the Evil One,
thus seduced to remain behind the appointed hour, would assume
her true shape, and, having appeared to herterrified lover as a
fiend of hell, would vanish from him in a flash of sulphurous
lightning. Raymond of Ravenswood acquiesced in the experiment,
not incurious concerning the issue, though confident it would
disappoint the expectations of the hermit.
At the appointed hour the lovers met, and their interview was
protracted beyond that at which they usually parted, by the
delay of the priest to ring his usual curfew. No change took
place upon the nymph's outward form; but as soon as the
lengthening shadows made her aware that the usual hour of the
vespers chime was passed, she tore herself from her lover's arms
with a shriek of despair, bid him adieu for ever, and, plunging
into the fountain, disappeared from his eyes. The bubbles
occasioned by her descent were crimsoned with blood as they
arose, leading the distracted Baron to infer that his ill-judged
curiosity had occasioned the death of this interesting and
mysterious being. The remorse which he felt, as well as the
recollection of her charms, proved the penance of his future
life, which he lost in the battle of Flodden not many months
after. But, in memory of his Naiad, he had previously ornamented
the fountain in which she appeared to reside, and secured its
waters from profanation or pollution by the small vaulted
building of which the fragments still remained scattered around
it. From this period the house of Ravenswood was supposed to
have dated its decay.
Such was the generally-received legend, which some, who would
seem wiser than the vulgar, explained as obscurely
intimating the fate of a beautiful maid of plebeian rank, the
mistress of this Raymond, whom he slew in a fit of jealousy, and
whose blood was mingled with the waters of the locked foundtain,
as it was commonly called. Others imagined thatthe tale had a
more remote origin in the ancient heathen mythology. All,
however, agreed that the spot was fatal to the Ravenswood family;
and that to drink of the waters of the well, or even approach its
brink, was as ominous to a descendant of that house as for a
Grahame to wear green, a Bruce to kill a spider, or a St. Clair
to cross the Ord on a Monday.
It was on this ominous spot that Lucy Ashton first drew breath
after her long and almost deadly swoon. Beautiful and pale as
the fabulous Naiad in the last agony of separation from her
lover, she was seated so as to rest with her back against a part
of the ruined wall, while her mantle, dripping with the water
which her protector had used profusely to recall her senses,
clung to her slender and beautifully proportioned form.
The firts moment of recollection brought to her mind the danger
which had overpowered her senses; the next called to remembrance
that of her father. She looked around; he was nowhere to be
seen. "My father, my father!" was all that she could ejaculate.
"Sir William is safe," answered the voice of a stranger--
"perfectly safe, adn will be with you instantly."
"Are you sure of that?" exclaimed Lucy. "The bull was close by
us. Do not stop me: I must go to seek my father!"
And she rose with that purpose; but her strength was so much
exhausted that, far from possessing the power to execute her
purpose, she must have fallen against the stone on which she had
leant, probably not without sustaining serious injury.
The stranger was so near to her that, without actually suffering
her to fall, he could not avoid catching her in his arms, which,
however, he did with a momentary reluctance, very unusual when
youth interposes to prevent beauty from danger. It seemed as if
her weight, slight as it was, proved too heavy for her young and
athletic assistant, for, without feeling the temptation of
detaining her in his arms even for a single
instant, he again placed her on the stone from which she had
risen, and retreating a few steps, repeated hastily "Sir William
Ashton is perfectly safe and will be here instantly. Do not make
yourself anxious on his account: Fate has singularly preserved
him. You, madam, are exhausted, and must not think of rising
until you have some assistance more suitable than mine."
Lucy, whose senses were by this time more effectually collected,
was naturally led to look at the stranger with
attention. There was nothing in his appearance which should have
rendered him unwilling to offer his arm to a young lady who
required support, or which could have induced her to refuse his
assistance; and she could not help thinking, even in that moment,
that he seemed cold and reluctant to offer it. A shooting-dress
of dark cloth intimated the rank of the wearer, though concealed
in part by a large and loose cloak of a dark brown colour. A
montero cap and a black feather drooped over the wearer's brow,
and partly concealed his features, which, so far as seen, were
dark, regular, adn full of majestic, though somewhat sullen,
expression. Some secret sorrow, or the brooding spirit of some
moody passion, had quenched the light and ingenuous vivacity of
youth in a countenance singularly fitted to display both, and it
was not easy to gaze on the stranger without a secret impression
either of pity or awe, or at least of doubt and curiosity allied
The impression which we have necessarily been long in
describing, Lucy felt in the glance of a moment, and had no
sooner encountered the keen black eyes of the stranger than her
own were bent on the ground with a mixture of bashful
embarrassment and fear. Yet there was a necessity to speak, or
at last she thought so, and in a fluttered accent she began to
mention her wonderful escape, in which she was sure that the
stranger must, under Heaven, have been her father's protector
and her own.
He seemed to shrink from her expressions of gratitude, while he
replied abruptly, "I leave you, madam," the deep melody of his
voice rendered powerful, but not harsh, by something like a
severity of tone--"I leave you to the protection of those to whom
it is possible you may have this day been a guardian angel."
Lucy was surprised at the ambiguity of his language, and, with a
feeling of artless and unaffected gratitude, began to deprecate
the idea of having intended to give her deliverer any offence, as
if such a thing had been possible. "I have been unfortunate,"
she said, "in endeavouring to express my thanks--I am sure it
must be so, though I cannot recollect what I said; but would you
but stay till my father--till the Lord Keeper comes; would you
only permit him to pay you his thanks, and to inquire your name?"
"My name is unnecessary," answered the stranger; "your father--I
would rather say Sir William Ashton--will learn it soon enough,
for all the pleasure it is likely to afford him."
"You mistake him," said Lucy, earnestly; "he will be
grateful for my sake and for his own. You do not know my father,
or you are deceiving me with a story of his safety, when he has
already fallen a victim to the fury of that animal."
When she had caught this idea, she started from the ground and
endeavoured to press towards the avenue in which the accident
had taken place, while the stranger, though he seemed to
hesitate between the desire to assist and the wish to leave her,
was obliged, in common humanity, to oppose her both by entreaty
"On the word of a gentleman, madam, I tell you the truth; your
father is in perfect safety; you will expose yourself to injury
if you venture back where the herd of wild cattle grazed. If you
will go"--for, haing once adoped the idea that her father was
still in danger, she pressed forward in spite of him--"if you
WILL go, accept my arm, though I am not perhaps the person who
can with most propriety offer you support."
But, without heeding this intimation, Lucy took him at his word.
"Oh, if you be a man," she said--"if you be a gentleman, assist
me to find my father! You shall not leave me--you must go with
me; he is dying perhaps while we are talking here!"
Then, without listening to excuse or apology, and holding fast
by the stranger's arm, though unconscious of anything save the
support which it gave, and without which she could not have
moved, mixed with a vague feeling of preventing his escape from
her, she was urging, and almost dragging, him forward when Sir
William Ashton came up, followed by the female attendant of blind
Alice, and by two woodcutters, whom he had summoned from their
occupation to his assistance. His joy at seeing his daughter
safe overcame the surprise with which he would at another time
have beheld her hanging as familiarly on the arm of a stranger as
she might have done upon his own.
"Lucy, my dear Lucy, are you safe?--are you well?" were the only
words that broke from him as he embraced her in ecstasy.
"I am well, sir, thank God! and still more that I see you so;
but this gentleman," she said, quitting his arm and shrinking
from him, "what must he think of me?" and her eloquent blood,
flushing over neck and brow, spoke how much she was ashamed of
the freedom with which she had craved, and even compelled, his
"This gentleman," said Sir William Ashton, "will, I trust, not
regret the trouble we have given him, when I assure him of the
gratitude of the Lord Keeper for the greatest service which one
man ever rendered to another--for the life of my child--for my
own life, which he has saved by his bravery and presence of
mind. He will, I am sure, permit us to request----"
"Request nothing of ME, my lord," said the stranger, in a stern
and peremptory tone; "I am the Master of Ravenswood."
There was a dead pause of surprise, not unmixed with less
pleasant feleings. The Master wrapt himself in his cloak, made a
haughty inclination toward Lucy, muttering a few words of
courtesy, as indistinctly heard as they seemed to be relunctantly
uttered, and, turning from them, was immediately lost in the
"The Master of Ravenswood!" said the Lord Keeper, when he had
recovered his momentary astonishment. "Hasten after him--stop
him--beg him to speak to me for a single moment."
The two foresters accordingly set off in pursuit of the
stranger. They speedily reappeared, and, in an embarrassed and
awkward manner, said the gentleman would not return.
