The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Volume 2. by Sir Walter Scott

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  • 1818
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By Walter Scott








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 his porridge.”

“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 October 1708.”]

“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 Mrs. Saddletree.

“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 being hurt?”

“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 shameful death.”

“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 meal.”

“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 the keys.”

“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 him?”

“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.”

* Pass.
** Seal.
*** 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 as little.”

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 nothing unarranged.

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. Dr. Watts.

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 of poverty.

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 perform, ejaculated,

“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 the morning?”

“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 her father’s.

“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 up.”

“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 as sune.”

“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 him langer.”

“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 bargain.”

“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 again.”

“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, Jeanie.”

“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 whatever.


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 distress.

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 his nature.

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 screech-owl.

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–

Vivat Rex,
Currat Lex,

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 types.”

“O, you mean /juris-consultus–Ictus/ is an abbreviation for /juris-consultus./”

“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, says I.”

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 impatience.

“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 queen.”

“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 ministers.”

“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 you.”

“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 wickedness?”

“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 bread.”

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).– J. C.


“My native land, good night.” Lord Byron.

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,
“Jean Deans.”

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,

“Jeanie Deans.”

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 to her.

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 needful expenses.”

“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 these questions?

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 the night.

“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 strange land.”

“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 ale.

“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 “lawing?”

“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 the metal.

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 imperfectly.

“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 in Comus:–

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 waggoners.

“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 again.

“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 boy.”

“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 singular party.

“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