Part 1 out of 7
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THE HEART OF MID-LOTHIAN
By Walter Scott
TALES OF MY LANDLORD
COLLECTED AND ARRANGED
BY JEDEDIAH CLEISHBOTHAM,
SCHOOLMASTER AND PARISH CLERK OF GANDERCLEUGH.
THE HEART OF MID-LOTHIAN.
Isab.--Alas! what poor ability's in me
To do him good?
Lucio.--Assay the power you have.
Measure for Measure.
When Mrs. Saddletree entered the apartment in which her guests had
shrouded their misery, she found the window darkened. The feebleness
which followed his long swoon had rendered it necessary to lay the old
man in bed. The curtains were drawn around him, and Jeanie sate
motionless by the side of the bed. Mrs. Saddletree was a woman of
kindness, nay, of feeling, but not of delicacy. She opened the half-shut
window, drew aside the curtain, and, taking her kinsman by the hand,
exhorted him to sit up, and bear his sorrow like a good man, and a
Christian man, as he was. But when she quitted his hand, it fell
powerless by his side, nor did he attempt the least reply.
"Is all over?" asked Jeanie, with lips and cheeks as pale as ashes,--"and
is there nae hope for her?"
"Nane, or next to nane," said Mrs. Saddletree; "I heard the Judge-carle
say it with my ain ears--It was a burning shame to see sae mony o' them
set up yonder in their red gowns and black gowns, and to take the life o'
a bit senseless lassie. I had never muckle broo o' my gudeman's gossips,
and now I like them waur than ever. The only wiselike thing I heard
onybody say, was decent Mr. John Kirk of Kirk-knowe, and he wussed them
just to get the king's mercy, and nae mair about it. But he spake to
unreasonable folk--he might just hae keepit his breath to hae blawn on
"But /can/ the king gie her mercy?" said Jeanie, earnestly. "Some folk
tell me he canna gie mercy in cases of mur in cases like hers."
"/Can/ he gie mercy, hinny?--I weel I wot he can, when he likes. There
was young Singlesword, that stickit the Laird of Ballencleuch, and
Captain Hackum, the Englishman, that killed Lady Colgrain's gudeman, and
the Master of Saint Clair, that shot the twa Shaws,* and mony mair in my
time--to be sure they were gentle blood, and had their, kin to speak for
them--And there was Jock Porteous the other day--I'se warrant there's
mercy, an folk could win at it."
* [In 1828, the Author presented to the Roxburgh Club a curious volume
containing the "Proceedings in the Court-Martial held upon John, Master
of Sinclair, for the murder of Ensign Schaw, and Captain Schaw, 17th
"Porteous?" said Jeanie; "very true--I forget a' that I suld maist mind.
--Fare ye weel, Mrs. Saddletree; and may ye never want a friend in the
hour of distress!"
"Will ye no stay wi' your father, Jeanie, bairn?--Ye had better," said
"I will be wanted ower yonder," indicating the Tolbooth with her hand,
"and I maun leave him now, or I will never be able to leave him. I fearna
for his life--I ken how strong-hearted he is--I ken it," she said, laying
her hand on her bosom, "by my ain heart at this minute."
"Weel, hinny, if ye think it's for the best, better he stay here and rest
him, than gang back to St. Leonard's."
"Muckle better--muckle better--God bless you!--God bless you!--At no rate
let him gang till ye hear frae me," said Jeanie.
"But ye'll be back belive?" said Mrs. Saddletree, detaining her; "they
winna let ye stay yonder, hinny."
"But I maun gang to St. Leonard's--there's muckle to be dune, and little
time to do it in--And I have friends to speak to--God bless you--take
care of my father."
She had reached the door of the apartment, when, suddenly turning, she
came back, and knelt down by the bedside.--"O father, gie me your
blessing--I dare not go till ye bless me. Say but 'God bless ye, and
prosper ye, Jeanie'--try but to say that!"
Instinctively, rather than by an exertion of intellect, the old man
murmured a prayer, that "purchased and promised blessings might be
multiplied upon her."
"He has blessed mine errand," said his daughter, rising from her knees,
"and it is borne in upon my mind that I shall prosper."
So saying, she left the room.
Mrs. Saddletree looked after her, and shook her head. "I wish she binna
roving, poor thing--There's something queer about a' thae Deanses. I
dinna like folk to be sae muckle better than other folk--seldom comes
gude o't. But if she's gaun to look after the kye at St. Leonard's,
that's another story; to be sure they maun be sorted.--Grizzie, come up
here, and tak tent to the honest auld man, and see he wants naething.--Ye
silly tawpie" (addressing the maid-servant as she entered), "what garr'd
ye busk up your cockemony that gate?--I think there's been enough the day
to gie an awfa' warning about your cockups and your fallal duds--see what
they a' come to," etc. etc. etc.
Leaving the good lady to her lecture upon worldly vanities, we must
transport our reader to the cell in which the unfortunate Effie Deans was
now immured, being restricted of several liberties which she had enjoyed
before the sentence was pronounced.
When she had remained about an hour in the state of stupified horror so
natural in her situation, she was disturbed by the opening of the jarring
bolts of her place of confinement, and Ratcliffe showed himself. "It's
your sister," he said, "wants to speak t'ye, Effie."
"I canna see naebody," said Effie, with the hasty irritability which
misery had rendered more acute--"I canna see naebody, and least of a'
her--Bid her take care o' the auld man--I am naething to ony o' them now,
nor them to me."
"She says she maun see ye, though," said Ratcliffe; and Jeanie, rushing
into the apartment, threw her arms round her sister's neck, who writhed
to extricate herself from her embrace.
"What signifies coming to greet ower me," said poor Effie, "when you have
killed me?--killed me, when a word of your mouth would have saved me--
killed me, when I am an innocent creature--innocent of that guilt at
least--and me that wad hae wared body and soul to save your finger from
"You shall not die," said Jeanie, with enthusiastic firmness; "say what
you like o' me--think what you like o' me--only promise--for I doubt your
proud heart--that ye wunna harm yourself, and you shall not die this
"A /shameful/ death I will not die, Jeanie, lass. I have that in my
heart--though it has been ower kind a ane--that wunna bide shame. Gae
hame to our father, and think nae mair on me--I have eat my last earthly
"Oh, this was what I feared!" said Jeanie.
"Hout, tout, hinny," said Ratcliffe; "it's but little ye ken o' thae
things. Ane aye thinks at the first dinnle o' the sentence, they hae
heart eneugh to die rather than bide out the sax weeks; but they aye bide
the sax weeks out for a' that. I ken the gate o't weel; I hae fronted the
doomster three times, and here I stand, Jim Ratcliffe, for a' that. Had I
tied my napkin strait the first time, as I had a great mind till't--and
it was a' about a bit grey cowt, wasna worth ten punds sterling--where
would I have been now?"
"And how /did/ you escape?" said Jeanie, the fates of this man, at first
so odious to her, having acquired a sudden interest in her eyes from
their correspondence with those of her sister.
"/How/ did I escape?" said Ratcliffe, with a knowing wink,--"I tell ye I
'scapit in a way that naebody will escape from this Tolbooth while I keep
"My sister shall come out in the face of the sun," said Jeanie; "I will
go to London, and beg her pardon from the king and queen. If they
pardoned Porteous, they may pardon her; if a sister asks a sister's life
on her bended knees, they will pardon her--they /shall/ pardon her--and
they will win a thousand hearts by it."
Effie listened in bewildered astonishment, and so earnest was her
sister's enthusiastic assurance, that she almost involuntarily caught a
gleam of hope; but it instantly faded away.
"Ah, Jeanie! the king and queen live in London, a thousand miles from
this--far ayont the saut sea; I'll be gane before ye win there."
"You are mistaen," said Jeanie; "it is no sae far, and they go to it by
land; I learned something about thae things from Reuben Butler."
"Ah, Jeanie! ye never learned onything but what was gude frae the folk ye
keepit company wi'; but!--but!"--she wrung her hands and wept bitterly.
"Dinna think on that now," said Jeanie; "there will be time for that if
the present space be redeemed. Fare ye weel. Unless I die by the road, I
will see the king's face that gies grace--O, sir" (to Ratcliffe), "be
kind to her--She ne'er ken'd what it was to need a stranger's kindness
till now.--Fareweel--fareweel, Effie!--Dinna speak to me--I maunna greet
now--my head's ower dizzy already!"
She tore herself from her sister's arms, and left the cell. Ratcliffe
followed her, and beckoned her into a small room. She obeyed his signal,
but not without trembling.
"What's the fule thing shaking for?" said he; "I mean nothing but
civility to you. D--n me, I respect you, and I can't help it. You have so
much spunk, that d--n me, but I think there's some chance of your
carrying the day. But you must not go to the king till you have made some
friend; try the duke--try MacCallummore; he's Scotland's friend--I ken
that the great folks dinna muckle like him--but they fear him, and that
will serve your purpose as weel. D'ye ken naebody wad gie ye a letter to
"Duke of Argyle!" said Jeanie, recollecting herself suddenly, "what was
he to that Argyle that suffered in my father's time--in the persecution?"
"His son or grandson, I'm thinking," said Ratcliffe, "but what o' that?"
"Thank God!" said Jeanie, devoutly clasping her hands.
"You whigs are aye thanking God for something," said the ruffian. "But
hark ye, hinny, I'll tell ye a secret. Ye may meet wi' rough customers on
the Border, or in the Midland, afore ye get to Lunnon. Now, deil ane o'
them will touch an acquaintance o' Daddie Ratton's; for though I am
retired frae public practice, yet they ken I can do a gude or an ill turn
yet--and deil a gude fellow that has been but a twelvemonth on the lay,
be he ruffler or padder, but he knows my gybe* as well as the jark** of
e'er a queer cuffin*** in England--and there's rogue's Latin for you."
*** Justice of Peace.
It was indeed totally unintelligible to Jeanie Deans, who was only
impatient to escape from him. He hastily scrawled a line or two on a
dirty piece of paper, and said to her, as she drew back when he offered
it, "Hey!--what the deil--it wunna bite you, my lass--if it does nae
gude, it can do nae ill. But I wish you to show it, if you have ony
fasherie wi' ony o' St. Nicholas's clerks."
"Alas!" said she, "I do not understand what you mean."
"I mean, if ye fall among thieves, my precious,--that is a Scripture
phrase, if ye will hae ane--the bauldest of them will ken a scart o' my
guse feather. And now awa wi' ye--and stick to Argyle; if onybody can do
the job, it maun be him."
After casting an anxious look at the grated windows and blackened walls
of the old Tolbooth, and another scarce less anxious at the hospitable
lodging of Mrs. Saddletree, Jeanie turned her back on that quarter, and
soon after on the city itself. She reached St. Leonard's Crags without
meeting any one whom she knew, which, in the state of her mind, she
considered as a great blessing. "I must do naething," she thought, as she
went along, "that can soften or weaken my heart--it's ower weak already
for what I hae to do. I will think and act as firmly as I can, and speak
There was an ancient servant, or rather cottar, of her father's, who had
lived under him for many years, and whose fidelity was worthy of full
confidence. She sent for this woman, and explaining to her that the
circumstances of her family required that she should undertake a journey,
which would detain her for some weeks from home, she gave her full
instructions concerning the management of the domestic concerns in her
absence. With a precision, which, upon reflection, she herself could not
help wondering at, she described and detailed the most minute steps which
were to be taken, and especially such as were necessary for her father's
comfort. "It was probable," she said, "that he would return to St.
Leonard's to-morrow! certain that he would return very soon--all must be
in order for him. He had eneugh to distress him, without being fashed
about warldly matters."