The Lord Keeper took one of the fellows aside, and
questioned him more closely what the Master of Ravenswood had
"He just said he wadna come back," said the man, with the
caution of a prudent Scotchman, who cared not to be the bearer of
an unpleasant errand.
"He said something more, sir," said the Lord Keeper, "and I
insist on knowing what it was."
"Why, then, my lord," said the man, looking down, "he said----
But it wad be nae pleasure to your lordship to hear it, for I
dare say the Master meant nae ill."
"That's none of your concern, sir; I desire to hear the very
"Weel, then," replied the man, "he said, 'Tell Sir William
Ashton that the next time he and I forgather, he will nto be half
sae blythe of our meeting as of our parting.'"
"Very well, sir," said the Lord Keeper, "I believe he alludes to
a wager we have on our hawks; it is a matter of no consequence."
He turned to his daughter, who was by this time so much
recovered as to be able to walk home. But the effect, which the
various recollections connected with a scene so terrific made
upon a mind which was susceptible in an extreme degree, was more
permanent than the injury which her nerves had sustained.
Visions of terror, both in sleep and in waking reveries, recalled
to her the form of the furious animal, and the dreadful bellow
with which he accompanied his career; and it was always the image
of the Master of Ravenswood, with his native nobleness of
countenance and form, that seemed to interpose betwixt her and
assured death. It is, perhaps, at all times dangerous for a
young person to suffer recollection to dwell repeatedly, and with
too much complacency, on the same individual; but in Lucy's
situation it was almost unavoidable. She had never happened to
see a young man of mien and features so romantic and so striking
as young Ravenswood; but had she seen an hundred his equals or
his superiors in those particulars, no one else would have been
linked to her heart by the strong
associations of remembered danger and escape, of gratitude,
wonder, and curiosity. I say curiosity, for it is likely that
the singularly restrained and unaccommodating manners of the
Master of Ravenswood, so much at variance with the natural
expression of his features and grace of his deportment, as they
excited wonder by the contrast, had their effect in riveting her
attention to the recollections. She knew little of Ravenswood,
or the disputes which had existed betwixt her father and his, and
perhaps could in her gentleness of mind hardly have comprehended
the angry and bitter passions which they had engendered. But she
knew that he was come of noble stem; was poor, though descended
from the noble and the wealthy; and she felt that she could
sympathise with the feelings of a proud mind, which urged him to
recoil from the proffered gratitude of the new proprietors of his
father's house and domains. Would he have equally shunned their
acknowledgments and avoided their intimacy, had her father's
request been urged more mildly, less abruptly, and softened with
the grace which women so well know how to throw into their
manner, when they mean to mediate betwixt the headlong passions
of the ruder sex? This was a perilous question to ask her own
mind--perilous both in the idea and its consequences.
Lucy Ashton, in short, was involved in those mazes of the
imagination which are most dangerous to the young and the
sensitive. Time, it is true, absence, change of scene and new
faces, might probably have destroyed the illusion in her
instance, as it has done in many others; but her residence
remained solitary, and her mind without those means of
dissipating her pleasing visions. This solitude was chiefly
owing to the absence of Lady Ashton, who was at this time in
Edinburgh, watching the progress of some state-intrigue; the Lord
Keeper only received society out of policy or ostentation, and
was by nature rather reserved and unsociable; and thus no
cavalier appeared to rival or to obscure the ideal picture of
chivalrous excellence which Lucy had pictured to herself in the
Master of Ravenswood.
While Lucy indulged in these dreams, she made frequent visits to
old blind Alice, hoping it would be easy to lead her to talk on
the subject which at present she had so imprudently admitted to
occupy so large a portion of her thoughts. But Alice did not in
this particular gratify her wishes and expectations. She spoke
readily, and with pathetic feeling, concerning the family in
general, but seemed to observe an especial and cautious silence
on the subject of the present representative. The little she
said of him was not altogether so favourable as Lucy had
anticipated. She hinted that he was of a stern and unforgiving
character, more ready to resent than to pardon injuries; and Lucy
combined, with great alarm, the hints which she now dropped of
these dangerous qualities with Alice's advice to her father, so
emphatically given, "to beware of Ravenswood."
Btu that very Ravenswood, of whom such unjust suspicions had
been entertained, had, almost immediately after they had been
uttered, confuted them by saving at once her father's life and
her own. Had he nourished such black revenge as Alice's dark
hints seemed to indicate, no deed of active guilt was necessary
to the full gratification of that evil passion. He needed but to
have withheld for an instant his indispensable and effective
assistance, and the object of his resentment must have perished,
without any direct aggression on his part, by a death equally
fearful and certain. She conceived, therefore, that some secret
prejudice, or the suspicions incident to age and misfortune, had
led Alice to form conclusions injurious to the character, and
irreconcilable both with the generous conduct and noble features,
of the Master of Ravenswood. And in this belief Lucy reposed her
hope, and went on weaving her enchanted web of fairy tissue, as
beautiful and transient as the film of the gossamer when it is
pearled with the morning dew and glimmering to the sun.
Her father, in the mean while, as well as the Master of
Ravenswood, were making reflections, as frequent though more
solid than those of Lucy, upon the singular event which had
taken place. The Lord Keeper's first task, when he returned
home, was to ascertain by medical advice that his daughter had
sustained no injury from the dangerous and alarming situation in
which she had been placed. Satisfied on this topic, he proceeded
to revise the memoranda which he had taken down from the mouth of
the person employed to interrupt the funeral service of the late
Lord Ravenswood. Bred to casuistry, and well accustomed to
practise the ambidexter ingenuity of the bar, it cost him little
trouble to soften the features of the tumult which he had been
at first so anxiuous to exaggerate. He preached to his
colleagues of the privy council the necessity of using
conciliatory measures with young men, whose blood and temper were
hot, and their experience of life limited. He did not hesitate
to attribute some censure to the conduct of the officer, as
having been unnecessarily irritating.
These were the contents of his public despatches. The letters
which he wrote to those private friends into whose management the
matter was likely to fall were of a yet more favourable tenor.
He represented that lenity in this case would be equally politic
and popular, whereas, considering the high respect with which the
rites of interment are regarded in
Scotland, any severity exercised against the Master of Ravenswood
for protecting those of his father from interruption, would be on
all sides most unfavourably construed. And, finally, assuming
the language of a generous and high-spirited man, he made it his
particular request that this affair should be passed over without
severe notice. He alluded with delicacy to the predicament in
which he himself stood with young Ravenswood, as having succeeded
in the long train of litigation by which the fortunes of that
noble house had been so much reduced, and confessed it would be
most peculiarly acceptable to his own feelings, could he find in
some sort to counterbalance the disadvantages which he had
occasioned the family, though only in the prosecution of his just
and lawful rights. He therefore made it his particular and
personal request that the matter should have no farther
consequences, an insinuated a desire that he himself should have
the merit of having put a stop to it by his favourable report and
intercession. It was particularly remarkable that, contrary to
his uniform practice, he made no special communication to Lady
Ashton upon the subject of the tumult; and although he mentioned
the alarm which Lucy had received from one of the wild cattle,
yet he gave no detailed account of an incident so interesting and
There was much surprise among Sir William Ashton's political
friends and colleagues on receiving letters of a tenor so
unexpected. On comparing notes together, one smiled, one put up
his eyebrows, a third nodded acquiescence in the general wonder,
and a fourth asked if they were sure these were ALL the letters
the Lord Keeper had written on the subject. "It runs strangely
in my mind, my lords, that none of these advices contain the root
of the matter."
But no secret letters of a contrary nature had been
received, although the question seemed to imply the possibility
of their existence.
"Well," said an old grey-headed statesman, who had
contrived, by shifting and trimming, to maintain his post at the
steerage through all the changes of course which the vessel had
held for thirty years, "I thought Sir William would hae verified
the auld Scottish saying, 'As soon comes the lamb's skin to
market as the auld tup's'"
"We must please him after his own fashion," said another,
"though it be an unlooked0for one."
"A wilful man maun hae his way," answered the old
"The Keeper will rue this before year and day are out," said a
third; "the Master of Ravenswood is the lad to wind him a pirn."
"Why, what would you do, my lords, with the poor young fellow?"
said a noble Marquis present. "The Lord Keeper has got all his
estates; he has not a cross to bless himself with."
On which the ancient Lord Turntippet replied
"If he hasna gear to fine,
He ha shins to pine.
And that was our way before the Revolution: Lucitur cum persona,
qui luere non potest cum crumena. Hegh, my lords, that's gude
"I can see no motive," replied the Marquis, "that any noble lord
can have for urging this matter farther; let the Lord Keeper
have the power to deal in it as he pleases."
