Old Mortality, Volume 2.
Sir Walter Scott
Part 3 out of 5
Then turning his horse's head, he retreated out of the confusion. Morton
also now saw that the continuing his unavailing efforts to rally the
fliers could only end in his own death or captivity, and, followed by the
faithful Cuddie, he extricated himself from the press, and, being well
mounted, leaped his horse over one or two enclosures, and got into the
From the first hill which they gained in their flight, they looked back,
and beheld the whole country covered with their fugitive companions, and
with the pursuing dragoons, whose wild shouts and halloo, as they did
execution on the groups whom they overtook, mingled with the groans and
screams of their victims, rose shrilly up the hill.
"It is impossible they can ever make head again," said Morton.
"The head's taen aff them, as clean as I wad bite it aff a sybo!"
rejoined Cuddie. "Eh, Lord! see how the broadswords are flashing! war's a
fearsome thing. They'll be cunning that catches me at this wark again.--
But, for God's sake, sir, let us mak for some strength!"
Morton saw the necessity of following the advice of his trusty squire.
They resumed a rapid pace, and continued it without intermission,
directing their course towards the wild and mountainous country, where
they thought it likely some part of the fugitives might draw together,
for the sake either of making defence, or of obtaining terms.
Of Heaven the hearts of lions, breath of tigers,
Yea and the fierceness too.
Evening had fallen; and, for the last two hours, they had seen none of
their ill-fated companions, when Morton and his faithful attendant gained
the moorland, and approached a large and solitary farmhouse, situated in
the entrance of a wild glen, far remote from any other habitation.
"Our horses," said Morton, "will carry us no farther without rest or
food, and we must try to obtain them here, if possible."
So speaking, he led the way to the house. The place had every appearance
of being inhabited. There was smoke issuing from the chimney in a
considerable volume, and the marks of recent hoofs were visible around
the door. They could even hear the murmuring of human voices within the
house. But all the lower windows were closely secured; and when they
knocked at the door, no answer was returned. After vainly calling and
entreating admittance, they withdrew to the stable, or shed, in order to
accommodate their horses, ere they used farther means of gaining
admission. In this place they found ten or twelve horses, whose state of
fatigue, as well as the military yet disordered appearance of their
saddles and accoutrements, plainly indicated that their owners were
fugitive insurgents in their own circumstances.
"This meeting bodes luck," said Cuddie; "and they hae walth o' beef,
that's ae thing certain, for here's a raw hide that has been about the
hurdies o' a stot not half an hour syne--it's warm yet."
Encouraged by these appearances, they returned again to the house, and,
announcing themselves as men in the same predicament with the inmates,
clamoured loudly for admittance.
"Whoever ye be," answered a stern voice from the window, after a long and
obdurate silence, "disturb not those who mourn for the desolation and
captivity of the land, and search out the causes of wrath and of
defection, that the stumbling-blocks may be removed over which we have
"They are wild western whigs," said Cuddie, in a whisper to his master,
"I ken by their language. Fiend hae me, if I like to venture on them!"
Morton, however, again called to the party within, and insisted on
admittance; but, finding his entreaties still disregarded, he opened one
of the lower windows, and pushing asunder the shutters, which were but
slightly secured, stepped into the large kitchen from which the voice had
issued. Cuddie followed him, muttering betwixt his teeth, as he put his
head within the window, "That he hoped there was nae scalding brose on
the fire;" and master and servant both found themselves in the company of
ten or twelve armed men, seated around the fire, on which refreshments
were preparing, and busied apparently in their devotions.
In the gloomy countenances, illuminated by the fire-light, Morton had no
difficulty in recognising several of those zealots who had most
distinguished themselves by their intemperate opposition to all moderate
measures, together with their noted pastor, the fanatical Ephraim
Macbriar, and the maniac, Habakkuk Mucklewrath. The Cameronians neither
stirred tongue nor hand to welcome their brethren in misfortune, but
continued to listen to the low murmured exercise of Macbriar, as he
prayed that the Almighty would lift up his hand from his people, and not
make an end in the day of his anger. That they were conscious of the
presence of the intruders only appeared from the sullen and indignant
glances which they shot at them, from time to time, as their eyes
Morton, finding into what unfriendly society he had unwittingly intruded,
began to think of retreating; but, on turning his head, observed with
some alarm, that two strong men had silently placed themselves beside the
window, through which they had entered. One of these ominous sentinels
whispered to Cuddie, "Son of that precious woman, Mause Headrigg, do not
cast thy lot farther with this child of treachery and perdition--Pass on
thy way, and tarry not, for the avenger of blood is behind thee."
With this he pointed to the window, out of which Cuddie jumped without
hesitation; for the intimation he had received plainly implied the
personal danger he would otherwise incur.
