Part 2 out of 10
overbearing, and impatient. You have brought into your bower a lion's
cub; delighted with the beauty of his fur, and the grace of his
gambols, you have bound him with no fetters befitting the fierceness
of his disposition. You have let him grow up as unawed as if he had
been still a tenant of the forest, and now you are surprised, and call
out for assistance, when he begins to ramp, rend, and tear, according
to his proper nature."
"Mr. Warden," said the Lady, considerably offended, "you are my
husband's ancient friend, and I believe your love sincere to him and
to his household. Yet let me say, that when I asked you for counsel, I
expected not this asperity of rebuke. If I have done wrong in loving
this poor orphan lad more than others of his class, I scarce think the
error merited such severe censure; and if stricter discipline were
required to keep his fiery temper in order, it ought, I think, to be
considered, that I am a woman, and that if I have erred in this
matter, it becomes a friend's part rather to aid than to rebuke me. I
would these evils were taken order with before my lord's return. He
loves not domestic discord or domestic brawls; and I would not
willingly that he thought such could arise from one whom I
favoured--What do you counsel me to do?"
"Dismiss this youth from your service, madam," replied the preacher.
"You cannot bid me do so," said the Lady; "you cannot, as a Christian
and a man of humanity, bid me turn away an unprotected creature
against whom my favour, my injudicious favour if you will, has reared
up so many enemies."
"It is not necessary you should altogether abandon him, though you
dismiss him to another service, or to a calling better suiting his
station and character," said the preacher; "elsewhere he maybe an
useful and profitable member of the commonweal--here he is but a
makebate, and a stumbling-block of offence. The youth has snatches of
sense and of intelligence, though he lacks industry. I will myself
give him letters commendatory to Olearius Schinderhausen, a learned
professor at the famous university of Leyden, where they lack an
under-janitor--where, besides gratis instruction, if God give him the
grace to seek it, he will enjoy five merks by the year, and the
professor's cast-off suit, which he disparts with biennially."
"This will never do, good Mr. Warden," said the Lady, scarce able to
suppress a smile; "we will think more at large upon this matter. In
the meanwhile, I trust to your remonstrances with this wild boy and
with the family, for restraining these violent and unseemly jealousies
and bursts of passion; and I entreat you to press on him and them
their duty in this respect towards God, and towards their master."
"You shall be obeyed, madam," said Warden. "On the next Thursday I
exhort the family, and will, with God's blessing, so wrestle with the
demon of wrath and violence, which hath entered into my little flock,
that I trust to hound the wolf out of the fold, as if he were chased
away with bandogs."
This was the part of the conference from which Mr. Warden derived the
greatest pleasure. The pulpit was at that time the same powerful
engine for affecting popular feeling which the press has since become,
and he had been no unsuccessful preacher, as we have already seen. It
followed as a natural consequence, that he rather over-estimated the
powers of his own oratory, and, like some of his brethren about the
period, was glad of an opportunity to handle any matters of
importance, whether public or private, the discussion of which could
be dragged into his discourse. In that rude age the delicacy was
unknown which prescribed time and place to personal exhortations; and
as the court-preacher often addressed the King individually, and
dictated to him the conduct he ought to observe in matters of state,
so the nobleman himself, or any of his retainers, were, in the chapel
of the feudal castle, often incensed or appalled, as the case might
be, by the discussion of their private faults in the evening exercise,
and by spiritual censures directed against them, specifically,
personally, and by name. The sermon, by means of which Henry Warden
purposed to restore concord and good order to the Castle of Avenel,
bore for text the well-known words, "_He who striketh with the sword
shall perish by the sword,_" and was a singular mixture of good
sense and powerful oratory with pedantry and bad taste. He enlarged a
good deal on the word striketh, which he assured his hearers
comprehended blows given with the point as well as with the edge, and
more generally, shooting with hand-gun, cross-bow, or long-bow,
thrusting with a lance, or doing any thing whatever by which death
might be occasioned to the adversary. In the same manner, he proved
satisfactorily, that the word sword comprehended all descriptions,
whether backsword or basket-hilt, cut-and-thrust or rapier, falchion,
or scimitar. "But if," he continued, with still greater animation,
"the text includeth in its anathema those who strike with any of those
weapons which man hath devised for the exercise of his open hostility,
still more doth it comprehend such as from their form and size are
devised rather for the gratification of privy malice by treachery,
than for the destruction of an enemy prepared and standing upon his
defence. Such," he proceeded, looking sternly at the place where the
page was seated on a cushion at the feet of his mistress, and wearing
in his crimson belt a gay dagger with a gilded hilt,--"such, more
especially, I hold to be those implements of death, which, in our
modern and fantastic times, are worn not only by thieves and
cut-throats, to whom they most properly belong, but even by those who
attend upon women, and wait in the chambers of honourable ladies. Yes,
my friends,--every species of this unhappy weapon, framed for all evil
and for no good, is comprehended under this deadly denunciation,
whether it be a stillet, which we have borrowed from the treacherous
Italian, or a dirk, which is borne by the savage Highlandman, or a
whinger, which is carried by our own Border thieves and cut-throats,
or a dudgeon-dagger, all are alike engines invented by the devil
himself, for ready implements of deadly wrath, sudden to execute, and
difficult to be parried. Even the common sword-and-buckler brawler
despises the use of such a treacherous and malignant instrument, which
is therefore fit to be used, not by men or soldiers, but by those who,
trained under female discipline, become themselves effeminate
hermaphrodites, having female spite and female cowardice added to the
infirmities and evil passions of their masculine nature."
The effect which this oration produced upon the assembled congregation
of Avenel cannot very easily be described. The lady seemed at once
embarrassed and offended; the menials could hardly contain, under an
affectation of deep attention, the joy with which they heard the
chaplain launch his thunders at the head of the unpopular favourite,
and the weapon which they considered as a badge of affectation and
finery. Mrs. Lilias crested and drew up her head with all the
deep-felt pride of gratified resentment; while the steward, observing
a strict neutrality of aspect, fixed his eyes upon an old scutcheon on
the opposite side of the wall, which he seemed to examine with the
utmost accuracy, more willing, perhaps, to incur the censure of being
inattentive to the sermon, than that of seeming to listen with marked
approbation to what appeared so distasteful to his mistress.
The unfortunate subject of the harangue, whom nature had endowed with
passions which had hitherto found no effectual restraint, could not
disguise the resentment which he felt at being thus directly held up
to the scorn, as well as the censure, of the assembled inhabitants of
the little world in which he lived. His brow grew red, his lip grew
pale, he set his teeth, he clenched his hand, and then with mechanical
readiness grasped the weapon of which the clergyman had given so
hideous a character; and at length, as the preacher heightened the
colouring of his invective, he felt his rage become so ungovernable,
that, fearful of being hurried into some deed of desperate violence,
he rose up, traversed the chapel with hasty steps, and left the
The preacher was surprised into a sudden pause, while the fiery youth
shot across him like a flash of lightning, regarding him as he passed,
as if he had wished to dart from his eyes the same power of blighting
and of consuming. But no sooner had he crossed the chapel, and shut
with violence behind him the door of the vaulted entrance by which it
communicated with the castle, than the impropriety of his conduct
supplied Warden with one of those happier subjects for eloquence, of
which he knew how to take advantage for making a suitable impression
on his hearers. He paused for an instant, and then pronounced, in a
slow and solemn voice, the deep anathema: "He hath gone out from us
because he was not of us--the sick man hath been offended at the
wholesome bitter of the medicine--the wounded patient hath flinched
from the friendly knife of the surgeon--the sheep hath fled from the
sheepfold and delivered himself to the wolf, because he could not
assume the quiet and humble conduct demanded of us by the great
Shepherd. Ah! my brethren, beware of wrath--beware of pride--beware
of the deadly and destroying sin which so often shows itself to our
frail eyes in the garments of light! What is our earthly honour?
Pride, and pride only--What our earthly gifts and graces? Pride and
vanity. Voyagers speak of Indian men who deck themselves with shells,
and anoint themselves with pigments, and boast of their attire as we
do of our miserable carnal advantages--Pride could draw down the
morning-star from Heaven even to the verge of the pit--Pride and
self-opinion kindled the flaming sword which waves us off from
Paradise--Pride made Adam mortal, and a weary wanderer on the face of
the earth, which he had else been at this day the immortal lord
of--Pride brought amongst us sin, and doubles every sin it has
brought. It is the outpost which the devil and the flesh most
stubbornly maintain against the assaults of grace; and until it be
subdued, and its barriers levelled with the very earth, there is more
hope of a fool than of the sinner. Rend, then, from your bosoms this
accursed shoot of the fatal apple; tear it up by the roots, though it
be twisted with the chords of your life. Profit by the example of the
miserable sinner that has passed from us, and embrace the means of
grace while it is called to-day 'ere your conscience is seared as with
a fire-brand, and your ears deafened like those of the adder, and your
heart hardened like the nether mill-stone. Up, then, and be
doing--wrestle and overcome; resist, and the enemy shall flee from
you--Watch and pray, lest ye fall into temptation, and let the
stumbling of others be your warning and your example. Above all, rely
not on yourselves, for such self-confidence is even the worst symptom
of the disorder itself. The Pharisee, perhaps, deemed himself humble
while he stooped in the Temple, and thanked God that he was not as
other men, and even as the publican. But while his knees touched the
marble pavement, his head was as high as the topmost pinnacle of the
Temple. Do not, therefore, deceive yourselves, and offer false coin,
where the purest you can present is but as dross--think not that
such--will pass the assay of Omnipotent Wisdom. Yet shrink not from
the task, because, as is my bounden duty, I do not disguise from you
its difficulties. Self-searching can do much--Meditation can do
much--Grace can do all."
And he concluded with a touching and animating exhortation to his
hearers to seek divine grace, which is perfected in human wakness.
The audience did not listen to this address without being considerably
affected; though it might be doubted whether the feelings of triumph,
excited by the disgraceful retreat of the favourite page, did not
greatly qualify in the minds of many the exhortations of the preacher
to charity and to humility. And, in fact, the expression of their
countenances much resembled the satisfied triumphant air of a set of
children, who, having just seen a companion punished for a fault in
which they had no share, con their task with double glee, both because
they themselves are out of the scrape, and because the culprit is in
With very different feelings did the Lady of Avenel seek her own
apartment. She felt angry at Warden having made a domestic matter, in
which she took a personal interest, the subject of such public
discussion. But this she knew the good man claimed as a branch of his
Christian liberty as a preacher, and also that it was vindicated by
the universal custom of his brethren. But the self-willed conduct of
her protegé afforded her yet deeper concern. That he had broken
through in so remarkable a degree, not only the respect due to her
presence, but that which was paid to religious admonition in those
days with such peculiar reverence, argued a spirit as untameable as
his enemies had represented him to possess. And yet so far as he had
been under her own eye, she had seen no more of that fiery spirit than
appeared to her to become his years and his vivacity. This opinion
might be founded in some degree on partiality; in some degree, too, it
might be owing to the kindness and indulgence which she had always
extended to him; but still she thought it impossible that she could be
totally mistaken in the estimate she had formed of his character. The
extreme of violence is scarce consistent with a course of continued
hypocrisy, (although Lilias charitably hinted, that in some instances
they were happily united,) and there fore she could not exactly trust
the report of others against her own experience and observation. The
thoughts of this orphan boy clung to her heartstrings with a fondness
for which she herself was unable to account. He seemed to have been
sent to her by Heaven, to fill up those intervals of languor and
vacuity which deprived her of much enjoyment. Perhaps he was not less
dear to her, because she well saw that he was a favourite with no one
else, and because she felt, that to give him up was to afford the
judgment of her husband and others a triumph over her own; a
circumstance not quite indifferent to the best of spouses of either
In short, the Lady of Avenel formed the internal resolution, that she
would not desert her page while her page could be rationally
protected; and, with a view of ascertaining how far this might be
done, she caused him to be summoned to her presence.
