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THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS
ARTHUR MEE Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge
J.A. HAMMERTON Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia
VOL. VII FICTION
_Table of Contents_
PEACOCK, THOMAS LOVE
The Captain's Daughter
Gargantua and Pantagruel
Never Too Late to Mend
The Cloister and the Hearth
Sir Charles Grandison
RICHTER, JEAN PAUL
Papers of the Forest Schoolmaster
ROUSSEAU, JEAN JACQUES
SAINT PIERRE, BERNARDIN DE
Paul and Virginia
Tom Cringle's Log
SCOTT, SIR WALTER
Heart of Midlothian
Peveril of the Peak
(SCOTT: _Continued in Vol. VIII_.)
Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end of
* * * * *
THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK
The novels of Thomas Love Peacock still find admirers among
cultured readers, but his extravagant satire and a certain
bookish awkwardness will never appeal to the great
novel-reading public. The son of a London glass merchant,
Peacock was born at Weymouth on October 18, 1785. Early in
life he was engaged in some mercantile occupation, which,
however, he did not follow up for long. Then came a period of
study, and he became an excellent classical scholar. His first
ambition was to become a poet, and between 1804 and 1806 he
published two slender volumes of verse, which attracted little
or no attention. Yet Peacock was a poet of considerable merit,
his best work in this direction being scattered at random
throughout his novels. In 1812 he contracted a friendship with
Shelley, whose executor he became with Lord Byron. Peacock's
first novel, "Headlong Hall," appeared in 1816, and is
interesting not so much as a story pure and simple, but as a
study of the author's own temperament. His personalities are
seldom real live characters; they are, rather, mouthpieces
created for the purposes of discussion. Peacock died on
January 23, 1866.
The ambiguous light of a December morning, peeping through the windows
of the Holyhead mail, dispelled the soft visions of the four insides,
who had slept, or seemed to sleep, through the first seventy miles of
A lively remark that the day was none of the finest having elicited a
repartee of "quite the contrary," the various knotty points of
meteorology were successively discussed and exhausted; and, the ice
being thus broken, in the course of conversation it appeared that all
four, though perfect strangers to each other, were actually bound to the
same point, namely, Headlong Hall, the seat of the ancient family of the
Headlongs, of the vale of Llanberris, in Carnarvonshire.
The present representative of the house, Harry Headlong, Esquire, was,
like all other Welsh squires, fond of shooting, hunting, racing,
drinking, and other such innocent amusements. But, unlike other Welsh
squires, he had actually suffered books to find their way into his
house; and, by dint of lounging over them after dinner, he became seized
with a violent passion to be thought a philosopher and a man of taste,
and had formed in London as extensive an acquaintance with philosophers
and dilettanti as his utmost ambition could desire. It now became his
chief wish to have them all together in Headlong Hall, arguing over his
old Port and Burgundy the various knotty points which puzzled him. He
had, therefore, sent them invitations in due form to pass their
Christmas at Headlong Hall, and four of the chosen guests were now on
their way in the four corners of the Holyhead mail.
These four persons were Mr. Foster, the optimist, who believed in the
improvement of mankind; Mr. Escot, the pessimist, who saw mankind
constantly deteriorating; Mr. Jenkison, who thought things were very
well as they were; and the Reverend Doctor Gaster, who, though neither a
philosopher nor a man of taste, had won the squire's fancy by a learned
dissertation on the art of stuffing a turkey.
In the midst of an animated conversation the coach stopped, and the
coachman, opening the door, vociferated: "Breakfast, gentlemen," a sound
which so gladdened the ears of the divine, that the alacrity with which
he sprang from the vehicle distorted his ankle, and he was obliged to
limp into the inn between Mr. Escot and Mr. Jenkison, the former
observing that he ought to look for nothing but evil and, therefore,
should not be surprised at this little accident; the latter remarking
that the comfort of a good breakfast and the pain of a sprained ankle
pretty exactly balanced each other.
The morning being extremely cold, the doctor contrived to be seated as
near the fire as was consistent with his other object of having a
perfect command of the table and its apparatus, which consisted not only
of the ordinary comforts of tea and toast, but of a delicious supply of
new-laid eggs and a magnificent round of beef; against which Mr. Escot
immediately pointed all the artillery of his eloquence, declaring the
use of animal food, conjointly with that of fire, to be one of the
principal causes of the present degeneracy of mankind.
"The natural and original man," said he, "lived in the woods; the roots
and fruits of the earth supplied his simple nutriment; he had few
desires, and no diseases. But, when he began to sacrifice victims on the
altar of superstition, to pursue the goat and the deer, and, by the
pernicious invention of fire, to pervert their flesh into food, luxury,
disease, and premature death were let loose upon the world. From that
period the stature of mankind has been in a state of gradual diminution,
and I have not the least doubt that it will continue to grow _small by
degrees, and lamentably less_, till the whole race will vanish
imperceptibly from the face of the earth."
"I cannot agree," said Mr. Foster, "in the consequences being so very
disastrous, though I admit that in some respects the use of animal food
retards the perfectibility of the species."
"In the controversy concerning animal and vegetable food," said Mr.
Jenkison, "there is much to be said on both sides. I content myself with
a mixed diet, and make a point of eating whatever is placed before me,
provided it be good in its kind."
In this opinion his two brother philosophers practically coincided,
though they both ran down the theory as highly detrimental to the best
interests of man.
The discussion raged for some time on the question whether man was a
carnivorous or frugivorous animal.
"I am no anatomist," said Mr. Jenkison, "and cannot decide where doctors
disagree; in the meantime, I conclude that man is omnivorous, and on
that conclusion I act."
"Your conclusion is truly orthodox," said the Reverend Doctor Gaster;
"indeed, the loaves and fishes are typical of a mixed diet; and the
practise of the church in all ages shows----"
"That it never loses sight of the loaves and fishes," said Mr. Escot.
"It never loses sight of any point of sound doctrine," said the reverend
The coachman now informed them their time was elapsed.
"You will allow," said Mr. Foster, as soon as they were again in motion,
"that the wild man of the woods could not transport himself over two
hundred miles of forest with as much facility as one of these vehicles
transports you and me."
"I am certain," said Mr. Escot, "that a wild man can travel an immense
distance without fatigue; but what is the advantage of locomotion? The
wild man is happy in one spot, and there he remains; the civilised man
is wretched in every place he happens to be in, and then congratulates
himself on being accommodated with a machine that will whirl him to
another, where he will be just as miserable as ever."
_II.--The Squire and his Guests_
Squire Headlong, in the meanwhile, was superintending operations in four
scenes of action at the Hall--the cellar, the library, the
picture-gallery, and the dining-room-preparing for the reception of his
philosophical visitors. His myrmidon on this occasion was a little,
red-nosed butler, who waddled about the house after his master, while
the latter bounced from room to room like a cracker. Multitudes of
packages had arrived by land and water, from London, and Liverpool, and
Chester, and Manchester, and various parts of the mountains; books,
wine, cheese, mathematical instruments, turkeys, figs, soda-water,
fiddles, flutes, tea, sugar, eggs, French horns, sofas, chairs, tables,
carpets, beds, fruits, looking-glasses, nuts, drawing-books, bottled
ale, pickles, and fish sauce, patent lamps, barrels of oysters, lemons,
and jars of Portugal grapes. These, arriving in succession, and with
infinite rapidity, had been deposited at random--as the convenience of
the moment dictated--sofas in the cellar, hampers of ale in the
drawing-room, and fiddles and fish-sauce in the library. The servants
unpacking all these in furious haste, and flying with them from place to
place, tumbled over one another upstairs and down. All was bustle,
uproar, and confusion; yet nothing seemed to advance, while the rage and
impetuosity of the squire continued fermenting to the highest degree of
exasperation, which he signified, from time to time, by converting some
newly-unpacked article, such as a book, a bottle, a ham, or a fiddle,
into a missile against the head of some unfortunate servant.
In the midst of this scene of confusion thrice confounded, arrived the
lovely Caprioletta Headlong, the squire's sister, whom he had sent for
to do the honours of his house, beaming like light on chaos, to arrange
disorder and harmonise discord. The tempestuous spirit of her brother
became as smooth as the surface of the lake of Llanberris, and in less
than twenty-four hours after her arrival, everything was disposed in its
proper station, and the squire began to be all impatience for the
appearance of his promised guests.
The first visitor was Marmaduke Milestone, Esq., a picturesque landscape
gardener of the first celebrity, who promised himself the glorious
achievement of polishing and trimming the rocks of Llanberris.
A postchaise brought the Reverend Doctor Gaster, and then came the three
The next arrival was that of Mr. Cranium and his lovely daughter, Miss
Cephalis Cranium, who flew to the arms of her dear friend Caprioletta.
Miss Cephalis blushed like a carnation at the sight of Mr. Escot, and
Mr. Escot glowed like a corn-poppy at the sight of Miss Cephalis.
Mr. Escot had formerly been the received lover of Miss Cephalis, till he
incurred the indignation of her father by laughing at a very profound
dissertation which the old gentleman delivered.
Next arrived a postchaise containing four insides. These personages were
two very profound critics, Mr. Gall and Mr. Treacle, and two very
multitudinous versifiers, Mr. Nightshade and Mr. McLaurel.
The last arrivals were Mr. Cornelius Chromatic, the most scientific of
all amateurs of the fiddle, with his two blooming daughters, Miss
Tenorina and Miss Graziosa; Sir Patrick O'Prism, a dilettante painter of
high renown, and his maiden aunt, Miss Philomela Poppyseed, a compounder
of novels written for the express purpose of supporting every species of
superstition and prejudice; and Mr. Panscope, the chemical, botanical,
geological, astronomical, critical philosopher, who had run through the
whole circle of the sciences and understood them all equally well.
