Part 7 out of 10
fathers," answered Catherine, "a worse mishap than aught that tyranny
can inflict on himself."
"But why," said Roland, very much moved, "why should you suppose
that--that--that it is with me as you say?"
"Do you yourself deny it?" replied Catherine; "do you not admit that
you have drunk the poison which you should have dashed from your lips?
--Do you deny that it now ferments in your veins, if it has not
altogether corrupted the springs of life?--Do you deny that you have
your doubts, as you proudly term them, respecting what popes and
councils have declared it unlawful to doubt of?--Is not your faith
wavering, if not overthrown?--Does not the heretic preacher boast his
conquest?--Does not the heretic woman of this prison-house hold up thy
example to others?--Do not the Queen and the Lady Fleming believe in
thy falling away?--And is there any except one--yes, I will speak it
out, and think as lightly as you please of my good-will--is there one
except myself that holds even a lingering hope that you may yet prove
what we once all believed of you?"
"I know not," said our poor page, much embarrassed by the view which
was thus presented to him of the conduct he was expected to pursue,
and by a person in whom he was not the less interested that, though
long a resident in Lochleven Castle, with no object so likely to
attract his undivided attention, no lengthened interview had taken
place since they had first met,--"I know not what you expect of me,
or fear from me. I was sent hither to attend Queen Mary, and to her I
acknowledge the duty of a servant through life and death. If any one
had expected service of another kind, I was not the party to render
it. I neither avow nor disclaim the doctrines of the reformed
church.--Will you have the truth?--It seems to me that the profligacy
of the Catholic clergy has brought this judgment on their own heads,
and, for aught I know, it may be for their reformation. But, for
betraying this unhappy Queen, God knows I am guiltless of the thought.
Did I even believe worse of her, than as her servant I wish--as her
subject I dare to do--I would not betray her--far from it--I would aid
her in aught which could tend to a fair trial of her cause."
"Enough! enough!" answered Catherine, clasping her hands together;
"then thou wilt not desert us if any means are presented, by which,
placing our Royal Mistress at freedom, this case may be honestly tried
betwixt her and her rebellious subjects?"
"Nay--but, fair Catherine," replied the page, "hear but what the Lord
of Murray said when he sent me hither."--
"Hear but what the devil said," replied the maiden, "rather than what
a false subject, a false brother, a false counsellor, a false friend,
said! A man raised from a petty pensioner on the crown's bounty, to be
the counsellor of majesty, and the prime distributor of the bounties
of the state;--one with whom rank, fortune, title, consequence, and
power, all grew up like a mushroom, by the mere warm good-will of the
sister, whom, in requital, he hath mewed up in this place of
melancholy seclusion--whom, in farther requital, he has deposed, and
whom, if he dared, he would murder!"
"I think not so ill of the Earl of Murray," said Roland Graeme; "and
sooth to speak," he added, with a smile, "it would require some bribe
to make me embrace, with firm and desperate resolution, either one
side or the other."
"Nay, if that is all," replied Catherine Seyton, in a tone of
enthusiasm, "you shall be guerdoned with prayers from oppressed
subjects--from dispossessed clergy--from insulted nobles--with
immortal praise by future ages--with eager gratitude by the
present--with fame on earth, and with felicity in heaven! Your country
will thank you--your Queen will be debtor to you--you will achieve at
once the highest from the lowest degree in chivalry--all men will
honour, all women will love you--and I, sworn with you so early to the
accomplishment of Queen Mary's freedom, will--yes, I will--love you
better than--ever sister loved brother!" "Say on--say on!" whispered
Roland, kneeling on one knee, and taking her hand, which, in the
warmth of exhortation, Catherine held towards him.
"Nay," said she, pausing, "I have already said too much--far too
much, if I prevail not with you--far too little if I do. But I
prevail," she continued, seeing that the countenance of the youth she
addressed returned the enthusiasm of her own--"I prevail; or rather
the good cause prevails through its own strength--thus I devote thee
to it." And as she spoke she approached her finger to the brow of the
astonished youth, and, without touching it, signed the cross over his
forehead--stooped her face towards him, and seemed to kiss the empty
space in which she had traced the symbol; then starting up, and
extricating herself from his grasp, darted into the Queen's apartment.
Roland Graeme remained as the enthusiastic maiden had left him,
kneeling on one knee, with breath withheld, and with eyes fixed upon
the space which the fairy form of Catherine Seyton had so lately
occupied. If his thoughts were not of unmixed delight, they at least
partook of that thrilling and intoxicating, though mingled sense of
pain and pleasure, the most over-powering which life offers in its
blended cup. He rose and retired slowly; and although the chaplain Mr.
Henderson preached on that evening his best sermon against the errors
of Popery, I would not engage that he was followed accurately through
the train of his reasoning by the young proselyte, with a view to
whose especial benefit he had handled the subject.
Chapter the Twenty-Fifth.
And when love's torch hath set the heart in flame,
Comes Seignor Reason, with his saws and cautions,
Giving such aid as the old gray-beard Sexton,
Who from the church-vault drags the crazy engine,
To ply its dribbling ineffectual streamlet
Against a conflagration.
In a musing mood, Roland Graeme upon the ensuing morning betook
himself to the battlements of the Castle, as a spot where he might
indulge the course of his thick-coming fancies with least chance of
interruption. But his place of retirement was in the present case ill
chosen, for he was presently joined by Mr. Elias Henderson.
"I sought you, young man," said the preacher, "having to speak of
something which concerns you nearly."
The page had no pretence for avoiding the conference which the
chaplain thus offered, though he felt that it might prove an
"In teaching thee, as far as my feeble knowledge hath permitted, thy
duty towards God," said the chaplain, "there are particulars of your
duty towards man, upon which I was unwilling long or much to insist.
You are here in the service of a lady, honourable as touching her
birth, deserving of all compassion as respects her misfortunes, and
garnished with even but too many of those outward qualities which win
men's regard and affection. Have you ever considered your regard to
this Lady Mary of Scotland, in its true light and bearing?"
"I trust, reverend sir," replied Roland Graeme, "that I am well aware
of the duties a servant in my condition owes to his royal mistress,
especially in her lowly and distressed condition."
"True," answered the preacher; "but it is even that honest feeling
which may, in the Lady Mary's case, carry thee into great crime and
"How so, reverend sir?" replied the page; "I profess I understand you
"I speak to you not of the crimes of this ill-advised lady," said the
preacher; "they are not subjects for the ears of her sworn servant.
But it is enough to say, that this unhappy person hath rejected more
offers of grace, and more hopes of glory, than ever were held out to
earthly princes; and that she is now, her day of favour being passed,
sequestered in this lonely castle, for the common weal of the people
of Scotland, and it may be for the benefit of her own soul."
"Reverend sir," said Roland, somewhat impatiently, "I am but too well
aware that my unfortunate mistress is imprisoned, since I have the
misfortune to share in her restraint myself--of which, to speak sooth,
I am heartily weary."
"It is even of that which I am about to speak," said the chaplain,
mildly; "but, first, my good Roland, look forth on the pleasant
prospect of yonder cultivated plain. You see, where the smoke arises,
yonder village standing half hidden by the trees, and you know it to
be the dwelling-place of peace and industry. From space to space, each
by the side of its own stream, you see the gray towers of barons, with
cottages interspersed; and you know that they also, with their
household, are now living in unity; the lance hung upon the wall, and
the sword resting in its sheath. You see, too, more than one fair
church, where the pure waters of life are offered to the thirsty, and
where the hungry are refreshed with spiritual food.--What would he
deserve, who should bring fire and slaughter into so fair and happy a
scene--who should bare the swords of the gentry and turn them against
each other--who should give tower and cottage to the flames, and slake
the embers with the blood of the indwellers?--What would he deserve
who should lift up again that ancient Dagon of Superstition, whom the
worthies of the time have beaten down, and who should once more make
the churches of God the high places of Baal?"
"You have limned a frightful picture, reverend sir," said Roland
Graeme; "yet I guess not whom you would charge with the purpose of
effecting a change so horrible."
"God forbid," replied the preacher, "that I should say to thee, Thou
art the man.--Yet beware, Roland Graeme, that thou, in serving thy
mistress, hold fast the still higher service which thou owest to the
peace of thy country, and the prosperity of her inhabitants; else,
Roland Graeme, thou mayest be the very man upon whose head will fall
the curses and assured punishment due to such work. If thou art won by
the song of these sirens to aid that unhappy lady's escape from this
place of penitence and security, it is over with the peace of
Scotland's cottages, and with the prosperity of her palaces--and the
babe unborn shall curse the name of the man who gave inlet to the
disorder which will follow the war betwixt the mother and the son."
"I know of no such plan, reverend sir," answered the page, "and
therefore can aid none such.--My duty towards the Queen has been
simply that of an attendant; it is a task, of which, at times, I would
willingly have been freed; nevertheless--"
"It is to prepare thee for the enjoyment of something more of
liberty," said the preacher, "that I have endeavoured to impress
upon you the deep responsibility under which your office must be
discharged. George Douglas hath told the Lady Lochleven that you are
weary of this service, and my intercession hath partly determined her
good ladyship, that, as your discharge cannot be granted, you shall,
instead, be employed in certain commissions on the mainland, which
have hitherto been discharged by other persons of confidence.
Wherefore, come with me to the lady, for even to-day such duty will
be imposed on you."
"I trust you will hold me excused, reverend sir," said the page, who
felt that an increase of confidence on the part of the Lady of the
Castle and her family would render his situation in a moral view
doubly embarrassing, "one cannot serve two masters--and I much fear
that my mistress will not hold me excused for taking employment under
"Fear not that," said the preacher; "her consent shall be asked and
obtained. I fear she will yield it but too easily, as hoping to avail
herself of your agency to maintain correspondence with her friends, as
those falsely call themselves, who would make her name the watchword
for civil war."
"And thus," said the page, "I shall be exposed to suspicion on all
sides; for my mistress will consider me as a spy placed on her by her
enemies, seeing me so far trusted by them; and the Lady Lochleven will
never cease to suspect the possibility of my betraying her, because
circumstances put it into my power to do so--I would rather remain as
There followed a pause of one or two minutes, during which Henderson
looked steadily in Roland's countenance, as if desirous to ascertain
whether there was not more in the answer than the precise words seemed
to imply. He failed in this point, however; for Roland, bred a page
from childhood, knew how to assume a sullen pettish cast of
countenance, well enough calculated to hide all internal emotions.
"I understand thee not, Roland," said the preacher, "or rather thou
thinkest on this matter more deeply than I apprehended to be in thy
nature. Methought, the delight of going on shore with thy bow, or thy
gun, or thy angling-rod, would have borne away all other feelings."
"And so it would," replied Roland, who perceived the danger of
suffering Henderson's half-raised suspicions to become fully
awake,--"I would have thought of nothing but the gun and the oar, and
the wild water-fowl that tempt me by sailing among the sedges yonder
so far out of flight-shot, had you not spoken of my going on shore as
what was to occasion burning of town and tower, the downfall of the
evangele, and the upsetting of the mass."
"Follow me, then," said Henderson, "and we will seek the Lady
They found her at breakfast with her grandson George Douglas.--"Peace
be with your ladyship!" said the preacher, bowing to his patroness;
"Roland Graeme awaits your order."