"Winnocks are no lucky wi' me," was his first reflection when he was in
the open air; his next was upon the probable fate of his master. "They'll
kill him, the murdering loons, and think they're doing a gude turn! but
I'se tak the back road for Hamilton, and see if I canna get some o' our
ain folk to bring help in time of needcessity."
So saying, Cuddie hastened to the stable, and taking the best horse he
could find instead of his own tired animal, he galloped off in the
direction he proposed.
The noise of his horse's tread alarmed for an instant the devotion of the
fanatics. As it died in the distance, Macbriar brought his exercise to a
conclusion, and his audience raised themselves from the stooping posture,
and louring downward look, with which they had listened to it, and all
fixed their eyes sternly on Henry Morton.
"You bend strange countenances on me, gentlemen," said he, addressing
them. "I am totally ignorant in what manner I can have deserved them."
"Out upon thee! out upon thee!" exclaimed Mucklewrath, starting up: "the
word that thou hast spurned shall become a rock to crush and to bruise
thee; the spear which thou wouldst have broken shall pierce thy side; we
have prayed, and wrestled, and petitioned for an offering to atone the
sins of the congregation, and lo! the very head of the offence is
delivered into our hand. He hath burst in like a thief through the
window; he is a ram caught in the thicket, whose blood shall be a
drink-offering to redeem vengeance from the church, and the place shall
from henceforth be called Jehovah-Jireh, for the sacrifice is provided.
Up then, and bind the victim with cords to the horns of the altar!"
There was a movement among the party; and deeply did Morton regret at
that moment the incautious haste with which he had ventured into their
company. He was armed only with his sword, for he had left his pistols at
the bow of his saddle; and, as the whigs were all provided with
fire-arms, there was little or no chance of escaping from them by
resistance. The interposition, however, of Macbriar protected him for the
"Tarry yet a while, brethren--let us not use the sword rashly, lest the
load of innocent blood lie heavy on us.--Come," he said, addressing
himself to Morton, "we will reckon with thee ere we avenge the cause thou
hast betrayed.--Hast thou not," he continued, "made thy face as hard as
flint against the truth in all the assemblies of the host?"
"He has--he has," murmured the deep voices of the assistants.
"He hath ever urged peace with the malignants," said one.
"And pleaded for the dark and dismal guilt of the Indulgence," said
"And would have surrendered the host into the hands of Monmouth," echoed
a third; "and was the first to desert the honest and manly Burley, while
he yet resisted at the pass. I saw him on the moor, with his horse bloody
with spurring, long ere the firing had ceased at the bridge."
"Gentlemen," said Morton, "if you mean to bear me down by clamour, and
take my life without hearing me, it is perhaps a thing in your power; but
you will sin before God and man by the commission of such a murder."
"I say, hear the youth," said Macbriar; "for Heaven knows our bowels have
yearned for him, that he might be brought to see the truth, and exert his
gifts in its defence. But he is blinded by his carnal knowledge, and has
spurned the light when it blazed before him."
Silence being obtained, Morton proceeded to assert the good faith which
he had displayed in the treaty with Monmouth, and the active part he had
borne in the subsequent action.
"I may not, gentlemen," he said, "be fully able to go the lengths you
desire, in assigning to those of my own religion the means of tyrannizing
over others; but none shall go farther in asserting our own lawful
freedom. And I must needs aver, that had others been of my mind in
counsel, or disposed to stand by my side in battle, we should this
evening, instead of being a defeated and discordant remnant, have
sheathed our weapons in an useful and honourable peace, or brandished
them triumphantly after a decisive victory."
"He hath spoken the word," said one of the assembly--"he hath avowed his
carnal self-seeking and Erastianism; let him die the death!"
"Peace yet again," said Macbriar, "for I will try him further.--Was it
not by thy means that the malignant Evandale twice escaped from death and
captivity? Was it not through thee that Miles Bellenden and his garrison
of cut-throats were saved from the edge of the sword?"
"I am proud to say, that you have spoken the truth in both instances,"
"Lo! you see," said Macbriar, "again hath his mouth spoken it.--And didst
thou not do this for the sake of a Midianitish woman, one of the spawn of
prelacy, a toy with which the arch-enemy's trap is baited? Didst thou not
do all this for the sake of Edith Bellenden?"
"You are incapable," answered Morton, boldly, "of appreciating my
feelings towards that young lady; but all that I have done I would have
done had she never existed."
"Thou art a hardy rebel to the truth," said another dark-brow'd man; "and
didst thou not so act, that, by conveying away the aged woman, Margaret
Bellenden, and her grand-daughter, thou mightest thwart the wise and
godly project of John Balfour of Burley for bringing forth to battle
Basil Olifant, who had agreed to take the field if he were insured
possession of these women's worldly endowments?"
"I never heard of such a scheme," said Morton, "and therefore I could not
thwart it.--But does your religion permit you to take such uncreditable
and immoral modes of recruiting?"
