Part 9 out of 11
my mother's screaming, he withdrew, after darting upon you and
her one of those fearful looks, which, it is said, remain with
our family, as a fatal bequest of Sir Alberick, our ancestor.'
'I have some recollection of the scuffle which you mention,' said
Darsie; 'and I think it was my uncle himself (since my uncle he
is) who recalled the circumstance to my mind on a late occasion.
I can now account for the guarded seclusion under which my poor
mother lived--for her frequent tears, her starts of hysterical
alarm, and her constant and deep melancholy. Poor lady! what a
lot was hers, and what must have been her feelings when it
approached to a close!'
'It was then that she adopted,' said Lilias, 'every precaution
her ingenuity could suggest, to keep your very existence
concealed from the person whom she feared--nay, from yourself;
for she dreaded, as she is said often to have expressed herself,
that the wildfire blood of Redgauntlet would urge you to unite
your fortunes to those of your uncle, who was well known still to
carry on political intrigues, which most other persons had
considered as desperate. It was also possible that he, as well
as others, might get his pardon, as government showed every year
more lenity towards the remnant of the Jacobites, and then he
might claim the custody of your person, as your legal guardian.
Either of these events she considered as the direct road to your
'I wonder she had not claimed the protection of Chancery for me,'
said Darsie; 'or confided me to the care of some powerful
'She was on indifferent terms with her relations, on account of
her marriage with our father,' said Lilias, 'and trusted more to
secreting you from your uncle's attempts, than to any protection
which law might afford against them. Perhaps she judged
unwisely, but surely not unnaturally, for one rendered irritable
by so many misfortunes and so many alarms. Samuel Griffiths, an
eminent banker, and a worthy clergyman now dead were, I believe,
the only persons whom she intrusted with the execution of her
last will; and my uncle believes that she made them both swear to
observe profound secrecy concerning your birth and pretensions,
until you should come to the age of majority, and, in the
meantime, to breed you up in the most private way possible, and
that which was most likely to withdraw you from my uncle's
'And I have no doubt,' said Darsie, 'that betwixt change of name
and habitation, they might have succeeded perfectly, but for the
accident--lucky or unlucky, I know not which to term it--which
brought me to Brokenburn, and into contact with Mr. Redgauntlet.
I see also why I was warned against England, for in England'--
'In England alone, if I understand rightly,' said Miss
Redgauntlet, 'the claims of your uncle to the custody of your
person could have been enforced, in case of his being replaced in
the ordinary rights of citizenship, either by the lenity of the
government or by some change in it. In Scotland, where you
possess no property, I understand his authority might; have been
resisted, and measures taken to put you under the protection of
the law. But, pray, think it not unlucky that you have taken the
step of visiting Brokenburn--I feel confident that the
consequences must be ultimately fortunate, for have they not
already brought us into contact with each other?'
So saying, she held out her hand to her brother, who grasped it
with a fondness of pressure very different from the manner in
which they first clasped hands that morning. There was a
moment's pause, while the hearts of both were overflowing with a
feeling of natural affection, to which circumstances had hitherto
rendered them strangers.
At length Darsie broke silence; 'I am ashamed,' he said, 'my
dearest Lilias, that I have suffered you to talk so long about
matters concerning myself only, while I remain ignorant of your
story, and your present situation.'
'The former is none of the most interesting, nor the latter the
most safe or agreeable,' answered Lilias; 'but now, my dearest
brother, I shall have the inestimable support of your countenance
and affection; and were I but sure that we could weather the
formidable crisis which I find so close at hand, I should have
little apprehensions for the future.'
'Let me know,' said Darsie, 'what our present situation is; and
rely upon my utmost exertions both in your defence and my own.
For what reason can my uncle desire to detain me a prisoner? If
in mere opposition to the will of my mother, she has long been no
more; and I see not why he should wish, at so much trouble and
risk, to interfere with the free will of one, to whom a few
months will give a privilege of acting for himself, with which he
will have no longer any pretence to interfere.'
'My dearest Arthur,' answered Lilias--'for that name, as well as
Darsie, properly belongs to you--it is the leading feature in my
uncle's character, that he has applied every energy of his
powerful mind to the service of the exiled family of Stuart. The
death of his brother, the dilapidation of his own fortunes, have
only added to his hereditary zeal for the House of Stuart a deep
and almost personal hatred against the present reigning family.
He is, in short, a political enthusiast of the most dangerous
character, and proceeds in his agency with as much confidence, as
if he felt himself the very Atlas who is alone capable of
supporting a sinking cause.'
'And where or how did you, my Lilias, educated, doubtless, under
his auspices, learn to have a different view of such subjects?'
'By a singular chance,' replied Lilias, 'in the nunnery where my
uncle placed me. Although the abbess was a person exactly after
his own heart, my education as a pensioner devolved much on an
excellent old mother who had adopted the tenets of the
Jansenists, with perhaps a still further tendency towards the
reformed doctrines, than those of Port Royal. The mysterious
secrecy with which she inculcated these tenets, gave them charms
to my young mind, and I embraced them the rather that they were
in direct opposition to the doctrines of the abbess, whom I hated
so much for her severity, that I felt a childish delight in
setting her control at defiance, and contradicting in my secret
soul all that I was openly obliged to listen to with reverence.
Freedom of religious opinion brings on, I suppose, freedom of
political creed; for I had no sooner renounced the Pope's
infallibility, than I began to question the doctrine of
hereditary and indefeasible right. In short, strange as it may
seem, I came out of a Parisian convent, not indeed an instructed
Whig and Protestant, but with as much inclination to be so as if
I had been bred up, like you, within the Presbyterian sound of
Saint Giles's chimes.'
'More so, perhaps,' replied Darsie; 'for the nearer the church--
the proverb is somewhat musty. But how did these liberal
opinions of yours agree with the very opposite prejudices of my
'They would have agreed like fire and water,' answered Lilias,
'had I suffered mine to become visible; but as that would have
subjected me to constant reproach and upbraiding, or worse, I
took great care to keep my own secret; so that occasional
censures for coldness, and lack of zeal for the good cause, were
the worst I had to undergo; and these were bad enough.'
'I applaud your caution,' said Darsie.
'You have reason,' replied his sister; 'but I got so terrible a
specimen of my uncle's determination of character, before I had
been acquainted with him for much more than a week, that it
taught me at what risk I should contradict his humour. I will
tell you the circumstances; for it will better teach you to
appreciate the romantic and resolved nature of his character,
than anything which I could state of his rashness and enthusiasm.
'After I had been many a long year at the convent, I was removed
from thence, and placed with a meagre old Scottish lady of high
rank, the daughter of an unfortunate person whose head had in the
year 1715 been placed on Temple Bar. She subsisted on a small
pension from the French Court, aided by an occasional gratuity
from the Stuarts; to which the annuity paid for my board formed a
desirable addition. She was not ill-tempered, nor very covetous
--neither beat me nor starved me--but she was so completely
trammelled by rank and prejudices, so awfully profound in
genealogy, and so bitterly keen, poor lady, in British, politics,
that I sometimes thought it pity that the Hanoverians, who
murdered, as she used to tell me, her poor dear father, had left
his dear daughter in the land of the living. Delighted,
therefore, was I, when my uncle made his appearance, and abruptly
announced his purpose of conveying me to England. My extravagant
joy at the idea of leaving Lady Rachel Rougedragon was somewhat
qualified by observing the melancholy look, lofty demeanour, and
commanding tone of my near relative. He held more communication
with me on the journey, however, than consisted with his taciturn
demeanour in general, and seemed anxious to ascertain my tone of
character, and particularly in point of courage. Now, though I
am a tamed Redgauntlet, yet I have still so much of our family
spirit as enables me to be as composed in danger as most of my
sex; and upon two occasions in the course of our journey--a
threatened attack by banditti, and the overturn of our carriage--
I had the fortune so to conduct myself, as to convey to my uncle
a very favourable idea of my intrepidity. Probably this
encouraged him to put in execution the singular scheme which he
had in agitation.
'Ere we reached London we changed our means of conveyance, and
altered the route by which we approached the city, more than
once; then, like a hare which doubles repeatedly at some distance
from the seat she means to occupy, and at last leaps into her
form from a distance so great as she can clear by a spring, we
made a forced march, and landed in private and obscure lodgings
in a little old street in Westminster, not far from the
'On the morning of the day on which we arrived my uncle went
abroad, and did not return for some hours. Meantime I had no
other amusement than to listen to the tumult of noises which
succeeded each other, or reigned in confusion together during the
whole morning. Paris I had thought the most noisy capital in the
world, but Paris seemed midnight silence compared to London.
Cannon thundered near and at a distance--drums, trumpets, and
military music of every kind, rolled, flourished, and pierced the
clouds, almost without intermission. To fill up the concert,
bells pealed incessantly from a hundred steeples. The
acclamations of an immense multitude were heard from time to
time, like the roaring of a mighty ocean, and all this without my
being able to glean the least idea of what was going on, for the
windows of our apartment looked upon a waste backyard, which
seemed totally deserted. My curiosity became extreme, for I was
satisfied, at length, that it must be some festival of the
highest order which called forth these incessant sounds.
'My uncle at length returned, and with him a man of an exterior
singularly unprepossessing. I need not describe him to you, for
--do not look round--he rides behind us at this moment.'
'That respectable person, Mr. Cristal Nixon, I suppose?' said
'The same,' answered Lilias; 'make no gesture, that may intimate
we are speaking of him.'
Darsie signified that he understood her, and she pursued her
'They were both in full dress, and my uncle, taking a bundle from
Nixon, said to me, "Lilias, I am come to carry you to see a grand
ceremony--put on as hastily as you can the dress you will find in
that parcel, and prepare to attend me." I found a female dress,
splendid and elegant, but somewhat bordering upon the antique
fashion. It might be that of England, I thought, and I went to
my apartment full of curiosity, and dressed myself with all
'My uncle surveyed me with attention--"She may pass for one of
the flower-girls," he said to Nixon, who only answered with a
'We left the house together, and such was their knowledge of the
lanes, courts, and bypaths, that though there was the roar of a
multitude in the broad streets, those which we traversed were
silent and deserted; and the strollers whom we met, tired of
gazing upon gayer figures, scarcely honoured us with a passing
look, although, at any other time, we should, among these vulgar
suburbs, have attracted a troublesome share of observation. We
crossed at length a broad street, where many soldiers were on
guard, while others, exhausted with previous duty, were eating,
drinking, smoking, and sleeping beside their piled arms.
'"One day, Nixon," whispered my uncle, "we will make these
redcoated gentry stand to their muskets more watchfully."