"Young man," said the lady, "our chaplain hath warranted for thy
fidelity, and we are determined to give you certain errands to do for
us in our town of Kinross."
"Not by my advice," said Douglas, coldly.
"I said not that it was," answered the lady, something sharply. "The
mother of thy father may, I should think, be old enough to judge for
herself in a matter so simple.--Thou wilt take the skiff, Roland, and
two of my people, whom Dryfesdale or Randal will order out, and fetch
off certain stuff of plate and hangings, which should last night be
lodged at Kinross by the wains from Edinburgh."
"And give this packet," said George Douglas, "to a servant of ours,
whom you will find in waiting there.--It is the report to my father,"
he added, looking towards his grandmother, who acquiesced by bending
"I have already mentioned to Master Henderson," said Roland Graeme,
"that as my duty requires my attendance on the Queen, her Grace's
permission for my journey ought to be obtained before I can undertake
"Look to it, my son," said the old lady, "the scruple of the youth is
"Craving your pardon, madam, I have no wish to force myself on her
presence thus early," said. Douglas, in an indifferent tone; "it might
displease her, and were no way agreeable to me."
"And I," said the Lady Lochleven, "although her temper hath been more
gentle of late, have no will to undergo, without necessity, the
rancour of her wit."
"Under your permission, madam," said the chaplain, "I will myself
render your request to the Queen. During my long residence in this
house she hath not deigned to see me in private, or to hear my
doctrine; yet so may Heaven prosper my labours, as love for her soul,
and desire to bring her into the right path, was my chief desire for
"Take care, Master Henderson," said Douglas, in a tone which seemed
almost sarcastic, "lest you rush hastily on an adventure to which you
have no vocation--you are learned, and know the adage, _Ne
accesseris in consilium nisi vocatus_.--Who hath required this at
"The Master to whose service I am called," answered the preacher,
looking upward,--"He who hath commanded me to be earnest in season and
out of season."
"Your acquaintance hath not been much, I think, with courts or
princes," continued the young Esquire.
"No, sir," replied Henderson, "but like my Master Knox, I see nothing
frightful in the fair face of a pretty lady."
"My son," said the Lady of Lochleven, "quench not the good man's zeal
--let him do the errand to this unhappy Princess."
"With more willingness than I would do it myself," said George
Douglas. Yet something in his manner appeared to contradict his
The minister went accordingly, followed by Roland Graeme, and,
demanding an audience of the imprisoned Princess, was admitted. He
found her with her ladies engaged in the daily task of embroidery. The
Queen received him with that courtesy, which, in ordinary cases, she
used towards all who approached her, and the clergyman, in opening his
commission, was obviously somewhat more embarrassed than he had
expected to be.--"The good Lady of Lochleven--may it please your
He made a short pause, during which Mary said, with a smile, "My Grace
would, in truth, be well pleased, were the Lady Lochleven our
_good_ lady--But go on--what is the will of the good Lady of
"She desires, madam," said the chaplain, "that your Grace will permit
this young gentleman, your page, Roland Graeme, to pass to Kinross, to
look after some household stuff and hangings, sent hither for the
better furnishing your Grace's apartments."
"The Lady of Lochleven," said the Queen, "uses needless ceremony, in
requesting our permission for that which stands within her own
pleasure. We well know that this young gentleman's attendance on us
had not been so long permitted, were he not thought to be more at the
command of that good lady than at ours.--But we cheerfully yield
consent that he shall go on her errand--with our will we would doom no
living creature to the captivity which we ourselves must suffer."
"Ay, madam," answered the preacher, "and it is doubtless natural for
humanity to quarrel with its prison-house. Yet there have been those,
who have found, that time spent in the house of temporal captivity may
be so employed as to redeem us from spiritual slavery."
"I apprehend your meaning, sir," replied the Queen, "but I have heard
your apostle--I have heard Master John Knox; and were I to be
perverted, I would willingly resign to the ablest and most powerful of
heresiarchs, the poor honour he might acquire by overcoming my faith
and my hope."
"Madam," said the preacher, "it is not to the talents or skill of the
husbandman that God gives the increase--the words which were offered
in vain by him whom you justly call our apostle, during the bustle and
gaiety of a court, may yet find better acceptance during the leisure
for reflection which this place affords. God knows, lady, that I speak
in singleness of heart, as one who would as soon compare himself to
the immortal angels, as to the holy man whom you have named. Yet would
you but condescend to apply to their noblest use, those talents and
that learning which all allow you to be possessed of--would you afford
us but the slightest hope that you would hear and regard what can be
urged against the blinded superstition and idolatry in which you are
brought up, sure am I, that the most powerfully-gifted of my brethren,
that even John Knox himself, would hasten hither, and account the
rescue of your single soul from the nets of Romish error--"
"I am obliged to you and to them for their charity," said Mary; "but
as I have at present but one presence-chamber, I would reluctantly see
it converted into a Huguenot synod."
"At least, madam, be not thus obstinately blinded in your errors! Hear
one who has hungered and thirsted, watched and prayed, to undertake
the good work of your conversion, and who would be content to die the
instant that a work so advantageous for yourself and so beneficial to
Scotland were accomplished--Yes, lady, could I but shake the remaining
pillar of the heathen temple in this land--and that permit me to term
your faith in the delusions of Rome--I could be content to die
overwhelmed in the ruins!"
"I will not insult your zeal, sir," replied Mary, "by saying you are
more likely to make sport for the Philistines than to overwhelm
them--your charity claims my thanks, for it is warmly expressed and
may be truly purposed--But believe as well of me as I am willing to
do of you, and think that I may be as anxious to recall you to the
ancient and only road, as you are to teach me your new by-ways to
"Then, madam, if such be your generous purpose," said Henderson,
eagerly, "--what hinders that we should dedicate some part of that
time, unhappily now too much at your Grace's disposal, to discuss a
question so weighty? You, by report of all men, are both learned and
witty; and I, though without such advantages, am strong in my cause as
in a tower of defence. Why should we not spend some space in
endeavouring to discover which of us hath the wrong side in this
"Nay," said Queen Mary, "I never alleged my force was strong enough to
accept of a combat _en champ clos_, with a scholar and a polemic.
Besides, the match is not equal. You, sir, might retire when you felt
the battle go against you, while I am tied to the stake, and have no
permission to say the debate wearies me.--I would be alone."
She curtsied low to him as she uttered these words; and Henderson,
whose zeal was indeed ardent, but did not extend to the neglect of
delicacy, bowed in return, and prepared to withdraw.
"I would," he said, "that my earnest wish, my most zealous prayer,
could procure to your Grace any blessing or comfort, but especially
that in which alone blessing or comfort is, as easily as the slightest
intimation of your wish will remove me from your presence."
He was in the act of departing, when Mary said to him with much
courtesy, "Do me no injury in your thoughts, good sir; it may be, that
if my time here be protracted longer--as surely I hope it will not,
trusting that either my rebel subjects will repent of their
disloyalty, or that my faithful lieges will obtain the upper hand--but
if my time be here protracted, it may be I shall have no displeasure
in hearing one who seems so reasonable and compassionate as yourself,
and I may hazard your contempt by endeavouring to recollect and repeat
the reasons which schoolmen and councils give for the faith that is in
me,--although I fear that, God help me! my Latin has deserted me with
my other possessions. This must, however, be for another day.
Meanwhile, sir, let the Lady of Lochleven employ my page as she
lists--I will not afford suspicion by speaking a word to him before he
goes.--Roland Graeme, my friend, lose not an opportunity of amusing
thyself--dance, sing, run, and leap--all may be done merrily on the
mainland; but he must have more than quicksilver in his veins who
would frolic here."
"Alas! madam," said the preacher, "to what is it you exhort the youth,
while time passes, and eternity summons? Can our salvation be insured
by idle mirth, or our good work wrought out without fear and
"I cannot fear or tremble," replied the Queen; "to Mary Stewart such
emotions are unknown. But if weeping and sorrow on my part will atone
for the boy's enjoying an hour of boyish pleasure, be assured the
penance shall be duly paid."
"Nay, but, gracious lady," said the preacher, "in this you greatly
err;--our tears and our sorrows are all too little for our own faults
and follies, nor can we transfer them, as your church falsely teaches,
to the benefit of others."
"May I pray you, sir," answered the Queen, "with as little offence as
such a prayer may import, to transfer yourself elsewhere? We are sick
at heart, and may not now be disposed with farther controversy--and
thou, Roland, take this little purse;" (then, turning to the divine,
she said, showing its contents,) "Look, reverend sir,--it contains
only these two or three gold testoons, a coin which, though bearing my
own poor features, I have ever found more active against me than on my
side, just as my subjects take arms against me, with my own name for
their summons and signal.--Take this purse, that thou mayest want no
means of amusement. Fail not--fail not to bring met back news from
Kinross; only let it be such as, without suspicion or offence, may be
told in the presence of this reverend gentleman, or of the good Lady
The last hint was too irresistible to be withstood; and Henderson
withdrew, half mortified, half pleased, with his reception; for Mary,
from long habit, and the address which was natural to her, had
learned, in an extraordinary degree, the art of evading discourse
which was disagreeable to her feelings or prejudices, without
affronting those by whom it was proffered.
Roland Graeme retired with the chaplain, at a signal from his lady;
but it did not escape him, that as he left the room, stepping
backwards, and making the deep obeisance due to royalty, Catherine
Seyton held up her slender forefinger, with a gesture which he alone
could witness, and which seemed to say, "Remember what has passed
The young page had now his last charge from the Lady of Lochleven.
"There are revels," she said, "this day at the village--my son's
authority is, as yet, unable to prevent these continued workings of
the ancient leaven of folly which the Romish priests have kneaded into
the very souls of the Scottish peasantry. I do not command thee to
abstain from them--that would be only to lay a snare for thy folly, or
to teach thee falsehood; but enjoy these vanities with moderation, and
mark them as something thou must soon learn to renounce and contemn.
Our chamberlain at Kinross, Luke Lundin,--Doctor, as he foolishly
calleth himself,--will acquaint thee what is to be done in the matter
about which thou goest. Remember thou art trusted--show thyself,
therefore, worthy of trust."
When we recollect that Roland Graeme was not yet nineteen, and that he
had spent his whole life in the solitary Castle of Avenel, excepting
the few hours he had passed in Edinburgh, and his late residence at
Lochleven, (the latter period having very little served to enlarge his
acquaintance with the gay world.) we cannot wonder that his heart
beat, high with hope and curiosity, at the prospect of partaking the
sport even of a country wake. He hastened to his little cabin, and
turned over the wardrobe with which (in every respect becoming his
station) he had been supplied from Edinburgh, probably by order of the
Earl of Murray. By the Queen's command he had hitherto waited upon her
in mourning, or at least in sad-coloured raiment. Her condition, she
said, admitted of nothing more gay. But now he selected the gayest
dress his wardrobe afforded; composed of scarlet slashed with black
satin, the royal colours of Scotland--combed his long curled hair--
disposed his chain and medal round a beaver hat of the newest block;
and with the gay falchion which had reached him in so mysterious a
manner, hung by his side in an embroidered belt, his apparel, added to
his natural frank mien and handsome figure, formed a most commendable
and pleasing specimen of the young gallant of the period. He sought to
make his parting reverence to the Queen and her ladies, but old
Dryfesdale hurried him to the boat.
