Bride of Lammermoor
Sir Walter Scott
Part 5 out of 8
"Gone to a wedding at Dunbar; I hope he'll get a haggis to his
dinner"; and he began to sing the old Scottish song:
"There was a haggis in Dunbar,
Fal de ral, etc.
Mony better and few waur,
Fal de ral," etc.
"I am much obliged to Mr. Cordery for his attentions," said the
Lord Keeper; "and pray who has had the charge of you while I was
away, Mr. Henry?"
"Norman and Bob Wilson, forbye my own self."
"A groom and a gamekeeper, and your own silly self--proper
guardians for a young advocate! Why, you will never know any
statutes but those against shooting red-deer, killing salmon,
"And speaking of red-game," said the young scapegrace,
interrupting his father without scruple or hesitation, "Norman
has shot a buck, and I showed the branches to Lucy, and she says
they have but eight tynes; and she says that you killed a deer
with Lord Bittlebrains's hounds, when you were west away, and, do
you know, she says it had ten tynes; is it true?"
"It may have had twenty, Henry, for what I know; but if you go
to that gentleman, he can tell you all about it. Go speak to
him, Henry; it is the Master of Ravenswood."
While they conversed thus, the father and son were standing by
the fire; and the Master, having walked towards the upper end of
the apartment, stood with his back towards them, apparently
engaged in examining one of the paintings. The boy ran up to
him, and pulled him by the skirt of the coat with the freedom of
a spoilt child, saying, "I say, sir, if you please to tell me----
" but when the Master turned round, and Henry saw his face, he
became suddenly and totally disconcerted; walked two or three
steps backward, and still gazed on Ravenswood with an air of
fear and wonder, which had totally banished from his features
their usual expression of pert vivacity.
"Come to me, young gentleman," said the Master, "and I will tell
you all I know about the hunt."
"Go to the gentleman, Henry," said his father; "you are not used
to be so shy."
But neither invitation nor exhortation had any effect on the
boy. On the contrary, he turned round as soon as he had
completed his survey of the Master, and walking as cautiously as
if he had been treading upon eggs, he glided back to his father,
and pressed as close to him as possible. Ravenswood, to avoid
hearing the dispute betwixt the father and the overindulged boy,
thought it most polite to turn his face once more towards the
pictures, and pay no attention to what they said.
"Why do you not speak to the Master, you little fool?" said the
"I am afraid," said Henry, in a very low tone of voice.
"Afraid, you goose!" said his father, giving him a slight shake
by the collar. "What makes you afraid?"
"What makes him to like the picture of Sir Malise Ravenswood
then?" said the boy, whispering.
"What picture, you natural?" said his father. "I used to think
you only a scapegrace, but I believe you will turn out a born
"I tell you, it is the picture of old Malise of Ravenswood, and
he is as like it as if he had loupen out of the canvas; and it is
up in the old baron's hall that the maids launder the clothes in;
and it has armour, and not a coat like the gentleman; and he has
not a beard and whiskers like the picture; and it has another
kind of thing about the throat, and no band-strings as he has;
"And why should not the gentleman be like his ancestor, you
silly boy?" said the Lord Keeper.
"Ay; but if he is come to chase us all out of the castle," said
the boy, "and has twenty men at his back in disguise; and is
come to say, with a hollow voice, 'I bide my time'; and is to
kill you on the hearth as Malise did the other man, and whose
blood is still to be seen!"
"Hush! nonsense!" said the Lord Keeper, not himself much pleased
to hear these disagreeable coicidences forced on his notice.
"Master, here comes Lockhard to say supper is served."
And, at the same instant, Lucy entered at another door, having
changed her dress since her return. The exquisite
feminine beauty of her countenance, now shaded only by a
profusion of sunny tresses; the sylph-like form, disencumbered of
her heavy riding-skirt and mantled in azure silk; the grace of
her manner and of her smile, cleared, with a celerity which
surprised the Master himself, all the gloomy and unfavourable
thoughts which had for some time overclouded his fancy. In those
features, so simply sweet, he could trace no alliance with the
pinched visage of the peak-bearded, black-capped Puritan, or his
starched, withered spouse, with the craft expressed in the Lord
Keeper's countenance, or the haughtiness which predominated in
that of his lady; and, while he gazed on Lucy Ashton, she seemed
to be an angel descended on earth, unallied to the coarses
mortals among whom she deigned to dwell for a season. Such is
the power of beauty over a youthful and enthusiastic fancy.
I do too ill in this,
And must not think but that a parent's plaint
Will move the heavens to pour forth misery
Upon the head of disobediency.
Yet reason tells us, parents are o'erseen,
When with too strict a rein they do hold in
Their child's affection, and control that love,
Which the high powers divine inspire them with.
The Hog hath lost his Pearl.
THE feast of Ravenswood Castle was as remarkable for its
profusion as that of Wolf's Crag had been for its ill-veiled
penury. The Lord Keeper might feel internal pride at the
contrast, but he had too much tact to suffer it to appear. On
the contrary, he seemed to remember with pleasure what he called
Mr. Balderstone's bachelor's meal, and to be rather disgusted
than pleaseed with the display upon his own groaning board.
"We do these things," he said, "because others do them; but I
was bred a plain man at my father's frugal table, and I should
like well would my wife and family permit me to return to my
sowens and my poor-man-of-mutton."
This was a little overstretched. The Master only answered,
"That different ranks--I mean," said he, correcting himself,
"different degrees of wealth require a different style of
This dry remark put a stop to further conversation on the
subject, nor is it necessary to record that which was substituted
in its place. The evening was spent with freedom, and even
cordiality; and Henry had so far overcome his first
apprehensions, that he had settled a party for coursing a stag
with the representative and living resemblance of grim Sir Malise
of Ravenswood, called the Revenger. The next morning was the
appointed time. It rose upon active sportsmen and successful
sport. The banquet came in course; and a pressing invitation to
tarry yet another day was given and accepted. This Ravenswood
had resolved should be the last of his stay; but he recollected
he had not yet visited the ancient and devoted servant of his
house, Old Alice, and it was but kind to dedicate one morning to
the gratification of so ancient an adherent.
To visit Alice, therefore, a day was devoted, and Lucy was the
Master's guide upon the way. Henry, it is true, accompanied
them, and took from their walk the air of a tete-a-tete,
while, in reality, it was little else, considering the variety of
circumstances which occurred to prevent the boy from giving the
least attention to what passed between his companions. Now a
rook settled on a branch within shot; anon a hare crossed their
path, and Henry and his greyhound went astray in pursuit of it;
then he had to hold a long conversation with the forester, which
detained him a while behind his companions; and again he went to
examine the earth of a badger, which carriued him on a good way
The conversation betwixt the Master and his sister,
meanwhile, took an interesting, and almost a confidential, turn.
She could not help mentioning her sense of the pain he must feel
in visiting scenes so well known to him, bearing now an aspect so
different; and so gently was her sympathy expressed, that
Ravenswood felt it for a moment as a full requital of all his
misfortunes. Some such sentiment escaped him, which Lucy heard
with more of confusion than displeasure; and she may be forgiven
the imprudence of listening to such langauge, considering that
the situation in which she was placed by her father seemed to
authorise Ravenswood to use it. Yet she made an effort to turn
the conversation, and she succeeded; for the Master also had
advanced farther than he intended, and his conscience had
instantly checked him when he found himself on the verge of
speaking of love to the daughter of Sir William Ashton.
They now approached the hut of Old Alice, which had of late been
rendered more comfortable, and presented an appearance less
picturesque, perhaps, but far neater than before. The old woman
was on her accustomed seat beneath the weeping birch, basking,
with the listless enjoyment of age and infirmity, in the beams of
the autumn sun. At the arrival of her visitors she turned her
head towards them. "I hear your step, Miss Ashton," she said,
"but the gentleman who attends you is not my lord, your father."
"And why should you think so, Alice?" said Lucy; "or how is it
possible for you to judge so accurately by the sound of a step,
on this firm earth, and in the open air?"
"My hearing, my child, has been sharpened by my blindness, and I
can now draw conclusions from the slightest sounds, which
formerly reached my ears as unheeded as they niw approach yours.
Necessity is a stern but an excellent schoolmistress, and she
that has lost her sight must collect her information from other
"Well, you hear a man's step, I grant it," said Lucy; "but why,
Alice, may it not be my father's?"
"The pace of age, my love, is timid and cautious: the foot takes
leave of the earth slowly, and is planted down upon it with
hesitation; it is the hasty and determined step of youth that I
now hear, and --could I give credit to so strange a thought--I
should say is was the step of a Ravenswood."
"This is indeed," said Ravenswood, "an acuteness of organ which
I could not have credited had I not witnessed it. I am indeed
the Master of Ravenswood, Alice,--the son of your old master."
"You!" said the old woman, with almost a scream of surprise--
"you the Master of Ravenswood--here--in this place, and thus
accompanied! I cannot believe it. let me pass my old hand over
your face, that my touch may bear witness to my ears."
The Master sate down beside her on the earthen bank, and
permitted her to touch his features with her trembling hand.
"It is indeed!" she said--"it is the features as well as the
voice of Ravenswood--the high lines of pride, as well as the bold
and haughty tone. But what do you here, Master of Ravenwsood?--
what do you in your enemy's domain, and in company with his
As Old Alice spoke, her face kindled, as probably that of an
ancient feudal vassal might have done in whose presence his
youthful liege-lord had showed some symptom of degenerating from
the spirit of his ancestors.
"The Master of Ravenswood," said Lucy, who liked not the tone of
this expostulation, and was desirous to abridge it, "is upon a
visit to my father."
"Indeed!" said the old blind woman, in an accent of
"I knew," continued Lucy, "I should do him a pleasure by
conducting him to your cottage."
"Where, to say the truth, Alice," said Ravenswood, "I expected a
more cordial reception."
"It is most wonderful!" said the old woman, muttering to
herself; "but the ways of Heaven are not like our ways, and its
judgments are brought about by means far beyond our fathoming.
Hearken, young man," she said; "your fathers were implacable, but
they were honourable, foes; they sought not to ruin their enemies
under the mast of hospitality. "What have you to do with Lucy
Ashton? why should your steps move in the same footpath with
hers? why should your voice sound in the same chord and time with
those of Sir William Ashton's daughter? Young man, he who aims
at revenge by dishonourable means----"
"Be silent, woman!" said Ravenswood, sternly; "it is the devil
that prompts your voice? Know that this young lady has not on
earth a friend who would venture farther to save her from injury
or from insult."