'"Or it will be the worse for them," answered his attendant, in a
voice as unpleasant as his physiognomy.
'Unquestioned and unchallenged by any one, we crossed among the
guards; and Nixon tapped thrice at a small postern door in a huge
ancient building, which was straight before us. It opened, and
we entered without my perceiving by whom we were admitted. A few
dark and narrow passages at length conveyed us into an immense
Gothic hall, the magnificence of which baffles my powers of
'It was illuminated by ten thousand wax lights, whose splendour
at first dazzled my eyes, coming as we did from these dark and
secret avenues. But when my sight began to become steady, how
shall I describe what I beheld? Beneath were huge ranges of
tables, occupied by princes and nobles in their robes of state--
high officers of the crown, wearing their dresses and badges of
authority--reverend prelates and judges, the sages of the church
and law, in their more sombre, yet not less awful robes--with
others whose antique and striking costume announced their
importance, though I could not even guess who they might be. But
at length the truth burst on me at once--it was, and the murmurs
around confirmed it, the Coronation Feast. At a table above the
rest, and extending across the upper end of the hall, sat
enthroned the youthful sovereign himself, surrounded by the
princes of the blood, and other dignitaries, and receiving the
suit and homage of his subjects. Heralds and pursuivants,
blazing in their fantastic yet splendid armorial habits, and
pages of honour, gorgeously arrayed in the garb of other days,
waited upon the princely banqueters. In the galleries with which
this spacious hall was surrounded, shone all, and more than all,
that my poor imagination could conceive, of what was brilliant in
riches, or captivating in beauty. Countless rows of ladies,
whose diamonds, jewels, and splendid attire were their least
powerful charms, looked down from their lofty seats on the rich
scene beneath, themselves forming a show as dazzling and as
beautiful as that of which they were spectators. Under these
galleries, and behind the banqueting tables, were a multitude of
gentlemen, dressed as if to attend a court, but whose garb,
although rich enough to have adorned a royal drawing room, could
not distinguish them in such a high scene as this. Amongst these
we wandered for a few minutes, undistinguished and unregarded. I
saw several young persons dressed as I was, so was under no
embarrassment from the singularity of my habit, and only
rejoiced, as I hung on my uncle's arm, at the magical splendour
of such a scene, and at his goodness for procuring me the
pleasure of beholding it.
'By and by, I perceived that my uncle had acquaintances among
those who were under the galleries, and seemed, like ourselves,
to be mere spectators of the solemnity. They recognized each
other with a single word, sometimes only with a grip of the hand-
exchanged some private signs, doubtless--and gradually formed a
little group, in the centre of which we were placed.
'"Is it not a grand sight, Lilias?" said my uncle. "All the
noble, and all the wise, and all the wealthy of Britain, are
'"It is indeed," said I, "all that my mind could have fancied of
regal power and splendour."
'"Girl," he whispered,--and my uncle can make his whispers as
terribly emphatic as his thundering voice or his blighting look
--"all that is noble and worthy in this fair land are there
assembled--but it is to bend like slaves and sycophants before
the throne of a new usurper."
'I looked at him, and the dark hereditary frown of our unhappy
ancestor was black upon his brow.
'"For God's sake," I whispered, "consider where we are."
'"Fear nothing," he said; "we are surrounded by friends." As he
proceeded, his strong and muscular frame shook with suppressed
agitation. "See," he said, "yonder bends Norfolk, renegade to
his Catholic.faith; there stoops the Bishop of --, traitor to the
Church of England; and,--shame of shames! yonder the gigantic
form of Errol bows his head before the grandson of his father's
murderer! But a sign shall be seen this night amongst them--
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, shall be read on these walls, as
distinctly as the spectral handwriting made them visible on those
'"For God's sake," said I, dreadfully alarmed, "it is impossible
you can meditate violence in such a presence!"
'"None is intended, fool," he answered, "nor can the slightest
mischance happen, provided you will rally your boasted courage,
and obey my directions. But do it coolly and quickly, for there
are a hundred lives at stake."
'"Alas! what--can I do?" I asked in the utmost terror.
'"Only be prompt to execute my bidding," said he; "it is but to
lift a glove--Here, hold this in your hand--throw the train of
your dress over it, be firm, composed, and ready--or, at all
events, I step forward myself."
'"If there is no violence designed," I said, taking,
mechanically, the iron glove he put into my hand.
'"I could not conceive his meaning; but, in the excited state of
mind in which I beheld him, I was convinced that disobedience on
my part would lead to some wild explosion. I felt, from the
emergency of the occasion, a sudden presence of mind, and
resolved to do anything that might avert violence and bloodshed.
I was not long held in suspense. A loud flourish of trumpets and
the voice of heralds were mixed with the clatter of horses'
hoofs, while a champion, armed at all points like those I had
read of in romances, attended by squires, pages, and the whole
retinue of chivalry, pranced forward, mounted upon a barbed
steed. His challenge, in defiance of all who dared impeach the
title of the new sovereign, was recited aloud--once, and again.
'" Rush in at the third sounding," said my uncle to me; "bring me
the parader's gage, and leave mine in lieu of it."
'I could not see how this was to be done, as we were surrounded
by people on all sides. But, at the third sounding of the
trumpets, a lane opened as if by word of command, betwixt me and
the champion, and my uncle's voice said, "Now, Lilias, NOW!"
'With a swift and yet steady step, and with a presence of mind for
which I have never since been able to account, I discharged the
perilous commission. I was hardly seen, I believe, as I
exchanged the pledges of battle, and in an instant retired.
"Nobly done, my girl!" said my uncle, at whose side I found
myself, shrouded as I was before, by the interposition of the
bystanders. "Cover our retreat, gentlemen," he whispered to
those around him.
'Room was made for us to approach the wall, which seemed to open,
and we were again involved in the dark passages through which we
had formerly passed. In a small anteroom, my uncle stopped, and
hastily muffling me in a mantle which was lying there, we passed
the guards--threaded the labyrinth of empty streets and courts,
and reached our retired lodgings without attracting the least
'I have often heard,' said Darsie, 'that a female, supposed to be
a man in disguise,--and yet, Lilias, you do not look very
masculine,--had taken up the champion's gauntlet at the present
king's coronation, and left in its place a gage of battle, with a
paper, offering to accept the combat, provided a fair field
should be allowed for it. I have hitherto considered it as an
idle tale. I little thought how nearly I was interested in the
actors of a scene so daring. How could you have courage to go
through with it?' [See Note 9.]
'Had I had leisure for reflection,' answered his sister, 'I
should have refused, from a mixture of principle and of fear.
But, like many people who do daring actions, I went on because I
had not time to think of retreating. The matter was little
known, and it is said the king had commanded that it should not
be further inquired into;--from prudence, as I suppose, and
lenity, though my uncle chooses to ascribe the forbearance of the
Elector of Hanover, as he calls him, sometimes to pusillanimity,
and sometimes to a presumptuous scorn of the faction who opposes
'And have your subsequent agencies under this frantic
enthusiast,' said Darsie, 'equalled this in danger?'
'No--nor in importance,' replied Lilias; 'though I have witnessed
much of the strange and desperate machinations, by which, in
spite of every obstacle, and in contempt of every danger, he
endeavours to awaken the courage of a broken party. I have
traversed, in his company, all England and Scotland, and have
visited the most extraordinary and contrasted scenes; now lodging
at the castles of the proud gentry of Cheshire and Wales, where
the retired aristocrats, with opinions as antiquated as their
dwellings and their manners, still continue to nourish
Jacobitical principles; and the next week, perhaps, spent among
outlawed smugglers, or Highland banditti. I have known my uncle
often act the part of a hero, and sometimes that of a mere vulgar
conspirator, and turn himself, with the most surprising
flexibility, into all sorts of shapes to attract proselytes to
'Which, in the present day,' said Darsie, 'he finds, I presume,
no easy task.'
'So difficult,' said Lilias, 'that, I believe, he has, at
different times, disgusted with the total falling away of some
friends, and the coldness of others, been almost on the point of
resigning his undertaking. How often I have I known him affect
an open brow and a jovial manner, joining in the games of the
gentry, and even in the sports of the common people, in order to
invest himself with a temporary degree of popularity; while, in
fact, his heart was bursting to witness what he called the
degeneracy of the times, the decay of activity among the aged,
and the want of zeal in the rising generation. After the day has
been spent in the hardest exercise, he has spent the night in
pacing his solitary chamber, bewailing the downfall of the cause,
and wishing for the bullet of Dundee or the axe of Balmerino.'
'A strange delusion,' said Darsie; 'and it is wonderful that it
does not yield to the force of reality.'
'Ah, but,' replied Lilias, 'realities of late have seemed to
flatter his hopes. The general dissatisfaction with the peace--
the unpopularity of the minister, which has extended itself even
to the person of his master--the various uproars which have
disturbed the peace of the metropolis, and a general state of
disgust and disaffection, which seems to affect the body of the
nation, have given unwonted encouragement to the expiring hopes
of the Jacobites, and induced many, both at the Court of Rome,
and, if it can be called so, of the Pretender, to lend a more
favourable ear than they had hitherto done to the insinuations of
those who, like my uncle, hope, when hope is lost to all but
themselves. Nay, I really believe that at this moment they
meditate some desperate effort. My uncle has been doing all in
his power, of late, to conciliate the affections of those wild
communities that dwell on the Solway, over whom our family
possessed a seignorial interest before the forfeiture, and
amongst whom, on the occasion of 1745, our unhappy father's
interest, with his own, raised a considerable body of men. But
they are no longer willing to obey his summons; and, as one
apology among others, they allege your absence as their natural
head and leader. This has increased his desire to obtain
possession of your person, and, if he possibly can, to influence
your mind, so as to obtain your authority to his proceedings.'
'That he shall never obtain,' answered Darsie; 'my principles and
my prudence alike forbid such a step. Besides, it would be
totally unavailing to his purpose. Whatever these people may
pretend, to evade your uncle's importunities, they cannot, at
this time of day, think of subjecting their necks again to the
feudal yoke, which was effectually broken by the act of 1748,
abolishing vassalage and hereditary jurisdictions.'
'Aye, but that my uncle considers as the act of a usurping
government,' said Lilias.
'Like enough he may think so,' answered her brother, 'for he is a
superior, and loses his authority by, the enactment. But the
question is, what the vassals will think of it who have gained
their freedom from feudal slavery, and have now enjoyed that
freedom for many years? However, to cut the matter short, if
five hundred men would rise at the wagging of my finger, that
finger shall not be raised in a cause which I disapprove of, and
upon that my uncle may reckon.'