"We will have no private audiences," he said, "my master; since you
are to be trusted with somewhat, we will try at least to save thee
from the temptation of opportunity. God help thee, child," he added,
with a glance of contempt at his gay clothes, "an the bear-ward be
yonder from Saint Andrews, have a care thou go not near him."
"And wherefore, I pray you?" said Roland.
"Lest he take thee for one of his runaway jackanapes," answered the
steward, smiling sourly.
"I wear not my clothes at thy cost," said Roland indignantly.
"Nor at thine own either, my son" replied the steward, "else would thy
garb more nearly resemble thy merit and thy station."
Roland Graeme suppressed with difficulty the repartee which arose to
his lips, and, wrapping his scarlet mantle around him, threw himself
into the boat, which two rowers, themselves urged by curiosity to see
the revels, pulled stoutly towards the west end of the lake. As they
put off, Roland thought he could discover the face of Catherine
Seyton, though carefully withdrawn from observation, peeping from a
loophole to view his departure. He pulled off his hat, and held it up
as a token that he saw and wished her adieu. A white kerchief waved
for a second across the window, and for the rest of the little voyage,
the thoughts of Catherine Seyton disputed ground in his breast with
the expectations excited by the approaching revel. As they drew nearer
and nearer the shore, the sounds of mirth and music, the laugh, the
halloo, and the shout, came thicker upon the ear, and in a trice the
boat was moored, and Roland Graeme hastened in quest of the
chamberlain, that, being informed what time he had at his own
disposal, he might lay it out to the best advantage.
Chapter the Twenty-Sixth.
Room for the master of the ring, ye swains,
Divide your crowded ranks--before him march
The rural minstrelsy, the rattling drum,
The clamorous war-pipe, and far-echoing horn.
No long space intervened ere Roland Graeme was able to discover among
the crowd of revellers, who gambolled upon the open space which
extends betwixt the village and the lake, a person of so great
importance as Dr. Luke Lundin, upon whom devolved officially the
charge of representing the lord of the land, and who was attended for
support of his authority by a piper, a drummer, and four sturdy clowns
armed with rusty halberds, garnished with party-coloured ribbons;
myrmidons who, early as the day was, had already broken more than one
head in the awful names of the Laird of Lochleven and his chamberlain.
[Footnote: At Scottish fairs, the bailie, or magistrate, deputed by
the lord in whose name the meeting is held, attends the fair with his
guard, decides trifling disputes, and punishes on the spot any petty
delinquencies. His attendants are usually armed with halberds, and
sometimes, at least, escorted by music. Thus, in the "Life and Death
of Habbie Simpson," we are told of that famous minstrel,--
"At fairs he play'd before the spear-men,
And gaily graithed in their gear-men;--
Steel bonnets, jacks, and swords shone clear then,
Like ony bead;
Now wha shall play before sic weir-men,
Since Habbie's dead! ]
As soon as this dignitary was informed that the castle skiff had
arrived, with a gallant, dressed like a lord's son at the least, who
desired presently to speak to him, he adjusted his ruff and his black
coat, turned round his girdle till the garnished hilt of his long
rapier became visible, and walked with due solemnity towards the
beach. Solemn indeed he was entitled to be, even on less important
occasions, for he had been bred to the venerable study of medicine, as
those acquainted with the science very soon discovered from the
aphorisms which ornamented his discourse. His success had not been
equal to his pretensions; but as he was a native of the neighbouring
kingdom of Fife, and bore distant relation to, or dependence upon, the
ancient family of Lundin of that Ilk, who were bound in close
friendship with the house of Lochleven, he had, through their
interest, got planted comfortably enough in his present station upon
the banks of that beautiful lake. The profits of his chamberlainship
being moderate, especially in those unsettled times, he had eked it
out a little with some practice in his original profession; and it was
said that the inhabitants of the village and barony of Kinross were
not more effectually thirled (which may be translated enthralled) to
the baron's mill, than they were to the medical monopoly of the
chamberlain. Wo betide the family of the rich boor, who presumed to
depart this life without a passport from Dr. Luke Lundin! for if his
representatives had aught to settle with the baron, as it seldom
happened otherwise, they were sure to find a cold friend in the
chamberlain. He was considerate enough, however, gratuitously to help
the poor out of their ailments, and sometimes out of all their other
distresses at the same time.
Formal, in a double proportion, both as a physician and as a person in
office, and proud of the scraps of learning which rendered his
language almost universally unintelligible, Dr. Luke Lundin approached
the beach, and hailed the page as he advanced towards him.--"The
freshness of the morning upon you, fair sir--You are sent, I warrant
me, to see if we observe here the regimen which her good ladyship hath
prescribed, for eschewing all superstitious observances and idle
anilities in these our revels. I am aware that her good ladyship would
willingly have altogether abolished and abrogated them--But as I had
the honour to quote to her from the works of the learned Hercules of
Saxony, _omnis curatio est vel canonica vel coacta_,--that is,
fair sir, (for silk and velvet have seldom their Latin _ad
unguem_,) every cure must be wrought either by art and induction of
rule, or by constraint; and the wise physician chooseth the former.
Which argument her ladyship being pleased to allow well of, I have
made it my business so to blend instruction and caution with
delight--_fiat mixtio_, as we say--that I can answer that the
vulgar mind will be defecated and purged of anile and Popish fooleries
by the medicament adhibited, so that the _primae vice_ being
cleansed, Master Henderson, or any other able pastor, may at will
throw in tonics, and effectuate a perfect moral cure, _tuto, cito,
"I have no charge, Dr. Lundin," replied the page--
"Call me not doctor," said the chamberlain, "since I have laid aside
my furred gown and bonnet, and retired me into this temporality of
"Oh, sir," said the page, who was no stranger by report to the
character of this original, "the cowl makes not the monk, neither the
cord the friar--we have all heard of the cures wrought by Dr.
"Toys, young sir--trifles," answered the leech with grave disclamation
of superior skill; "the hit-or-miss practice of a poor retired
gentleman, in a short cloak and doublet--Marry, Heaven sent its
blessing--and this I must say, better fashioned mediciners have
brought fewer patients through--_lunga roba corta scienzia_,
saith the Italian--ha, fair sir, you have the language?"
Roland Graeme did not think it necessary to expound to this learned
Theban whether he understood him or no; but, leaving that matter
uncertain, he told him he came in quest of certain packages which
should have arrived at Kinross, and been placed under the
chamberlain's charge the evening before.
"Body o' me!" said Doctor Lundin, "I fear our common carrier, John
Auchtermuchty, hath met with some mischance, that he came not up last
night with his wains--bad land this to journey in, my master; and the
fool will travel by night too, although, (besides all maladies from
your _tussis_ to your _pestis_, which walk abroad in the
night-air,) he may well fall in with half a dozen swash-bucklers, who
will ease him at once of his baggage and his earthly complaints. I
must send forth to inquire after him, since he hath stuff of the
honourable household on hand--and, by our Lady, he hath stuff of mine
too--certain drugs sent me from the city for composition of my
alexipharmics--this gear must be looked to.--Hodge," said he,
addressing one of his redoubted body-guard, "do thou and Toby Telford
take the mickle brown aver and the black cut-tailed mare, and make out
towards the Kerry-craigs, and see what tidings you can have of
Auchtermuchty and his wains--I trust it is only the medicine of the
pottle-pot, (being the only _medicamentum_ which the beast
useth,) which hath caused him to tarry on the road. Take the ribbons
from your halberds, ye knaves, and get on your jacks, plate-sleeves,
and knapskulls, that your presence may work some terror if you meet
with opposers." He then added, turning to Roland Graeme, "I warrant
me, we shall have news of the wains in brief season. Meantime it will
please you to look upon the sports; but first to enter my poor lodging
and take your morning's cup. For what saith the school of Salerno?
_Poculum, mane haustum,
Restaurat naturam exhaustam."_
"Your learning is too profound for me," replied the page; "and so
would your draught be likewise, I fear."
"Not a whit, fair sir--a cordial cup of sack, impregnated with
wormwood, is the best anti-pestilential draught; and, to speak truth,
the pestilential miasmata are now very rife in the atmosphere. We live
in a happy time, young man," continued he, in a tone of grave irony,
"and have many blessings unknown to our fathers--Here are two
sovereigns in the land, a regnant and a claimant--that is enough of
one good thing--but if any one wants more, he may find a king in every
peel-house in the country; so if we lack government, it is not for
want of governors. Then have we a civil war to phlebotomize us every
year, and to prevent our population from starving for want of
food--and for the same purpose we have the Plague proposing us a
visit, the best of all recipes for thinning a land, and converting
younger brothers into elder ones. Well, each man in his vocation. You
young fellows of the sword desire to wrestle, fence, or so forth, with
some expert adversary; and for my part, I love to match myself for
life or death against that same Plague."
As they proceeded up the street of the little village towards the
Doctor's lodgings, his attention was successively occupied by the
various personages whom he met, and pointed out to the notice of his
"Do you see that fellow with the red bonnet, the blue jerkin, and the
great rough baton in his hand?--I believe that clown hath the strength
of a tower--he has lived fifty years in the world, and never
encouraged the liberal sciences by buying one penny-worth of
medicaments.--But see you that man with the _facies
hippocratica_?" said he, pointing out a thin peasant, with swelled
legs, and a most cadaverous countenance; "that I call one of the
worthiest men in the barony--he breakfasts, luncheons, dines, and sups
by my advice, and not without my medicine; and, for his own single
part, will go farther to clear out a moderate stock of pharmaceutics,
than half the country besides.--How do you, my honest friend?" said he
to the party in question, with a tone of condolence.
"Very weakly, sir, since I took the electuary," answered the patient;
"it neighboured ill with the two spoonfuls of pease-porridge and the
"Pease-porridge and kirnmilk! Have you been under medicine these ten
years, and keep your diet so ill?--the next morning take the electuary
by itself, and touch nothing for six hours."--The poor object bowed,
and limped off.
The next whom the Doctor deigned to take notice of, was a lame fellow,
by whom the honour was altogether undeserved, for at sight of the
mediciner, he began to shuffle away in the crowd as fast as his
infirmities would permit.
"There is an ungrateful hound for you," said Doctor Lundin; "I cured
him of the gout in his feet, and now he talks of the chargeableness of
medicine, and makes the first use of his restored legs to fly from his
physician. His _podagra_ hath become a _chiragra_, as honest
Martial hath it--the gout has got into his fingers, and he cannot
draw his purse. Old saying and true,
Praemia cum poscit medicus, Sathan est.
We are angels when we come to cure--devils when we ask payment--but I
will administer a purgation to his purse I warrant him. There is his
brother too, a sordid chuff.--So ho, there! Saunders Darlet! you have
been ill, I hear?"
"Just got the turn, as I was thinking to send to your honour, and I am
brawly now again--it was nae great thing that ailed me."