In the meanwhile she toiled busily, along with May Hettly, to leave
It was deep in the night when all these matters were settled; and when
they had partaken of some food, the first which Jeanie had tasted on that
eventful day, May Hettly, whose usual residence was a cottage at a little
distance from Deans's house, asked her young mistress, whether she would
not permit her to remain in the house all night? "Ye hae had an awfu'
day," she said, "and sorrow and fear are but bad companions in the
watches of the night, as I hae heard the gudeman say himself."
"They are ill companions indeed," said Jeanie; "but I maun learn to abide
their presence, and better begin in the house than in the field."
She dismissed her aged assistant accordingly,--for so slight was the
gradation in their rank of life, that we can hardly term May a servant,--
and proceeded to make a few preparations for her journey.
The simplicity of her education and country made these preparations very
brief and easy. Her tartan screen served all the purposes of a
riding-habit and of an umbrella; a small bundle contained such changes of
linen as were absolutely necessary. Barefooted, as Sancho says, she had
come into the world, and barefooted she proposed to perform her
pilgrimage; and her clean shoes and change of snow-white thread stockings
were to be reserved for special occasions of ceremony. She was not aware,
that the English habits of comfort attach an idea of abject misery to the
idea of a barefooted traveller; and if the objection of cleanliness had
been made to the practice, she would have been apt to vindicate herself
upon the very frequent ablutions to which, with Mahometan scrupulosity, a
Scottish damsel of some condition usually subjects herself. Thus far,
therefore, all was well.
From an oaken press, or cabinet, in which her father kept a few old
books, and two or three bundles of papers, besides his ordinary accounts
and receipts, she sought out and extracted from a parcel of notes of
sermons, calculations of interest, records of dying speeches of the
martyrs, and the like, one or two documents which she thought might be of
some use to her upon her mission. But the most important difficulty
remained behind, and it had not occurred to her until that very evening.
It was the want of money; without which it was impossible she could
undertake so distant a journey as she now meditated.
David Deans, as we have said, was easy, and even opulent in his
circumstances. But his wealth, like that of the patriarchs of old,
consisted in his kine and herds, and in two or three sums lent out at
interest to neighbours or relatives, who, far from being in circumstances
to pay anything to account of the principal sums, thought they did all
that was incumbent on them when, with considerable difficulty, they
discharged the "annual rent." To these debtors it would be in vain,
therefore, to apply, even with her father's concurrence; nor could she
hope to obtain such concurrence, or assistance in any mode, without such
a series of explanations and debates as she felt might deprive her
totally of the power of taking the step, which, however daring and
hazardous, she felt was absolutely necessary for trying the last chance
in favour of her sister. Without departing from filial reverence, Jeanie
had an inward conviction that the feelings of her father, however just,
and upright, and honourable, were too little in unison with the spirit of
the time to admit of his being a good judge of the measures to be adopted
in this crisis. Herself more flexible in manner, though no less upright
in principle, she felt that to ask his consent to her pilgrimage would be
to encounter the risk of drawing down his positive prohibition, and under
that she believed her journey could not be blessed in its progress and
event. Accordingly, she had determined upon the means by which she might
communicate to him her undertaking and its purpose, shortly after her
actual departure. But it was impossible to apply to him for money without
altering this arrangement, and discussing fully the propriety of her
journey; pecuniary assistance from that quarter, therefore, was laid out
of the question.
It now occurred to Jeanie that she should have consulted with Mrs.
Saddletree on this subject. But, besides the time that must now
necessarily be lost in recurring to her assistance Jeanie internally
revolted from it. Her heart acknowledged the goodness of Mrs.
Saddletree's general character, and the kind interest she took in their
family misfortunes; but still she felt that Mrs. Saddletree was a woman
of an ordinary and worldly way of thinking, incapable, from habit and
temperament, of taking a keen or enthusiastic view of such a resolution
as she had formed; and to debate the point with her, and to rely upon her
conviction of its propriety, for the means of carrying it into execution,
would have been gall and wormwood.
Butler, whose assistance she might have been assured of, was greatly
poorer than herself. In these circumstances, she formed a singular
resolution for the purpose of surmounting this difficulty, the execution
of which will form the subject of the next chapter.
'Tis the voice of the sluggard, I've heard him complain,
"You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again;"
As the door on its hinges, so he on his bed,
Turns his side, and his shoulders, and his heavy head.
The mansion-house of Dumbiedikes, to which we are now to introduce our
readers, lay three or four miles--no matter for the exact topography--to
the southward of St. Leonard's. It had once borne the appearance of some
little celebrity; for the "auld laird," whose humours and pranks were
often mentioned in the ale-houses for about a mile round it, wore a
sword, kept a good horse, and a brace of greyhounds; brawled, swore, and
betted at cock-fights and horse-matches; followed Somerville of Drum's
hawks, and the Lord Ross's hounds, and called himself /point devise/ a
gentleman. But the line had been veiled of its splendour in the present
proprietor, who cared for no rustic amusements, and was as saying, timid,
and retired, as his father had been at once grasping and selfishly
extravagant--daring, wild, and intrusive.
Dumbiedikes was what is called in Scotland a single house; that is,
having only one room occupying its whole depth from back to front, each
of which single apartments was illuminated by six or eight cross lights,
whose diminutive panes and heavy frames permitted scarce so much light to
enter as shines through one well-constructed modern window. This
inartificial edifice, exactly such as a child would build with cards, had
a steep roof flagged with coarse grey stones instead of slates; a
half-circular turret, battlemented, or, to use the appropriate phrase,
bartizan'd on the top, served as a case for a narrow turnpike stair, by
which an ascent was gained from storey to storey; and at the bottom of
the said turret was a door studded with large-headed nails. There was no
lobby at the bottom of the tower, and scarce a landing-place opposite to
the doors which gave access to the apartments. One or two low and
dilapidated outhouses, connected by a courtyard wall equally ruinous,
surrounded the mansion. The court had been paved, but the flags being
partly displaced and partly renewed, a gallant crop of docks and thistles
sprung up between them, and the small garden, which opened by a postern
through the wall, seemed not to be in a much more orderly condition. Over
the low-arched gateway which led into the yard there was a carved stone,
exhibiting some attempt at armorial bearings; and above the inner
entrance hung, and had hung, for many years, the mouldering hatchment,
which announced that umquhile Laurence Dumbie of Dumbiedikes had been
gathered to his fathers in Newbattle kirkyard. The approach to this
palace of pleasure was by a road formed by the rude fragments of stone
gathered from the fields, and it was surrounded by ploughed, but
unenclosed land. Upon a baulk, that is, an unploughed ridge of land
interposed among the corn, the Laird's trusty palfrey was tethered by the
head, and picking a meal of grass. The whole argued neglect and
discomfort; the consequence, however, of idleness and indifference, not
In this inner court, not without a sense of bashfulness and timidity,
stood Jeanie Deans, at an early hour in a fine spring morning. She was no
heroine of romance, and therefore looked with some curiosity and interest
on the mansion-house and domains, of which, it might at that moment occur
to her, a little encouragement, such as women of all ranks know by
instinct how to apply, might have made her mistress. Moreover, she was no
person of taste beyond her time, rank, and country, and certainly thought
the house of Dumbiedikes, though inferior to Holyrood House, or the
palace at Dalkeith, was still a stately structure in its way, and the
land a "very bonny bit, if it were better seen to and done to." But
Jeanie Deans was a plain, true-hearted, honest girl, who, while she
acknowledged all the splendour of her old admirer's habitation, and the
value of his property, never for a moment harboured a thought of doing
the Laird, Butler, or herself, the injustice, which many ladies of higher
rank would not have hesitated to do to all three on much less temptation.
Her present errand being with the Laird, she looked round the offices to
see if she could find any domestic to announce that she wished to see
him. As all was silence, she ventured to open one door--it was the old
Laird's dog-kennel, now deserted, unless when occupied, as one or two
tubs seemed to testify, as a washing-house. She tried another--it was the
rootless shed where the hawks had been once kept, as appeared from a
perch or two not yet completely rotten, and a lure and jesses which were
mouldering on the wall. A third door led to the coal-house, which was
well stocked. To keep a very good fire was one of the few points of
domestic management in which Dumbiedikes was positively active; in all
other matters of domestic economy he was completely passive, and at the
mercy of his housekeeper--the same buxom dame whom his father had long
since bequeathed to his charge, and who, if fame did her no injustice,
had feathered her nest pretty well at his expense.
Jeanie went on opening doors, like the second Calender wanting an eye, in
the castle of the hundred obliging damsels, until, like the said prince
errant, she came to a stable. The Highland Pegasus, Rory Bean, to which
belonged the single entire stall, was her old acquaintance, whom she had
seen grazing on the baulk, as she failed not to recognise by the
well-known ancient riding furniture and demi-pique saddle, which half
hung on the walls, half trailed on the litter. Beyond the "treviss,"
which formed one side of the stall, stood a cow, who turned her head and
lowed when Jeanie came into the stable, an appeal which her habitual
occupations enabled her perfectly to understand, and with which she could
not refuse complying, by shaking down some fodder to the animal, which
had been neglected like most things else in the castle of the sluggard.
While she was accommodating "the milky mother" with the food which she
should have received two hours sooner, a slipshod wench peeped into the
stable, and perceiving that a stranger was employed in discharging the
task which she, at length, and reluctantly, had quitted her slumbers to
"Eh, sirs! the Brownie! the Brownie!" and fled, yelling as if she had
seen the devil.
To explain her terror it may be necessary to notice that the old house of
Dumbiedikes had, according to report, been long haunted by a Brownie, one
of those familiar spirits who were believed in ancient times to supply
the deficiencies of the ordinary labourer--
Whirl the long mop, and ply the airy flail.
Certes, the convenience of such a supernatural assistance could have been
nowhere more sensibly felt than in a family where the domestics were so
little disposed to personal activity; yet this serving maiden was so far
from rejoicing in seeing a supposed aerial substitute discharging a task
which she should have long since performed herself, that she proceeded to
raise the family by her screams of horror, uttered as thick as if the
Brownie had been flaying her. Jeanie, who had immediately resigned her
temporary occupation, and followed the yelling damsel into the courtyard,
in order to undeceive and appease her, was there met by Mrs. Janet
Balchristie, the favourite sultana of the last Laird, as scandal went--
the housekeeper of the present. The good-looking buxom woman, betwixt
forty and fifty (for such we described her at the death of the last
Laird), was now a fat, red-faced, old dame of seventy, or thereabouts,
fond of her place, and jealous of her authority. Conscious that her
administration did not rest on so sure a basis as in the time of the old
proprietor, this considerate lady had introduced into the family the
screamer aforesaid, who added good features and bright eyes to the powers
of her lungs. She made no conquest of the Laird, however, who seemed to
live as if there was not another woman in the world but Jeanie Deans, and
to bear no very ardent or overbearing affection even to her. Mrs. Janet
Balchristie, notwithstanding, had her own uneasy thoughts upon the almost
daily visits to St. Leonard's Crags, and often, when the Laird looked at
her wistfully and paused, according to his custom before utterance, she
expected him to say, "Jenny, I am gaun to change my condition;" but she
was relieved by, "Jenny, I am gaun to change my shoon."