'But you may temporize,' said Lilias, upon whom the idea of her
uncle's displeasure made evidently a strong impression,--'you may
temporize, as most of the gentry in this country do, and let the
bubble burst of itself; for it is singular how few of them
venture to oppose my uncle directly. I entreat you to avoid
direct collision with him. To hear you, the head of the House of
Redgauntlet, declare against the family of Stuart, would either
break his heart, or drive him to some act of desperation.'
'Yes, but, Lilias, you forget that the consequences of such an
act of complaisance might be, that the House of Redgauntlet and I
might lose both our heads at one blow.'
'Alas!' said she, 'I had forgotten that danger. I have grown
familiar with perilous intrigues, as the nurses in a pest-house
are said to become accustomed to the air around them, till they
forget even that it is noisome.'
'And yet,' said Darsie, 'if I could free myself from him without
coming to an open rupture. Tell me, Lilias, do you think it
possible that he can have any immediate attempt in view?'
'To confess the truth,' answered Lilias, 'I cannot doubt that he
has. There has been an unusual bustle among the Jacobites of
late. They have hopes, as I told you, from circumstances
unconnected with their own strength. Just before you came to the
country, my uncle's desire to find you out became, if possible,
more eager than ever--he talked of men to be presently brought
together, and of your name and influence for raising them. At
this very time your first visit to Brokenburn took place. A
suspicion arose in my uncle's mind, that you might be the youth
he sought, and it was strengthened by papers and letters which
the rascal Nixon did not hesitate to take from your pocket. Yet
a mistake might have occasioned a fatal explosion; and my uncle
therefore posted to Edinburgh to follow out the clue he had
obtained, and fished enough of information from old Mr. Fairford
to make him certain that you were the person he sought.
Meanwhile, and at the expense of some personal and perhaps too
bold exertion, I endeavoured, through your friend young Fairford,
to put you on your guard.'
'Without success,' said Darsie, blushing under his mask when he
recollected how he had mistaken his sister's meaning.
'I do not wonder that my warning was fruitless,' said she; 'the
thing was doomed to be. Besides, your escape would have been
difficult. You were dogged the whole time you were at the
Shepherd's Bush and at Mount Sharon, by a spy who scarcely ever
'The wretch, little Benjie!' exclaimed Darsie. 'I will wring
the monkey's neck round, the first time we meet.'
'It was he indeed who gave constant information of your motions
to Cristal Nixon,' said Lilias.
'And Cristal Nixon--I owe him, too, a day's work in harvest,'
said Darsie; 'for I am mistaken if he was not the person that
struck me down when I was made prisoner among the rioters.'
'Like enough; for he has a head and hand for any villany. My
uncle was very angry about it; for though the riot was made to
have an opportunity of carrying you off in the confusion, as well
as to put the fishermen at variance with the public law, it would
have been his last thought to have injured a hair of your head.
But Nixon has insinuated himself into all my uncle's secrets, and
some of these are so dark and dangerous, that though there are
few things he would not dare, I doubt if he dare quarrel with
him. And yet I know that of Cristal would move my uncle to pass
his sword through his body.'
'What is it, for Heaven's sake?', said Darsie. 'I have a
particular desire for wishing to know.'
'The old, brutal desperado, whose face and mind are a libel upon
human nature, has had the insolence to speak to his master's
niece as one whom he was at liberty to admire; and when I turned
on him with the anger and contempt he merited, the wretch
grumbled out something, as if he held the destiny of our family
in his hand.'
'I thank you, Lilias,' said Darsie, eagerly,--'I thank you with
all my heart for this communication. I have blamed myself as a
Christian man for the indescribable longing I felt from the first
moment I saw that rascal, to send a bullet through his head; and
now you have perfectly accounted for and justified this very
laudable wish. I wonder my uncle, with the powerful sense you
describe him to be possessed of, does not see through such a
'I believe he knows him to be capable of much evil,' answered
Lilias--'selfish, obdurate, brutal, and a man-hater. But then he
conceives him to possess the qualities most requisite for a
conspirator--undaunted courage, imperturbable coolness and
address, and inviolable fidelity. In the last particular he may
be mistaken. I have heard Nixon blamed for the manner in which
our poor father was taken after Culloden.'
'Another reason for my innate aversion,' said Darsie, but I will
be on my guard with him.'
'See, he observes us closely,' said Lilias. 'What a thing is
conscience! He knows we are now speaking of him, though he
cannot have heard a word that we have said.'
It seemed as if she had guessed truly; for Cristal Nixon at that
moment rode up to them, and said, with an affectation of
jocularity, which sat very ill on his sullen features, 'Come,
young ladies, you have had time enough for your chat this
morning, and your tongues, I think, must be tired. We are going
to pass a village, and I must beg you to separate--you, Miss
Lilias, to ride a little behind--and you, Mrs., or Miss, or
Master, whichever you choose to be called, to be jogging a little
Lilias checked her horse without speaking, but not until she had
given her brother an expressive look, recommending caution; to
which he replied by a signal indicating that he understood and
would comply with her request.
NARRATTVE OF DARSIE LATIMER, CONTINUED
Left to his solitary meditations, Darsie (for we will still term
Sir Arthur Darsie Redgauntlet of that Ilk by the name to which
the reader is habituated) was surprised not only at the
alteration of his own state and condition, but at the equanimity
with which he felt himself disposed to view all these
His fever--fit of love had departed like a morning's dream, and
left nothing behind but a painful sense of shame, and a
resolution to be more cautious ere he again indulged in such
romantic visions. His station in society was changed from that
of a wandering, unowned youth, in whom none appeared to take an
interest excepting the strangers by whom he had been educated, to
the heir of a noble house, possessed of such influence and such
property, that it seemed as if the progress or arrest of
important political events were likely to depend upon his
resolution. Even this sudden elevation, the more than fulfilment
of those wishes which had haunted him ever since he was able to
form a wish on the subject, was contemplated by Darsie, volatile
as his disposition was, without more than a few thrills of
It is true, there were circumstances in his present situation to
counterbalance such high advantages. To be a prisoner in the
hands of a man so determined as his uncle, was no agreeable
consideration, when he was calculating how he might best dispute
his pleasure and refuse to join him in the perilous enterprise
which he seemed to meditate. Outlawed and desperate himself,
Darsie could not doubt that his uncle was surrounded by men
capable of anything--that he was restrained by no personal
considerations--and therefore what degree of compulsion he might
apply to his brother's son, or in what manner he might feel at
liberty to punish his contumacy, should he disavow the Jacobite
cause, must depend entirely upon the limits of his own
conscience; and who was to answer for the conscience of a heated
enthusiast who considers opposition to the party he has espoused,
as treason to the welfare of his country? After a short
interval, Cristal Nixon was pleased to throw some light upon the
subject which agitated him.
When that grim satellite rode up without ceremony close to
Darsie's side, the latter felt his very flesh creep with
abhorrence, so little was he able to endure his presence, since
the story of Lilias had added to his instinctive hatred of the
His voice, too, sounded like that of a screech-owl, as he said,
'So, my young cock of the north, you now know it all, and no
doubt are blessing your uncle for stirring you up to such an
'I will acquaint my uncle with my sentiments on the subject,
before I make them known to any one else,' said Darsie, scarcely
prevailing on his tongue to utter even these few words in a civil
'Umph,' murmured Cristal betwixt his teeth. 'Close as wax, I
see; and perhaps not quite so pliable. But take care, my pretty
youth,' he added, scornfully; 'Hugh Redgauntlet will prove a
rough colt-breaker--he will neither spare whipcord nor spur-
rowel, I promise you.'
'I have already said, Mr. Nixon, answered Darsie, 'that I will
canvass those matters of which my sister has informed me, with my
uncle himself, and with no other person.'
'Nay, but a word of friendly advice would do you no harm, young
master,' replied Nixon. 'Old Redgauntlet is apter at a blow than
a word--likely to bite before he barks--the true man for giving
Scarborough warning, first knock you down, then bid you stand.
So, methinks, a little kind warning as to consequences were not
amiss, lest they come upon you unawares.'
'If the warning is really kind, Mr. Nixon,' said the young man,
'I will hear it thankfully; and indeed, if otherwise, I must
listen to it whether I will or no, since I have at present no
choice of company or of conversation.'
'Nay, I have but little to say,' said Nixon, affecting to give to
his sullen and dogged manner the appearance of an honest
bluntness; 'I am as little apt to throw away words as any one.
But here is the question--Will you join heart and hand with your
uncle, or no?'
'What if I should say Aye?' said Darsie, determined, if
possible, to conceal his resolution from this man.
'Why, then,' said Nixon, somewhat surprised at the readiness of
his answer, 'all will go smooth, of course--you will take share
in this noble undertaking, and, when it succeeds, you will
exchange your open helmet for an earl's coronet perhaps.'
'And how if it fails?' said Darsie.
'Thereafter as it may be,' said Nixon; 'they who play at bowls
must meet with rubbers.'
'Well, but suppose, then, I have some foolish tenderness for my
windpipe, and that when my uncle proposes the adventure to me I
should say No--how then, Mr. Nixon?'
'Why, then, I would have you look to yourself, young master.
There are sharp laws in France against refractory pupils--LETTRES
DE CACHET are easily come by when such men as we are concerned
with interest themselves in the matter.'
'But we are not in France,' said poor Darsie, through whose blood
ran a cold shivering at the idea of a French prison.
'A fast-sailing lugger will soon bring you there though, snug
stowed under hatches, like a cask of moonlight.'
'But the French are at peace with us,' said Darsie, 'and would
'Why, who would ever hear of you?' interrupted Nixon; 'do you
imagine that a foreign court would call you up for judgement, and
put the sentence of imprisonment in the COURRIER DE L'EUROPE, as
they do at the Old Bailey? No, no, young gentleman--the gates of
the Bastille, and of Mont Saint Michel, and the Castle of
Vincennes, move on d--d easy hinges when they let folk in--not
the least jar is heard. There are cool cells there for hot
heads--as calm, and quiet, and dark, as you could wish in Bedlam
--and the dismissal comes when the carpenter brings the
prisoner's coffin, and not sooner.'
'Well, Mr. Nixon,' said Darsie, affecting a cheerfulness which he
was far from feeling, 'mine is a hard case--a sort of hanging
choice, you will allow--since I must either offend our own
government here and run the risk of my life for doing so, or be
doomed to the dungeons of another country, whose laws I have
never offended since I have never trod its soil--Tell me what you
would do if you were in my place.
