Part 8 out of 11
was so much disabled by dizziness in his head and pains in his
limbs, that he could not raise himself without assistance. He
heard with some pleasure that they were now running right for the
Wampool river, and that he would be put on shore in a very short
time. The vessel accordingly lay to, and presently showed a weft
in her ensign, which was hastily answered by signals from on
shore. Men and horses were seen to come down the broken path
which leads to the shore; the latter all properly tackled for
carrying their loading. Twenty fishing barks were pushed afloat
at once, and crowded round the brig with much clamour, laughter,
cursing, and jesting. Amidst all this apparent confusion there
was the essential regularity. Nanty Ewart again walked his
quarter-deck as if he had never tasted spirits in his life,
issued the necessary orders with precision, and saw them executed
with punctuality. In half an hour the loading of the brig was in
a great measure disposed in the boats; in a quarter of an hour
more, it was landed on the beach, and another interval of about
the same duration was sufficient to distribute it on the various
strings of packhorses which waited for that purpose, and which
instantly dispersed, each on its own proper adventure. More
mystery was observed in loading the ship's boat with a quantity
of small barrels, which seemed to contain ammunition. This was
not done until the commercial customers had been dismissed; and
it was not until this was performed that Ewart proposed to Alan,
as he lay stunned with pain and noise, to accompany him ashore.
It was with difficulty that Fairford could get over the side of
the vessel, and he could not seat himself on the stern of the
boat without assistance from the captain and his people. Nanty
Ewart, who saw nothing in this worse than an ordinary fit of sea-
sickness, applied the usual topics of consolation. He assured
his passenger that he would be quite well by and by, when he had
been half an hour on terra firma, and that he hoped to drink a
can and smoke a pipe with him at Father Crackenthorp's, for all
that he felt a little out of the way for riding the wooden horse.
'Who is Father Crackenthorp?' said Fairford, though scarcely
able to articulate the question.
'As honest a fellow as is of a thousand,' answered Nanty.
'Ah, how much good brandy he and I have made little of in our
day! By my soul, Mr. Fairbird, he is the prince of skinkers, and
the father of the free trade--not a stingy hypocritical devil
like old Turnpenny Skinflint, that drinks drunk on other folk's
cost, and thinks it sin when he has to pay for it--but a real
hearty old cock;--the sharks have been at and about him this many
a day, but Father Crackenthorp knows how to trim his sails--never
a warrant but he hears of it before the ink's dry. He is BONUS
SOCIUS with headborough and constable. The king's exchequer
could not bribe a man to inform against him. If any such rascal
were to cast up, why, he would miss his ears next morning, or be
sent to seek them in the Solway. He is a statesman, [A small
landed proprietor.] though he keeps a public; but, indeed, that
is only for convenience and to excuse his having cellarage and
folk about him; his wife's a canny woman--and his daughter Doll
too. Gad, you'll be in port there till you get round again; and
I'll keep my word with you, and bring you to speech of the laird.
Gad, the only trouble I shall have is to get you out of the
house; for Doll is a rare wench, and my dame a funny old one, and
Father Crackenthorp the rarest companion! He'll drink you a
bottle of rum or brandy without starting, but never wet his lips
with the nasty Scottish stuff that the canting old scoundrel
Turnpenny has brought into fashion. He is a gentleman, every
inch of him, old Crackenthorp; in his own way, that is; and
besides, he has a share in the JUMPING JENNY, and many a
moonlight outfit besides. He can give Doll a pretty penny, if he
likes the tight fellow that would turn in with her for life.'
In the midst of this prolonged panegyric on Father Crackenthorp,
the boat touched the beach, the rowers backed their oars to keep
her afloat, whilst the other fellows lumped into the surf, and,
with the most rapid dexterity, began to hand the barrels ashore.
'Up with them higher on the beach, my hearties,' exclaimed Nanty
Ewart--'High and dry--high and dry--this gear will not stand
wetting. Now, out with our spare hand here--high and dry with
him too. What's that?--the galloping of horse! Oh, I hear the
jingle of the packsaddles--they are our own folk.'
By this time all the boat's load was ashore, consisting of the
little barrels; and the boat's crew, standing to their arms,
ranged themselves in front, waiting the advance of the horses
which came clattering along the beach. A man, overgrown with
corpulence, who might be distinguished in the moonlight panting
with his own exertions, appeared at the head of the cavalcade,
which consisted of horses linked together, and accommodated with
packsaddles, and chains for securing the kegs which made a
'How now, Father Crackenthorp?' said Ewart--'Why this hurry with
your horses? We mean to stay a night with you, and taste your
old brandy, and my dame's homebrewed. The signal is up, man, and
all is right.'
'All is wrong, Captain Nanty,' cried the man to whom he spoke;
'and you are the lad that is like to find it so, unless you
bundle off--there are new brooms bought at Carlisle yesterday to
sweep the country of you and the like of you--so you were better
be jogging inland.
'How many rogues are the officers? If not more than ten, I will
'The devil you will!' answered Crackenthorp. 'You were better
not, for they have the bloody-backed dragoons from Carlisle with
'Nay, then,' said Nanty, 'we must make sail. Come, Master
Fairlord, you must mount and ride. He does not hear me--he has
fainted, I believe--What the devil shall I do? Father
Crackenthorp, I must leave this young fellow with you till the
gale blows out--hark ye--goes between the laird and the t'other
old one; he can neither ride nor walk--I must send him up to
'Send him up to the gallows!' said Crackenthorp; 'there is
Quartermaster Thwacker, with twenty men, up yonder; an he had not
some kindness for Doll, I had never got hither for a start--but
you must get off, or they will be here to seek us, for his orders
are woundy particular; and these kegs contain worse than whisky--
a hanging matter, I take it.'
'I wish they were at the bottom of Wampool river, with them they
belong to,' said Nanty Ewart. 'But they are part of cargo; and
what to do with the poor young fellow--'
'Why, many a better fellow has roughed it on the grass with a
cloak o'er him,' said Crackenthorp. 'If he hath a fever, nothing
is so cooling as the night air.'
'Yes, he would be cold enough in the morning, no doubt; but it's
a kind heart and shall not cool so soon if I can help it,'
answered the captain of the JUMPING JENNY.
'Well, captain, an ye will risk your own neck for another man's,
why not take him to the old girls at Fairladies?'
'What, the Miss Arthurets! The Papist jades! But never mind; it
will do--I have known them take in a whole sloop's crew that were
stranded on the sands.'
'You may run some risk, though, by turning up to Fairladies; for
I tell you they are all up through the country.'
'Never mind--I may chance to put some of them down again,' said
Nanty, cheerfully. 'Come, lads, bustle to your tackle. Are you
'Aye, aye, captain; we will be ready in a jiffy,' answered the
'D--n your captains! Have you a mind to have me hanged if I am
taken? All's hail-fellow, here.'
'A sup at parting,' said Father Crackenthorp, extending a flask
to Nanty Ewart.
'Not the twentieth part of a drop,' said Nanty. 'No Dutch
courage for me--my heart is always high enough when there's a
chance of fighting; besides, if I live drunk, I should like to
die sober. Here, old Jephson--you are the best-natured brute
amongst them--get the lad between us on a quiet horse, and we
will keep him upright, I warrant.'
As they raised Fairford from the ground, he groaned heavily, and
asked faintly where they were taking him to.
'To a place where you will be as snug and quiet as a mouse in his
hole,' said Nanty, 'if so be that we can get you there safely.
Good-bye, Father Crackenthorp--poison the quartermaster, if you
The loaded horses then sprang forward at a hard trot, following
each other in a line, and every second horse being mounted by a
stout fellow in a smock frock, which served to conceal the arms
with which most of these desperate men were provided. Ewart
followed in the rear of the line, and, with the occasional
assistance of old Jephson, kept his young charge erect in the
saddle. He groaned heavily from time to time; and Ewart, more
moved with compassion for his situation than might have been
expected from his own habits, endeavoured to amuse him and
comfort him, by some account of the place to which they were
conveying him--his words of consolation being, however,
frequently interrupted by the necessity of calling to his people,
and many of them being lost amongst the rattling of the barrels,
and clinking of the tackle and small chains by which they are
secured on such occasions.
'And you see, brother, you will be in safe quarters at
Fairladies--good old scrambling house--good old maids enough, if
they were not Papists,--Hollo, you Jack Lowther; keep the line,
can't ye, and shut your rattle-trap, you broth of a--? And so,
being of a good family, and having enough, the old lasses have
turned a kind of saints, and nuns, and so forth. The place they
live in was some sort of nun-shop long ago, as they have them
still in Flanders; so folk call them the Vestals of Fairladies--
that may be, or may not be; and I care not whether it be or no.--
Blinkinsop, hold your tongue, and be d--d!--And so, betwixt great
alms and good dinners, they are well thought of by rich and poor,
and their trucking with Papists is looked over. There are plenty
of priests, and stout young scholars, and such-like, about the
house it's a hive of them. More shame that government send
dragoons out after-a few honest fellows that bring the old women
of England a drop of brandy, and let these ragamuffins smuggle in
as much papistry and--Hark!--was that a whistle? No, it's only a
plover. You, Jem Collier, keep a look-out ahead--we'll meet them
at the High Whins, or Brotthole bottom, or nowhere. Go a furlong
ahead, I say, and look sharp.--These Misses Arthurets feed the
hungry, and clothe the naked, and such-like acts--which my poor
father used to say were filthy rags, but he dressed himself out
with as many of them as most folk.--D--n that stumbling horse!
Father Crackenthorp should be d--d himself for putting an honest
fellow's neck in such jeopardy.'
Thus, and with much more to the same purpose, Nanty ran on,
increasing, by his well-intended annoyance, the agony of Alan
Fairford, who, tormented by a racking pain along the back and
loins, which made the rough trot of the horse torture to him, had
his aching head still further rended and split by the hoarse
voice of the sailor, close to his ear. Perfectly passive,
however, he did not even essay to give any answer; and indeed his
own bodily distress was now so great and engrossing, that to
think of his situation was impossible, even if he could have
mended it by doing so.