Still, however, Mrs. Balchristie regarded Jeanie Deans with no small
portion of malevolence, the customary feeling of such persons towards
anyone who they think has the means of doing them an injury. But she had
also a general aversion to any female tolerably young, and decently
well-looking, who showed a wish to approach the house of Dumbiedikes and
the proprietor thereof. And as she had raised her mass of mortality out
of bed two hours earlier than usual, to come to the rescue of her
clamorous niece, she was in such extreme bad humour against all and
sundry, that Saddletree would have pronounced that she harboured
/inimicitiam contra omnes mortales./
"Wha the deil are ye?" said the fat dame to poor Jeanie, whom she did not
immediately recognise, "scouping about a decent house at sic an hour in
"It was ane wanting to speak to the Laird," said Jeanie, who felt
something of the intuitive terror which she had formerly entertained for
this termagant, when she was occasionally at Dumbiedikes on business of
"Ane!--And what sort of ane are ye!--hae ye nae name?--D'ye think his
honour has naething else to do than to speak wi' ilka idle tramper that
comes about the town, and him in his bed yet, honest man?"
"Dear Mrs. Balchristie," replied Jeanie, in a submissive tone, "d'ye no
mind me?--d'ye no mind Jeanie Deans?"
"Jeanie Deans!" said the termagant, in accents affecting the utmost
astonishment; then, taking two strides nearer to her, she peered into her
face with a stare of curiosity, equally scornful and malignant--"I say
Jeanie Deans indeed--Jeanie Deevil, they had better hae ca'ed ye!--A
bonny spot o' wark your tittie and you hae made out, murdering ae puir
wean, and your light limmer of a sister's to be hanged for't, as weel she
deserves!--And the like o' you to come to ony honest man's house, and
want to be into a decent bachelor gentleman's room at this time in the
morning, and him in his bed!--Gae wa', gae wa'!"
Jeanie was struck mute with shame at the unfeeling brutality of this
accusation, and could not even find words to justify herself from the
vile construction put upon her visit. When Mrs. Balchristie, seeing her
advantage, continued in the same tone, "Come, come, bundle up your pipes
and tramp awa wi' ye!--ye may be seeking a father to another wean for ony
thing I ken. If it warna that your father, auld David Deans, had been a
tenant on our land, I would cry up the men-folk, and hae ye dookit in the
burn for your impudence."
Jeanie had already turned her back, and was walking towards the door of
the court-yard, so that Mrs. Balchristie, to make her last threat
impressively audible to her, had raised her stentorian voice to its
utmost pitch. But, like many a general, she lost the engagement by
pressing her advantage too far.
The Laird had been disturbed in his morning slumbers by the tones of Mrs.
Balchristie's objurgation, sounds in themselves by no means uncommon, but
very remarkable, in respect to the early hour at which they were now
heard. He turned himself on the other side, however, in hopes the squall
would blow by, when, in the course of Mrs. Balchristie's second explosion
of wrath, the name of Deans distinctly struck the tympanum of his ear. As
he was, in some degree, aware of the small portion of benevolence with
which his housekeeper regarded the family at St. Leonard's, he instantly
conceived that some message from thence was the cause of this untimely
ire, and getting out of his bed, he slipt as speedily as possible into an
old brocaded night-gown, and some other necessary garments, clapped on
his head his father's gold-laced hat (for though he was seldom seen
without it, yet it is proper to contradict the popular report that he
slept in it, as Don Quixote did in his helmet), and opening the window of
his bedroom, beheld, to his great astonishment, the well-known figure of
Jeanie Deans herself retreating from his gate; while his housekeeper,
with arms a-kimbo, fist clenched and extended, body erect, and head
shaking with rage, sent after her a volley of Billingsgate oaths. His
choler rose in proportion to the surprise, and, perhaps, to the
disturbance of his repose. "Hark ye," he exclaimed from the window, "ye
auld limb of Satan--wha the deil gies you commission to guide an honest
man's daughter that gate?"
Mrs. Balchristie was completely caught in the manner. She was aware, from
the unusual warmth with which the Laird expressed himself, that he was
quite serious in this matter, and she knew, that with all his indolence
of nature, there were points on which he might be provoked, and that,
being provoked, he had in him something dangerous, which her wisdom
taught her to fear accordingly. She began, therefore, to retract her
false step as fast as she could. "She was but speaking for the house's
credit, and she couldna think of disturbing his honour in the morning sae
early, when the young woman might as weel wait or call again; and to be
sure, she might make a mistake between the twa sisters, for ane o' them
wasna sae creditable an acquaintance."
"Haud your peace, ye auld jade," said Dumbiedikes; "the warst quean e'er
stude in their shoon may ca' you cousin, an a' be true that I have
heard.--Jeanie, my woman, gang into the parlour--but stay, that winna be
redd up yet--wait there a minute till I come down to let ye in--Dinna
mind what Jenny says to ye."
"Na, na," said Jenny, with a laugh of affected heartiness, "never mind
me, lass--a' the warld kens my bark's waur than my bite--if ye had had an
appointment wi' the Laird, ye might hae tauld me--I am nae uncivil
person--gang your ways in by, hinny," and she opened the door of the
house with a master-key.
"But I had no appointment wi' the Laird," said Jeanie, drawing back; "I
want just to speak twa words to him, and I wad rather do it standing
here, Mrs. Balchristie."
"In the open court-yard!--Na, na, that wad never do, lass; we mauna guide
ye that gate neither--And how's that douce honest man, your father?"
Jeanie was saved the pain of answering this hypocritical question by the
appearance of the Laird himself.
"Gang in and get breakfast ready," said he to his housekeeper--"and, d'ye
hear, breakfast wi' us yoursell--ye ken how to manage thae porringers of
tea-water--and, hear ye, see abune a' that there's a gude fire.--Weel,
Jeanie, my woman, gang in by--gang in by, and rest ye."
"Na, Laird," Jeanie replied, endeavouring as much as she could to express
herself with composure, notwithstanding she still trembled, "I canna gang
in--I have a lang day's darg afore me--I maun be twenty mile o' gate the
night yet, if feet will carry me."
"Guide and deliver us!--twenty mile--twenty mile on your feet!"
ejaculated Dumbiedikes, whose walks were of a very circumscribed
diameter,--"Ye maun never think o' that--come in by."
"I canna do that, Laird," replied Jeanie; "the twa words I have to say to
ye I can say here; forby that Mrs. Balchristie"
"The deil flee awa wi' Mrs. Balchristie," said Dumbiedikes, "and he'll
hae a heavy lading o' her! I tell ye, Jeanie Deans, I am a man of few
words, but I am laird at hame, as well as in the field; deil a brute or
body about my house but I can manage when I like, except Rory Bean, my
powny; but I can seldom be at the plague, an it binna when my bluid's
"I was wanting to say to ye, Laird," said Jeanie, who felt the necessity
of entering upon her business, "that I was gaun a lang journey, outby of
my father's knowledge."
"Outby his knowledge, Jeanie!--Is that right? Ye maun think ot again--
it's no right," said Dumbiedikes, with a countenance of great concern.
"If I were ance at Lunnon," said Jeanie, in exculpation, "I am amaist
sure I could get means to speak to the queen about my sister's life."
"Lunnon--and the queen--and her sister's life!" said Dumbiedikes,
whistling for very amazement--"the lassie's demented."
"I am no out o' my mind," said she, "and sink or swim, I am determined to
gang to Lunnon, if I suld beg my way frae door to door--and so I maun,
unless ye wad lend me a small sum to pay my expenses--little thing will
do it; and ye ken my father's a man of substance, and wad see nae man,
far less you, Laird, come to loss by me."
Dumbiedikes, on comprehending the nature of this application, could
scarce trust his ears--he made no answer whatever, but stood with his
eyes rivetted on the ground.
"I see ye are no for assisting me, Laird," said Jeanie, "sae fare ye
weel--and gang and see my poor father as aften as ye can--he will be
lonely eneugh now."
"Where is the silly bairn gaun?" said Dumbiedikes; and, laying hold of
her hand, he led her into the house. "It's no that I didna think o't
before," he said, "but it stack in my throat."
Thus speaking to himself, he led her into an old-fashioned parlour, shut
the door behind them, and fastened it with a bolt. While Jeanie,
surprised at this manoeuvre, remained as near the door as possible, the
Laird quitted her hand, and pressed upon a spring lock fixed in an oak
panel in the wainscot, which instantly slipped aside. An iron strong-box
was discovered in a recess of the wall; he opened this also, and pulling
out two or three drawers, showed that they were filled with leathern bags
full of gold and silver coin.
"This is my bank, Jeanie lass," he said, looking first at her and then at
the treasure, with an air of great complacency,--"nane o' your
goldsmith's bills for me,--they bring folk to ruin."
Then, suddenly changing his tone, he resolutely said,--"Jeanie, I will
make ye Lady Dumbiedikes afore the sun sets and ye may ride to Lunnon in
your ain coach, if ye like."
"Na, Laird," said Jeanie, "that can never be--my father's grief--my
sister's situation--the discredit to you"
"That's /my/ business," said Dumbiedikes; "ye wad say naething about that
if ye werena a fule--and yet I like ye the better for't--ae wise body's
eneugh in the married state. But if your heart's ower fu', take what
siller will serve ye, and let it be when ye come back again--as gude syne
"But, Laird," said Jeanie, who felt the necessity of being explicit with
so extraordinary a lover, "I like another man better than you, and I
canna marry ye."
"Another man better than me, Jeanie!" said Dumbiedikes; "how is that
possible? It's no possible, woman--ye hae ken'd me sae lang."
"Ay but, Laird," said Jeanie, with persevering simplicity, "I hae ken'd
"Langer! It's no possible!" exclaimed the poor Laird. "It canna be; ye
were born on the land. O Jeanie woman, ye haena lookit--ye haena seen the
half o' the gear." He drew out another drawer--"A' gowd, Jeanie, and
there's bands for siller lent--And the rental book, Jeanie--clear three
hunder sterling--deil a wadset, heritable band, or burden--Ye haena
lookit at them, woman--And then my mother's wardrobe, and my
grandmother's forby--silk gowns wad stand on their ends, their
pearline-lace as fine as spiders' webs, and rings and ear-rings to the
boot of a' that--they are a' in the chamber of deas--Oh, Jeanie, gang up
the stair and look at them!"
But Jeanie held fast her integrity, though beset with temptations, which
perhaps the Laird of Dumbiedikes did not greatly err in supposing were
those most affecting to her sex.
"It canna be, Laird--I have said it--and I canna break my word till him,
if ye wad gie me the haill barony of Dalkeith, and Lugton into the
"Your word to /him,/" said the Laird, somewhat pettishly; "but wha is he,
Jeanie?--wha is he?--I haena heard his name yet--Come now, Jeanie, ye are
but queering us--I am no trowing that there is sic a ane in the warld--ye
are but making fashion--What is he?--wha is he?"
"Just Reuben Butler, that's schulemaster at Liberton," said Jeanie.
"Reuben Butler! Reuben Butler!" echoed the Laird of Dumbiedikes, pacing
the apartment in high disdain,--"Reuben Butler, the dominie at Liberton--
and a dominie depute too!--Reuben, the son of my cottar!--Very weel,
Jeanie lass, wilfu' woman will hae her way--Reuben Butler! he hasna in
his pouch the value o' the auld black coat he wears--But it disna
signify." And as he spoke, he shut successively and with vehemence the
drawers of his treasury. "A fair offer, Jeanie, is nae cause of feud--Ae
man may bring a horse to the water, but twenty winna gar him drink--And
as for wasting my substance on other folk's joes"
There was something in the last hint that nettled Jeanie's honest pride.
--"I was begging nane frae your honour," she said; "least of a' on sic a
score as ye pit it on.--Gude morning to ye, sir; ye hae been kind to my
father, and it isna in my heart to think otherwise than kindly of you."