"Agree, agree--remit to the Lord Keeper, with any other person
for fashion's sake--Lord Hirplehooly, who is bed-ridden--one to
be a quorum. Make your entry in the minutes, Mr. Clerk. And
now, my lords, there is that young scattergood the Laird of
Bucklaw's fine to be disposed upon. I suppose it goes to my Lord
"Shame be in my meal-poke, then," exclaimed the Lord
Turntippet, "and your hand aye in the nook of it! I had set that
down for a bye-bit between meals for mysell."
"To use one of your favourite saws, my lord," replied the
Marquis, "you are like the miller's dog, that licks his lips
before the bag is untied: the man is not fined yet."
"But that costs but twa skarts of a pen," said Lord
Turntippet; "and surely there is nae noble lord that will presume
to say that I, wha hae complied wi' a' compliances, taen all
manner of tests, adjured all that was to be abjured, and sworn a'
that was to be sworn, for these thirty years bye-past, sticking
fast by my duty to the state through good report and bad report,
shouldna hae something now and then to synd my mouth wi' after
sic drouthy wark? Eh?"
"It would be very unreasonable indeed, my lord," replied the
Marquis, "had we either thought that your lordship's drought was
quenchable, or observed anything stick in your throat that
required washing down."
And so we close the scene on the privy council of that period.
For this are all these warriors come,
To hear an idle tale;
And o'er our death-accustom'd arms
Shall silly tears prevail?
ON the evening of the day when the Lord Keeper and his daughter
were saved from such imminent peril, two strangers were seated in
the most private apartment of a small obscure inn, or rather
alehouse, called the Tod's Den [Hole], about three or four [five
or six] miles from the Castle of Ravenswood and as far from the
ruinous tower of Wolf's Crag, betwixt which two places it was
One of these strangers was about forty years of age, tall, and
thin in the flanks, with an aquiline nose, dark penetrating
eyes, and a shrewd but sinister cast of countenance. The other
was about fifteen years younger, short, stout, ruddy-faced, and
red-haired, with an open, resolute, and cheerful eye, to which
careless and fearless freedom and inward daring gave fire and
expression, notwithstanding its light grey colour. A stoup of
wine (for in those days it was erved out from the cask in pewter
flagons) was placed on the table, and each had his quaigh or
bicker before him. But there was little appearance of
conviviality. With folded arms, and looks of anxious
expectation, they eyed each other in silence, each wrapt in his
own thoughts, and holding no communication with his neighbour.
At length the younger broke silence by exclaiming: "What the
foul fiend can detain the Master so long? He must have
miscarried in his enterprise. Why did you dissuade me from going
"One man is enough to right his own wrong," said the taller and
older personage; "we venture our lives for him in coming thus
far on such an errand."
"Yopu are but a craven after all, Craigengelt," answered the
younger, "and that's what many folk have thought you before now."
"But what none has dared to tell me," said Craigengelt,
laying his hand on the hilt of his sword; "and, but that I hold a
hasty man no better than a fool, I would----" he paused for his
"WOULD you?" said the other, coolly; "and why do you not then?"
Craigengelt drew his cutlass an inch or two, and then returned
it with violence into the scabbard--"Because there is a deeper
stake to be played for than the lives of twenty
harebrained gowks like you."
"You are right there," said his companion, "for it if were not
that these forfeitures, and that last fine that the old
driveller Turntippet is gaping for, and which, I dare say, is
laid on by this time, have fairly driven me out of house and
home, I were a coxcomb and a cuckoo to boot to trust your fair
promises of getting me a commission in the Irish brigade. What
have I to do with the Irish brigade? I am a plain Scotchman, as
my father was before me; and my grand-aunt, Lady Girnington,
cannot live for ever."
"Ay, Bucklaw," observed Craigengelt, "but she may live for many
a long day; and for your father, he had land and living, kept
himself close from wadsetters and money-lenders, paid each man
his due, and lived on his own."
"And whose fault it it that I have not done so too?" said
Bucklaw--"whose but the devil's and yours, and such-like as you,
that have led me to the far end of a fair estate? And now I
shall be obliged, I suppose, to shelter and shift about like
yourself: live one week upon a line of secret intelligence from
Saint Germains; another upon a report of a rising in the
Highlands; get my breakfast and morning draught of sack from old
Jacobite ladies, and give them locks of my old wig for the
Chevalier's hair; second my friend in his quarrel till he comes
to the field, and then flinch from him lest so important a
political agent should perish from the way. All this I must do
for bread, besides calling myself a captain!"
"You think you are making a fine speech now," said
Craigengelt, "and showing much wit at my expense. Is starving or
hanging better than the life I am obliged to lead, because the
present fortunes of the king cannot sufficiently support his
"Starving is honester, Craigengelt, and hanging is like to be
the end on't. But what you mean to make of this poor fellow
Ravenswood, I know not. He has no money left, any more than I;
his lands are all pawned and pledged, and the interest eats up
the rents, and is not satisfied, and what do you hope to make by
meddling in his affairs?"
"Content yourself, Bucklaw; I know my business," replied
Craigengelt. "Besides that his name, and his father's services
in 1689, will make such an acquisition sound well both at
Versailles and Saint Germains, you will also please be informed
that the Master of Ravenswood is a very different kind of a young
fellow from you. He has parts and address, as well as courage
and talents, and will present himself abroad like a young man of
head as well as heart, who knows something more than the speed of
a horse or the flight of a hawk. I have lost credit of late, by
bringing over no one that had sense to know more than how to
unharbour a stag, or take and reclaim an eyas. The Master has
education, sense, and penetration."
"And yet is not wise enough to escape the tricks of a kidnapper,
Craigengelt?" replied the younger man. "But don't be angry; you
know you will nto fight, and so it is as well to leave your hilt
in peace andquiet, and tell me in sober guise how you drew the
Master into your confidence?"
"By flattering his love of vengeance, Bucklaw," answered
Craigengelt. "He has always distrusted me; but I watched my
time, and struck while his temper was red-hot with the sense of
insult and of wrong. He goes now to expostulate, as he says, and
perhaps thinks, with Sir William Ashton. I say, that if they
meet, and the lawyer puts him to his defence, the Master will
kill him; for he had that sparkle in his eye which never deceives
you when you would read a man's purpose. At any rate, he will
give him such a bullying as will be construed into an assault on
a privy councillor; so there will be a total breach betwixt him
and government. Scotland will be too hot for him; France will
gain him; and we will all set sail together in the French brig
'L'Espoir,' which is hovering for us off Eyemouth."
"Content am I," said Bucklaw; "Scotland has little left that I
care about; and if carrying the Master with us will get us a
better reception in France, why, so be it, a God's name. I doubt
our own merits will procure us slender preferment; and I trust he
will send a ball through the Keeper's head before he joins us.
One or two of these scoundrel statesmen should be shot once a
year, just to keep the others on their good behaviour."
"That is very true," replied Craigengelt; "and it reminds me
that I must go and see that our horses have been fed and are in
readiness; for, should such deed be done, it will be no time for
grass to grow beneath their heels." He proceeded as far as the
door, then turned back with a look of earnestness, and said to
Bucklaw: "Whatever should come of this business, I am sure you
will do me the justice to remember that I said nothing to the
Master which could imply my accession to any act of violence
which he may take it into his head to commit."
"No, no, not a single word like accession," replied Bucklaw;
"you know too well the risk belonging to these two terrible
words, 'art and part.'" Then, as if to himself, he recited the
"The dial spoke not, but it made shrewd signs,
And pointed full upon the stroke of murder.
"What is that you are talking to yourself?" said
Craigengelt, turning back with some anxiety.
"Nothing, only two lines I have heard upon the stage," replied
"Bucklaw," said Craigengelt, "I sometimes think you should have
been a stage-player yourself; all is fancy and frolic with you."
"I have often thought so myself," said Bucklaw. "I believe it
would be safer than acting with you in the Fatal Conspiracy.
But away, play your own part, and look after the horses like a
groom as you are. A play-actor--a stage-player!" he repeated to
himself; "that would have deserved a stab, but that Craigengelt's
a coward. And yet I should like the profession well enough.
Stay, let me see; ay, I would come out in Alexander:
Thus from the grave I rise to save my love,
Draw all your swords, and quick as lightning move.
When I rush on, sure none will dare to stay:
'Tis love commands, and glory leads the way."
As with a voice of thunder, and his hand upon his sword, Bucklaw
repeated the ranting couplets of poor Lee, Craigengelt re-entered
with a face of alarm.
"We are undone, Bucklaw! The Master's led horse has cast
himself over his halter in the stable, and is dead lame. His
hackney will be set up with the day's work, and now he has no
fresh horse; he will never get off."
"Egad, there will be no moving with the speed of lightning this
bout," said Bucklaw, drily. "But stay, you can give him yours."