Their course was inland; but in what direction, Alan had no means
of ascertaining. They passed at first over heaths and sandy
downs; they crossed more than one brook, or beck, as they are
called in that country--some of them of considerable depth--and
at length reached a cultivated country, divided, according to the
English fashion of agriculture, into very small fields or closes,
by high banks, overgrown with underwood, and surmounted by hedge-
row trees, amongst which winded a number of impracticable and
complicated lanes, where the boughs projecting from the
embankments on each side, intercepted the light of the moon, and
endangered the safety of the horsemen. But through this
labyrinth the experience of the guides conducted them without a
blunder, and without even the slackening of their pace. In many
places, however, it was impossible for three men to ride abreast;
and therefore the burden of supporting Alan Fairford fell
alternately to old Jephson and to Nanty; and it was with much
difficulty that they could keep him upright in his saddle.
At length, when his powers of sufferance were quite worn out, and
he was about to implore them to leave him to his fate in the
first cottage or shed--or under a haystack or a hedge--or
anywhere, so he was left at ease, Collier, who rode ahead, passed
back the word that they were at the avenue to Fairladies--'Was he
to turn up?'
Committing the charge of Fairford to Jephson, Nanty dashed up to
the head of the troop, and gave his orders.--'Who knows the house
'Sam Skelton's a Catholic,' said Lowther.
'A d--d bad religion,' said Nanty, of whose Presbyterian
education a hatred of Popery seemed to be the only remnant. 'But
I am glad there is one amongst us, anyhow. You, Sam, being a
Papist, know Fairladies and the old maidens I dare say; so do you
fall out of the line, and wait here with me; and do you, Collier,
carry on to Walinford bottom, then turn down the beck till you
come to the old mill, and Goodman Grist the Miller, or old Peel-
the-Causeway, will tell you where to stow; but I will be up with
you before that.'
The string of loaded horses then struck forward at their former
pace, while Nanty, with Sam Skelton, waited by the roadside till
the rear came up, when Jephson and Fairford joined them, and, to
the great relief of the latter, they began to proceed at an
easier pace than formerly, suffering the gang to precede them,
till the clatter and clang attending their progress began to die
away in the distance. They had not proceeded a pistol-shot from
the place where they parted, when a short turning brought them in
front of an old mouldering gateway, whose heavy pinnacles were
decorated in the style of the seventeenth century, with clumsy
architectural ornaments; several of which had fallen down from
decay, and lay scattered about, no further care having been taken
than just to remove them out of the direct approach to the
avenue. The great stone pillars, glimmering white in the
moonlight, had some fanciful resemblance to supernatural
apparitions, and the air of neglect all around, gave an
uncomfortable idea of the habitation to those who passed its
'There used to be no gate here,' said Skelton, finding their way
'But there is a gate now, and a porter too,' said a rough voice
from within. 'Who be you, and what do you want at this time of
'We want to come to speech of the ladies--of the Misses
Arthuret,' said Nanty; 'and to ask lodging for a sick man.'
'There is no speech to be had of the Miss Arthurets at this time
of night, and you may carry your sick man to the doctor,'
answered the fellow from within, gruffly; 'for as sure as there
is savour in salt, and scent in rosemary, you will get no
entrance--put your pipes up and be jogging on.'
'Why, Dick Gardener,' said Skelton, 'be thou then turned porter?'
'What, do you know who I am?' said the domestic sharply.
'I know you, by your by-word,' answered the other; 'What, have
you forgot little Sam Skelton, and the brock in the barrel?'
'No, I have not forgotten you,' answered the acquaintance of Sam
Skelton; 'but my orders are peremptory to let no one up the
avenue this night, and therefore'--
'But we are armed, and will not be kept back,' said Nanty. 'Hark
ye, fellow, were it not better for you to take a guinea and let
us in, than to have us break the door first, and thy pate
afterwards? for I won't see my comrade die at your door be
assured of that.'
'Why, I dunna know,' said the fellow; 'but what cattle were those
that rode by in such hurry?'
'Why, some of our folk from Bowness, Stoniecultrum, and thereby,'
answered Skelton; 'Jack Lowther, and old Jephson, and broad Will
Lamplugh, and such like.'
'Well,' said Dick Gardener, 'as sure as there is savour in salt,
and scent in rosemary, I thought it had been the troopers from
Carlisle and Wigton, and the sound brought my heart to my mouth.'
'Had thought thou wouldst have known the clatter of a cask from
the clash of a broadsword, as well as e'er a quaffer in
Cumberland,' said Skelton.
'Come, brother, less of your jaw and more of your legs, if you
please,' said Nanty; 'every moment we stay is a moment lost. Go
to the ladies, and tell them that Nanty Ewart, of the JUMPING
JENNY, has brought a young gentleman, charged with letters from
Scotland to a certain gentleman of consequence in Cumberland--
that the soldiers are out, and the gentleman is very ill and if
he is not received at Fairladies he must be left either to die at
the gate, or to be taken, with all his papers about him, by the
Away ran Dick Gardener with this message; and, in a few minutes,
lights were seen to flit about, which convinced Fairford, who was
now, in consequence of the halt, a little restored to self-
possession, that they were traversing the front of a tolerably
'What if thy friend, Dick Gardener, comes not back again?' said
Jephson to Skelton.
'Why, then,' said the person addressed, 'I shall owe him just
such a licking as thou, old Jephson, had from Dan Cooke, and will
pay as duly and truly as he did.'
The old man was about to make an angry reply, when his doubts
were silenced by the return of Dick Gardener, who announced that
Miss Arthuret was coming herself as far as the gateway to speak
Nanty Ewart cursed in a low tone the suspicions of old maids and
the churlish scruples of Catholics, that made so many obstacles
to helping a fellow creature, and wished Miss Arthuret a hearty
rheumatism or toothache as the reward of her excursion; but the
lady presently appeared, to cut short further grumbling. She was
attended by a waiting-maid with a lantern, by means of which she
examined the party on the outside, as closely as the imperfect
light, and the spars of the newly-erected gate, would permit.
'I am sorry we have disturbed you so late, Madam Arthuret,' said
Nanty; 'but the case is this'--
'Holy Virgin,' said she, 'why do you speak so loud? Pray, are
you not the captain of the SAINTE GENEVIEVE?'
'Why, aye, ma'am,' answered Ewart, 'they call the brig so at
Dunkirk, sure enough; but along shore here, they call her the
'You brought over the holy Father Buonaventure, did you not?'
'Aye, aye, madam, I have brought over enough of them black
cattle,' answered Nanty. 'Fie! fie! friend,' said Miss
Arthuret; 'it is a pity that the saints should commit these good
men to a heretic's care.'
'Why, no more they would, ma'am,' answered Nanty, 'could they
find a Papist lubber that knew the coast as I do; then I am
trusty as steel to owners, and always look after cargo--live
lumber, or dead flesh, or spirits, all is one to me; and your
Catholics have such d--d large hoods, with pardon, ma'am, that
they can sometimes hide two faces under them. But here is a
gentleman dying, with letters about him from the Laird of
Summertrees to the Laird of the Lochs, as they call him, along
Solway, and every minute he lies here is a nail in his coffin.'
'Saint Mary! what shall we do?' said Miss Arthuret; 'we must
admit him, I think, at all risks. You, Richard Gardener, help
one of these men to carry the gentleman up to the Place; and you,
Selby, see him lodged at the end of the long gallery. You are a
heretic, captain, but I think you are trusty, and I know you have
been trusted--but if you are imposing on me'--
'Not I, madam--never attempt to impose on ladies of your
experience--my practice that way has been all among the young
ones. Come, cheerly, Mr. Fairford--you will be taken good care
of--try to walk.'
Alan did so; and, refreshed by his halt, declared himself able to
walk to the house with the sole assistance of the gardener.
'Why, that's hearty. Thank thee, Dick, for lending him thine
arm'--and Nanty slipped into his hand the guinea he had
promised.--'Farewell, then, Mr. Fairford, and farewell, Madam
Arthuret, for I have been too long here.'
So saying, he and his two companions threw themselves on
horseback, and went off at a gallop. Yet, even above the clatter
of their hoofs did the incorrigible Nanty hollo out the old
A lovely lass to a friar came,
To confession a-morning early;--
'In what, my dear, are you to blame?
Come tell me most sincerely?'
'Alas! my fault I dare not name--
But my lad he loved me dearly.'
'Holy Virgin!' exclaimed Miss Seraphina, as the unhallowed
sounds reached her ears; 'what profane heathens be these men, and
what frights and pinches we be put to among them! The saints be
good to us, what a night has this been!--the like never seen at
Fairladies. Help me to make fast the gate, Richard, and thou
shalt come down again to wait on it, lest there come more
unwelcome visitors--Not that you are unwelcome, young gentleman,
for it is sufficient that you need such assistance as we can give
you, to make you welcome to Fairladies--only, another time would
have done as well--but, hem! I dare say it is all for the best.
The avenue is none of the smoothest, sir, look to your feet.
Richard Gardener should have had it mown and levelled, but he was
obliged to go on a pilgrimage to Saint Winifred's Well, in
Wales.' (Here Dick gave a short dry cough, which, as if he had
found it betrayed some internal feeling a little at variance with
what the lady said, he converted into a muttered SANCTA
WINIFREDA, ORA PRO NOBIS. Miss Arthuret, meantime, proceeded)
'We never interfere with our servants' vows or penances, Master
Fairford--I know a very worthy father of your name, perhaps a
relation--I say, we never interfere with our servants vows. Our
Lady forbid they should not know some difference between our
service and a heretic's.--Take care, sir, you will fall if you
have not a care. Alas! by night and day there are many
stumbling-blocks in our paths!'
With more talk to the same purpose, all of which tended to show a
charitable and somewhat silly woman with a strong inclination to
her superstitious devotion, Miss Arthuret entertained her new
guest, as, stumbling at every obstacle which the devotion of his
guide, Richard, had left in the path, he at last, by ascending
some stone steps decorated on the side with griffins, or some
such heraldic anomalies, attained a terrace extending in front of
the Place of Fairladies; an old-fashioned gentleman's house of
some consequence, with its range of notched gable-ends and narrow
windows, relieved by here and there an old turret about the size
of a pepper-box. The door was locked during the brief absence of
the mistress; a dim light glimmered through the sashed door of
the hall, which opened beneath a huge stone porch, loaded with
jessamine and other creepers. All the windows were dark as
Miss Arthuret tapped at the door. 'Sister, sister Angelica.'
'Who is there?' was answered from within; 'is it you, sister
'Yes, yes, undo the door; do you not know my voice?'