Chapter the Fifth.
--In the wild storm,
The seaman hews his mast down, and the merchant
Heaves to the billows wares he once deem'd precious;
So prince and peer, 'mid popular contentions,
Cast off their favourites.
It was some time ere Roland Graeme appeared. The messenger (his old
friend Lilias) had at first attempted to open the door of his little
apartment with the charitable purpose, doubtless, of enjoying the
confusion, and marking the demeanour of the culprit. But an oblong bit
of iron, ycleped a bolt, was passed across the door on the inside, and
prevented her benign intentions. Lilias knocked and called at
intervals. "Roland--Roland Graeme--_Master_ Roland Graeme" (an
emphasis on the word Master,) "will you be pleased to undo the
door?--What ails you?--are you at your prayers in private, to complete
the devotion which you left unfinished in public?--Surely we must have
a screened seat for you in the chapel, that your gentility may be free
from the eyes of common folks!" Still no whisper was heard in reply.
"Well, master Roland," said the waiting-maid, "I must tell my
mistress, that if she would have an answer, she must either come
herself, or send those on errand to you who can beat the door down."
"What says your Lady?" answered the page from within.
"Marry, open the door, and you shall hear," answered the waiting-maid.
"I trow it becomes my Lady's message to be listened to face to face;
and I will not for your idle pleasure, whistle it through a key-hole."
"Your mistress's name," said the page, opening the door, "is too fair
a cover for your impertinence--What says my Lady?"
"That you will be pleased to come to her directly, in the
withdrawing-room," answered Lilias. "I presume she has some directions
for you concerning the forms to be observed in leaving chapel in
"Say to my Lady, that I will directly wait on her," answered the page;
and returning into his apartment, he once more locked the door in the
face of the waiting-maid.
"Rare courtesy!" muttered Lilias; and, returning to her mistress,
acquainted her that Roland Graeme would wait on her when it suited his
"What, is that his addition, or your own phrase, Lilias?" said the
"Nay, madam," replied the attendant, not directly answering the
question, "he looked as if he could have said much more impertinent
things than that, if I had been willing to hear them.--But here he
comes to answer for himself."
Roland Graeme entered the apartment with a loftier mien, and somewhat
a higher colour than his wont; there was embarrassment in his manner,
but it was neither that of fear nor of penitence.
"Young man," said the Lady, "what trow you I am to think of your
conduct this day?"
"If it has offended you, madam, I am deeply grieved," replied the
"To have offended me alone," replied the Lady, "were but little--You
have been guilty of conduct which will highly offend your master--of
violence to your fellow-servants, and of disrespect to God himself, in
the person of his ambassador."
"Permit me again to reply," said the page, "that if I have offended my
only mistress, friend, and benefactress, it includes the sum of my
guilt, and deserves the sum of my penitence--Sir Halbert Glendinning
calls me not servant, nor do I call him master--he is not entitled to
blame me for chastising an insolent groom--nor do I fear the wrath of
Heaven for treating with scorn the unauthorized interference of a
The Lady of Avenel had before this seen symptoms in her favourite of
boyish petulance, and of impatience of censure or reproof. But his
present demeanour was of a graver and more determined character, and
she was for a moment at a loss how she should treat the youth, who
seemed to have at once assumed the character not only of a man, but of
a bold and determined one. She paused an instant, arid then assuming
the dignity which was natural to her, she said, "Is it to me, Roland,
that you hold this language? Is it for the purpose of making me
repent the favour I have shown you, that you declare yourself
independent both of an earthly and a Heavenly master? Have you
forgotten what you were, and to what the loss of my protection would
speedily again reduce you?"
"Lady," said the page, "I have forgot nothing, I remember but too
much. I know, that but for you, I should have perished in yon blue
waves," pointing, as he spoke, to the lake, which was seen through the
window, agitated by the western wind. "Your goodness has gone farther,
madam--you have protected me against the malice of others, and against
my own folly. You are free, if you are willing, to abandon the orphan
you have reared. You have left nothing undone by him, and he complains
of nothing. And yet, Lady, do not think I have been ungrateful--I have
endured something on my part, which I would have borne for the sake of
no one but my benefactress."
"For my sake!" said the Lady; "and what is it that I can have
subjected you to endure, which can be remembered with other feelings
than those of thanks and gratitude?"
"You are too just, madam, to require me to be thankful for the cold
neglect with which your husband has uniformly treated me--neglect not
unmingled with fixed aversion. You are too just, madam, to require me
to be grateful for the constant and unceasing marks of scorn and
malevolence with which I have been treated by others, or for such a
homily as that with which your reverend chaplain has, at my expense,
this very day regaled the assembled household."
"Heard mortal ears the like of this!" said the waiting-maid, with her
hands expanded and her eyes turned up to heaven; "he speaks as if he
were son of an earl, or of a belted knight the least penny!"
The page glanced on her a look of supreme contempt, but vouchsafed no
other answer. His mistress, who began to feel herself seriously
offended, and yet sorry for the youth's folly, took up the same tone.
"Indeed, Roland, you forget yourself so strangely," said she, "that
you will tempt me to take serious measures to lower you in your own
opinion by reducing you to your proper station in society."
"And that," added Lilias, "would be best done by turning him out the
same beggar's brat that your ladyship took him in."
"Lilias speaks too rudely," continued the Lady, "but she has spoken
the truth, young man; nor do I think I ought to spare that pride which
hath so completely turned your head. You have been tricked up with
fine garments, and treated like the son of a gentleman, until you have
forgot the fountain of your churlish blood."
"Craving your pardon, most honourable madam, Lilias hath _not_
spoken truth, nor does your ladyship know aught of my descent, which
should entitle you to treat it with such decided scorn. I am no
beggar's brat--my grandmother begged from no one, here nor
elsewhere--she would have perished sooner on the bare moor. We were
harried out and driven from our home--a chance which has happed
elsewhere, and to others. Avenel Castle, with its lake and its towers,
was not at all times able to protect its inhabitants from want and
"Hear but his assurance!" said Lilias, "he upbraids my Lady with the
distresses of her family!"
"It had indeed been a theme more gratefully spared," said the Lady,
affected nevertheless with the allusion.
"It was necessary, madam, for my vindication," said the page, "or I
had not even hinted at a word that might give you pain. But believe,
honoured Lady, I am of no churl's blood. My proper descent I know not;
but my only relation has said, and my heart has echoed it back and
attested the truth, that I am sprung of gentle blood, and deserve
"And upon an assurance so vague as this," said the Lady, "do you
propose to expect all the regard, all the privileges, befitting high
rank and distinguished birth, and become a contender for concessions
which are only due to the noble? Go to, sir, know yourself, or the
master of the household shall make you know you are liable to the
scourge as a malapert boy. You have tasted too little the discipline
fit for your age and station."
"The master of the household shall taste of my dagger, ere I taste of
his discipline," said the page, giving way to his restrained passion.
"Lady, I have been too long the vassal of a pantoufle, and the slave
of a silver whistle. You must henceforth find some other to answer
your call; and let him be of birth and spirit mean enough to brook the
scorn of your menials, and to call a church vassal his master."
"I have deserved this insult," said the Lady, colouring deeply, "for
so long enduring and fostering your petulance. Begone, sir. Leave this
castle to-night--I will send you the means of subsistence till you
find some honest mode of support, though I fear your imaginary
grandeur will be above all others, save those of rapine and violence.
Begone, sir, and see my face no more."
The page threw himself at her feet in an agony of sorrow. "My dear
and honoured mistress," he said, but was unable to bring out another
"Arise, sir," said the Lady, "and let go my mantle--hypocrisy is a
poor cloak for ingratitude."
"I am incapable of either, madam," said the page, springing up with
the hasty start of passion which belonged to his rapid and impetuous
temper. "Think not I meant to implore permission to reside here; it
has been long my determination to leave Avenel, and I will never
forgive myself for having permitted you to say the word begone, ere I
said, 'I leave you.' I did but kneel to ask your forgiveness for an
ill-considered word used in the height of displeasure, but which ill
became my mouth, as addressed to you. Other grace I asked not--you
have done much for me--but I repeat, that you better know what you
yourself have done, than what I have suffered."
"Roland," said the Lady, somewhat appeased, and relenting towards her
favourite, "you had me to appeal to when you were aggrieved. You were
neither called upon to suffer wrong, nor entitled to resent it, when
you were under my protection."
"And what," said the youth, "if I sustained wrong from those you loved
and favoured, was I to disturb your peace with idle tale-bearings and
eternal complaints? No, madam; I have borne my own burden in silence,
and without disturbing you with murmurs; and the respect with which
you accuse me of wanting, furnishes the only reason why I have neither
appealed to you, nor taken vengeance at my own hand in a manner far
more effectual. It is well, however, that we part. I was not born to
be a stipendiary, favoured by his mistress, until ruined by the
calumnies of others. May Heaven multiply its choicest blessings on
your honoured head; and, for your sake, upon all that are dear to
He was about to leave the apartment, when the Lady called upon him to
return. He stood still, while she thus addressed him: "It was not my
intention, nor would it be just, even in the height of my displeasure,
to dismiss you without the means of support; take this purse of gold."
"Forgive me, Lady," said the boy, "and let me go hence with the
consciousness that I have not been degraded to the point of accepting
alms. If my poor services can be placed against the expense of my
apparel and my maintenance, I only remain debtor to you for my life,
and that alone is a debt which I can never repay; put up then that
purse, and only say, instead, that you do not part from me in anger."
"No, not in anger," said the Lady, "in sorrow rather for your
wilfulness; but take the gold, you cannot but need it."
"May God evermore bless you for the kind tone and the kind word! but
the gold I cannot take. I am able of body, and do not lack friends so
wholly as you may think; for the time may come that I may yet show
myself more thankful than by mere words." He threw himself on his
knees, kissed the hand which she did not withdraw, and then, hastily
left the apartment.
Lilias, for a moment or two, kept her eye fixed on her mistress, who
looked so unusually pale, that she seemed about to faint; but the Lady
instantly recovered herself, and declining the assistance which her
attendant offered her, walked to her own apartment.
Chapter the Sixth.
Thou hast each secret of the household, Francis.
I dare be sworn thou hast been in the buttery,
Steeping thy curious humour in fat ale,
And in thy butler's tattle--ay, or chatting
With the glib waiting-woman o'er her comfits--
These bear the key to each domestic mystery.