"And is it even so?" said the old woman, in an altered but
melancholy tone, "then God help you both!"
"Amen! Alice," said Lucy, who had not comprehended the import
of what the blind woman had hinted, "and send you your senses,
Alice, and your good humour. If you hold this mysterious
language, instead of welcoming your friends, they will think of
you as other people do."
"And how do other people think?" said Ravenswood, for he also
began to believe the old woman spoke with incoherence.
"They think," said Henry Ashton, who came up at that moment, and
whispered into Ravenswood's ear, "that she is a witch, that
should have been burned with them that suffered at Haddington."
"What is it you say?" said Alice, turning towards the boy, her
sightless visage inflamed with passion; "that I am a witch, and
ought to have suffered with the helpless old wretches who were
murdered at Haddington?"
"Hear to that now," again whispered Henry, "and me
whispering lower than a wren cheeps!"
"If the usurer, and the oppressor, and the grinder of the poor
man's face, and the remover of ancient landmarks, and the
subverter of ancient houses, were at the same stake with me, I
could say, 'Light the fire, in God's name!'"
"This is dreadful," said Lucy; "I have never seen the poor
deserted woman in this state of mind; but age and poverty can ill
bear reproach. Come, Henry, we will leave her for the present;
she wishes to speak with the Master alone. We will walk
homeward, and rest us," she added, looking at Ravenswood, "by the
"And Alice," said the boy, "if you know of any hare that comes
through among the deer, and makes them drop their calves out of
season, you may tell her, with my compliments to command, that if
Norman has not got a silver bullet ready for her, I'll lend him
one of my doublet-buttons on purpose."
Alice made no answer till she was aware that the sister and
brother were out of hearing. She then said to Ravenswood: "And
you, too, are angry with me for my love? It is just that
strangers should be offended, but you, too, are angry!"
"I am not angry, Alice," said the Master, "only surprised that
you, whose good sense I have ehard so often praised, should give
way to offensive and unfounded suspicions."
"Offensive!" said Alice. "Ay, trust is ever offensive; but,
surely, not unfounded."
"I tell you, dame, most groundless," replied Ravenswood.
"Then the world has changed its wont, and the Ravenswoods their
hereditary temper, and the eyes of Old Alice's
understanding are yet more blind than those of her countenance.
When did a Ravenswood seek the house of his enemy but with the
purpose of revenge? and hither are you come, Edgar Ravenswood,
either in fatal anger or in still more fatal love."
"In neither," said Ravenswood, "I give you mine honour--I mean,
I assure you."
Alice could not see his blushing cheek, but she noticed his
hestitation, and that he retracted the pledge which he seemed at
first disposed to attach to his denial.
"It is so, then," she said, "and therefore she is to tarry by
the Mermaiden's Well! Often has it been called a place fatal to
the race of Ravenswood--often has it proved so; but never was it
likely to verify old sayings as much as on this day."
"You drive me to madness, Alice," said Ravenswood; "you are more
silly and more superstitious than old Balderstone. Are you such
a wretched Christian as to suppose I would in the present day
levy war against the Ashton family, as was the sanguinary custom
in elder times? or do you suppose me so foolish, that I cannot
walk by a young lady's side without plunging headlong in love
"My thoughts," replied Alice, "are my own; and if my mortal
sight is closed to objects present with me, it may be I can look
with more steadiness into future events. Are you prepared to
sit lowest at the board which was once your father's own,
unwillingly, as a connexion and ally of his proud successor? Are
you ready to live on his bounty; to follow him in the bye-paths
of intrigue and chicane, which none can better point out to you;
to gnaw the bones of his prey when he has devoured the substance?
Can you say as Sir William Ashton says, think as he thinks, vote
as he votes, and call your father's murderer your worshipful
father-in-law and revered patron? Master of Ravenswood, I am
the eldest servant of your house, and I would rather see you
shrouded and coffined!"
The tumult in Ravenswood's mind was uncommonly great; she struck
upon and awakened a chord which he had for some time
successfully silenced. He strode backwards and forwards through
the little garden with a hasty pace; and at length checking
himself, and stopping right opposite to Alice, he exclaimed:
"Woman! on the verge of the grave, dare you urge the son of your
master to blood and to revenge?"
"God forbid!" said Alice, solemnly; "and therefore I would have
you depart these fatal bounds, where your love, as well as your
hatred, threatens sure mischief, or at least disgrace, both to
yourself and others. I would shield, were it in the power of
this withered hand, the Ashtons from you, and you from them, and
both from their own passions. You can have nothing--ought to
have nothing, in common with them. Begone from among them; and
if God has destined vengeance on the oppressor's house, do not
you be the instrument."
"I will think on what you have said, Alice," said
Ravenswood, more composedly. "I believe you mean truly and
faithfully by me, but you urge the freedom of an ancient domestic
somewhat too far. But farewell; and if Heaven afford me better
means, I will not fail to contribute to your comfort."
He attempted to put a piece of gold into her hand, which she
refused to receive; and, in the slight struggle attending his
wish to force it upon her, it dropped to the earth.
"Let it remain an instant on the ground," said Alice, as the
Master stooped to raise it; "and believe me, that piece of gold
is an emblem of her whom you love; she is as precious, I grant,
but you must stoop even to abasement before you can win her. For
me, I have as little to do with gold as with earthly passions;
and the best news that the world has in store for me is, that
Edgar Ravenswood is an hundred miles distant from the seat of his
ancestors, with the determination never again to behold it."
"Alice," said the Master, who began to think this
earnestness had some more secret cause than arose from anything
that the blind woman could have gathered from this casual visit,
"I have heard you praised by my mother for your sense, acuteness,
and fidelity; you are no fool to start at shadows, or to dread
old superstitious saws, like Caleb Balderstone; tell me
distinctly where my danger lies, if you are aware of any which is
tending towards me. If I know myself, I am free from all such
views respecting Miss Ashton as you impute to me. I have
necessary business to settle with Sir William; that arranged, I
shall depart, and with as little wish, as you may easily believe,
to return to a place full of melancholy subjects of reflection,
as you have to see me here."
Alice bent her sightless eyes on the ground, and was for some
time plunged in deep meditation. "I will speak the truth," she
said at length, raising up her head--"I will tell you the source
of my apprehensions, whether my candour be for good or for evil.
Lucy Ashton loves you, Lord of Ravenswood!"
"It is impossible," said the Master.
"A thousand circumstances have proved it to me," replied the
blind woman. "Her thoughts have turned on no one else since you
saved her from death, and that my experienced judgment has won
from her own conversation. Having told you this--if you are
indeed a gentleman and your father's son--you will make it a
movtive for flying from her presence. Her passion will die like
a lamp for want of that the flame should feed upon; but, if you
remain here, her destruction, or yours, or that of both, will be
the inevitable consequence of her misplaced attachment. I tell
you this secret unwillingly, but it could not have been hid long
from your own observation, and it is better you learn it from
mine. Depart, Master of Ravenswood; you have my secret. If you
remain an hour under Sir William Ashton's roof without the
resolution to marry his daughter, you are a villain; if with the
purpose of allying yourself with kin, you are an infatuated and
So saying, the old blind woman arose, asumed her staff, and,
tottering to her hut, entered it and closed the door, leaving
Ravenswood to his own reflections.
Lovelier in her own retired abode
....than Naiad by the side
Of Grecian brook--or Lady of the Mere
Lone sitting by the shores of old romance.
THE meditations of Ravenswood were of a very mixed
complexion. He saw himself at once in the very dilemma which he
had for some time felt apprehensive he might be placed in. The
pleasure he felt in Lucy's company had indeed approached to
fascination, yet it had never altogether surmounted his internal
reluctance to wed with the daughter of his father's foe; and even
in forgiving Sir William Ashton the injuries which his family had
received, and giving him credit for the kind intentions he
professed to entertain, he could not bring himself to contemplate
as possible an alliance betwixt their houses. Still, he felt
that Alice poke truth, and that his honour now required he should
take an instant leave of Ravenswood Castle, or become a suitor of
Lucy Ashton. The possibility of being rejected, too, should he
make advances to her wealthy and powerful father--to sue for the
hand of an Ashton and be refused--this were a consummation too
disgraceful. "I wish her well," he said to himself, "and for her
sake I forgive the injuries her father has done to my house; but
I will never--no, never see her more!"
With one bitter pang he adopted this resolution, just as he came
to where two paths parted: the one to the Mermaiden's Fountain,
where he knew Lucy waited him, the other leading to the castle by
another and more circuitous road. He paused an instant when
about to take the latter path, thinking what apology he should
make for conduct which must needs seem extraordinary, and had
just muttered to himself, "Sudden news from Edinburgh--any
pretext will serve; only let me dally no longer here," when
young Henry came flying up to him, half out of breath: "Master,
Master you must give Lucy your arm back to the castle, for I
cannot give her mine; for Norman is waiting for me, and I am to
go with him to make his ring-walk, and I would not stay away for
a gold Jacobus; and Lucy is afraid to walk home alone, though all
the wild nowt have been shot, and so you must come away
Betwixt two scales equally loaded, a feather's weight will turn
the scale. "It is impossible for me to leave the young lady in
the wood alone," said Ravenswood; "to see her once more can be
of little consequence, after the frequent meetings we have had.
I ought, too, in courtesy, to apprise her of my intention to quit
And having thus satisfied himself that he was taking not only a
wise, but an absolutely necessary, step, he took the path to the
fatal fountain. Henry no sooner saw him on the way to join his
sister than he was off like lightning in another
direction, to enjoy the society of the forester in their
congenial pursuits. Ravenswood, not allowing himself to give a
second thought to the propriety of his own conduct, walked with a
quick step towards the stream, where he found Lucy seated alone
by the ruin.
She sate upon one of the disjointed stones of the ancient
fountain, and seemed to watch the progress of its current, as it
bubbled forth to daylight, in gay and sparkling profusion, from
under the shadow of the ribbed and darksome vault, with which
veneration, or perhaps remorse, had canopied its source. To a
superstitious eye, Lucy Ashton, folded in her plaided mantle,
with her long hair, escaping partly from the snood and falling
upon her silver neck, might have suggested the idea of the
murdered Nymph of the fountain. But Ravenswood only saw a female
exquisitely beautiful, and rendered yet more so in his eyes--how
could it be otherwise?--by the consciousness that she had placed
her affections on him. As he gazed on her, he felt his fixed
resolution melting like wax in the sun, and hastened, therefore,
from his concealment in the neighbouring thicket. She saluted
him, but did not arise from the stone on which she was seated.