'No doubt, sister,' said Angelica, undoing bolt and bar; 'but you
know our charge, and the enemy is watchful to surprise us--
INCEDIT SICUT LEO VORANS, saith the breviary. Whom have you
brought here? Oh, sister, what have you done?'
'It is a young man,' said Seraphina, hastening to interrupt her
sister's remonstrance, 'a relation, I believe, of our worthy
Father Fairford; left at the gate by the captain of that blessed
vessel the SAINTE GENEVIEVE--almost dead--and charged with
dispatches to '--
She lowered her voice as she mumbled over the last words.
'Nay, then, there is no help,' said Angelica; 'but it is
During this dialogue between the vestals of Fairladies, Dick
Gardener deposited his burden in a chair, where the young lady,
after a moment of hesitation, expressing a becoming reluctance to
touch the hand of a stranger, put her finger and thumb upon
Fairford's wrist, and counted his pulse.
'There is fever here, sister,' she said; 'Richard must call
Ambrose, and we must send some of the febrifuge.'
Ambrose arrived presently, a plausible and respectable-looking
old servant, bred in the family, and who had risen from rank to
rank in the Arthuret service till he was become half-physician,
half-almoner, half-butler, and entire governor; that is, when the
Father Confessor, who frequently eased him of the toils of
government, chanced to be abroad. Under the direction, and with
the assistance of this venerable personage, the unlucky Alan
Fairford was conveyed to a decent apartment at the end of a long
gallery, and, to his inexpressible relief, consigned to a
comfortable bed. He did not attempt to resist the prescription
of Mr. Ambrose, who not only presented him with the proposed
draught, but proceeded so far as to take a considerable quantity
of blood from him, by which last operation he probably did his
patient much service.
NARRATIVE OF ALAN FAIRFORD, CONTINUED
On the next morning, when Fairford awoke, after no very
refreshing slumbers, in which were mingled many wild dreams of
his father and of Darsie Latimer,--of the damsel in the green
mantle and the vestals of Fairladies,--of drinking small beer
with Nanty Ewart and being immersed in the Solway with the
JUMPING JENNY,--he found himself in no condition to dispute the
order of Mr. Ambrose, that he should keep his bed, from which,
indeed, he could not have raised himself without assistance. He
became sensible that his anxiety, and his constant efforts for
some days past, had been too much for his health, and that,
whatever might be his impatience, he could not proceed in his
undertaking until his strength was re-established.
In the meanwhile, no better quarters could have been found for an
invalid. The attendants spoke under their breath, and moved only
on tiptoe--nothing was done unless PAR ORDONNANCE DU MEDECIN.
Aesculapius reigned paramount in the premises at Fairladies.
Once a day, the ladies came in great state to wait upon him and
inquire after his health, and it was then that; Alan's natural
civility, and the thankfulness which he expressed for their
timely and charitable assistance, raised him considerably in
their esteem. He was on the third day removed to a better
apartment than that in which he had been at first accommodated.
When he was permitted to drink a glass of wine, it was of the
first quality; one of those curious old-fashioned cobwebbed
bottles being produced on the occasion, which are only to be
found in the crypts of old country-seats, where they may have
lurked undisturbed for more than half a century.
But however delightful a residence for an invalid, Fairladies, as
its present inmate became soon aware, was not so agreeable to a
convalescent. When he dragged himself to the window so soon as
he could crawl from bed, behold it was closely grated, and
commanded no view except of a little paved court. This was
nothing remarkable, most old Border houses having their windows
so secured. But then Fairford observed, that whosoever entered
or left the room. always locked the door with great care and
circumspection; and some proposals which he made to take a walk
in the gallery, or even in the garden, were so coldly received,
both by the ladies and their prime minister, Mr. Ambrose, that he
saw plainly such an extension of his privileges as a guest would
not be permitted.
Anxious to ascertain whether this excessive hospitality would
permit him his proper privilege of free agency, he announced to
this important functionary, with grateful thanks for the care
with which he had been attended, his purpose to leave Fairladies
next morning, requesting only, as a continuance of the favours
with which he had been loaded, the loan of a horse to the next
town; and, assuring Mr. Ambrose that his gratitude would not be
limited by such, a trifle, he slipped three guineas into his
hand, by way of seconding his proposal. The fingers of that
worthy domestic closed as naturally upon the honorarium, as if a
degree in the learned faculty had given him a right to clutch it;
but his answer concerning Alan's proposed departure was at first
evasive, and when he was pushed, it amounted to a peremptory
assurance that he could not be permitted to depart to-morrow; it
was as much as his life was worth, and his ladies would not
'I know best what my own life is worth,' said Alan; 'and I do not
value it in comparison to the business which requires my instant
Receiving still no satisfactory answer from Mr. Ambrose, Fairford
thought it best to state his resolution to the ladies themselves,
in the most measured, respectful, and grateful terms; but still
such as expressed a firm determination to depart on the morrow,
or next day at farthest. After some attempts to induce him to
stay, on the alleged score of health, which were so expressed
that he was convinced they were only used to delay his departure,
Fairford plainly told them that he was entrusted with dispatches
of consequence to the gentleman known by the name of Herries,
Redgauntlet, and the Laird of the Lochs; and that it was matter
of life and death to deliver them early.
'I dare say, Sister Angelica,' said the elder Miss Arthuret, that
the gentleman is honest; and if he is really a relation of Father
Fairford, we can run no risk.'
'Jesu Maria!' exclaimed the younger. 'Oh, fie, Sister
Seraphina! Fie, fie!--'VADE RETRO--get thee behind me!'
'Well, well; but, sister--Sister Angelica--let me speak with you
in the gallery.'
So out the ladies rustled in their silks and tissues, and it was
a good half-hour ere they rustled in again, with importance and
awe on their countenances.
'To tell you the truth, Mr. Fairford, the cause of our desire to
delay you is--there is a religious gentleman in this house at
'A most excellent person indeed'--said the sister Angelica.
'An anointed of his Master!' echoed Seraphina,--'and we should
be glad that, for conscience' sake, you would hold some discourse
with him before your departure.'
'Oho!' thought Fairford, 'the murder is out--here is a design of
conversion! I must not affront the good ladies, but I shall soon
send off the priest, I think.' He then answered aloud, 'that he
should be happy to converse with any friend of theirs--that in
religious matters he had the greatest respect for every
modification of Christianity, though, he must say, his belief was
made up to that in which he had been educated; nevertheless, if
his seeing the religious person they recommended could in the
least show his respect'--
'It is not quite that,' said Sister Seraphina, 'although I am
sure the day is too short to hear him--Father Buonaventure, I
mean--speak upon the concerns of our souls; but'--
'Come, come, Sister Seraphina,' said the younger, 'it is needless
to talk so much about it. His--his Eminence--I mean Father
Buonaventure--will himself explain what he wants this gentleman
'His Eminence!' said Fairford, surprised--'is this gentleman so
high in the Catholic Church? The title is given only to
Cardinals, I think.'
'He is not a Cardinal as yet,' answered Seraphina; 'but I assure
you, Mr. Fairford, he is as high in rank as he is eminently
endowed with good gifts, and'--
'Come away,' said Sister Angelica. 'Holy Virgin, how you do
talk! What has Mr. Fairford to do with Father Buonaventure's
rank? Only, sir, you will remember that the Father has been
always accustomed to be treated with the most profound deference;
'Come away, sister,' said Sister Seraphina, in her turn; 'who
talks now, I pray you? Mr. Fairford will know how to comport
'And we had best both leave the room,' said the younger lady, 'for
here his Eminence comes.'
She lowered her voice to a whisper as she pronounced the last
words; and as Fairford was about to reply, by assuring her that
any friend of hers should be treated by him with all the ceremony
he could expect, she imposed silence on him, by holding up her
A solemn and stately step was now heard in the gallery; it might
have proclaimed the approach not merely of a bishop or cardinal,
but of the Sovereign Pontiff himself. Nor could the sound have
been more respectfully listened to by the two ladies, had it
announced that the Head of the Church was approaching in person.
They drew themselves, like sentinels on duty, one on each side of
the door by which the long gallery communicated with Fairford's
apartment, and stood there immovable, and with countenances
expressive of the deepest reverence.
The approach of Father Buonaventure was so slow, that Fairford
had time to notice all this, and to marvel in his mind what wily
and ambitious priest could have contrived to subject his worthy
but simple-minded hostesses to such superstitious trammels.
Father Buonaventure's entrance and appearance in some degree
accounted for the whole.
He was a man of middle life, about forty or upwards; but either
care, or fatigue, or indulgence, had brought on the appearance of
premature old age, and given to his fine features a cast of
seriousness or even sadness. A noble countenance, however, still
remained; and though his complexion was altered, and wrinkles
stamped upon his brow in many a melancholy fold, still the lofty
forehead, the full and well-opened eye, and the well-formed nose,
showed how handsome in better days he must have been. He was
tall, but lost the advantage of his height by stooping; and the
cane which he wore always in his hand, and occasionally used, as
well as his slow though majestic gait, seemed to intimate that
his form and limbs felt already some touch of infirmity. The
colour of his hair could not be discovered, as, according to the
fashion, he wore a periwig. He was handsomely, though gravely
dressed in a secular habit, and had a cockade in his hat;
circumstances which did not surprise Fairford, who knew that a
military disguise was very often assumed by the seminary priests,
whose visits to England, or residence there, subjected them to
As this stately person entered the apartment, the two ladies
facing inward, like soldiers on their post when about to salute a
superior officer, dropped on either hand of the father a curtsy
so profound that the hoop petticoats which performed the feat
seemed to sink down to the very floor, nay, through it, as if a
trap-door had opened for the descent of the dames who performed
this act of reverence.
The father seemed accustomed to such homage, profound as it was;
he turned his person a little way first towards one sister, and
then towards the other, while, with a gracious inclination of his
person, which certainly did not amount to a bow, he acknowledged
their curtsy. But he passed forward without addressing them, and
seemed by doing so to intimate that their presence in the
apartment was unnecessary.
They accordingly glided out of the room, retreating backwards,
with hands clasped and eyes cast upwards, as if imploring
blessings on the religious man whom they venerated so highly.
The door of the apartment was shut after them, but not before
Fairford had perceived that there were one or two men in the
gallery, and that, contrary to what he had before observed, the
door, though shut, was not locked on the outside.