Upon the morrow succeeding the scene we have described, the disgraced
favourite left the castle; and at breakfast-time the cautious old
steward and Mrs. Lilias sat in the apartment of the latter personage,
holding grave converse on the important event of the day, sweetened by
a small treat of comfits, to which the providence of Mr. Wingate had
added a little flask of racy canary.
"He is gone at last," said the abigail, sipping her glass; "and here
is to his good journey."
"Amen," answered the steward, gravely; "I wish the poor deserted lad
"And he is gone like a wild-duck, as he came," continued Mrs. Lilias;
"no lowering of drawbridges, or pacing along causeways, for him. My
master has pushed off in the boat which they call the little Herod,
(more shame to them for giving the name of a Christian to wood and
iron,) and has rowed himself by himself to the farther side of the
loch, and off and away with himself, and left all his finery strewed
about his room. I wonder who is to clean his trumpery out after
him--though the things are worth lifting, too."
"Doubtless, Mistress Lilias," answered the master of the household,
"in the which case, I am free to think, they will not long cumber the
"And now tell me, Master Wingate," continued the damsel, "do not the
very cockles of your heart rejoice at the house being rid of this
upstart whelp, that flung us all into shadow?"
"Why, Mistress Lilias," replied Wingate, "as to rejoicing--those who
have lived as long in great families as has been my lot, will be in no
hurry to rejoice at any thing. And for Roland Graeme, though he may be
a good riddance in the main, yet what says the very sooth proverb,
'Seldom comes a better.'"
"Seldom comes a better, indeed!" echoed Mrs. Lilias. "I say, never can
come a worse, or one half so bad. He might have been the ruin of our
poor dear mistress," (here she used her kerchief,) "body and soul, and
estate too; for she spent more coin on his apparel than on any four
servants about the house."
"Mistress Lilias," said the sage steward, "I do opine that our
mistress requireth not this pity at your hands, being in all respects
competent to take care of her own body, soul, and estate into the
"You would not mayhap have said so," answered the waiting-woman, "had
you seen how like Lot's wife she looked when young master took his
leave. My mistress is a good lady, and a virtuous, and a well-doing
lady, and a well-spoken of--but I would not Sir Halbert had seen her
last evening for two and a plack."
"Oh, foy! foy! foy!" reiterated the steward; "servants should hear and
see, and say nothing. Besides that, my lady is utterly devoted to Sir
Halbert, as well she may, being, as he is, the most renowned knight in
"Well, well," said the abigail, "I mean no more harm; but they that
seek least renown abroad, are most apt to find quiet at home, that's
all; and my Lady's lonesome situation is to be considered, that made
her fain to take up with the first beggar's brat that a dog brought
her out of the loch."
"And, therefore," said the steward, "I say, rejoice not too much, or
too hastily, Mistress Lilias; for if your Lady wished a favourite to
pass away the time, depend upon it, the time will not pass lighter now
that he is gone. So she will have another favourite to choose for
herself; and be assured, if she wishes such a toy, she will not lack
"And where should she choose one, but among her own tried and faithful
servants," said Mrs. Lilias, "who have broken her bread, and drunk her
drink, for so many years? I have known many a lady as high as she is,
that never thought either of a friend or favourite beyond their own
waiting-woman--always having a proper respect, at the same time, for
their old and faithful master of the household, Master Wingate."
"Truly, Mistress Lilias," replied the steward, "I do partly see the
mark at which you shoot, but I doubt your bolt will fall short.
Matters being with our Lady as it likes you to suppose, it will
neither be your crimped pinners, Mrs. Lilias, (speaking of them with
due respect,) nor my silver hair, or golden chain, that will fill up
the void which Roland Graeme must needs leave in our Lady's leisure.
There will be a learned young divine with some new doctrine--a learned
leech with some new drug--a bold cavalier, who will not be refused the
favour of wearing her colours at a running at the ring--a cunning
harper that could harp the heart out of woman's breast, as they say
Signer David Rizzio did to our poor Queen;--these are the sort of folk
who supply the loss of a well-favoured favourite, and not an old
steward, or a middle-aged waiting-woman."
"Well," replied Lilias, "you have experience, Master Wingate, and
truly I would my master would leave off his picking hither and
thither, and look better after the affairs of his household. There
will be a papestrie among us next, for what should I see among
master's clothes but a string of gold beads! I promise you,
_aves_ and _credos_ both!--I seized on them like a falcon."
"I doubt it not, I doubt it not," said the steward, sagaciously
nodding his head; "I have often noticed that the boy had strange
observances which savoured of popery, and that he was very jealous to
conceal them. But you will find the Catholic under the Presbyterian
cloak as often as the knave under the Friar's hood--what then? we are
all mortal--Right proper beads they are," he added, looking
attentively at them, "and may weigh four ounces of fine gold."
"And I will have them melted down presently," she said, "before they
be the misguiding of some poor blinded soul."
"Very cautious, indeed, Mistress Lilias," said the steward, nodding
his head in assent.
"I will have them made," said Mrs. Lilias, "into a pair of
shoe-buckles; I would not wear the Pope's trinkets, or whatever has
once borne the shape of them, one inch above my instep, were they
diamonds instead of gold.--But this is what has come of Father Ambrose
coming about the castle, as demure as a cat that is about to steal
"Father Ambrose is our master's brother," said the steward gravely.
"Very true, Master Wingate," answered the Dame; "but is that a good
reason why he should pervert the king's liege subjects to papistrie?"
"Heaven forbid, Mistress Lilias," answered the sententious major-domo;
"but yet there are worse folk than the Papists."
"I wonder where they are to be found," said the waiting-woman, with
some asperity; "but I believe, Master Wingate, if one were to speak to
you about the devil himself, you would say there were worse people
"Assuredly I might say so," replied the steward, "supposing that I saw
Satan standing at my elbow."
The waiting-woman started, and having exclaimed, "God bless us I"
added, "I wonder, Master Wingate, you can take pleasure in frightening
"Nay, Mistress Lilias, I had no such purpose," was the reply; "but
look you here--the Papists are but put down for the present, but who
knows how long this word _present_ will last? There are two great
Popish earls in the north of England, that abominate the very word
reformation; I mean the Northumberland and Westmoreland Earls, men of
power enough to shake any throne in Christendom. Then, though our
Scottish king be, God bless him, a true Protestant, yet he is but a
boy; and here is his mother that was our queen--I trust there is no
harm to say, God bless her too--and she is a Catholic; and many begin
to think she has had but hard measure, such as the Hamiltons in the
west, and some of our Border clans here, and the Gordons in the north,
who are all wishing to see a new world; and if such a new world should
chance to come up, it is like that the Queen will take back her own
crown, and that the mass and the cross will come up, and then down go
pulpits, Geneva-gowns, and black silk skull-caps."
"And have you, Master Jasper Wingate, who have heard the word, and
listened unto pure and precious Mr. Henry Warden, have you, I say, the
patience to speak, or but to think, of popery coming down on us like a
storm, or of the woman Mary again making the royal seat of Scotland a
throne of abomination? No marvel that you are so civil to the cowled
monk, Father Ambrose, when he comes hither with his downcast eyes that
he never raises to my Lady's face, and with his low sweet-toned voice,
and his benedicites, and his benisons; and who so ready to take them
kindly as Master Wingate?"
"Mistress Lilias," replied the butler, with an air which was intended
to close the debate, "there are reasons for all things. If I received
Father Ambrose debonairly, and suffered him to steal a word now arid
then with this same Roland Graeme, it was not that I cared a brass
bodle for his benison or malison either, but only because I respected
my master's blood. And who can answer, if Mary come in again, whether
he may not be as stout a tree to lean to as ever his brother hath
proved to us? For down goes the Earl of Murray when the Queen comes by
her own again; and good is his luck if he can keep the head on his own
shoulders. And down goes our Knight, with the Earl, his patron; and
who so like to mount into his empty saddle as this same Father
Ambrose? The Pope of Rome can so soon dispense with his vows, and then
we should have Sir Edward the soldier, instead of Ambrose the priest."
Anger and astonishment kept Mrs. Lilias silent,--while her old friend,
in his self-complacent manner, was making known to her his political
speculations. At length her resentment found utterance in words of
great ire and scorn. "What, Master Wingate! have you eaten my
mistress's bread, to say nothing of my master's, so many years, that
you could live to think of her being dispossessed of her own Castle of
Avenel, by a wretched monk, who is not a drop's blood to her in the
way of relation? I, that am but a woman, would try first whether my
rock or his cowl was the better metal. Shame on you, Master Wingate! I
If I had not held you as so old an acquaintance, this should have gone
to my Lady's ears though I had been called pickthank and tale-pyet for
my pains, as when I told of Roland Graeme shooting the wild swan."
Master Wingate was somewhat dismayed at perceiving, that the details
which he had given of his far-sighted political views had produced
on his hearer rather suspicion of his fidelity, than admiration of his
wisdom, and endeavoured, as hastily as possible, to apologize and to
explain, although internally extremely offended at the unreasonable
view, as he deemed it, which it had pleased Mistress Lilias Bradbourne
to take of his expressions; and mentally convinced that her
disapprobation of his sentiments arose solely out of the
consideration, that though Father Ambrose, supposing him to become the
master of the castle, would certainly require the services of a
steward, yet those of a waiting-woman would, in the supposed
circumstances, be altogether superfluous.
After his explanation had been received as explanations usually are,
the two friends separated; Lilias to attend the silver whistle which
called her to her mistress's chamber, and the sapient major-domo to
the duties of his own department. They parted with less than their
usual degree of reverence and regard; for the steward felt that his
worldly wisdom was rebuked by the more disinterested attachment of the
waiting-woman, and Mistress Lilias Bradbourne was compelled to
consider her old friend as something little better than a time-server.
Chapter the Seventh.
When I hae a saxpence under my thumb,
Then I get credit in ilka town;
But when I am puir they bid me gae by--
Oh, poverty parts good company!
While the departure of the page afforded subject for the conversation
which we have detailed in our last chapter, the late favourite was far
advanced on his solitary journey, without well knowing what was its
object, or what was likely to be its end. He had rowed the skiff in
which he left the castle, to the side of the lake most distant from
the village, with the desire of escaping from the notice of the
inhabitants. His pride whispered, that he would be in his discarded
state, only the subject of their wonder and compassion; and his
generosity told him, that any mark of sympathy which his situation
should excite, might be unfavourably reported at the castle. A
trifling incident convinced him he had little to fear for his friends
on the latter score. He was met by a young man some years older than
himself, who had on former occasions been but too happy to be
permitted to share in his sports in the subordinate character of his
assistant. Ralph Fisher approached to greet him, with all the alacrity
of an humble friend.
"What, Master Roland, abroad on this side, and without either hawk or
"Hawk or hound," said Roland, "I will never perhaps hollo to again. I
have been dismissed--that is, I have left the castle."
Ralph was surprised. "What! you are to pass into the Knight's service,
and take the black jack and the lance?"
"Indeed," replied Roland Graeme, "I am not--I am now leaving the
service of Avenel for ever."
"And whither are you going, then?" said the young peasant.