"Peace," said Macbriar, somewhat disconcerted; "it is not for thee to
instruct tender professors, or to construe Covenant obligations. For the
rest, you have acknowledged enough of sin and sorrowful defection, to
draw down defeat on a host, were it as numerous as the sands on the
sea-shore. And it is our judgment, that we are not free to let you pass
from us safe and in life, since Providence hath given you into our hands
at the moment that we prayed with godly Joshua, saying, 'What shall we
say when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies?'--Then camest
thou, delivered to us as it were by lot, that thou mightest sustain the
punishment of one that hath wrought folly in Israel. Therefore, mark my
words. This is the Sabbath, and our hand shall not be on thee to spill
thy blood upon this day; but, when the twelfth hour shall strike, it is a
token that thy time on earth hath run! Wherefore improve thy span, for it
flitteth fast away.--Seize on the prisoner, brethren, and take his
The command was so unexpectedly given, and so suddenly executed by those
of the party who had gradually closed behind and around Morton, that he
was overpowered, disarmed, and a horse-girth passed round his arms,
before he could offer any effectual resistance. When this was
accomplished, a dead and stern silence took place. The fanatics ranged
themselves around a large oaken table, placing Morton amongst them bound
and helpless, in such a manner as to be opposite to the clock which was
to strike his knell. Food was placed before them, of which they offered
their intended victim a share; but, it will readily be believed, he had
little appetite. When this was removed, the party resumed their
devotions. Macbriar, whose fierce zeal did not perhaps exclude some
feelings of doubt and compunction, began to expostulate in prayer, as if
to wring from the Deity a signal that the bloody sacrifice they proposed
was an acceptable service. The eyes and ears of his hearers were
anxiously strained, as if to gain some sight or sound which might be
converted or wrested into a type of approbation, and ever and anon dark
looks were turned on the dial-plate of the time-piece, to watch its
progress towards the moment of execution.
Morton's eye frequently took the same course, with the sad reflection,
that there appeared no posibility of his life being expanded beyond the
narrow segment which the index had yet to travel on the circle until it
arrived at the fatal hour. Faith in his religion, with a constant
unyielding principle of honour, and the sense of conscious innocence,
enabled him to pass through this dreadful interval with less agitation
than he himself could have expected, had the situation been prophesied to
him. Yet there was a want of that eager and animating sense of right
which supported him in similar circumstances, when in the power of
Claverhouse. Then he was conscious, that, amid the spectators, were many
who were lamenting his condition, and some who applauded his conduct. But
now, among these pale-eyed and ferocious zealots, whose hardened brows
were soon to be bent, not merely with indifference, but with triumph,
upon his execution,--without a friend to speak a kindly word, or give a
look either of sympathy or encouragement,--awaiting till the sword
destined to slay him crept out of the scabbard gradually, and as it were
by strawbreadths, and condemned to drink the bitterness of death drop by
drop,--it is no wonder that his feelings were less composed than they had
been on any former occasion of danger. His destined executioners, as he
gazed around them, seemed to alter their forms and features, like
spectres in a feverish dream; their figures became larger, and their
faces more disturbed; and, as an excited imagination predominated over
the realities which his eyes received, he could have thought himself
surrounded rather by a band of demons than of human beings; the walls
seemed to drop with blood, and the light tick of the clock thrilled on
his ear with such loud, painful distinctness, as if each sound were the
prick of a bodkin inflicted on the naked nerve of the organ.
It was with pain that he felt his mind wavering, while on the brink
between this and the future world. He made a strong effort to compose
himself to devotional exercises, and unequal, during that fearful strife
of nature, to arrange his own thoughts into suitable expressions, he had,
instinctively, recourse to the petition for deliverance and for composure
of spirit which is to be found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church
of England. Macbriar, whose family were of that persuasion, instantly
recognised the words, which the unfortunate prisoner pronounced half
"There lacked but this," he said, his pale cheek kindling with
resentment, "to root out my carnal reluctance to see his blood spilt. He
is a prelatist, who has sought the camp under the disguise of an
Erastian, and all, and more than all, that has been said of him must
needs be verity. His blood be on his head, the deceiver!--let him go down
to Tophet, with the ill-mumbled mass which he calls a prayer-book, in his
"I take up my song against him!" exclaimed the maniac. "As the sun went
back on the dial ten degrees for intimating the recovery of holy
Hezekiah, so shall it now go forward, that the wicked may be taken away
from among the people, and the Covenant established in its purity."
He sprang to a chair with an attitude of frenzy, in order to anticipate
the fatal moment by putting the index forward; and several of the party
began to make ready their slaughter-weapons for immediate execution, when
Mucklewrath's hand was arrested by one of his companions.
"Hist!" he said--"I hear a distant noise."
"It is the rushing of the brook over the pebbles," said one.
"It is the sough of the wind among the bracken," said another.