'Can the good souls apprehend danger from me to this god of their
idolatry?' thought Fairford. But he had no time to make further
observations, for the stranger had already reached the middle of
Fairford rose to receive him respectfully, but as he fixed his
eyes on the visitor, he thought that the father avoided his
looks. His reasons for remaining incognito were cogent enough to
account for this, and Fairford hastened to relieve him, by
looking downwards in his turn; but when again he raised his face,
he found the broad light eye of the stranger so fixed on him that
he was almost put out of countenance by the steadiness of his
gaze. During this time they remained standing,
'Take your seat, sir,' said the father; 'you have been an
He spoke with the tone of one who desires an inferior to be
seated in his presence, and his voice was full and melodious.
Fairford, somewhat surprised to find himself overawed by the airs
of superiority, which could be only properly exercised towards
one over whom religion gave the speaker influence, sat down at
his bidding, as if moved by springs, and was at a loss how to
assert the footing of equality on which he felt that they ought
to stand. The stranger kept the advantage which he had obtained.
'Your name, sir, I am informed, is Fairford?' said the father.
Alan answered by a bow.
'Called to the Scottish bar,' continued his visitor, 'There is, I
believe, in the West, a family of birth and rank called Fairford
Alan thought this a strange observation from a foreign
ecclesiastic, as his name intimated Father Buonaventure to be;
but only answered he believed there was such, a family,
'Do you count kindred with them, Mr. Fairford?' continued the
'I have not the honour to lay such a claim,' said Fairford.
'My father's industry has raised his family from a low and
obscure situation--I have no hereditary claim to distinction of
any kind. May I ask the cause of these inquiries?'
'You will learn it presently,' said Father Buonaventure, who had
given a dry and dissatisfied HEM at the young man's acknowledging
a plebeian descent. He then motioned to him to be silent, and
proceeded with his queries.
'Although not of condition, you are, doubtless, by sentiments and
education, a man of honour and a gentleman?'
'I hope so, sir,' said Alan, colouring with displeasure. 'I have
not been accustomed to have it questioned.'
'Patience, young man,' said the unperturbed querist--'we are on
serious business, and no idle etiquette must prevent its being
discussed seriously. You are probably aware that you speak to a
person proscribed by the severe and unjust laws of the present
'I am aware of the statute 1700, chapter 3,' said Alan,
'banishing from the realm priests and trafficking Papists, and
punishing by death, on summary conviction, any such person who
being so banished may return. But I have no means of knowing
you, sir, to be one of those persons; and I think your prudence
may recommend to you to keep your own counsel.'
'It is sufficient, sir; and I have no apprehensions of
disagreeable consequences from your having seen me in this
house,' said the priest.
'Assuredly no,' said Alan. 'I consider myself as indebted for my
life to the mistresses of Fairladies; and it would be a vile
requital on my part to pry into or make known what I may have
seen or heard under this hospitable roof. If I were to meet the
Pretender himself in such a situation, he should, even at the
risk of a little stretch to my loyalty, be free from any danger
from my indiscretion.'
'The Pretender!' said the priest, with some angry emphasis; but
immediately softened his tone and added, 'No doubt, however, that
person is a pretender; and some people think his pretensions are
not ill founded. But, before running into politics, give me
leave to say, that I am surprised to find a gentleman of your
opinions in habits of intimacy with Mr. Maxwell of Summertrees
and Mr. Redgauntlet, and the medium of conducting the intercourse
'Pardon me, sir,' replied Alan Fairford; 'I do not aspire to the
honour of being reputed their confidant or go-between. My
concern with those gentlemen is limited to one matter of
business, dearly interesting to me, because it concerns the
safety--perhaps the life--of my dearest friend.'
'Would you have any objection to entrust me with the cause of
your journey?' said Father Buonaventure. 'My advice may be of
service to you, and my influence with one or both these gentlemen
Fairford hesitated a moment, and, hastily revolving all
circumstances, concluded that he might perhaps receive some
advantage from propitiating this personage; while, on the other
hand, he endangered nothing by communicating to him the occasion
of his journey. He, therefore, after stating shortly that he
hoped Mr. Buonaventure would render him the same confidence which
he required on his part, gave a short account of Darsie Latimer--
of the mystery which hung over his family--and of the disaster
which had befallen him. Finally, of his own resolution to seek
for his friend, and to deliver him, at the peril of his own life.
The Catholic priest, whose manner it seemed to be to avoid all
conversation which did not arise from his own express motion,
made no remarks upon what he had heard, but only asked one or two
abrupt questions, where Alan's narrative appeared less clear to
him; then rising from his seat, he took two turns through the
apartment, muttering between his teeth, with emphasis, the word
'madman!' But apparently he was in the habit of keeping all
violent emotions under restraint; for he presently addressed
Fairford with the most perfect indifference.
'If,' said he, 'you thought you could do so without breach of
confidence, I wish you would have the goodness to show me the
letter of Mr. Maxwell of Summertrees. I desire to look
particularly at the address.'
Seeing no cause to decline this extension of his confidence,
Alan, without hesitation, put the letter into his hand. Having
turned it round as old Trumbull and Nanty Ewart had formerly
done, and, like them, having examined the address with much
minuteness, he asked whether he had observed these words,
pointing to a pencil-writing upon the under side of the letter.
Fairford answered in the negative, and, looking at the letter,
read with surprise, 'CAVE NE LITERAS BELLEROPHONTIS ADFERRES'; a
caution which coincided so exactly with the provost's admonition,
that he would do well to inspect the letter of which he was
bearer, that he was about to spring up and attempt an escape, he
knew not wherefore, or from whom.
'Sit still, young man,' said the father, with the same tone of
authority which reigned in his whole manner, although mingled
with stately courtesy. 'You are in no danger--my character shall
be a pledge for your safety. By whom do you suppose these words
have been written?'
Fairford could have answered, 'By Nanty Ewart,' for he remembered
seeing that person scribble something with a pencil, although he
was not well enough to observe with accuracy where or upon what.
But not knowing what suspicions, or what worse consequences the
seamen's interest in his affairs might draw upon him, he judged
it best to answer that he knew not the hand.
Father Buonaventure was again silent for a moment or two, which
he employed in surveying the letter with the strictest attention;
then stepped to the window, as if to examine the address and
writing of the envelope with the assistance of a stronger light,
and Alan Fairford beheld him, with no less amazement than high
displeasure, coolly and deliberately break the seal, open the
letter, and peruse the contents.
'Stop, sir, hold!' he exclaimed, so soon as his astonishment
permitted him to express his resentment in words; 'by what right
do you dare'--
'Peace, young gentleman,' said the father, repelling him with a
wave of his hand; 'be assured I do not act without warrant--
nothing can pass betwixt Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Redgauntlet that I
am not fully entitled to know.'
'It may be so,' said Alan, extremely angry; 'but though you may
be these gentlemen's father confessor, you are not mine; and in
breaking the seal of a letter entrusted to my care, you have done
'No injury, I assure you,' answered the unperturbed priest; 'on
the contrary, it may be a service.'
'I desire no advantage at such a rate, or to be obtained in such
a manner,' answered Fairford; 'restore me the letter instantly,
'As you regard your own safety,' said the priest, 'forbear all
injurious expressions, and all menacing gestures. I am not one
who can be threatened or insulted with impunity; and there are
enough within hearing to chastise any injury or affront offered
to me, in case I may think it unbecoming to protect or avenge
myself with my own hand.'
In saying this, the father assumed an air of such fearlessness
and calm authority, that the young lawyer, surprised and
overawed, forbore, as he had intended, to snatch the letter from
his hand, and confined himself to bitter complaints of the
impropriety of his conduct, and of the light in which he himself
must be placed to Redgauntlet should he present him a letter with
a broken seal.
'That,' said Father Buonaventure, 'shall be fully cared for. I
will myself write to Redgauntlet, and enclose Maxwell's letter,
provided always you continue to desire to deliver it, after
perusing the contents.'
He then restored the letter to Fairford, and, observing that he
hesitated to peruse it, said emphatically, 'Read it, for it
This recommendation, joined to what Provost Crosbie had formerly
recommended, and to the warning which he doubted not that Nanty
intended to convey by his classical allusion, decided Fairford's
resolution. 'If these correspondents,' he thought, 'are
conspiring against my person, I have a right to counterplot them;
self-preservation, as well as my friend's safety, require that I
should not be too scrupulous.'
So thinking, he read the letter, which was in the following
'DEAR RUGGED AND DANGEROUS,
'Will you never cease meriting your old nick-name? You have
springed your dottrel, I find, and what is the consequence?--why,
that there will be hue and cry after you presently. The bearer
is a pert young lawyer, who has brought a formal complaint
against you, which, luckily, he has preferred in a friendly
court. Yet, favourable as the judge was disposed to be, it was
with the utmost difficulty that cousin Jenny and I could keep him
to his tackle. He begins to be timid, suspicious, and
untractable, and I fear Jenny will soon bend her brows on him in
vain. I know not what to advise--the lad who carries this is a
good lad--active for his friend--and I have pledged my honour he
shall have no personal ill-usage. Pledged my honour, remark
these words, and remember I can be rugged and dangerous as well,
as my neighbours. But I have not ensured him against a short
captivity, and as he is a stirring active fellow, I see no remedy
but keeping him out of the way till this business of the good
Father B-- is safely blown over, which God send it were!--Always
thine, even should I be once more
'What think you, young man, of the danger you have been about to
encounter so willingly?'
'As strangely,' replied Alan Fairford, 'as of the extraordinary
means which you have been at present pleased to use for the
discovery of Mr. Maxwell's purpose.
'Trouble not yourself to account for my conduct,' said the
father; 'I have a warrant for what I do, and fear no
responsibility. But tell me what is your present purpose.'
'I should not perhaps name it to you, whose own safety may be
'I understand you,' answered the father; 'you would appeal to the
existing government? That can at no rate be permitted--we will
rather detain you at Fairladies by compulsion.'
'You will probably,' said Fairford, 'first weigh the risk of such
a proceeding in a free country.'
'I have incurred more formidable hazard,' said the priest,
smiling; 'yet I am willing to find a milder expedient. Come; let
us bring the matter to a compromise.' And he assumed a
conciliating graciousness of manner, which struck Fairford as
being rather too condescending for the occasion; 'I presume you
will be satisfied to remain here in seclusion for a day or two
longer, provided I pass my solemn word to you that you shall meet
with the person whom you seek after--meet with him in perfect
safety, and, I trust, in good health, and be afterwards both at
liberty to return to Scotland, or dispose of yourselves as each
of you may be minded?'