'I'll tell you that when I am there,' said Nixon, and, checking
his horse, fell back to the rear of the little party.
'It is evident,' thought the young man, 'that the villain
believes me completely noosed, and perhaps has the ineffable
impudence to suppose that my sister must eventually succeed to
the possessions which have occasioned my loss of freedom, and
that his own influence over the destinies of our unhappy family
may secure him possession of the heiress; but he shall perish by
my hand first!--I must now be on the alert to make my escape, if
possible, before I am forced on shipboard. Blind Willie will
not, I think, desert me without an effort on my behalf,
especially if he has learned that I am the son of his late
unhappy patron. What a change is mine! Whilst I possessed
neither rank nor fortune, I lived safely and unknown, under the
protection of the kind and respectable friends whose hearts
Heaven had moved towards me. Now that I am the head of an
honourable house, and that enterprises of the most daring
character await my decision, and retainers and vassals seem ready
to rise at my beck, my safety consists chiefly in the attachment
of a blind stroller!'
While he was revolving these things in his mind, and preparing
himself for the interview with his uncle which could not but be a
stormy one, he saw Hugh Redgauntlet come riding slowly back to
meet them without any attendants. Cristal Nixon rode up as he
approached, and, as they met, fixed on him a look of inquiry.
'The fool, Crackenthorp,' said Redgauntlet, has let strangers
into his house. Some of his smuggling comrades, I believe; we
must ride slowly to give him time to send them packing.'
'Did you see any of your friends?' said Cristal.
'Three, and have letters from many more. They are unanimous on
the subject you wot of--and the point must be conceded to them,
or, far as the matter has gone, it will go no further.'
'You will hardly bring the father to stoop to his flock,' said
Cristal, with a sneer.
'He must and shall!' answered Redgauntlet, briefly. 'Go to the
front, Cristal--I would speak with my nephew. I trust, Sir
Arthur Redgauntlet, you are satisfied with the manner in which I
have discharged my duty to your sister?'
'There can be no fault found to her manners or sentiments,'
answered Darsie; 'I am happy in knowing a relative so amiable.'
'I am glad of it,' answered Mr. Redgauntlet. 'I am no nice judge
of women's qualifications, and my life has been dedicated to one
great object; so that since she left France she has had but
little opportunity of improvement. I have subjected her,
however, as little as possible to the inconveniences and
privations of my wandering and dangerous life. From time to time
she has resided for weeks and months with families of honour and
respectability, and I am glad that she has, in, your opinion, the
manners and behaviour which become her birth.'
Darsie expressed himself perfectly satisfied, and there was a
little pause, which Redgauntlet broke by solemnly addressing his
'For you, my nephew, I also hoped to have done much. The
weakness and timidity of your mother sequestered you from my
care, or it would have been my pride and happiness to have
trained up the son of my unhappy brother in those paths of honour
in which our ancestors have always trod.'
'Now comes the storm,' thought Darsie to himself, and began to
collect his thoughts, as the cautious master of a vessel furls
his sails and makes his ship snug when he discerns the
'My mother's conduct in respect to me might be misjudged,' he
said, 'but it was founded on the most anxious affection.'
'Assuredly,' said his uncle, 'and I have no wish to reflect on
her memory, though her mistrust has done so much injury, I will
not say to me, but to the cause of my unhappy country. Her
scheme was, I think, to have made you that wretched pettifogging
being, which they still continue to call in derision by the once
respectable name of a Scottish Advocate; one of those mongrel
things that must creep to learn the ultimate decision of his
causes to the bar of a foreign court, instead of pleading before
the independent and august Parliament of his own native kingdom,'
'I did prosecute the study of law for a year or two, said Darsie,
'but I found I had neither taste nor talents for the science.'
'And left it with scorn, doubtless,' said Mr. Redgauntlet.
'Well, I now hold up to you, my dearest nephew, a more worthy
object of ambition. Look eastward--do you see a monument
standing on yonder plain, near a hamlet?'
Darsie replied that he did,
'The hamlet is called Burgh-upon-Sands, and yonder monument is
erected to the memory of the tyrant Edward I The just hand of
Providence overtook him on that spot, as he was leading his bands
to complete the subjugation of Scotland whose civil dissensions
began under his accursed policy. The glorious career of Bruce
might have been stopped in its outset; the field of Bannockburn
might have remained a bloodless turf, if God had not removed, in
the very crisis, the crafty and bold tyrant who had so long been
Scotland's scourge. Edward's grave is the cradle of our national
freedom. It is within sight of that great landmark of our
liberty that I have to propose to you an undertaking, second in
honour and importance to none since the immortal Bruce stabbed
the Red Comyn, and grasped with his yet bloody hand the
independent crown of Scotland.'
He paused for an answer; but Darsie, overawed by the energy of
his manner, and unwilling to commit himself by a hasty
explanation, remained silent.
'I will not suppose,' said Hugh Redgauntlet, after a pause, that
you are either so dull as not to comprehend the import of my
words--or so dastardly as to be dismayed by my proposal--or so
utterly degenerate from the blood and sentiments of your
ancestors, as not to feel my summons as the horse hears the war-
'I will not pretend to misunderstand you, sir,' said Darsie; 'but
an enterprise directed against a dynasty now established for
three reigns requires strong arguments, both in point of justice
and of expediency, to recommend it to men of conscience and
'I will not,' said Redgauntlet, while his eyes sparkled with
anger,--'I will not hear you speak a word against the justice of
that enterprise, for which your oppressed country calls with the
voice of a parent, entreating her children for aid--or against
that noble revenge which your father's blood demands from his
dishonoured grave. His skull is yet standing over the Rikargate,
[The northern gate of Carlisle was long garnished with the heads
of the Scottish rebels executed in 1746.] and even its bleak and
mouldered jaws command you to be a man. I ask you, in the name
of God and of your country, will you draw your sword and go with
me to Carlisle, were it but to lay your father's head, now the
perch of the obscene owl and carrion crow and the scoff of every
ribald clown, in consecrated earth as befits his long ancestry?'
Darsie, unprepared to answer an appeal urged with so much
passion, and not doubting a direct refusal would cost him his
liberty or life, was again silent.
'I see,' said his uncle, in a more composed tone, 'that it is not
deficiency of spirit, but the grovelling habits of a confined
education, among the poor-spirited class you were condemned to
herd with, that keeps you silent. You scarce yet believe
yourself a Redgauntlet; your pulse has not yet learned the
genuine throb that answers to the summons of honour and of
'I trust,' replied Darsie, at last, 'that I shall never be found
indifferent to the call of either; but to answer them with
effect--even were I convinced that they now sounded in my ear--I
must see some reasonable hope of success in the desperate
enterprise in which you would involve me. I look around me, and
I see a settled government--an established authority--a born
Briton on the throne--the very Highland mountaineers, upon whom
alone the trust of the exiled family reposed, assembled into
regiments which act under the orders of the existing dynasty.
[The Highland regiments were first employed by the celebrated
Earl of Chatham, who assumed to himself no small degree of praise
for having called forth to the support of the country and the
government, the valour which had been too often directed against
both.] France has been utterly dismayed by the tremendous
lessons of the last war, and will hardly provoke another. All
without and within the kingdom is adverse to encountering a
hopeless struggle, and you alone, sir, seem willing to undertake
a desperate enterprise.'
'And would undertake it were it ten times more desperate; and
have agitated it when ten times the obstacles were interposed.
Have I forgot my brother's blood? Can I--dare I even now repeat
the Pater Noster, since my enemies and the murderers remain
unforgiven? Is there an art I have not practised--a privation to
which I have not submitted, to bring on the crisis, which I now
behold arrived? Have I not been a vowed and a devoted man,
forgoing every comfort of social life, renouncing even the
exercise of devotion unless when I might name in prayer my prince
and country, submitting to everything to make converts to this
noble cause? Have I done all this, and shall I now stop short?'
Darsie was about to interrupt him, but he pressed his hand
affectionately upon his shoulder, and enjoining, or rather
imploring, silence, 'Peace,' he said, 'heir of my ancestors'
fame--heir of all my hopes and wishes. Peace, son of my
slaughtered brother! I have sought for thee, and mourned for
thee, as a mother for an only child. Do not let me again lose
you in the moment when you are restored to my hopes. Believe me,
I distrust so much my own impatient temper, that I entreat you,
as the dearest boon, do naught to awaken it at this crisis.'
Darsie was not sorry to reply that his respect for the person of
his relation would induce him to listen to all which he had to
apprise him of, before he formed any definite resolution upon the
weighty subjects of deliberation which he proposed to him.
'Deliberation!' repeated Redgauntlet, impatiently; 'and yet it
is not ill said. I wish there had been more warmth in thy reply,
Arthur; but I must recollect, were an eagle bred in a falcon's
mew and hooded like a reclaimed hawk, he could not at first gaze
steadily on the sun. Listen to me, my dearest Arthur. The state
of this nation no more implies prosperity, than the florid colour
of a feverish patient is a symptom of health. All is false and
hollow. The apparent success of Chatham's administration has
plunged the country deeper in debt than all the barren acres of
Canada are worth, were they as fertile as Yorkshire--the dazzling
lustre of the victories of Minden and Quebec have been dimmed by
the disgrace of the hasty peace--by the war, England, at immense
expense, gained nothing but honour, and that she has gratuitously
resigned. Many eyes, formerly cold and indifferent, are now
looking towards the line of our ancient and rightful monarchs, as
the only refuge in the approaching storm--the rich are alarmed--
the nobles are disgusted--the populace are inflamed--and a band
of patriots, whose measures are more safe than their numbers are
few, have resolved to set up King Charles's standard,'
'But the military,' said Darsie--'how can you, with a body of
unarmed and disorderly insurgents, propose to encounter a regular
army. The Highlanders are now totally disarmed.'
'In a great measure, perhaps,' answered Redgauntlet; 'but the
policy which raised the Highland regiments has provided for that.
We have already friends in these corps; nor can we doubt for a
moment what their conduct will be when the white cockade is once
more mounted. The rest of the standing army has been greatly
reduced since the peace; and we reckon confidently on our
standard being joined by thousands of the disbanded troops.'
'Alas!' said Darsie, 'and is it upon such vague hopes as these,
the inconstant humour of a crowd or of a disbanded soldiery, that
men of honour are invited to risk their families, their property,
'Men of honour, boy,' said Redgauntlet, his eyes glancing with
impatience, 'set life, property, family, and all at stake, when
that honour commands it! We are not now weaker than when seven
men, landing in the wilds of Moidart, shook the throne of the
usurper till it tottered--won two pitched fields, besides
overrunning one kingdom and the half of another, and, but for
treachery, would have achieved what their venturous successors
are now to attempt in their turn,'
'And will such an attempt be made in serious earnest?' said
Darsie. 'Excuse me, my uncle, if I can scarce believe a fact so
extraordinary. Will there really be found men of rank and
consequence sufficient to renew the adventure of 1745?'