"Nay, that is a question which it craves time to answer--I have that
matter to determine yet," replied the disgraced favourite.
"Nay, nay," said Ralph, "I warrant you it is the same to you which way
you go--my Lady would not dismiss you till she had put some lining
into the pouches of your doublet."
"Sordid slave!" said Roland Graeme, "dost thou think I would have
accepted a boon from one who was giving me over a prey to detraction
and to ruin, at the instigation of a canting priest and a meddling
serving-woman? The bread that I had bought with such an alms would
have choked me at the first mouthful."
Ralph looked at his quondam friend with an air of wonder not unmixed
with contempt. "Well," he said, at length, "no occasion for
passion--each man knows his own stomach best--but, were I on a black
moor at this time of day, not knowing whither I was going, I should be
glad to have a broad piece or two in my pouch, come by them as I
could.--But perhaps you will go with me to my father's--that is, for a
night, for to-morrow we expect my uncle Menelaus and all his folk;
but, as I said, for one night----"
The cold-blooded limitation of the offered shelter to one night only,
and that tendered most unwillingly, offended the pride of the
"I would rather sleep on the fresh heather, as I have done many a
night on less occasion," said Roland Graeme, "than in the smoky garret
of your father, that smells of peat smoke and usquebaugh like a
"You may choose, my master, if you are so nice," replied Ralph Fisher;
"you may be glad to smell a peat-fire, and usquebaugh too, if you
journey long in the fashion you propose. You might have said
God-a-mercy for your proffer, though--it is not every one that will
put themselves in the way of ill-will by harbouring a discarded
"Ralph," said Roland Graeme, "I would pray you to remember that I have
switched you before now, and this is the same riding-wand which you
Ralph, who was a thickset clownish figure, arrived at his full
strength, and conscious of the most complete personal superiority,
laughed contemptuously at the threats of the slight-made stripling.
"It may be the same wand," he said, "but not the same hand; and that
is as good rhyme as if it were in a ballad. Look you, my Lady's page
that was, when your switch was up, it was no fear of you, but of your
betters, that kept mine down--and I wot not what hinders me from
clearing old scores with this hazel rung, and showing you it was your
Lady's livery-coat which I spared, and not your flesh and blood,
In the midst of his rage, Roland Graeme was just wise enough to see,
that by continuing this altercation, he would subject himself to very
rude treatment from the boor, who was so much older and stronger than
himself; and while his antagonist, with a sort of jeering laugh of
defiance, seemed to provoke the contest, he felt the full bitterness
of his own degraded condition, and burst into a passion of tears,
which he in vain endeavoured to conceal with both his hands.
Even the rough churl was moved with the distress of his quondam
"Nay, Master Roland," he said, "I did but as 'twere jest with thee--I
would not harm thee, man, were it but for old acquaintance sake. But
ever look to a man's inches ere you talk of switching--why, thine arm,
man, is but like a spindle compared to mine.--But hark, I hear old
Adam Woodcock hollowing to his hawk--Come along, man, we will have a
merry afternoon, and go jollily to my father's in spite of the
peat-smoke and usquebaugh to boot. Maybe we may put you into some
honest way of winning your bread, though it's hard to come by in these
The unfortunate page made no answer, nor did he withdraw his hands
from his face, and Fisher continued in what he imagined a suitable
tone of comfort.
"Why, man, when you were my Lady's minion, men held you proud, and
some thought you a Papist, and I wot not what; and so, now that you
have no one to bear you out, you must be companionable and hearty, and
wait on the minister's examinations, and put these things out of
folk's head; and if he says you are in fault, you must jouk your head
to the stream; and if a gentleman, or a gentleman's gentleman, give
you a rough word, or a light blow, you must only say, thank you for
dusting my doublet, or the like, as I have done by you.--But hark to
Woodcock's whistle again. Come, and I will teach you all the trick
on't as we go on."
"I thank you," said Roland Graeme, endeavouring to assume an air of
indifference and of superiority; "but I have another path before me,
and were it otherwise, I could not tread in yours."
"Very true, Master Roland," replied the clown; "and every man knows
his own matters best, and so I will not keep you from the path, as you
say. Give us a grip of your hand, man, for auld lang syne.--What! not
clap palms ere we part?--well, so be it--a wilful man will have his
way, and so farewell, and the blessing of the morning to you."
"Good-morrow--good-morrow," said Roland, hastily; and the clown walked
lightly off, whistling as he went, and glad, apparently, to be rid of
an acquaintance, whose claims might be troublesome, and who had no
longer the means to be serviceable to him.
Roland Graeme compelled himself to walk on while they were within
sight of each other that his former intimate might not augur any
vacillation of purpose, or uncertainty of object, from his remaining
on the same spot; but the effort was a painful one. He seemed stunned,
as it were, and giddy; the earth on which he stood felt as if unsound,
and quaking under his feet like the surface of a bog; and he had once
or twice nearly fallen, though the path he trode was of firm
greensward. He kept resolutely moving forward, in spite of the
internal agitation to which these symptoms belonged, until the distant
form of his acquaintance disappeared behind the slope of a hill, when
his heart failed at once; and, sitting down on the turf, remote from
human ken, he gave way to the natural expressions of wounded pride,
grief, and fear, and wept with unrestrained profusion and unqualified
When the first violent paroxysm of his feelings had subsided, the
deserted and friendless youth felt that mental relief which usually
follows such discharges of sorrow. The tears continued to chase each
other down his cheeks, but they were no longer accompanied by the same
sense of desolation; an afflicting yet milder sentiment was awakened
in his mind, by the recollection of his benefactress, of the unwearied
kindness which had attached her to him, in spite of many acts of
provoking petulance, now recollected as offences of a deep dye, which
had protected him against the machinations of others, as well as
against the consequences of his own folly, and would have continued to
do so, had not the excess of his presumption compelled her to withdraw
"Whatever indignity I have borne," he said, "has been the just reward
of my own ingratitude. And have I done well to accept the hospitality,
the more than maternal kindness, of my protectress, yet to detain from
her the knowledge of my religion?--but she shall know that a Catholic
has as much gratitude as a Puritan--that I have been thoughtless, but
not wicked--that in my wildest moments I have loved, respected, and
honoured her--and that the orphan boy might indeed be heedless, but
was never ungrateful!"
He turned, as these thoughts passed through his mind, and began
hastily to retread his footsteps towards the castle. But he checked
the first eagerness of his repentant haste, when he reflected on the
scorn and contempt with which the family were likely to see the return
of the fugitive, humbled, as they must necessarily suppose him, into a
supplicant, who requested pardon for his fault, and permission to
return to his service. He slackened his pace, but he stood not still.
"I care not," he resolutely determined; "let them wink, point, nod,
sneer, speak of the conceit which is humbled, of the pride which has
had a fall--I care not; it is a penance due to my folly, and I will
endure it with patience. But if she also, my benefactress, if she also
should think me sordid and weak-spirited enough to beg, not for her
pardon alone, but for a renewal of the advantages which I derived from
her favour--_her_ suspicion of my meanness I cannot--I will not
He stood still, and his pride rallying with constitutional obstinacy
against his more just feeling, urged that he would incur the scorn of
the Lady of Avenel, rather than obtain her favour, by following the
course which the first ardour of his repentant feelings had dictated
"If I had but some plausible pretext," he thought, "some ostensible
reason for my return, some excuse to allege which might show I came
not as a degraded supplicant, or a discarded menial, I might go
thither--but as I am, I cannot--my heart would leap from its place and
As these thoughts swept through his mind, something passed in the air
so near him as to dazzle his eyes, and almost to brush the plume in
his cap. He looked up--it was the favourite falcon of Sir Halbert,
which, flying around his head, seemed to claim his attention, as that
of a well-known friend. Roland extended his arm, and gave the
accustomed whoop, and the falcon instantly settled on his wrist, and
began to prune itself, glancing at the youth from time to time an
acute and brilliant beam of its hazel eye, which seemed to ask why he
caressed it not with his usual fondness.
"Ah, Diamond!" he said, as if the bird understood him, "thou and I
must be strangers henceforward. Many a gallant stoop have I seen thee
make, and many a brave heron strike down; but that is all gone and
over, and there is no hawking more for me!"
"And why not, Master Roland," said Adam Woodcock the falconer, who
came at that instant from behind a few alder bushes which had
concealed him from view, "why should there be no more hawking for you?
Why, man, what were our life without our sports?--thou know'st the
jolly old song--
"And rather would Allan in dungeon lie,
Than live at large where the falcon cannot fly;
And Allan would rather lie in Sexton's pound,
Than live where he followed not the merry hawk and hound."
The voice of the falconer was hearty and friendly, and the tone in
which he half-sung half-recited his rude ballad, implied honest
frankness and cordiality. But remembrance of their quarrel, and its
consequences, embarrassed Roland, and prevented his reply. The
falconer saw his hesitation, and guessed the cause.
"What now," said he, "Master Roland? do you, who are half an
Englishman, think that I, who am a whole one, would keep up anger
against you, and you in distress? That were like some of the Scots,
(my master's reverence always excepted,) who can be fair and false,
and wait their time, and keep their mind, as they say, to themselves,
and touch pot and flagon with you, and hunt and hawk with you, and,
after all, when time serves, pay off some old feud with the point of
the dagger. Canny Yorkshire has no memory for such old sores. Why,
man, an you had hit me a rough blow, maybe I would rather have taken
it from you, than a rough word from another; for you have a good
notion of falconry, though you stand up for washing the meat for the
eyases. So give us your hand, man, and bear no malice."
Roland, though he felt his proud blood rebel at the familiarity of
honest Adam's address, could not resist its downright frankness.
Covering his face with the one hand, he held out the other to the
falconer, and returned with readiness his friendly grasp.
"Why, this is hearty now," said Woodcock; "I always said you had a
kind heart, though you have a spice of the devil in your disposition,
that is certain. I came this way with the falcon on purpose to find
you, and yon half-bred lubbard told me which way you took flight. You
ever thought too much of that kestril-kite, Master Roland, and he
knows nought of sport after all, but what he caught from you. I saw
how it had been betwixt you, and I sent him out of my company with a
wanion--I would rather have a rifler on my perch than a false knave at
my elbow--and now, Master Roland, tell me what way wing ye?"
"That is as God pleases," replied the page, with a sigh which he could
"Nay, man, never droop a feather for being cast off," said the
falconer; "who knows but you may soar the better and fairer flight for
all this yet?--Look at Diamond there, 'tis a noble bird, and shows
gallantly with his hood, and bells, and jesses; but there is many a
wild falcon in Norway that would not change properties with him--And
that is what I would say of you. You are no longer my Lady's page, and
you will not clothe so fair, or feed so well, or sleep so soft, or
show so gallant--What of all that? if you are not her page, you are
your own man, and may go where you will, without minding whoop or
whistle. The worst is the loss of the sport, but who knows what you
may come to? They say that Sir Halbert himself, I speak with
reverence, was once glad to be the Abbot's forester, and now he has
hounds and hawks of his own, and Adam Woodcock for a falconer to the
"You are right, and say well, Adam," answered the youth, the blood
mantling in his cheeks, "the falcon will soar higher without his bells
than with them, though the bells be made of silver."