"It is the galloping of horse," said Morton to himself, his sense of
hearing rendered acute by the dreadful situation in which he stood; "God
grant they may come as my deliverers!"
The noise approached rapidly, and became more and more distinct.
"It is horse," cried Macbriar. "Look out and descry who they are."
"The enemy are upon us!" cried one who had opened the window, in
obedience to his order.
A thick trampling and loud voices were heard immediately round the house.
Some rose to resist, and some to escape; the doors and windows were
forced at once, and the red coats of the troopers appeared in the
"Have at the bloody rebels!--Remember Cornet Grahame!" was shouted on
The lights were struck down, but the dubious glare of the fire enabled
them to continue the fray. Several pistol-shots were fired; the whig who
stood next to Morton received a shot as he was rising, stumbled against
the prisoner, whom he bore down with his weight, and lay stretched above
him a dying man. This accident probably saved Morton from the damage he
might otherwise have received in so close a struggle, where fire-arms
were discharged and sword-blows given for upwards of five minutes.
"Is the prisoner safe?" exclaimed the well-known voice of Claverhouse;
"look about for him, and dispatch the whig dog who is groaning there."
Both orders were executed. The groans of the wounded man were silenced by
a thrust with a rapier, and Morton, disencumbered of his weight, was
speedily raised and in the arms of the faithful Cuddie, who blubbered for
joy when he found that the blood with which his master was covered had
not flowed from his own veins. A whisper in Morton's ear, while his
trusty follower relieved him from his bonds, explained the secret of the
very timely appearance of the soldiers.
"I fell into Claverhouse's party when I was seeking for some o' our ain
folk to help ye out o' the hands of the whigs, sae being atween the deil
and the deep sea, I e'en thought it best to bring him on wi' me, for
he'll be wearied wi' felling folk the night, and the morn's a new day,
and Lord Evandale awes ye a day in ha'arst; and Monmouth gies quarter,
the dragoons tell me, for the asking. Sae haud up your heart, an' I'se
warrant we'll do a' weel eneugh yet."
[Note: NOTE TO CHAPTER XII. The principal incident of the foregoing
Chapter was suggested by an occurrence of a similar kind, told me by
a gentleman, now deceased, who held an important situation in the
Excise, to which he had been raised by active and resolute exertions
in an inferior department. When employed as a supervisor on the
coast of Galloway, at a time when the immunities of the Isle of Man
rendered smuggling almost universal in that district, this gentleman
had the fortune to offend highly several of the leaders in the
contraband trade, by his zeal in serving the revenue.
This rendered his situation a dangerous one, and, on more than one
occasion, placed his life in jeopardy. At one time in particular, as
he was riding after sunset on a summer evening, he came suddenly
upon a gang of the most desperate smugglers in that part of the
country. They surrounded him, without violence, but in such a manner
as to show that it would be resorted to if he offered resistance,
and gave him to understand he must spend the evening with them,
since they had met so happily. The officer did not attempt
opposition, but only asked leave to send a country lad to tell his
wife and family that he should be detained later than he expected.
As he had to charge the boy with this message in the presence of the
smugglers, he could found no hope of deliverance from it, save what
might arise from the sharpness of the lad's observation, and the
natural anxiety and affection of his wife. But if his errand should
be delivered and received literally, as he was conscious the
smugglers expected, it was likely that it might, by suspending alarm
about his absence from home, postpone all search after him till it
might be useless. Making a merit of necessity, therefore, he
instructed and dispatched his messenger, and went with the
contraband traders, with seeming willingness, to one of their
ordinary haunts. He sat down at table with them, and they began to
drink and indulge themselves in gross jokes, while, like Mirabel in
the "Inconstant," their prisoner had the heavy task of receiving
their insolence as wit, answering their insults with good-humour,
and withholding from them the opportunity which they sought of
engaging him in a quarrel, that they might have a pretence for
misusing him. He succeeded for some time, but soon became satisfied
it was their purpose to murder him out-right, or else to beat him in
such a manner as scarce to leave him with life. A regard for the
sanctity of the Sabbath evening, which still oddly subsisted among
these ferocious men, amidst their habitual violation of divine and
social law, prevented their commencing their intended cruelty until
the Sabbath should be terminated. They were sitting around their
anxious prisoner, muttering to each other words of terrible import,
and watching the index of a clock, which was shortly to strike the
hour at which, in their apprehension, murder would become lawful,
when their intended victim heard a distant rustling like the wind
among withered leaves. It came nearer, and resembled the sound of a
brook in flood chafing within its banks; it came nearer yet, and was
plainly distinguished as the galloping of a party of horse. The
absence of her husband, and the account given by the boy of the
suspicious appearance of those with whom he had remained, had
induced Mrs--to apply to the neighbouring town for a party of
dragoons, who thus providentially arrived in time to save him from
extreme violence, if not from actual destruction.]
Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
To all the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name.
When the desperate affray had ceased, Claverhouse commanded his soldiers
to remove the dead bodies, to refresh themselves and their horses, and
prepare for passing the night at the farm-house, and for marching early
in the ensuing morning. He then turned his attention to Morton, and there
was politeness, and even kindness, in the manner in which he addressed
"You would have saved yourself risk from both sides, Mr Morton, if you
had honoured my counsel yesterday morning with some attention; but I
respect your motives. You are a prisoner-of-war at the disposal of the
king and council, but you shall be treated with no incivility; and I will
be satisfied with your parole that you will not attempt an escape."
When Morton had passed his word to that effect, Claverhouse bowed
civilly, and, turning away from him, called for his sergeant-major.
"How many prisoners, Halliday, and how many killed?"
"Three killed in the house, sir, two cut down in the court, and one in
the garden--six in all; four prisoners."
"Armed or unarmed?" said Claverhouse.
"Three of them armed to the teeth," answered Halliday; "one without arms
--he seems to be a preacher."
"Ay--the trumpeter to the long-ear'd rout, I suppose," replied
Claverhouse, glancing slightly round upon his victims, "I will talk with
him tomorrow. Take the other three down to the yard, draw out two files,
and fire upon them; and, d'ye hear, make a memorandum in the orderly book
of three rebels taken in arms and shot, with the date and name of the
place--Drumshinnel, I think, they call it.--Look after the preacher till
to-morrow; as he was not armed, he must undergo a short examination. Or
better, perhaps, take him before the Privy Council; I think they should
relieve me of a share of this disgusting drudgery.--Let Mr Morton be
civilly used, and see that the men look well after their horses; and let
my groom wash Wild-blood's shoulder with some vinegar, the saddle has
touched him a little."
All these various orders,--for life and death, the securing of his
prisoners, and the washing his charger's shoulder,--were given in the
same unmoved and equable voice, of which no accent or tone intimated that
the speaker considered one direction as of more importance than another.
The Cameronians, so lately about to be the willing agents of a bloody
execution, were now themselves to undergo it. They seemed prepared alike
for either extremity, nor did any of them show the least sign of fear,
when ordered to leave the room for the purpose of meeting instant death.
Their severe enthusiasm sustained them in that dreadful moment, and they
departed with a firm look and in silence, excepting that one of them, as
he left the apartment, looked Claverhouse full in the face, and
pronounced, with a stern and steady voice,--"Mischief shall haunt the
violent man!" to which Grahame only answered by a smile of contempt.
They had no sooner left the room than Claverhouse applied himself to some
food, which one or two of his party had hastily provided, and invited
Morton to follow his example, observing, it had been a busy day for them
both. Morton declined eating; for the sudden change of circumstances--the
transition from the verge of the grave to a prospect of life, had
occasioned a dizzy revulsion in his whole system. But the same confused
sensation was accompanied by a burning thirst, and he expressed his wish
"I will pledge you, with all my heart," said Claverhouse; "for here is a
black jack full of ale, and good it must be, if there be good in the
country, for the whigs never miss to find it out.--My service to you, Mr
Morton," he said, filling one horn of ale for himself, and handing
another to his prisoner.
Morton raised it to his head, and was just about to drink, when the
discharge of carabines beneath the window, followed by a deep and hollow
groan, repeated twice or thrice, and more faint at each interval,
announced the fate of the three men who had just left them. Morton
shuddered, and set down the untasted cup.
"You are but young in these matters, Mr Morton," said Claverhouse, after
he had very composedly finished his draught; "and I do not think the
worse of you as a young soldier for appearing to feel them acutely. But
habit, duty, and necessity, reconcile men to every thing."
"I trust," said Morton, "they will never reconcile me to such scenes as
"You would hardly believe," said Claverhouse in reply, "that, in the
beginning of my military career, I had as much aversion to seeing blood
spilt as ever man felt; it seemed to me to be wrung from my own heart;
and yet, if you trust one of those whig fellows, he will tell you I drink
a warm cup of it every morning before I breakfast. [Note: The author is
uncertain whether this was ever said of Claverhouse. But it was currently
reported of Sir Robert Grierson of Lagg, another of the persecutors, that
a cup of wine placed in his hand turned to clotted blood.] But in truth,
Mr Morton, why should we care so much for death, light upon us or around
us whenever it may? Men die daily--not a bell tolls the hour but it is
the death-note of some one or other; and why hesitate to shorten the span
of others, or take over-anxious care to prolong our own? It is all a
lottery--when the hour of midnight came, you were to die--it has struck,
you are alive and safe, and the lot has fallen on those fellows who were
to murder you. It is not the expiring pang that is worth thinking of in
an event that must happen one day, and may befall us on any given moment
--it is the memory which the soldier leaves behind him, like the long
train of light that follows the sunken sun--that is all which is worth
caring for, which distinguishes the death of the brave or the ignoble.