"My madcap brother," she said, "has left me, but I expect him
back in a few minutes; for, fortunately, as anything pleases him
for a minute, nothing has charms for him much longer."
Ravenswood did not feel the power of informing Lucy that her
brother meditated a distant excursion, and would not return in
haste. He sate himself down on the grass, at some little
distance from Miss Ashton, and both were silent for a short
"I like this spot," said Lucy at length, as if she found the
silence embarrassing; "the bubbling murmur of the clear fountain,
the waving of the trees, the profusion of grass and wild-
flowers that rise among the ruins, make it like a scene in
romance. I think, too, I have heard it is a spot connected with
the legendary lore which I love so well."
"It has been thought," answered Ravenswood, "a fatal spot to my
family; and I have some reason to term it so, for it was here I
first saw Miss Ashton; and it is here I must take my leave of
her for ever."
The blood, which the first part of this speech called into
Lucy's cheeks, was speedily expelled by its conclusion.
"To take leave of us, Master!" she exclaimed; "what can have
happened to hurry you away? I know Alice hates--I mean dislikes
my father; and I hardly understood her humour to-day, it was so
mysterious. But I am certain my father is sincerely grateful for
the high service you rendered us. Lt me hope that, having won
your friendship hardly, we shall not lose it lightly."
"Lose it, Miss Ashton!" said the Master of Ravenswood. "No;
wherever my fortune calls me--whatever she inflicts upon me--it
is your friend--your sincere friend, who acts or suffers. But
there is a fate on me, and I must go, or I shall add the ruin of
others to my own."
"Yet do not go from us, Master," said Lucy; and she laid her
hand, in all simplicity and kindness, upon the skirt of his
cloak, as if to detain him. "You shall not part from us. My
father is powerful, he has friends taht are more so than himself;
do not go till you see what his gratitude will do for you.
Believe me, he is already labouring in your behalf with the
"It may be so," said the Master, proudly; "yet it is not to your
father, Miss Ashton, but to my own exertions, that I ought to owe
success in the career on which I am about to enter. My
preparations are already made--a sword and a cloak, and a bold
heart and a determined hand."
Lucy covered her face her hands, and the tears, in spite of her,
forced their way between her fingers.
"Forgive me," said Ravenswood, taking her right hand, which,
after slight resistance, she yielded to him, still continuing to
shade her face with the left--"I am too rude--too rough--too
intractable to deal with any being so soft and gentle as you are.
Forget that so stern a vision has crossed your path of life; and
let me pursue mine, sure that I can meet with no worse misfortune
after the moment it divides me from your side."
Lucy wept on, but her tears were less bitter. Each attempt
which the Master made to explain his purpose of departure only
proved a new evidence of his desire to stay; until, at length,
instead of bidding her farewell, he gave his faith to her for
ever, and received her troth in return. The whole passed so
suddenly, and arose so much out of the immediate impulse of the
moment, that ere the Master of Ravenswood could reflect upon the
consequences of the step which he had taken, their lips, as well
as their hands, had pledged the sincerity of their affection.
"And now," he said, after a moment's consideration, "it is fit I
should speak to Sir William Ashton; he must know of our
engagement. Ravenswood must not seem to dwell under his roof to
solicit clandestinely the affections of his daughter."
"You would not speak to my father on the subject?" said Lucy,
doubtingly; and then added more warmly: "Oh do not--do not! Let
your lot in life be determined--your station and purpose
ascertained, before you address my father. I am sure he loves
you--I think he will consent; but then my mother----!"
She paused, ashamed to express the doubt she felt how far her
father dared to form any positive resolution on this most
important subject without the consent of his lady.
"Your mother, my Lucy!" replied Ravenswood. "She is of the
house of Douglas, a house that has intermarried with mine even
when its glory and power were at the highest; what could your
mother object to my alliance?"
"I did not say object," said Lucy; "but she is jealous of her
rights, and may claim a mother's title to be consulted in the
"Be it so," replied Ravenswood. "London is distant, but a
letter will reach it and receive an answer within a fortnight; I
will not press on the Lord Keeper for an instant reply to my
"But," hesitated Lucy, "were it not better to wait--to wait a
few weeks? Were my mother to see you--to know you, I am sure
she would approve; but you are unacquainted personally, and the
ancient feud between the families----"
Ravenswood fixed upon her his keen dark eyes, as if he was
desirous of penetrating into her very soul.
"Lucy," he said, "I have sacrificed to you projects of vengeance
long nursed, and sworn to with ceremonies little better than
heathen--I sacrificed them to your image, ere I knew the worth
which it represented. In the evening which succeeded my poor
father's funeral, I cut a lock from my hair, and, as it consumed
in the fire, I swore that my rage and revenge should pursue his
enemies, until they shrivelled before me like that scorched-up
symbol of annihilation."
"It was a deadly sin," said Lucy, turning pale, "to make a vow
"I acknowledge it," said Ravenswood, "and it had been a worse
crime to keep it. It was for your sake that I abjured these
purposes of vengeance, though I scarce knew that such was the
argument by which I was conquered, until I saw you once more,
and became ocnscious of the influence you possessed over me."
"And why do you now," said Lucy, "recall sentiments so terrible--
sentiments so inconsistent with those you profess for me--with
those your importunity has prevailed on me to acknowledge?"
"Because," said her lover, "I would impress on you the price at
which I have bought your love--the right I have to expect your
constancy. I say not that I have bartered for it the honour of
my house, its last remaining possession; but though I say it not,
and think it not, I cannot conceal from myself that the world may
"If such are your sentiments," said Lucy, "you have played a
cruel game with me. But it is not too late to give it over: take
back the faith and troth which you could not plight to me without
suffering abatement of honour--let what is passed be as if it had
not been--forget me; I will endeavour to forget myself."
"You do me injustice," said the Master of Ravenswood--"by all I
hold true and honourable, you do me the extremity of injustice;
if I mentioned the price at which I have bought your love, it is
only to show how much I prize it, to bind our
engagement by a still firmer tie, and to show, by what I have
done to attain this atation in your regard, how much I must
suffer should you ever break your faith."
"And why, Ravenswood," answered Lucy, "should you think that
possible? Why should you urge me with even the mention of
infidelity? Is it because I ask you to delay applying to my
father for a little space of time? Bind me by what vows you
please; if vows are unnecessary to secure constancy, they may yet
Ravenswood pleaded, apologised, and even kneeled, to appease her
displeasure; and lucy, as placable as she was single-hearted,
readily forgave the offence which his doubts had implied. The
dispute thus agitated, however, ended by the lovers going through
an emblematic ceremony of their troth-plight, of which the vulgar
still preserve some traces. They broke betwixt them the thin
broad-piece of gold which Alice had refused to receive from
"And never shall this leave my bosom," said Lucy, as she hung
the piece of gold round her neck, and concealed it with her
handkerchief, "until you, Edgar Ravenswood, ask me to resign it
to you; and, while I wear it, never shall that heart acknowledge
another love than yours."
With like protestations, Ravenswood placed his portion of the
coin opposite to his heart. And now, at length, it struck them
that time had hurried fast on during this interview, and their
absence at the castle would be subject of remark, if not of
alarm. As they arose to leave the fountain which had been
witness of their mutual engagement, an arrow whistled through the
air, and struck a raven perched on the sere branch of an old oak,
near to where they had been seated. The bird fluttered a few
yards and dropped at the feet of Lucy, whose dress was stained
with some spots of its blood.
Miss Ashton was much alarmed, and Ravenswood, surprised and
angry, looked everywhere for the marksman, who had given them a
proof of his skill as little expected as desired. He was not
long of discovering himself, being no other than Henry Ashton,
who came running up with a crossbow in his hand.
"I knew I should startle you," he said; "and do you know, you
looked so busy that I hoped it would have fallen souse on your
heads before you were aware of it. What was the Master saying to
"I was telling your sister what an idle lad you were, keeping us
waiting here for you so long," said Ravenswood, to save Lucy's
"Waiting for me! Why, I told you to see Lucy home, and that I
was to go to make the ring-walk with old Norman in the Hayberry
thicket, and you may be sure that would take a good hour, and we
have all the deer's marks and furnishes got, while you were
sitting here with Lucy, like a lazy loon."
"Well, well, Mr. Henry," said Ravenswood; "but let us see how
you will answer to me for killing the raven. Do you know, the
ravens are all under the protection of the Lords of
Ravenswood, and to kill one in their presence is such bad luck
that it deserves the stab?"
"And that's what Norman said," replied the boy; "he came as far
with me as within a flight-shot of you, and he said he never saw
a raven sit still so near living folk, and he wished it might be
for good luck, for the raven is one of the wildest birds that
flies, unless it be a tame one; and so I crept on and on, till I
was within threescore yards of him, and then whiz went the bolt,
and there he lies, faith! Was it not well shot? and, I dare say,
I have not shot in a crossbow!--not ten times, maybe."
"Admirably shot, indeed," said Ravenswood; "and you will be a
fine marksman if you practise hard."
"And that's what Norman says," answered the boy; "but I am sure
it is not my fault if I do not practise enough; for, of free
will, I would do little else, only my father and tutor are angry
sometimes, and only Miss Lucy there gives herself airs about my
being busy, for all she can sit idle by a wellside the whole day,
when she has a handsome young gentleman to prate with. I have
known her do so twenty times, if you will believe me."
The boy looked at his sister as he spoke, and, in the midst of
his mischievous chatter, had the sense to see that he was really
inflicting pain upon her, though without being able to
comprehend the cause or the amount.
"Come now, Lucy," he said, "don't greet; and if I have said
anything beside the mark, I'll deny it again; and what does the
Master of Ravenswood care if you had a hundred sweethearts? so
ne'er put finger in your eye about it."