So saying, she left the room without listening to a faint "But, Jeanie--
Jeanie--stay, woman!" and traversing the courtyard with a quick step, she
set out on her forward journey, her bosom glowing with that natural
indignation and shame, which an honest mind feels at having subjected
itself to ask a favour, which had been unexpectedly refused. When out of
the Laird's ground, and once more upon the public road, her pace
slackened, her anger cooled, and anxious anticipations of the consequence
of this unexpected disappointment began to influence her with other
feelings. Must she then actually beg her way to London? for such seemed
the alternative; or must she turn back, and solicit her father for money?
and by doing so lose time, which was precious, besides the risk of
encountering his positive prohibition respecting the journey! Yet she saw
no medium between these alternatives; and, while she walked slowly on,
was still meditating whether it were not better to return.
While she was thus in an uncertainty, she heard the clatter of a horse's
hoofs, and a well-known voice calling her name. She looked round, and saw
advancing towards her on a pony, whose bare back and halter assorted ill
with the nightgown, slippers, and laced cocked-hat of the rider, a
cavalier of no less importance than Dumbiedikes himself. In the energy of
his pursuit, he had overcome even the Highland obstinacy of Rory Bean,
and compelled that self-willed palfrey to canter the way his rider chose;
which Rory, however, performed with all the symptoms of reluctance,
turning his head, and accompanying every bound he made in advance with a
sidelong motion, which indicated his extreme wish to turn round,--a
manoeuvre which nothing but the constant exercise of the Laird's heels
and cudgel could possibly have counteracted.
When the Laird came up with Jeanie, the first words he uttered were,--
"Jeanie, they say ane shouldna aye take a woman at her first word?"
"Ay, but ye maun take me at mine, Laird," said Jeanie, looking on the
ground, and walking on without a pause.--"I hae but ae word to bestow on
ony body, and that's aye a true ane."
"Then," said Dumbiedikes, "at least ye suldna aye take a man at /his/
first word. Ye maunna gang this wilfu' gate sillerless, come o't what
like."--He put a purse into her hand. "I wad gie you Rory too, but he's
as wilfu' as yoursell, and he's ower weel used to a gate that maybe he
and I hae gaen ower aften, and he'll gang nae road else."
"But, Laird," said Jeanie, "though I ken my father will satisfy every
penny of this siller, whatever there's o't, yet I wadna like to borrow it
frae ane that maybe thinks of something mair than the paying o't back
"There's just twenty-five guineas o't," said Dumbiedikes, with a gentle
sigh, "and whether your father pays or disna pay, I make ye free till't
without another word. Gang where ye like--do what ye like--and marry a'
the Butlers in the country gin ye like--And sae, gude morning to you,
"And God bless you, Laird, wi' mony a gude morning!" said Jeanie, her
heart more softened by the unwonted generosity of this uncouth character,
than perhaps Butler might have approved, had he known her feelings at
that moment; "and comfort, and the Lord's peace, and the peace of the
world, be with you, if we suld never meet again!"
Dumbiedikes turned and waved his hand; and his pony, much more willing to
return than he had been to set out, hurried him homeward so fast, that,
wanting the aid of a regular bridle, as well as of saddle and stirrups,
he was too much puzzled to keep his seat to permit of his looking behind,
even to give the parting glance of a forlorn swain. I am ashamed to say,
that the sight of a lover, ran away with in nightgown and slippers and a
laced hat, by a bare-backed Highland pony, had something in it of a
sedative, even to a grateful and deserved burst of affectionate esteem.
The figure of Dumbiedikes was too ludicrous not to confirm Jeanie in the
original sentiments she entertained towards him.
"He's a gude creature," said she, "and a kind--it's a pity he has sae
willyard a powny." And she immediately turned her thoughts to the
important journey which she had commenced, reflecting with pleasure,
that, according to her habits of life and of undergoing fatigue, she was
now amply or even superfluously provided with the means of encountering
the expenses of the road, up and down from London, and all other expenses
What strange and wayward thoughts will slide
Into a lover's head;
"O mercy!" to myself I cried,
"If Lucy should be dead!"
In pursuing her solitary journey, our heroine, soon after passing the
house of Dumbiedikes, gained a little eminence, from which, on looking to
the eastward down a prattling brook, whose meanders were shaded with
straggling widows and alder trees, she could see the cottages of Woodend
and Beersheba, the haunts and habitation of her early life, and could
distinguish the common on which she had so often herded sheep, and the
recesses of the rivulet where she had pulled rushes with Butler, to plait
crowns and sceptres for her sister Effie, then a beautiful but spoiled
child, of about three years old. The recollections which the scene
brought with them were so bitter, that, had she indulged them, she would
have sate down and relieved her heart with tears.
"But I ken'd," said Jeanie, when she gave an account of her pilgrimage,
"that greeting would do but little good, and that it was mair beseeming
to thank the Lord, that had showed me kindness and countenance by means
of a man, that mony ca'd a Nabal, and churl, but wha was free of his
gudes to me, as ever the fountain was free of the stream. And I minded
the Scripture about the sin of Israel at Meribah, when the people
murmured, although Moses had brought water from the dry rock that the
congregation might drink and live. Sae, I wad not trust mysell with
another look at puir Woodend, for the very blue reek that came out of the
lum-head pat me in mind of the change of market days with us."
In this resigned and Christian temper she pursued her journey until she
was beyond this place of melancholy recollections, and not distant from
the village where Butler dwelt, which, with its old-fashioned church and
steeple, rises among a tuft of trees, occupying the ridge of an eminence
to the south of Edinburgh. At a quarter of a mile's distance is a clumsy
square tower, the residence of the Laird of Liberton, who, in former
times, with the habits of the predatory chivalry of Germany, is said
frequently to have annoyed the city of Edinburgh, by intercepting the
supplies and merchandise which came to the town from the southward.
This village, its tower, and its church, did not lie precisely in
Jeanie's road towards England; but they were not much aside from it, and
the village was the abode of Butler. She had resolved to see him in the
beginning of her journey, because she conceived him the most proper
person to write to her father concerning her resolution and her hopes.
There was probably another reason latent in her affectionate bosom. She
wished once more to see the object of so early and so sincere an
attachment, before commencing a pilgrimage, the perils of which she did
not disguise from herself, although she did not allow them so to press
upon her mind as to diminish the strength and energy of her resolution. A
visit to a lover from a young person in a higher rank of life than
Jeanie's, would have had something forward and improper in its character.
But the simplicity of her rural habits was unacquainted with these
punctilious ideas of decorum, and no notion, therefore, of impropriety
crossed her imagination, as, setting out upon a long journey, she went to
bid adieu to an early friend.
There was still another motive that pressed upon her mind with additional
force as she approached the village. She had looked anxiously for Butler
in the courthouse, and had expected that, certainly, in some part of that
eventful day, he would have appeared to bring such countenance and
support as he could give to his old friend, and the protector of his
youth, even if her own claims were laid aside.
She know, indeed, that he was under a certain degree of restraint; but
she still had hoped that he would have found means to emancipate himself
from it, at least for one day. In short, the wild and wayward thoughts
which Wordsworth has described as rising in an absent lover's
imagination, suggested, as the only explanation of his absence, that
Butler must be very ill. And so much had this wrought on her imagination,
that when she approached the cottage where her lover occupied a small
apartment, and which had been pointed out to her by a maiden with a
milk-pail on her head, she trembled at anticipating the answer she might
receive on inquiring for him.
Her fears in this case had, indeed, only hit upon the truth. Butler,
whose constitution was naturally feeble, did not soon recover the fatigue
of body and distress of mind which he had suffered, in consequence of the
tragical events with which our narrative commenced. The painful idea that
his character was breathed on by suspicion, was an aggravation to his
But the most cruel addition was the absolute prohibition laid by the
magistrates on his holding any communication with Deans or his family. It
had unfortunately appeared likely to them, that some intercourse might be
again attempted with that family by Robertson, through the medium of
Butler, and this they were anxious to intercept, or prevent if possible.
The measure was not meant as a harsh or injurious severity on the part of
the magistrates; but, in Butler's circumstances, it pressed cruelly hard.
He felt he must be suffering under the bad opinion of the person who was
dearest to him, from an imputation of unkind desertion, the most alien to
This painful thought, pressing on a frame already injured, brought on a
succession of slow and lingering feverish attacks, which greatly impaired
his health, and at length rendered him incapable even of the sedentary
duties of the school, on which his bread depended. Fortunately, old Mr.
Whackbairn, who was the principal teacher of the little parochial
establishment, was sincerely attached to Butler. Besides that he was
sensible of his merits and value as an assistant, which had greatly
raised the credit of his little school, the ancient pedagogue, who had
himself been tolerably educated, retained some taste for classical lore,
and would gladly relax, after the drudgery of the school was over, by
conning over a few pages of Horace or Juvenal with his usher. A
similarity of taste begot kindness, and accordingly he saw Butler's
increasing debility with great compassion, roused up his own energies to
teaching the school in the morning hours, insisted upon his assistant's
reposing himself at that period, and, besides, supplied him with such
comforts as the patient's situation required, and his own means were
inadequate to compass.
Such was Butler's situation, scarce able to drag himself to the place
where his daily drudgery must gain his daily bread, and racked with a
thousand fearful anticipations concerning the fate of those who were
dearest to him in the world, when the trial and condemnation of Effie
Deans put the copestone upon his mental misery.
He had a particular account of these events, from a fellow-student who
resided in the same village, and who, having been present on the
melancholy occasion, was able to place it in all its agony of horrors
before his excruciated imagination. That sleep should have visited his
eyes after such a curfew-note, was impossible. A thousand dreadful
visions haunted his imagination all night, and in the morning he was
awaked from a feverish slumber, by the only circumstance which could have
added to his distress,--the visit of an intrusive ass.
This unwelcome visitant was no other than Bartoline Saddletree. The
worthy and sapient burgher had kept his appointment at MacCroskie's with
Plumdamas and some other neighbours, to discuss the Duke of Argyle's
speech, the justice of Effie Deans's condemnation, and the improbability
of her obtaining a reprieve. This sage conclave disputed high and drank
deep, and on the next morning Bartoline felt, as he expressed it, as if
his head was like a "confused progress of writs."
To bring his reflective powers to their usual serenity, Saddle-tree
resolved to take a morning's ride upon a certain hackney, which he,
Plumdamas, and another honest shopkeeper, combined to maintain by joint
subscription, for occasional jaunts for the purpose of business or
exercise. As Saddletree had two children boarded with Whackbairn, and
was, as we have seen, rather fond of Butler's society, he turned his
palfrey's head towards Liberton, and came, as we have already said, to
give the unfortunate usher that additional vexation, of which Imogene
complains so feelingly, when she says,--
"I'm sprighted with a fool--
Sprighted and anger'd worse."
If anything could have added gall to bitterness, it was the choice which
Saddletree made of a subject for his prosing harangues, being the trial
of Effie Deans, and the probability of her being executed. Every word
fell on Butler's ear like the knell of a death-bell, or the note of a
Jeanie paused at the door of her lover's humble abode upon hearing the
loud and pompous tones of Saddletree sounding from the inner apartment,
"Credit me, it will be sae, Mr. Butler. Brandy cannot save her. She maun
gang down the Bow wi' the lad in the pioted coat* at her heels.--
* The executioner, in livery of black or dark grey and silver, likened by
low wit to a magpie.
I am sorry for the lassie, but the law, sir, maun hae its course--
as the poet has it, in whilk of Horace's odes I know not."
Here Butler groaned, in utter impatience of the brutality and ignorance
which Bartoline had contrived to amalgamate into one sentence. But
Saddletree, like other prosers, was blessed with a happy obtuseness of
perception concerning the unfavourable impression which he sometimes made
on his auditors. He proceeded to deal forth his scraps of legal knowledge
without mercy, and concluded by asking Butler, with great
self-complacency, "Was it na a pity my father didna send me to Utrecht?