When I think of death, Mr Morton, as a thing worth thinking of, it is in
the hope of pressing one day some well-fought and hard-won field of
battle, and dying with the shout of victory in my ear--that would be
worth dying for, and more, it would be worth having lived for!"
At the moment when Grahame delivered these sentiments, his eye glancing
with the martial enthusiasm which formed such a prominent feature in his
character, a gory figure, which seemed to rise out of the floor of the
apartment, stood upright before him, and presented the wild person and
hideous features of the maniac so often mentioned. His face, where it was
not covered with blood-streaks, was ghastly pale, for the hand of death
was on him. He bent upon Claverhouse eyes, in which the grey light of
insanity still twinkled, though just about to flit for ever, and
exclaimed, with his usual wildness of ejaculation, "Wilt thou trust in
thy bow and in thy spear, in thy steed and in thy banner? And shall not
God visit thee for innocent blood?--Wilt thou glory in thy wisdom, and in
thy courage, and in thy might? And shall not the Lord judge thee?--Behold
the princes, for whom thou hast sold thy soul to the destroyer, shall be
removed from their place, and banished to other lands, and their names
shall be a desolation, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a curse.
And thou, who hast partaken of the wine-cup of fury, and hast been
drunken and mad because thereof, the wish of thy heart shall be granted
to thy loss, and the hope of thine own pride shall destory thee. I summon
thee, John Grahame, to appear before the tribunal of God, to answer for
this innocent blood, and the seas besides which thou hast shed."
He drew his right hand across his bleeding face, and held it up to heaven
as he uttered these words, which he spoke very loud, and then added more
faintly, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge
the blood of thy saints!"
As he uttered the last word, he fell backwards without an attempt to save
himself, and was a dead man ere his head touched the floor.
Morton was much shocked at this extraordinary scene, and the prophecy of
the dying man, which tallied so strangely with the wish which Claverhouse
had just expressed; and he often thought of it afterwards when that wish
seemed to be accomplished. Two of the dragoons who were in the apartment,
hardened as they were, and accustomed to such scenes, showed great
consternation at the sudden apparition, the event, and the words which
preceded it. Claverhouse alone was unmoved. At the first instant of
Mucklewrath's appearance, he had put his hand to his pistol, but on
seeing the situation of the wounded wretch, he immediately withdrew it,
and listened with great composure to his dying exclamation.
When he dropped, Claverhouse asked, in an unconcerned tone of voice--"How
came the fellow here?--Speak, you staring fool!" he added, addressing the
nearest dragoon, "unless you would have me think you such a poltroon as
to fear a dying man."
The dragoon crossed himself, and replied with a faltering voice,--"That
the dead fellow had escaped their notice when they removed the other
bodies, as he chanced to have fallen where a cloak or two had been flung
aside, and covered him."
"Take him away now, then, you gaping idiot, and see that he does not bite
you, to put an old proverb to shame.--This is a new incident, Mr. Morton,
that dead men should rise and push us from our stools. I must see that my
blackguards grind their swords sharper; they used not to do their work so
slovenly.--But we have had a busy day; they are tired, and their blades
blunted with their bloody work; and I suppose you, Mr Morton, as well as
I, are well disposed for a few hours' repose."
So saying, he yawned, and taking a candle which a soldier had placed
ready, saluted Morton courteously, and walked to the apartment which had
been prepared for him.
Morton was also accommodated, for the evening, with a separate room.
Being left alone, his first occupation was the returning thanks to Heaven
for redeeming him from danger, even through the instrumentality of those
who seemed his most dangerous enemies; he also prayed sincerely for the
Divine assistance in guiding his course through times which held out so
many dangers and so many errors. And having thus poured out his spirit in
prayer before the Great Being who gave it, he betook himself to the
repose which he so much required.
The charge is prepared, the lawyers are met,
The judges all ranged--a terrible show!
So deep was the slumber which succeeded the agitation and embarrassment
of the preceding day, that Morton hardly knew where he was when it was
broken by the tramp of horses, the hoarse voice of men, and the wild
sound of the trumpets blowing the /reveille/. The sergeant-major
immediately afterwards came to summon him, which he did in a very
respectful manner, saying the General (for Claverhouse now held that
rank) hoped for the pleasure of his company upon the road. In some
situations an intimation is a command, and Morton considered that the
present occasion was one of these. He waited upon Claverhouse as speedily
as he could, found his own horse saddled for his use, and Cuddie in
attendance. Both were deprived of their fire-arms, though they seemed,
otherwise, rather to make part of the troop than of the prisoners; and
Morton was permitted to retain his sword, the wearing which was, in those
days, the distinguishing mark of a gentleman. Claverhouse seemed also to
take pleasure in riding beside him, in conversing with him, and in
confounding his ideas when he attempted to appreciate his real character.