The Master of Ravenswood was, for the moment, scarce
satisfied with what he heard; yet his good sense naturally
regarded it as the chatter of a spoilt boy, who strove to mortify
his sister in the point which seemed most accessible for the
time. But, although of a temper equally slow in receiving
impressions and obstinate in retaining them, the prattle of Henry
served to nourish in his mind some vague suspicion that his
present engagement might only end in his being exposed, like a
conquered enemy in a Roman triumph, a captive attendant on the
car of a victor who meditated only the satiating his pride at the
expense of the vanquished. There was, we repeat it, no real
ground whatever for such an apprehension, nor could he be said
seriously to entertain such for a moment. Indeed, it was
impossible to look at the clear blue eye of Lucy Ashton, and
entertain the slightest permanent doubt concerning the sincerity
of her disposition. Still, however, conscious pride and
conscious poverty combined to render a mind suspecious which in
more fortunate circumstances would have been a stranger to that
as well as to every other meanness.
They reached the castle, where Sir William Ashton, who had been
alarmed by the length of their stay, met them in the hall.
"Had Lucy," he said, "been in any other company than that of one
who had shown he had so complete power of protecting her, he
confessed he should have been very uneasy, and would have
despatched persons in quest of them. But, in the company of the
Master of Ravenswood, he knew his daughter had nothing to dread."
Lucy commenced some apology for their long delay, but,
conscience-struck, becames confused as she proceeded; and when
Ravenswood, coming to her assistance, endeavoured to render the
explanation complete and satisfactory, he only involved himself
in the same disorder, like one who, endeavouring to extricate his
companion from a slough, entangles himself in the same tenacious
swamp. It cannot be supposed that the confusion of the two
youthful lovers escaped the observation of the sublte lawyer,
accustomed, by habit and profession, to trace human nature
through all her windings. But it was not his present policy to
take any notice of what he observed. He desired to hold the
Master of Ravenswood bound, but wished that he himself should
remain free; and it did not occur to him that his plan might be
defeated by Lucy's returning the passion which he hoped she might
inspire. If she should adopt some romantic feelings towards
Ravenswood, in which circumstances, or the positive and absolute
opposition of Lady Ashton, might render it unadvisable to indulge
her, the Lord Keeper conceived they might be easily superseded
and annulled by a journey to Edinburgh, or even to London, a new
set of Brussels lace, and the soft whispers of half a dozen
lovers, anxious to replace him whom it was convenient she should
renounce. This was his provision for the worst view of the case.
But, according to its more probable issue, any passing favours
she might entertain for the Master of Ravenswood might require
encouragement rather than repression.
This seemed the more likely, as he had that very morning, since
their departure from the castle, received a letter, the contents
of which he hastened to communicate to Ravenswood. A foot-post
had arrived with a packet to the Lord Keeper from that friend
whom we have already mentioned, who was labouring hard underhand
to consolidate a band of patriots, at the head of whom stood Sir
William's greatest terror, the active and ambitious Marquis of A-
---. The success of this convenient friend had been such, that
he had obtained from Sir William, not indeed a
directly favourable answer, but certainly a most patient hearing.
This he had reported to his principal, who had replied by the
ancient French adage, "Chateau qui parle, et femme qui ecoute,
l'un et l'autre va se rendre." A statesman who hears you
propose a change of measures without reply was, according to the
Marquis's opinion, in the situation of the fortress which parleys
and the lady who listens, and he resolved to press the siege of
the Lord Keeper.
The packet, therefore, contained a letter from his friend and
ally, and another from himself, to the Lord Keeper, frankly
offering an unceremonious visit. They were crossing the country
to go to the southward; the roads were indifferent; the
accommodation of the inns as execrable as possible; the Lord
Keeper had been long acquainted intimately with one of his
correspondents, and, though more slightly known to the Marquis,
had yet enough of his lordship's acquaintance to render the visit
sufficiently natural, and to shut the mouths of those who might
be disposed to impute it to a political intrigue. He instantly
accepted the offered visit, determined, however, that he would
not pledge himself an inch farther for the furtherance of their
views than REASON (by which he meant his own self-interest)
should plainly point out to him as proper.
Two circumstances particularly delighted him--the presence of
Ravenswood, and the absence of his own lady. By having the
former under his roof, he conceived he might be able to quash all
such hazardous and hostile proceedings as he might otherwise have
been engaged in, under the patronage of the Marquis; and Lucy, he
foresaw, would make, for his immediate purpose of delay and
procrastination, a much better mistress of his family than her
mother, who would, he was sure, in some shape or other, contrive
to disconcert his political schemes by her proud and implacable
His anxious solicitations that the Master would stay to
receive his kinsman, were, of course, readily complied with,
since the eclaircissement which had taken place at the
Mermaiden's Fountain had removed all wish for sudden departure.
Lucy and Lockhard, had, therefore, orders to provide all things
necessary in their different departments, for receiving the
expected guests with a pomp and display of luxury very uncommon
in Scotland at that remote period.
Marall: Sir, the man of honour's come,
Overreach: In without reply,
And do as I command....
Is the loud music I gave order for
Ready to receive him?
New Way to pay Old Debts.
SIR WILLIAM ASHTON, although a man of sense, legal
information, and great practical knowledge of the world, had yet
some points of character which corresponded better with the
timidity of his disposition and the supple arts by which he had
risen in the world, than to the degree of eminence which he had
attained; as they tended to show an original mediocrity of
understanding, however highly it had been cultivated, and a
native meanness of disposition, however carefully veiled. He
loved the ostentatious display of his wealth, less as a man to
whom habit has made it necessary, than as one to whom it is still
delightful from its novelty. The most trivial details did not
escape him; and Lucy soon learned to watch the flush of scorn
which crossed Ravenswood's cheek, when he heard her father
gravely arguing with Lockhard, nay, even with the old
housekeeper, upon circumstances which, in families of rank, are
left uncared for, because it is supposed impossible they can be
"I could pardon Sir William," said Ravenswood, one evening after
he had left the room, "some general anxiety upon this occasion,
for the Marquis's visit is an honour, and should be received as
such; but I am worn out by these miserable minutiae of the
buttery, and the larder, and the very hencoop--they drive me
beyond my patience; I would rather endure the poverty of Wolf's
Crag than be pestered with the wealth of Ravenswood Castle."
"And yet," said Lucy, "it was by attention to these minutiae
that my father acquired the property----"
"Which my ancestors sold for lack of it," replied
Ravenswood. "Be it so; a porter still bears but a burden, though
the burden be of gold."
Lucy sighed; she perceived too plainly that her lover held in
scorn the manners and habits of a father to whom she had long
looked up as her best and most partial friend, whose fondness
had often consoled her for her mother's contemptuous harshness.
The lovers soon discovered that they differed upon other and no
less important topics. Religion, the mother of peace, was, in
those days of discord, so much misconstrued and mistaken, that
her rules and forms were the subject of the most opposite
opinions and the most hotsile animosities. The Lord Keeper,
being a Whig, was, of course, a Presbyterian, and had found it
convenient, at different periods, to express greater zeal for the
kirk than perhaps he really felt. His family, equally of course,
were trained under the same institution. Ravenswood, as we know,
was a High Churchman, or Episcopalian, and frequently objected to
Lucy the fanaticism of some of her own communion, while she
intimated, rather than expressed , horror at the latitudinarian
principles which she had been taught to think connected with the
prelatical form of church government.
Thus, although their mutual affection seemed to increase rather
than to be diminished as their characters opened more fully on
each other, the feelings of each were mingled with some less
agreeable ingredients. Lucy felt a secret awe, amid all her
affection for Ravenswood. His soul was of an higher, prouder
character than those with thom she had hitherto mixed in
intercourse; his ideas were more fierce and free; and he
contemned many of the opinions which had been inculcated upon her
as chiefly demanding her veneration. On the other hand,
Ravenswood saw in Lucy a soft and flexible character, which, in
his eyes at least, seemed too susceptible of being moulded to any
form by those with whom she lived. He felt that his own temper
required a partner of a more independent spirit, who could set
sail with him on his course of life, resolved as himself to dare
indifferently the storm and the favouring breeze. But Lucy was
so beautiful, so devoutly attached to him, of a temper so
exquisitely soft and kind, that, while he could have wished it
were possible to inspire her with a greater degree of firmness
and resolution, and while he sometimes became impatient of the
extreme fear which she expressed of their attachment being
prematurely discovered, he felt that the softness of a mind,
amounting almost to feebleness, rendered her even dearer to him,
as a being who had voluntarily clung to him for protection, and
made him the arbiter of her fate for weal or woe. His feelings
towards her at such moments were those which have been since so
beautifully expressed by our immortal Joanna Baillie:
Thou sweetest thing,
That e'er did fix its lightly-fibred sprays
To the rude rock, ah! wouldst thou cling to me?
Rough and storm-worn I am; yet love me as
Thou truly dost, I will love thee again
With true and honest heart, though all unmeet
To be the mate of such sweet gentleness.
Thus the very points in which they differed seemed, in some
measure, to ensure the continuance of their mutual affection.
If, indeed, they had so fully appreciated each other's character
before the burst of passion in which they hastily pledged their
faith to each other, Lucy might have feared Ravenswood too much
ever to have loved him, and he might have construed her softness
and docile temper as imbecility, rendering her unworthy of his
regard. But they stood pledged to each other; and Lucy only
feared that her lover's pride might one day teach him to regret
his attachment; Ravenswood, that a mind so ductile as Lucy's
might, in absence or difficulties, be induced, by the entreaties
or influence of those around her, to renounce the engagement she
"Do not fear it," said Lucy, when upon one occasion a hint of
such suspicion escaped her lover; "the mirrors which receive the
reflection of all successive objects are framed of hard
materials like glass or steel; the softer substances, when they
receive an impression, retain it undefaced."
"This is poetry, Lucy," said Ravenswood; "and in poetry there is
always fallacy, and sometimes fiction."
"Believe me, then, once more, in honest prose," said Lucy,
"that, though I will never wed man without the consent of my
parents, yet neither force nor persuasion shall dispose of my
hand till you renounce the right I have given you to it."
The lovers had ample time for such explanations. Henry was now
more seldom their companion, being either a most unwilling
attendant upon the lessons of his tutor, or a forward volunteer
under the instructions of the foresters or grooms. As for the
Keeper, his mornings were spent in his study, maintaining
correspondences of all kinds, and balancing in his anxious mind
the various intelligence which he collected from every quarter
concerning the expected change of Scottish politics, and the
probable strength of the parties who were about to struggle for
power. At other times he busied himself about arranging, and
coutermanding, and then again arranging, the preparations which
he judged necessary for the reception of the Marquis of A----,
whose arrival had been twice delayed by some necessary cause of
In the midst of all these various avocations, political and
domestic, he seemed not to observe how much his daughter and his
guest were thrown into each other's society, and was censured by
many of his neighbours, according to the fashion of neighbours in
all countries, for suffering such an intimate connexion to take
place betwixt two young persons. The only natural explanation
was, that he designed them for each other; while, in truth, his
only motive was to temporise and procrastinate until he should
discover the real extent of the interest which the Marquis took
in Ravenswood's affairs, and the power which he was likely to
possess of advancing them. Until these points should be made
both clear and manifest, the Lord Keeper resolved that he would
do nothing to commit himself, either in one shape or other; and,
like many cunning persons, he overreached himself deplorably.