"What! and be taken myself? I thank you for the proposal," said
"Why," replied Bucklaw, "if the Lord Keeper should have met with
a mischance, which for my part I cannot suppose, for the Master
is not the lad to shoot an old and unarmed man--but IF there
should have been a fray at the Castle, you are neither art not
part in it, you know, so have nothing to fear."
"True, true," answered the other, with embarrassment; "but
consider my commission from Saint Germains."
"Which many men think is a commission of your own making, noble
Captain. Well, if you will not give him your horse, why, d----n
it, he must have mine."
"Yours?" said Craigengelt.
"Ay, mine," repeated Bucklaw; "it shall never be said that I
agreed to back a gentleman in a little affair of honour, and
neither helped him on with it nor off from it."
"You will give him your horse? and have you considered the
"Loss! why, Grey Gilbert cost me twenty Jacobuses, that's true;
but then his hackney is worth something, and his Black Moor is
worth twice as much were he sound, and I know how to handle him.
Take a fat sucking mastiff whelp, flay and bowel him, stuff the
body full of black and grey snails, roast a reasonable time, and
baste with oil of spikenard, saffron, cinnamon, and honey, anoint
with the dripping, working it in----"
"Yes, Bucklaw; but in the mean while, before the sprain is
cured, nay, before the whelp is roasted, you will be caught and
hung. Depend on it, the chase will be hard after Ravenswood. I
wish we had made our place of rendezvous nearer to the coast."
"On my faith, then," said Bucklaw, "I had best go off just now,
and leave my horse for him. Stay--stay, he comes: I hear a
"Are you sure there is only one?" said Craigengelt. "I fear
there is a chase; I think I hear three or four galloping
together. I am sure I hear more horses than one."
"Pooh, pooh, it is the wench of the house clattering to the well
in her pattens. By my faith, Captain, you should give up both
your captainship and your secret service, for you are as easily
scared as a wild goose. But here comes the Master alone, and
looking as gloomy as a night in November."
The Master of Ravenswood entered the room accordingly, his cloak
muffled around him, his arms folded, his looks stern, and at the
same time dejected. He flung his cloak from him as he entered,
threw himself upon a chair, and appeared sunk in a profound
"What has happened? What have you done?" was hastily demanded
by Craigengelt and Bucklaw in the same moment.
"Nothing!" was the short and sullen answer.
"Nothing! and left us, determined to call the old villain to
account for all the injuries that you, we, and the country have
received at his hand? Have you seen him?"
"I have," replied the Master of Ravenswood.
"Seen him--and come away without settling scores which have been
so long due?" said Bucklaw; "I would not have expected that at
the hand of the Master of Ravenswood."
"No matter what you expected," replied Ravenswood; "it is not to
you, sir, that I shall be disposed to render any reason for my
"Patience, Bucklaw," said Craigengelt, interrupting his
companion, who seemed about to make an angry reply. "The Master
has been interrupted in his purpose by some accident; but he
must excuse the anxious curiosity of friends who are devoted to
his cause like you and me."
"Friends, Captain Craigengelt!" retorted Ravenswood,
haughtily; "I am ignorant what familiarity passed betwixt us to
entitle you to use that expression. I think our friendship
amounts to this, that we agreed to leave Scotland together so
soon as I should have visited the alienated mansion of my
fathers, and had an interview with its present possessor--I will
not call him proprietor."
"Very true, Master," answered Bucklaw; "and as we thought you
had in mind to do something to put your neck in jeopardy,
Craigie and I very courteously agreed to tarry for you, although
ours might run some risk in consequence. As to Craigie, indeed,
it does not very much signify: he had gallows written on his brow
in the hour of his birth; but I should not like to discredit my
parentage by coming to such an end in another man's cause."
"Gentlemen," said the Master of Ravenswood, "I am sorry if I
have occasioned you any inconvenience, but I must claim the right
of judging what is best for my own affairs, without rendering
explanations to any one. I have altered my mind, and do not
design to leave the country this season."
"Not to leave the country, Master!" exclaimed Craigengelt. "Not
to go over, after all the trouble and expense I have
incurred--after all the risk of discovery, and the expense of
freight and demurrage!"
"Sir," replied the Master of Ravenswood, "when I designed to
leave this country in this haste, I made use of your obliging
offer to procure me means of conveyance; but I do not recollect
that I pledged myself to go off, if I found occasion to alter my
mind. For your trouble on my account, I am sorry, and I thank
you; your expense," he added, putting his hand into his pocket,
"admits a more solid compensation: freight and demurrage are
matters with which I am unacquainted, Captain Craigengelt, but
take my purse and pay yourself according to your own conscience."
And accordingly he tendered a purse with some gold in it to the
But here Bucklaw interposed in his turn. "Your fingers,
Craigie, seem to itch for that same piece of green network," said
he; "but I make my vow to God, that if they offer to close upon
it, I will chop them off with my whinger. Since the Master has
changed his mind, I suppose we need stay here no longer; but in
the first place I beg leave to tell him----"
"Tell him anything you will," said Craigengelt, "if you will
first allow me to state the inconveniences to which he will
expose himself by quitting our society, to remind him of the
obstacles to his remaining here, and of the difficulties
attending his proper introduction at Versailles and Saint
Germains without the countenance of those who have established
"Besides forfeiting the friendship," said Bucklaw, "of at least
one man of spirit and honour."
"Gentlemen," said Ravenswood, "permit me once more to assure you
that you have been pleased to attach to our temporary
connexion more importance than I ever meant that it should have.
When I repair to foreign courts, I shall not need the
introduction of an intriguing adventurer, nor is it necessary for
me to set value on the friendship of a hot-headed bully." With
these words, and without waiting for an answer, he left the
apartment, remounted his horse, and was heard to ride off.
"Mortbleu!" said Captain Craigengelt, "my recruit is lost!"
"Ay, Captain," said Bucklaw, "the salmon is off with hook and
all. But I will after him, for I have had more of his insolence
than I can well digest."
Craigengelt offered to accompany him; but Bucklaw replied: "No,
no, Captain, keep you the check of the chimney-nook till I come
back; it's good sleeping in a haill skin.
Little kens the auld wife that sits by the fire,
How cauld the wind blaws in hurle-burle swire."
And singing as he went, he left the apartment.
Now, Billy Berwick, keep good heart,
And of they talking let me be;
But if thou art a man, as I am sure thou art,
Come over the dike and fight with me.
THE Master of Ravenswood had mounted the ambling hackney which
he before rode, on finding the accident which had happened to his
led horse, and, for the animal's ease, was proceeding at a slow
pace from the Tod's Den towards his old tower of Wolf's Crag,
when he heard the galloping of a horse behind him, and, looking
back, perceived that he was pursued by young Bucklaw, who had
been delayed a few minutes in the pursuit by the irresistable
temptation of giving the hostler at the Tod's Den some recipe for
treating the lame horse. This brief delay he had made up by hard
galloping, and now overtook ths Master where the road traversed a
waste moor. "Halt, sir," cried Bucklaw; "I am no political
agent--no Captain Craigengelt, whose life is too important to be
hazarded in defence of his honour. I am Frank Hayston of
Bucklaw, and no man injures me by word, deed, sign, or look, but
he must render me an account of it."
"This is all very well, Mr. Hayston of Bucklaw," replied the
Master of Ravenswood, in a tone the most calm and indifferent;
"but I have no quarrel with you, and desire to have none. Our
roads homeward, as well as our roads through life, lie in
different directions; there is no occasion for us crossing each
"Is there not?" said Bucklaw, impetuously. "By Heaven! but I
say that there is, though: you called us intriguing
"Be correct in your recollection, Mr. Hayston; it was to your
companion only I applied that epithet, and you know him to be no
"And what then? He was my companion for the time, and no man
shall insult my companion, right or wrong, while he is in my
"Then, Mr. Hayston," replied Ravenswood, with the same
composure, "you should choose your society better, or you are
like to have much work in your capacity of their champion. Go
home, sir; sleep, and have more reason in your wrath to-morrow."
"Not so, Master, you have mistaken your man; high airs and wise
saws shall not carry it off thus. Besides, you termed me bully,
and you shall retract the word before we part."
"Faith, scarcely," said Ravenswood, "unless you show me better
reason for thinking myself mistaken than you are now producing."
"Then, Master," said Bucklaw, "though I should be sorry to offer
it to a man of your quality, if you will not justify your
incivility, or retract it, or name a place of meeting, you must
here undergo the hard word and the hard blow."
"Neither will be necessary," said Ravenswood; "I am
satisfied with what I have done to avoid an affair with you. If
you are serious, this place will serve as well as another."
"Dismount then, and draw," said Bucklaw, setting him an example.