Mr. Milestone was impatient to take a walk round the grounds, that he
might examine how far the system of clumping and levelling could be
carried advantageously into effect; and several of the party supporting
the proposition, with Squire Headlong and Mr. Milestone leading the van,
they commenced their perambulation.
_III.--The Tower and the Skull_
The result of Mr. Milestone's eloquence was that he and the squire set
out again, immediately after breakfast next morning, to examine the
capabilities of the scenery. The object that most attracted Mr.
Milestone's admiration was a ruined tower on a projecting point of rock,
almost totally overgrown with ivy. This ivy, Mr. Milestone observed,
required trimming and clearing in various parts; a little pointing and
polishing was necessary for the dilapidated walls; and the whole effect
would be materially increased by a plantation of spruce fir, the present
rugged and broken ascent being first converted into a beautiful slope,
which might be easily effected by blowing up a part of the rock with
gunpowder, laying on a quantity of fine mould, and covering the whole
with an elegant stratum of turf.
Squire Headlong caught with avidity at this suggestion, and as he had
always a store of gunpowder in the house, he insisted on commencing
operations immediately. Accordingly, he bounded back to the house and
speedily returned, accompanied by the little butler and half a dozen
servants and labourers with pickaxes and gunpowder, a hanging stove, and
a poker, together with a basket of cold meat and two or three bottles of
Mr. Milestone superintended the proceedings. The rock was excavated, the
powder introduced, the apertures strongly blockaded with fragments of
stone; a long train was laid to a spot sufficiently remote from the
possibility of harm, and the squire seized the poker, and applied the
end of it to the train.
At this critical moment Mr. Cranium and Mr. Panscope appeared at the top
of the tower, which, unseeing and unseen, they had ascended on the
opposite side to that where the squire and Mr. Milestone were conducting
their operations. Their sudden appearance a little dismayed the squire,
who, however, comforted himself with the reflection that the tower was
perfectly safe, and that his friends were in no probable danger but of a
knock on the head from a flying fragment of stone.
The explosion took place, and the shattered rock was hurled into the air
in the midst of fire and smoke. The tower remained untouched, but the
influence of sudden fear had so violent an effect on Mr. Cranium, that
he lost his balance, and alighted in an ivy bush, which, giving way
beneath him, transferred him to a tuft of hazel at its base, which
consigned him to the boughs of an ash that had rooted itself in a
fissure about halfway down the rock, which finally transmitted him to
the waters of the lake.
Squire Headlong anxiously watched the tower as the smoke rolled away;
but when the shadowy curtain was withdrawn, and Mr. Panscope was
discovered, alone, in a tragical attitude, his apprehensions became
boundless, and he concluded that a flying fragment of rock had killed
Mr. Escot arrived at the scene of the disaster just as Mr. Cranium,
utterly destitute of the art of swimming, was in imminent danger of
drowning. Mr. Escot immediately plunged in to his assistance, and
brought him alive and in safety to a shelving part of the shore. Their
landing was hailed with a shout from the delighted squire, who, shaking
them both heartily by the hand, and making ten thousand lame apologies
to Mr. Cranium, concluded by asking, in a pathetic tone, "How much water
he had swallowed?" and without waiting for his answer, filled a large
tumbler with Madeira, and insisted on his tossing it off, which was no
sooner said than done. Mr. Panscope descended the tower, which he vowed
never again to approach within a quarter of a mile.
The squire took care that Mr. Cranium should be seated next to him at
dinner, and plied him so hard with Madeira, to prevent him, as he said,
from taking cold, that long before the ladies sent in their summons to
coffee, the squire was under the necessity of ringing for three or four
servants to carry him to bed, observing, with a smile of great
satisfaction, that he was in a very excellent way for escaping any ill
consequences that might have resulted from his accident.
The beautiful Cephalis, being thus freed from his surveillance, was
enabled, during the course of the evening, to develop to his preserver
the full extent of her gratitude.
Mr. Escot passed a sleepless night, the ordinary effect of love,
according to some amatory poets, and arose with the first peep of day.
He sallied forth to enjoy the balmy breeze of morning, which any but a
lover might have thought too cool; for it was an intense frost, the sun
had not risen, and the wind was rather fresh from the north-east. But a
lover is supposed to have "a fire in his heart and a fire in his brain,"
and the philosopher walked on, careless of whither he went, till he
found himself near the enclosure of a little mountain chapel. Passing
through the wicket, and peeping through the chapel window, he could not
refrain from reciting a verse in Greek aloud, to the great terror of the
sexton, who was just entering the churchyard.
Mr. Escot at once decided that now was the time to get extensive and
accurate information concerning his theory of the physical deterioration
"You have been sexton here," said Mr. Escot, in the language of Hamlet,
"man and boy, forty years."
The sexton turned pale; the period named was so nearly the true.
"During this period you have, of course, dug up many bones of the people
of ancient times. Perhaps you can show me a few."
The sexton grinned a ghastly smile.
"Will you take your Bible oath you don't want them to raise the devil
"Willingly," said Mr. Escot. "I have an abstruse reason for the
"Why, if you have an _obtuse_ reason," said the sexton, "that alters the
So saying, he led the way to the bone-house, from which he began to
throw out various bones and skulls, and amongst them a skull of very
extraordinary magnitude, which he swore by St. David was the skull of
"How do you know this to be his skull?" said Mr. Escot.
"He was the biggest man that ever lived, and he was buried here; and
this is the biggest skull I ever found. You see now----"
"Nothing could be more logical," said Mr. Escot. "My good friend, will
you allow me to take away this skull with me?"
"St. Winifred bless us!" exclaimed the sexton. "Would you have me
haunted by his ghost for taking his blessed bones out of consecrated
ground? For, look you, his epitaph says:
"'He that my bones shall ill bestow,
Leek in his ground shall never grow.'"
"But you will well bestow them in giving them to me," said Mr. Escot. "I
will have this illustrious skull bound with a silver rim and filled with
wine, for when the wine is in the brain is out."
Saying these words, he put a dollar into the hand of the sexton, who
instantly stood spellbound, while Mr. Escot walked off in triumph with
the skull of Cadwallader.
The Christmas ball, when relatives and friends assembled from far and
wide, was the great entertainment given at Headlong Hall from time
immemorial, and it was on the morning after the ball that Miss
Brindle-Mew Tabitha Ap-Headlong, the squire's maiden aunt, took her
nephew aside, and told him it was time he was married if the family was
not to become extinct.
"Egad!" said Squire Headlong. "That is very true. I'll marry directly. A
good opportunity to fix on someone now they are all here, and I'll pop
the question without further ceremony. I'll think of somebody presently.
I should like to be married on the same day with Caprioletta. She is
going to be married to my friend Mr. Foster, the philosopher."
"Oh!" said the maiden aunt, "that a daughter of our ancient family
should marry a philosopher!"
"It's Caprioletta's affair, not mine," said Squire Headlong. "I tell you
the matter is settled, fixed, determined, and so am I, to be married on
the same day. I don't know, now I think of it, whom I can choose better
than one of the daughters of my friend Chromatic."
With that the squire flew over to Mr. Chromatic, and, with a hearty slap
on the shoulder, asked him "How he should like him for a son-in-law?"
Mr. Chromatic, rubbing his shoulder, and highly delighted with the
proposal, answered, "Very much indeed"; but, proceeding to ascertain
which of his daughters had captivated the squire, the squire was unable
to satisfy his curiosity.
"I hope," said Mr. Chromatic, "it may be Tenorina, for I imagine
Graziosa has conceived a penchant for Sir Patrick O'Prism."
"Tenorina, exactly!" said Squire Headlong; and became so impatient to
bring the matter to a conclusion that Mr. Chromatic undertook to
communicate with his daughter immediately. The young lady proved to be
as ready as the squire, and the preliminaries were arranged in little
more than five minutes.
Mr. Chromatic's words concerning his daughter Graziosa and Sir Patrick
O'Prism were not lost on the squire, who at once determined to have as
many companions in the scrape as possible; and who, as soon as he could
tear himself from Mrs. Headlong elect, took three flying bounds across
the room to the baronet, and said, "So, Sir Patrick, I find you and I
are going to be married?"
"Are we?" said Sir Patrick. "Then sure, won't I wish you joy, and myself
too, for this is the first I have heard of it."
"Well," said Squire Headlong, "I have made up my mind to it, and you
must not disappoint me."
"To be sure, I won't, if I can help it," said Sir Patrick. "And pray,
now, who is that I am to be turning into Lady O'Prism?"
"Miss Graziosa Chromatic," said the squire.
"Och violet and vermilion!" said Sir Patrick; "though I never thought of
it before, I dare say she will suit me as well as another; but then you
must persuade the ould Orpheus to draw out a few notes of rather a more
magical description than those he is so fond of scraping on his crazy
"To be sure, he shall," said the squire; and immediately returning to
Mr. Chromatic, concluded the negotiation for Sir Patrick as
expeditiously as he had done for himself.
The squire next addressed himself to Mr. Escot: "Here are three couples
of us going to throw off together, with the Reverend Doctor Gaster for
whipper in. Now I think you cannot do better than to make the fourth
with Miss Cephalis."
"Indeed?" said Mr. Escot. "Nothing would be more agreeable to both of us
than such an arrangement; but the old gentleman since I first knew him
has changed like the rest of the world, very lamentably for the worse.".
"I'll settle him," said Squire Headlong; and immediately posted up to
Mr. Cranium, informing him that four marriages were about to take place
by way of a merry winding up of the Christmas festivities. "In the first
place," said the squire, "my sister and Mr. Foster; in the second, Miss
Graziosa Chromatic and Sir Patrick O'Prism; in the third, Miss Tenorina
Chromatic and your humble servant; and in the fourth, to which, by the
by, your consent is wanted, your daughter----"
"And Mr. Panscope," said Mr. Cranium.