"Hark you, sirrah," said the Doctor, "I trust you remember you are
owing to the laird four stones of barleymeal, and a bow of oats; and I
would have you send no more such kain-fowls as you sent last season,
that looked as wretchedly as patients just dismissed from a
plague-hospital; and there is hard money owing besides."
"I was thinking, sir," said the man, _more Scotico_, that is,
returning no direct answer on the subject on which he was addressed,
"my best way would be to come down to your honour, and take your
advice yet, in case my trouble should come back."
"Do so, then, knave," replied Lundin, "and remember what
Ecclesiasticus saith--'Give place to the physician-let him not go from
thee, for thou hast need of him.'"
His exhortation was interrupted by an apparition, which seemed to
strike the doctor with as much horror and surprise, as his own visage
inflicted upon sundry of those persons whom he had addressed.
The figure which produced this effect on the Esculapius of the
village, was that of a tall old woman, who wore a high-crowned hat and
muffler. The first of these habiliments added apparently to her
stature, and the other served to conceal the lower part of her face,
and as the hat itself was slouched, little could be seen besides two
brown cheek-bones, and the eyes of swarthy fire, that gleamed from
under two shaggy gray eyebrows. She was dressed in a long
dark-coloured robe of unusual fashion, bordered at the skirts, and on
the stomacher, with a sort of white trimming resembling the Jewish
phylacteries, on which were wrought the characters of some unknown
language. She held in her hand a walking staff of black ebony.
"By the soul of Celsus," said Doctor Luke Lundin, "it is old Mother
Nicneven herself--she hath come to beard me within mine own bounds,
and in the very execution of mine office! Have at thy coat, Old Woman,
as the song says--Hob Anster, let her presently be seized and
committed to the tolbooth; and if there are any zealous brethren here
who would give the hag her deserts, and duck her, as a witch, in the
loch, I pray let them in no way be hindered."
But the myrmidons of Dr. Lundin showed in this case no alacrity to do
his bidding. Hob Anster even ventured to remonstrate in the name of
himself and his brethren. "To be sure he was to do his honour's
bidding; and for a' that folks said about the skill and witcheries of
Mother Nicneven, he would put his trust in God, and his hand on her
collar, without dreadour. But she was no common spaewife, this Mother
Nicneven, like Jean Jopp that lived in the Bricrie-baulk. She had
lords and lairds that would ruffle for her. There was Moncrieff of
Tippermalloch, that was Popish, and the laird of Carslogie, a kend
Queen's man, were in the fair, with wha kend how mony swords and
bucklers at their back; and they would be sure to make a break-out if
the officers meddled with the auld Popish witch-wife, who was sae weel
friended; mair especially as the laird's best men, such as were not in
the castle, were in Edinburgh with him, and he doubted his honour the
Doctor would find ower few to make a good backing, if blades were
The doctor listened unwillingly to this prudential counsel, and was
only comforted by the faithful promise of his satellite, that "the old
woman should," as he expressed it, "be ta'en canny the next time she
trespassed on the bounds."
"And in that event," said the Doctor to his companion, "fire and fagot
shall be the best of her welcome."
This he spoke in hearing of the dame herself, who even then, and in
passing the Doctor, shot towards him from under her gray eyebrows a
look of the most insulting and contemptuous superiority.
"This way," continued the physician, "this way," marshalling his guest
into his lodging,--"take care you stumble not over a retort, for it is
hazardous for the ignorant to walk in the ways of art."
The page found all reason for the caution; for besides stuffed birds,
and lizards, and snakes bottled up, and bundles of simples made up,
and other parcels spread out to dry, and all the confusion, not to
mention the mingled and sickening smells, incidental to a druggist's
stock in trade, he had also to avoid heaps of charcoal crucibles,
bolt-heads, stoves, and the other furniture of a chemical laboratory.
Amongst his other philosophical qualities, Doctor Lundin failed not to
be a confused sloven, and his old dame housekeeper, whose life, as she
said, was spent in "redding him up," had trotted off to the mart of
gaiety with other and younger folks. Much chattering and jangling
therefore there was among jars, and bottles, and vials, ere the Doctor
produced the salutiferous potion which he recommended so strongly, and
a search equally long and noisy followed, among broken cans and
cracked pipkins, ere he could bring forth a cup out of which to drink
it. Both matters being at length achieved, the Doctor set the example
to his guest, by quaffing off a cup of the cordial, and smacking his
lips with approbation as it descended his gullet.--Roland, in turn,
submitted to swallow the potion which his host so earnestly
recommended, but which he found so insufferably bitter, that he became
eager to escape from the laboratory in search of a draught of fair
water to expel the taste. In spite of his efforts, he was nevertheless
detained by the garrulity of his host, till he gave him some account
of Mother Nicneven.
"I care not to speak of her," said the Doctor, "in the open air, and
among the throng of people; not for fright, like yon cowardly dog
Anster, but because I would give no occasion for a fray, having no
leisure to look to stabs, slashes, and broken bones. Men call the old
hag a prophetess--I do scarce believe she could foretell when a brood
of chickens will chip the shell--Men say she reads the heavens--my
black bitch knows as much of them when she sits baying the moon--Men
pretend the ancient wretch is a sorceress, a witch, and, what
not--_Inter nos_, I will never contradict a rumour which may
bring her to the stake which she so justly deserves; but neither will
I believe that the tales of witches which they din into our ears are
aught but knavery, cozenage, and old women's fables."
"In the name of Heaven, what is she then," said the page, "that you
make such a stir about her?"
"She is one of those cursed old women," replied the Doctor, "who take
currently and impudently upon themselves to act as advisers and curers
of the sick, on the strength of some trash of herbs, some rhyme of
spells, some julap or diet, drink or cordial."
"Nay, go no farther," said the page; "if they brew cordials, evil be
their lot and all their partakers!"
"You say well, young man," said Dr. Lundin; "for mine own part, I know
no such pests to the commonwealth as these old incarnate devils, who
haunt the chambers of the brain-sick patients, that are mad enough to
suffer them to interfere with, disturb, and let, the regular process
of a learned and artificial cure, with their sirups, and their julaps,
and diascordium, and mithridate, and my Lady What-shall-call'um's
powder, and worthy Dame Trashem's pill; and thus make widows and
orphans, and cheat the regular and well-studied physician, in order to
get the name of wise women and skeely neighbours, and so forth. But no
more on't--Mother Nicneven [Footnote: This was the name given to the
grand Mother Witch, the very Hecate of Scottish popular superstition.
Her name was bestowed, in one or two instances, upon sorceresses, who
were held to resemble her by their superior skill in "Hell's black
grammar."] and I will meet one day, and she shall know there is danger
in dealing with the Doctor."
"It is a true word, and many have found it," said the page; "but under
your favour, I would fain walk abroad for a little, and see these
"It is well moved," said the Doctor, "and I too should be showing
myself abroad. Moreover the play waits us, young man-to-day, _totus
mundus agit histrionem_."--And they sallied forth accordingly into
the mirthful scene.
Chapter the Twenty-Seventh.
See on yon verdant lawn, the gathering crowd
Thickens amain; the buxom nymphs advance,
Usher'd by jolly clowns; distinctions cease,
Lost in the common joy, and the bold slave
Leans on his wealthy master unreproved.
The re-appearance of the dignified Chamberlain on the street of the
village was eagerly hailed by the revellers, as a pledge that the
play, or dramatic representation, which had been postponed owing to
his absence, was now full surely to commence. Any thing like an
approach to this most interesting of all amusements, was of recent
origin in Scotland, and engaged public attention in proportion. All
other sports were discontinued. The dance around the Maypole was
arrested--the ring broken up and dispersed, while the dancers, each
leading his partner by the hand, tripped, off to the silvan theatre. A
truce was in like manner achieved betwixt a huge brown bear and
certain mastiffs, who were tugging and pulling at his shaggy coat,
under the mediation of the bear-ward and half a dozen butchers and
yeomen, who, by dint of _staving and tailing_, as it was
technically termed, separated the unfortunate animals, whose fury had
for an hour past been their chief amusement. The itinerant minstrel
found himself deserted by the audience he had collected, even in the
most interesting passage of the romance which he recited, and just as
he was sending about his boy, with bonnet in hand, to collect their
oblations. He indignantly stopped short in the midst of _Rosewal and
Lilian_, and, replacing his three-stringed fiddle, or rebeck, in
its leathern case, followed the crowd, with no good-will, to the
exhibition which had superseded his own. The juggler had ceased his
exertions of emitting flame and smoke, and was content to respire in
the manner of ordinary mortals, rather than to play gratuitously the
part of a fiery dragon. In short, all other sports were suspended, so
eagerly did the revellers throng towards the place of representation.
They would err greatly, who should regulate their ideas of this
dramatic exhibition upon those derived from a modern theatre; for the
rude shows of Thespis were far less different from those exhibited by
Euripides on the stage of Athens, with all its magnificent decorations
and pomp of dresses and of scenery. In the present case, there were no
scenes, no stage, no machinery, no pit, box, and gallery, no
box-lobby; and, what might in poor Scotland be some consolation for
other negations, there was no taking of money at the door. As in the
devices of the magnanimous Bottom, the actors had a greensward plot
for a stage, and a hawthorn bush for a greenroom and tiring-house; the
spectators being accommodated with seats on the artificial bank which
had been raised around three-fourths of the playground, the remainder
being left open for the entrance and exit of the performers. Here
sate the uncritical audience, the Chamberlain in the centre, as the
person highest in office, all alive to enjoyment and admiration, and
all therefore dead to criticism.
The characters which appeared and disappeared before the amused and
interested audience, were those which fill the earlier stage in all
nations--old men, cheated by their wives and daughters, pillaged by
their sons, and imposed on by their domestics, a braggadocia captain,
a knavish pardoner or quaestionary, a country bumpkin and a wanton
city dame. Amid all these, and more acceptable than almost the whole
put together, was the all-licensed fool, the Gracioso of the Spanish
drama, who, with his cap fashioned into the resemblance of a coxcomb,
and his bauble, a truncheon terminated by a carved figure wearing a
fool's cap, in his hand, went, came, and returned, mingling in every
scene of the piece, and interrupting the business, without having any
share himself in the action, and ever and anon transferring his gibes
from the actors on the stage to the audience who sate around, prompt
to applaud the whole.
The wit of the piece, which was not of the most polished kind, was
chiefly directed against the superstitious practices of the Catholic
religion; and the stage artillery had on this occasion been levelled
by no less a person than Doctor Lundin, who had not only commanded the
manager of the entertainment to select one of the numerous satires
which had been written against the Papists, (several of which were
cast in a dramatic form,) but had even, like the Prince of Denmark,
caused them to insert, or according to his own phrase, to infuse here
and there, a few pleasantries of his own penning, on the same
inexhaustible subject, hoping thereby to mollify the rigour of the
Lady of Lochleven towards pastimes of this description. He failed not
to jog Roland's elbow, who was sitting in state behind him, and
recommend to his particular attention those favourite passages. As for
the page, to whom, the very idea of such an exhibition, simple as it
was, was entirely new, he beheld it with the undiminished and ecstatic
delight with which men of all ranks look for the first time on
dramatic representation, and laughed, shouted, and clapped his hands
as the performance proceeded. An incident at length took place, which
effectually broke off his interest in the business of the scene.