"I always thought and said you were a pretty man; I should be
sorry to report you otherwise."
"You shall have no reason, sir," said Ravenswood, alighting, and
putting himself into a posture of defence.
Their swords crossed, and the combat commenced with great spirit
on the part of Bucklaw, who was well accustomed to affairs of the
kind, and distinguished by address and dexterity at his weapon.
In the present case, however, he did not use his skill to
advantage; for, having lost temper at the cool and
contemptuous manner in which the Master of Ravenswood had long
refused, and at length granted, him satisfaction, and urged by
his impatience, he adopted the part of an assailant with
inconsiderate eagerness. The Master, with equal skill, and much
greater composure, remained chiefly on the defensive, and even
declined to avail himself of one or two advantages afforded him
by the eagerness of his adversary. At length, in a desperate
lunge, which he followed with an attempt to close, Bucklaw's foot
slipped, and he fell on the short grassy turf on which they were
fighting. "Take your life, sir," said the Master of Ravenswood,
"and mend it if you can."
"It would be but a cobbled piece of work, I fear," said Bucklaw,
rising slowly and gathering up his sword, much less disconcerted
with the issue of the combat than could have been expected from
the impetuosity of his temper. "I thank you for my life,
Master," he pursued. "There is my hand; I bear no ill-will to
you, either for my bad luck or your better swordsmanship."
The Master looked steadily at him for an instant, then extended
his hand to him. "Bucklaw," he said, "you are a
generous fellow, and I have done you wrong. I heartily ask your
pardon for the expression which offended you; it was hastily and
incautiously uttered, and I am convinced it is totally
"Are you indeed, Master?" said Bucklaw, his face resuming at
once its natural expression of light-hearted carelessness and
audacity; "that is more than I expected of you; for, Master, men
say you are not ready to retract your opinion and your language."
"Not when I have well considered them," said the Master.
"Then you are a little wiser than I am, for I always give my
friend satisfaction first, and explanation afterwards. If one of
us falls, all accounts are settled; if not, men are never so
ready for peace as after war. But what does that bawling brat of
a boy want?" said Bucklaw. "I wish to Heaven he had come a few
minutes sooner! and yet it must have been ended some time, and
perhaps this way is as well as any other."
As he spoke, the boy he mentioned came up, cudgelling an ass, on
which he was mounted, to the top of its speed, and sending, like
one of Ossian's heroes, his voice before him: "Gentlemen--
gentlemen, save yourselves! for the gudewife bade us tell ye
there were folk in her house had taen Captain
Craigengelt, and were seeking for Bucklaw, and that ye behoved to
ride for it."
"By my faith, and that's very true, my man" said Bucklaw; "and
there's a silver sixpence for your news, and I would give any man
twice as much would tell me which way I should ride."
"That will I, Bucklaw," said Ravenswood; "ride home to Wolf's
Crag with me. There are places in the old tower where you might
lie hid, were a thousand men to seek you."
"But that will bring you into trouble yourself, Master; and
unless you be in the Jacobite scrape already, it is quite
needless for me to drag you in."
"Not a whit; I have nothing to fear."
"Then I will ride with you blythely, for, to say the truth, I do
not know the rendezvous that Craigie was to guide us to this
night; and I am sure that, if he is taken, he will tell all the
truth of me, and twenty lies of you, in order to save himself
from the withie."
They mounted and rode off in company accordingly, striking off
the ordinary road, and holding their way by wild moorish
unfrequented paths, with which the gentlemen were well
acquainted from the exercise of the chase, but through which
others would have had much difficulty in tracing their course.
They rode for some time in silence, making such haste as the
condition of Ravenswood's horse permitted, until night having
gradually closed around them, they discontinued their speed, both
from the difficulty of discovering their path, and from the hope
that they were beyond the reach of pursuit or observation.
"And now that we have drawn bridle a bit," said Bucklaw, "I
would fain ask you a question, Master."
"Ask and welcome," said Ravenswood, "but forgive not
answering it, unless I think proper."
"Well, it is simply this," answered his late antagonist "What,
in the name of old Sathan, could make you, who stand so highly on
your reputation, think for a moment of drawing up with such a
rogue as Craigengelt, and such a scapegrace as folk call
"Simply, because I was desperate, and sought desperate
"And what made you break off from us at the nearest?" again
"Because I had changed my mind," said the Master, "and renounced
my enterprise, at least for the present. And now that I have
answered your questions fairly and frankly, tell me what makes
you associate with Craigengelt, so much beneath you both in
birth and in spirit?"
"In plain terms," answered Bucklaw, "because I am a fool, who
have gambled away my land in thse times. My grand-aunt, Lady
Girnington, has taen a new tack of life, I think, and I could
only hope to get something by a change of government. Craigie
was a sort of gambling acquaintance; he saw my condition, and, as
the devil is always at one's elbow, told me fifty lies about his
credentials from Versailles, and his interest at Saint Germains,
promised me a captain's commission at Paris, and I have been ass
enough to put my thumb under his belt. I dare say, by this time,
he has told a dozen pretty stories of me to the government. And
this is what I have got by wine, women, and dice, cocks, dogs,
"Yes, Bucklaw," said the Master, "you have indeed nourished in
your bosom the snakes that are now stinging you."
"That's home as well as true, Master," replied his
companion; "but, by your leave, you have nursed in your bosom one
great goodly snake that has swallowed all the rest, and is as
sure to devour you as my half-dozen are to make a meal on all
that's left of Bucklaw, which is but what lies between bonnet and
"I must not," answered the Master of Ravenswood, "challenge the
freedom of speech in which I have set example. What, to speak
without a metaphor, do you call this monstrous passion which you
charge me with fostering?"
"Revenge, my good sir--revenge; which, if it be as gentle
manlike a sin as wine and wassail, with their et coeteras, is
equally unchristian, and not so bloodless. It is better breaking
a park-pale to watch a doe or damsel than to shoot an old man."
"I deny the purpose," said the Master of Ravenswood. "On my
soul, I had no such intention; I meant but to confront the
oppressor ere I left my native land, and upbraid him with his
tyranny and its consequences. I would have stated my wrongs so
that they would have shaken his soul within him."
"Yes," answered Bucklaw, "and he would have collared you, and
cried 'help,' and then you would have shaken the soul OUT of him,
I suppose. Your very look and manner would have frightened the
old man to death."
"Consider the provocation," answered Ravenswood--"consider the
ruin and death procured and caused by his hard-hearted cruelty--
an ancient house destroyed, an affectionate father murdered!
Why, in our old Scottish days, he that sat quiet under such
wrongs would have been held neither fit to back a friend nor face
"Well, Master, I am glad to see that the devil deals as
cunningly with other folk as he deals with me; for whenever I am
about to commit any folly, he persuades me it is the most
necessary, gallant, gentlemanlike thing on earth, and I am up to
saddlegirths in the bog before I see that the ground is soft.
And you, Master, might have turned out a murd----a homicide, just
out of pure respect for your father's memory."
"There is more sense in your language, Bucklaw," replied the
Master, "than might have been expected from your conduct. It is
too true, our vices steal upon us in forms outwardly as fair as
those of the demons whom the superstitious represent as
intriguing with the human race, and are not discovered in their
native hideousness until we have clasped them in our arms."
"But we may throw them from us, though," said Bucklaw, "and that
is what I shall think of doing one of these days--that is, when
old Lady Girnington dies."
"Did you ever hear the expression of the English divine?" said
Ravenswood--"'Hell is paved with good intentions,'--as much as to
say, they are more often formed than executed."
"Well," replied Bucklaw, "but I will begin this blessed night,
and have determined not to drink above one quart of wine, unless
your claret be of extraordinary quality."
"You will find little to tempt you at Wolf's Crag," said the
Master. "I know not that I can promise you more than the shelter
of my roof; all, and more than all, our stock of wine and
provisions was exhausted at the late occasion."
"Long may it be ere provision is needed for the like
purpose," answered Bucklaw; "but you should not drink up the last
flask at a dirge; there is ill luck in that."
"There is ill luck, I think, in whatever belongs to me," said
Ravenswood. "But yonder is Wolf's Crag, and whatever it still
contains is at your service."