"And Mr. Escot," said Squire Headlong. What would you have better? He
has ten thousand virtues."
"So has Mr. Panscope. He has ten thousand a year."
"Virtues?" said Squire Headlong.
"Pounds," said Mr. Cranium.
"Who fished you out of the water?" said Squire Headlong..
"What is that to the purpose?" said Mr. Cranium. "The whole process of
the action was mechanical and necessary. He could no more help jumping
into the water than I could help falling into it."
"Very well," said the squire. "Your daughter and Mr. Escot are
necessitated to love one another."
Mr. Cranium, after a profound reverie, said, "Do you think Mr. Escot
would give me that skull?"
"Skull?" said Squire Headlong.
"Yes," said Mr. Cranium. "The skull of Cadwallader."
"To be sure he will. How can you doubt it?"
"I simply know," said Mr. Cranium, "that if it were once in my
possession I would not part with it for any acquisition on earth, much
less for a wife."
The squire flew over to Mr. Escot. "I told you," said he, "I would
settle him; but there is a very hard condition attached to his
compliance. Nothing less than the absolute and unconditional surrender
of the skull of Cadwallader."
"I resign it," said Mr. Escot.
"The skull is yours," said the squire, skipping over to Mr. Cranium.
"I am perfectly satisfied," said Mr. Cranium.
"The lady is yours," said the squire, skipping back to Mr. Escot.
"I am the happiest man alive," said Mr. Escot, and he flew off as nimbly
as Squire Headlong himself, to impart the happy intelligence to his
The departure of the ball visitors then took place, and the squire did
not suffer many days to elapse before the spiritual metamorphosis of
eight into four was effected by the clerical dexterity of the Reverend
* * * * *
"Nightmare Abbey" is perhaps the most extravagant of all
Peacock's stories, and, with the exception of "Headlong Hall,"
it obtained more vogue on its publication in 1818 than any of
his other works. It is eminently characteristic of its
author--the eighteenth century Rabelaisian pagan who prided
himself on his antagonism towards religion, yet whose likes
and dislikes were invariably inspired by hatred of cant and
enthusiasm for progress. The hero of the story is easily
distinguishable as the poet Shelley. On the whole the
characters are more life-like presentations of humanity than
those of "Headlong Hall." Simple and weak though the plot is,
the reader is carried along to the end through a brilliant
maze of wit and satire; underneath which outward show of
irresponsible fun there pervades a gloomy note of tragedy.
_I.--Mr. Glowry and His Son_
Nightmare Abbey, a venerable family mansion in a highly picturesque
state of semi-dilapidation, in the county of, Lincoln, had the honour to
be the seat of Christopher Glowry, Esquire, a gentleman much troubled
with those phantoms of indigestion commonly called "blue devils."
Disappointed both in love and friendship, he had come to the conclusion
that there was but one good thing in the world, videlicet, a good
dinner; and remained a widower, with one only son and heir, Scythrop.
This son had been sent to a public-school, where a little learning was
painfully beaten into him, and thence to the university, where it was
carefully taken out of him, and he finished his education to the high
satisfaction of the master and fellows of his college. He passed his
vacations sometimes at Nightmare Abbey, and sometimes in London, at the
house of his uncle, Mr. Hilary, a very cheerful and elastic gentleman.
The company that frequented his house was the gayest of the gay.
Scythrop danced with the ladies and drank with the gentlemen, and was
pronounced by both a very accomplished, charming fellow.
Here he first saw the beautiful Miss Emily Girouette, and fell in love;
he was favourably received, but the respective fathers quarrelled about
the terms of the bargain, and the two lovers were torn asunder, weeping
and vowing eternal constancy; and in three weeks the lady was led a
smiling bride to the altar, leaving Scythrop half distracted. His
father, to comfort him, read him a commentary on Ecclesiastes, of his
own composition; it was thrown away upon Scythrop, who retired to his
tower as dismal and disconsolate as before.
The tower which Scythrop inhabited stood at the south-eastern angle of
the abbey; the south-western was ruinous and full of owls; the
north-eastern contained the apartments of Mr. Glowry; the north-eastern
tower was appropriated to the servants, whom Mr. Glowry always chose by
one of two criterions--a long face or a dismal name. The main building was
divided into room of state, spacious apartments for feasting, and
numerous bedrooms for visitors, who, however, were few.
Occasional visits were paid by Mr. and Mrs. Hilary, but another visitor,
much more to Mr. dowry's taste, was Mr. Flosky, a very lachrymose and
morbid gentleman, of some note in the literary world, with a very fine
sense of the grim and the tearful.
But the dearest friend of Mr. Glowry, and his most welcome guest, was
Mr. Toobad, the Manichean Millenarian. The twelfth verse of the twelfth
chapter of Revelations was always in his mouth: "Woe to the inhabitants
of the earth and of the sea, for the devil is come among you, having
great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time." He maintained
that this precise time was the point of the plenitude of the power of
the Evil Principle; he used to add that by and by he would be cast down,
and a happy order of things succeed, but never omitted to add "Not in
our time," which last words were always echoed by Mr. Glowry, in doleful
Shortly after Scythrop's disappointment Mr. Glowry was involved in a
lawsuit, which compelled his attendance in London, and Scythrop was left
alone, to wander about, with the "Sorrows of Werter" in his hand.
He now became troubled with the passion for reforming the world, and
meditated on the practicability of reviving a confederacy of
regenerators. He wrote and published a treatise in which his meanings
were carefully wrapped up in the monk's hood of transcendental
technology, but filled with hints of matters deep and dangerous, which
he thought would set the whole nation in a ferment, and awaited the
result in awful expectation; some months after he received a letter from
his bookseller, informing him that only seven copies had been sold, and
concluding with a polite request for the balance.
"Seven copies!" he thought. "Seven is a mystical number, and the omen is
good. Let me find the seven purchasers, and they shall be the seven
golden candlesticks with which I shall illuminate the world."
Scythrop had a certain portion of mechanical genius, and constructed
models of cells and recesses, sliding panels and secret passages, which
would have baffled the skill of the Parisian police. In his father's
absence, he smuggled a dumb carpenter into his tower, and gave reality
to one of these models. He foresaw that a great leader of regeneration
would be involved in fearful dilemmas, and determined to adopt all
possible precautions for his own preservation.
In the meantime, he drank Madeira and laid deep schemes for a thorough
repair of the crazy fabric of human nature.
Mr. Glowry returned with the loss of his lawsuit, and found Scythrop in
a mood most sympathetically tragic. His friends, whom we have mentioned,
availed themselves of his return to pay him a simultaneous visit, and at
the same time arrived Scythrop's friend and fellow-collegian, the Hon.
Mr. Listless, a young gentleman devoured with a gloomy and
misanthropical _nil curo_.
Mr. and Mrs. Hilary brought with them an orphan niece, Miss Marionetta
Celestina O'Carroll, a blooming and accomplished young lady, who
exhibited in her own character all the diversities of an April sky. Her
hair was light brown, her eyes hazel, her features regular, and her
person surpassingly graceful. She had some coquetry, and more caprice,
liking and disliking almost in the same moment, and had not been three
days in the abbey before she threw out all the lures of her beauty and
accomplishments to make a prize of her cousin Scythrop's heart.
Scythrop's romantic dreams had given him many pure anticipated
cognitions of combinations of beauty and intelligence, which, he had
some misgivings, were not realised by Marionetta, but he soon became
distractedly in love, which, when the lady perceived, she altered her
tactics and assumed coldness and reserve. Scythrop was confounded, but,
instead of falling at her feet begging explanation, he retreated to his
tower, seated himself in the president's chair of his imaginary
tribunal, summoned Marionetta with terrible formalities, frightened her
out of her wits, disclosed himself, and clasped the beautiful penitent
to his bosom.
While he was acting this reverie, his study door opened, and the real
"For heaven's sake, Scythrop," said she, "what is the matter?"
"For heaven's sake, indeed!" said Scythrop, "for your sake, Marionetta,
and you are my heaven! Distraction is the matter. I adore you, and your
cruelty drives me mad!" He threw himself at her feet, and breathed a
thousand vows in the most passionate language of romance.
With a very arch look, she said: "I prithee, deliver thyself like a man
of the world." The levity of this quotation jarred so discordantly on
the romantic inamorato that he sprang to his feet, and beat his forehead
with his clenched fist. The young lady was terrified, and, taking his
hand in hers, said in her tenderest tone: "What would you have,
Scythrop was in heaven again.
"What but you, Marionetta! You, for the companion of my studies, the
auxiliary of my great designs for mankind."
"I am afraid I should be but a poor auxiliary, Scythrop. What would you
have me do?"
"Do as Rosalia does with Carlos, Marionetta. Let us each open a vein in
the other's arm, mix our blood in a bowl, and drink it as a sacrament of
love; then we shall see visions of transcendental illumination."
Marionetta disengaged herself suddenly, and fled with precipitation.
Scythrop pursued her, crying, "Stop, stop Marionetta--my life, my love!"
and was gaining rapidly on her flight, when he came into sudden and
violent contact with Mr. Toobad, and they both plunged together to the
foot of the stairs, which gave the young lady time to escape and enclose
herself in her chamber.
This was witnessed by Mr. Glowry, and he determined on a full
explanation. He therefore entered Scythrop Tower, and at once said:
"So, sir, you are in love with your cousin."
Scythrop, with as little hesitation, answered, "Yes, sir."