The gentleness and urbanity of that officer's general manners, the high
and chivalrous sentiments of military devotion which he occasionally
expressed, his deep and accurate insight into the human bosom, demanded
at once the approbation and the wonder of those who conversed with him;
while, on the other hand, his cold indifference to military violence and
cruelty seemed altogether inconsistent with the social, and even
admirable qualities which he displayed. Morton could not help, in his
heart, contrasting him with Balfour of Burley; and so deeply did the idea
impress him, that he dropped a hint of it as they rode together at some
distance from the troop.
"You are right," said Claverhouse, with a smile; "you are very right--we
are both fanatics; but there is some distinction between the fanaticism
of honour and that of dark and sullen superstition."
"Yet you both shed blood without mercy or remorse," said Morton, who
could not suppress his feelings.
"Surely," said Claverhouse, with the same composure; "but of what kind?--
There is a difference, I trust, between the blood of learned and reverend
prelates and scholars, of gallant soldiers and noble gentlemen, and the
red puddle that stagnates in the veins of psalm-singing mechanics,
crackbrained demagogues, and sullen boors;--some distinction, in short,
between spilling a flask of generous wine, and dashing down a can full of
base muddy ale?"
"Your distinction is too nice for my comprehension," replied Morton. "God
gives every spark of life--that of the peasant as well as of the prince;
and those who destroy his work recklessly or causelessly, must answer in
either case. What right, for example, have I to General Grahame's
protection now, more than when I first met him?"
"And narrowly escaped the consequences, you would say?" answered
Claverhouse--"why, I will answer you frankly. Then I thought I had to do
with the son of an old roundheaded rebel, and the nephew of a sordid
presbyterian laird; now I know your points better, and there is that
about you which I respect in an enemy as much as I like in a friend. I
have learned a good deal concerning you since our first meeting, and I
trust that you have found that my construction of the information has not
been unfavourable to you."
"But yet," said Morton--
"But yet," interrupted Grahame, taking up the word, "you would say you
were the same when I first met you that you are now? True; but then, how
could I know that? though, by the by, even my reluctance to suspend your
execution may show you how high your abilities stood in my estimation."
"Do you expect, General," said Morton, "that I ought to be particularly
grateful for such a mark of your esteem?"
"Poh! poh! you are critical," returned Claverhouse. "I tell you I thought
you a different sort of person. Did you ever read Froissart?"
"No," was Morton's answer.
"I have half a mind," said Claverhouse, "to contrive you should have six
months' imprisonment in order to procure you that pleasure. His chapters
inspire me with more enthusiasm than even poetry itself. And the noble
canon, with what true chivalrous feeling he confines his beautiful
expressions of sorrow to the death of the gallant and high-bred knight,
of whom it was a pity to see the fall, such was his loyalty to his king,
pure faith to his religion, hardihood towards his enemy, and fidelity to
his lady-love!--Ah, benedicite! how he will mourn over the fall of such a
pearl of knighthood, be it on the side he happens to favour, or on the
other. But, truly, for sweeping from the face of the earth some few
hundreds of villain churls, who are born but to plough it, the high-born
and inquisitive historian has marvellous little sympathy,--as little, or
less, perhaps, than John Grahame of Claverhouse."
"There is one ploughman in your possession, General, for whom," said
Morton, "in despite of the contempt in which you hold a profession which
some philosophers have considered as useful as that of a soldier, I would
humbly request your favour."
"You mean," said Claverhouse, looking at a memorandum book, "one
Hatherick--Hedderick--or--or--Headrigg. Ay, Cuthbert, or Cuddie Headrigg
--here I have him. O, never fear him, if he will be but tractable. The
ladies of Tillietudlem made interest with me on his account some time
ago. He is to marry their waiting-maid, I think. He will be allowed to
slip off easy, unless his obstinacy spoils his good fortune."
"He has no ambition to be a martyr, I believe," said Morton.
"'Tis the better for him," said Claverhouse. "But, besides, although the
fellow had more to answer for, I should stand his friend, for the sake of
the blundering gallantry which threw him into the midst of our ranks last
night, when seeking assistance for you. I never desert any man who trusts
me with such implicit confidence. But, to deal sincerely with you, he has
been long in our eye.--Here, Halliday; bring me up the black book."
The sergeant, having committed to his commander this ominous record of
the disaffected, which was arranged in alphabetical order, Claverhouse,
turning over the leaves as he rode on, began to read names as they
"Gumblegumption, a minister, aged 50, indulged, close, sly, and so forth
--Pooh! pooh!--He--He--I have him here--Heathercat; outlawed--a preacher
--a zealous Cameronian--keeps a conventicle among the Campsie hills--
Tush!--O, here is Headrigg--Cuthbert; his mother a bitter puritan--
himself a simple fellow--like to be forward in action, but of no genius
for plots--more for the hand than the head, and might be drawn to the
right side, but for his attachment to"--(Here Claverhouse looked at
Morton, and then shut the book and changed his tone.) "Faithful and true
are words never thrown away upon me, Mr Morton. You may depend on the
young man's safety."