"That is cheerily spoken," replied the falconer; "and whither now?"
"I thought of going to the Abbey of Kennaquhair," answered Roland
Graeme, "to ask the counsel of Father Ambrose."
"And joy go with you," said the falconer, "though it is likely you may
find the old monks in some sorrow; they say the commons are
threatening to turn them out of their cells, and make a devil's mass
of it in the old church, thinking they have forborne that sport too
long; and troth I am clear of the same opinion."
"Then will Father Ambrose be the better of having a friend beside
him!" said the page, manfully.
"Ay, but, my young fearnought," replied the falconer, "the friend will
scarce be the better of being beside Father Ambrose--he may come by
the redder's lick, and that is ever the worst of the battle."
"I care not for that," said the page, "the dread of a lick should not
hold me back; but I fear I may bring trouble between the brothers by
visiting Father Ambrose. I will tarry to-night at Saint Cuthbert's
cell, where the old priest will give me a night's shelter; and I will
send to Father Ambrose to ask his advice before I go down to the
"By Our Lady," said the falconer, "and that is a likely plan--and
now," he continued, exchanging his frankness of manner for a sort of
awkward embarrassment, as if he had somewhat to say that he had no
ready means to bring out--"and now, you wot well that I wear a pouch
for my hawk's meat, [Footnote: This same hag, like every thing
belonging to falconry, was esteemed an honourable distinction, and
worn often by the nobility and gentry. One of the Sommervilles of
Camnethan was called _Sir John with the red bag_, because it was
his wont to wear his hawking pouch covered with satin of that colour.]
and so forth; but wot you what it is lined with, Master Roland?"
"With leather, to be sure," replied Roland, somewhat surprised at the
hesitation with which Adam Woodcock asked a question apparently so
"With leather, lad?" said Woodcock; "ay, and with silver to the boot
of that. See here," he said, showing a secret slit in the lining of
his bag of office--"here they are, thirty good Harry groats as ever
were struck in bluff old Hal's time, and ten of them are right
heartily at your service; and now the murder is out."
Roland's first idea was to refuse his assistance; but he recollected
the vows of humility which he had just taken upon him, and it occurred
that this was the opportunity to put his new-formed resolution to the
test. Assuming a strong command of himself, he answered Adam Woodcock
with as much frankness as his nature permitted him to wear, in doing
what was so contrary to his inclinations, that he accepted thankfully
of his kind offer, while, to soothe his own reviving pride, he could
not help adding, "he hoped soon to requite the obligation."
"That as you list--that as you list, young man," said the falconer,
with glee, counting out and delivering to his young friend the supply
he had so generously offered, and then adding, with great
cheerfulness,--"Now you may go through the world; for he that can back
a horse, wind a horn, hollow a greyhound, fly a hawk, and play at
sword and buckler, with a whole pair of shoes, a green jacket, and ten
lily-white groats in his pouch, may bid Father Care hang himself in
his own jesses. Farewell, and God be with you!"
So saying, and as if desirous to avoid the thanks of his companion, he
turned hastily round, and left Roland Graeme to pursue his journey
Chapter the Eight.
The sacred tapers lights are gone.
Gray moss has clad the altar stone,
The holy image is o'erthrown,
The bell has ceased to toll,
The long ribb'd aisles are burst and shrunk,
The holy shrines to ruin sunk,
Departed is the pious monk,
God's blessing on his soul!
The cell of Saint Cuthbert, as it was called, marked, or was supposed
to mark, one of those resting-places, which that venerable saint was
pleased to assign to his monks, when his convent, being driven from
Lindisfern by the Danes, became a peripatetic society of religionists,
and bearing their patron's body on their shoulders, transported him
from place to place through Scotland and the borders of England, until
he was pleased at length to spare them the pain of carrying him
farther, and to choose his ultimate place of rest in the lordly towers
of Durham. The odour of his sanctity remained behind him at each place
where he had granted the monks a transient respite from their labours;
and proud were those who could assign, as his temporary resting-place,
any spot within their vicinity. There were few cells more celebrated
and honoured than that of Saint Cuthbert, to which Roland Graeme now
bent his way, situated considerably to the north-west of the great
Abbey of Kennaquhair, on which it was dependent. In the neighbourhood
were some of those recommendations which weighed with the experienced
priesthood of Rome, in choosing their sites for places of religion.
There was a well, possessed of some medicinal qualities, which, of
course, claimed the saint for its guardian and patron, and
occasionally produced some advantage to the recluse who inhabited his
cell, since none could reasonably expect to benefit by the fountain
who did not extend their bounty to the saint's chaplain. A few rods of
fertile land afforded the monk his plot of garden ground; an eminence
well clothed with trees rose behind the cell, and sheltered it from,
the north and the east, while the front, opening to the south-west,
looked up a wild but pleasant valley, down which wandered a lively
brook, which battled with every stone that interrupted its passage.
The cell itself was rather plainly than rudely constructed--a low
Gothic building with two small apartments, one of which served the
priest for his dwelling-place, the other for his chapel. As there were
few of the secular clergy who durst venture to reside so near the
Border, the assistance of this monk in spiritual affairs had not been
useless to the community, while the Catholic religion retained the
ascendancy; as he could marry, christen, and administer the other
sacraments of the Roman church. Of late, however, as the Protestant
doctrines gained ground, he had found it convenient to live in close
retirement, and to avoid, as much as possible, drawing upon himself
observation or animadversion. The appearance of his habitation,
however, when Roland Graeme came before it in the close of the
evening, plainly showed that his caution had been finally ineffectual.
The page's first movement was to knock at the door, when he observed,
to his surprise, that it was open, not from being left unlatched, but
because, beat off its upper hinge, it was only fastened to the
door-post by the lower, and could therefore no longer perform its
functions. Somewhat alarmed at this, and receiving no answer when he
knocked and called, Roland began to look more at leisure upon the
exterior of the little dwelling before he ventured to enter it. The
flowers, which had been trained with care against the walls, seemed to
have been recently torn down, and trailed their dishonoured garlands
on the earth; the latticed window was broken and dashed in. The
garden, which the monk had maintained by his constant labour in the
highest order and beauty, bore marks of having been lately trod down
and destroyed by the hoofs of animals, and the feet of men.
The sainted spring had not escaped. It was wont to rise beneath a
canopy of ribbed arches, with which the devotion of elder times had
secured and protected its healing waters. These arches were now almost
entirely demolished, and the stones of which they were built were
tumbled into the well, as if for the purpose of choking up and
destroying the fountain, which, as it had shared in other days the
honour of the saint, was, in the present, doomed to partake his
unpopularity. Part of the roof had been pulled down from the house
itself, and an attempt had been made with crows and levers upon one of
the angles, by which several large corner-stones had been forced out
of their place; but the solidity of ancient mason-work had proved too
great for the time or patience of the assailants, and they had
relinquished their task of destruction. Such dilapidated buildings,
after the lapse of years, during which nature has gradually covered
the effects of violence with creeping plants, and with weather-stains,
exhibit, amid their decay, a melancholy beauty. But when the visible
effects of violence appear raw and recent, there is no feeling to
mitigate the sense of devastation with which they impress the
spectators; and such was now the scene on which the youthful page
gazed, with the painful feelings it was qualified to excite.
When his first momentary surprise was over, Roland Graeme was at no
loss to conjecture the cause of these ravages. The destruction of the
Popish edifices did not take place at once throughout Scotland, but at
different times, and according to the spirit which actuated the
reformed clergy; some of whom instigated their hearers to these acts
of demolition, and others, with better taste and feeling, endeavoured
to protect the ancient shrines, while they desired to see them
purified from the objects which had attracted idolatrous devotion.
From time to time, therefore, the populace of the Scottish towns and
villages, when instigated either by their own feelings of abhorrence
for Popish superstition, or by the doctrines of the more zealous
preachers, resumed the work of destruction, and exercised it upon some
sequestered church, chapel, or cell, which had escaped the first burst
of their indignation against the religion of Rome. In many places, the
vices of the Catholic clergy, arising out of the wealth and the
corruption of that tremendous hierarchy, furnished too good an apology
for wreaking vengeance upon the splendid edifices which they
inhabited; and of this an old Scottish historian gives a remarkable
"Why mourn ye," said an aged matron, seeing the discontent of some of
the citizens, while a stately convent was burnt by the multitude,--
"why mourn ye for its destruction? If you knew half the flagitious
wickedness which has been perpetrated within that house, you would
rather bless the divine judgment, which permits not even the senseless
walls that screened such profligacy, any longer to cumber Christian
But although, in many instances, the destruction of the Roman Catholic
buildings might be, in the matron's way of judging, an act of justice,
and in others an act of policy, there is no doubt that the humour of
demolishing monuments of ancient piety and munificence, and that in a
poor country like Scotland, where there was no chance of their being
replaced, was both useless, mischievous, and barbarous.
In the present instance, the unpretending and quiet seclusion of the
monk of Saint Cuthbert's had hitherto saved him from the general
wreck; but it would seem ruin had now at length reached him. Anxious
to discover if he had at least escaped personal harm, Roland Graeme
entered the half ruined cell.
The interior of the building was in a state which fully justified the
opinion he had formed from its external injuries. The few rude
utensils of the solitary's hut were broken down, and lay scattered on
the floor, where it seemed as if a fire had been made with some of the
fragments to destroy the rest of his property, and to consume, in
particular, the rude old image of Saint Cuthbert, in its episcopal
habit, which lay on the hearth like Dagon of yore, shattered with the
axe and scorched with the flames, but only partially destroyed. In the
little apartment which served as a chapel, the altar was overthrown,
and the four huge stones of which it had been once composed lay
scattered around the floor. The large stone crucifix which occupied
the niche behind the altar, and fronted the supplicant while he paid
his devotion there, had been pulled down and dashed by its own weight
into three fragments. There were marks of sledge-hammers on each of
these; yet the image had been saved from utter demolition by the size
and strength of the remaining fragments, which, though much injured,
retained enough of the original sculpture to show what it had been
intended to represent.
[Footnote: I may here observe, that this is entirely an ideal scene.
Saint Cuthbert, a person of established sanctity, had, no doubt,
several places of worship on the Borders, where he flourished whilst
living; but Tillmouth Chapel is the only one which bears some
resemblance to the hermitage described in the text. It has, indeed, a
well, famous for gratifying three wishes for every worshipper who
shall quaff the fountain with sufficient belief in its efficacy. At
this spot the Saint is said to have landed in his stone coffin, in
which he sailed down the Tweed from Melrose and here the stone coffin
long lay, in evidence of the fact. The late Sir Francis Blake Delaval
is said to have taken the exact measure of the coffin, and to have
ascertained, by hydrostatic principles, that it might have actually
swum. A profane farmer in the neighborhood announced his intention of
converting this last bed of the Saint into a trough for his swine; but
the profanation was rendered impossible, either by the Saint, or by
some pious votary in his behalf, for on the following morning the
stone sarcophargus was found broken in two fragments.
Tillmouth Chapel, with these points of resemblance, lies, however, in
exactly the opposite direction as regards Melrose, which the supposed
cell of St. Cuthbert is said to have borne towards Kennaquhair.]