Amongst those who had been disposed to censure, with the
greatest severity, the conduct of Sir William Ashton, in
permitting the prolonged residence of Ravenswood under his roof,
and his constant attendance on Miss Ashton, was the new Laird of
Girnington, and his faithful squire and bottleholder, personages
formerly well known to us by the names of Hayston and Bucklaw,
and his companion Captain Craigengelt. The former had at length
succeeded to the extensive property of his long-lived grand-aunt,
and to considerable wealth besides, which he had employed in
redeeming his paternal acres (by the title appertaining to which
he still chose to be designated), notwithstanding Captain
Craigengelt had proposed to him a most advantageous mode of
vesting the money in Law's scheme, which was just then broached,
and offered his services to travel express to Paris for the
purpose. But Bucklaw had so far derived wisdom from adversity,
that he would listen to no proposal which Craigengelt could
invent, which had the slightest tendency to risk his newly-
acquired independence. He that had once eat pease-bannocks,
drank sour wine, and slept in the secret chamber at Wolf's Crag,
would, he said, prize good cheer and a soft bed as long as he
lived, and take special care never to need such hospitality
Craigengelt, therefore, found himself disappointed in the first
hopes he had entertained of making a good hand of the Laird of
Bucklaw. Still, however, he reaped many advantages from his
friend's good fortune. Bucklaw, who had never been at all
scrupulous in choosing his companions, was accustomed to, and
entertained by, a fellow whom he could either laugh with or
laugh at as he had a mind, who would take, according to Scottish
phrase, "the bit and the buffet," understood all sports, whether
within or without doors, and, when the laird had a mind for a
bottle of wine (no infrequent circumstance), was always ready to
save him from the scandal of getting drunk by himself. Upon
these terms, Craigengelt was the frequent, almost the constant,
inmate of the house of Girnington.
In no time, and under no possibility of circumstances, could
good have been derived from such an intimacy, however its bad
consequences might be qualified by the thorough knowledge which
Bucklaw possessed of his dependant's character, and the high
contempt in which he held it. But, as circumstances stood, this
evil communication was particularly liable to corrupt what good
principles nature had implanted in the patron.
Craigengelt had never forgiven the scorn with which
Ravenswood had torn the mask of courage and honesty from his
countenance; and to exasperate Bucklaw's resentment against him
was the safest mode of revenge which occurred to his cowardly,
yet cunning and malignant, disposition.
He brought up on all occasions the story of the challenge which
Ravenswood had declined to accept, and endeavoured, by every
possible insinuation, to make his patron believe that his honour
was concerned in bringing that matter to an issue by a present
discussion with Ravenswood. But respecting this subject Bucklaw
imposed on him, at length, a peremptory command of silence.
"I think," he said, "the Master has treated me unlike a
gentleman, and I see no right he had to send me back a cavalier
answer when I demanded the satisfaction of one. But he gave me
my life once; and, in looking the matter over at present, I put
myself but on equal terms with him. Should he cross me again, I
shall consider the old accompt as balanced, and his Mastership
will do well to look to himself."
"That he should," re-echoed Craigengelt; "for when you are in
practice, Bucklaw, I would bet a magnum you are through him
before the third pass."
"Then you know nothing of the matter," said Bucklaw, "and you
never saw him fence."
"And I know nothing of the matter?" said the dependant--"a good
jest, I promise you! And though I never saw Ravenswood fence,
have I not been at Monsieur Sagoon's school, who was the first
maitre d'armes at Paris; and have I not been at Signor Poco's
at Florence, and Meinheer Durchstossen's at Vienna, and have I
not seen all their play?"
"I don't know whether you have or not," said Bucklaw; "but what
about it, though you had?"
"Only that I will be d--d if ever I saw French, Italian, or
High-Dutchman ever make foot, hand, and eye keep time half so
well as you, Bucklaw."
"I believe you lie, Craigie," said Bucklaw; "however, I can hold
my own, both with single rapier, backsword, sword and dagger,
broadsword, or case of falchions--and that's as much as any
gentleman need know of the matter."
"And the doublt of what ninety-nine out of a hundred know," said
Craigengelt; "they learn to chanage a few thrusts with the small
sword, and then, forsooth, they understand the noble art of
defence! Now, when I was at Rouen in the year 1695, there was a
Chevalier de Chapon and I went to the opera, where we found three
bits of English birkies----"
"Is it a long story you are going to tell?" said Bucklaw,
interrupting him without ceremony.
"Just as you like," answered the parasite, "for we made short
work of it."
"Then I like it short," said Bucklaw. "Is it serious or merry?"
"Devilish serious, I assure you, and so they found it; for the
Chevalier and I----"
"Then I don't like it at all," said Bucklaw; "so fill a brimmer
of my auld auntie's claret, rest her heart! And, as the
Hielandman says, Skioch doch na skiall."
"That was what tough old Sir Even Dhu used to say to me when I
was out with the metall'd lads in 1689. 'Craigengelt,' he used
to say, 'you are as pretty a fellow as ever held steel in his
grip, but you have one fault.'"
"If he had known you as long as I have don," said Bucklaw, "he
would have found out some twenty more; but hand long stories,
give us your toast, man."
Craigengelt rose, went a -tiptoe to the door, peeped out, shut
it carefully, came back again, clapped his tarnished gold-laced
hat on one side of his head, took his glass in one hand, and
touching the hilt of his hanger with the other, named, "The King
over the water."
"I tell you what it is, Captain Craigengelt," said Bucklaw; "I
shall keep my mind to myself on thse subjects, having too much
respect for the memory of my venerable Aunt Girnington to put
her lands and tenements in the way of committing treason against
established authority. Bring me King James to Edinburgh,
Captain, with thirty thousand men at his back, and I'll tell you
what I think about his title; but as for running my neck into a
noose, and my good broad lands into the statutory penalties, 'in
that case made and provided,' rely upon it, you will find me no
such fool. So, when you mean to vapour with your hanger and your
dram-cup in support of treasonable toasts, you must find your
liquor and company elsewhere."
"Well, then," said Craigengelt, "name the toast yourself, and be
it what it like, I'll pledge you, were it a mile to the bottom."
"And I'll give you a toast that deserves it, my boy," said
Bucklaw; "what say you to Miss Lucy Ashton?"
"Up with it," said the Captain, as he tossed off his
brimmer, "the bonniest lass in Lothian! What a pity the old
sneckdrawing Whigamore, her father, is about to throw her away
upon that rag of pride and beggary, the Master of Ravenswood!"
"That's not quite so clear," said Bucklaw, in a tone which,
though it seemed indifferent, excited his companion's eager
curiosity; and not that only, but also his hope of working
himself into soem sort of confidence, which might make him
necessary to his patron, being by no means satisfied to rest on
mere sufferance, if he could form by art or industry a more
permanent title to his favour.
"I thought," said he, after a moment's pause, "that was a
settled matter; they are continually together, and nothing else
is spoken of betwixt Lammer Law and Traprain."
"They may say what they please," replied his patron, "but I know
better; and I'll give you Miss Lucy Ashton's health again, my
"And I woul drink it on my knee," said Craigengelt, "if I
thought the girl had the spirit to jilt that d--d son of a
"I am to request you will not use the word 'jilt' and Miss
Ashton's name together," said Bucklaw, gravely.
"Jilt, did I say? Discard, my lad of acres--by Jove, I meant to
discard," replied Craigengelt; "and I hope she'll discard him
like a small card at piquet, and take in the king of hearts, my
boy! But yet----"
"But what?" said his patron.
"But yet I know for certain they are hours together alone, and
in the woods and the fields."
"That's her foolish father's dotage; that will be soon put out
of the lass's head, if it ever gets into it," answered Bucklaw.
"And now fill your glass again, Captain; I am going to make you
happy; I am going to let you into a secret--a plot--a noosing
plot--only the noose is but typical."
"A marrying matter?" said Craigengelt, and his jaw fell as he
asked the question, for he suspected that matrimony would render
his situation at Girnington much more precarious than during the
jolly days of his patron's bachelorhood.
"Ay, a marriage, man," said Bucklaw; "but wherefore droops they
might spirit, and why grow the rubies on they cheek so pale?
The board will have a corner, and the corner will have a
trencher, and the trencher will have a glass beside it; and the
board-end shall be filled, and the trencher and the glass shall
be replenished for thee, if all the petticoats in Lothian had
sworn the contrary. What, man! I am not the boy to put myself
"So says many an honest fellow," said Craigengelt, "and some of
my special friends; but, curse me if I know the reason, the
women could never bear me, and always contrived to trundle me out
of favour before the honeymoon was over."
"If you could have kept your ground till that was over, you
might have made a good year's pension," said Bucklaw.
"But I never could," answered the dejected parasite. "There was
my Lord Castle-Cuddy--we were hand and glove: I rode his horses,
borrowed money both for him and from him, trained his hawks, and
taught him how to lay his bets; and when he took a fancy of
marrying, I married him to Katie Glegg, whom I thought myself as
sure of as man could be of woman. Egad, she had me out of the
house, as if I had run on wheels, within the first
"Well!" replied Bucklaw, "I think I have nothing of Castle-
Cuddy about me, or Lucy of Katie Glegg. But you see the thing
will go on whether you like it or no; the only question is, will
you be useful?"
"Useful!" exclaimed the Captain, "and to thee, my lad of lands,
my darling boy, whom I would tramp barefooted through the world
for! Name time, place, mode, and circumstances, and see if I
will not be useful in all uses that can be devised."
"Why, then, you must ride two hundred miles for me," said the
"A thousand, and call them a flea's leap," answered the
dependant; "I'll cause saddle my horse directly."
"Better stay till you know where you are to go, and what you are
to do," quoth Bucklaw. "You know I have a kinswoman in
Northumberland, Lady Blenkensop by name, whose old acquaintance I
had the misfortune to lose in the period of my poverty, but the
light of whose countenance shone forth upon me when the sun of my
prosperity began to arise."