Havena I missed the chance to turn out as /clarissimus/ an /ictus,/ as
auld Grunwiggin himself?--Whatfor dinna ye speak, Mr. Butler? Wad I no
hae been a /clarissimus ictus?/--Eh, man?"
"I really do not understand you, Mr. Saddletree," said Butler, thus
pushed hard for an answer. His faint and exhausted tone of voice was
instantly drowned in the sonorous bray of Bartoline.
"No understand me, man? /Ictus/ is Latin for a lawyer, is it not?"
"Not that ever I heard of," answered Butler in the same dejected tone.
"The deil ye didna!--See, man, I got the word but this morning out of a
memorial of Mr. Crossmyloof's--see, there it is, /ictus clarissimus et
perti--peritissimus/--it's a' Latin, for it's printed in the Italian
"O, you mean /juris-consultus--Ictus/ is an abbreviation for
"Dinna tell me, man," persevered Saddletree, "there's nae abbreviates
except in adjudications; and this is a' about a servitude of water-drap--
that is to say, /tillicidian/* (maybe ye'll say that's no Latin neither),
in Mary King's Close in the High Street."
* He meant, probably, /stillicidium./
"Very likely," said poor Butler, overwhelmed by the noisy perseverance of
his visitor. "Iam not able to dispute with you."
"Few folk are--few folk are, Mr. Butler, though I say it that shouldna
say it," returned Bartoline with great delight. "Now, it will be twa
hours yet or ye're wanted in the schule, and as ye are no weel, I'll sit
wi' you to divert ye, and explain t'ye the nature of a /tillicidian./ Ye
maun ken, the petitioner, Mrs. Crombie, a very decent woman, is a friend
of mine, and I hae stude her friend in this case, and brought her wi'
credit into the court, and I doubtna that in due time she will win out
o't wi' credit, win she or lose she. Ye see, being an inferior tenement
or laigh house, we grant ourselves to be burdened wi' the /tillicide,/
that is, that we are obligated to receive the natural water-drap of the
superior tenement, sae far as the same fa's frae the heavens, or the roof
of our neighbour's house, and from thence by the gutters or eaves upon
our laigh tenement. But the other night comes a Highland quean of a lass,
and she flashes, God kens what, out at the eastmost window of Mrs.
MacPhail's house, that's the superior tenement. I believe the auld women
wad hae agreed, for Luckie MacPhail sent down the lass to tell my friend
Mrs. Crombie that she had made the gardyloo out of the wrang window, out
of respect for twa Highlandmen that were speaking Gaelic in the close
below the right ane. But luckily for Mrs. Crombie, I just chanced to come
in in time to break aff the communing, for it's a pity the point suldna
be tried. We had Mrs. MacPhail into the Ten-Mark Court--The Hieland
limmer of a lass wanted to swear herself free--but haud ye there,
The detailed account of this important suit might have lasted until poor
Butler's hour of rest was completely exhausted, had not Saddletree been
interrupted by the noise of voices at the door. The woman of the house
where Butler lodged, on returning with her pitcher from the well, whence
she had been fetching water for the family, found our heroine Jeanie
Deans standing at the door, impatient of the prolix harangue of
Saddletree, yet unwilling to enter until he should have taken his leave.
The good woman abridged the period of hesitation by inquiring, "Was ye
wanting the gudeman or me, lass?"
"I wanted to speak with Mr. Butler, if he's at leisure," replied Jeanie.
"Gang in by then, my woman," answered the goodwife; and opening the door
of a room, she announced the additional visitor with, "Mr. Butler, here's
a lass wants to speak t'ye."
The surprise of Butler was extreme, when Jeanie, who seldom stirred
half-a-mile from home, entered his apartment upon this annunciation.
"Good God!" he said, starting from his chair, while alarm restored to his
cheek the colour of which sickness had deprived it; "some new misfortune
must have happened!"
"None, Mr. Reuben, but what you must hae heard of--but oh, ye are looking
ill yoursell!"--for the "hectic of a moment" had not concealed from her
affectionate eyes the ravages which lingering disease and anxiety of mind
had made in her lover's person.
"No: I am well--quite well," said Butler with eagerness; "if I can do
anything to assist you, Jeanie--or your father."
"Ay, to be sure," said Saddletree; "the family may be considered as
limited to them twa now, just as if Effie had never been in the tailzie,
puir thing. But, Jeanie lass, what brings you out to Liberton sae air in
the morning, and your father lying ill in the Luckenbooths?"
"I had a message frae my father to Mr. Butler," said Jeanie with
embarrassment; but instantly feeling ashamed of the fiction to which she
had resorted, for her love of and veneration for truth was almost
Quaker-like, she corrected herself--"That is to say, I wanted to speak
with Mr. Butler about some business of my father's and puir Effie's."
"Is it law business?" said Bartoline; "because if it be, ye had better
take my opinion on the subject than his."
"It is not just law business," said Jeanie, who saw considerable
inconvenience might arise from letting Mr. Saddletree into the secret
purpose of her journey; "but I want Mr. Butler to write a letter for me."
"Very right," said Mr. Saddletree; "and if ye'll tell me what it is
about, I'll dictate to Mr. Butler as Mr. Crossmyloof does to his clerk.--
Get your pen and ink in initialibus, Mr. Butler."
Jeanie looked at Butler, and wrung her hands with vexation and
"I believe, Mr. Saddletree," said Butler, who saw the necessity of
getting rid of him at all events, "that Mr. Whackbairn will be somewhat
affronted if you do not hear your boys called up to their lessons."
"Indeed, Mr. Butler, and that's as true; and I promised to ask a half
play-day to the schule, so that the bairns might gang and see the
hanging, which canna but have a pleasing effect on their young minds,
seeing there is no knowing what they may come to themselves.--Odd so, I
didna mind ye were here, Jeanie Deans; but ye maun use yoursell to hear
the matter spoken o'.--Keep Jeanie here till I come back, Mr. Butler; I
winna bide ten minutes."
And with this unwelcome assurance of an immediate return, he relieved
them of the embarrassment of his presence.
"Reuben," said Jeanie, who saw the necessity of using the interval of his
absence in discussing what had brought her there, "I am bound on a lang
journey--I am gaun to Lunnon to ask Effie's life of the king and of the
"Jeanie! you are surely not yourself," answered Butler, in the utmost
surprise;--"/you/ go to London--/you/ address the king and queen!"
"And what for no, Reuben?" said Jeanie, with all the composed simplicity
of her character; "it's but speaking to a mortal man and woman when a' is
done. And their hearts maun be made o' flesh and blood like other folk's,
and Effie's story wad melt them were they stane. Forby, I hae heard that
they are no sic bad folk as what the Jacobites ca' them."
"Yes, Jeanie," said Butler; "but their magnificence--their retinue--the
difficulty of getting audience?"
"I have thought of a' that, Reuben, and it shall not break my spirit. Nae
doubt their claiths will be very grand, wi' their crowns on their heads,
and their sceptres in their hands, like the great King Ahasuerus when he
sate upon his royal throne fornent the gate of his house, as we are told
in Scripture. But I have that within me that will keep my heart from
failing, and I am amaist sure that I will be strengthened to speak the
errand I came for."
"Alas! alas!" said Butler, "the kings now-a-days do not sit in the gate
to administer justice, as in patriarchal times. I know as little of
courts as you do, Jeanie, by experience; but by reading and report I
know, that the King of Britain does everything by means of his
"And if they be upright, God-fearing ministers," said Jeanie, "it's sae
muckle the better chance for Effie and me."
"But you do not even understand the most ordinary words relating to a
court," said Butler; "by the ministry is meant not clergymen, but the
king's official servants."
"Nae doubt," returned Jeanie, "he maun hae a great number mair, I daur to
say, than the duchess has at Dalkeith, and great folk's servants are aye
mair saucy than themselves. But I'll be decently put on, and I'll offer
them a trifle o' siller, as if I came to see the palace. Or, if they
scruple that, I'll tell them I'm come on a business of life and death,
and then they will surely bring me to speech of the king and queen?"
Butler shook his head. "O Jeanie, this is entirely a wild dream. You can
never see them but through some great lord's intercession, and I think it
is scarce possible even then."
"Weel, but maybe I can get that too," said Jeanie, "with a little helping
"From me, Jeanie! this is the wildest imagination of all."
"Ay, but it is not, Reuben. Havena I heard you say, that your grandfather
(that my father never likes to hear about) did some gude langsyne to the
forbear of this MacCallummore, when he was Lord of Lorn?"
"He did so," said Butler, eagerly, "and I can prove it.--I will write to
the Duke of Argyle--report speaks him a good kindly man, as he is known
for a brave soldier and true patriot--I will conjure him to stand between
your sister and this cruel fate. There is but a poor chance of success,
but we will try all means."
"We /must/ try all means," replied Jeanie; "but writing winna do it--a
letter canna look, and pray, and beg, and beseech, as the human voice can
do to the human heart. A letter's like the music that the ladies have for
their spinets--naething but black scores, compared to the same tune
played or sung. It's word of mouth maun do it, or naething, Reuben."
"You are right," said Reuben, recollecting his firmness, "and I will hope
that Heaven has suggested to your kind heart and firm courage the only
possible means of saving the life of this unfortunate girl. But, Jeanie,
you must not take this most perilous journey alone; I have an interest in
you, and I will not agree that my Jeanie throws herself away. You must
even, in the present circumstances, give me a husband's right to protect
you, and I will go with you myself on this journey, and assist you to do
your duty by your family."
"Alas, Reuben!" said Jeanie in her turn, "this must not be; a pardon will
not gie my sister her fair fame again, or make me a bride fitting for an
honest man and an usefu' minister. Wha wad mind what he said in the
pu'pit, that had to wife the sister of a woman that was condemned for sic
"But, Jeanie," pleaded her lover, "I do not believe, and I cannot
believe, that Effie has done this deed."
"Heaven bless ye for saying sae, Reuben," answered Jeanie; "but she maun
bear the blame o't after all."
"But the blame, were it even justly laid on her, does not fall on you."
"Ah, Reuben, Reuben," replied the young woman, "ye ken it is a blot that
spreads to kith and kin.--Ichabod--as my poor father says--the glory is
departed from our house; for the poorest man's house has a glory, where
there are true hands, a divine heart, and an honest fame--And the last
has gane frae us a."
"But, Jeanie, consider your word and plighted faith to me; and would you
undertake such a journey without a man to protect you?--and who should
that protector be but your husband?"
"You are kind and good, Reuben, and wad take me wi' a' my shame, I
doubtna. But ye canna but own that this is no time to marry or be given
in marriage. Na, if that suld ever be, it maun be in another and a better
season.--And, dear Reuben, ye speak of protecting me on my journey--Alas!
who will protect and take care of you?--your very limbs tremble with
standing for ten minutes on the floor; how could you undertake a journey
as far as Lunnon?"
"But I am strong--I am well," continued Butler, sinking in his seat
totally exhausted, "at least I shall be quite well to-morrow."
"Ye see, and ye ken, ye maun just let me depart," said Jeanie, after a
pause; and then taking his extended hand, and gazing kindly in his face,
she added, "It's e'en a grief the mair to me to see you in this way. But
ye maun keep up your heart for Jeanie's sake, for if she isna your wife,
she will never be the wife of living man. And now gie me the paper for
MacCallummore, and bid God speed me on my way."