The roar of the sea had long announced their approach to the
cliffs, on the summit of which, like the nest of some sea-eagle,
the founder of the fortalice had perched his eyrie. The pale
moon, which had hitherto been contending with flitting clouds,
now shone out, and gave them a view of the solitary and naked
tower, situated on a projecting cliff that beetled on the German
Ocean. On three sides the rock was precipitous; on the fourth,
which was that towards the land, it had been originally fenced by
an artificial ditch and drawbridge, but the latter was broken
down and ruinous, and the former had been in part filled up, so
as to allow pasage for a horseman into the narrow courtyard,
encircled on two sides with low offices and stables, partly
ruinous, and closed on the landward front by a low embattled
wall, while the remaining side of the quadrangle was occupied by
the tower itself, which, tall and narrow, and built of a greyish
stone, stood glimmering in the moonlight, like the sheeted
spectre of some huge giant. A wilder or more disconsolate
dwelling it was perhaps difficult to conceive. The sombrous and
heavy sound of the billows, successively dashing against the
rocky beach at a profound distance beneath, was to the ear what
the landscape was to the eye--a symbol of unvaried and monotonous
melancholy, not unmingled with horror.
Although the night was not far advanced, there was no sign of
living inhabitant about this forlorn abode, excepting that one,
and only one, of the narrow and stanchelled windows which
appeared at irregular heights and distances in the walls of the
building showed a small glimmer of light.
"There," said Ravenswood, "sits the only male domestic that
remains to the house of Ravenswood; and it is well that he does
remain there, since otherwise we had little hope to find either
light or fire. But follow me cautiously; the road is narrow, and
admits only one horse in front."
In effect, the path led along a kind of isthmus, at the
peninsular extremity of which the tower was situated, with that
exclusive attention to strength and security, in preference to
every circumstances of convenience, which dictated to the
Scottish barons the choice of their situations, as well as their
style of building.
By adopting the cautious mode of approach recommended by the
proprietor of this wild hold, they entered the courtyard in
safety. But it was long ere the efforts of Ravenswood, though
loudly exerted by knocking at the low-browed entrance, and
repeated shouts to Caleb to open the gate and admit them,
received any answer.
"The old man must be departed," he began to say, "or fallen into
some fit; for the noise I have made would have waked the seven
At length a timid and hesitating voice replied: "Master--Master
of Ravenswood, is it you?"
"Yes, it is I, Caleb; open the door quickly."
"But it is you in very blood and body? For I would sooner face
fifty deevils as my master's ghaist, or even his wraith;
wherefore, aroint ye, if ye were ten times my master, unless ye
come in bodily shape, lith and limb."
"It is I, you old fool," answered Ravenswood, "in bodily shape
and alive, save that I am half dead with cold."
The light at the upper window disappeared, and glancing from
loophole to loophole in slow succession, gave intimation that the
bearer was in the act of descending, with great deliberation, a
winding staircase occupying one of the turrets which graced the
angles of the old tower. The tardiness of his descent extracted
some exclamations of impatience from Ravenswood, and several
oaths from his less patient and more mecurial companion. Caleb
again paused ere he unbolted the door, and once more asked if
they were men of mould that demanded entrance at this time of
"Were I near you, you old fool," said Bucklaw, "I would give you
sufficient proofs of MY bodily condition."
"Open the gate, Caleb," said his master, in a more soothing
tone, partly from his regard to the ancient and faithful
seneschal, partly perhaps because he thought that angry words
would be thrown away, so long as Caleb had a stout iron-clenched
oaken door betwixt his person and the speakers.
At length Caleb, with a trembling hand, undid the bars, opened
the heavy door, and stood before them, exhibiting his thin grey
hairs, bald forehead, and sharp high features, illuminated by a
quivering lamp which he held in one hand, while he shaded and
protected its flame with the other. The timorous, courteous
glance which he threw around him, the effect of the partial light
upon his white hair and illumined features, might have made a
good painting; but our travellers were too impatient for security
against the rising storm to permit them to indulge themselves in
studying the picturesque. "Is it you, my dear master?--is it you
yourself, indeed?" exclaimed the old domestic. "I am wae ye suld
hae stude waiting at your ain gate; but wha wad hae thought o'
seeing ye sae sune, and a strange gentleman with a---- (Here he
exclaimed apart, as it were, and to some inmate of the tower, in
a voice not meant to be heard by those in the court) Mysie--
Mysie, woman! stir for dear life, and get the fire mended; take
the auld three-legged stool, or ony thing that's readiest that
will make a lowe. I doubt we are but puirly provided, no
expecting ye this some months, when doubtless ye was hae been
received conform till your rank, as gude right is; but natheless-
"Natheless, Caleb," said the Master, "we must have our horses
put up, and ourselves too, the best way we can. I hope you are
not sorry to see me sooner than you expected?"
"Sorry, my lord! I am sure ye sall aye be my lord wi' honest
folk, as your noble ancestors hae been these three hundred years,
and never asked a Whig's leave. Sorry to see the Lord of
Ravenswood at ane o' his ain castles! (Then again apart to his
unseen associate behind the screen) Mysie, kill the brood-hen
without thinking twice on it; let them care that come ahint. No
to say it's our best dwelling," he added, turning to Bucklaw;
"but just a strength for the Lord of Ravenswood to flee until--
that is, no to FLEE, but to retreat until in troublous times,
like the present, when it was ill convenient for him to live
farther in the country in ony of his better and mair principal
manors; but, for its antiquity, maist folk think that the outside
of Wolf's Crag is worthy of a large perusal."
"And you are determined we shall have time to make it," said
Ravenswood, somewhat amused with the shifts the old man used to
detain them without doors until his confederate Mysie had made
her preparations within.
"Oh, never mind the outside of the house, my good friend," said
Bucklaw; "let's see the inside, and let our horses see the
stable, that's all."
"Oh yes, sir--ay, sir--unquestionably, sir--my lord and ony of
his honourable companions----"
"But our horses, my friend--our horses; they will be dead-
founded by standing here in the cold after riding hard, and mine
is too good to be spoiled; therefore, once more, our horses!"
"True--ay--your horses--yes--I will call the grooms"; and
sturdily did Caleb roar till the old tower rang again: "John--
William--Saunders! The lads are gane out, or sleeping," he
observed, after pausing for an answer, which he knew that he had
no human chance of receiving. "A' gaes wrang when the Master's
out-bye; but I'll take care o' your cattle mysell."
"I think you had better," said Ravenswood, "otherwise I see
little chance of their being attended to at all."
"Whisht, my lord--whisht, for God's sake," said Caleb, in an
imploring tone, and apart to his master; "if ye dinna regard your
ain credit, think on mine; we'll hae hard eneugh wark to make a
decent night o't, wi' a' the lees I can tell."
"Well, well, never mind," said his master; "go to the stable.
There is hay and corn, I trust?"
"Ou ay, plenty of hay and corn"; this was uttered boldly and
aloud, and, in a lower tone, "there was some half fous o' aits,
and soem taits o' meadow-hay, left after the burial."
"Very well," said Ravenswood, taking the lamp from his
domestic's unwilling hand, "I will show the stranger upstairs
"I canna think o' that, my lord; if ye wad but have five
minutes, or ten minutes, or, at maist, a quarter of an hour's
patience, and look at the fine moonlight prospect of the Bass and
North Berwick Law till I sort the horses, I would marshal ye up,
as reason is ye suld be marshalled, your lordship and your
honourable visitor. And I hae lockit up the siller candlesticks,
and the lamp is not fit----"
"It will do very well in the mean time," said Ravenswood, "and
you will have no difficulty for want of light in the stable,
for, if I recollect, half the roof is off."
"Very true, my lord," replied the trusty adherent, and with
ready wit instantly added, "and the lazy sclater loons have never
come to put it on a' this while, your lordship."
"If I were disposed to jest at the calamities of my house," said
Ravenswood, as he led the way upstairs, "poor old Caleb would
furnish me with ample means. His passion consists in
representing things about our miserable menage, not as they are,
but as, in his opinion, they ought to be; and, to say the truth,
I have been often diverted with the poor wretch's expedients to
supply what he though was essetial for the credit of the family,
and his still more generous apologies for the want of those
articles for which his ingenuity could discover no substitute.
But though the tower is none of the largest, I shall have some
trouble without him to find the apartment in which there is a
As he spoke thus, he opened the door of the hall. "Here, at
least," he said, "there is neither hearth nor harbour."
It was indeed a scene of desolation. A large vaulted room, the
beams fo which, combined like those of Westminster Hall, were
rudely carved at the extremities, remained nearly in the
situation in which it had been left after the entertainment at at
Allan Lord Ravenswood's funeral. Overturned pitchers, and black-
jacks, and pewter stoups, and flagons still cumbered the large
oaken table; glasses, those more perishable implements of
conviviality, many of which had been voluntarily sacrificed by
the guests in their enthusiastic pledges to favourite toasts,
strewed the stone floor with their fragments. As for the
articles of plate, lent for the purpose by friends and kinsfolk,
those had been carefully withdrawn so soon as the ostentatious
display of festivity, equally unnecessary and strangely timed,
had been made and ended. Nothing, in short, remained that
indicated wealth; all the signs were those of recent
wastefulness and present desolation. The black cloth hangings,
which, on the late mournful occasion, replaced the tattered moth-
eaten tapestries, had been partly pulled down, and, dangling
from the wall in irregular festoons, disclosed the rough
stonework of the building, unsmoothed either by plaster or the
chisel. The seats thrown down, or left in disorder, intimated
the careless confusion which had concluded the mournful revel.