Roland Graeme, secretly nursed in the tenets of Rome, saw with horror
the profanation of the most sacred emblem, according to his creed, of
our holy religion.
"It is the badge of our redemption," he said, "which the felons have
dared to violate--would to God my weak strength were able to replace
it--my humble strength, to atone for the sacrilege!"
He stooped to the task he first meditated, and with a sudden, and to
himself almost an incredible exertion of power, he lifted up the one
extremity of the lower shaft of the cross, and rested it upon the edge
of the large stone which served for its pedestal. Encouraged by this
success, he applied his force to the other extremity, and, to his own
astonishment, succeeded so far as to erect the lower end of the limb
into the socket, out of which it had been forced, and to place this
fragment of the image upright.
While he was employed in this labour, or rather at the very moment
when he had accomplished the elevation of the fragment, a voice, in
thrilling and well-known accents, spoke behind him these words:--"Well
done, thou good and faithful servant! Thus would I again meet the
child of my love--the hope of my aged eyes."
Roland turned round in astonishment, and the tall commanding form of
Magdalen Graeme stood beside him. She was arrayed in a sort of loose
habit, in form like that worn by penitents in Catholic countries, but
black in colour, and approaching as near to a pilgrim's cloak as it
was safe to wear in a country where the suspicion of Catholic devotion
in many places endangered the safety of those who were suspected of
attachment to the ancient faith. Roland Graeme threw himself at her
feet. She raised and embraced him, with affection indeed, but not
unmixed with gravity which amounted almost to sternness.
"Thou hast kept well," she said, "the bird in thy bosom. [Footnote:
An expression used by Sir Ralph Percy, slain in the battle of
Hedgly-moor in 1464, when dying, to express his having preserved
unstained his fidelity to the house of Lancaster.] As a boy, as a
youth, thou hast held fast thy faith amongst heretics--thou hast kept
thy secret and mine own amongst thine enemies. I wept when I parted
from you--I who seldom weep, then shed tears, less for thy death than
for thy spiritual danger--I dared not even see thee to bid thee a last
farewell--my grief, my swelling grief, had betrayed me to these
heretics. But thou hast been faithful--down, down on thy knees before
the holy sign, which evil men injure and blaspheme; down, and praise
saints and angels for the grace they have done thee, in preserving
thee from the leprous plague which cleaves to the house in which thou
"If, my mother--so I must ever call you" replied Graeme,--"if I am
returned such as thou wouldst wish me, thou must thank the care of the
pious father Ambrose, whose instructions confirmed your early
precepts, and taught me at once to be faithful and to be silent."
"Be he blessed for it," said she; "blessed in the cell and in the
field, in the pulpit and at the altar--the saints rain blessings on
him!--they are just, and employ his pious care to counteract the evils
which his detested brother works against the realm and the
church,--but he knew not of thy lineage?"
"I could not myself tell him that," answered Roland. "I knew but
darkly from your words, that Sir Halbert Glendinning holds mine
inheritance, and that I am of blood as noble as runs in the veins of
any Scottish Baron--these are things not to be forgotten, but for the
explanation I must now look to you."
"And when time suits, thou shalt not look for it in vain. But men say,
my son, that thou art bold and sudden; and those who bear such tempers
are not lightly to be trusted with what will strongly move them."
"Say rather, my mother," returned Roland Graeme, "that I am laggard
and cold-blooded--what patience or endurance can you require of which
_he_ is not capable, who for years has heard his religion
ridiculed and insulted, yet failed to plunge his dagger into the
"Be contented, my child," replied Magdalen Graeme; "the time, which
then and even now demands patience, will soon ripen to that of effort
and action--great events are on the wing, and thou,--thou shalt have
thy share in advancing them. Thou hast relinquished the service of the
Lady of Avenel?"
"I have been dismissed from it, my mother--I have lived to be
dismissed, as if I were the meanest of the train."
"It is the better, my child," replied she; "thy mind will be the more
hardened to undertake that which must be performed."
"Let it be nothing, then, against the Lady of Avenel," said the page,
"as thy look and words seem to imply. I have eaten her bread--I have
experienced her favour--I will neither injure nor betray her."
"Of that hereafter, my son," said she; "but learn this, that it is not
for thee to capitulate in thy duty, and to say this will I do, and
that will I leave undone--No, Roland! God and man will no longer abide
the wickedness of this generation. Seest thou these fragments--
knowest thou what they represent?--and canst thou think it is for thee
to make distinctions amongst a race so accursed by Heaven, that they
renounce, violate, blaspheme, and destroy, whatsoever we are commanded
to believe in, whatsoever we are commanded to reverence?"
As she spoke, she bent her head towards the broken image, with a
countenance in which strong resentment and zeal were mingled with an
expression of ecstatic devotion; she raised her left hand aloft as in
the act of making a vow, and thus proceeded; "Bear witness for me,
blessed symbol of our salvation, bear witness, holy saint, within
whose violated temple we stand, that as it is not for vengeance of my
own that my hate pursues these people, so neither, for any favour or
earthly affection towards any amongst them, will I withdraw my hand
from the plough, when it shall pass through the devoted furrow! Bear
witness, holy saint, once thyself a wanderer and fugitive as we are
now--bear witness, Mother of Mercy, Queen of Heaven--bear witness,
saints and angels!"
In this high train of enthusiasm, she stood, raising her eyes through
the fractured roof of the vault, to the stars which now began to
twinkle through the pale twilight, while the long gray tresses which
hung down over her shoulders waved in the night-breeze, which the
chasm and fractured windows admitted freely.
Roland Graeme was too much awed by early habits, as well as by the
mysterious import of her words, to ask for farther explanation of the
purpose she obscurely hinted at. Nor did she farther press him on the
subject; for, having concluded her prayer or obtestation, by clasping
her hands together with solemnity, and then signing herself with the
cross, she again addressed her grandson, in a tone more adapted to the
ordinary business of life.
"Thou must hence," she said, "Roland, thou must hence, but not till
morning--And now, how wilt thou shift for thy night's quarters?--thou
hast been more softly bred than when we were companions in the misty
hills of Cumberland and Liddesdale."
"I have at least preserved, my good mother, the habits which I then
learned--can lie hard, feed sparingly, and think it no hardship. Since
I was a wanderer with thee on the hills, I have been a hunter, and
fisher, and fowler, and each of these is accustomed to sleep freely in
a worse shelter than sacrilege has left us here."
"Than sacrilege has left us here!" said the matron, repeating his
words, and pausing on them. "Most true, my son; and God's faithful
children are now worst sheltered, when they lodge in God's own house
and the demesne of his blessed saints. We shall sleep cold here, under
the nightwind, which whistles through the breaches which heresy has
made. They shall lie warmer who made them--ay, and through a long
Notwithstanding the wild and singular expression of this female, she
appeared to retain towards Roland Graeme, in a strong degree, that
affectionate and sedulous love which women bear to their nurslings,
and the children dependent on their care. It seemed as if she would
not permit him to do aught for himself which in former days her
attention had been used to do for him, and that she considered the
tall stripling before her as being equally dependent on her careful
attention as when he was the orphan child, who had owed all to her
"What hast thou to eat now?" she said, as, leaving the chapel, they
went into the deserted habitation of the priest; "or what means of
kindling a fire, to defend thee from this raw and inclement air? Poor
child! thou hast made slight provision for a long journey; nor hast
thou skill to help thyself by wit, when means are scanty. But Our Lady
has placed by thy side one to whom want, in all its forms, is as
familiar as plenty and splendour have formerly been. And with want,
Roland, come the arts of which she is the inventor."
With an active and officious diligence, which strangely contrasted
with her late abstracted and high tone of Catholic devotion, she set
about her domestic arrangements for the evening. A pouch, which was
hidden under her garment, produced a flint arid steel, and from the
scattered fragments around (those pertaining to the image of Saint
Cuthbert scrupulously excepted) she obtained splinters sufficient to
raise a sparkling and cheerful fire on the hearth of the deserted
"And now," she said, "for needful food."
"Think not of it, mother," said Roland, "unless you yourself feel
hunger. It is a little thing for me to endure a night's abstinence,
and a small atonement for the necessary transgression of the rules of
the Church upon which I was compelled during my stay in the castle."
"Hunger for myself!" answered the matron--"Know, youth, that a mother
knows not hunger till that of her child is satisfied." And with
affectionate inconsistency, totally different from her usual manner,
she added, "Roland, you must not fast; you have dispensation; you are
young, and to youth food and sleep are necessaries not to be dispensed
with. Husband your strength, my child,--your sovereign, your religion,
your country, require it. Let age macerate by fast and vigil a body
which can only suffer; let youth, in these active times, nourish the
limbs and the strength which action requires."
While she thus spoke, the scrip, which had produced the means of
striking fire, furnished provision for a meal; of which she herself
scarce partook, but anxiously watched her charge, taking a pleasure,
resembling that of an epicure, in each morsel which he swallowed with
a youthful appetite which abstinence had rendered unusually sharp.
Roland readily obeyed her recommendations, and ate the food which she
so affectionately and earnestly placed before him. But she shook her
head when invited by him in return to partake of the refreshment her
own cares had furnished; and when his solicitude became more pressing,
she refused him in a loftier tone of rejection.
"Young man," she said, "you know not to whom or of what you speak.
They to whom Heaven declares its purpose must merit its communication
by mortifying the senses; they have that within which requires not the
superfluity of earthly nutriment, which is necessary to those who are
without the sphere of the Vision. To them the watch spent in prayer is
a refreshing slumber, and the sense of doing the will of Heaven is a
richer banquet than the tables of monarchs can spread before
them!--But do thou sleep soft, my son," she said, relapsing from the
tone of fanaticism into that of maternal affection and tenderness; "do
thou sleep sound while life is but young with thee, and the cares of
the day can be drowned in the slumbers of the evening. Different is
thy duty and mine, and as different the means by which we must qualify
and strengthen ourselves to perform it. From thee is demanded strength
of body--from me, strength of soul."
When she thus spoke, she prepared with ready address a pallet-couch,
composed partly of the dried leaves which had once furnished a bed to
the solitary, and the guests who occasionally received his
hospitality, and which, neglected by the destroyers of his humble
cell, had remained little disturbed in the corner allotted for them.
To these her care added some of the vestures which lay torn and
scattered on the floor. With a zealous hand she selected all such as
appeared to have made any part of the sacerdotal vestments, laying
them aside as sacred from ordinary purposes, and with the rest she
made, with dexterous promptness, such a bed as a weary man might
willingly stretch himself on; and during the time she was preparing
it, rejected, even with acrimony, any attempt which the youth made to
assist her, or any entreaty which he urged, that she would accept of
the place of rest for her own use. "Sleep thou," said she, "Roland
Graeme, sleep thou--the persecuted, the disinherited orphan--the son
of an ill-fated mother--sleep thou! I go to pray in the chapel beside
The manner was too enthusiastically earnest, too obstinately firm, to
permit Roland Graeme to dispute her will any farther. Yet he felt some
shame in giving way to it. It seemed as if she had forgotten the years
that had passed away since their parting; and expected to meet, in the
tall, indulged, and wilful youth, whom she had recovered, the passive
obedience of the child whom she had left in the Castle of Avenel. This
did not fail to hurt her grandson's characteristic and constitutional
pride. He obeyed, indeed, awed into submission by the sudden
recurrence of former subordination, and by feelings of affection and
gratitude. Still, however, he felt the yoke.