"D--n all such double-faced jades!" exclaimed Craigengelt,
heroically; "this I will say for John Craigengelt, that he is his
friend's friend through good report and bad report, poverty and
riches; and you know something of that yourself, Bucklaw."
"I have not forgot your merits," said his patron; "I do remember
that, in my extremities, you had a mind to CRIMP me for the
service of the French king, or of the Pretender; and, moreover,
that you afterwards lent me a score of pieces, when, as I firmly
believe, you had heard the news that old Lady Girnington had a
touch of the dead palsy. But don't be downcast, John; I
believe, after all, you like me very well in your way, and it is
my misfortune to have no better counsellor at present. To return
to this Lady Blenkensop, you must know, she is a close
confederate of Duchess Sarah."
"What! of Sall Jennings?" exclaimed Craigengelt; "then she must
be a good one."
"Hold your tongue, and keep your Tory rants to yourself, if it
be possible," said Bucklaw. "I tell you, that through the
Duchess of Marlborough has this Northumbrian cousin of mine
become a crony of Lady Ashton, the Keeper's wife, or, I may say,
the Lord Keeper's Lady Keeper, and she has favoured Lady
Blenkensop with a visit on her return from London, and is just
now at her old mansion-house on the banks fo the Wansbeck. Now,
sir, as it has been the use and wont of these ladies to consider
their husbands as of no importance in the management of their own
families, it has been their present pleasure, without consulting
Sir William Ashton, to put on the tapis a matrimonial alliance,
to be concluded between Lucy Ashton and my own right honourable
self, Lady Ashton acting as self-constituted plenipotentiary on
the part of her daughter and husband, and Mother Blenkensop,
equally unaccredited, doing me the honour to be my
representative. You may suppose I was a little astonished when I
found that a treaty, in which I was so considerably interested,
had advanced a good way before I was even consulted."
"Capot me! if I think that was according to the rules of the
game," said his confidant; "and pray, what answer did you
"Why, my first thought was to send the treaty to the devil, and
the negotiators along with it, for a couple of meddling old
women; my next was to laugh very hearily; and my third and last
was a settled opinion that the thing was reasonable, and would
suit me well enough."
"Why, I thought you had never seen the wench but once, and then
she had her riding-mask on; I am sure you told me so."
"Ay, but I liked her very well then. And Ravenswood's dirty
usage of me--shutting me out of doors to dine with the lackeys,
because he had the Lord Keeper, forsooth, and his daughter, to
be guests in his beggarly castle of starvation,--d--n me,
Craigengelt, if I ever forgive him till I play him as good a
"No more you should, if you are a lad of mettle," said
Craigengelt, the matter now taking a turn in which he could
sympathise; "and if you carry this wench from him, it will break
"That it will not," said Bucklaw; "his heart is all steeled over
with reason and philosophy, things that you, Craigie, know
nothing about more than myself, God help me. But it will break
his pride, though, and that's what I'm driving at."
"Distance me!" said Craigengelt, "but I know the reason now of
his unmannerly behaviour at his old tumble-down tower yonder.
Ashamed of your company?--no, no! Gad, he was afraid you would
cut in and carry off the girl."
"Eh! Craigengelt?" said Bucklaw, "do you really think so? but
no, no! he is a devilish deal prettier man than I am."
"Who--he?" exclaimed the parasite. "He's as black as the crook;
and for his size--he's a tall fellow, to be sure, but give me a
light, stout, middle-sized----"
"Plague on thee!" said Bucklaw, interrupting him, "and on me for
listening to you! You would say as much if I were hunch-
backed. But as to Ravenswood--he has kept no terms with me,
I'll keep none with him; if I CAN win this girl from him,
I WILL win her."
"Win her! 'sblood, you SHALL win her, point, quint,
and quatorze, my king of trumps; you shall pique, repique, and
"Prithee, stop thy gambling cant for one instant," said Bucklaw.
"Things have come thus far, that I have entertained the proposal
of my kinswoman, agreed to the terms of jointure, amount of
fortune, and so forth, and that the affair is to go forward when
Lady Ashton comes down, for she takes her daughter and her son in
her own hand. Now they want me to send up a confidential person
with some writings."
"By this good win, I'll ride to the end of the world--the very
gates of Jericho, and the judgment-seat of Prester John, for
thee!" ejaculated the Captain.
"Why, I believe you would do something for me, and a great deal
for yourself. Now, any one could carry the writings; but you
will have a little more to do. You must contrive to drop out
before my Lady Ashton, just as if it were a matter of little
consequence, the residence of Ravenswood at her husband's house,
and his close intercourse with Miss Ashton; and you may tell her
that all the country talks of a visit from the Marquis of A----,
as it is supposed, to make up the match betwixt Ravenswood and
her daughter. I should like to hear what she says to all this;
for, rat me! if I have any idea of starting for the plate at all
if Ravenswood is to win the race, and he has odds against me
"Never a bit; the wench has too much sense, and in that belief I
drink her health a third time; and, were time and place fitting,
I would drink it on bended knees, and he that would not pledge
me, I would make his guts garter his stockings."
"Hark ye, Craigengelt; as you are going into the society of
women of rank," said Bucklaw, "I'll thank you to forget your
strange blackguard oaths and 'damme's.' I'll write to them,
though, that you are a blunt, untaught fellow."
"Ay, ay," replied Craigengelt--"a plain, blunt, honest,
"Not too honest, not too much of the soldier neither; but such
as thou art, it is my luck to need thee, for I must have spurs
put to Lady Ashton's motions."
"I'll dash them up to the rowel-heads," said Craigengelt; "she
shall come here at the gallop, like a cow chased by a whole nest
of hornets, and her tail over her rump like a corkscrew."
"And hear ye, Craigie," said Bucklaw; "your boots and doublet
are good enough to drink in, as the man says in the play, but
they are somewhat too greasy for tea-table service; prithee, get
thyself a little better rigged out, and here is to pay all
"Nay, Bucklaw; on my soul, man, you use me ill. However," added
Craigengelt, pocketing the money, "if you will have me so far
indebted to you, I must be conforming."
"Well, horse and away!" said the patron, "so soon as you have
got your riding livery in trim. You may ride the black crop-ear;
and, hark ye, I'll make you a present of him to boot."
"I drink to the good luck of my mission," answered the
ambassador, "in a half-pint bumper."
"I thank ye, Craigie, and pledge you; I see nothing against it
but the father or the girl taking a tantrum, and I am told the
mother can wind them both round her little finger. Take care
not to affront her with any of your Jacobite jargon."
"Oh, ay, true--she is a Whig, and a friend of old Sall of
Marlborough; thank my stars, I can hoist any colours at a pinch!
I have fought as hard under John Churchill as ever I did under
Dundee or the Duke of Berwick."
"I verily believe you, Craigie," said the lord of the mansion;
"but, Craigie, do you, pray, step down to the cellar, and fetch
us up a bottle of the Burgundy, 1678; it is in the fourth bin
from the right-hand turn. And I say, Craigie, you may fetch up
half a dozen whilst you are about it. Egad, we'll make a night
And soon they spied the merry-men green,
And eke the coach and four.
Duke upon Duke.
CRAIGENGELT set forth on his mission so soon as his equipage was
complete, prosecuted his journey with all diligence, and
accomplished his commission with all the dexterity for which
bucklaw had given him credit. As he arrived with credentials
from Mr. Hayston of Bucklaw, he was extremely welcome to both
ladies; and those who are prejudiced in favour of a new
acquaintance can, for a time at least, discover
excellencies in his very faults and perfections in his
deficiencies. Although both ladies were accustomed to good
society, yet, being pre-determined to find out an agreeable and
well-behaved gentleman in Mr. Hayston's friend, they succeeded
wonderfully in imposing on themselves. It is true that
Craigengelt was now handsomely dressed, and that was a point of
no small consequence. But, independent of outward show, his
blackguard impudence of address was construed into honourable
bluntness. becoming his supposed military profession; his
hectoring passed for courage, and his sauciness for wit. Lest,
however, any one should think this a violation of probability, we
must add, in fairness to the two ladies, that their discernment
was greatly blinded, and their favour propitiated, by the
opportune arrival of Captain Craigengelt in the moment when they
were longing for a third hand to make a party at tredrille, in
which, as in all games, whether of chance or skill, that worthy
person was a great proficient.
When he found himself established in favour, his next point was
how best to use it for the furtherance of his patron's views.
He found Lady Ashton prepossessed strongly in favour of the
motion which Lady Blenkensop, partly from regard to her
kinswoman, partly from the spirit of match-making, had not
hesitated to propose to her; so that his task was an easy one.
Bucklaw, reformed from his prodigality, was just the sort of
husband which she desired to have for her Shepherdess of
Lammermoor; and while the marriage gave her an easy fortune, and
a respectable country gentleman for her husband, Lady Ashton was
of opinion that her destinies would be fully and most favourably
accomplished. It so chanced, also, that Bucklaw, among his new
acquisitions, had gained the management of a little political
interest in a neighbouring county where the Douglas family
originally held large possessions. It was one of the bosom-hopes
of Lady Ashton that her eldest son, Sholto, should represent this
county in the British Parliament, and she saw this alliance with
Bucklaw as a circumstance which might be highly favourable to
Craigengelt, who, in his way, by no means wanted sagacity, no
sooner discovered in what quarter the wind of Lady Ashton's
wishes sate, than he trimmed his course accordinly. "There was
little to prevent Bucklaw himself from sitting for the county; he
must carry the heat--must walk the course. Two cousins-german,
six more distant kinsmen, his factor and his chamberlain, were
all hollow votes; and the Girnington interest had always carried,
betwixt love and fear, about as many more. But Bucklaw cared no
more about riding the first horse, and that sort of thing, than
he, Craigengelt, did about a game at birkie: it was a pity his
interest was not in good guidance."