"That is candid, at least. It is very provoking, very disappointing. I
could not have supposed that you could have been infatuated with such a
dancing, laughing, singing, careless, merry hearted thing as
Marionetta--and with no fortune. Besides, sir, I have made a choice for
you. Such a lovely, serious creature, in a fine state of high
dissatisfaction with the world! Sir, I have pledged my honour to the
contract, and now, sir, what is to be done?"
"Indeed, sir, I cannot say. I claim on this occasion that liberty of
action which is the co-natal prerogative of every rational being."
"Liberty of action, sir! There is no such thing, and if you do not
comply with my wishes, I shall be under the necessity of disinheriting
you, though I shall do so with tears in my eyes."
He immediately sought Mrs. Hilary, and communicated his views to her.
She straightway hinted to her niece, whom she loved as her own child,
that dignity and decorum required them to leave the abbey at once.
Marionetta listened in silent submission, but when Scythrop entered, and
threw himself at her feet in a paroxysm of grief, she threw her arms
round his neck, and burst into tears.
Scythrop snatched from its repository his ancestor's skull, filled it
with Madeira, and presenting himself before Mr. Glowry, threatened to
drink off the contents, if he did not promise that Marionetta should not
leave the abbey without her own consent. Mr. Glowry, who took the
Madeira to be some deadly brewage, gave his promise in dismal panic.
Scythrop returned to Marionetta with a joyful heart, and drank the
Maderia by the way, leaving his father much disturbed, for he had set
his heart on marrying his son to the daughter of his friend, Mr. Toobad.
Mr. Toobad, too much accustomed to the intermeddling of the devil in all
his affairs to be astonished at this new trace of his cloven claw, yet
determined to outwit him, for he was sure there could be no comparison
between his daughter and Marionetta in the mind of anyone who had a
proper perception of the fact that seriousness and solemnity are the
characteristics of wisdom. Therefore he set off to meet her in London,
that he might lose no time in bringing her to Nightmare Abbey. After the
first joy of meeting was over, he told his daughter he had a husband
ready for her. The young lady replied very gravely she should take the
liberty of choosing for herself.
"Have I not a fortune in my own right, sir?" said Celinda.
"The more is the pity," said Mr. Toobad. "But I can find means, miss--I
can find means."
They parted for the night with the expression of opposite resolutions,
and in the morning the young lady's chamber was empty, and what was
become of her, Mr. Toobad had no clue to guess. He declared that when he
should discover the fugitive, she should find "that the devil was come
unto her, having great wrath," and continued to investigate town and
country, visiting and revisiting Nightmare Abbey at intervals to consult
Notwithstanding the difficulties that surrounded her, Marionetta could
not debar herself from the pleasure of tormenting her lover, whom she
kept in a continual fever, sometimes meeting him with unqualified
affection, sometimes with chilling indifference, softening him to love
by eloquent tenderness, or inflaming him to jealousy by coquetting with
the Hon. Mr. Listless. Scythrop's schemes for regenerating the world and
detecting his seven golden candlesticks went on very slowly.
On retiring to his tower one day Scythrop found it pre-occupied. A
stranger, muffled to the eyes in a cloak, rose at his entrance, and
looked at him intently for a few minutes in silence, then saying, "I see
by your physiognomy you are to be trusted," dropped the cloak, and
revealed to the astonished Scythrop a female form and countenance of
dazzling grace and beauty, with long, flowing hair of raven blackness.
"You are a philosopher," said the lady, "and a lover of liberty. You are
the author of a treatise called 'Philosophical Gas?'"
"I am," said Scythrop, delighted at this first blossom of his renown.
She then informed him that she was under the necessity of finding a
refuge from an atrocious persecution, and had determined to apply to him
(on reading his pamphlet, and recognising a kindred mind) to find her a
retreat where she could be concealed from the indefatigable search being
made for her.
Doubtless, thought Scythrop, this is one of my seven golden
candlesticks, and at once offered her the asylum of his secret
apartments, assuring her she might rely on the honour of a
"I rely on myself," said the lady. "I act as I please, and let the whole
world say what it will. I am rich enough to set it at defiance. They
alone are subject to blind authority who have no reliance on their own
Stella took possession of the recondite apartments. Scythrop intended to
find another asylum; but from day to day postponed his intention, and by
degrees forgot it. The young lady reminded him from day to day, till she
also forgot it.
Scythrop had now as much mystery about him as any romantic
transcendentalist could desire. He had his esoterical and his exoterical
love, and could not endure the thought of losing either of them. His
father's suspicions were aroused by always finding the door locked on
visiting Scythrop's study; and one day, hearing a female voice, and, on
the door being opened, finding his son alone, he looked around and said:
"Where is the lady?"
Scythrop invited him to search the tower, but Mr. Glowry was not to be
deceived. Scythrop talked loudly, hoping to drown his father's voice, in
"I, say, sir, when you are so shortly to be married to your cousin
The bookcase opened in the middle, and the beautiful Stella appeared,
"Married! Is he going to be married? The profligate!"
"Really, madam," said Mr. Glowry, "I do not know what he is going to do,
or what anyone is going to do, for all this is incomprehensible."
"I can explain it all," said Scythrop, "if you will have the goodness to
leave us alone."
Stella threw herself into a chair and burst into a passion of tears.
Scythrop took her hand. She snatched it away, and turned her back upon
him. Scythrop continued entreating Mr. Glowry to leave them alone, but
he was obstinate, and would not go.
A tap at the door, and Mr. Hilary entered. He stood a few minutes in
silent surprise, then departed in search of Marionetta.
Scythrop was now in a hopeless predicament.
Mr. Hilary made a hue and cry, summoning his wife and Marionetta, and
they hastened in consternation to Scythrop's apartments. Mr. Toobad saw
them, and judging from their manner that the devil had manifested his
wrath in some new shape, followed, and intercepted Stella's flight at
the door by catching her in his arms.
"Celinda!" he exclaimed.
"Papa!" said the young lady disconsolately.
"The devil is come among you!" said Mr. Toobad. "How came my daughter
Marionetta, who had fainted, opened her eyes and fixed them on Celinda.
Celinda, in turn, fixed hers on Marionetta. Scythrop was equi-distant
between them, like Mahomet's coffin.
"Celinda," said Mr. Toobad, "what does this mean? When I told you in
London that I had chosen a husband for you, you thought proper to run
away from him; and now, to all appearance, you have run away to him."
"How, sir? Was that your choice?"
"Precisely; and if he is yours, too, we shall both be of a mind, for the
first time in our lives."
"He is not my choice, sir. This lady has a prior claim. I renounce him."
"And I renounce him!" said Marionetta.
Scythrop knew not what to do. He therefore retreated into his
stronghold, mystery; maintained an impenetrable silence, and contented
himself with deprecating glances at each of the objects of his idolatry.
The Hon. Mr. Listless, Mr. Flosky, and other guests had been attracted
by the tumult, multitudinous questions, and answers _en masse_, composed
a _charivari_, which was only terminated by Mrs. Hilary and Mr. Toobad
retreating with the captive damsels. The whole party followed, leaving
Scythrop carefully arranged in a pensive attitude.
He was still in this position when the butler entered to announce that
dinner was on the table. He refused food, and on being told that the
party was much reduced, everybody had gone, requested the butler to
bring him a pint of port and a pistol. He would make his exit like
Werter, but finally took Raven's advice--to dine first, and be miserable
He was sipping his Madeira, immersed in melancholy musing, when his
father entered and requested a rational solution of all this absurdity.
"I will leave it in writing for your satisfaction. The crisis of my fate
is come. The world is a stage, and my direction is exit."
"Do not talk so, sir; do not talk so, Scythrop! What would you have?"
"I would have my love."
"And pray, sir, who is your love?"
"Both! That may do very well in a German tragedy, but it will not do in
Lincolnshire. Will you have Miss Toobad?"
"And renounce Marionetta?"
"But you must renounce one."
"And you cannot have both. What is to be done?"
"I must shoot myself!"
"Don't talk so, Scythrop! Be rational, Scythrop! Consider, and make a
cool, calm choice, and I will exert myself on your behalf."
"Well, sir, I will have--no, sir, I cannot renounce either. I cannot
choose either, and I have no resource but a pistol."
"Scythrop--Scythrop, if one of them should come to you, what then? Have
but a little patience, a week's patience, and it shall be."
"A week, sir, is an age; but to oblige you, as a last act of filial
duty, I will live another week. It is now Thursday evening, twenty-five
minutes past seven. At this hour next Thursday love and fate shall smile
on me, or I will drink my last pint of port in this world."
Mr. Glowry ordered his travelling chariot, and departed from the abbey.
* * * * *
On the morning of the eventful Thursday, Scythrop ascended the turret
with a telescope and spied anxiously along the road, till Raven summoned
him to dinner at five, when he descended to his own funeral feast. He
laid his pistol between his watch and his bottle. Scythrop rang the
bell. Raven appeared.
"Raven," said he, "the clock is too fast."
"No, indeed," said Raven. "If anything it is too slow----"
"Villain," said Scythrop, pointing the pistol at him, "it is too fast!"
"Yes, yes--too fast, I meant!" said Raven, in fear.
"Put back my watch!" said Scythrop.
Raven, with trembling hand, was putting back the watch, when the rattle
of wheels was heard; and Scythrop, springing down the stairs three steps
together, was at the door in time to hand either of the young ladies
from the carriage; but Mrs. Glowry was alone.
"I rejoice to see you!" said he. "I was fearful of being too late, for I
waited till the last moment in the hope of accomplishing my promise; but
all my endeavours have been vain, as these letters will show."