'I respect the VERBUM SACERDOTIS as much as can reasonably be
expected from a Protestant,' answered Fairford; 'but methinks,
you can scarce expect me to repose so much confidence in the word
of an unknown person as is implied in the guarantee which you
'I am not accustomed, sir,' said the father, in a very haughty
tone, 'to have my word disputed. But,' he added, while the angry
hue passed from his cheek, after a moment's reflection, 'you know
me not, and ought to be excused. I will repose more confidence
in your honour than you seem willing to rest upon mine; and,
since we are so situated that one must rely upon the other's
faith, I will cause you to be set presently at liberty, and
furnished with the means of delivering your letter as addressed,
provided that now, knowing the contents, you think it safe for
yourself to execute the commission.'
Alan Fairford paused. 'I cannot see,' he at length replied, 'how
I can proceed with respect to the accomplishment of my sole
purpose, which is the liberation of my friend, without appealing
to the law and obtaining the assistance of a magistrate. If I
present this singular letter of Mr. Maxwell, with the contents of
which I have become so unexpectedly acquainted, I shall only
share his captivity.'
'And if you apply to a magistrate, young man, you will bring ruin
on these hospitable ladies, to whom, in all human probability,
you owe your life. You cannot obtain a warrant for your purpose,
without giving a clear detail of all the late scenes through
which you have passed. A magistrate would oblige you to give a
complete account of yourself, before arming you with his
authority against a third party; and in giving such an account,
the safety of these ladies will necessarily be compromised. A
hundred spies have had, and still have, their eyes upon this
mansion; but God will protect his own.'--He crossed himself
devoutly, and then proceeded,--'You can take an hour to think of
your best plan, and I will pledge myself to forward it thus far,
provided it be not asking you to rely more on my word than your
prudence can warrant. You shall go to Redgauntlet,--I name him
plainly, to show my confidence in you,--and you shall deliver him
this letter of Mr. Maxwell's, with one from me, in which I will
enjoin him to set your friend at liberty, or at least to make no
attempts upon your own person, either by detention or otherwise.
If you can trust me thus far,' he said, with a proud emphasis on
the words 'I will on my side see you depart from this place with
the most perfect confidence that you will not return armed with
powers to drag its inmates to destruction. You are young and
inexperienced--bred to a profession also which sharpens
suspicion, and gives false views of human nature. I have seen
much of the world, and have known better than most men how far
mutual confidence is requisite in managing affairs of
He spoke with an air of superiority, even of authority, by which
Fairford, notwithstanding his own internal struggles, was
silenced and overawed so much, that it was not till the father
had turned to leave the apartment that he found words to ask him
what the consequences would be, should he decline to depart on
the terms proposed.
'You must then, for the safety of all parties, remain for some
days an inhabitant of Fairladies, where we have the means of
detaining you, which self-preservation will in that case compel
us to make use of. Your captivity will be short; for matters
cannot long remain as they are. The cloud must soon rise, or it
must sink upon us for ever. BENEDICITE!'
With these words he left the apartment.
Fairford, upon his departure, felt himself much at a loss what
course to pursue. His line of education, as well as his father's
tenets in matters of church and state, had taught him a holy
horror for Papists, and a devout belief in whatever had been said
of the Punic faith of Jesuits, and of the expedients of mental
reservation by which the Catholic priests in general were
supposed to evade keeping faith with heretics. Yet there was
something of majesty, depressed indeed and overclouded, but still
grand and imposing, in the manner and words of Father
Buonaventure, which it was difficult to reconcile with those
preconceived opinions which imputed subtlety and fraud to his
sect and order. Above all, Alan was aware that if he accepted
not his freedom upon the terms offered him, he was likely to be
detained by force; so that, in every point of view, he was a
gainer by accepting them.
A qualm, indeed, came across him, when he considered, as a
lawyer, that this father was probably, in the eye of law, a
traitor; and that there was an ugly crime on the Statute Book,
called misprision of treason. On the other hand, whatever he
might think or suspect, he could not take upon him to say that
the man was a priest, whom he had never seen in the dress of his
order, or in the act of celebrating mass; so that he felt himself
at liberty to doubt of that respecting which he possessed no
legal proof. He therefore arrived at the conclusion, that he
would do well to accept his liberty, and proceed to Redgauntlet
under the guarantee of Father Buonaventure, which he scarce
doubted would be sufficient to save him from personal
inconvenience. Should he once obtain speech of that gentleman,
he felt the same confidence as formerly, that he might be able to
convince him of the rashness of his conduct, should he not
consent to liberate Darsie Latimer. At all events, he should
learn where his friend was, and how circumstanced.
Having thus made up his mind, Alan waited anxiously for the
expiration of the hour which had been allowed him for
deliberation. He was not kept on the tenter-hooks of impatience
an instant longer than the appointed moment arrived, for, even as
the clock struck, Ambrose appeared at the door of the gallery,
and made a sign that Alan should follow him. He did so, and
after passing through some of the intricate avenues common in old
houses, was ushered into a small apartment, commodiously fitted
up, in which he found Father Buonaventure reclining on a couch,
in the attitude of a man exhausted by fatigue or indisposition.
On a small table beside him, a silver embossed salver sustained a
Catholic book of prayer, a small flask of medicine, a cordial,
and a little tea-cup of old china. Ambrose did not enter the
room--he only bowed profoundly, and closed the door with the
least possible noise, so soon as Fairford had entered.
'Sit down, young man,' said the father, with the same air of
condescension which had before surprised, and rather offended
Fairford. 'You have been ill, and I know too well by my own case
that indisposition requires indulgence. Have you,' he continued,
so soon as he saw him seated, 'resolved to remain, or to depart?'
'To depart,' said Alan, 'under the agreement that you will
guarantee my safety with the extraordinary person who has
conducted himself in such a lawless manner toward my friend,
'Do not judge hastily, young man,' replied the father.
'Redgauntlet has the claims of a guardian over his ward, in
respect to the young gentleman, and a right to dictate his place
of residence, although he may have been injudicious in selecting
the means by which he thinks to enforce his authority.'
'His situation as an attainted person abrogates such rights,'
said Fairford, hastily.
'Surely,' replied the priest, smiling at the young lawyer's
readiness; 'in the eye of those who acknowledge the justice of
the attainder--but that do not I. However, sir, here is the
guarantee--look at its contents, and do not again carry the
letters of Uriah.'
Fairford read these words:--
'We send you hither a young man desirous to know the situation of
your ward, since he came under your paternal authority, and
hopeful of dealing with you for having your relative put at
large. This we recommend to your prudence, highly disapproving,
at the same time, of any force or coercion when such can be
avoided, and wishing, therefore, that the bearer's negotiation
may be successful. At all rates, however, the bearer hath our
pledged word for his safety and freedom, which, therefore, you
are to see strictly observed, as you value our honour and your
own. We further wish to converse with you, with as small loss of
time as may be, having matters of the utmost confidence to
impart. For this purpose we desire you to repair hither with all
haste, and thereupon we bid you heartily farewell.
'You will understand, sir,' said the father, when he saw that
Alan had perused his letter, 'that, by accepting charge of this
missive, you bind yourself to try the effect of it before having
recourse to any legal means, as you term them, for your friend's
'There are a few ciphers added to this letter,' said Fairford,
when he had perused the paper attentively,--'may I inquire what
their import is?'
'They respect my own affairs,' answered the father, briefly; 'and
have no concern whatever with yours.'
'It seems to me, however,' replied Alan, 'natural to suppose'--
'Nothing must be supposed incompatible with my honour,' replied
the priest, interrupting him; 'when such as I am confer favours,
we expect that they shall be accepted with gratitude, or declined
with thankful respect--not questioned or discussed.'
'I will accept your letter, then,' said Fairford, after a
minute's consideration, 'and the thanks you expect shall be most
liberally paid, if the result answer what you teach me to
'God only commands the issue,' said Father Buonaventure. 'Man
uses means. You understand that, by accepting this commission,
you engage yourself in honour to try the effect of my letter upon
Mr. Redgauntlet, before you have recourse to informations or
'I hold myself bound, as a man of good faith and honour, to do
so,' said Fairford.
'Well, I trust you,' said the father. 'I will now tell you that
an express, dispatched by me last night, has, I hear, brought
Redgauntlet to a spot many miles nearer this place, where he will
not find it safe to attempt any violence on your friend, should
he be rash enough to follow the advice of Mr. Maxwell of
Summertrees rather than my commands. We now understand each
He extended his hand towards Alan, who was about to pledge his
faith in the usual form by grasping it with his own, when the
father drew back hastily. Ere Alan had time to comment upon this
repulse, a small side-door, covered with tapestry, was opened;
the hangings were drawn aside, and a lady, as if by sudden
apparition, glided into the apartment. It was neither of the
Misses Arthuret, but a woman in the prime of life, and in the
full-blown expansion of female beauty, tall, fair, and commanding
in her aspect. Her locks, of paly gold, were taught to fall over
a brow, which, with the stately glance of the large, open, blue
eyes, might have become Juno herself; her neck and bosom were
admirably formed, and of a dazzling whiteness. She was rather
inclined to EMBONPOINT, but not more than became her age, of
apparently thirty years. Her step was that of a queen, but it
was of Queen Vashti, not Queen Esther--the bold and commanding,
not the retiring beauty.
Father Buonaventure raised himself on the couch, angrily, as if
displeased by this intrusion. 'How now, madam,' he said, with
some sternness; 'why have we the honour of your company?'
'Because it is my pleasure,' answered the lady, composedly.
'Your pleasure, madam!' he repeated in the same angry tone.
'My pleasure, sir,' she continued, 'which always keeps exact pace
with my duty. I had heard you were unwell--let me hope it is
only business which produces this seclusion.'
'I am well,' he replied; 'perfectly well, and I thank you for
your care--but we are not alone, and this young man'--
'That young man?' she said, bending her large and serious eye on
Alan Fairford, as if she had been for the first time aware of his
presence,--'may I ask who he is?'
'Another time, madam; you shall learn his history after he is
gone. His presence renders it impossible for me to explain
'After he is gone may be too late,' said the lady; 'and what is
his presence to me, when your safety is at stake? He is the
heretic lawyer whom those silly fools, the Arthurets, admitted
into this house at a time when they should have let their own
father knock at the door in vain, though the night had been a
wild one. You will not surely dismiss him?'