One of the principal personages in the comic part of the drama was, as
we have already said, a quaestionary or pardoner, one of those
itinerants who hawked about from place to place relics, real or
pretended, with which he excited the devotion at once, and the charity
of the populace, and generally deceived both the one and the other.
The hypocrisy, impudence, and profligacy of these clerical wanderers,
had made them the subject of satire from the time of Chaucer down to
that of Heywood. Their present representative failed not to follow the
same line of humour, exhibiting pig's bones for relics, and boasting
the virtues of small tin crosses, which had been shaken in the holy
porringer at Loretto, and of cockleshells, which had been brought from
the shrine of Saint James of Compostella, all which he disposed of to
the devout Catholics at nearly as high a price as antiquaries are now
willing to pay for baubles of similar intrinsic value. At length the
pardoner pulled from his scrip a small phial of clear water, of which
he vaunted the quality in the following verses:--
Listneth, gode people, everiche one
For in the londe of Babylone,
Far eastward I wot it lyeth,
And is the first londe the sonne espieth,
Ther, as he cometh fro out the sé;
In this ilk londe, as thinketh me,
Right as holie legendes tell.
Snottreth from a roke a well,
And falleth into ane bath of ston,
Where chaste Susanne, in times long gon,
Wax wont to wash her bodie and lim
Mickle vertue hath that streme,
As ye shall se er that ye pas,
Ensample by this little glas--
Through nightés cold and dayés hote
Hiderward I have it brought;
Hath a wife made slip or side,
Or a maiden stepp'd aside,
Putteth this water under her nese,
Wold she nold she, she shall snese.
The jest, as the reader skilful in the antique language of the drama
must at once perceive, turned on the same pivot as in the old minstrel
tales of the Drinking Horn of King Arthur, and the Mantle made Amiss.
But the audience were neither learned nor critical enough to challenge
its want of originality. The potent relic was, after such grimace and
buffoonery as befitted the subject, presented successively to each of
the female personages of the drama, not one of whom sustained the
supposed test of discretion; but, to the infinite delight of the
audience, sneezed much louder and longer than perhaps they themselves
had counted on. The jest seemed at last worn threadbare, and the
pardoner was passing on to some new pleasantry, when the jester or
clown of the drama, possessing himself secretly of the phial which
contained the wondrous liquor, applied it suddenly to the nose of a
young woman, who, with her black silk muffler, or screen drawn over
her face, was sitting in the foremost rank of the spectators, intent
apparently upon the business of the stage. The contents of the phial,
well calculated to sustain the credit of the pardoner's legend, set
the damsel a-sneezing violently, an admission of frailty which was
received with shouts of rapture by the audience. These were soon,
however, renewed at the expense of the jester himself, when the
insulted maiden extricated, ere the paroxysm was well over, one hand
from the folds of her mantle, and bestowed on the wag a buffet, which
made him reel fully his own length from the pardoner, and then
acknowledge the favour by instant prostration.
No one pities a jester overcome in his vocation, and the clown met
with little sympathy, when, rising from the ground, and whimpering
forth his complaints of harsh treatment, he invoked the assistance and
sympathy of the audience. But the Chamberlain, feeling his own dignity
insulted, ordered two of his halberdiers to bring the culprit before
him. When these official persons first approached the virago, she
threw herself into an attitude of firm defiance, as if determined to
resist their authority; and from the sample of strength and spirit
which she had already displayed, they showed no alacrity at executing
their commission. But on half a minute's reflection, the damsel
changed totally her attitude and manner, folded her cloak around her
arms in modest and maiden-like fashion, and walked of her own accord
to the presence of the great man, followed and guarded by the two
manful satellites. As she moved across the vacant space, and more
especially as she stood at the footstool of the Doctor's
judgment-seat, the maiden discovered that lightness and elasticity of
step, and natural grace of manner, which connoisseurs in female beauty
know to be seldom divided from it. Moreover, her neat russet-coloured
jacket, and short petticoat of the same colour, displayed a handsome
form and a pretty leg. Her features were concealed by the screen; but
the Doctor, whose gravity did not prevent his pretensions to be a
connoisseur of the school we have hinted at, saw enough to judge
favourably of the piece by the sample.
He began, however, with considerable austerity of manner.--"And how
now, saucy quean!" said the medical man of office; "what have you to
say why I should not order you to be ducked in the loch, for lifting
your hand to the man in my presence?"
"Marry," replied the culprit, "because I judge that your honour will
not think the cold bath necessary for my complaints."
"A pestilent jade," said the Doctor, whispering to Roland Graeme; "and
I'll warrant her a good one--her voice is as sweet as sirup.--But, my
pretty maiden," said he, "you show us wonderful little of that
countenance of yours--be pleased to throw aside your muffler."
"I trust your honour will excuse me till we are more private,"
answered the maiden; "for I have acquaintance, and I should like ill
to be known in the country as the poor girl whom that scurvy knave put
his jest upon."
"Fear nothing for thy good name, my sweet little modicum of candied
manna," replied the Doctor, "for I protest to you, as I am Chamberlain
of Lochleven, Kinross, and so forth, that the chaste Susanna herself
could not have snuffed that elixir without sternutation, being in
truth a curious distillation of rectified _acetum_, or vinegar of
the sun, prepared by mine own hands--Wherefore, as thou sayest thou
wilt come to me in private, and express thy contrition for the offence
whereof thou hast been guilty, I command that all for the present go
forward as if no such interruption of the prescribed course had taken
The damsel curtsied and tripped back to her place. The play proceeded,
but it no longer attracted the attention of Roland Graeme.
The voice, the figure, and what the veil permitted to be seen of the
neck and tresses of the village damsel, bore so strong a resemblance
to those of Catherine Seyton, that he felt like one bewildered in the
mazes of a changeful and stupifying dream. The memorable scene of the
hostelrie rushed on his recollection, with all its doubtful and
marvellous circumstances. Were the tales of enchantment which he had
read in romances realized in this extraordinary girl? Could she
transport herself from the walled and guarded Castle of Lochleven,
moated with its broad lake, (towards which he cast back a look as if
to ascertain it was still in existence,) and watched with such
scrupulous care as the safety of a nation demanded?--Could she
surmount all these obstacles, and make such careless and dangerous use
of her liberty, as to engage herself publicly in a quarrel in a
village fair? Roland was unable to determine whether the exertions
which it must have cost her to gain her freedom or the use to which
she had put it, rendered her the most unaccountable creature.
Lost in these meditations, he kept his gaze fixed on the subject of
them; and in every casual motion, discovered, or thought he
discovered, something which reminded him still more strongly of
Catherine Seyton. It occurred to him more than once, indeed, that he
might be deceiving himself by exaggerating some casual likeness into
absolute identity. But then the meeting at the hostelrie of Saint
Michael's returned to his mind, and it seemed in the highest degree
improbable, that, under such various circumstances, mere imagination
should twice have found opportunity to play him the selfsame trick.
This time, however, he determined to have his doubts resolved, and for
this purpose he sate during the rest of the play like a greyhound in
the slip, ready to spring upon the hare the instant that she was
started. The damsel, whom he watched attentively lest she should
escape in the crowd when the spectacle was closed, sate as if
perfectly unconscious that she was observed. But the worthy Doctor
marked the direction of his eyes, and magnanimously suppressed his own
inclination to become the Theseus to this Hippolyta, in deference to
the rights of hospitality, which enjoined him to forbear interference
with the pleasurable pursuits of his young friend. He passed one or
two formal gibes upon the fixed attention which the page paid to the
unknown, and upon his own jealousy; adding, however, that if both were
to be presented to the patient at once, he had little doubt she would
think the younger man the sounder prescription. "I fear me," he
added, "we shall have no news of the knave Auchtermuchty for some
time, since the vermin whom I sent after him seem to have proved
corbie-messengers. So you have an hour or two on your hands, Master
Page; and as the minstrels are beginning to strike up, now the play is
ended, why, an you incline for a dance, yonder is the green, and there
sits your partner--I trust you will hold me perfect in my diagnostics,
since I see with half an eye what disease you are sick of, and have
administered a pleasing remedy.
"_Discernit sapiens res_ (as Chambers hath it) _quas
The page hardly heard the end of the learned adage, or the charge
which the Chamberlain gave him to be within reach, in case of the
wains arriving suddenly, and sooner than expected--so eager he was at
once to shake himself free of his learned associate, and to satisfy
his curiosity regarding the unknown damsel. Yet in the haste with
which he made towards her he found time to reflect, that, in order to
secure an opportunity of conversing with her in private, he must not
alarm her at first accosting her. He therefore composed his manner
and gait, and advancing with becoming self-confidence before three or
four country-fellows who were intent on the same design, but knew not
so well how to put their request into shape, he acquainted her that
he, as the deputy of the venerable Chamberlain, requested the honour
of her hand as a partner.
"The venerable Chamberlain," said the damsel frankly, reaching the
page her hand, "does very well to exercise this part of his privilege
by deputy; and I suppose the laws of the revels leave me no choice but
to accept of his faithful delegate."
"Provided, fair damsel," said the page, "his choice of a delegate is
not altogether distasteful to you."
"Of that, fair sir," replied the maiden, "I will tell you more when we
have danced the first measure."
Catherine Seyton had admirable skill in gestic lore, and was sometimes
called on to dance for the amusement of her royal mistress. Roland
Graeme had often been a spectator of her skill, and sometimes, at the
Queen's command, Catherine's partner on such occasions. He was,
therefore, perfectly acquainted with Catherine's mode of dancing; and
observed that his present partner, in grace, in agility, in quickness
of ear, and precision of execution, exactly resembled her, save that
the Scottish jig, which he now danced with her, required a more
violent and rapid motion, and more rustic agility, than the stately
pavens, lavoltas, and courantoes, which he had seen her execute in the
chamber of Queen Mary. The active duties of the dance left him little
time for reflection, and none for conversation; but when their _pas
de deux_ was finished, amidst the acclamations of the villagers,
who had seldom witnessed such an exhibition, he took an opportunity,
when they yielded up the green to another couple, to use the privilege
of a partner and enter into conversation with the mysterious maiden,
whom he still held by the hand.
"Fair partner, may I not crave the name of her who has graced me
"You may," said the maiden; "but it is a question whether I shall
"And why?" asked Roland.
"Because nobody gives anything for nothing--and you can tell me
nothing in return which I care to hear."
"Could I not tell you my name and lineage, in exchange for yours?"
"No!" answered the maiden, "for you know little of either."
"How?" said the page, somewhat angrily.
"Wrath you not for the matter," said the damsel; "I will show you in
an instant that I know more of you than you do of yourself."
"Indeed," answered Graeme; "for whom then do you take me?"
"For the wild falcon," answered she, "whom a dog brought in his mouth
to a certain castle, when he was but an unfledged eyas--for the hawk
whom men dare not fly, lest he should check at game, and pounce on
carrion--whom folk must keep hooded till he has the proper light of
his eyes, and can discover good from evil."
"Well--be it so," replied Roland Graeme; "I guess at a part of your
parable, fair mistress mine--and perhaps I know as much of you as you
do of me, and can well dispense with the information which you are so
niggard in giving."