There was something of romance in Jeanie's venturous resolution; yet, on
consideration, as it seemed impossible to alter it by persuasion, or to
give her assistance but by advice, Butler, after some farther debate, put
into her hands the paper she desired, which, with the muster-roll in
which it was folded up, were the sole memorials of the stout and
enthusiastic Bible Butler, his grandfather. While Butler sought this
document, Jeanie had time to take up his pocket Bible. "I have marked a
scripture," she said, as she again laid it down, "with your kylevine pen,
that will be useful to us baith. And ye maun tak the trouble, Reuben, to
write a' this to my father, for, God help me, I have neither head nor
hand for lang letters at ony time, forby now; and I trust him entirely to
you, and I trust you will soon be permitted to see him. And, Reuben, when
ye do win to the speech o' him, mind a' the auld man's bits o' ways, for
Jeanie's sake; and dinna speak o' Latin or English terms to him, for he's
o' the auld warld, and downa bide to be fashed wi' them, though I daresay
he may be wrang. And dinna ye say muckle to him, but set him on speaking
himself, for he'll bring himsell mair comfort that way. And O, Reuben,
the poor lassie in yon dungeon!--but I needna bid your kind heart--gie
her what comfort ye can as soon as they will let ye see her--tell her--
But I maunna speak mair about her, for I maunna take leave o' ye wi' the
tear in my ee, for that wouldna be canny.--God bless ye, Reuben!"
To avoid so ill an omen she left the room hastily, while her features yet
retained the mournful and affectionate smile which she had compelled them
to wear, in order to support Butler's spirits.
It seemed as if the power of sight, of speech, and of reflection, had
left him as she disappeared from the room, which she had entered and
retired from so like an apparition. Saddletree, who entered immediately
afterwards, overwhelmed him with questions, which he answered without
understanding them, and with legal disquisitions, which conveyed to him
no iota of meaning. At length the learned burgess recollected that there
was a Baron Court to be, held at Loanhead that day, and though it was
hardly worth while, "he might as weel go to see if there was onything
doing, as he was acquainted with the baron bailie, who was a decent man,
and would be glad of a word of legal advice."
So soon as he departed, Butler flew to the Bible, the last book which
Jeanie had touched. To his extreme surprise, a paper, containing two or
three pieces of gold, dropped from the book. With a black-lead pencil,
she had marked the sixteenth and twenty-fifth verses of the
thirty-seventh Psalm,--"A little that a righteous man hath, is better
than the riches of the wicked."--"I have been young and am now old, yet
have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their
Deeply impressed with the affectionate delicacy which shrouded its own
generosity under the cover of a providential supply to his wants, he
pressed the gold to his lips with more ardour than ever the metal was
greeted with by a miser. To emulate her devout firmness and confidence
seemed now the pitch of his ambition, and his first task was to write an
account to David Deans of his daughter's resolution and journey
southward. He studied every sentiment, and even every phrase, which he
thought could reconcile the old man to her extraordinary resolution. The
effect which this epistle produced will be hereafter adverted to. Butler
committed it to the charge of an honest clown, who had frequent dealings
with Deans in the sale of his dairy produce, and who readily undertook a
journey to Edinburgh to put the letter into his own hands.*
* By dint of assiduous research I am enabled to certiorate the reader,
that the name of this person was Saunders Broadfoot, and that he dealt in
the wholesome commodity called kirn-milk (/Anglice',/ butter-milk).--
"My native land, good night."
In the present day, a journey from Edinburgh to London is a matter at
once safe, brief, and simple, however inexperienced or unprotected the
traveller. Numerous coaches of different rates of charge, and as many
packets, are perpetually passing and repassing betwixt the capital of
Britain and her northern sister, so that the most timid or indolent may
execute such a journey upon a few hours' notice. But it was different in
1737. So slight and infrequent was the intercourse betwixt London and
Edinburgh, that men still alive remember that upon one occasion the mail
from the former city arrived at the General Post-Office in Scotland with
only one letter in it.*
* The fact is certain. The single epistle was addressed to the principal
director of the British Linen Company.
The usual mode of travelling was by means of post-horses, the traveller
occupying one, and his guide another, in which manner, by relays of
horses from stage to stage, the journey might be accomplished in a
wonderfully short time by those who could endure fatigue. To have the
bones shaken to pieces by a constant change of those hacks was a luxury
for the rich--the poor were under the necessity of using the mode of
conveyance with which nature had provided them.
With a strong heart, and a frame patient of fatigue, Jeanie Deans,
travelling at the rate of twenty miles a-day, and sometimes farther,
traversed the southern part of Scotland, and advanced as far as Durham.
Hitherto she had been either among her own country-folk, or those to whom
her bare feet and tartan screen were objects too familiar to attract much
attention. But as she advanced, she perceived that both circumstances
exposed her to sarcasm and taunts, which she might otherwise have
escaped; and although in her heart she thought it unkind, and
inhospitable, to sneer at a passing stranger on account of the fashion of
her attire, yet she had the good sense to alter those parts of her dress
which attracted ill-natured observation. Her chequed screen was deposited
carefully in her bundle, and she conformed to the national extravagance
of wearing shoes and stockings for the whole day. She confessed
afterwards, that, "besides the wastrife, it was lang or she could walk
sae comfortably with the shoes as without them; but there was often a bit
saft heather by the road-side, and that helped her weel on." The want of
the screen, which was drawn over the head like a veil, she supplied by a
/bon-grace,/ as she called it; a large straw bonnet like those worn by
the English maidens when labouring in the fields. "But I thought unco
shame o' mysell," she said, "the first time I put on a married woman's
/bon-grace,/ and me a single maiden."
With these changes she had little, as she said, to make "her kenspeckle
when she didna speak," but her accent and language drew down on her so
many jests and gibes, couched in a worse /patois/ by far than her own,
that she soon found it was her interest to talk as little and as seldom
as possible. She answered, therefore, civil salutations of chance
passengers with a civil courtesy, and chose, with anxious circumspection,
such places of repose as looked at once most decent and sequestered. She
found the common people of England, although inferior in courtesy to
strangers, such as was then practised in her own more unfrequented
country, yet, upon the whole, by no means deficient in the real duties of
hospitality. She readily obtained food, and shelter, and protection at a
very moderate rate, which sometimes the generosity of mine host
altogether declined, with a blunt apology,--"Thee hast a long way afore
thee, lass; and I'se ne'er take penny out o' a single woman's purse; it's
the best friend thou can have on the road."
It often happened, too, that mine hostess was struck with "the tidy, nice
Scotch body," and procured her an escort, or a cast in a waggon, for some
part of the way, or gave her a useful advice and recommendation
respecting her resting-places.
At York our pilgrim stopped for the best part of a day, partly to recruit
her strength,--partly because she had the good luck to obtain a lodging
in an inn kept by a countrywoman,--partly to indite two letters to her
father and Reuben Butler; an operation of some little difficulty, her
habits being by no means those of literary composition. That to her
father was in the following words.--
"Dearest Father,--I make my present pilgrimage more heavy and burdensome,
through the sad occasion to reflect that it is without your knowledge,
which, God knows, was far contrary to my heart; for Scripture says, that
'the vow of the daughter should not be binding without the consent of the
father,' wherein it may be I have been guilty to tak this wearie journey
without your consent. Nevertheless, it was borne in upon my mind that I
should be an instrument to help my poor sister in this extremity of
needcessity, otherwise I wad not, for wealth or for world's gear, or for
the haill lands of Da'keith and Lugton, have done the like o' this,
without your free will and knowledge. Oh, dear father, as ye wad desire a
blessing on my journey, and upon your household, speak a word or write a
line of comfort to yon poor prisoner. If she has sinned, she has sorrowed
and suffered, and ye ken better than me, that we maun forgie others, as
we pray to be forgien. Dear father, forgive my saying this muckle, for it
doth not become a young head to instruct grey hairs; but I am sae far
frae ye, that my heart yearns to ye a', and fain wad I hear that ye had
forgien her trespass, and sae I nae doubt say mair than may become me.
The folk here are civil, and, like the barbarians unto the holy apostle,
hae shown me much kindness; and there are a sort of chosen people in the
land, for they hae some kirks without organs that are like ours, and are
called meeting-houses, where the minister preaches without a gown. But
most of the country are prelatists, whilk is awfu' to think; and I saw
twa men that were ministers following hunds, as bauld as Roslin or
Driden, the young Laird of Loup-the-dike, or ony wild gallant in Lothian.
A sorrowfa' sight to behold! Oh, dear father, may a blessing be with your
down-lying and up-rising, and remember in your prayers your affectionate
daughter to command,
A postscript bore, "I learned from a decent woman, a grazier's widow,
that they hae a cure for the muir-ill in Cumberland, whilk is ane pint,
as they ca't, of yill, whilk is a dribble in comparison of our gawsie
Scots pint, and hardly a mutchkin, boiled wi' sope and hartshorn draps,
and toomed doun the creature's throat wi' ane whorn. Ye might try it on
the bauson-faced year-auld quey; an it does nae gude, it can do nae ill.
--She was a kind woman, and seemed skeely about horned beasts. When I
reach Lunnon, I intend to gang to our cousin Mrs. Glass, the tobacconist,
at the sign o' the Thistle, wha is so ceevil as to send you down your
spleuchan-fu' anes a year; and as she must be well kend in Lunnon, I
doubt not easily to find out where she lives."
Being seduced into betraying our heroine's confidence thus far, we will
stretch our communication a step beyond, and impart to the reader her
letter to her lover.
"Mr. Reuben Butler,--Hoping this will find you better, this comes to say,
that I have reached this great town safe, and am not wearied with
walking, but the better for it. And I have seen many things which I trust
to tell you one day, also the muckle kirk of this place; and all around
the city are mills, whilk havena muckle wheels nor mill-dams, but gang by
the wind--strange to behold. Ane miller asked me to gang in and see it
work, but I wad not, for I am not come to the south to make acquaintance
with strangers. I keep the straight road, and just beck if onybody speaks
to me ceevilly, and answers naebody with the tong but women of my ain
sect. I wish, Mr. Butler, I kend onything that wad mak ye weel, for they
hae mair medicines in this town of York than wad cure a' Scotland, and
surely some of them wad be gude for your complaints. If ye had a kindly
motherly body to nurse ye, and no to let ye waste yoursell wi' reading--
whilk ye read mair than eneugh wi' the bairns in the schule--and to gie
ye warm milk in the morning, I wad be mair easy for ye. Dear Mr. Butler,
keep a good heart, for we are in the hands of Ane that kens better what
is gude for us than we ken what is for oursells. I hae nae doubt to do
that for which I am come--I canna doubt it--I winna think to doubt it--
because, if I haena full assurance, how shall I bear myself with earnest
entreaties in the great folk's presence? But to ken that ane's purpose is
right, and to make their heart strong, is the way to get through the
warst day's darg. The bairns' rime says, the warst blast of the borrowing
days* couldna kill the three silly poor hog-lams.
* The last three days of March, old style, are called the Borrowing Days;
for, as they are remarked to be unusually stormy, it is feigned that
March had borrowed them from April, to extend the sphere of his rougher
sway. The rhyme on the subject is quoted in the glossary to Leyden's
edition of the "Complaynt of Scotland"--
[March said to Aperill,
I see three hogs upon a hill,
A young sheep before it has lost its first fleece.
But when the borrowed days were gane
The three silly hogs came hirplin hame.]