'I will not give you my confidence by halves, Sir Arthur,'
replied his uncle--'Look at that scroll--what say you to these
names?--Are they not the flower of the western shires--of Wales
'The paper contains indeed the names of many that are great and
noble,' replied Darsie, after perusing it; 'but'--
'But what?' asked his uncle, impatiently; 'do you doubt the
ability of those nobles and gentlemen to furnish the aid in men
and money at which they are rated?'
'Not their ability certainly,' said Darsie, 'for of that I am no
competent judge; but I see in this scroll the name of Sir Arthur
Darsie Redgauntlet of that Ilk, rated at a hundred men and
upwards--I certainly am ignorant how he is to redeem that
'I will be responsible for the men,' replied Hugh Redgauntlet.
'But, my dear uncle,' added Darsie, 'I hope for your sake that
the other individuals whose names are here written, have had more
acquaintance with your plan than I have been indulged with.'
'For thee and thine I can be myself responsible,' said
Redgauntlet; 'for if thou hast not the courage to head the force
of thy house, the leading shall pass to other hands, and thy
inheritance shall depart from thee like vigour and verdure from a
rotten branch. For these honourable persons, a slight condition
there is which they annex to their friendship--something so
trifling that it is scarce worthy of mention. This boon granted
to them by him who is most interested, there is no question they
will take the field in the manner there stated.'
Again Darsie perused the paper, and felt himself still less
inclined to believe that so many men of family and fortune were
likely to embark in an enterprise so fatal. It seemed as if some
rash plotter had put down at a venture the names of all whom
common report tainted with Jacobitism; or if it was really the
act of the individuals named, he suspected that they must be
aware of some mode of excusing themselves from compliance with
its purport. It was impossible, he thought, that Englishmen, of
large fortune, who had failed to join Charles when he broke into
England at the head of a victorious army, should have the least
thoughts of encouraging a descent when circumstances were so much
less propitious. He therefore concluded the enterprise would
fall to pieces of itself, and that his best way was, in the
meantime, to remain silent, unless the actual approach of a
crisis (which might, however, never arrive) should compel him to
give a downright refusal to his uncle's proposition; and if, in
the interim, some door for escape should be opened, he resolved
within himself not to omit availing himself of it.
Hugh Redgauntlet watched his nephew's looks for some time, and
then, as if arriving from some other process of reasoning at the
same conclusion, he said, 'I have told you, Sir Arthur, that I do
not urge your immediate accession to my proposal; indeed the
consequences of a refusal would be so dreadful to yourself, so
destructive to all the hopes which I have nursed, that I would
not risk, by a moment's impatience, the object of my whole life.
Yes, Arthur, I have been a self-denying hermit at one time--at
another, the apparent associate of outlaws and desperadoes--at
another, the subordinate agent of men whom I felt in every way my
inferiors--not for any selfish purpose of my own, no, not even to
win for myself the renown of being the principal instrument in
restoring my king and freeing my country. My first wish on earth
is for that restoration and that freedom--my next, that my
nephew, the representative of my house and of the brother of my
love, may have the advantage and the credit of all my efforts in
the good cause. But,' he added, darting on Darsie one of his
withering frowns, 'if Scotland and my father's house cannot stand
and flourish together, then perish the very name of Redgauntlet!
perish the son of my brother, with every recollection of the
glories of my family, of the affections of my youth, rather than
my country's cause should be injured in the tithing of a barley-
corn! The spirit of Sir Alberick is alive within me at this
moment,' he continued, drawing up his stately form and sitting
erect in his saddle, while he pressed his finger against his
forehead; 'and if you yourself crossed my path in opposition, I
swear, by the mark that darkens my brow, that a new deed should
be done--a new doom should be deserved!'
He was silent, and his threats were uttered in a tone of voice so
deeply resolute, that Darsie's heart sank within him, when he
reflected on the storm of passion which he must encounter, if he
declined to join his uncle in a project to which prudence and
principle made him equally adverse. He had scarce any hope left
but in temporizing until he could make his escape, and resolved
to avail himself for that purpose of the delay which his uncle
seemed not unwilling to grant. The stern, gloomy look of his
companion became relaxed by degrees, and presently afterwards he
made a sign to Miss Redgauntlet to join the party, and began a
forced conversation on ordinary topics; in the course of which
Darsie observed that his sister seemed to speak under the most
cautious restraint, weighing every word before she uttered it,
and always permitting her uncle to give the tone to the
conversation, though of the most trifling kind. This seemed to
him (such an opinion had he already entertained of his sister's
good sense and firmness) the strongest proof he had yet received
of his uncle's peremptory character, since he saw it observed
with so much deference by a young person whose sex might have
given her privileges, and who seemed by no means deficient either
in spirit or firmness.
The little cavalcade was now approaching the house of Father
Crackenthorp, situated, as the reader knows, by the side of the
Solway, and not far distant front a rude pier, near which lay
several fishing-boats, which frequently acted in a different
capacity. The house of the worthy publican was also adapted to
the various occupations which he carried on, being a large
scrambling assemblage of cottages attached to a house of two
stories, roofed with flags of sandstone--the original mansion, to
which the extensions of Mr. Crackenthorp's trade had occasioned
his making many additions. Instead of the single long watering-
trough which usually distinguishes the front of the English
public-house of the second class, there were three conveniences
of that kind, for the use, as the landlord used to say, of the
troop-horses when the soldiers came to search his house; while a
knowing leer and a nod let you understand what species of troops
he was thinking of. A huge ash-tree before the door, which had
reared itself to a great size and height, in spite of the blasts
from the neighbouring Solway, overshadowed, as usual, the ale-
bench, as our ancestors called it, where, though it was still
early in the day, several fellows, who seemed to be gentlemen's
servants, were drinking beer and smoking. One or two of them
wore liveries which seemed known to Mr. Redgauntlet, for he
muttered between his teeth, 'Fools, fools! were they on a march
to hell, they must have their rascals in livery with them, that
the whole world might know who were going to be damned.'
As he thus muttered, he drew bridle before the door of the place,
from which several other lounging guests began to issue, to look
with indolent curiosity as usual, upon an ARRIVAL.
Redgauntlet sprang from his horse, and assisted his niece to
dismount; but, forgetting, perhaps, his nephew's disguise, he did
not pay him the attention which his female dress demanded.
The situation of Darsie was indeed something awkward; for Cristal
Nixon, out of caution perhaps to prevent escape, had muffled the
extreme folds of the riding-skirt with which he was accoutred,
around his ankles and under his feet, and there secured it with
large corking-pins. We presume that gentlemen-cavaliers may
sometimes cast their eyes to that part of the person of the fair
equestrians whom they chance occasionally to escort; and if they
will conceive their own feet, like Darsie's, muffled in such a
labyrinth of folds and amplitude of robe, as modesty doubtless
induces the fair creatures to assume upon such occasions, they
will allow that, on a first attempt, they might find some
awkwardness in dismounting. Darsie, at least, was in such a
predicament, for, not receiving adroit assistance from the
attendant of Mr. Redgauntlet, he stumbled as he dismounted from
the horse, and might have had a bad fall, had it not been broken
by the gallant interposition of a gentleman, who probably was, on
his part, a little surprised at the solid weight of the
distressed fair one whom he had the honour to receive in his
embrace. But what was his surprise to that of Darsie, when the
hurry of the moment and of the accident, permitted him to see
that it was his friend Alan Fairford in whose arms he found
himself! A thousand apprehensions rushed on him, mingled with
the full career of hope and joy, inspired by the unexpected
appearance of his beloved friend at the very crisis, it seemed,
of his fate.
He was about to whisper in his ear, cautioning him at the same
time to be silent; yet he hesitated for a second or two to effect
his purpose, since, should Redgauntlet take the alarm from any
sudden exclamation on the part of Alan, there was no saying what
consequences might ensue.
Ere he could decide what was to be done, Redgauntlet, who had
entered the house, returned hastily, followed by Cristal Nixon.
'I'll release you of the charge of this young lady, sir;' he
said, haughtily, to Alan Fairford, whom he probably did not
'I had no desire to intrude, sir,' replied Alan; 'the lady's
situation seemed to require assistance--and--but have I not the
honour to speak to Mr. Herries of Birrenswork?'
'You are mistaken, sir,' said Redgauntlet, turning short off, and
making a sign with his hand to Cristal, who hurried Darsie,
however unwillingly, into the house, whispering in his ear,
'Come, miss, let us have no making of acquaintance from the
windows. Ladies of fashion must be private. Show us a room,
So saying, he conducted Darsie into the house, interposing at the
same time his person betwixt the supposed young lady and the
stranger of whom he was suspicious, so as to make communication
by signs impossible. As they entered, they heard the sound of a
fiddle in the stone-floored and well-sanded kitchen, through
which they were about to follow their corpulent host, and where
several people seemed engaged in dancing to its strains.
'D--n thee,' said Nixon to Crackenthorp, 'would you have the lady
go through all the mob of the parish? Hast thou no more private
way to our sitting-room?'
'None that is fit for my travelling,' answered the landlord,
laying his hand on his portly stomach. 'I am not Tom Turnpenny,
to creep like a lizard through keyholes.'
So saying, he kept moving on through the revellers in the
kitchen; and Nixon, holding Darsie by his arm, as if to offer the
lady support but in all probability to frustrate any effort at
escape, moved through the crowd, which presented a very motley
appearance, consisting of domestic servants, country fellows,
seamen, and other idlers, whom Wandering Willie was regaling with
To pass another friend without intimation of his presence would
have been actual pusillanimity; and just when they were passing
the blind man's elevated seat, Darsie asked him with some
emphasis, whether he could not play a Scottish air? The man's
face had been the instant before devoid of all sort of
expression, going through his performance like a clown through a
beautiful country, too much accustomed to consider it as a task,
to take any interest in the performance, and, in fact, scarce
seeming to hear the noise that he was creating. In a word, he
might at the time have made a companion to my friend Wilkie's
inimitable blind crowder. But with Wandering Willie this was
only an occasional and a rare fit of dullness, such as will at
times creep over all the professors of the fine arts, arising
either from fatigue, or contempt of the present audience, or that
caprice which so often tempts painters and musicians and great
actors, in the phrase of the latter, to walk through their part,
instead of exerting themselves with the energy which acquired
their fame. But when the performer heard the voice of Darsie,
his countenance became at once illuminated, and showed the
complete mistake of those who suppose that the principal point of
expression depends upon the eyes. With his face turned to the
point from which the sound came, his upper lip a little curved,
and quivering with agitation, and with a colour which surprise
and pleasure had brought at once into his faded cheek, he
exchanged the humdrum hornpipe which he had been sawing out with
reluctant and lazy bow, for the fine Scottish air,
You're welcome, Charlie Stuart,
which flew from his strings as if by inspiration and after a
breathless pause of admiration among the audience, was received
with a clamour of applause, which seemed to show that the name
and tendency, as well as the execution of the tune, was in the
highest degree acceptable to all the party assembled.