"Prove that," said the maiden, "and I will give you credit for more
penetration than I judged you to be gifted withal."
"It shall be proved instantly," said Roland Graeme. "The first letter
of your name is S, and the last N."
"Admirable," said his partner, "guess on."
"It pleases you to-day," continued Roland, "to wear the snood and
kirtle, and perhaps you may be seen to-morrow in hat and feather, hose
"In the clout! in the clout! you have hit the very white," said the
damsel, suppressing a great inclination to laugh.
"You can switch men's eyes out of their heads, as well as the heart
out of their bosoms."
These last words were uttered in a low and tender tone, which, to
Roland's great mortification, and somewhat to his displeasure, was so
far from allaying, that it greatly increased, his partner's
disposition to laughter. She could scarce compose herself while she
replied, "If you had thought my hand so formidable," extricating it
from his hold, "you would not have grasped it so hard; but I perceive
you know me so fully, that there is no occasion to show you my face."
"Fair Catherine," said the page, "he were unworthy ever to have seen
you, far less to have dwelt so long in the same service, and under the
same roof with you, who could mistake your air, your gesture, your
step in walking or in dancing, the turn of your neck, the symmetry of
your form--none could be so dull as not to recognize you by so many
proofs; but for me, I could swear even to that tress of hair that
escapes from under your muffler."
"And to the face, of course, which that muffler covers," said the
maiden, removing her veil, and in an instant endeavouring to replace
it. She showed the features of Catherine; but an unusual degree of
petulant impatience inflamed them, when, from some awkwardness in her
management of the muffler, she was unable again to adjust it with that
dexterity which was a principal accomplishment of the coquettes of the
"The fiend rive the rag to tatters!" said the damsel, as the veil
fluttered about her shoulders, with an accent so earnest and decided,
that it made the page start. He looked again at the damsel's face, but
the information which his eyes received, was to the same purport as
before. He assisted her to adjust her muffler, and both were for an
instant silent. The damsel spoke first, for Roland Graeme was
overwhelmed with surprise at the contrarieties which Catherine Seyton
seemed to include in her person and character.
"You are surprised," said the damsel to him, "at what you see and hear
--But the times which make females men, are least of all fitted for
men to become women; yet you yourself are in danger of such a change."
"I in danger of becoming effeminate!" said the page.
"Yes, you, for all the boldness of your reply," said the damsel. "When
you should hold fast your religion, because it is assailed on all
sides by rebels, traitors, and heretics, you let it glide out of your
breast like water grasped in the hand. If you are driven from the
faith of your fathers from fear of a traitor, is not that
womanish?--If you are cajoled by the cunning arguments of a trumpeter
of heresy, or the praises of a puritanic old woman, is not that
womanish?--If you are bribed by the hope of spoil and preferment, is
not that womanish?--And when you wonder at my venting a threat or an
execration, should you not wonder at yourself, who, pretending to a
gentle name and aspiring to knighthood, can be at the same time
cowardly, silly, and self-interested!"
"I would that a man would bring such a charge," said the page; "he
should see, ere his life was a minute older, whether he had cause to
term me coward or no."
"Beware of such big words," answered the maiden; "you said but anon
that I sometimes wear hose and doublet."
"But remain still Catharine Seyton, wear what you list," said the
page, endeavouring again to possess himself of her hand.
"You indeed are pleased to call me so," replied the maiden, evading
his intention, "but I have many other names besides."
"And will you not reply to that," said the page, "by which you are
distinguished beyond every other maiden in Scotland?"
The damsel, unallured by his praises, still kept aloof, and sung with
gaiety a verse from an old ballad,
"Oh, some do call me Jack, sweet love,
And some do call me Gill;
But when I ride to Holyrood,
My name is Wilful Will."
"Wilful Will" exclaimed the page, impatiently; "say rather Will o' the
Wisp--Jack with the Lantern--for never was such a deceitful or
"If I be such," replied the maiden, "I ask no fools to follow me--If
they do so, it is at their own pleasure, and must be on their own
"Nay, but, dearest Catherine," said Roland Graeme, "be for one instant
"If you will call me your dearest Catherine, when I have given you so
many names to choose upon," replied the damsel, "I would ask you how,
supposing me for two or three hours of my life escaped from yonder
tower, you have the cruelty to ask me to be serious during the only
merry moments I have seen perhaps for months?"
"Ay, but, fair Catherine, there are moments of deep and true feeling,
which are worth ten thousand years of the liveliest mirth; and such
was that of yesterday, when you so nearly--"
"So nearly what?" demanded the damsel, hastily.
"When you approached your lips so near to the sign you had traced on
"Mother of Heaven!" exclaimed she, in a yet fiercer tone, and with a
more masculine manner than she had yet exhibited,-"Catherine Seyton
approach her lips to a man's brow, and thou that man!--vassal, thou
The page stood astonished; but, conceiving he had alarmed the damsel's
delicacy by alluding to the enthusiasm of a moment, and the manner in
which she had expressed it, he endeavoured to falter forth an apology.
His excuses, though he was unable to give them any regular shape, were
accepted by his companion, who had indeed suppressed her indignation
after its first explosion--"Speak no more on't," she said. "And now
let us part; our conversation may attract more notice than is
convenient for either of us."
"Nay, but allow me at least to follow you to some sequestered place."
"You dare not," replied the maiden.
"How," said the youth, "dare not? where is it you dare go, where I
dare not follow?"
"You fear a Will o' the Wisp," said the damsel; "how would you face a
fiery dragon, with an enchantress mounted on its back?"
"Like Sir Eger, Sir Grime, or Sir Greysteil," said the page; "but be
there such toys to be seen here?"
"I go to Mother Nicneven's," answered the maid; "and she is witch
enough to rein the horned devil, with a red silk thread for a bridle,
and a rowan-tree switch for a whip."
"I will follow you," said the page.
"Let it be at some distance," said the maiden.
And wrapping her mantle round her with more success than on her former
attempt, she mingled with the throng, and walked towards the village,
heedfully followed by Roland Graeme at some distance, and under every
precaution which he could use to prevent his purpose from being
Chapter the Twenty-Eighth.
Yes, it is he whose eyes look'd on thy childhood,
And watch'd with trembling hope thy dawn of youth,
That now, with these same eyeballs dimm'd with age,
And dimmer yet with tears, sees thy dishonour.
At the entrance of the principal, or indeed, so to speak, the only
street in Kinross, the damsel, whose steps were pursued by Roland
Graeme, cast a glance behind her, as if to be certain he had not lost
trace of her and then plunged down a very narrow lane which ran
betwixt two rows of poor and ruinous cottages. She paused for a second
at the door of one of those miserable tenements, again cast her eye up
the lane towards Roland, then lifted the latch, opened the door, and
disappeared from his view.
With whatever haste the page followed her example, the difficulty
which he found in discovering the trick of the latch, which did not
work quite in the usual manner, and in pushing open the door, which
did not yield to his first effort, delayed for a minute or two his
entrance into the cottage. A dark and smoky passage led, as usual,
betwixt the exterior wall of the house, and the _hallan_, or clay
wall, which served as a partition betwixt it and the interior. At the
end of this passage, and through the partition, was a door leading
into the _ben_, or inner chamber of the cottage, and when Roland
Graeme's hand was upon the latch of this door, a female voice
pronounced, "_Benedictus qui veniat in nomine Domini, damnandus qui
in nomine inimici._" On entering the apartment, he perceived the
figure which the chamberlain had pointed out to him as Mother
Nicneven, seated beside the lowly hearth. But there was no other
person in the room. Roland Graeme gazed around in surprise at the
disappearance of Catherine Seyton, without paying much regard to the
supposed sorceress, until she attracted and riveted his regard by the
tone in which she asked him--"What seekest thou here?"
"I seek," said the page, with much embarrassment; "I seek--"
But his answer was cut short, when the old woman, drawing her huge
gray eyebrows sternly together, with a frown which knitted her brow
into a thousand wrinkles, arose, and erecting herself up to her full
natural size, tore the kerchief from her head, and seizing Roland by
the arm, made two strides across the floor of the apartment to a small
window through which the light fell full on her face, and showed the
astonished youth the countenance of Magdalen Graeme.--"Yes, Roland,"
she said, "thine eyes deceive thee not; they show thee truly the
features of her whom thou hast thyself deceived, whose wine thou hast
turned into gall, her bread of joyfulness into bitter poison, her hope
into the blackest despair--it is she who now demands of thee, what
seekest thou here?--She whose heaviest sin towards Heaven hath been,
that she loved thee even better than the weal of the whole church, and
could not without reluctance surrender thee even in the cause of
God--she now asks you, what seekest thou here?"
While she spoke, she kept her broad black eye riveted on the youth's
face, with the expression with which the eagle regards his prey ere he
tears it to pieces. Roland felt himself at the moment incapable either
of reply or evasion. This extraordinary enthusiast had preserved over
him in some measure the ascendency which she had acquired during his
childhood; and, besides, he knew the violence of her passions and her
impatience of contradiction, and was sensible that almost any reply
which he could make, was likely to throw her into an ecstasy of rage.
He was therefore silent; and Magdalen Graeme proceeded with increasing
enthusiasm in her apostrophe--"Once more, what seek'st thou, false
boy?--seek'st thou the honour thou hast renounced, the faith thou hast
abandoned, the hopes thou hast destroyed?--Or didst thou seek me, the
sole protectress of thy youth, the only parent whom thou hast known,
that thou mayest trample on my gray hairs, even as thou hast already
trampled on the best wishes of my heart?"
"Pardon me, mother," said Roland Graeme; "but, in truth and reason, I
deserve not your blame. I have been treated amongst you--even by
yourself, my revered parent, as well as by others--as one who lacked
the common attributes of free-will and human reason, or was at least
deemed unfit to exercise them. A land of enchantment have I been led
into, and spells have been cast around me--every one has met me in
disguise--every one has spoken to me in parables--I have been like one
who walks in a weary and bewildering dream; and now you blame me that
I have not the sense, and judgment, and steadiness of a waking, and a
disenchanted, and a reasonable man, who knows what he is doing, and
wherefore he does it. If one must walk with masks and spectres, who
waft themselves from place to place as it were in vision rather than
reality, it might shake the soundest faith and turn the wisest head. I
sought, since I must needs avow my folly, the same Catherine Seyton
with whom you made me first acquainted, and whom I most strangely find
in this village of Kinross, gayest among the revellers, when I had but
just left her in the well-guarded castle of Lochleven, the sad
attendant of an imprisoned Queen-I sought her, and in her place I find
you, my mother, more strangely disguised than even she is."
"And what hadst thou to do with Catherine Seyton?" said the matron,
sternly; "is this a time or a world to follow maidens, or to dance
around a Maypole? When the trumpet summons every true-hearted Scotsman
around the standard of the true sovereign, shalt thou be found
loitering in a lady's bower?"
"No, by Heaven, nor imprisoned in the rugged walls of an island
castle!" answered Roland Graeme: "I would the blast were to sound even
now, for I fear that nothing less loud will dispel the chimerical
visions by which I am surrounded."