The first letter ended with the words: "I shall always cherish a
grateful remembrance of Nightmare Abbey, for having been the means of
introducing me to a true transcendentalist, and shall soon have the
pleasure of subscribing myself
The other, from Marionetta, wished him much happiness with Miss Toobad,
and finished with: "I shall always be happy to see you in Berkely
Square, when, to the unalterable designation of your affectionate
cousin, I shall subjoin the signature of
Scythrop tore both the letters to atoms, and railed in good, set terms
against the fickleness of women.
"Calm yourself, my dear Scythrop," said Mr. Glowry. "There are yet
maidens in England; and besides, the fatal time is past, for it is now
"Then that villain Raven deceived me when he said the clock was too
fast; but I have just reflected these repeated crosses in love qualify
me to take a very advanced degree in misanthropy. There is therefore,
good hope that I may make a figure in the world."
Raven appeared. Scythrop looked at him very fiercely, and said, "Bring
* * * * *
The Scottish Chiefs
Jane Porter was born at Durham in 1776, but at the age of four
she went to Edinburgh with her family, was brought up in
Scotland, and had the privilege of knowing Sir Walter Scott.
Her first romance, "Thaddeus of Warsaw," was published in
1803, soon after she had removed from Edinburgh to London. Her
next romance, "The Scottish Chiefs," did not appear until
1810. It won an immediate popularity, which survived even the
formidable rivalry of the "Waverley Novels," and the book
remained a favourite, especially in Scotland, during most of
the last century. The story abounds in historical
inaccuracies, and the characters are addicted to conversing in
the dialect of melodrama-but these blemishes did not abate the
vogue of this exciting and spirited work with the reading
public. Miss Porter remained a prominent figure in London
literary society until her death on May 24, 1850.
_I.--The Lady Marion_
Sir William Wallace made his way swiftly along the crags and across the
river to the cliffs which overlooked the garden of Ellerslie. As he
approached he saw his newly-wedded wife, the Lady Marion, leaning over
the couch of a wounded man. She looked up, and, with a cry of joy, threw
herself into his arms. Blood dropped from his forehead upon her bosom.
"O my Wallace, my Wallace!" cried she in agony.
"Fear not, my love, it is a mere scratch. How is the wounded stranger?"
It was Wallace who had saved the stranger's life. That day he had been
summoned to Douglas Castle, where he had received in secret from Sir
John Monteith an iron box entrusted to him by Lord Douglas, then
imprisoned in England; he had been charged to cherish the box in
strictness, and not to suffer it to be opened until Scotland was again
free. Returning with his treasure through Lanark, he had seen a fellow
countryman wounded, and in deadly peril at the hands of a party of
English. Telling two of his attendants to carry the injured man to
Ellerslie, he had beaten off the English and slain their leader--Arthur
Heselrigge, nephew of the Governor of Lanark.
"Gallant Wallace!" said the stranger, "it is Donald, Earl of Mar, who
owes you his life."
"Then blest be my arm," exclaimed Wallace, "that has preserved a life so
precious to my country!"
"Armed men are approaching!" cried Lady Marion. "Wallace, you must fly.
But oh! whither?"
"Not far, my love; I must seek the recesses of the Cartlane Crags. But
the Earl of Mar--we must conceal him."
They found a hiding-place for the wounded earl, and Wallace went away,
promising to be near at hand. Hardly had he gone when the door was burst
open by a band of soldiers, and Lady Wallace was confronted by the
governor of Lanark.
"Woman!" cried he, "on your allegiance to King Edward, answer me--where
is Sir William Wallace, the murderer of my nephew?"
She was silent.
"I can reward you richly," he went on, "if you speak the truth. Refuse,
and you die!"
She stretched her hands to heaven.
"Blessed Virgin, to thee I commit myself."
"Speak!" cried the governor, drawing his sword. She sank to the ground.
"Kneel not to me for mercy!"
"I kneel to heaven alone," she said firmly, "and may it ever preserve my
"Blasphemous wretch!" cried the governor, and he plunged the sword
through her heart.
A shudder of horror ran through the English soldiers.
"My friends," said Heselrigge, "I reward your services with the plunder
"Cursed be he who first carries a stick from its walls!" exclaimed a
"Amen!" murmured all the soldiers.
But next day the governor, with a body of soldiers who had not witnessed
his infamous deed, plundered Ellerslie and burnt it to the ground.
During the day Lord Mar was brought from his hiding-place, and taken to
Bothwell Castle; but the English seized him and his wife, and they were
placed in strict confinement among the English garrison on the Rock of
An aged retainer carried the awful news of the murder to Wallace in his
concealment. For long he was overpowered with agony. Then a desperate
determination arose in his mind. "The sun must not again rise upon
Heselrigge!" was his thought. He called his followers, and told them of
the deed. "From this hour," he cried, "may Scotland date her liberty, or
Wallace return no more!"
"Vengeance! vengeance!" was the cry.
That night the English garrison of Lanark was surprised, and Wallace's
sword was buried in the body of his wife's murderer.
"So fall the enemies of Sir William Wallace!" shouted his men
"Rather so fall the enemies of Scotland!" cried he. "Henceforth Wallace
has neither love nor resentment but for her. From now onwards I devote
myself to the winning of my country's freedom, or to death in her
_II.--Wallace the Liberator_
Band after band of Scottish patriots flocked to the banner of Wallace--
the banner that bore the legend "God armeth the patriot," and in which
was embroidered a tress of Lady Marion's hair. The making of it had been
the labour of Lady Helen Mar, daughter of the earl; admiration for
Wallace's prowess, and sympathy with his misfortune had aroused in
her--although she had never seen him--an eager devotion to him as the
man who had dared to strike at tyranny and fight for his country's
When her parents had been seized, Helen had escaped to the Priory of St.
Fillans. But she was persuaded to leave the priory by a trick of the
traitor Scottish Lord Soulis, whom she hated, and whose quest of her
hand had the secret approval of Lady Mar. When the ruffian laid hold
upon her, he carried her away with threats and violence; but as Soulis
and his band were crossing the Leadhill moors, a small party of men fell
suddenly upon them. Soulis was forced to relinquish his prey, and was
carried away by his men covered with wounds; while Helen found herself
in the presence of a gentle and courteous Scottish warrior, who conveyed
her to a hermit's cell near at hand. Without revealing his name he
passed on his way, declaring that he went to arouse a few brave spirits
to arms. Brief as the interview had been, Helen knew when it was ended
that she had given her heart to the unknown knight.
As her father and mother lay one dark night in Dumbarton Castle, a
fearful uproar arose without their prison--the clashing of swords, the
thud of falling bodies, the groans of wounded.
"There is an attack," cried the earl.
"Nay, who would venture to attack such a fortress as this?" answered
"Hark! it is the slogan of Sir William Wallace. Oh, for a sword!"
exclaimed the earl.
A voice was heard begging for mercy--the voice of De Valence, the
"You shall die!" was the stern answer.
"Nay, Kirkpatrick, I give him life." The accents were Wallace's.
A battering-ram broke down the prison-door. There stood Wallace and his
men, their weapons and armour covered with blood. De Valence, evading
the clutch of Kirkpatrick, thrust his dagger into Wallace's side and
"It is nothing," said Wallace, as he staunched the wound with his scarf.
"So is your mercy rewarded," muttered the grim Kirkpatrick.
"So am I true to my duty," returned Wallace, "though De Valence is a
traitor to his."
The Countess of Mar looked for the first time upon Wallace's
countenance. He was the enemy of her kinsmen of the house of Cummin;
unknown to her husband, she had sought to betray him to one of these
kinsmen; and now, as this beautiful woman beheld the man she had tried
to injure, a sense of shame, accompanied by a strange fascination,
entered her bosom.
"How does my soul seem to pour itself out to this man!" she said to
herself. "Hardly have I seen this William Wallace, and yet my very being
is lost in his!"
Love mingled with ambition in her uneasy mind. Her husband was old and
wounded; his life would not be long. Wallace had the genius of a
conqueror. Might he not be proclaimed king of Scotland? She threw
herself assiduously into his company during the days that followed. At
last, with tears in eyes, she confessed her love, thinking, in her
folly, that she could move the heart of one who had consecrated himself
to the service of Scotland and the memory of Marion.
"Your husband, Lady Mar," he said with gentleness, "is my friend; had I
even a heart to give to women, not one sigh should arise in it to his
dishonour. But I am deaf to women, and the voice of love sounds like the
funeral knell of her who will never breathe it to me more."
He rose, and ere the countess could reply, a messenger entered with news
from Ayr. Eighteen Scottish chiefs had been treacherously put to death,
and others were imprisoned and awaiting execution. Wallace and his men
marched straight to the castle of Ayr, surprised it while the English
lords were feasting within, and set it afire. Those who escaped the
flames either fell by Scottish steel, or yielded themselves prisoners.
Castle and fortalice opened their gates before Wallace as he marched
from Ayr to Berwick; but at Berwick he encountered stout resistance from
a noble foeman, the Earl of Gloucester, who with his garrison yielded
only to starvation. Wallace, touched with their valour, permitted them
to march out with all the honours of war, and with the chivalrous earl
he formed a friendship that was never dimmed by the enmity of the
nations to which they belonged.
Soon there came a summons to Stirling. By a dishonourable stratagem of
De Valence's, Lord and Lady Mar and Helen had been seized and carried to
Stirling Castle, where Lord Mar was in danger of immediate death. Helen
was in the power of De Valence, who pressed his hateful suit upon her.
Wallace and his men marched hastily, and captured the town; once more De
Valence begged Wallace's mercy, and once more, unworthy as he was,
obtained it. But the ruthless Cressingham, commanding the castle, placed
Lord Mar on the battlements with a rope round his neck, and declared
that unless the attack ceased the earl and his whole family would
instantly die. Wallace's reply was to bring forward De Valence, pale and
trembling. "The moment Lord Mar dies, De Valence shall instantly
perish," he declared.