"And if it be God's pleasure, we that are sindered in sorrow may meet
again in joy, even on this hither side of Jordan. I dinna bid ye mind
what I said at our partin' anent my poor father, and that misfortunate
lassie, for I ken you will do sae for the sake of Christian charity,
whilk is mair than the entreaties of her that is your servant to command,
This letter also had a postscript. "Dear Reuben, If ye think that it wad
hae been right for me to have said mair and kinder things to ye, just
think that I hae written sae, since I am sure that I wish a' that is kind
and right to ye and by ye. Ye will think I am turned waster, for I wear
clean hose and shoon every day; but it's the fashion here for decent
bodies and ilka land has it's ain landlaw. Ower and aboon a', if laughing
days were e'er to come back again till us, ye wad laugh weel to see my
round face at the far end of a strae /bon-grace,/ that looks as muckle
and round as the middell aisle in Libberton Kirk. But it sheds the sun
weel aff, and keeps uncivil folk frae staring as if ane were a worrycow.
I sall tell ye by writ how I come on wi' the Duke of Argyle, when I won
up to Lunnon. Direct a line, to say how ye are, to me, to the charge of
Mrs. Margaret Glass, tobacconist, at the sign of the Thistle, Lunnon,
whilk, if it assures me of your health, will make my mind sae muckle
easier. Excuse bad spelling and writing, as I have ane ill pen."
The orthography of these epistles may seem to the southron to require a
better apology than the letter expresses, though a bad pen was the excuse
of a certain Galwegian laird for bad spelling; but, on behalf of the
heroine, I would have them to know, that, thanks to the care of Butler,
Jeanie Deans wrote and spelled fifty times better than half the women of
rank in Scotland at that period, whose strange orthography and singular
diction form the strongest contrast to the good sense which their
correspondence usually intimates.
For the rest, in the tenor of these epistles, Jeanie expressed, perhaps,
more hopes, a firmer courage, and better spirits, than she actually felt.
But this was with the amiable idea of relieving her father and lover from
apprehensions on her account, which she was sensible must greatly add to
their other troubles. "If they think me weel, and like to do weel," said
the poor pilgrim to herself, "my father will be kinder to Effie, and
Butler will be kinder to himself. For I ken weel that they will think
mair o' me than I do o' mysell."
Accordingly, she sealed her letters carefully, and put them into the
post-office with her own hand, after many inquiries concerning the time
in which they were likely to reach Edinburgh. When this duty was
performed, she readily accepted her landlady's pressing invitation to
dine with her, and remain till the next morning. The hostess, as we have
said, was her countrywoman, and the eagerness with which Scottish people
meet, communicate, and, to the extent of their power, assist each other,
although it is often objected to us as a prejudice and narrowness of
sentiment, seems, on the contrary, to arise from a most justifiable and
honourable feeling of patriotism, combined with a conviction, which, if
undeserved, would long since have been confuted by experience, that the
habits and principles of the nation are a sort of guarantee for the
character of the individual. At any rate, if the extensive influence of
this national partiality be considered as an additional tie, binding man
to man, and calling forth the good offices of such as can render them to
the countryman who happens to need them, we think it must be found to
exceed, as an active and efficient motive, to generosity, that more
impartial and wider principle of general benevolence, which we have
sometimes seen pleaded as an excuse for assisting no individual whatever.
Mrs. Bickerton, lady of the ascendant of the Seven Stars, in the
Castle-gate, York, was deeply infected with the unfortunate prejudices of
her country. Indeed, she displayed so much kindness to Jeanie Deans
(because she herself, being a Merse woman, /marched/ with Mid-Lothian, in
which Jeanie was born), showed such motherly regard to her, and such
anxiety for her farther progress, that Jeanie thought herself safe,
though by temper sufficiently cautious, in communicating her whole story
Mrs. Bickerton raised her hands and eyes at the recital, and exhibited
much wonder and pity. But she also gave some effectual good advice.
She required to know the strength of Jeanie's purse, reduced by her
deposit at Liberton, and the necessary expense of her journey, to about
fifteen pounds. "This," she said, "would do very well, providing she
would carry it a' safe to London."
"Safe!" answered Jeanie; "I'se warrant my carrying it safe, bating the
"Ay, but highwaymen, lassie," said Mrs. Bickerton; "for ye are come into
a more civilised, that is to say, a more roguish country than the north,
and how ye are to get forward, I do not profess to know. If ye could wait
here eight days, our waggons would go up, and I would recommend you to
Joe Broadwheel, who would see you safe to the Swan and two Necks. And
dinna sneeze at Joe, if he should be for drawing up wi' you" (continued
Mrs. Bickerton, her acquired English mingling with her national or
original dialect), "he's a handy boy, and a wanter, and no lad better
thought o' on the road; and the English make good husbands enough,
witness my poor man, Moses Bickerton, as is i' the kirkyard."
Jeanie hastened to say, that she could not possibly wait for the setting
forth of Joe Broadwheel; being internally by no means gratified with the
idea of becoming the object of his attention during the journey,
"Aweel, lass," answered the good landlady, "then thou must pickle in
thine ain poke-nook, and buckle thy girdle thine ain gate. But take my
advice, and hide thy gold in thy stays, and keep a piece or two and some
silver, in case thou be'st spoke withal; for there's as wud lads haunt
within a day's walk from hence, as on the braes of Doune in Perthshire.
And, lass, thou maunna gang staring through Lunnon, asking wha kens Mrs.
Glass at the sign o' the Thistle; marry, they would laugh thee to scorn.
But gang thou to this honest man," and she put a direction into Jeanie's
hand, "he kens maist part of the sponsible Scottish folk in the city, and
he will find out your friend for thee."
Jeanie took the little introductory letter with sincere thanks; but,
something alarmed on the subject of the highway robbers, her mind
recurred to what Ratcliffe had mentioned to her, and briefly relating the
circumstances which placed a document so extraordinary in her hands, she
put the paper he had given her into the hand of Mrs. Bickerton.
The Lady of the Seven Stars did not indeed ring a bell, because such was
not the fashion of the time, but she whistled on a silver call, which was
hung by her side, and a tight serving-maid entered the room.
"Tell Dick Ostler to come here," said Mrs. Bickerton.
Dick Ostler accordingly made his appearance;--a queer, knowing, shambling
animal, with a hatchet-face, a squint, a game-arm, and a limp.
"Dick Ostler," said Mrs. Bickerton, in a tone of authority that showed
she was (at least by adoption) Yorkshire too, "thou knowest most people
and most things o' the road."
"Eye, eye, God help me, mistress," said Dick, shrugging his shoulders
betwixt a repentant and a knowing expression--"Eye! I ha' know'd a thing
or twa i' ma day, mistress." He looked sharp and laughed--looked grave
and sighed, as one who was prepared to take the matter either way.
"Kenst thou this wee bit paper amang the rest, man?" said Mrs. Bickerton,
handing him the protection which Ratcliffe had given Jeanie Deans.
When Dick had looked at the paper, he winked with one eye, extended his
grotesque mouth from ear to ear, like a navigable canal, scratched his
head powerfully, and then said, "Ken!--ay--maybe we ken summat, an it
werena for harm to him, mistress!"
"None in the world," said Mrs. Bickerton; "only a dram of Hollands to
thyself, man, an thou wilt speak."
"Why, then," said Dick, giving the head-band of his breeches a knowing
hoist with one hand, and kicking out one foot behind him to accommodate
the adjustment of that important habiliment, "I dares to say the pass
will be kend weel eneugh on the road, an that be all."
"But what sort of a lad was he?" said Mrs. Bickerton, winking to Jeanie,
as proud of her knowing Ostler.
"Why, what ken I?--Jim the Rat--why he was Cock o' the North within this
twelmonth--he and Scotch Wilson, Handle Dandie, as they called him--but
he's been out o' this country a while, as I rackon; but ony gentleman, as
keeps the road o' this side Stamford, will respect Jim's pass."
Without asking farther questions, the landlady filled Dick Ostler a
bumper of Hollands. He ducked with his head and shoulders, scraped with
his more advanced hoof, bolted the alcohol, to use the learned phrase,
and withdrew to his own domains.
"I would advise thee, Jeanie," said Mrs. Bickerton, "an thou meetest with
ugly customers o' the road, to show them this bit paper, for it will
serve thee, assure thyself."
A neat little supper concluded the evening. The exported Scotswoman, Mrs.
Bickerton by name, ate heartily of one or two seasoned dishes, drank some
sound old ale, and a glass of stiff negus; while she gave Jeanie a
history of her gout, admiring how it was possible that she, whose fathers
and mothers for many generations had been farmers in Lammermuir, could
have come by a disorder so totally unknown to them. Jeanie did not choose
to offend her friendly landlady, by speaking her mind on the probable
origin of this complaint; but she thought on the flesh-pots of Egypt,
and, in spite of all entreaties to better fare, made her evening meal
upon vegetables, with a glass of fair water.
Mrs. Bickerton assured her, that the acceptance of any reckoning was
entirely out of the question, furnished her with credentials to her
correspondent in London, and to several inns upon the road where she had
some influence or interest, reminded her of the precautions she should
adopt for concealing her money, and as she was to depart early in the
morning, took leave of her very affectionately, taking her word that she
would visit her on her return to Scotland, and tell her how she had
managed, and that summum bonum for a gossip, "all how and about it." This
Jeanie faithfully promised.
And Need and Misery, Vice and Danger, bind,
In sad alliance, each degraded mind.
As our traveller set out early on the ensuing morning to prosecute her
journey, and was in the act of leaving the innyard, Dick Ostler, who
either had risen early or neglected to go to bed, either circumstance
being equally incident to his calling, hollowed out after her,--"The top
of the morning to you, Moggie. Have a care o' Gunderby Hill, young one.
Robin Hood's dead and gwone, but there be takers yet in the vale of
Bever. Jeanie looked at him as if to request a farther explanation, but,
with a leer, a shuffle, and a shrug, inimitable (unless by Emery*), Dick
turned again to the raw-boned steed which he was currying, and sung as he
employed the comb and brush,--
"Robin Hood was a yeoman right good,
And his bow was of trusty yew;
And if Robin said stand on the king's lea-land,
Pray, why should not we say so too?"
* [John Emery, an eminent comedian, played successfully at Covent Garden
Theatre between 1798 and 1820. Among his characters, were those of Dandie
Dinmont in /Guy Mannering,/ Dougal in /Rob Roy,/ and Ratcliffe in the
Heart of /Mid-Lothian./]
Jeanie pursued her journey without farther inquiry, for there was nothing
in Dick's manner that inclined her to prolong their conference. A painful
day's journey brought her to Ferrybridge, the best inn, then and since,
upon the great northern road; and an introduction from Mrs. Bickerton,
added to her own simple and quiet manners, so propitiated the landlady of
the Swan in her favour, that the good dame procured her the convenient
accommodation of a pillion and post-horse then returning to Tuxford, so
that she accomplished, upon the second day after leaving York, the
longest journey she had yet made. She was a good deal fatigued by a mode
of travelling to which she was less accustomed than to walking, and it
was considerably later than usual on the ensuing morning that she felt
herself able to resume her pilgrimage. At noon the hundred-armed Trent,
and the blackened ruins of Newark Castle, demolished in the great civil
war, lay before her. It may easily be supposed, that Jeanie had no
curiosity to make antiquarian researches, but, entering the town, went
straight to the inn to which she had been directed at Ferrybridge. While
she procured some refreshment, she observed the girl who brought it to
her, looked at her several times with fixed and peculiar interest, and at
last, to her infinite surprise, inquired if her name was not Deans, and
if she was not a Scotchwoman, going to London upon justice business.
Jeanie, with all her simplicity of character, had some of the caution of
her country, and, according to Scottish universal custom, she answered
the question by another, requesting the girl would tell her why she asked
The Maritornes of the Saracen's Head, Newark, replied, "Two women had
passed that morning, who had made inquiries after one Jeanie Deans,
travelling to London on such an errand, and could scarce be persuaded
that she had not passed on."