"Doubt not that it will be winded," said the matron, "and that so
fearfully loud, that Scotland will never hear the like until the last
and loudest blast of all shall announce to mountain and to valley that
time is no more. Meanwhile, be thou but brave and constant--Serve God
and honour thy sovereign--Abide by thy religion--I cannot--I will
not--I dare not ask thee the truth of the terrible surmises I have
heard touching thy falling away--perfect not that accursed
sacrifice--and yet, even at this late hour, thou mayest be what I have
hoped for the son of my dearest hope--what say I? the son of _my_
hope--thou shalt be the hope of Scotland, her boast and her
honour!--Even thy wildest and most foolish wishes may perchance be
fulfilled--I might blush to mingle meaner motives with the noble
guerdon I hold out to thee--It shames me, being such as I am, to
mention the idle passions of youth, save with contempt and the purpose
of censure. But we must bribe children to wholesome medicine by the
offer of cates, and youth to honourable achievement with the promise
of pleasure. Mark me, therefore, Roland. The love of Catherine Seyton
will follow him only who shall achieve the freedom of her mistress;
and believe, it may be one day in thine own power to be that happy
lover. Cast, therefore, away doubt and fear, and prepare to do what
religion calls for, what thy country demands of thee, what thy duty as
a subject and as a servant alike require at your hand; and be assured,
even the idlest or wildest wishes of thy heart will be most readily
attained by following the call of thy duty."
As she ceased speaking, a double knock was heard against the inner
door. The matron hastily adjusting her muffler, and resuming her chair
by the hearth, demanded who was there.
"_Salve in nomine sancto_," was answered from without.
"_Salvete et vos_," answered Magdalen Graeme.
And a man entered in the ordinary dress of a nobleman's retainer,
wearing at his girdle a sword and buckler--"I sought you," said he,
"my mother, and him whom I see with you." Then addressing himself to
Roland Graeme, he said to him, "Hast thou not a packet from George
"I have," said the page, suddenly recollecting that which had been
committed to his charge in the morning, "but I may not deliver it to
any one without some token that they have a right to ask it."
"You say well," replied the serving-man, and whispered into his ear,
"The packet which I ask is the report to his father--will this token
"It will," replied the page, and taking the packet from his bosom,
gave it to the man.
"I will return presently," said the serving-man, and left the cottage.
Roland had now sufficiently recovered his surprise to accost his
relative in turn, and request to know the reason why he found her in
so precarious a disguise, and a place so dangerous--"You cannot be
ignorant," he said, "of the hatred that the Lady of Lochleven bears to
those of your--that is of our religion--your present disguise lays you
open to suspicion of a different kind, but inferring no less hazard;
and whether as a Catholic, or as a sorceress, or as a friend to the
unfortunate Queen, you are in equal danger, if apprehended within the
bounds of the Douglas; and in the chamberlain who administers their
authority, you have, for his own reasons, an enemy, and a bitter one."
"I know it," said the matron, her eyes kindling with triumph; "I know
that, vain of his school-craft, and carnal wisdom, Luke Lundin views
with jealousy and hatred the blessings which the saints have conferred
on my prayers, and on the holy relics, before the touch, nay, before
the bare presence of which, disease and death have so often been known
to retreat.--I know he would rend and tear me; but there is a chain
and a muzzle on the ban dog that shall restrain his fury, and the
Master's servant shall not be offended by him until the Master's work
is wrought. When that hour comes, let the shadows of the evening
descend on me in thunder and in tempest; the time shall be welcome
that relieves my eyes from seeing guilt, and my ears from listening to
blasphemy. Do thou but be constant--play thy part as I have played and
will play mine, and my release shall be like that of a blessed martyr
whose ascent to heaven angels hail with psalm and song, while earth
pursues him with hiss and with execration."
As she concluded, the serving-man again entered the cottage, and said,
"All is well! the time holds for to-morrow night."
"What time? what holds?" exclaimed Roland Graeme; "I trust I have
given the Douglas's packet to no wrong--"
"Content yourself, young man," answered the serving-man; "thou hast
my word and token."
"I know not if the token be right," said the page; "and I care not
much for the word of a stranger."
"What," said the matron, "although thou mayest have given a packet
delivered to thy charge by one of the Queen's rebels into the hand of
a loyal subject--there were no great mistake in that, thou hot-brained
"By Saint Andrew, there were foul mistake, though," answered the page;
"it is the very spirit of my duty, in this first stage of chivalry, to
be faithful to my trust; and had the devil given me a message to
discharge, I would not (so I had plighted my faith to the contrary)
betray his counsel to an angel of light."
"Now, by the love I once bore thee," said the matron, "I could slay
thee with mine own hand, when I hear thee talk of a dearer faith being
due to rebels and heretics, than thou owest to thy church and thy
"Be patient, my good sister," said the serving-man; "I will give him
such reasons as shall counterbalance the scruples which beset
him---the spirit is honourable, though now it may be mistimed and
misplaced.--Follow me, young man."
"Ere I go to call this stranger to a reckoning," said the page to the
matron, "is there nothing I can do for your comfort and safety?"
"Nothing," she replied, "nothing, save what will lead more to thine
own honour;--the saints who have protected me thus far, will lend me
succour as I need it. Tread the path of glory that is before thee, and
only think of me as the creature on earth who will be most delighted
to hear of thy fame.--Follow the stranger--he hath tidings for you
that you little expect."
The stranger remained on the threshold as if waiting for Roland, and
as soon as he saw him put himself in motion, he moved on before at a
quick pace. Diving still deeper down the lane, Roland perceived that
it was now bordered by buildings upon the one side only, and that the
other was fenced by a high old wall, over which some trees extended
their branches. Descending a good way farther, they came to a small
door in the wall. Roland's guide paused, looked around an instant to
see if any one were within sight, then taking a key from his pocket,
opened the door and entered, making a sign to Roland Graeme to follow
him. He did so, and the stranger locked the door carefully on the
inside. During this operation the page had a moment to look around,
and perceived that he was in a small orchard very trimly kept.
The stranger led him through an alley or two, shaded by trees loaded
with summer-fruit, into a pleached arbour, where, taking the turf-seat
which was on the one side, he motioned to Roland to occupy that which
was opposite to him, and, after a momentary silence, opened the
conversation as follows: "You have asked a better warrant than the
word of a mere stranger, to satisfy you that I have the authority of
George of Douglas for possessing myself of the packet intrusted to
"It is precisely the point on which I demand reckoning of you," said
Roland. "I fear I have acted hastily; if so, I must redeem my error as
I best may."
"You hold me then as a perfect stranger?" said the man. "Look at my
face more attentively, and see if the features do not resemble those
of a man much known to you formerly."
Roland gazed attentively; but the ideas recalled to his mind were so
inconsistent with the mean and servile dress of the person before him,
that he did not venture to express the opinion which he was
irresistibly induced to form.
"Yes, my son," said the stranger, observing his embarrassment, "you do
indeed see before you the unfortunate Father Ambrosius, who once
accounted his ministry crowned in your preservation from the snares of
heresy, but who is now condemned to lament thee as a castaway!"
Roland Graeme's kindness of heart was at least equal to his vivacity
of temper--he could not bear to see his ancient and honoured master
and spiritual guide in a situation which inferred a change of fortune
so melancholy, but throwing himself at his feet, grasped his knees and
"What mean these tears, my son?" said the Abbot; "if they are shed for
your own sins and follies, surely they are gracious showers, and may
avail thee much--but weep not, if they fall on my account. You indeed
see the Superior of the community of Saint Mary's in the dress of a
poor sworder, who gives his master the use of his blade and buckler,
and, if needful, of his life, for a coarse livery coat and four marks
by the year. But such a garb suits the time, and, in the period of
the church militant, as well becomes her prelates, as staff, mitre,
and crosier, in the days of the church's triumph."
"By what fate," said the page--"and yet why," added he, checking
himself, "need I ask? Catherine Seyton in some sort prepared me for
this. But that the change should be so absolute--the destruction so
"Yes, my son," said the Abbot Ambrosius, "thine own eyes beheld, in my
unworthy elevation to the Abbot's stall, the last especial act of holy
solemnity which shall be seen in the church of Saint Mary's, until it
shall please Heaven to turn back the captivity of the church. For the
present, the shepherd is smitten--ay, well-nigh to the earth--the
flock are scattered, and the shrines of saints and martyrs, and pious
benefactors to the church, are given to the owls of night, and the
satyrs of the desert."
"And your brother, the Knight of Avenel--could he do nothing for your
"He himself hath fallen under the suspicion of the ruling powers,"
said the Abbot, "who are as unjust to their friends as they are cruel
to their enemies. I could not grieve at it, did I hope it might
estrange him from his cause; but I know the soul of Halbert, and I
rather fear it will drive him to prove his fidelity to their unhappy
cause, by some deed which may be yet more destructive to the church,
and more offensive to Heaven. Enough of this; and now to the business
of our meeting.--I trust you will hold it sufficient if I pass my word
to you that the packet of which you were lately the bearer, was
designed for my hands by George of Douglas?"
"Then," said the page, "is George of Douglas----"
"A true friend to his Queen, Roland; and will soon, I trust, have his
eyes opened to the errors of his (miscalled) church."
"But what is he to his father, and what to the Lady of Lochleven, who
has been as a mother to him?" said the page impatiently.
"The best friend to both, in time and through eternity," said the
Abbot, "if he shall prove the happy instrument for redeeming the evil
they have wrought, and are still working."
"Still," said the page, "I like not that good service which begins in
breach of trust."
"I blame not thy scruples, my son," said the Abbot; "but the time
which has wrenched asunder the allegiance of Christians to the church,
and of subjects to their king, has dissolved all the lesser bonds of
society; and, in such days, mere human ties must no more restrain our
progress, than the brambles and briers which catch hold of his
garments, should delay the path of a pilgrim who travels to pay his
"But, my father,"--said the youth, and then stopt short in a
"Speak on, my son," said the Abbot; "speak without fear."
"Let me not offend you then," said Roland, "when I say, that it is
even this which our adversaries charge against us; when they say that,
shaping the means according to the end, we are willing to commit great
moral evil in order that we may work out eventual good."
"The heretics have played their usual arts on you, my son," said the
Abbot; "they would willingly deprive us of the power of acting wisely
and secretly, though their possession of superior force forbids our
contending with them on terms of equality. They have reduced us to a
state of exhausted weakness, and now would fain proscribe the means by
which weakness, through all the range of nature, supplies the lack of
strength and defends itself against its potent enemies. As well might
the hound say to the hare, use not these wily turns to escape me, but
contend with me in pitched battle, as the armed and powerful heretic
demand of the down-trodden and oppressed Catholic to lay aside the
wisdom of the serpent, by which alone they may again hope to raise up
the Jerusalem over which they weep, and which it is their duty to
rebuild--But more of this hereafter. And now, my son, I command thee
on thy faith to tell me truly and particularly what has chanced to
thee since we parted, and what is the present state of thy conscience.
Thy relation, our sister Magdalen, is a woman of excellent gifts,
blessed with a zeal which neither doubt nor danger can quench; but yet
it is not a zeal altogether according to knowledge; wherefore, my son,
I would willingly be myself thy interrogator, and thy counsellor, in
these days of darkness and stratagem."