Cressingham agreed to an armistice, hoping to gain time until De
Warenne, with the mighty English host then advancing from the border,
had reached Stirling. Next morning this great army in its pride poured
across the bridge of the Forth; but the Scottish warriors, rushing down
from the hillsides, with Wallace at their head, swept all before them.
It was rather a carnage than a battle. Those who escaped the steel of
Wallace's men were thrust into the river, and land and water were
burdened with English dead.
That evening Stirling Castle surrendered, the Scottish prisoners were
released, and their places were taken by the commanders of the enemy's
_III.--Wallace the Regent_
When the victorious chiefs were gathering in the hall of the castle,
Helen looked upon each one with anxious eyes. Would the gentle knight
who rescued her be in Wallace's train? Lady Mar turned a restless glance
upon her step-daughter. "Wallace will behold these charms," she cried to
herself, "and then, where am I?"
Amid a crowd of knights in armour the conqueror entered; and as Helen
raised her eyes she saw that the knight of her dream, the man who had
saved her from worse than death, was Wallace himself!
"Scots, behold the Lord's anointed!" cried the patriot Bishop of
Dunkeld, drawing from his breast a silver dove of sacred oil, and
pouring it upon Wallace's head.
Every knee was bent, and every voice cried "Long live King William!"
"Rise, lords!" exclaimed Wallace. "Kneel not to me--I am but your fellow
soldier. Bruce lives; God has yet preserved to you a lawful monarch."
Eagerly they sought to persuade him, but in vain. He consented to hold
the kingdom for the rightful sovereign, under the name of regent, but
the crown he would not accept. He found a nation waiting on his nod--the
hearts of half a million people offered to his hand.
On the night before the English prisoners were to start on their journey
southwards to be exchanged with Scottish nobles--an exchange after
which, by England's will, the war was to continue--Lady Mar, whose
husband was now governor of Stirling Castle, gave a banquet in honour of
the departing knights. The entertainment was conducted with that
chivalric courtesy which a noble conqueror always pays to the
But the spirit of Wallace was sad amid the gaiety; seeking quiet, he
wandered along a darkened passage that led to the chapel, unobserved
save by his watchful enemy De Valence--whose hatred had been intensified
by the knowledge that Helen, whose hand he had again demanded in vain,
loved the regent. He had guessed her secret, and she had guessed
his--the design he had of murdering the foe who had twice spared his
As Wallace entered the chapel and advanced towards the altar, he saw a
woman kneeling in prayer. "Defend him, Heavenly Father!" she cried.
"Guard his unshielded breast from treachery!" It was Helen's voice.
Wallace stepped from the shadow; Helen was transfixed and silent.
"Continue to offer up these prayers for me," he said gently, "and I
shall yet think, holy maid, that I have a Marion to pray for me on
earth, as well as in heaven."
"They are for your life," she said in agitation, "for it is menaced."
"I will inquire by whom," answered he, "when I have first paid my duty
at this altar. Pray with me, Lady Helen, for the liberty of Scotland."
As they were praying together, Helen rose with a shriek and flung her
arms around Wallace. He felt an assassin's steel in his back, and she
fell senseless on his breast. Her arm was bleeding; she had partly
warded off the blow aimed at him, and had saved his life. He took her up
in his arms, and bore her from the chapel to the hall.
"Who has done this?" cried Mar, in anguish.
"I know not," replied Wallace, "but I believe some villain who aimed at
my life." With a gasp he sank back unconscious on the bench.
Helen was the first to recover, and while they were staunching the blood
that flowed from Wallace's wound, Lady Mar turned to her step-daughter.
"Will you satisfy this anxious company," said she sneeringly, "how it
happened that you should be alone with the regent? May I ask our noble
friends to withdraw, and leave this delicate investigation to my own
Wallace, recovering his senses, rose hastily.
"Do not leave this place, my lords, till I explain how I came to disturb
the devotions of Lady Helen;" Straightforwardly and with dignity, he
told the story of what had happened, and the jealous Lady Mar was
"But who was the assassin?" they asked.
"I shall name him to Sir William Wallace alone," said Helen.
But the dagger, found in the chapel, revealed the truth. The chiefs
clamoured for De Valence's death, Wallace again granted him life. Next
morning, as the cavalcade of southern knights was starting, Wallace rode
up and handed the dagger to De Valence.
"The next time that you draw this dagger," said he, "let it be with a
more knightly aim than assassination."
De Valence, careless of the looks of horror and contempt cast upon him
by his fellow countrymen, broke it asunder, and, throwing the fragments
in the air, said to the shivered weapon, "You shall not betray me
"Nor you betray our honours, Lord de Valence," said De Warenne sternly.
"As lord warden of this realm, I order you under arrest until we pass
the Scottish lines."
After the exchange of prisoners had been effected, Wallace invaded the
enemy's country, and brought rich stores from the barns of
Northumberland to the starving people of desolated Scotland. The
reduction followed of all the fortresses held by the English in Northern
Scotland. King Edward himself was now advancing; but a greater peril
menaced the regent than that of the invader.
Many of the nobles, headed by the Earls of Athol, Buchan, and March,
were bitterly jealous of the ascendancy of a low-born usurper--for so
they called Scotland's deliverer--and conspired to restore the
sovereignty of Edward. Their chance of treachery came when Wallace faced
the English host at Falkirk. When the battle was joined, Athol, Buchan,
and all the Cummins, crying, "Long live King Edward!" joined the
English, and flung themselves upon their fellow-countrymen. Grievous was
the havoc of Scot on Scot; and beside the English king throughout the
battle stood Bruce, the rightful monarch, aiding in the destruction of
his nation's liberties.
But on the night of that disastrous day, a young stranger in splendid
armour came secretly to Wallace. It was Robert Bruce, seeking to offer
his services to his country and to wipe out the stigma that his father
had cast upon his name.
None fought more fiercely than Robert Bruce in the attack made by
Wallace's men upon the English on the banks of the Carron, and the
traitor, Earl of March, fell by the young warrior's own hand. But
treason, smitten on the field of battle, was rampant at Stirling; and
when Wallace returned there, bowed with grief at the death of Lord Mar,
he found the Cummin faction--Lady Mar's kinsmen--in furious revolt
against the "upstart." His resolution was quickly made; he would not be
a cause of civil strife to his country.
"Should I remain your regent," said he to the assembled people, "the
country would be involved in ruinous dissensions. I therefore quit the
regency; and I bequeath your liberty to the care of the chieftains. But
should it be again in danger, remember that, while life breathes in this
heart, the spirit of Wallace will be with you still!" With these words
he mounted his horse, and rode away, amidst the cries and tears of the
Lady Mar, whose secret hopes had been stirred afresh by the death of her
husband, heard with consternation of Wallace's departure. But he went
away without a thought of her; his mission was the rescue of Helen, to
which he had pledged himself by the death-bed of Lord Mar. Helen had
been kidnapped by De Valence, and carried off by him to his castle in
Wallace disguised himself as a minstrel, and travelled to Durham, where
King Edward held his court, and where young Bruce, taken captive, was
now confined. By making himself known to the Earl of Gloucester, Wallace
was able to gain access to Bruce, whose father was now dead, and to lay
his plans before him. These were that Bruce should escape from Durham,
that the two should travel to Guienne and rescue Helen, and that they
should then, as unknown strangers, offer their services to Scotland.
The plans were fulfilled. Bruce escaped, De Valence was once more
deprived of his prey--he did not suspect the identity of the two knights
until after Helen had been delivered from his clutches--and the pair
fought as Frenchmen in the wars of Scotland. To few was the truth
revealed, and only one discovered it--a knight wearing a green plume,
who refused to divulge his name until Wallace proclaimed his own on the
day of victory.
But the secret could not be kept for ever, and it was Wallace himself
who cast off the disguise. At the battle of Rosslyn the day seemed lost;
an overwhelming mass of English bore down the Scots; men were turning to
fly. The fate of Wallace's country hung on an instant. Taking off his
helmet, he waved it in the air with a shout, and, having thus drawn all
eyes upon him, exclaimed: "Scots, follow William Wallace to victory!"
The cry of "Wallace!" turned the fugitives; new courage was diffused in
every breast; defeat was straightway changed into triumph.
Soon after this declaration the knight of the green plume came to
Wallace, tore off the disguise of knighthood, and stood before him the
bold and unblushing Countess of Mar. It was unconquerable love, she
said, that had induced her to act thus. Wallace told her once more that
his love was buried in the grave, and entreated her to refrain from
guilty passion. Angered, she thrust a dagger at his breast; he wrenched
the weapon from her hand, and bade her go in peace.
Ere sunset next evening he heard that he had been accused of treason to
Scotland, and that his accuser was the Countess of Mar.
He faced the false charge, and repudiated it. But such was the hatred of
the Cummins and their supporters that it was plainly impossible for him
to serve Scotland, now that his name was known, without causing
distraction in the country's ranks. He wandered forth, alone save for
his ever-faithful follower, Edwin Ruthven, a price set upon his head by
the relentless Edward, leaving his enemies to rejoice, and his friends
to despair of Scotland's liberty.
_V.--Tragedy and Triumph_
As Wallace journeyed in the regions made sacred to him by Marion's
memory, he was met by Sir John Monteith, who offered to conduct him to
Newark-on-the-Clyde, where he might embark on a vessel about to sail.
Wallace gladly accepted the offer, little guessing that his old and
trusted friend Monteith was in the pay of England.
As he and Edwin reposed in a barn near Newark, a force of savages from
the Irish island of Rathlin burst in upon them. Wallace, with a giant's
strength, dispersed them as they advanced. But a shout was heard from
the door. Monteith himself appeared, and an arrow pierced Edwin's heart.