In the meantime, Cristal Nixon, still keeping hold of Darsie, and
following the landlord, forced his way with some difficulty
through the crowded kitchen, and entered a small apartment on the
other side of it, where they found Lilias Redgauntlet already
seated. Here Nixon gave way to his suppressed resentment, and
turning sternly on Crackenthorp, threatened him with his master's
severest displeasure, because things were in such bad order to
receive his family, when he had given such special advice that he
desired to be private. But Father Crackenthorp was not a man to
'Why, brother Nixon, thou art angry this morning,' he replied;
'hast risen from thy wrong side, I think. You know, as well as
I, that most of this mob is of the squire's own making--gentlemen
that come with their servants, and so forth, to meet him in the
way of business, as old Tom Turnpenny says--the very last that
came was sent down with Dick Gardener from Fairladies.'
'But the blind scraping scoundrel yonder,' said Nixon, 'how dared
you take such a rascal as that across your threshold at such a
time as this? If the squire should dream you have a thought of
peaching--I am only speaking for your good, Father Crackenthorp.'
'Why, look ye, brother Nixon,' said Crackenthorp, turning his
quid with great composure, 'the squire is a very worthy
gentleman, and I'll never deny it; but I am neither his servant
nor his tenant, and so he need send me none of his orders till he
hears I have put on his livery. As for turning away folk from my
door, I might as well plug up the ale-tap, and pull down the
sign--and as for peaching, and such like, the squire will find
the folk here are as honest to the full as those he brings with
'How, you impudent lump of tallow,' said Nixon, 'what do you mean
'Nothing,' said Crackenthorp, 'but that I can tour out as well as
another--you understand me--keep good lights in my upper story--
know a thing or two more than most folk in this country. If folk
will come to my house on dangerous errands, egad they shall not
find Joe Crackenthorp a cat's-paw. I'll keep myself clear, you
may depend on it, and let every man answer for his own actions--
that's my way. Anything wanted, Master Nixon?'
'No--yes--begone!' said Nixon, who seemed embarrassed with the
landlord's contumacy, yet desirous to conceal the effect it
produced on him.
The door was no sooner closed on Crackenthorp, than Miss
Redgauntlet, addressing Nixon, commanded him to leave the room
and go to his proper place.
'How, madam?' said the fellow sullenly, yet with an air of
respect, 'Would you have your uncle pistol me for disobeying his
'He may perhaps pistol you for some other reason, if you do not
obey mine,' said Lilias, composedly.
'You abuse your advantage over me, madam--I really dare not go--I
am on guard over this other miss here; and if I should desert my
post, my life were not worth five minutes' purchase.'
'Then know your post, sir,' said Lilias, 'and watch on the
outside of the door. You have no commission to listen to our
private conversation, I suppose? Begone, sir, without further
speech or remonstrance, or I will tell my uncle that which you
would have reason to repent be should know.'
The fellow looked at her with a singular expression of spite,
mixed with deference. 'You abuse your advantages, madam,' he
said, 'and act as foolishly in doing so as I did in affording you
such a hank over me. But you are a tyrant; and tyrants have
commonly short reigns.'
So saying, he left the apartment.
'The wretch's unparalleled insolence,' said Lilias to her
brother, 'has given me one great advantage over him. For knowing
that my uncle would shoot him with as little remorse as a
woodcock, if he but guessed at his brazen-faced assurance towards
me, he dares not since that time assume, so far as I am
concerned, the air of insolent domination which the possession of
my uncle's secrets, and the knowledge of his most secret plans,
have led him to exert over others of his family.'
'In the meantime,' said Darsie, 'I am happy to see that the
landlord of the house does not seem so devoted to him as I
apprehended; and this aids the hope of escape which I am
nourishing for you and for myself. O Lilias! the truest of
friends, Alan Fairford, is in pursuit of me, and is here at this
moment. Another humble, but, I think, faithful friend, is also
within these dangerous walls,'
Lilias laid her finger on her lips, and pointed to the door.
Darsie took the hint, lowered his voice, and informed her in
whispers of the arrival of Fairford, and that he believed he had
opened a communication with Wandering Willie. She listened with
the utmost interest, and had just begun to reply, when a loud
noise was heard in the kitchen, caused by several contending
voices, amongst which Darsie thought he could distinguish that of
Forgetting how little his own condition permitted him to become
the assistant of another, Darsie flew to the door of the room,
and finding it locked and bolted on the outside, rushed against
it with all his force, and made the most desperate efforts to
burst it open, notwithstanding the entreaties of his sister that
he would compose himself and recollect the condition in which he
was placed. But the door, framed to withstand attacks from
excisemen, constables, and other personages, considered as worthy
to use what are called the king's keys, [In common parlance, a
crowbar and hatchet.] 'and therewith to make lockfast places
open and patent,' set his efforts at defiance. Meantime the
noise continued without, and we are to give an account of its
origin in our next chapter.
NARRATIVE OF DARSIE LATIMER, CONTINUED
Joe Crackenthorp's public-house had never, since it first reared
its chimneys on the banks of the Solway, been frequented by such
a miscellaneous group of visitors as had that morning become its
guests. Several of them were persons whose quality seemed much
superior to their dresses and modes of travelling. The servants
who attended them contradicted the inferences to be drawn from
the garb of their masters, and, according to the custom of the
knights of the rainbow, gave many hints that they were not people
to serve any but men of first-rate consequence. These gentlemen,
who had come thither chiefly for the purpose of meeting with Mr.
Redgauntlet, seemed moody and anxious, conversed and walked
together apparently in deep conversation, and avoided any
communication with the chance travellers whom accident brought
that morning to the same place of resort.
As if Fate had set herself to confound the plans of the Jacobite
conspirators, the number of travellers was unusually great, their
appearance respectable, and they filled the public tap-room of
the inn, where the political guests had already occupied most of
the private apartments.
Amongst others, honest Joshua Geddes had arrived, travelling, as
he said, in the sorrow of the soul, and mourning for the fate of
Darsie Latimer as he would for his first-born child. He had
skirted the whole coast of the Solway, besides making various
trips into the interior, not shunning, on such occasions, to
expose himself to the laugh of the scorner, nay, even to serious
personal risk, by frequenting the haunts of smugglers, horse-
jockeys, and other irregular persons, who looked on his intrusion
with jealous eyes, and were apt to consider him as an exciseman
in the disguise of a Quaker. All this labour and peril, however,
had been undergone in vain. No search he could make obtained the
least intelligence of Latimer, so that he began to fear the poor
lad had been spirited abroad--for the practice of kidnapping was
then not infrequent, especially on the western coasts of Britain
--if indeed he had escaped a briefer and more bloody fate.
With a heavy heart, he delivered his horse, even Solomon, into
the hands of the ostler, and walking into the inn, demanded from
the landlord breakfast and a private room. Quakers, and such
hosts as old Father Crackenthorp, are no congenial spirits; the
latter looked askew over his shoulder, and replied, 'If you would
have breakfast here, friend, you are like to eat it where other
folk eat theirs.'
'And wherefore can I not,' said the Quaker, 'have an apartment to
myself, for my money?'
'Because, Master Jonathan, you must wait till your betters be
served, or else eat with your equals.'
Joshua Geddes argued the point no further, but sitting quietly
down on the seat which Crackenthorp indicated to him, and calling
for a pint of ale, with some bread, butter, and Dutch cheese,
began to satisfy the appetite which the morning air had rendered
While the honest Quaker was thus employed, another stranger
entered the apartment, and sat down near to the table on which
his victuals were placed. He looked repeatedly at Joshua, licked
his parched and chopped lips as he saw the good Quaker masticate
his bread and cheese, and sucked up his thin chops when Mr.
Geddes applied the tankard to his mouth, as if the discharge of
these bodily functions by another had awakened his sympathies in
an uncontrollable degree. At last, being apparently unable to
withstand his longings, he asked, in a faltering tone, the huge
landlord, who was tramping through the room in all corpulent
impatience, whether he could have a plack-pie?'
'Never heard of such a thing, master,' said the landlord, and was
about to trudge onward; when the guest, detaining him, said, in a
strong Scottish tone, 'Ya will maybe have nae whey then, nor
buttermilk, nor ye couldna exhibit a souter's clod?'
'Can't tell what ye are talking about, master,' said
'Then ye will have nae breakfast that will come within 'the
compass of a shilling Scots?'
'Which is a penny sterling,' answered Crackenthorp, with a sneer.
'Why, no, Sawney, I can't say as we have--we can't afford it; But
you shall have a bellyful for love, as we say in the bull-ring.'
'I shall never refuse a fair offer,' said the poverty-stricken
guest; 'and I will say that for the English, if they were deils,
that they are a ceeveleesed people to gentlemen that are under a
'Gentlemen!--humph!' said Crackenthorp--'not a blue-cap among
them but halts upon that foot.' Then seizing on a dish which
still contained a huge cantle of what had been once a princely
mutton pasty, he placed it on the table before the stranger,
saying, 'There, master gentleman; there is what is worth all the
black pies, as you call them, that were ever made of sheep's
'Sheep's head is a gude thing, for a' that,' replied the guest;
but not being spoken so loud as to offend his hospitable
entertainer, the interjection might pass for a private protest
against the scandal thrown out against the standing dish of
This premised, he immediately began to transfer the mutton and
pie-crust from his plate to his lips, in such huge gobbets, as if
he was refreshing after a three days' fast, and laying in
provisions against a whole Lent to come.
Joshua Geddes in his turn gazed on him with surprise, having
never, he thought, beheld such a gaunt expression of hunger in
the act of eating. 'Friend,' he said, after watching him for
some minutes, 'if thou gorgest thyself in this fashion, thou wilt
assuredly choke. Wilt thou not take a draught out of my cup to
help down all that dry meat?'