'Your own impatience can alone make that step perilous,' said the
father; 'I have resolved to take it--do not let your indiscreet
zeal, however excellent its motive, add any unnecessary risk to
'Even so?' said the lady, in a tone of reproach, yet mingled
with respect and apprehension. 'And thus you will still go
forward, like a stag upon the hunter's snares, with undoubting
confidence, after all that has happened?'
'Peace, madam,' said Father Buonaventure, rising up; 'be silent,
or quit the apartment; my designs do not admit of female
To this peremptory command the lady seemed about to make a sharp
reply; but she checked herself, and pressing her lips strongly
together, as if to secure the words from bursting from them which
were already formed upon her tongue, she made a deep reverence,
partly as it seemed in reproach, partly in respect, and left the
room as suddenly as she had entered it.
The father looked disturbed at this incident, which he seemed
sensible could not but fill Fairford's imagination with an
additional throng of bewildering suspicions; he bit his lip and
muttered something to himself as he walked through the apartment;
then suddenly turned to his visitor with a smile of much
sweetness, and a countenance in which every rougher expression
was exchanged for those of courtesy and kindness.
'The visit we have been just honoured with, my young friend, has
given you,' he said, 'more secrets to keep than I would have
wished you burdened with. The lady is a person of condition--of
rank and fortune--but nevertheless is so circumstanced that the
mere fact of her being known to be in this country would occasion
many evils. I should wish you to observe secrecy on this
subject, even to Redgauntlet or Maxwell, however much I trust
them in all that concerns my own affairs.'
'I can have no occasion,' replied Fairford, 'for holding any
discussion with these gentlemen, or with any others, on the
circumstance which I have just witnessed--it could only have
become the subject of my conversation by mere accident, and I
will now take care to avoid the subject entirely.'
'You will do well, sir, and I thank you,' said the father,
throwing much dignity into the expression of obligation which he
meant to convey. 'The time may perhaps come when you will learn
what it is to have obliged one of my condition. As to the lady,
she has the highest merit, and nothing can be said of her justly
which would not redound to her praise. Nevertheless--in short,
sir, we wander at present as in a morning mist--the sun will, I
trust, soon rise and dispel it, when all that now seems
mysterious will be fully revealed--or it will sink into rain,' he
added, in a solemn tone, 'and then explanation will be of little
consequence.--Adieu, sir; I wish you well.'
He made a graceful obeisance, and vanished through the same side-
door by which the lady had entered; and Alan thought he heard
their voices high in dispute in the adjoining apartment.
Presently afterwards, Ambrose entered, and told him that a horse
and guide waited him beneath the terrace.
'The good Father Buonaventure,' added the butler, 'has been
graciously pleased to consider your situation, and desired me to
inquire whether you have any occasion for a supply of money?'
'Make my respects to his reverence,' answered Fairford, 'and
assure him I am provided in that particular. I beg you also to
make my acknowledgements to the Misses Arthuret, and assure them
that their kind hospitality, to which I probably owe my life,
shall be remembered with gratitude as long as that life lasts.
You yourself, Mr. Ambrose, must accept of my kindest thanks for
your skill and attention.'
Mid these acknowledgements they left the house, descended the
terrace, and reached the spot where the gardener, Fairford's old
acquaintance, waited for him, mounted upon one horse and leading
Bidding adieu to Ambrose, our young lawyer mounted, and rode down
the avenue, often looking back to the melancholy and neglected
dwelling in which he had witnessed such strange scenes, and
musing upon the character of its mysterious inmates, especially
the noble and almost regal-seeming priest, and the beautiful but
capricious dame, who, if she was really Father Buonaventure's
penitent, seemed less docile to the authority of the church than,
as Alan conceived, the Catholic discipline permitted. He could
not indeed help being sensible that the whole deportment of these
persons differed much from his preconceived notions of a priest
and devotee. Father Buonaventure, in particular, had more
natural dignify and less art and affectation in his manner, than
accorded with the idea which Calvinists were taught to entertain
of that wily and formidable person, a Jesuitical missionary.
While reflecting on these things, he looked back so frequently at
the house, that Dick Gardener, a forward, talkative fellow, who
began to tire of silence, at length said to him, 'I think you
will know Fairladies when you see it again, sir?'
'I dare say I shall, Richard,' answered Fairford good-humouredly.
'I wish I knew as well where I am to go next. But you can tell
'Your worship should know better than I,' said Dick Gardener;
'nevertheless, I have a notion you are going where all you
Scotsmen should be sent, whether you will or no.'
'Not to the devil, I hope, good Dick?' said Fairford.
'Why, no. That is a road which you may travel as heretics; but
as Scotsmen, I would only send you three-fourths of the way--and
that is back to Scotland again--always craving your honour's
'Does our journey lie that way?' said Fairford.
'As far as the waterside,' said Richard. 'I am to carry you to
old Father Crackenthorp's, and then you are within a spit and a
stride of Scotland, as the saying is. But mayhap you may think
twice of going thither, for all that; for Old England is fat
feeding-ground for north-country cattle.'
NARRATIVE OF DARSIE LATIMER
Our history must now, as the old romancers wont to say, 'leave to
tell' of the quest of Alan Fairford, and instruct our readers of
the adventures which befell Darsie Latimer, left as he was in the
precarious custody of his self-named tutor, the Laird of the
Lochs of Solway, to whose arbitrary pleasure he found it
necessary for the present to conform himself.
In consequence of this prudent resolution, and although he did
not assume such a disguise without some sensations of shame and
degradation, Darsie permitted Cristal Nixon to place over his
face, and secure by a string, one of those silk masks which
ladies frequently wore to preserve their complexions, when
exposed to the air during long journeys on horseback. He
remonstrated somewhat more vehemently against the long riding-
skirt, which converted his person from the waist into the female
guise, but was obliged to concede this point also.
The metamorphosis was then complete; for the fair reader must be
informed, that in those rude times, the ladies, when they
honoured the masculine dress by assuming any part of it, wore
just such hats, coats, and waistcoats as the male animals
themselves made use of, and had no notion of the elegant
compromise betwixt male and female attire, which has now
acquired, PAR EXCELLENCE, the name of a HABIT. Trolloping things
our mothers must have looked, with long square-cut coats, lacking
collars, and with waistcoats plentifully supplied with a length
of pocket, which hung far downwards from the middle. But then
they had some advantage from the splendid colours, lace, and gay
embroidery which masculine attire then exhibited; and, as happens
in many similar instances, the finery of the materials made
amends for the want of symmetry and grace of form in the garments
themselves. But this is a digression.
In the court of the old mansion, half manor-place, half farm-
house, or rather a decayed manor-house, converted into an abode
for a Cumberland tenant, stood several saddled horses. Four or
five of them were mounted by servants or inferior retainers, all
of whom were well armed with sword, pistol, and carabine. But
two had riding furniture for the use of females--the one being
accoutred with a side-saddle, the other with a pillion attached
to the saddle.
Darsie's heart beat quicker within him; he easily comprehended
that one of these was intended for his own use; and his hopes
suggested that the other was designed for that of the fair Green
Mantle, whom, according to his established practice, he had
adopted for the queen of his affections, although his
opportunities of holding communication with her had not exceeded
the length of a silent supper on one occasion, and the going down
a country-dance on another. This, however, was no unwonted mood
of passion with Darsie Latimer, upon whom Cupid was used to
triumph only in the degree of a Mahratta conqueror, who overruns
a province with the rapidity of lightning, but finds it
impossible to retain it beyond a very brief space. Yet this new
love was rather more serious than the scarce skinned-up wounds
which his friend Fairford used to ridicule. The damsel had shown
a sincere interest in his behalf; and the air of mystery with
which that interest was veiled, gave her, to his lively
imagination, the character of a benevolent and protecting spirit,
as much as that of a beautiful female.
At former times, the romance attending his short-lived
attachments had been of his own creating, and had disappeared as
soon as ever he approached more closely to the object with which
he had invested it. On the present occasion, it really flowed
from external circumstances, which might have interested less
susceptible feelings, and an imagination less lively than that of
Darsie Latimer, young, inexperienced, and enthusiastic as he was.
He watched, therefore, anxiously to whose service the palfrey
bearing the lady's saddle was destined. But ere any female
appeared to occupy it, he was himself summoned to take his seat
on the pillion behind Cristal Nixon, amid the grins of his old
acquaintance Jan who helped him to horse, and the unrestrained
laughter of Cicely, who displayed on the occasion a case of teeth
which might have rivalled ivory.
Latimer was at an age when being an object of general ridicule
even to clowns and milkmaids was not a matter of indifference,
and he longed heartily to have laid his horse-whip across Jan's
shoulders. That, however, was a solacement of his feelings which
was not at the moment to be thought of; and Cristal Nixon
presently put an end to his unpleasant situation, by ordering the
riders to go on. He himself kept the centre of the troop, two
men riding before and two behind him, always, as it seemed to
Darsie, having their eye upon him, to prevent any attempt to
escape. He could see from time to time, when the straight line
of the road, or the advantage of an ascent permitted him, that
another troop of three or four riders followed them at about a
quarter of a mile's distance, amongst whom he could discover the
tall form of Redgauntlet, and the powerful action of his gallant
black horse. He had little doubt that Green Mantle made one of
the party, though he was unable to distinguish her from the
In this manner they travelled from six in the morning until
nearly ten of the clock, without Darsie exchanging a word with
any one; for he loathed the very idea of entering into
conversation with Cristal Nixon, against whom he seemed to feel
an instinctive aversion; nor was that domestic's saturnine and
sullen disposition such as to have encouraged advances, had he
thought of making them.
At length the party halted for the purpose of refreshment; but as
they had hitherto avoided all villages and inhabited places upon
their route, so they now stopped at one of those large ruinous
Dutch barns, which are sometimes found in the fields, at a
distance from the farm-houses to which they belong. Yet in this
desolate place some preparations had been made for their
reception. There were in the end of the barn racks filled with
provender for the horses, and plenty of provisions for the party
were drawn from the trusses of straw, under which the baskets
that contained them had been deposited. The choicest of these
were selected and arranged apart by Cristal Nixon, while the men
of the party threw themselves upon the rest, which he abandoned
to their discretion. In a few minutes afterwards the rearward
party arrived and dismounted, and Redgauntlet himself entered the
barn with the green-mantled maiden by his side. He presented her
to Darsie with these words:--
'It is time you two should know each other better. I promised
you my confidence, Darsie, and the time is come for reposing it.