Wallace threw himself on his knees beside the dying boy. They sprang
upon him, and bound him. Wallace was Edward's prisoner.
As he lay in the Tower of London awaiting death, a page-boy entered
nervously, and turned pale when he cast his eyes upon him. He started;
he recognised the features of her who alone had ever shared his
meditations with Marion.
"Lady Helen," he cried, "has God sent you hither to be His harbinger of
"Will you not abhor me for this act of madness?" said Helen, in deep
agitation. "And yet, where should I live or die but at the feet of my
"Oh, Helen," exclaimed Wallace, "thy soul and Marion's are indeed one;
and as one I love ye!"
At that moment the Earl of Gloucester entered, and to this true friend
Wallace expressed his wish that he and Helen should be united by the
sacred rites of the church. Gloucester retired, and returned with a
priest; the pair were joined as man and wife.
Two days later Wallace stood on the scaffold. The executioner approached
to throw the rope over the neck of his victim. Helen, with a cry, rushed
to his bosom. Clasping her to him, he exclaimed in a low voice: "Helen,
we shall next meet to part no more. May God preserve my country, and--"
He stopped--he fell. Gloucester bent to his friend and spoke, but all
was silent. He had died unsullied by the rope of Edward.
"There," said Gloucester, in deepest grief, "there broke the noblest
heart that ever beat in the breast of man."
* * * * *
It was the evening after Bannockburn. The English hosts were in
panic-stricken flight; Scotland at last was free. Robert Bruce, king and
conquerer, entered the Abbey of Cambuskenneth with his betrothed,
Isabella, and stood before the bier of Wallace.
Helen, wan and fragile, was borne on a litter from the adjoining
nunnery. In her presence Bruce and Isabella were wedded; her trembling
hands were held over them in blessing; then she threw herself prostrate
on the coffin.
At the foot of Wallace's bier stood the iron box that the dead chieftain
had so faithfully cherished. "Let this mysterious coffer be opened,"
said the Abbot of Inchaffray, "to reward the deliverer of Scotland
according to its intent" Bruce unclasped the lock, and the regalia of
Scotland was discovered!
"And thus Wallace crowns thee!" said the Bishop of Dunkeld, taking the
diadem from its coffer and setting it on Brace's head.
But Helen lay motionless. They raised her, and looked upon a clay-cold
face. Her soul had fled.
* * * * *
ALEXANDER SERGEYEVITCH PUSHKIN
The Captain's Daughter
Alexander Sergeyevitch Pushkin was born at Moscow on June 7,
1799. He came of an ancient family, a strange ancestor being a
favourite negro ennobled by Peter the Great, who bequeathed to
him a mass of curly hair and a somewhat darker skin than
usually falls to the lot of the ordinary Russian. Early in
life a daring "Ode to Liberty" brought him the displeasure of
the court, and the young poet narrowly escaped a journey to
Siberia by accepting an official post at Kishineff, in
Southern Russia. But on the accession of Tsar Nicholas in
182s, Pushkin was recalled and appointed imperial
historiographer. His death, which occurred on February 10,
1837, was the result of a duel fought with his brother-in-law.
Pushkin's career was one of almost unparallelled brilliancy.
As a poet, he still remains the greatest Russia has produced;
and although his prose works do not rise to the high standard
of his verse, yet they are of no inconsiderable merit. "The
Captain's Daughter, a Russian Romance," was written about
1831, and published under the _nom de plume_ of Ivan Byelkin.
It is a story of the times of Catherine II., and is not only
told with interest and charm, but with great simplicity and
reality, and with a due sense of drama. Others of his novels
are "The Pistol Shot," "The Queen of Spades," and "The
Undertaker," the last-named a grim story in a style that has
been familiarised to English readers by Edgar Allan Poe.
_I.--I Join the Army_
My father, after serving in the army, had retired with the rank of
senior major. Since that time he had always lived on his estate, where
he married the eldest daughter of a poor gentleman in the neighbourhood.
All my brothers and sisters died young, and it was decided that I should
enter the army.
When I was nearly seventeen, instead of being sent to join the guards'
regiment at Petersburg, my father told me I was going to Orenburg. "You
will learn nothing at Petersburg but to spend money and commit follies,"
he said. "No, you shall smell powder and become a soldier, not an
It seemed horrible to me to be doomed to the dullness of a savage and
distant province, and to lose the gaiety I had been looking forward to;
but there was nothing for it but to submit.
The morning arrived for my departure, the travelling carriage was at the
door, and our old servant Saveluetch was in attendance to accompany me.
Two days later, when we were nearing our destination, a snowstorm
overtook us. We might have perished in the snow, for all traces of the
road were lost, but for a stranger who guided us to a small and lonely
inn, where we passed the night. In the morning, to the sorrow of
Saveluetch, I insisted on giving our guide, who was but thinly clad, one
of my cloaks--a hare-skin _touloup_.
"Thanks, your excellency," said the vagrant, "and may heaven reward you.
As long as I live I shall never forget your kindness."
I soon forgot the snowstorm, the guide, and my hare-skin _touloup_, and
on arrival at Orenburg hasted to wait on the general, an old
comrade-in-arms of my father's. The general received me kindly, examined
my commission, told me there was nothing for me to do in Orenburg, and
sent me on to Fort Belogorsk to serve under Commander Mironoff. Belogorsk
lay about thirty miles beyond Orenburg, on the frontier of the Kirghiz
Kaisak Steppes, and it was to this outlandish place I was banished.
I expected to see high bastions, a wall and a ditch, but there was
nothing at Belogorsk but a little village, surrounded by a wooden
palisade. An old iron cannon was near the gateway, the streets were
narrow and crooked, and the commandant's house to which I had been
driven was a wooden erection.
Vassilissa Ignorofna, the commandant's wife, received me with simple
kindness, and treated me at once as one of the family. An old army
pensioner and Palashka, the one servant, laid the cloth for dinner;
while in the square, near the house, the commandant, a tall and hale old
man, wearing a dressing-gown and a cotton nightcap, was busy drilling
some twenty elderly men--all pensioners.
Chvabrine, an officer who had been dismissed from the guards for
fighting a duel, and Marya, a young girl of sixteen, with a fresh, round
face, the commandant's daughter, were also at dinner.
Mironoff pleaded in excuse for being late for dinner that he had been
busy drilling his little soldiers, but his wife cut him short
"Nonsense," she said, "you're only boasting; they are past service, and
you don't remember much about the drill. Far better for you to stay at
home and say your prayers." Vassilissa Ignorofna never seemed to stop
talking, and overwhelmed me with questions.
In the course of a few weeks I found that she not only led her husband
completely, but also directed all military affairs, and ruled the fort
as completely as she did the household. This really suited Ivan Mironoff
very well, for he was a good-hearted, uneducated man, staunch and true,
who had been raised from the ranks, and was now grown lazy. Both husband
and wife were excellent people, and I soon became attached to them, and
to the daughter Marya, an affectionate and sensible girl.
As for Chvabrine, he at first professed great friendship for me; but
being in love with Marya, who detested him, he began to hate me when he
saw a growing friendliness between Marya and myself.
I was now an officer, but there was little work for me to do. There was
no drill, no mounting guard, no reviewing of troops. Sometimes Captain
Mironoff tried to drill his soldiers, but he never succeeded in making
them know the right hand from the left.
All seemed peace, in spite of my quarrels with Chvabrine. Every day I
was more and more in love with Marya, and the notion that we might be
disturbed at Fort Belogorsk by any repetition of the riots and revolts
which had taken place in the province of Orenburg the previous year was
not entertained. Danger was nearer than we had imagined. The Cossacks
and half-savage tribes of the frontier were again already in revolt.
_II.--The Rebel Chief_
One evening early in October, 1773, Captain Mironoff called Chvabrine
and me to his house. He had received a letter from the general at
Orenburg with information that a fugitive Cossack named Pugatchef had
taken the name of the late Czar, Peter III., and, with an army of
robbers, was rousing the country, destroying forts and committing murder
and theft. The news spread quickly, and then came a disquieting report
that a neighbouring fort some sixteen miles away had been taken by
Pugatchef, and its officers hanged.
Neither Mironoff nor Vassilissa showed any fear, and the latter declined
to leave Belogorsk, though willing that Marya should be sent to Orenburg
for safety. An insolent proclamation from Pugatchef, inviting us to
surrender on peril of death, and the treachery of our Cossacks and of
Chvabrine, who went over at once to the rebels, only made the commandant
and his wife more resolute.
"The scoundrel!" cried Vassilissa. "He has the impudence to invite us to
lay our flag at his feet, and he doesn't know we have been forty years
in the service!"
It was the same when Pugatchef was actually at our door, and the assault
had actually begun. Old Ivan Mironoff blessed his daughter, and embraced
his wife, and then faced death. There was no fight in the poor old
pensioners who made up our garrison, and both Mironoff and myself were
soon captured, bound with ropes, and led before Pugatchef.
The commandant indignantly refused to swear fidelity to the robber
chief, and was hanged there and then in the market square; an old
one-eyed lieutenant was soon swinging by his side. Then came my turn,
and I gave the same answer as my captain had done. The rope was round my
neck, when Pugatchef shouted out "Stop!" and ordered my release. A few
minutes later, and poor old Vassilissa, who had come in search of her
husband, was lying dead in the market square, cut down by a Cossack's
sword. Pugatchef's arrival had prevented Marya's escape to Orenburg, and
she was now lying too ill to be moved, in the house of Father Garassim,
the parish priest.
Pugatchef gave me leave to depart in safety, but before Saveluetch and I
left the fort, the rebel bade me come and see him. He laughed aloud when
I presented myself.