'Troth,' said the stranger, stopping and looking at the friendly
propounder, 'that's nae bad overture, as they say in the General
Assembly. I have heard waur motions than that frae wiser
Mr. Geddes ordered a quart of home-brewed to be placed before our
friend Peter Peebles; for the reader must have already conceived
that this unfortunate litigant was the wanderer in question.
The victim of Themis had no sooner seen the flagon, than he
seized it with the same energy which he had displayed in
operating upon the pie--puffed off the froth with such emphasis,
that some of it lighted on Mr. Geddes's head--and then said, as
if with it sudden recollection of what was due to civility,
'Here's to ye, friend. What! are ye ower grand to give me an
answer, or are ye dull o' hearing?'
'I prithee drink thy liquor, friend,' said the good Quaker; 'thou
meanest it in civility, but we care not for these idle fashions.'
'What! ye are a Quaker, are ye?' said Peter; and without
further ceremony reared the flagon to his head, from which he
withdrew it not while a single drop of 'barley-broo' remained.
'That's done you and me muckle gude,' he said, sighing as he set
down his pot; 'but twa mutchkins o' yill between twa folk is a
drappie ower little measure. What say ye to anither pot? or
shall we cry in a blithe Scots pint at ance? The yill is no
'Thou mayst call for what thou wilt on thine own charges,
friend,' said Geddes; 'for myself, I willingly contribute to the
quenching of thy natural thirst; but I fear it were no such easy
matter to relieve thy acquired and artificial drought.'
'That is to say, in plain terms, ye are for withdrawing your
caution with the folk of the house? You Quaker folk are but
fause comforters; but since ye have garred me drink sae muckle
cauld yill--me that am no used to the like of it in the forenoon
--I think ye might as weel have offered me a glass of brandy or
usquabae--I'm nae nice body--I can drink onything that's wet and
'Not a drop at my cost, friend,' quoth Geddes. 'Thou art an old
man, and hast perchance a heavy and long journey before thee.
Thou art, moreover, my countryman, as I judge from thy tongue;
and I will not give thee the means of dishonouring thy grey hairs
in a strange land.'
'Grey hairs, neighbour!' said Peter, with a wink to the
bystanders, whom this dialogue began to interest, and who were in
hopes of seeing the Quaker played off by the crazed beggar, for
such Peter Peebles appeared to be. 'Grey hairs! The Lord mend
your eyesight, neighbour, that disna ken grey hairs frae a tow
This jest procured a shout of laughter, and, what was still more
acceptable than dry applause, a man who stood beside called out,
'Father Crackenthorp, bring a nipperkin of brandy. I'll bestow
a dram on this fellow, were it but for that very word.'
The brandy was immediately brought by a wench who acted as
barmaid; and Peter, with a grin of delight, filled a glass,
quaffed it off, and then saying, 'God bless me! I was so
unmannerly as not to drink to ye--I think the Quaker has smitten
me wi' his ill-bred havings,'--he was about to fill another, when
his hand was arrested by his new friend; who said at the same
time, 'No, no, friend--fair play's a jewel--time about, if you
please.' And filling a glass for himself, emptied it as
gallantly as Peter could have done. 'What say you to that,
friend?' he continued, addressing the Quaker.
'Nay, friend,' answered Joshua, 'it went down thy throat, not
mine; and I have nothing to say about what concerns me not; but
if thou art a man of humanity, thou wilt not give this poor
creature the means of debauchery. Bethink thee that they will
spurn him from the door, as they would do a houseless and
masterless dog, and that he may die on the sands or on the
common. And if he has through thy means been rendered incapable
of helping himself, thou shalt not be innocent of his blood.'
'Faith, Broadbrim, I believe thou art right, and the old
gentleman in the flaxen jazy shall have no more of the comforter.
Besides, we have business in hand to-day, and this fellow, for as
mad as he looks, may have a nose on his face after all. Hark ye,
father,--what is your name, and what brings you into such an out-
'I am not just free to condescend on my name,' said Peter; 'and
as for my business--there is a wee dribble of brandy in the
stoup--it would be wrang to leave it to the lass--it is learning
her bad usages.'
'Well, thou shalt have the brandy, and be d--d to thee, if thou
wilt tell me what you are making here.'
'Seeking a young advocate chap that they ca' Alan Fairford, that
has played me a slippery trick, and ye maun ken a' about the
cause,' said Peter.
'An advocate, man!' answered the captain of the JUMPING JENNY--
for it was he, and no other, who had taken compassion on Peter's
drought; 'why, Lord help thee, thou art on the wrong side of the
Firth to seek advocates, whom I take to be Scottish lawyers, not
'English lawyers, man!' exclaimed Peter, 'the deil a lawyer's in
'I wish from my soul it were true,' said Ewart; 'but what the
devil put that in your head?'
'Lord, man, I got a grip of ane of their attorneys in Carlisle,
and he tauld me that there wasna a lawyer in England ony mair
than himsell that kend the nature of a multiple-poinding! And
when I told him how this loopy lad, Alan Fairford, had served me,
he said I might bring an action on the case--just as if the case
hadna as mony actions already as one case can weel carry. By my
word, it is a gude case, and muckle has it borne, in its day, of
various procedure--but it's the barley-pickle breaks the naig's
back, and wi' my consent it shall not hae ony mair burden laid
'But this Alan Fairford?' said Nanty--'come--sip up the drop of
brandy, man, and tell me some more about him, and whether you are
seeking him for good or for harm.'
'For my ain gude, and for his harm, to be sure,' said Peter.
'Think of his having left my cause in the dead-thraw between the
tyneing and the winning, and capering off into Cumberland here,
after a wild loup-the-tether lad they ca' Darsie Latimer.'
'Darsie Latimer!' said Mr. Geddes, hastily; 'do you know
anything of Darsie Latimer?'
'Maybe I do, and maybe I do not,' answered Peter; 'I am no free
to answer every body's interrogatory, unless it is put
judicially, and by form of law--specially where folk think so
much of a caup of sour yill, or a thimblefu' of brandy. But as
for this gentleman, that has shown himself a gentleman at
breakfast, and will show himself a gentleman at the meridian, I
am free to condescend upon any points in the cause that may
appear to bear upon the question at issue.'
'Why, all I want to know from you, my friend, is, whether you are
seeking to do this Mr. Alan Fairford good or harm; because if you
come to do him good, I think you could maybe get speech of him--
and if to do him harm, I will take the liberty to give you a cast
across the Firth, with fair warning not to come back on such an
errand, lest worse come of it.'
The manner and language of Ewart were such that Joshua Geddes
resolved to keep cautious silence, till he could more plainly
discover whether he was likely to aid or impede him in his
researches after Darsie Latimer. He therefore determined to
listen attentively to what should pass between Peter and the
seaman, and to watch for an opportunity of questioning the
former, so soon as he should be separated from his new
'I wad by no means,' said Peter Peebles, 'do any substantial harm
to the poor lad Fairford, who has had mony a gowd guinea of mine,
as weel as his father before him; but I wad hae him brought back
to the minding of my business and his ain; and maybe I wadna
insist further in my action of damages against him, than for
refunding the fees, and for some annual rent on the principal sum
due frae the day on which he should have recovered it for me,
plack and bawbee, at the great advising ; for ye are aware, that
is the least that I can ask NOMINE DAMNI; and I have nae thought
to break down the lad bodily a'thegither--we maun live and let
live--forgie and forget.'
'The deuce take me, friend Broadbrim,' said Nanty Ewart, looking
to the Quaker, 'if I can make out what this old scarecrow means.
If I thought it was fitting that Master Fairford should see him,
why perhaps it is a matter that could be managed. Do you know
anything about the old fellow?--you seemed to take some charge of
him just now.'
'No more than I should have done by any one in distress,' said
Geddes, not sorry to be appealed to; 'but I will try what I can
do to find out who he is, and what he is about in this country.
But are we not a little too public in this open room?'
'It's well thought of,' said Nanty; and at his command the
barmaid ushered the party into a side-booth, Peter attending them
in the instinctive hope that there would be more liquor drunk
among them before parting. They had scarce sat down in their new
apartment, when the sound of a violin was heard in the room which
they had just left.
'I'll awa back yonder,' said Peter, rising up again; 'yon's the
sound of a fiddle, and when there is music, there's ay something
ganging to eat or drink.'
'I am just going to order something here,' said the Quaker; 'but
in the meantime, have you any objection, my good friend, to tell
us your name?'
'None in the world, if you are wanting to drink to me by name and
surname,' answered Peebles; 'but, otherwise, I would rather evite
'Friend,' said the Quaker, 'it is not for thine own health,
seeing thou hast drunk enough already--however--here, handmaiden
--bring me a gill of sherry.'
'Sherry's but shilpit drink, and a gill's a sma' measure for twa
gentlemen to crack ower at their first acquaintance. But let us
see your sneaking gill of sherry,' said Poor Peter, thrusting
forth his huge hand to seize on the diminutive pewter measure,
which, according to the fashion of the time, contained the
generous liquor freshly drawn from the butt.
'Nay, hold, friend,' said Joshua, 'thou hast not yet told me what
name and surname I am to call thee by.'
'D--d sly in the Quaker,' said Nanty, apart, 'to make him pay for
his liquor before he gives it him. Now, I am such a fool, that I
should have let him get too drunk to open his mouth, before I
thought of asking him a question.'
'My name is Peter Peebles, then,' said the litigant, rather
sulkily, as one who thought his liquor too sparingly meted out to
him; 'and what have you to say to that?'
'Peter Peebles?' repeated Nanty Ewart and seemed to muse upon
something which the words brought to his remembrance, while the
Quaker pursued his examination.
'But I prithee, Peter Peebles, what is thy further designation?
Thou knowest, in our country, that some men are distinguished by
their craft and calling, as cordwainers, fishers, weavers, or the
like, and some by their titles as proprietors of land (which
savours of vanity)--now, how may you be distinguished from others
of the same name?'
'As Peter Peebles of the great plea of Poor Peter Peebles against
Plainstanes, ET PER CONTRA--if I am laird of naething else, I am
ay a DOMINUS LITIS.'
'It's but a poor lairdship, I doubt,' said Joshua.
'Pray, Mr, Peebles,' said Nanty, interrupting the conversation
abruptly, 'were not you once a burgess of Edinburgh?'
'WAS I a burgess!' said Peter indignantly, 'and AM I not a
burgess even now? I have done nothing to forfeit my right, I
trow--once provost and ay my lord.'
'Well, Mr. Burgess, tell me further, have you not some property
in the Gude Town?' continued Ewart.