"This room," said Ravenswood, holding up the lamp--"this room,
Mr. Hayston, was riotous when it should have been sad; it is a
just retribution that it should now be sad when it ought to be
They left this disconsolate apartment, and went upstairs, where,
after opening one or two doors in vain, Ravenswood led the way
into a little matted ante-room, in which, to their great joy,
they found a tolerably good fire, which Mysie, by some such
expedient as Caleb had suggested, had suppied with a reasonable
quantity of fuel. Glad at the heart to see more of comfort than
the castle had yet seemed to offer, Bucklaw rubbed his hands
heartily over the fire, and now listened with more complacency to
the apologies which the Master of Ravenswood offered. "Comfort,"
he said, "I cannot provide for you, for I have it not for myself;
it is long since these walls have known it, if, indeed, they were
ever acquainted with it. Shelter and safety, I think, I can
"Excellent matters, Master," replied Bucklaw, "and, with a
mouthful of food and wine, positively all I can require tonight."
"I fear," said the Master, "your supper will be a poor one; I
hear the matter in discussion betwixt Caleb and Mysie. Poor
Balderstone is something deaf, amongst his other
accomplishments, so that much of what he means should be spoken
aside is overheard by the whole audience, and especially by those
from whom he is most anxious to conceal his private manoeuvres.
They listened, and heard the old domestic's voice in
conversation with Mysie to the following effect:
"Just mak the best o't--make the besto't, woman; it's easy to
put a fair face on ony thing."
"But the auld brood-hen? She'll be as teugh as bow-strings and
"Say ye made a mistake--say ye made a mistake, Mysie," replied
the faithful seneschal, in a soothing and undertoned voice; "tak
it a' on yoursell; never let the credit o' the house suffer."
"But the brood-hen," remonstrated Mysie--"ou, she's sitting some
gate aneath the dais in the hall, and I am feared to gae in in
the dark for the dogle; and if I didna see the bogle, I could as
ill see the hen, for it's pit-mirk, and there's no another light
in the house, save that very blessed lamp whilk the Master has in
his ain hand. And if I had the hen, she's to pu', and to draw,
and to dress; how can I do that, and them sitting by the only
fire we have?"
"Weel, weel, Mysie," said the butler, "bide ye there a wee, and
I'll try to get the lamp wiled away frae them."
Accordingly, Caleb Balderstone entered the apartment, little
aware that so much of his by-play had been audible there. "Well,
Caleb, my old friend, is there any chance of supper?" said the
Master of Ravenswood.
"CHANCE of supper, your lordship?" said Caleb, with an
emphasis of strong scorn at the implied doubt. "How should there
be ony question of that, and us in your lordship's house?
Chance of supper, indeed! But ye'll no be for butcher-meat?
There's walth o' fat poultry, ready either for spit or brander.
The fat capon, Mysie!" he added, calling out as boldly as if such
a thing had been in existence.
"Quite unnecessary," said Bucklaw, who deemed himself bound in
courtesy to relieve some part of the anxious butler's
perplexity, "if you have anything cold, or a morsel of bread."
"The best of bannocks!" exclaimed Caleb, much relieve; "and, for
cauld meat, a' that we hae is cauld eneugh,--how-beit, maist of
the cauld meat and pastry was gien to the poor folk after the
ceremony of interment, as gude reason was; nevertheless----"
"Come, Caleb," said the Master of Ravenswood, "I must cut this
matter short. This is the young Laird of Bucklaw; he is under
hiding, and therefore, you know----"
"He'll be nae nicer than your lordship's honour, I'se warrant,"
answered Caleb, cheerfully, with a nod of intelligence; "I am
sorry that the gentleman is under distress, but I am blythe that
he canna say muckle agane our housekeeping, for I believe his ain
pinches may matach ours; no that we are pinched, thank God," he
added, retracting the admission which he had made in his first
burst of joy, "but nae doubt we are waur aff than we hae been, or
suld be. And for eating--what signifies telling a lee? there's
just the hinder end of the mutton-ham that has been but three
times on the table, and the nearer the bane the sweeter, as your
honours weel ken; and--there's the heel of the ewe-milk kebbuck,
wi' a bit of nice butter, and--and--that's a' that's to trust
to." And with great alacrity he produced his slender stock of
provisions, and placed them with much formality upon a small
round table betwixt the two gentlemen, who were not deterred
either by the homely quality or limited quantity of the repast
from doing it full justice. Caleb in the mean while waited on
them with grave officiousness, as if anxious to make up, by his
own respectful assiduity, for the want of all other attendance.
But, alas! how little on such occasions can form, however
anxiously and scrupulously observed, supply the lack of
substantial fare! Bucklaw, who had eagerly eaten a considerable
portion of the thrice-sacked mutton-ham, now began to demand ale.
"I wadna just presume to recommend our ale," said Caleb; "the
maut was ill made, and there was awfu' thunner last week; but
siccan water as the Tower well has ye'll seldome see,
Bucklaw, and that I'se engage for."
"But if your ale is bad, you can let us have some wine," said
Bucklaw, making a grimace at the mention of the pure element
which Caleb so earnestly recommended.
"Wine!" answered Caleb, undauntedly, "eneugh of wine! It was
but twa days syne--wae's me for the cause--there was as much
wine drunk in this house as would have floated a pinnace.
There never was lack of wine at Wolf's Crag."
"Do fetch us some then," said the master, "instead of talking
about it." And Caleb boldly departed.
Every expended butt in the old cellar did he set a-tilt, and
shake with the desperate expectation of collecting enough of the
grounds of claret to fill the large pewter measure which he
carred in his hand. Alas! each had been too devoutly drained;
and, with all the squeezing and manoeuvring which his craft as a
butler suggested, he could only collect about half a quart that
seemed presentable. Still, however, Caleb was too good a general
to renounce the field without a strategem to cover his retreat.
He undauntedly threw down an empty flagon, as if he had stumbled
at the entrance of the apartment, called upon Mysie to wipe up
the wine that had never been spilt, and placing the other vessel
on the table, hoped there was still enough left for their
honours. There was indeed; for even Bucklaw, a sworn friend to
the grape, found no encouragement to renew his first attack upon
the vintage of Wolf's Crag, but contented himself, however
reluctantly, with a draught of fair water. Arrangements were now
made for his repose; and as the secret chamber was assigned for
this purpose, it furnished Caleb with a first-rate and most
plausible apology for all deficiencies of furniture, bedding,
"For wha," said he, "would have thought of the secret chaumer
being needed? It has not been used since the time of the Gowrie
Conspiracy, and I durst never let a woman ken of the entrance to
it, or your honour will allow that it wad not hae been a secret
The hearth in hall was black and dead,
No board was dight in bower within,
Nor merry bowl nor welcome bed;
"Here's sorry cheer," quoth the Heir of Linne.
THE feelings of the prodigal Heir of Linne, as expressed in that
excellent old song, when, after dissipating his whole fortune, he
found himself the deserted inhabitant of "the lonely lodge,"
might perhaps have some resemblance to those of the Master of
Ravenswood in his deserted mansion of Wolf's Crag. The Master,
however, had this advantage over the spendthrift in the legend,
that, if he was in similar distress, he could not impute it to
his own imprudence. His misery had been bequeathed to him by his
father, and, joined to his high blood, and to a title which the
courteous might give or the churlish withhold at their pleasure,
it was the whole inheritance he had derived from his ancestry.
Perhaps this melancholy yet consolatory reflection crossed the
mind of the unfortunate young nobleman with a breathing of
comfort. Favourable to calm reflection, as well as to the
Muses, the morning, while it dispelled the shades of night, had a
composing and sedative effect upon the stormy passions by which
the Master of Ravenswood had been agitated on the preceding day.
He now felt himself able to analyse the different feelings by
which he was agitated, and much resolved to combat and to subdue
them. The morning, which had arisen calm and bright, gave a
pleasant effect even to the waste moorland view which was seen
from the castle on looking to the landward; and the glorious
ocean, crisped with a thousand rippling waves of silver,
extended on the other side, in awful yet complacent majesty, to
the verge of the horizon. With such scenes of calm sublimity the
human heart sympathises even in its most disturbed moods, and
deeds of honour and virtue are inspired by their majestic
To seek out Bucklaw in the retreat which he had afforded him,
was the first occupation of the Master, after he had
performed, with a scrutiny unusually severe, the important task
of self-examination. "How now, Bucklaw?" was his morning's
salutation--"how like you the couch in which the exiled Earl of
Angus once slept in security, when he was pursued by the full
energy of a king's resentment?"