"Who would have thought," he said, "that the man who guided you to a
lodging on that night of the snowstorm was the great tzar himself? But
you shall see better things; I will load you with favours when I have
recovered my empire."
Then he invited me again and again to enter his service, but I told him
I had sworn fidelity to the crown; and finally he let me go, saying:
"Either entirely punish or entirely pardon. Tell the officers at
Orenburg they may expect me in a week."
It hurt me to leave Marya behind, especially as Pugatchef had made
Chvabrine commandant of the fort, but there was no help for it. Father
Garassim and his wife bade me good-bye. "Except you, poor Marya has no
longer any protector or comforter," said the priest's wife.
At Orenburg I was in safety, but the town was soon besieged, and I could
not persuade the general to sally out and attack the rebels. All through
those dreary weeks of the siege I was wondering anxiously about Marya,
and then one day when we had been driving off a party of cossacks, one
of the rebels, whom I recognised a former soldier at Belogorsk, lingered
to give me a letter. It was from Marya, and she told me that she was now
in the house of Chvabrine, who threatened to kill her or hand her over
to the robber camp if she did not marry him, and that she had but three
days left before her fate would be sealed. Death would be easier, she
said, than to be the wife of a man like Chvabrine.
I rushed off at once to the general, and implored him to give me a
battalion of soldiers, and let me march on Belogorsk; but the general
only shook his head, and said the expedition was unreasonable.
I decided to go alone and appeal to Pugatchef, but the faithful
Saveluetch insisted on accompanying me, and together we arrived at the
Pugatchef received me quite cordially, and I told him the truth, that I
was in love with Marya, and that Chvabrine was persecuting her. He
flared up indignantly at Chvabrine's presumption, and declared he would
take me at once to Belogorsk, and attend my wedding. But on our arrival
Chvabrine mentioned that Marya was the daughter of Mironoff, and
immediately the countenance of the robber chief clouded over.
"Listen," I said, knowing Pugatchef was well disposed towards me. "Do
not ask of me anything against my honour or my conscience. Let me go
with this unhappy orphan whither God shall direct, and whatever befall
we will pray every day to God to watch over you."
It seemed as if Pugatchef's fierce heart was touched. "Be it as you
wish," he answered. "Either entirely punish or entirely pardon is my
motto. Take your pretty one where you like, and may God give you love
A safe-conduct pass was given us, and I made up my mind to take Marya to
my parents' house. I knew my father would think it a duty and an honour
to shelter the daughter of a veteran who had died for his country. But
Marya said she would never be my wife unless my parents approved of the
marriage. We set off, and as we started I saw Chvabrine standing at the
commandant's window, with a face of dark hatred.
I parted from Marya two days later, and entrusted her to Saveluetch, who
promised me to escort her faithfully to my parents. My reason for this
was that we had fallen in with a detachment of the army, and the officer
in charge persuaded me to join him, and it seemed to me I was bound in
honour to serve the tzarina.
So all that winter, and right on till the spring came, we pursued the
rebels; and still Pugatchef remained untaken; and this war with the
robbers went on to the destruction of the countryside.
At last Pugatchef was taken, and the war was at an end. A few days later
I should have been in the bosom of my family, when an unforeseen
thunderbolt struck me. I was ordered to be arrested and sent to Khasan,
to the commission of inquiry appointed to try Pugatchef and his
No sooner had I arrived in Khasan than I was lodged in prison, and irons
were placed on my ankles. It was a bad beginning, but I was full of hope
and courage, and believed that I could easily explain my dealings with
The next day I was summoned to appear before the commission, and asked
how long I had been in Pugatchef's service.
I replied indignantly that I had never been in his service; and then
when I was asked how it was he had spared my life and given me a
safe-conduct pass I told the story of the guide in the snowstorm and the
Then came the question how was it I had left Orenburg, and gone straight
to the rebel camp?
I felt I could not bring in Marya's name, and expose her as a witness to
the cross-examination of the commission, and so I stammered and became
The officer of the guard then requested that I should be confronted with
my principal accuser, and Chvabrine was brought into court. A great
change had come over him. He was pale and thin, and his hair had already
turned grey. In a feeble but clear voice Chvabrine went through his
story against me; that I had been Pugatchef's spy in Orenburg, and that
after leaving that town I had done all I could to aid the rebels. I was
glad of one thing, some spark of feeling kept him from mentioning
I told the judges I could only repeat my former statement that I was
entirely innocent of any part in the rebellion; and then I was taken
back to prison, and underwent no further examination.
Several weeks passed, and then my father was informed that the tzarina
had condescended to pardon his criminal son, and remit the capital
punishment, condemning him instead to exile for life in the heart of
The unexpected blow nearly killed my father. He had heard of my arrest,
and both Saveluetch and Marya had assured him of my complete innocence.
Now he broke out into bitter lament.
"What!" he kept on saying. "What! My son mixed up in the plots of
Pugatchef! Just God! What have I lived to see! The tzarina grants him
life, but does that make it easier for me to bear? It is not the
execution which is horrible. My ancestors have perished on the scaffold
for conscience sake; but that an officer should join with robbers and
felons! Shame on our race for ever!"
In vain my mother endeavoured to comfort him by talking of the injustice
of the verdict. My father was inconsolable.
_IV.--The Captain's Daughter to the Rescue_
From the first Marya had been received with the warm-hearted hospitality
that belonged to old-fashioned country people. The opportunity of giving
a home to a poor orphan seemed to them a favour from God. In a very
short time they were sincerely attached to her, for no one could know
Marya without loving her, and both my father and my mother looked
forward to the union of their son Peter with the captain's daughter.
My trial and condemnation plunged all three into misery; and Marya,
believing that I could have justified myself had I chosen, and
suspecting the motive which had kept me silent, and holding herself the
sole cause of my misfortune, determined to save me.
All at once she informed my parents that she was obliged to start for
Petersburg, and begged them to give her the means to do so.
"Why must you go to Petersburg?" said my mother, in distress. "You,
too--are you also going to forsake us?"
Marya answered that she was going to seek help from people in high
position for the daughter of a man who had fallen a victim to his
My father could only bow his head. "Go," he said. "I do not wish to cast
any obstacles between you and your happiness. May God grant you an
honest man, and not a convicted traitor, for husband."
To my mother alone Marya confided her plans, and then, with her maid
Palashka and the faithful Saveluetch--who, parted from me, consoled
himself by remembering he was serving my betrothed--set out for the
Arrived at Sofia, Marya learnt that the court was at the summer palace
of Tzarskoe-Selo, and at once resolved to stop there. She was able to
get a lodging at the post-house, and the postmaster's wife, who was a
regular gossip, began to tell her all the routine of the palace, at what
hour the tzarina rose, had her coffee, and walked in the gardens.
Next morning, very early, Marya dressed herself and went to the imperial
gardens. She saw a lady seated on a little rustic bench near the large
lake, and went and seated herself at the other end of the bench. The
lady wore a cap and a white morning gown, and a light cloak. She
appeared to be about fifty years old, and the repose and gravity of her
face, and the sweetness of her blue eyes and her smile, all attracted
Marya and inspired confidence. The lady was the first to speak.
"You do not belong to this place?"
"No, madame. I only arrived yesterday from the country."
"You came with your parents?"
"No, madame, alone. I have neither father nor mother."
"You are very young to travel by yourself. You have come on business?"
"Yes, madame. I have come to present a petition to the tzarina."
"You are an orphan. It is some injustice or wrong you complain of? What
is your name?"
"I am the daughter of Captain Mironoff, and it is for mercy I have come
"Captain Mironoff? He commanded one of the forts in the Orenburg
The lady seemed moved.
"Forgive me," she said, speaking even more gently, "if I meddle in your
affairs; but I am going to court. Perhaps if you explain to me what it
is you want, I may be able to help you."
Marya rose and curtsied; then she took from her pocket a folded paper,
and handed it to her protectress, who read it over. Suddenly the
gentleness turned to hardness in the face of the unknown lady.
"You plead for Peter Grineff!" she said coldly. "The tzarina cannot
grant him mercy. He passed over to this rebel not in ignorance, but
because he is depraved."
"It is not true!" cried Marya. "Before God it is not true! I know all; I
will tell you everything. It was only on my account that he exposed
himself to the misfortunes which have overtaken him. And if he did not
vindicate himself before the judges, it was because he did not wish me
to be mixed up in the affair."
And Marya went on to relate all that had taken place at Belogorsk.
When she had finished, the lady asked her where she lodged, and told her
she would not have to wait long for an answer to the letter.
Marya went back to the post-house full of hope, and presently, to the
consternation of her hostess, a lackey in the imperial livery entered
and announced that the tzarina condescended to summon to her presence
the daughter of Captain Mironoff.
"Good heavens!" cried the postmaster's wife. "The tzarina summons you to
court! And I'm sure you don't even know how to walk in court fashion.
Shall I send for a dressmaker I know who will lend you her yellow gown
with flounces? I think I ought to take you."
But the lackey explained that the tzarina wanted Marya to come alone,
and in the dress she should happen to be wearing. There was nothing for
it but to obey, and, with a beating heart, Marya got into the carriage
and was driven to the palace. Presently she was ushered into the boudoir
of the tzarina, and recognised the lady of the garden.
The tzarina spoke graciously to her, telling Marya that it was a
happiness to grant her prayer.
"I have had it all looked into, and I am convinced of the innocence of
your betrothed. Here is a letter for your father-in-law. Do not be
uneasy about the future. I know you are not rich, but I owe a debt to
the daughter of Captain Mironoff."
Marya, all in tears, fell at the feet of the tzarina, who raised her and
kissed her forehead. The tzarina almost overwhelmed the orphan before
she dismissed her.