With the respect which he owed to his first instructor, Roland Graeme
went rapidly through the events which the reader is acquainted with;
and while he disguised not from the prelate the impression which had
been made on his mind by the arguments of the preacher Henderson, he
accidentally and almost involuntarily gave his Father Confessor to
understand the influence which Catherine Seyton had acquired over his
"It is with joy I discover, my dearest son," replied the Abbot, "that
I have arrived in time to arrest thee on the verge of the precipice to
which thou wert approaching. These doubts of which you complain, are
the weeds which naturally grow up in a strong soil, and require the
careful hand of the husbandman to eradicate them. Thou must study a
little volume, which I will impart to thee in fitting time, in which,
by Our Lady's grace, I have placed in somewhat a clearer light than
heretofore, the points debated betwixt us and these heretics, who sow
among the wheat the same tares which were formerly privily mingled
with the good seed by the Albigenses and the Lollards. But it is not
by reason alone that you must hope to conquer these insinuations of
the enemy: It is sometimes by timely resistance, but oftener by timely
flight. You must shut your ears against the arguments of the
heresiarch, when circumstances permit you not to withdraw the foot
from his company. Anchor your thoughts upon the service of Our Lady,
while he is expending in vain his heretical sophistry. Are you unable
to maintain your attention on heavenly objects--think rather on thine
own earthly pleasures, than tempt Providence and the Saints by giving
an attentive ear to the erring doctrine--think of thy hawk, thy hound,
thine angling rod, thy sword and buckler--think even of Catherine
Seyton, rather than give thy soul to the lessons of the tempter. Alas!
my son, believe not that, worn out with woes, and bent more by
affliction than by years, I have forgotten the effect of beauty over
the heart of youth. Even in the watches of the night, broken by
thoughts of an imprisoned Queen, a distracted kingdom, a church laid
waste and ruinous, come other thoughts than these suggest, and
feelings which belonged to an earlier and happier course of life. Be
it so--we must bear our load as we may: and not in vain are these
passions implanted in our breast, since, as now in thy case, they may
come in aid of resolutions founded upon higher grounds. Yet beware, my
son--this Catherine Seyton is the daughter of one of Scotland's
proudest, as well as most worthy barons; and thy state may not suffer
thee, as yet, to aspire so high. But thus it is--Heaven works its
purposes through human folly; and Douglas's ambitious affection, as
well as thine, shall contribute alike to the desired end."
"How, my father," said the page, "my suspicions are then
"He does; and with a love as much misplaced as thine own; but beware
of him--cross him not--thwart him not."
"Let him not cross or thwart me," said the page; "for I will not yield
him an inch of way, had he in his body the soul of every Douglas that
has lived since the time of the Dark Gray Man." [Footnote: By an
ancient, though improbable tradition, the Douglasses are said to have
derived their name from a champion who had greatly distinguished
himself in an action. When the king demanded by whom the battle had
been won, the attendants are said to have answered, "Sholto Douglas,
sir;" which is said to mean, "Yonder dark gray man." But the name is
undoubtedly territorial, and taken from Douglas river and vale.]
"Nay, have patience, idle boy, and reflect that your suit can never
interfere with his.--But a truce with these vanities, and let us
better employ the little space which still remains to us to spend
together. To thy knees, my son, and resume the long-interrupted duty
of confession, that, happen what may, the hour may find in thee a
faithful Catholic, relieved from the guilt of his sins by authority of
the Holy Church. Could I but tell thee, Roland, the joy with which I
see thee once more put thy knee to its best and fittest use! _Quid
dicis, mi fili?_"
"_Culpas meas_" answered the youth; and according to the ritual
of the Catholic Church, he confessed and received absolution, to which
was annexed the condition of performing certain enjoined penances.
When this religious ceremony was ended, an old man, in the dress of a
peasant of the better order, approached the arbour, and greeted the
Abbot.--"I have waited the conclusion of your devotions," he said, "to
tell you the youth is sought after by the chamberlain, and it were
well he should appear without delay. Holy Saint Francis, if the
halberdiers were to seek him here, they might sorely wrong my
garden-plot--they are in office, and reck not where they tread, were
each step on jessamine and clovegilly-flowers."
"We will speed him forth, my brother," said the Abbot; "but alas! is
it possible that such trifles should live in your mind at a crisis so
awful as that which is now impending?"
"Reverend father," answered the proprietor of the garden, for such he
was, "how oft shall I pray you to keep your high counsel for high
minds like your own? What have you required of me, that I have not
granted unresistingly, though with an aching heart?"
"I would require of you to be yourself, my brother," said the Abbot
Ambrosius; "to remember what you were, and to what your early vows
have bound you."
"I tell thee, Father Ambrosius," replied the gardener, "the patience
of the best saint that ever said pater-noster, would be exhausted by
the trials to which you have put mine--What I have been, it skills not
to speak at present-no one knows better than yourself, father, what I
renounced, in hopes to find ease and quiet during the remainder of my
days--and no one better knows how my retreat has been invaded, my
fruit-trees broken, my flower-beds trodden down, my quiet frightened
away, and my very sleep driven from my bed, since ever this poor
Queen, God bless her, hath been sent to Lochleven.--I blame her not;
being a prisoner, it is natural she should wish to get out from so
vile a hold, where there is scarcely any place even for a tolerable
garden, and where the water-mists, as I am told, blight all the early
blossoms--I say, I cannot blame her for endeavouring for her freedom;
but why I should be drawn into the scheme--why my harmless arbours,
that I planted with my own hands, should become places of privy
conspiracy-why my little quay, which I built for my own fishing boat,
should have become a haven for secret embarkations--in short, why I
should be dragged into matters where both heading and hanging are like
to be the issue, I profess to you, reverend father, I am totally
"My brother," answered the Abbot, "you are wise, and ought to
"I am not--I am not--I am not wise," replied the horticulturist,
pettishly, and stopping his ears with his fingers--"I was never called
wise but when men wanted to engage me in some action of notorious
"But, my good brother," said the Abbot--
"I am not good neither," said the peevish gardener; "I am neither good
nor wise--Had I been wise, you would not have been admitted here; and
were I good, methinks I should send you elsewhere to hatch plots for
destroying the quiet of the country. What signifies disputing about
queen or king,--when men may sit at peace--_sub umbra vitis sui?_
and so would I do, after the precept of Holy Writ, were I, as you term
me, wise or good. But such as I am, my neck is in the yoke, and you
make me draw what weight you list.--Follow me, youngster. This
reverend father, who makes in his jackman's dress nearly as reverend a
figure as I myself, will agree with me in one thing at least, and that
is, that you have been long enough here."
"Follow the good father, Roland," said the Abbot, "and remember my
words--a day is approaching that will try the temper of all true
Scotsmen--may thy heart prove faithful as the steel of thy blade!"
The page bowed in silence, and they parted; the gardener,
notwithstanding his advanced age, walking on before him very briskly,
and muttering as he went, partly to himself, partly to his companion,
after the manner of old men of weakened intellects--"When I was
great," thus ran his maundering, "and had my mule and my ambling
palfrey at command, I warrant you I could have as well flown through
the air as have walked at this pace. I had my gout and my rheumatics,
and an hundred things besides, that hung fetters on my heels; and,
now, thanks to Our Lady, and honest labour, I can walk with any good
man of my age in the kingdom of Fife--Fy upon it, that experience
should be so long in coming!"
As he was thus muttering, his eye fell upon the branch of a pear-tree
which drooped down for want of support, and at once forgetting his
haste, the old man stopped and set seriously about binding it up.
Roland Graeme had both readiness, neatness of hand, and good nature in
abundance; he immediately lent his aid, and in a minute or two the
bough was supported, and tied up in a way perfectly satisfactory to
the old man, who looked at it with great complaisance. "They are
bergamots," he said, "and if you will come ashore in autumn, you shall
taste of them--the like are not in Lochleven Castle--the garden there
is a poor pin-fold, and the gardener, Hugh Houkham, hath little skill
of his craft--so come ashore, Master Page, in autumn, when you would
eat pears. But what am I thinking of--ere that time come, they may
have given thee sour pears for plums. Take an old man's advice, youth,
one who hath seen many days, and sat in higher places than thou canst
hope for--bend thy sword into a pruning-hook, and make a dibble of thy
dagger--thy days shall be the longer, and thy health the better for
it,--and come to aid me in my garden, and I will teach thee the real
French fashion of _imping_, which the Southron call graffing. Do
this, and do it without loss of time, for there is a whirlwind coming
over the land, and only those shall escape who lie too much beneath
the storm to have their boughs broken by it."
So saying, he dismissed Roland Graeme, through a different door from
that by which he had entered, signed a cross, and pronounced a
benedicite as they parted, and then, still muttering to himself,
retired into the garden, and locked the door on the inside.
Chapter the Twenty-Ninth.
Pray God she prove not masculine ere long!
KING HENRY VI.
Dismissed from the old man's garden, Roland Graeme found that a grassy
paddock, in which sauntered two cows, the property of the gardener,
still separated him from the village. He paced through it, lost in
meditation upon the words of the Abbot. Father Ambrosius had, with
success enough, exerted over him that powerful influence which the
guardians and instructors of our childhood possess over our more
mature youth. And yet, when Roland looked back upon what the father
had said, he could not but suspect that he had rather sought to evade
entering into the controversy betwixt the churches, than to repel the
objections and satisfy the doubts which the lectures of Henderson had
excited. "For this he had no time," said the page to himself, "neither
have I now calmness and learning sufficient to judge upon points of
such magnitude. Besides, it were base to quit my faith while the wind
of fortune sets against it, unless I were so placed, that my
conversion, should it take place, were free as light from the
imputation of self-interest. I was bred a Catholic--bred in the faith
of Bruce and Wallace--I will hold that faith till time and reason
shall convince me that it errs. I will serve this poor Queen as a
subject should serve an imprisoned and wronged sovereign--they who
placed me in her service have to blame themselves--who sent me hither,
a gentleman trained in the paths of loyalty and honour, when they
should have sought out some truckling, cogging, double-dealing knave,
who would have been at once the observant page of the Queen, and the
obsequious spy of her enemies. Since I must choose betwixt aiding and
betraying her, I will decide as becomes her servant and her subject;
but Catherine Seyton--Catherine Seyton, beloved by Douglas and holding
me on or off as the intervals of her leisure or caprice will
permit--how shall I deal with the coquette?--By heaven, when I next
have an opportunity, she shall render me some reason for her conduct,
or I will break with her for ever!"
As he formed this doughty resolution, he crossed the stile which led
out of the little enclosure, and was almost immediately greeted by Dr.
"Ha! my most excellent young friend," said the Doctor, "from whence
come you?--but I note the place.--Yes, neighbour Blinkhoolie's garden
is a pleasant rendezvous, and you are of the age when lads look after
a bonny lass with one eye, and a dainty plum with another. But hey!
you look subtriste and melancholic--I fear the maiden has proved
cruel, or the plums unripe; and surely I think neighbour Blinkhoolie's
damsons can scarcely have been well preserved throughout the
winter--he spares the saccharine juice on his confects. But courage,