But first we will have our breakfast; and then, when once more in
the saddle, I will tell you that which it is necessary that you
should know. Salute Lilias, Darsie.'
The command was sudden, and surprised Latimer, whose confusion
was increased by the perfect ease and frankness with which Lilias
offered at once her cheek and her hand, and pressing his as she
rather took it than gave her own, said very frankly, 'Dearest
Darsie, how rejoiced I am that our uncle has at last permitted us
to become acquainted!'
Darsie's head turned round; and it was perhaps well that
Redgauntlet called on him to sit down, as even that movement
served to hide his confusion. There is an old song which says--
--when ladies are willing,
A man can but look like a fool;
And on the same principle Darsie Latimer's looks at this
unexpected frankness of reception, would have formed an admirable
vignette for illustrating the passage. 'Dearest Darsie,' and
such a ready, nay, eager salute of lip and hand! It was all very
gracious, no doubt--and ought to have been received with much
gratitude; but, constituted as our friend's temper was, nothing
could be more inconsistent with his tone of feeling. If a hermit
had proposed to him to club for a pot of beer, the illusion of
his reverend sanctity could not have been dispelled more
effectually than the divine qualities of Green Mantle faded upon
the ill-imagined frank-heartedness of poor Lilias. Vexed with
her forwardness, and affronted at having once more cheated
himself, Darsie could hardly help muttering two lines of the song
we have already quoted:
The fruit that must fall without shaking
Is rather too mellow for me.
And yet it was pity for her too--she was a very pretty young
woman--his fancy had scarcely overrated her in that respect--and
the slight derangement of the beautiful brown locks which escaped
in natural ringlets from under her riding-hat, with the bloom
which exercise had brought into her cheek, made her even more
than usually fascinating. Redgauntlet modified the sternness of
his look when it was turned towards her, and in addressing her,
used a softer tone than his usual deep bass. Even the grim
features of Cristal Nixon relaxed when he attended on her, and it
was then, if ever, that his misanthropical visage expressed some
sympathy with the rest of humanity.
'How can she,' thought Latimer, 'look so like an angel, yet be so
mere a mortal after all? How could so much seeming modesty have
so much forwardness of manner, when she ought to have been most
reserved? How can her conduct be reconciled to the grace and
ease of her general deportment?'
The confusion of thoughts which occupied Darsie's imagination,
gave to his looks a disordered appearance, and his inattention to
the food which was placed before him, together with his silence
and absence of mind, induced Lilias solicitously to inquire,
whether he did not feel some return of the disorder under which
he had suffered so lately. This led Mr. Redgauntlet, who seemed
also lost in his own contemplations, to raise his eyes, and join
in the same inquiry with some appearance of interest. Latimer
explained to both that he was perfectly well.
'It is well it is so,' answered Redgauntlet; 'for we have that
before us which will brook no delay from indisposition--we have
not, as Hotspur says, leisure to be sick.'
Lilias, on her part, endeavoured to prevail upon Darsie to
partake of the food which she offered him, with a kindly and
affectionate courtesy corresponding to the warmth of the interest
she had displayed at their meeting; but so very natural,
innocent, and pure in its character, that it would have been
impossible for the vainest coxcomb to have mistaken it for
coquetry, or a desire of captivating a prize so valuable as his
affection. Darsie, with no more than the reasonable share of
self-opinion common to most youths when they approach twenty-one,
knew not how to explain her conduct.
Sometimes he was tempted to think that his own merits had, even
during the short intervals when they had seen each other, secured
such a hold of the affections of a young person who had probably
been bred up in ignorance of the world and its forms that she was
unable to conceal her partiality. Sometimes he suspected that
she acted by her guardian's order, who, aware that he, Darsie,
was entitled to a considerable fortune, might have taken this
bold stroke to bring about a marriage betwixt him and so near a
But neither of these suppositions was applicable to the character
of the parties. Miss Lilias's manners, however soft and natural,
displayed in their ease and versatility considerable acquaintance
with the habits of the world, and in the few words she said
during the morning repast, there were mingled a shrewdness and
good sense, which could scarce belong to a miss capable of
playing the silly part of a love-smitten maiden so broadly. As
for Redgauntlet, with his stately bearing, his fatal frown, his
eye of threat and of command, it was impossible, Darsie thought,
to suspect him of a scheme having private advantage for its
object; he could as soon have imagined Cassius picking Caesar's
pocket, instead of drawing his poniard on the dictator.
While he thus mused, unable either to eat, drink, or answer to
the courtesy of Lilias, she soon ceased to speak to him, and sat
silent as himself.
They had remained nearly an hour in their halting-place, when
Redgauntlet said aloud, 'Look out, Cristal Nixon. If we hear
nothing from Fairladies, we must continue our journey.'
Cristal went to the door, and presently returned and said to his
master, in a voice as harsh as his features, 'Gilbert Gregson is
coming, his horse as white with foam as if a fiend had ridden
Redgauntlet threw from him the plate on which he had been eating,
and hastened towards the door of the barn, which the courier at
that moment entered; a smart jockey with a black velvet hunting-
cap, and a broad belt drawn tight round his waist, to which was
secured his express-bag. The variety of mud with which he was
splashed from cap to spur showed he had had a rough and rapid
ride. He delivered a letter to Mr. Redgauntlet, with an
obeisance, and then retired to the end of the barn, where the
other attendants were sitting or lying upon the straw, in order
to get some refreshment.
Redgauntlet broke the letter open with haste, and read it with
anxious and discomposed looks. On a second perusal, his
displeasure seemed to increase, his brow darkened, and was
distinctly marked with the fatal sign peculiar to his family and
house. Darsie had never before observed his frown bear such a
close resemblance to the shape which tradition assigned it.
Redgauntlet held out the open letter with one hand, and struck it
with the forefinger of the other, as, in a suppressed and
displeased tone, he said to Cristal Nixon, 'Countermanded--
ordered northward once more! 'Northward, when all our hopes lie
to the south--a second Derby direction, when we turned our back
on glory, and marched in quest of ruin!'
Cristal Nixon took the letter and ran it over, then returned it
to his master with the cold observation, 'A female influence
'But it shall predominate no longer,' said Redgauntlet; 'it shall
wane as ours rises in the horizon. Meanwhile, I will on before--
and you, Cristal, will bring the party to the place assigned in
the letter. You may now permit the young persons to have
unreserved communication together; only mark that you watch the
young man closely enough to prevent his escape, if he should be
idiot enough to attempt it, but not approaching so close as to
watch their free conversation.'
'I care naught about their conversation,' said Nixon, surlily.
'You hear my commands, Lilias,' said the laird, turning to the
young lady. 'You may use my permission and authority to explain
so much of our family matters as you yourself know. At our next
meeting I will complete the task of disclosure, and I trust I
shall restore one Redgauntlet more to the bosom of our ancient
family. Let Latimer, as be calls himself, have a horse to
himself; he must for some time retain his disguise.--My horse--my
In two minutes they heard him ride off from the door of the barn,
followed at speed by two of the armed men of his party.
The commands of Cristal Nixon, in the meanwhile, put all the
remainder of the party in motion, but the laird himself was long
out of sight ere they were in readiness to resume their journey.
When at length they set out, Darsie was accommodated with a horse
and side-saddle, instead of being obliged to resume his place on
the pillion behind the detestable Nixon. He was obliged,
however, to retain his riding-skirt, and to reassume his mask.
Yet, notwithstanding this disagreeable circumstance, and although
he observed that they gave him the heaviest and slowest horse of
the party, and that, as a further precaution against escape, he
was closely watched on every side, yet riding in company with the
pretty Lilias was an advantage which overbalanced these
It is true that this society, to which that very morning he would
have looked forward as a glimpse of heaven, had, now that it was
thus unexpectedly indulged, something much less rapturous than he
It was in vain that, in order to avail himself of a situation so
favourable for indulging his romantic disposition, he endeavoured
to coax back, if I may so express myself, that delightful dream
of ardent and tender passion; he felt only such a confusion of
ideas at the difference between the being whom he had imagined,
and her with whom he was now in contact, that it seemed to him
like the effect of witchcraft. What most surprised him was, that
this sudden flame should have died away so rapidly,
notwithstanding that the maiden's personal beauty was even
greater than he had expected--her demeanour, unless it should be
deemed over kind towards himself, as graceful and becoming as he
could have fancied if, even in his gayest dreams. It were
judging hardly of him to suppose that the mere belief of his
having attracted her affections more easily than he expected was
the cause of his ungratefully undervaluing a prize too lightly
won, or that his transient passion played around his heart with
the hitting radiance of a wintry sunbeam flashing against an
icicle, which may brighten it for a moment, but cannot melt it.
Neither of these was precisely the ease, though such fickleness
of disposition might also have some influence in the change.
The truth is, perhaps, the lover's pleasure, like that of the
hunter, is in the chase; and that the brightest beauty loses half
its merit, as the fairest flower its perfume, when the willing
hand can reach it too easily. There must be doubt--there must be
danger--there must be difficulty; and if, as the poet says, the
course of ardent affection never does run smooth, it is perhaps
because, without some intervening obstacle, that which is called
the romantic passion of love, in its high poetical character and
colouring can hardly have an existence--any more than there can
be a current in a river without the stream being narrowed by
steep banks, or checked by opposing rocks.
Let not those, however, who enter into a union for life without
those embarrassments which delight a Darsie Latimer, or a Lydia
Languish, and which are perhaps necessary to excite an
enthusiastic passion in breasts more firm than theirs, augur
worse of their future happiness because their own alliance is
formed under calmer auspices. Mutual esteem, an intimate
knowledge of each other's character, seen, as in their case,
undisguised by the mists of too partial passion--a suitable
proportion of parties in rank and fortune, in taste and pursuits
--are more frequently found in a marriage of reason, than in a
union of romantic attachment; where the imagination, which
probably created the virtues and accomplishments with which it
invested the beloved object, is frequently afterwards employed in
magnifying the mortifying consequences of its own delusion, and
exasperating all the stings of disappointment. Those who follow
the banners of Reason are like the well-disciplined battalion,
which, wearing a more sober uniform and making a less dazzling
show than the light troops commanded by imagination, enjoy more
safety, and even more honour, in the conflicts of human life.