"Umph!" returned the sleeper awakened; "I have little to
complain of where so great a man was quartered before me, only
the mattress was of the hardest, the vault somewhat damp, the
rats rather more mutinous than I would have expected from the
state of Caleb's larder; and if there had been shutters to that
grated window, or a curtain to the bed, I should think it, upon
the whole, an improvement in your accommodations."
"It is, to be sure, forlorn enough," said the Master, looking
around the small vault; "but if you will rise and leave it, Caleb
will endeavour to find you a better breakfast than your supper of
"Pray, let it be no better," said Bucklaw, getting up, and
endeavouring to dress himself as well as the obscurity of the
place would permit--"let it, I say, be no better, if you mean me
to preserve in my proposed reformation. The very recollection of
Caleb's beverage has done more to suppress my longing to open the
day with a morning draught than twenty sermons would have done.
And you, master, have you been able to give battle valiantly to
your bosom-snake? You see I am in the way of smothering my
vipers one by one."
"I have commenced the battle, at least, Bucklaw, adn I have had
a fair vision of an angel who descended to my assistance,"
replied the Master.
"Woe's me!" said his guest, "no vision can I expect, unless my
aunt, Lady Grinington, should betake herself to the tomb; and
then it would be the substance of her heritage rather than the
appearance of her phantom that I should consider as the support
of my good resolutions. But this same breakfast, Master--does
the deer that is to make the pasty run yet on foot, as the
ballad has it?"
"I will inquire into that matter," said his entertainer; and,
leaving the apartment, he went in search of Caleb, whom, after
some difficulty, he found in an obscure sort of dungeon, which
had been in former times the buttery of the castle. Here the old
man was employed busily in the doubtful task of
burnishing a pewter flagon until it should take the hue and
semblance of silver-plate. "I think it may do--I think it might
pass, if they winna bring it ower muckle in the light o' the
window!" were the ejaculations which he muttered from time to
time, as if to encourage himself in his undertaking, when he was
interrupted by the voice of his master.
"Take this," said the Master of Ravenswood, "and get what is
necessary for the family." And with these words he gave to the
old butler the purse which had on the preceding evening so
narrowly escaped the fangs of Craigengelt.
The old man shook his silvery and thin locks, and looked with an
expression of the most heartfelt anguish at his master as he
weighed in his hand the slender treasure, and said in a
sorrowful voice, "And is this a' that's left?"
"All that is left at present," said the Master, affecting more
cheerfulness than perhaps he really felt, "is just the green
purse and the wee pickle gowd, as the old song says; but we shall
do better one day, Caleb."
"Before that day domes," said Caleb, "I doubt there will be an
end of an auld sang, and an auld serving-man to boot. But it
disna become me to speak that gate to your honour, adn you
looking sae pale. Tak back the purse, and keep it to be making a
show before company; for if your honour would just take a
bidding, adn be whiles taking it out afore folk and putting it up
again, there's naebody would refuse us trust, for a' that's come
and gane yet."
"But, Caleb," said the Master, "I still intend to leave this
country very soon, and desire to do so with the reputation of an
honest man, leaving no debty behind me, at last of my own
"And gude right ye suld gang away as a true man, and so ye
shall; for auld Caleb can tak the wyte of whatever is taen on for
the house, and then it will be a' just ae man's burden; and I
will live just as weel in the tolbooth as out of it, and the
credit of the family will be a' safe and sound."
The Master endeavoured, in vain, to make Caleb comprehend that
the butler's incurring the responsibility of debts in his own
person would rather add to than remove the objections which he
had to their being contracted. He spoke to a premier too busy
in devising ways and means to puzzle himself with refuting the
arguments offered against their justice or expediency.
"There's Eppie Sma'trash will trust us for ale," said Caleb to
himself--"she has lived a' her life under the family--and maybe
wi' a soup brandy; I canna say for wine--she is but a lone
woman, and gets her claret by a runlet at a time; but I'll work a
wee drap out o' her by fair means or foul. For doos, there's the
doocot; there will be poultry amang the tenants, though Luckie
Chirnside says she has paid the kain twice ower. We'll mak
shift, an it like your honour--we'll mak shift; keep your heart
abune, for the house sall haud its credit as lang as auld Caleb
is to the fore."
The entertainment which the old man's exertions of various kinds
enabled him to present to the young gentlemen for three or four
days was certainly of no splendid description, but it may
readily be believed it was set before no critical guests; and
even the distresses, excuses, evasions, and shifts of Caleb
afforded amusement to the young men, and added a sort fo interest
to the scrambling and irregular style of their table. They had
indeed occasion to seize on every circumstance that might serve
to diversify or enliven time, which otherwise passed away so
Bucklaw, shut out from his usual field-sports and joyous
carouses by the necessity of remaining concealed within the walls
of the castle, became a joyless and uninteresting companion.
When the Master of Ravenswood would no longer fence or play at
shovel-board; when he himself had polished to the extremity the
coat of hsi palfrey with brush, curry comb, and hair-cloth; when
he had seen him eat his provender, and gently lie down in his
stall, he could hardly help envying the animal's apparent
acquiescence in a life so monotonous. "The stupid brute," he
said, "thinks neither of the race-ground or the hunting-field, or
his green paddock at Bucklaw, but enjoys himself as comfortably
when haltered to the rack in this ruinous vault, as if he had
been foaled in it; "and, I who have the freedom of a prisoner at
large, to range through the dungeons of this wretched old tower,
can hardly, betwixt whistling and sleeping, contrive to pass away
the hour till dinner-time."
And with this disconsolate reflection, he wended his way to the
bartizan or battlements of the tower, to watch what objects
might appear on the distant moor, or to pelt, with pebbles and
pieces of lime, the sea-mews and cormorants which established
themselves incautiously within the reach of an idle young man.
Ravenswood, with a mind incalculably deeper and more
powerful than that of his companion, had his own anxious subjects
of reflection, which wrought for him the same unhappiness that
sheer enui and want of occupation inflicted on his companion.
The first sight of Lucy Ashton had been less impressive than her
image proved to be upon reflection. As the depth and violence of
that revengeful passion by which he had been actuated in seeking
an interview with the father began to abate by degrees, he looked
back on his conduct towards the daughter as harsh and unworthy
towards a female of rank and beauty. Her looks of grateful
acknowledgment, her words of affectionate courtesy, had been
repelled with something which approached to disdain; and if the
Master of Ravenswood had sustained wrongs at the hand of Sir
William Ashton, his conscience told him they had been
unhandsomely resented towards his daughter. When his thoughts
took this turn of self-reproach, the recollection of Lucy
Ashton's beautiful features, rendered yet more interesting by the
circumstances in which their meeting had taken place, made an
impression upon his mind at once soothing and painful. The
sweetness of her voice, the delicacy of her expressions, the
vivid glow of her filial affection, embittered his regret at
having repulsed her gratitude with rudeness, while, at the same
time, they placed before his imagination a picture of the most
Even young Ravenswood's strength of moral feeling and rectitude
of purpose at once increased the danger of cherishing these
recollections, and the propensity to entertain them. Firmly
resolved as he was to subdue, if possible, the
predominating vice in his character, he admitted with
willingness--nay, he summoned up in his imagination--the ideas by
which it could be most powerfully counteracted; and, while he did
so, a sense of his own harsh conduct towards the daughter of his
enemy naturally induced him, as if by way of recompense, to
invest her with more of grace and beauty than perhaps she could
Had any one at this period told the Master of Ravenswood that he
had so lately vowed vengeance against the whole lineage of him
whom he considered, not unjustly, as author of his
father's ruin and death, he might at first have repelled the
charge as a foul calumny; yet, upon serious self-examination, he
would have been compelled to admit that it had, at one period,
some foundation in truth, though, according to the present tone
of his sentiments, it was difficult to believe that this had
really been the case.
There already existed in his bosom two contradictory
passions--a desire to revenge the death of his father, strangely
qualified by admiration of his enemy's daughter. Against the
former feeling he had struggled, until it seemed to him upon the
wane; against the latter he used no means of resistance, for he
did not suspect its existence. That this was actually the case
was chiefly evinced by his resuming his resolution to leave
Scotland. Yet, though such was his purpose, he remained day
after day at Wolf's Crag, without taking measures for carrying it
into execution. It is true, that he had written to one or two
kinsmen who resided in a distant quarter of Scotland, and
particularly to the Marquis of A----, intimating his purpose; and