"Have I relinquished the hawk and the hound," he said, "to become the
pupil of her pleasure, as if I were still a child?--I, whom even my
envious mates allowed to be superior in those exercises which they
took most pains to acquire, and which came to me naturally, as if a
knowledge of them had been my birthright? This may not, and must not
be. I will be no reclaimed sparrow-hawk, who is carried hooded on a
woman's wrist, and has his quarry only shown to him when his eyes are
uncovered for his flight. I will know her purpose ere it is proposed
to me to aid it."
These, and other thoughts, streamed through the mind of Roland Graeme;
and although wearied with the fatigues of the day, it was long ere he
could compose himself to rest.
Chapter the Ninth.
Kneel with me--swear it--'tis not in words I trust,
Save when they're fenced with an appeal to Heaven.
After passing the night in that sound sleep for which agitation and
fatigue had prepared him, Roland was awakened by the fresh morning
air, and by the beams of the rising sun. His first feeling was that of
surprise; for, instead of looking forth from a turret window on the
Lake of Avenel, which was the prospect his former apartment afforded,
an unlatticed aperture gave him the view of the demolished garden of
the banished anchorite. He sat up on his couch of leaves, and arranged
in his memory, not without wonder, the singular events of the
preceding day, which appeared the more surprising the more he
considered them. He had lost the protectress of his youth, and, in the
same day, he had recovered the guide and guardian of his childhood.
The former deprivation he felt ought to be matter of unceasing regret,
and it seemed as if the latter could hardly be the subject of unmixed
self-congratulation. He remembered this person, who had stood to him
in the relation of a mother, as equally affectionate in her attention,
and absolute in her authority. A singular mixture of love and fear
attended upon his early remembrances as they were connected with her;
and the fear that she might desire to resume the same absolute control
over his motions--a fear which her conduct of yesterday did not tend
much to dissipate--weighed heavily against the joy of this second
"She cannot mean," said his rising pride, "to lead and direct me as a
pupil, when I am at the age of judging of my own actions?--this she
cannot mean, or meaning it, will feel herself strangely deceived."
A sense of gratitude towards the person against whom his heart thus
rebelled, checked his course of feeling. He resisted the thoughts
which involuntarily arose in his mind, as he would have resisted an
actual instigation of the foul fiend; and, to aid him in his struggle,
he felt for his beads. But, in his hasty departure from the Castle of
Avenel, he had forgotten and left them behind him.
"This is yet worse," he said; "but two things I learned of her under
the most deadly charge of secrecy--to tell my beads, and to conceal
that I did so; and I have kept my word till now; and when she shall
ask me for the rosary, I must say I have forgotten it! Do I deserve
she should believe me when. I say I have kept the secret of my faith,
when I set so light by its symbol?"
He paced the floor in anxious agitation. In fact, his attachment to
his faith was of a nature very different from that which animated the
enthusiastic matron, but which, notwithstanding, it would have been
his last thought to relinquish.
The early charges impressed on him by his grandmother, had been
instilled into a mind and memory of a character peculiarly tenacious.
Child as he was, he was proud of the confidence reposed in his
discretion, and resolved to show that it had not been rashly intrusted
to him. At the same time, his resolution was no more than that of a
child, and must, necessarily, have gradually faded away under the
operation both of precept and example, during his residence at the
Castle of Avenel, but for the exhortations of Father Ambrose, who, in
his lay estate, had been called Edward Glendinning. This zealous monk
had been apprized, by an unsigned letter placed in his hand by a
pilgrim, that a child educated in the Catholic faith was now in the
Castle of Avenel, perilously situated, (so was the scroll expressed,)
as ever the three children who were cast into the fiery furnace of
persecution. The letter threw upon Father Ambrose the fault, should
this solitary lamb, unwillingly left within the demesnes of the
prowling wolf, become his final prey. There needed no farther
exhortation to the monk than the idea that a soul might be endangered,
and that a Catholic might become an apostate; and he made his visits
more frequent than usual to the castle of Avenel, lest, through want
of the private encouragement and instruction which he always found
some opportunity of dispensing, the church should lose a proselyte,
and, according to the Romish creed, the devil acquire a soul.
Still these interviews were rare; and though they encouraged the
solitary boy to keep his secret and hold fast his religion, they were
neither frequent nor long enough to inspire him with any thing beyond
a blind attachment to the observances which the priest recommended. He
adhered to the forms of his religion rather because he felt it would
be dishonourable to change that of his fathers, than from any rational
conviction or sincere belief of its mysterious doctrines. It was a
principal part of the distinction which, in his own opinion, singled
him out from those with whom he lived, and gave him an additional,
though an internal and concealed reason, for contemning those of the
household who showed an undisguised dislike of him, and for hardening
himself against the instructions of the chaplain, Henry Warden.
"The fanatic preacher," he thought within himself, during some one of
the chaplain's frequent discourses against the Church of Rome, "he
little knows whose ears are receiving his profane doctrine, and with
what contempt and abhorrence they hear his blasphemies against the
holy religion by which kings have been crowned, and for which martyrs
But in such proud feelings of defiance of heresy, as it was termed,
and of its professors, which associated the Catholic religion with a
sense of generous independence, and that of the Protestants with the
subjugation of his mind and temper to the direction of Mr. Warden,
began and ended the faith of Roland Graeme, who, independently of the
pride of singularity, sought not to understand, and had no one to
expound to him, the peculiarities of the tenets which he professed.
His regret, therefore, at missing the rosary which had been conveyed
to him through the hands of Father Ambrose, was rather the shame of a
soldier who has dropped his cockade, or badge of service, than that of
a zealous votary who had forgotten a visible symbol of his religion.
His thoughts on the subject, however, were mortifying, and the more so
from apprehension that his negligence must reach the ears of his
relative. He felt it could be no one but her who had secretly
transmitted these beads to Father Ambrose for his use, and that his
carelessness was but an indifferent requital of her kindness.
"Nor will she omit to ask me about them," said he to himself; "for
hers is a zeal which age cannot quell; and if she has not quitted her
wont, my answer will not fail to incense her."
While he thus communed with himself, Magdalen Graeme entered the
apartment. "The blessing of the morning on your youthful head, my
son," she said, with a solemnity of expression which thrilled the
youth to the heart, so sad and earnest did the benediction flow from
her lips, in a tone where devotion was blended with affection. "And
thou hast started thus early from thy couch to catch the first breath
of the dawn? But it is not well, my Roland. Enjoy slumber while thou
canst; the time is not far behind when the waking eye must be thy
portion, as well as mine."
She uttered these words with an affectionate and anxious tone, which
showed, that devotional as were the habitual exercises of her mind,
the thoughts of her nursling yet bound her to earth with the cords of
human affection and passion.
But she abode not long in a mood which she probably regarded as a
momentary dereliction of her imaginary high calling--"Come," she said,
"youth, up and be doing--It is time that we leave this place."
"And whither do we go?" said the young man; "or what is the object
of our journey?"
The matron stepped back, and gazed on him with surprise, not unmingled
"To what purpose such a question?" she said; "is it not enough that I
lead the way? Hast thou lived with heretics till thou hast learned to
instal the vanity of thine own private judgment in place of due honour
"The time," thought Roland Graeme within himself, "is already come,
when I must establish my freedom, or be a willing thrall for ever--I
feel that I must speedily look to it."
She instantly fulfilled his foreboding, by recurring to the theme by
which her thoughts seemed most constantly engrossed, although, when
she pleased, no one could so perfectly disguise her religion.
"Thy beads, my son--hast thou told thy beads?"
Roland Graeme coloured high; he felt the storm was approaching, but
scorned to avert it by a falsehood.
"I have forgotten my rosary," he said, "at the Castle of Avenel."
"Forgotten thy rosary!" she exclaimed; "false both to religion and to
natural duty, hast thou lost what was sent so far, and at such risk, a
token of the truest affection, that should have been, every bead of
it, as dear to thee as thine eyeballs?"
"I am grieved it should have so chanced, mother," replied the youth,
"and much did I value the token, as coming from you. For what remains,
I trust to win gold enough, when I push my way in the world; and till
then, beads of black oak, or a rosary of nuts, must serve the turn."
"Hear him!" said his grandmother; "young as he is, he hath learned
already the lessons of the devil's school! The rosary, consecrated by
the Holy Father himself, and sanctified by his blessing, is but a few
knobs of gold, whose value may be replaced by the wages of his profane
labour, and whose virtue may be supplied by a string of
hazel-nuts!--This is heresy--So Henry Warden, the wolf who ravages
the flock of the Shepherd, hath taught thee to speak and to think."
"Mother," said Roland Graeme, "I am no heretic; I believe and I pray
according to the rules of our church--This misfortune I regret, but I
cannot amend it."
"Thou canst repent it, though," replied his spiritual directress,
"repent it in dust and ashes, atone for it by fasting, prayer, and
penance, instead of looking on me with a countenance as light as if
thou hadst lost but a button from thy cap."
"Mother," said Roland, "be appeased; I will remember my fault in the
next confession which I have space and opportunity to make, and will
do whatever the priest may require of me in atonement. For the
heaviest fault I can do no more.--But, mother," he added, after a
moment's pause, "let me not incur your farther displeasure, if I ask
whither our journey is bound, and what is its object. I am no longer a
child, but a man, and at my own disposal, with down upon my chin, and
a sword by my side--I will go to the end of the world with you to do
your pleasure; but I owe it to myself to inquire the purpose and
direction of our travels."
"You owe it to yourself, ungrateful boy?" replied his relative,
passion rapidly supplying the colour which age had long chased from
her features,--"to yourself you owe nothing--you can owe nothing--to
me you owe every thing--your life when an infant--your support while a
child--the means of instruction, and the hopes of honour--and, sooner
than thou shouldst abandon the noble cause to which I have devoted
thee, would I see thee lie a corpse at my feet!"
Roland was alarmed at the vehement agitation with which she spoke, and
which threatened to overpower her aged frame; and he hastened to
reply,--"I forget nothing of what I owe to you, my dearest
mother--show me how my blood can testify my gratitude, and you shall
judge if I spare it. But blindfold obedience has in it as little
merit as reason."
"Saints and angels!" replied Magdalen, "and do I hear these words from
the child of my hopes, the nursling by whose bed I have kneeled, and
for whose weal I have wearied every saint in heaven with prayers?
Roland, by obedience only canst thou show thy affection and thy
gratitude. What avails it that you might perchance adopt the course I
propose to thee, were it to be fully explained? Thou wouldst not then
follow my command, but thine own judgment; thou wouldst not do the
will of Heaven, communicated through thy best friend, to whom thou
owest thine all; but thou wouldst observe the blinded dictates of
thine own imperfect reason. Hear me, Roland! a lot calls
thee--solicits thee--demands thee--the proudest to which man can be
destined, and it uses the voice of thine earliest, thy best, thine
only friend--Wilt thou resist it? Then go thy way--leave me here--my
hopes on earth are gone and withered--I will kneel me down before
yonder profaned altar, and when the raging heretics return, they shall
dye it with the blood of a martyr."