All this, however, is foreign to our present purpose.
Uncertain in what manner to address her whom he had been lately
so anxious to meet with, and embarrassed by a TETE-A-TETE to
which his own timid inexperience, gave some awkwardness, the
party had proceeded more than a hundred yards before Darsie
assumed courage to accost, or even to look at, his companion.
Sensible, however, of the impropriety of his silence, he turned
to speak to her; and observing that, although she wore her mask,
there was something like disappointment and dejection in her
manner, he was moved by self-reproach for his own coldness, and
hastened to address her in the kindest tone he could assume.
'You must think me cruelly deficient in gratitude, Miss Lilias,
that I have been thus long in your company, without thanking you
for the interest which you have deigned to take in my unfortunate
'I am glad you have at length spoken,' she said, 'though I owe it
is more coldly than I expected. MISS Lilias! DEIGN to take
interest! In whom, dear Darsie, CAN I take interest but in you;
and why do you put this barrier of ceremony betwixt us, whom
adverse circumstances have already separated for such a length of
Darsie was again confounded at the extra candour, if we may use
the term, of this frank avowal. 'One must love partridge very
well,' thought he, 'to accept it when thrown in one's face--if
this is not plain speaking, there is no such place as downright
Dunstable in being!'
Embarrassed with these reflections, and himself of a nature
fancifully, almost fastidiously, delicate, he could only in reply
stammer forth an acknowledgement of his companion's goodness, and
his own gratitude. She answered in a tone partly sorrowful and
partly impatient, repeating, with displeased emphasis, the only
distinct words he had been able to bring forth--'Goodness--
gratitude!--O Darsie! should these be the phrases between you
and me? Alas! I am too sure you are displeased with me, though
I cannot even guess on what account. Perhaps you think I have
been too free in venturing upon my visit to your friend. But
then remember, it was in your behalf, and that I knew no better
way to put you on your guard against the misfortunes and
restraint which you have been subjected to, and are still
'Dear Lady'--said Darsie, rallying his recollection, and
suspicious of some error in apprehension,--a suspicion which his
mode of address seemed at once to communicate to Lilias, for she
'LADY! dear LADY! For whom, or for what, in Heaven's name, do
you take me, that you address me so formally?'
Had the question been asked in that enchanted hall in fairyland,
where all interrogations must be answered with absolute
sincerity, Darsie had certainly replied, that he took her for the
most frank-hearted and ultra-liberal lass that had ever lived
since Mother Eve eat the pippin without paring. But as he was
still on middle-earth, and free to avail himself of a little
polite deceit, he barely answered that he believed he had the
honour of speaking to the niece of Mr. Redgauntlet,
'Surely,' she replied; 'but were it not as easy for you to have
said, to your own only sister?'
Darsie started in his saddle, as if he had received a pistol-
'My sister!' he exclaimed.
'And you did NOT know it, then?' said she. 'I thought your
reception of me was cold and indifferent!'
A kind and cordial embrace took place betwixt the relatives; and
so light was Darsie's spirit, that he really felt himself more
relieved, by getting quit of the embarrassments of the last half-
hour, during which he conceived himself in danger of being
persecuted by the attachment of a forward girl, than disappointed
by the vanishing of so many day-dreams as he had been in the
habit of encouraging during the time when the green-mantled
maiden was goddess of his idolatry. He had been already flung
from his romantic Pegasus, and was too happy at length to find
himself with bones unbroken, though with his back on the ground.
He was, besides, with all his whims and follies, a generous,
kind-hearted youth, and was delighted to acknowledge so beautiful
and amiable a relative, and to assure her in the warmest terms of
his immediate affection and future protection, so soon as they
should be extricated from their present situation. Smiles and
tears mingled on Lilias's cheeks, like showers and sunshine in
'Out on me,' she said, 'that I should be so childish as to cry at
what makes me so sincerely happy! since, God knows, family-love
is what my heart has most longed after, and to which it has been
most a stranger. My uncle says that you and I, Darsie, are but
half Redgauntlets, and that the metal of which our father's
family was made, has been softened to effeminacy in our mother's
'Alas!' said Darsie, 'I know so little of our family story, that
I almost doubted that I belonged to the House of Redgauntlet,
although the chief of the family himself intimated so much to
'The chief of the family!' said Lilias. 'You must know little
of your own descent indeed, if you mean my uncle by that
expression. You yourself, my dear Darsie, are the heir and
representative of our ancient House, for our father was the elder
brother--that brave and unhappy Sir Henry Darsie Redgauntlet, who
suffered at Carlisle in the year 1746. He took the name of
Darsie, in conjunction with his own, from our mother, heiress to
a Cumberland family of great wealth and antiquity, of whose large
estates you are the undeniable heir, although those of your
father have been involved in the general doom of forfeiture. But
all this must be necessarily unknown to you.'
'Indeed I hear it for the first time in my life,' answered
'And you knew not that I was your sister?' said Lilias. 'No
wonder you received me so coldly. What a strange, wild, forward
young person you must have thought me--mixing myself in the
fortunes of a stranger whom I had only once spoken to--
corresponding with him by signs--Good Heaven! what can you have
'And how should I have come to the knowledge of our connexion?'
said Darsie. 'You are aware I was not acquainted with it when we
danced together at Brokenburn.'
'I saw that with concern, and fain I would have warned you,'
answered Lilias; 'but I was closely watched, and before I could
find or make an opportunity of coming to a full explanation with
you on a subject so agitating, I was forced to leave the room.
What I did say was, you may remember, a caution to leave the
southern border, for I foresaw what has since happened. But
since my uncle has had you in his power, I never doubted he had
communicated to you our whole family history.'
'He has left me to learn it from you, Lilias; and assure yourself
that I will hear it with more pleasure from your lips than from
his. I have no reason to be pleased with his conduct towards
'Of that,' said Lilias, 'you will judge better when you have
heard what I have to tell you;' and she began her communication
in the following manner.
NARRATIVE OF DARSIE LATIMER, CONTINUED
'The House of Redgauntlet,' said the young lady, 'has for
centuries been supposed to lie under a doom, which has rendered
vain their courage, their talents, their ambition, and their
wisdom. Often making a figure in history, they have been ever in
the situation of men striving against both wind and tide, who
distinguish themselves by their desperate exertions of strength,
and their persevering endurance of toil, but without being able
to advance themselves upon their course by either vigour or
resolution. They pretend to trace this fatality to a legendary
history, which I may tell you at a less busy moment.'
Darsie intimated that he had already heard the tragic story of
Sir Alberick Redgauntlet.
'I need only say, then,' proceeded Lilias, 'that our father and
uncle felt the family doom in its full extent. They were both
possessed of considerable property, which was largely increased
by our father's marriage, and were both devoted to the service of
the unhappy House of Stuart; but (as our mother at least
supposed) family considerations might have withheld her husband
from joining openly in the affair of 1745, had not the high
influence which the younger brother possessed over the elder,
from his more decided energy of character, hurried him along with
himself into that undertaking.
'When, therefore, the enterprise came to the fatal conclusion
which bereaved our father of his life and consigned his brother
to exile, Lady Redgauntlet fled from the north of England,
determined to break off all communication with her late husband's
family, particularly his brother, whom she regarded as having, by
their insane political enthusiasm, been the means of his untimely
death; and determined that you, my brother, an infant, and that
I, to whom she had just given birth, should be brought up as
adherents of the present dynasty. Perhaps she was too hasty in
this determination--too timidly anxious to exclude, if possible,
from the knowledge of the very spot where we existed, a relation
so nearly connected with us as our father's only brother. But
you must make allowance for what she had suffered. See,
brother,' she said, pulling her glove off, 'these five blood-
specks on my arm are a mark by which mysterious Nature has
impressed, on an unborn infant, a record of its father's violent
death and its mother's miseries.' [Several persons have brought
down to these days the impressions which Nature had thus
recorded, when they were yet babes unborn. One lady of quality,
whose father was long under sentence of death previous to the
Rebellion, was marked on the back of the neck by the sign of a
broad axe. Another whose kinsmen had been slain in battle and
died on the scaffold to the number of seven, bore a child
spattered on the right shoulder and down the arm with scarlet
drops, as if of blood. Many other instances might be quoted.]
'You were not, then, born when my father suffered?' said Darsie.
'Alas, no!' she replied; 'nor were you a twelvemonth old. It
was no wonder that my mother, after going through such scenes of
agony, became irresistibly anxious for the sake of her children
--of her son in particular; the more especially as the late Sir
Henry, her husband, had, by a settlement of his affairs, confided
the custody of the persons of her children, as well as the
estates which descended to them, independently of those which
fell under his forfeiture, to his brother Hugh, in whom he placed
'But my mother had no reason to fear the operation of such a
deed, conceived in favour of an attainted man,' said Darsie.
'True,' replied Lilias; 'but our uncle's attainder might have
been reversed, like that of so many other persons, and our
mother, who both feared and hated him, lived in continual terror
that this would be the case, and that she should see the author,
as she thought him, of her husband's death come armed with legal
powers, and in a capacity to use them for the purpose of tearing
her children from her protection. Besides, she feared, even in
his incapacitated condition, the adventurous and pertinacious
spirit of her brother-in-law, Hugh Redgauntlet, and felt assured
that he would make some attempt to possess himself of the persons
of the children. On the other hand, our uncle, whose proud
disposition might, perhaps, have been soothed by the offer of her
confidence, revolted against the distrustful and suspicious
manner in which Lady Darsie Redgauntlet acted towards him. She
basely abused, he said, the unhappy circumstances in which he was
placed, in order to deprive him of his natural privilege of
protecting and educating the infants, whom nature and law, and
the will of their father, had committed to his charge, and he
swore solemnly he would not submit to such an injury. Report of
his threats was made to Lady Redgauntlet, and tended to increase
those fears which proved but too well founded. While you and I,
children at that time of two or three years old, were playing
together in a walled orchard, adjacent to our mother's residence
which she had fixed somewhere in Devonshire, my uncle suddenly
scaled the wall with several men, and I was snatched up; and
carried off to a boat which waited for them. My mother, however,
flew to your rescue, and as she seized on and held you fast, my
uncle could not, as he has since told me, possess himself of your
person, without using unmanly violence to his brother's widow.
Of this he was incapable; and, as people began to assemble upon