All this Lady Ashton drank in with willing and attentive ears,
resolving internally to be herself the person who should take the
management of the political influence of her destined son-in-law,
for the benefit of her eldest-born, Sholto, and all other parties
When he found her ladyship thus favourably disposed, the Captain
proceeded, to use his employer's phrase, to set spurs to her
resolution, by hinting at the situation of matters at
Ravenswood Castle, the long residence which the heir of that
family had made with the Lord Keeper, and the reports which--
though he would be d--d ere he gave credit to any of them--had
been idly circulated in the neighbourhood. It was not the
Captain's cue to appear himself to be uneasy on the subject of
these rumours; but he easily saw from Lady Ashton's flushed
cheek, hesitating voice, and flashing eye, that she had caught
the alarm which he intended to communicate. She had not heard
from her husband so often or so regularly as she though him
bound in duty to have written, and of this very interesting
intelligence concerning his visit to the Tower of Wolf's Crag,
and the guest whom, with such cordiality, he had received at
Ravenswsood Castle, he had suffered his lady to remain altogether
ignorant, until she now learned it by the chance information of a
stranger. Such concealment approached, in her apprehension, to a
misprision, at last, of treason, if not to actual rebellion
against her matrimonial authority; and in her inward sould she
did vow to take vengeance on the Lord Keeper, as on a subject
detected in meditating revolt. Her indignation burned the more
fiercely as she found herself obliged to suppress it in presence
of Lady Blenkensop, the kinswoman, and of Craigengelt, the
confidential friend, of Bucklaw, of whose alliance she now became
trebly desirous, since it occurred to her alarmed imagination
that her husband might, in his policy or timidity, prefer that of
The Captain was engineer enough to discover that the train was
fired; and therefore heard, in the course of the same day,
without the least surprise, that Lady Ashton had resolved to
abridge her visit to Lady Blenkensop, and set forth with the peep
of morning on her return to Scotland, using all the despatch
which the state of the roads and the mode of travelling would
Unhappy Lord Keeper! little was he aware what a storm was
travelling towards him in all the speed with which an old-
fashioned coach and six could possibly achieve its journey. He,
like Don Gayferos, "forgot his lady fair and true," and was only
anxious about the expected visit of the Marquis of A----.
Soothfast tidings had assured him that this nobleman was at
length, and without fail, to honour his castle at one in the
afternoon, being a late dinner-hour; and much was the bustle in
consequence of the annunciation. The Lord Keeper traversed the
chambers, held consultation with the butler in the cellars, and
even ventured, at the risk of a demele with a cook of a spirit
lofty enough to scorn the admonitions of Lady Ashton herself, to
peep into the kitchen. Satisfied, at length, that everything was
in as active a train of preparation as was possible, he summoned
Ravenswood and his daughter to walk upon the terrace, for the
purpose of watching, from that commanding position, the earliest
symptoms of his lordship's approach. For this purpose, with
slow and idle step, he paraded the terrace, which, flanked with a
heavy stone battlement, stretched in front of the castle upon a
level with the first story; while visitors found access to the
court by a projecting gateway, the bartizan or flat-leaded roof
of which was accessible from the terrace by an easy flight of low
and broad steps. The whole bore a resemblance partly to a
castle, partly to a nobleman's seat; and though calculated, in
some respects, for defence, evinced that it had been constructed
under a sense of the power and security of the ancient Lords of
This pleasant walk commanded a beautiful and extensive view.
But what was most to our present purpose, there were seen from
the terrace two roads, one leading from the east, and one from
the westward, which, crossing a ridge opposed to the eminence on
which the castle stood, at different angles, gradually approached
each other, until they joined not far from the gate of the
avenue. It was to the westward approach that the Lord Keeper,
from a sort of fidgeting anxiety, his daughter, from complaisance
to him, and Ravenswood, though feeling some symptoms of internal
impatience, out of complaisance to his daughter, directed their
eyes to see the precursors of the Marquis's approach.
These were not long of presenting themselves. Two running
footmen, dressed in white, with black jockey-caps, and long
staffs in their hands, headed the train; and such was their
agility, that they found no difficulty in keeping the necessary
advance, which the etiquette of their station required, before
the carriage and horsemen. Onward they came at a long swinging
trot, arguing unwearied speed in their long-breathed calling.
Such running footmen are often alluded to in old plays (I would
particularly instance Middleton's Mad World, my Masters), and
perhaps may be still remembered by some old persons in Scotland,
as part of the retinue of the ancient nobility when travelling in
full ceremony. Behind these glancing meteors, who footed it as
if the Avenger of Blood had been behind them, came a cloud of
dust, raised by riders who preceded, attended, or followed the
state-carriage of the Marquis.
The privilege of nobility, in those days, had something in it
impressive on the imagination. The dresses and liveries and
number of their attendants, their style of travelling, the
imposing, and almost warlike, air of the armed men who surrounded
them, place them far above the laird, who travelled with his
brace of footmen; and as to rivalry from the mercantile part of
the community, these would as soon have thought of imitating the
state equipage of the Sovereign. At present it is different; and
I myself, Peter Pattieson, in a late journey to Edinburgh, had
the honour, in the mail-coach phrasem to "change a leg" with a
peer of the realm. It was not so in the days of which I write;
and the Marquis's approach, so long expected in vain, now took
place in the full pomp of ancient aristocracy. Sir William
Ashton was so much interested in what he beheld, and in
considering the ceremonial of reception, in case any
circumstance had been omitted, that he scarce heard his son Henry
exclaim: "There is another coach and six coming down the east
road, papa; can they both belong to the Marquis of A----?"
At length, when the youngster had fairly compelled his attention
by pulling his sleeve,
He turned his eyes, and, as he turned, survey'd
An awful vision.
Sure enough, another coach and six, with four servants or
outriders in attendance, was descending the hill from the
eastward, at such a pace as made it doubtful which of the
carriages thus approaching from different quarters would first
reach the gate at the extremity of the avenue. The one coach was
green, the other blue; and not the green and blue chariots in the
circus of Rome or Constantinople excited more turmoil among the
citizens than the double apparition occasioned in the mind of the
We all remember the terrible exclamation of the dying
profligate, when a friend, to destroy what he supposed the
hypochondriac idea of a spectre appearing in a certain shape at a
given hour, placed before him a person dressed up in the manner
he described. "Mon Dieu!" said the expiring sinner, who, it
seems, saw both the real and polygraphic apparition, "il y en a
deux!" The surprise of the Lord Keeper was scarcely less
unpleasing at the duplication of the expected arrival; his mind
misgave him strangely. There was no neighbour who would have
approached so unceremoniously, at a time when ceremony was held
in such respect. It must be Lady Ashton, said his conscience,
and followed up the hint with an anxious anticipation of the
purpose of her sudden and unannounced return. He felt that he
was caught "in the manner." That the company in which she had so
unluckily surprised him was likely to be highly distasteful to
her, there was no question; and the only hope which remained for
him was her high sense of dignified propriety, which, he trusted,
might prevent a public explosion. But so active were his doubts
and fears as altogether to derange his purposed ceremonial for
the reception of the Marquis.
These feelings of apprehension were not confined to Sir William
Ashton. "It is my mother--it is my mother!" said Lucy, turning
as pale as ashes, and clasping her hands together as she looked
"And if it be Lady Ashton," said her lover to her in a low tone,
"what can be the occasion of such alarm? Surely the return of a
lady to the family from which she has been so long absent should
excite other sensations than those of fear and dismay."
"You do not know my mother," said Miss Ashton, in a tone almost
breathless with terror; "what will she say when she sees you in
"My stay has been too long," said Ravenswood, somewhat
haughtily, "if her displeasure at my presence is likely to be so
formidable. My dear Lucy," he resumed, in a tone of soothing
encouragement, "you are too childishly afraid of Lady Ashton; she
is a woman of family--a lady of fashion--a person who must know
the world, and what is due to her husband and her husband's
Lucy shook her head; and, as if her mother, still at the
distance of half a mile, could have seen and scrutinised her
deportment, she withdrew herself from besdie Ravenswood, and,
taking her brother Henry's arm, led him to a different part of
the terrace. The Keeper also shuffled down towards the portal of
the great gate, without inviting Ravenswood to accompany him; and
thus he remained standing alone on the terrace, deserted and
shunned, as it were, by the inhabitants of the mansion.
This suited not the mood of one who was proud in proportion to
his poverty, and who thought that, in sacrificing his deep-
rooted resentments so far as to become Sir William Ashton's
guest, he conferred a favour, and received none. "I can forgive
Lucy," he said to himself; "she is young, timid, and conscious of
an important engagement assumed without her mother's sanction;
yet she should remember with whom it has been assumed, and leave
me no reason to suspect that she is ashamed of her choice. For
the Keeper, sense, spirit, and expression seem to have left his
face and manner since he had the first glimpse of Lady Ashton's
carriage. I must watch how this is to end; and, if they give me
reason to think myself an unwelcome guest, my visit is soon
With these suspicions floating on his mind, he left the terrace,
and walking towards the stables of the castle, gave directions
that his horse should be kept in readiness, in case he should
have occasion to ride abroad.
In the mean while, the drivers of the two carriages, the
approach of which had occasioned so much dismay at the castle,
had become aware of each other's presence, as they approached
upon different lines to the head of the avenue, as a ocmmon
centre. Lady Ashton's driver and postilions instantly received
orders to get foremost, if possible, her ladyship being desirous
of despatching her first interview with her husband before the
arrival of these guests, whoever they might happen to be. On the
other hand, the coachman of the Marquis, conscious of his own
dignity and that of his master, and observing the rival
charioteer was mending his pace, resolved, like a true brother of
the whip, whether ancient or modern, to vindicate his right of
precedence. So that, to increase the confusion of the Lord
Keeper's understanding, he saw the short time which remained for
consideration abridged by the haste of the contending coachmen,
who, fixing their eyes sternly on each other, and applying the
lash smartly to their horses, began to thunder down the descent
with emulous rapidity, while the horsemen who attended them were
forced to put on to a hand-gallop.
Sir William's only chance now remaining was the possibility of
an overturn, and that his lady or visitor might break their
necks. I am not aware that he formed any distinct wish on the
subject, but I have no reason to think that his grief in either
case would have been altogether inconsolable. This chance,
however, also disappeared; for Lady Ashton, though insensible to
fear, began to see the ridicule of running a race with a visitor
of distinction, the goal being the portal of her own castle, and
commanded her coachman, as they approached the avenue, to slacken
his pace, and allow precedence to the stranger's equipage; a
command which he gladly obeyed, as coming in time to save his
honour, the horses of the Marquis's carriage being better, or, at
least, fresher than his own. He restrained his pace, therefore,
and suffered the green coach to enter the avenue, with all its
retinue, which pass it occupied with the speed of a whirlwind.