'Troth have I--that is, before my misfortunes, I had twa or three
bonny bits of mailings amang the closes and wynds, forby the shop
and the story abune it. But Plainstanes has put me to the
causeway now. Never mind though, I will be upsides with him
'Had not you once a tenement in the Covenant Close?' again
'You have hit it, lad, though ye look not like a Covenanter,'
said Peter; 'we'll drink to its memory--(Hout! the heart's at
the mouth o' that ill-faur'd bit stoup already!)--it brought a
rent, reckoning from the crawstep to the groundsill, that ye
might ca' fourteen punds a year, forby the laigh cellar that was
let to Lucky Littleworth.'
'And do you not remember that you had a poor old lady for your
tenant, Mrs. Cantrips of Kittlebasket?' said Nanty, suppressing
his emotion with difficulty.
'Remember! G--d, I have gude cause to remember her,' said Peter,
'for she turned a dyvour on my hands, the auld besom! and after
a' that the law could do to make me satisfied and paid, in the
way of poinding and distrenzieing and sae forth, as the law will,
she ran awa to the charity workhouse, a matter of twenty punds
Scots in my debt--it's a great shame and oppression that charity
workhouse, taking in bankrupt dyvours that canna, pay their
'Methinks, friend,' said the Quaker, 'thine own rags might teach
thee compassion for other people's nakedness.'
'Rags!' said Peter, taking Joshua's words literally; 'does ony
wise body put on their best coat when they are travelling, and
keeping company with Quakers, and such other cattle as the road
'The old lady DIED, I have heard,' said Nanty, affecting a
moderation which was belied by accents that faltered with
'She might live or die, for what I care,' answered Peter the
Cruel; 'what business have folk to do to live that canna live as
law will, and satisfy their just and lawful creditors?'
'And you--you that are now yourself trodden down in the very
kennel, are you not sorry for what you have done? Do you not
repent having occasioned the poor widow woman's death?'
'What for should I repent?' said Peter; 'the law was on my side
--a decreet of the bailies, followed by poinding, and an act of
warding--a suspension intented, and the letters found orderly
proceeded. I followed the auld rudas through twa courts--she
cost me mair money than her lugs were worth.'
'Now, by Heaven!' said Nanty, 'I would give a thousand guineas,
if I had them, to have you worth my beating! Had you said you
repented, it had been between God and your conscience; but to
hear you boast of your villany--Do you think it little to have
reduced the aged to famine, and the young to infamy--to have
caused the death of one woman, the ruin of another, and to have
driven a man to exile and despair? By Him that made me, I can
scarce keep hands off you!
'Off me? I defy ye!' said Peter. 'I take this honest man to
witness that if ye stir the neck of my collar, I will have my
action for stouthreif, spulzie, oppression, assault and battery.
Here's a bra' din, indeed, about an auld wife gaun to the grave,
a young limmer to the close-heads and causeway, and a sticket
stibbler [A student of divinity who has not been able to complete
his studies on theology.] to the sea instead of the gallows!'
'Now, by my soul,' said Nanty, 'this is too much! and since you
can feel no otherwise, I will try if I cannot beat some humanity
into your head and shoulders.'
He drew his hanger as he spoke, and although Joshua, who had in
vain endeavoured to interrupt the dialogue to which he foresaw a
violent termination, now threw himself between Nanty and the old
litigant, he could not prevent the latter from receiving two or
three sound slaps over the shoulder with the flat side of the
Poor Peter Peebles, as inglorious in his extremity as he had been
presumptuous in bringing it on, now ran and roared, and bolted
out of the apartment and house itself, pursued by Nanty, whose
passion became high in proportion to his giving way to its
dictates, and by Joshua, who still interfered at every risk,
calling upon Nanty to reflect on the age and miserable
circumstances of the offender, and upon Poor Peter to stand and
place himself under his protection. In front of the house,
however, Peter Peebles found a more efficient protector than the
NARRATIVE OF ALAN FAIRFORD
Our readers may recollect that Fairford had been conducted by
Dick Gardener from the house of Fairladies to the inn of old
Father Crackenthorp, in order, as he had been informed by the
mysterious Father Buonaventure, that he might have the meeting
which he desired with Mr. Redgauntlet, to treat with him for the
liberty of his friend Darsie. His guide, by the special
direction of Mr. Ambrose, had introduced him into the public-
house by a back-door, and recommended to the landlord to
accommodate him with a private apartment, and to treat him with
all civility; but in other respects to keep his eye on him, and
even to secure his person, if he saw any reason to suspect him to
be a spy. He was not, however, subjected to any direct
restraint, but was ushered into an apartment where he was
requested to await the arrival of the gentleman with whom he
wished to have an interview, and who, as Crackenthorp assured,
him with a significant nod, would be certainly there in the
course of an hour. In the meanwhile, he recommended to him, with
another significant sign, to keep his apartment, 'as there were
people in the house who were apt to busy themselves about other
Alan Fairford complied with the recommendation, so long as he
thought it reasonable; but when, among a large party riding up to
the house, he discerned Redgauntlet, whom he had seen under the
name of Mr. Herries of Birrenswork, and whom, by his height and
strength, he easily distinguished from the rest, he thought it
proper to go down to the front of the house, in hopes that, by
more closely reconnoitring the party, he might discover if his
friend Darsie was among them.
The reader is aware that, by doing so, he had an opportunity of
breaking Darsie's fall from his side-saddle, although his
disguise and mask prevented his recognizing his friend. It may
be also recollected that while Nixon hurried Miss Redgauntlet and
her brother into the house, their uncle, somewhat chafed at an
unexpected and inconvenient interruption, remained himself in
parley with Fairford, who had already successively addressed him
by the names of Herries and Redgauntlet; neither of which, any
more than the acquaintance of the young lawyer, he seemed at the
moment willing to acknowledge, though an air of haughty
indifference, which he assumed, could not conceal his vexation
'If we must needs be acquainted, sir,' he said at last--'for
which I am unable to see any necessity, especially as I am now
particularly disposed to be private--I must entreat you will tell
me at once what you have to say, and permit me to attend to
matters of more importance
'My introduction,' said Fairford, 'is contained in this letter.
--(Delivering that of Maxwell.)--I am convinced that, under
whatever name it may be your pleasure for the present to be
known, it is into your hands, and yours only, that it should be
Redgauntlet turned the letter in his hand--then read the contents
then again looked upon the letter, and sternly observed, 'The
seal of the letter has been broken. Was this the case, sir, when
it was delivered into your hand?'
Fairford despised a falsehood as much as any man,--unless,
perhaps, as Tom Turnpenny might have said, 'in the way of
business.' He answered readily and firmly, 'The seal was whole
when the letter was delivered to me by Mr. Maxwell of
'And did you dare, sir, to break the seal of a letter addressed
to me?' said Redgauntlet, not sorry, perhaps, to pick a quarrel
upon a point foreign to the tenor of the epistle.
'I have never broken the seal of any letter committed to my
charge,' said Alan; 'not from fear of those to whom such letter
might be addressed, but from respect to myself.'
'That is well worded,' said Redgauntlet; 'and yet, young Mr.
Counsellor, I doubt whether your delicacy prevented your reading
my letter, or listening to the contents as read by some other
person after it was opened.'
'I certainly did hear the contents read over,' said Fairford;
'and they were such as to surprise me a good deal.'
'Now that,' said Redgauntlet, 'I hold to be pretty much the same,
IN FORO CONSCIENTIAE, as if you had broken the seal yourself. I
shall hold myself excused from entering upon further discourse
with a messenger so faithless; and you may thank yourself if your
journey has been fruitless.'
'Stay, sir,' said Fairford; 'and know that I became acquainted
with the contents of the paper without my consent--I may even
say, against my will; for Mr. Buonaventure'--
'Who?' demanded Redgauntlet, in a wild and alarmed manner--'WHOM
was it you named?'
'Father Buonaventure,' said Alan,--'a Catholic priest, as I
apprehend, whom I saw at the Misses Arthuret's house, called
'Misses Arthuret!--Fairladies!--A Catholic priest!--Father
Buonaventure!' said Redgauntlet, repeating the words of Alan
with astonishment.--'Is it possible that human rashness can reach
such a point of infatuation? Tell me the truth, I conjure you,
sir. I have the deepest interest to know whether this is more
than an idle legend, picked up from hearsay about the country.
You are a lawyer, and know the risk incurred by the Catholic
clergy, whom the discharge of their duty sends to these bloody
'I am a lawyer, certainly,' said Fairford; 'but my holding such a
respectable condition in life warrants that I am neither an
informer nor a spy. Here is sufficient evidence that I have seen
He put Buonaventure's letter into Redgauntlet's hand, and watched
his looks closely while he read it. 'Double-dyed infatuation!'
he muttered, with looks in which sorrow, displeasure, and anxiety
were mingled. '"Save me from the indiscretion of my friends,"
says the Spaniard; "I can save myself from the hostility of my
He then read the letter attentively, and for two or three minutes
was lost in thought, while some purpose of importance seemed to
have gathered and sit brooding upon his countenance. He held up
his finger towards his satellite, Cristal Nixon, who replied to
his signal with a prompt nod; and with one or two of the
attendants approached Fairford in such a manner as to make him
apprehensive they were about to lay hold of him.
At this moment a noise was heard from withinside of the house,
and presently rushed forth Peter Peebles, pursued by Nanty Ewart
with his drawn hanger, and the worthy Quaker, who was
endeavouring to prevent mischief to others, at some risk of
bringing it on himself.
A wilder and yet a more absurd figure can hardly be imagined,
than that of Poor Peter clattering along as fast as his huge
boots would permit him, and resembling nothing so much as a
flying scarecrow; while the thin emaciated form of Nanty Ewart,
with the hue of death on his cheek, and the fire of vengeance
glancing from his eye, formed a ghastly contrast with the
ridiculous object of his pursuit.
Redgauntlet threw himself between them. 'What extravagant folly
is this?' he said. 'Put up your weapon, captain. Is this a
time to indulge in drunken brawls, or is such a miserable object
as that a fitting antagonist for a man of courage?'
'I beg pardon,' said the captain, sheathing his weapon--'I was a
little bit out of the way, to be sure; but to know the
provocation, a man must read my heart, and that I hardly dare to
do myself. But the wretch is safe from me. Heaven has done its
own vengeance on us both.'
While he spoke in this manner, Peter Peebles, who had at first
crept behind Redgauntlet in bodily fear, began now to reassume
his spirits. Pulling his protector by the sleeve, 'Mr. Herries--
Mr. Herries,' he whispered, eagerly, 'ye have done me mair than
ae gude turn, and if ye will but do me anither at this dead