Much surprised and somewhat alarmed (for what is inexplicable is usually
alarming), Jeanie questioned the wench about the particular appearance of
these two women, but could only learn that the one was aged, and the
other young; that the latter was the taller, and that the former spoke
most, and seemed to maintain an authority over her companion, and that
both spoke with the Scottish accent.
This conveyed no information whatever, and with an indescribable
presentiment of evil designed towards her, Jeanie adopted the resolution
of taking post-horses for the next stage. In this, however, she could not
be gratified; some accidental circumstances had occasioned what is called
a run upon the road, and the landlord could not accommodate her with a
guide and horses. After waiting some time, in hopes that a pair of horses
that had gone southward would return in time for her use, she at length,
feeling ashamed at her own pusillanimity, resolved to prosecute her
journey in her usual manner.
"It was all plain road," she was assured, "except a high mountain called
Gunnerby Hill, about three miles from Grantham, which was her stage for
"I'm glad to hear there's a hill," said Jeanie, "for baith my sight and
my very feet are weary o' sic tracts o' level ground--it looks a' the way
between this and York as if a' the land had been trenched and levelled,
whilk is very wearisome to my Scotch een. When I lost sight of a muckle
blue hill they ca' Ingleboro', I thought I hadna a friend left in this
"As for the matter of that, young woman," said mine host, "an you be so
fond o' hill, I carena an thou couldst carry Gunnerby away with thee in
thy lap, for it's a murder to post-horses. But here's to thy journey, and
mayst thou win well through it, for thou is a bold and a canny lass."
So saying, he took a powerful pull at a solemn tankard of home-brewed
"I hope there is nae bad company on the road, sir?" said Jeanie.
"Why, when it's clean without them I'll thatch Groby pool wi' pancakes.
But there arena sae mony now; and since they hae lost Jim the Rat, they
hold together no better than the men of Marsham when they lost their
common. Take a drop ere thou goest," he concluded, offering her the
tankard; "thou wilt get naething at night save Grantham gruel, nine grots
and a gallon of water."
Jeanie courteously declined the tankard, and inquired what was her
"Thy lawing! Heaven help thee, wench! what ca'st thou that?"
"It is--I was wanting to ken what was to pay," replied Jeanie.
"Pay? Lord help thee!--why nought, woman--we hae drawn no liquor but a
gill o' beer, and the Saracen's Head can spare a mouthful o' meat to a
stranger like o' thee, that cannot speak Christian language. So here's to
thee once more. The same again, quoth Mark of Bellgrave," and he took
another profound pull at the tankard.
The travellers who have visited Newark more lately, will not fail to
remember the remarkably civil and gentlemanly manners of the person who
now keeps the principal inn there, and may find some amusement in
contrasting them with those of his more rough predecessor. But we believe
it will he found that the polish has worn off none of the real worth of
Taking leave of her Lincolnshire Gaius, Jeanie resumed her solitary walk,
and was somewhat alarmed when evening and twilight overtook her in the
open ground which extends to the foot of Gunnerby Hill, and is
intersected with patches of copse and with swampy spots. The extensive
commons on the north road, most of which are now enclosed, and in general
a relaxed state of police, exposed the traveller to a highway robbery in
a degree which is now unknown, except in the immediate vicinity of the
metropolis. Aware of this circumstance, Jeanie mended her pace when she
heard the trampling of a horse behind, and instinctively drew to one side
of the road, as if to allow as much room for the rider to pass as might
be possible. When the animal came up, she found that it was bearing two
women, the one placed on a side-saddle, the other on a pillion behind
her, as may still occasionally be seen in England.
"A braw good-night to ye, Jeanie Deans," said the foremost female as the
horse passed our heroine; "What think ye o' yon bonny hill yonder,
lifting its brow to the moon? Trow ye yon's the gate to heaven, that ye
are sae fain of?--maybe we will win there the night yet, God sain us,
though our minny here's rather dreigh in the upgang."
The speaker kept changing her seat in the saddle, and half stopping the
horse as she brought her body round, while the woman that sate behind her
on the pillion seemed to urge her on, in words which Jeanie heard but
"Hand your tongue, ye moon-raised b----! what is your business with ----,
or with heaven or hell either?"
"Troth, mither, no muckle wi' heaven, I doubt, considering wha I carry
ahint me--and as for hell, it will fight its ain battle at its ain time,
I'se be bound.--Come, naggie, trot awa, man, an as thou wert a
broomstick, for a witch rides thee--
With my curtch on my foot, and my shoe on my hand,
I glance like the wildfire through brugh and through land."
The tramp of the horse, and the increasing distance, drowned the rest of
her song, but Jeanie heard for some time the inarticulate sounds ring
along the waste.
Our pilgrim remained stupified with undefined apprehensions. The being
named by her name in so wild a manner, and in a strange country, without
farther explanation or communing, by a person who thus strangely flitted
forward and disappeared before her, came near to the supernatural sounds
The airy tongues, which syllable men's names
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.
And although widely different in features, deportment, and rank, from the
Lady of that enchanting masque, the continuation of the passage may be
happily applied to Jeanie Deans upon this singular alarm:--
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion--Conscience.
In fact, it was, with the recollection of the affectionate and dutiful
errand on which she was engaged, her right, if such a word could be
applicable, to expect protection in a task so meritorious. She had not
advanced much farther, with a mind calmed by these reflections, when she
was disturbed by a new and more instant subject of terror. Two men, who
had been lurking among some copse, started up as she advanced, and met
her on the road in a menacing manner. "Stand and deliver," said one of
them, a short stout fellow, in a smock-frock, such as are worn by
"The woman," said the other, a tall thin figure, "does not understand the
words of action.--Your money, my precious, or your life."
"I have but very little money, gentlemen," said poor Jeanie, tendering
that portion which she had separated from her principal stock, and kept
apart for such an emergency; "but if you are resolved to have it, to be
sure you must have it."
"This won't do, my girl. D--n me, if it shall pass!" said the shorter
ruffian; "do ye think gentlemen are to hazard their lives on the road to
be cheated in this way? We'll have every farthing you have got, or we
will strip you to the skin, curse me."
His companion, who seemed to have something like compassion for the
horror which Jeanie's countenance now expressed, said, "No, no, Tom, this
is one of the precious sisters, and we'll take her word, for once,
without putting her to the stripping proof--Hark ye, my lass, if ye look
up to heaven, and say, this is the last penny you have about ye, why,
hang it, we'll let you pass."
"I am not free," answered Jeanie, "to say what I have about me,
gentlemen, for there's life and death depends on my journey; but if you
leave me as much as finds me bread and water, I'll be satisfied, and
thank you, and pray for you."
"D--n your prayers!" said the shorter fellow, "that's a coin that won't
pass with us;" and at the same time made a motion to seize her.
"Stay, gentlemen," Ratcliffe's pass suddenly occurring to her; "perhaps
you know this paper."
"What the devil is she after now, Frank?" said the more savage ruffian--
"Do you look at it, for, d--n me if I could read it if it were for the
benefit of my clergy."
"This is a jark from Jim Ratcliffe," said the taller, having looked at
the bit of paper. "The wench must pass by our cutter's law."
"I say no," answered his companion; "Rat has left the lay, and turned
bloodhound, they say."
"We may need a good turn from him all the same," said the taller ruffian
"But what are we to do then?" said the shorter man--"We promised, you
know, to strip the wench, and send her begging back to her own beggarly
country, and now you are for letting her go on."
"I did not say that," said the other fellow, and whispered to his
companion, who replied, "Be alive about it then, and don't keep
chattering till some travellers come up to nab us."
"You must follow us off the road, young woman," said the taller.
"For the love of God!" exclaimed Jeanie, "as you were born of woman,
dinna ask me to leave the road! rather take all I have in the world."
"What the devil is the wench afraid of?" said the other fellow. "I tell
you you shall come to no harm; but if you will not leave the road and
come with us, d--n me, but I'll beat your brains out where you stand."
"Thou art a rough bear, Tom," said his companion.--"An ye touch her, I'll
give ye a shake by the collar shall make the Leicester beans rattle in
thy guts.--Never mind him, girl; I will not allow him to lay a finger on
you, if you walk quietly on with us; but if you keep jabbering there,
d--n me, but I'll leave him to settle it with you."
This threat conveyed all that is terrible to the imagination of poor
Jeanie, who saw in him that "was of milder mood" her only protection from
the most brutal treatment. She, therefore, not only followed him, but
even held him by the sleeve, lest he should escape from her; and the
fellow, hardened as he was, seemed something touched by these marks of
confidence, and repeatedly assured her, that he would suffer her to
receive no harm.
They conducted their prisoner in a direction leading more and more from
the public road, but she observed that they kept a sort of track or
by-path, which relieved her from part of her apprehensions, which would
have been greatly increased had they not seemed to follow a determined
and ascertained route. After about half-an-hour's walking, all three in
profound silence, they approached an old barn, which stood on the edge of
some cultivated ground, but remote from everything like a habitation. It
was itself, however, tenanted, for there was light in the windows.
One of the footpads scratched at the door, which was opened by a female,
and they entered with their unhappy prisoner. An old woman, who was
preparing food by the assistance of a stifling fire of lighted charcoal,
asked them, in the name of the devil, what they brought the wench there
for, and why they did not strip her and turn her abroad on the common?
"Come, come, Mother Blood," said the tall man, "we'll do what's right to
oblige you, and we'll do no more; we are bad enough, but not such as you
would make us,--devils incarnate."
"She has got a jark from Jim Ratcliffe," said the short fellow, "and
Frank here won't hear of our putting her through the mill."
"No, that I will not, by G--d!" answered Frank; "but if old Mother Blood
could keep her here for a little while, or send her back to Scotland,
without hurting her, why, I see no harm in that--not I."
"I'll tell you what, Frank Levitt," said the old woman, "if you call me
Mother Blood again, I'll paint this gully" (and she held a knife up as if
about to make good her threat) "in the best blood in your body, my bonny
"The price of ointment must be up in the north," said Frank, "that puts
Mother Blood so much out of humour."
Without a moment's hesitation the fury darted her knife at him with the
vengeful dexterity of a wild Indian. As he was on his guard, he avoided
the missile by a sudden motion of his head, but it whistled past his ear,
and stuck deep in the clay wall of a partition behind.
"Come, come, mother," said the robber, seizing her by both wrists, "I
shall teach you who's master;" and so saying, he forced the hag backwards
by main force, who strove vehemently until she sunk on a bunch of straw,
and then, letting go her hands, he held up his finger towards her in the
menacing posture by which a maniac is intimidated by his keeper. It
appeared to produce the desired effect; for she did not attempt to rise
from the seat on which he had placed her, or to resume any measures of
actual violence, but wrung her withered hands with impotent rage, and
brayed and howled like a demoniac.
"I will keep my promise with you, you old devil," said Frank; "the wench
shall not go forward on the London road, but I will not have you touch a
hair of her head, if it were but for your insolence."
This intimation seemed to compose in some degree the vehement passion of
the old hag; and while her exclamations and howls sunk into a low,
maundering, growling tone of voice, another personage was added to this
"Eh, Frank Levitt," said this new-comer, who entered with a hop, step,
and jump, which at once conveyed her from the door into the centre of the
party, "were ye killing our mother? or were ye cutting the grunter's
weasand that Tam brought in this morning? or have ye been reading your
prayers backward, to bring up my auld acquaintance the deil amang ye?"
The tone of the speaker was so particular, that Jeanie immediately
recognised the woman who had rode foremost of the pair which passed her