The Marquis's laced charioteer no sooner found the pas d'avance
was granted to him than he resumed a more deliberate pace, at
which he advanced under the embowering shade of the lofty elms,
surrounded by all the attendants; while the carriage of Lady
Ashton followed, still more slowly, at some distance.
In the front of the castle, and beneath the portal which
admitted guests into the inner court, stood Sir William Ashton,
much perplexed in mind, his younger son and daughter beside him,
and in their rear a train of attendants of various ranks, in and
out of livery. The nobility and gentry of Scotland, at this
period, were remarkable even to extravagance for the number of
their servants, whose services were easily purchased in a country
where men were numerous beyond proportion to the means of
The manners of a man trained like Sir William Ashton are too
much at his command to remain long disconcerted with the most
adverse concurrence of circumstances. He received the Marquis,
as he alighted from his equipage, with the usual compliments of
welcome; and, as he ushered him into the great hall, expressed
his hope that his journey had been pleasant. The Marquis was a
tall, well-made man, with a thoughtful and intelligent
countenance, and an eye in which the fire of ambition had for
some years replaced the vivacity of youth; a bold, proud
expression of countenance, yet chastened by habitual caution, and
the desire which, as the head of a party, he necessarily
entertained of acquiring popularity. He answered with courtesy
the courteous inquiries of the Lord Keeper, and was formally
presented to Miss Ashton, in the course of which ceremony the
Lord Keeper gave the first symptom of what was chiefly occupying
his mind, by introducing his daughter as "his wife, Lady Ashton."
Lucy blushed; the Marquis looked surprised at the extremely
juvenile appearance of his hostess, and the Lord Keeper with
difficulty rallied himself so far as to explain. "I should have
said my daughter, my lord; but the truth is, that I saw Lady
Ashton's carriage enter the avenue shortly after your lordship's,
"Make no apology, my lord," replied his noble guest; "let me
entreat you will wait on your lady, and leave me to cultivate
Miss Ashton's acquaintance. I am shocked my people should have
taken precedence of our hostess at her own gate; but your
lordship is aware that I supposed Lady Ashton was still in the
south. Permit me to beseech you will waive ceremony, and hasten
to welcome her."
This was precisely what the Lord Keeper longed to do; and he
instantly profited by his lordship's obliging permission. To see
Lady Ashton, and encounter the first burst of her displeasure in
private, might prepare her, in some degree, to receive her
unwelcome guests with due decorum. As her carriage, therefore,
stopped, the arm of the attentive husband was ready to assist
Lady Ashton in dismounting. Looking as if she saw him not, she
put his arm aside, and requested that of Captain Craigengelt, who
stood by the coach with his laced hat under his arm, having acted
as cavaliere servente, or squire in attendance, during the
journey. Taking hold of this respectable person's arm as if to
support her, Lady Ashton traversed the court, uttering a wod or
two by way of direction to the servants, but not one to Sir
William, who in vain endeavoured to attract her attention, as he
rather followed than accompanied her into the hall, in which they
found the Marquis in close conversation with the Master of
Ravenswood. Lucy had taken the first opportunity of escaping.
There was embarrassment on every countenance except that of the
Marquis of A----; for even Craigengelt's impudence was hardly
able to veil his fear of Ravenswood, an the rest felt the
awkwardness of the position in which they were thus unexpectedly
After waiting a moment to be presented by Sir William Ashton,
the Marquis resolved to introduce himself. "The Lord Keeper," he
said, bowing to Lady Ashton, "has just introduced to me his
daughter as his wife; he might very easily present Lady Ashton as
his daughter, so little does she differ from what I remember her
some years since. Will she permit an old
acquaintance the privilege of a guest?"
He saluted the lady with too good a grace to apprehend a
repulse, and then proceeded: "This, Lady Ashton, is a peacemaking
visit, and therefore I presume to introduce my cousin, the young
Master of Ravenswood, to your favourable notice."
Lady Ashton could not choose but courtesy; but there was in her
obeisance an air of haughtiness approaching to contemptuous
repulse. Ravenswood could not choose but bow; but his manner
returned the scorn with which he had been greeted.
"Allow me," she said, "to present to your lordship MY friend."
Craigengelt, with the forward impudence which men of his cast
mistake for ease, made a sliding bow to the Marquis, which he
graced by a flourish of his gold-laced hat. The lady turned to
her husband. "You and I, Sir William," she said, and these were
the first words she had addressed to him, "have acquired new
acquaintances since we parted; let me introduce the acquisition I
have made to mine--Captain Craigengelt."
Another bow, and another flourish of the gold-laced hat, which
was returned by the Lord Keeper without intimation of former
recognition, and with that sort of anxious readiness which
intimated his wish that peace and amnesty should take place
betwixt the contending parties, including the auxiliaries on both
sides. "Let me introduce you to the Master of Ravenswood," said
he to Captain Craigengelt, following up the same amicable system.
But the Master drew up his tall form to the full extent of his
height, and without so much as looking towards the person thus
introduced to him, he said, in a marked tone: "Captain
Craigengelt and I are already perfectly well acquainted with each
"Perfectly--perfectly," replied the Captain, in a mumbling tone,
like that of a double echo, and with a flourish of his hat, the
circumference of which was greatly abridged, compared with those
which had so cordially graced his introduction to the Marquis and
the Lord Keeper.
Lockhard, followed by three menials, now entered with wine and
refreshments, which it was the fashion to offer as a whet before
dinner; and when they were placed before the guests, Lady Ashton
made an apology for withdrawing her husband from them for some
minutes upon business of special import. The Marquis, of
course, requested her ladyship would lay herself under no
restraint; and Craigengelt, bolting with speed a second glass of
racy canary, hastened to leave the room, feeling no great
pleasure in the prospect of being left alone with the Marquis of
A---- and the Master of Ravenswood; the presence of the former
holding him in awe, and that of the latter in bodily terror.
Some arrangements about his horse and baggage formed the pretext
for his sudden retreat, in which he persevered, although Lady
Ashton gave Lockhard orders to be careful most particularly to
accommodate Captain Craigengelt with all the attendance which he
could possibly require. The Marquis and the Master of
Ravenswood were thus left to communicate to each other their
remarks upon the reception which they had met with, while Lady
Ashton led the way, and her lord followed somewhat like a
condemned criminal, to her ladyship's dressing-room.
So soon as the spouses had both entered, her ladyship gave way
to that fierce audacity of temper which she had with
difficulty suppressed, out of respect to appearances. She shut
the door behind the alarmed Lord Keeper, took the key out of the
spring-lock, and with a countenance which years had not bereft of
its haughty charms, and eyes which spoke at once resolution and
resentment, she addressed her astounded husband in these words:
"My lord, I am not greatly surprised at the connexions you have
been pleased to form during my absence, they are entirely in
conformity with your birth and breeding; and if I did expect
anything else, I heartily own my error, and that I merit, by
having done so, the disappointment you had prepared for me."
"My dear Lady Ashton--my dear Eleanor [Margaret]," said the Lord
Keeper, "listen to reason for a moment, and I will convince you I
have acted with all the regard due to the dignity, as well as the
interest, of my family."
"To the interest of YOUR family I conceive you perfectly
capable of attending," returned the indignant lady, "and even to
the dignity of your own family also, as far as it requires any
looking after. But as mine happens to be inextricably involved
with it, you will excuse me if I choose to give my own attention
so far as that is concerned."
"What would you have, Lady Ashton?" said the husband. "What is
it that displeases you? Why is it that, on your return after so
long an absence, I am arraigned in this manner?"
"Ask your own conscience, Sir William, what has prompted you to
become a renegade to your political party and opinions, and led
you, for what I know, to be on the point of marrying your only
daughter to a beggarly Jacobite bankrupt, the inveterate enemy of
your family to the boot."
"Why, what, in the name of common sense and common civility,
would you have me do, madam?" answered her husband. "Is it
possible for me, with ordinary decency, to turn a young
gentleman out of my house, who saved my duaghter's life and my
own, but the other morning, as it were?"
"Saved your life! I have heard of that story," said the lady.
"The Lord Keeper was scared by a dun cow, and he takes the young
fellow who killed her for Guy of Warwick: any butcher from
Haddington may soon have an equal claim on your hospitality."
"Lady Ashton," stammered the Keeper, "this is intolerable; and
when I am desirous, too, to make you easy by any sacrifice, if
you would but tell me what you would be at."
"Go down to your guests," said the imperious dame, "and make
your apology to Ravenswood, that the arrival of Captain
Craigengelt and some other friends renders it impossible for you
to offer him lodgings at the castle. I expect young Mr. Hayston
"Good heavens, madam!" ejaculated her husband. "Ravenswood to
give place to Craigengelt, a common gambler and an informer! It
was all I could do to forbear desiring the fellow to get out of
my house, and I was much surprised to see him in your
"Since you saw him there, you might be well assured," answered
this meek helpmate, "that he was proper society. As to this
Ravenswood, he only meets with the treatment which, to my
certain knowledge, he gave to a much-valued friend of mine, who
had the misfortune to be his guest some time since. But take
your resolution; for, if Ravenswood does not quit the house, I
Sir William Ashton paced up and down the apartment in the most
distressing agitation; fear, and shame, and anger contending
against the habitual deference he was in the use of rendering to
his lady. At length it ended, as is usual with timid minds
placed in such circumstances, in his adopting a mezzo termine--
a middle measure.
"I tell you frankly, madam, I neither can nor will be guilty of
the incivility you propose to the Master of Ravenswood; he has
not deserved it at my hand. If you will be so unreasonable as
to insult a man of quality under your own roof, I cannot prevent
you; but I will not at least be the agent in such a preposterous
"You will not?" asked the lady.
"No, by heavens, madam!" her husband replied; "ask me anything
congruent with common decency, as to drop his
acquaintance by degrees, or the like; but to bid him leave my
house is what I will nto and cannot consent to."
"Then the task of supporting the honour of the family will fall
on me, as it has often done before," said the lady.
She sat down, and hastily wrote a few lines. The Lord Keeper
made another effort to prevent her taking a step so decisive,
just as she opened the door to call her female
attendant from the ante-room. "Think what you are doing, Lady
Ashton: you are making a mortal enemy of a young man who is like
to have the means of harming us----"
"Did you ever know a Douglas who feared an enemy?" answered the
"Ay, but he is as proud and vindictive as an hundred
Douglasses, and an hundred devils to boot. Think of it for a
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