"But, my dearest mother," said Roland Graeme, whose early
recollections of her violence were formidably renewed by these wild
expressions of reckless passion, "I will not forsake you--I will abide
with you--worlds shall not force me from your side--I will protect--I
will defend you--I will live with you, and die for you!"
"One word, my son, were worth all these--say only, 'I will obey you.'"
"Doubt it not, mother," replied the youth, "I will, and that with all
my heart; only----"
"Nay, I receive no qualifications of thy promise," said Magdalen
Graeme, catching at the word, "the obedience which I require is
absolute; and a blessing on thee, thou darling memory of my beloved
child, that thou hast power to make a promise so hard to human pride!
Trust me well, that in the design in which thou dost embark, thou hast
for thy partners the mighty and the valiant, the power of the church,
and the pride of the noble. Succeed or fail, live or die, thy name
shall be among those with whom success or failure is alike glorious,
death or life alike desirable. Forward, then, forward! life is short,
and our plan is laborious--Angels, saints, and the whole blessed host
of heaven, have their eyes even now on this barren and blighted land
of Scotland--What say I? on Scotland? their eye is on _us_,
Roland--on the frail woman, on the inexperienced youth, who, amidst
the ruins which sacrilege hath made in the holy place, devote
themselves to God's cause, and that of their lawful Sovereign. Amen,
so be it! The blessed eyes of saints and martyrs, which see our
resolve, shall witness the execution; or their ears, which hear our
vow, shall hear our death-groan, drawn in the sacred cause!"
While thus speaking, she held Roland Graeme firmly with one hand,
while she pointed upward with the other, to leave him, as it were, no
means of protest against the obtestation to which he was thus made a
party. When she had finished her appeal to Heaven, she left him no
leisure for farther hesitation, or for asking any explanation of her
purpose; but passing with the same ready transition as formerly, to
the solicitous attentions of an anxious parent, overwhelmed him with
questions concerning his residence in the Castle of Avenel, and the
qualities and accomplishments he had acquired.
"It is well," she said, when she had exhausted her inquiries, "my gay
[Footnote: The comparison is taken from some beautiful verses in an
old ballad, entitled Fause Foodrage, published in the "Minstrelsy of
the Scottish Border." A deposed queen, to preserve her infant son from
the traitors who have slain his father, exchanges him with the female
offspring of a faithful friend, and goes on to direct the education of
the children, and the private signals by which the parents are to hear
news each of her own offspring.
"And you shall learn my gay goss-hawk
Right well to breast a steed;
And so will I your turtle dow,
As well to write and read.
And ye shall learn my gay goss-hawk
To wield both bow and brand;
And so will I your turtle dow,
To lay gowd with her hand.
At kirk or market when we meet,
We'll dare make no avow,
But, 'Dame, how does my gay goss-hawk?'
'Madame, how does my dow?'" ]
hath been well trained, and will soar high; but those who bred him
will have cause to fear as well as to wonder at his flight.--Let us
now," she said, "to our morning meal, and care not though it be a
scanty one. A few hours' walk will bring us to more friendly
They broke their fast accordingly, on such fragments as remained of
their yesterday's provision, and immediately set out on their farther
journey. Magdalen Graeme led the way, with a firm and active step
much beyond her years, and Roland Graeme followed, pensive and
anxious, and far from satisfied with the state of dependence to which
he seemed again to be reduced.
"Am I for ever," he said to himself, "to be devoured with the desire
of independence and free agency, and yet to be for ever led on, by
circumstances, to follow the will of others?"
Chapter the Tenth.
She dwelt unnoticed and alone,
Beside the springs of Dove:
A maid whom there was none to praise,
And very few to love.
In the course of their journey the travellers spoke little to each
other. Magdalen Graeme chanted, from time to time, in a low voice, a
part of some one of those beautiful old Latin hymns which belong to
the Catholic service, muttered an Ave or a Credo, and so passed on,
lost in devotional contemplation. The meditations of her grandson were
more bent on mundane matters; and many a time, as a moor-fowl arose
from the heath, and shot along the moor, uttering his bold crow of
defiance, he thought of the jolly Adam Woodcock, and his trusty
goss-hawk; or, as they passed a thicket where the low trees and bushes
were intermingled with tall fern, furze, and broom, so as to form a
thick and intricate cover, his dreams were of a roebuck and a brace of
gaze-hounds. But frequently his mind returned to the benevolent and
kind mistress whom he had left behind him, offended justly, and
unreconciled by any effort of his.
"My step would be lighter," he thought, "and so would my heart, could
I but have returned to see her for one instant, and to say, Lady, the
orphan boy was wild, but not ungrateful!"
Travelling in these divers moods, about the hour of noon they reached
a small straggling village, in which, as usual, were seen one or two
of those predominating towers, or peel houses, which, for reasons of
defence elsewhere detailed, were at that time to be found in every
Border hamlet. A brook flowed beside the village, and watered the
valley in which it stood. There was also a mansion at the end of the
village, and a little way separated from it, much dilapidated, and in
very bad order, but appearing to have been the abode of persons of
some consideration. The situation was agreeable, being an angle formed
by the stream, bearing three or four large sycamore trees, which were
in full leaf, and served to relieve the dark appearance of the
mansion, which was built of a deep red stone. The house itself was a
large one, but was now obviously too big for the inmates; several
windows were built up, especially those which opened from the lower
story; others were blockaded in a less substantial manner. The court
before the door, which had once been defended with a species of low
outer-wall, now ruinous, was paved, but the stones were completely
covered with long gray nettles, thistles, and other weeds, which,
shooting up betwixt the flags, had displaced many of them from their
level. Even matters demanding more peremptory attention had been left
neglected, in a manner which argued sloth or poverty in the extreme.
The stream, undermining a part of the bank near an angle of the
ruinous wall, had brought it down, with a corner turret, the ruins of
which lay in the bed of the river. The current, interrupted by the
ruins which it had overthrown, and turned yet nearer to the site of
the tower, had greatly enlarged the breach it had made, and was in the
process of undermining the ground on which the house itself stood,
unless it were speedily protected by sufficient bulwarks.
All this attracted Roland Graeme's observation, as they approached the
dwelling by a winding path, which gave them, at intervals, a view of
it from different points.
"If we go to yonder house," he said to his mother, "I trust it is but
for a short visit. It looks as if two rainy days from the north-west
would send the whole into the brook."
"You see but with the eyes of the body," said the old woman; "God will
defend his own, though it be forsaken and despised of men. Better to
dwell on the sand, under his law, than fly to the rock of human
As she thus spoke, they entered the court before the old mansion, and
Roland could observe that the front of it had formerly been
considerably ornamented with carved work, in the same dark-coloured
freestone of which it was built. But all these ornaments had been
broken down and destroyed, and only the shattered vestiges of niches
and entablatures now strewed the place which they had once occupied.
The larger entrance in front was walled up, but a little footpath,
which, from its appearance, seemed to be rarely trodden, led to a
small wicket, defended by a door well clenched with iron-headed nails,
at which Magdalen Graeme knocked three times, pausing betwixt each
knock, until she heard an answering tap from within. At the last
knock, the wicket was opened by a pale thin female, who said,
"_Benedicti qui venient in nomine Domini_." They entered, and the
portress hastily shut behind them the wicket, and made fast the
massive fastenings by which it was secured.
The female led the way through a narrow entrance, into a vestibule of
some extent, paved with stone, and having benches of the same solid
material ranged around. At the upper end was an oriel window, but some
of the intervals formed by the stone shafts and mullions were blocked
up, so that the apartment was very gloomy.
Here they stopped, and the mistress of the mansion, for such she was,
embraced Magdalen Graeme, and greeting her by the title of sister,
kissed her with much solemnity, on either side of the face.
"The blessing of Our Lady be upon you, my sister," were her next
words; and they left no doubt upon Roland's mind respecting the
religion of their hostess, even if he could have suspected his
venerable and zealous guide of resting elsewhere than in the
habitation of an orthodox Catholic. They spoke together a few words
in private, during which he had leisure to remark more particularly
the appearance of his grandmother's friend.
Her age might be betwixt fifty and sixty; her looks had a mixture of
melancholy and unhappiness that bordered on discontent, and obscured
the remains of beauty which age had still left on her features. Her
dress was of the plainest and most ordinary description, of a dark
colour, and, like Magdalen Graeme's, something approaching to a
religious habit. Strict neatness and cleanliness of person, seemed to
intimate, that if poor, she was not reduced to squalid or heart-broken
distress, and that she was still sufficiently attached to life to
retain a taste for its decencies, if not its elegancies. Her manner,
as well as her features and appearance, argued an original condition
and education far above the meanness of her present appearance. In
short, the whole figure was such as to excite the idea, "That female
must have had a history worth knowing." While Roland Graeme was making
this very reflection, the whispers of the two females ceased, and the
mistress of the mansion, approaching him, looked on his face and
person with much attention, and, as it seemed, some interest.
"This, then," she said, addressing his relative, "is the child of
thine unhappy daughter, sister Magdalen; and him, the only shoot from
your ancient tree, you are willing to devote to the Good Cause?"
"Yes, by the rood," answered Magdalen Graeme, in her usual tone of
resolved determination, "to the good cause I devote him, flesh and
fell, sinew and limb, body and soul."
"Thou art a happy woman, sister Magdalen," answered her companion,
"that, lifted so high above human affection and human feeling, thou
canst bind such a victim to the horns of the altar. Had I been called
to make such a sacrifice--to plunge a youth so young and fair into the
plots and bloodthirsty dealings of the time, not the patriarch
Abraham, when he led Isaac up the mountain, would have rendered more
She then continued to look at Roland with a mournful aspect of
compassion, until the intentness of her gaze occasioned his colour to
rise, and he was about to move out of its influence, when he was
stopped by his grand-mother with one hand, while with the other she
divided the hair upon his forehead, which was now crimson with
bashfulness, while she added, with a mixture of proud affection and
firm resolution,--"Ay, look at him well, my sister, for on a fairer
face thine eye never rested. I too, when I first saw him, after a long
separation, felt as the worldly feel, and was half shaken in my
purpose. But no wind can tear a leaf from the withered tree which has
long been stripped of its foliage, and no mere human casualty can
awaken the mortal feelings which have long slept in the calm of
While the old woman thus spoke, her manner gave the lie to her
assertions, for the tears rose to her eyes while she added, "But the
fairer and the more spotless the victim, is it not, my sister, the
more worthy of acceptance?"
She seemed glad to escape from the sensations which agitated her, and
instantly added, "He will escape, my sister--there will be a ram
caught in the thicket, and the hand of our revolted brethren shall not
be on the youthfull Joseph. Heaven can defend its own rights, even by
means of babes and sucklings, of women and beardless boys."
"Heaven hath left us," said the other female; "for our sins and our
fathers' the succours of the blessed Saints have abandoned this
accursed land. We may win the crown of Martyrdom, but not that of
earthly triumph. One, too, whose prudence was at this deep crisis so