"Does it not revolt a mind like yours," said Morton, "to follow a system
which is to be supported by such minute enquiries after obscure
"You do not suppose we take the trouble?" said the General, haughtily.
"The curates, for their own sakes, willingly collect all these materials
for their own regulation in each parish; they know best the black sheep
of the flock. I have had your picture for three years."
"Indeed?" replied Morton. "Will you favour me by imparting it?"
"Willingly," said Claverhouse; "it can signify little, for you cannot
avenge yourself on the curate, as you will probably leave Scotland for
This was spoken in an indifferent tone. Morton felt an involuntary
shudder at hearing words which implied a banishment from his native land;
but ere he answered, Claverhouse proceeded to read, "Henry Morton, son of
Silas Morton, Colonel of horse for the Scottish Parliament, nephew and
apparent heir of Morton of Milnwood--imperfectly educated, but with
spirit beyond his years--excellent at all exercises--indifferent to forms
of religion, but seems to incline to the presbyterian--has high-flown and
dangerous notions about liberty of thought and speech, and hovers between
a latitudinarian and an enthusiast. Much admired and followed by the
youth of his own age--modest, quiet, and unassuming in manner, but in his
heart peculiarly bold and intractable. He is--Here follow three red
crosses, Mr Morton, which signify triply dangerous. You see how important
a person you are.--But what does this fellow want?"
A horseman rode up as he spoke, and gave a letter. Claverhouse glanced it
over, laughed scornfully, bade him tell his master to send his prisoners
to Edinburgh, for there was no answer; and, as the man turned back, said
contemptuously to Morton--"Here is an ally of yours deserted from you, or
rather, I should say, an ally of your good friend Burley--Hear how he
sets forth--'Dear Sir,' (I wonder when we were such intimates,) 'may it
please your Excellency to accept my humble congratulations on the
victory'--hum--hum--'blessed his Majesty's army. I pray you to understand
I have my people under arms to take and intercept all fugitives, and have
already several prisoners,' and so forth. Subscribed Basil Olifant--You
know the fellow by name, I suppose?"
"A relative of Lady Margaret Bellenden," replied Morton, "is he not?"
"Ay," replied Grahame, "and heir-male of her father's family, though a
distant one, and moreover a suitor to the fair Edith, though discarded as
an unworthy one; but, above all, a devoted admirer of the estate of
Tillietudlem, and all thereunto belonging."
"He takes an ill mode of recommending himself," said Morton, suppressing
his feelings, "to the family at Tillietudlem, by corresponding with our
"O, this precious Basil will turn cat in pan with any man!" replied
Claverhouse. "He was displeased with the government, because they would
not overturn in his favour a settlement of the late Earl of Torwood, by
which his lordship gave his own estate to his own daughter; he was
displeased with Lady Margaret, because she avowed no desire for his
alliance, and with the pretty Edith, because she did not like his tall
ungainly person. So he held a close correspondence with Burley, and
raised his followers with the purpose of helping him, providing always he
needed no help, that is, if you had beat us yesterday. And now the rascal
pretends he was all the while proposing the King's service, and, for
aught I know, the council will receive his pretext for current coin, for
he knows how to make friends among them--and a dozen scores of poor
vagabond fanatics will be shot, or hanged, while this cunning scoundrel
lies hid under the double cloak of loyalty, well-lined with the fox-fur
With conversation on this and other matters they beguiled the way,
Claverhouse all the while speaking with great frankness to Morton, and
treating him rather as a friend and companion than as a prisoner; so
that, however uncertain of his fate, the hours he passed in the company
of this remarkable man were so much lightened by the varied play of his
imagination, and the depth of his knowledge of human nature, that since
the period of his becoming a prisoner of war, which relieved him at once
from the cares of his doubtful and dangerous station among the
insurgents, and from the consequences of their suspicious resentment, his
hours flowed on less anxiously than at any time since his having
commenced actor in public life. He was now, with respect to his fortune,
like a rider who has flung his reins on the horse's neck, and, while he
abandoned himself to circumstances, was at least relieved from the task
of attempting to direct them. In this mood he journeyed on, the number of
his companions being continually augmented by detached parties of horse
who came in from every quarter of the country, bringing with them, for
the most part, the unfortunate persons who had fallen into their power.
At length they approached Edinburgh.
"Our council," said Claverhouse, "being resolved, I suppose, to testify
by their present exultation the extent of their former terror, have
decreed a kind of triumphal entry to us victors and our captives; but as
I do not quite approve the taste of it, I am willing to avoid my own part
in the show, and, at the same time, to save you from yours."
So saying, he gave up the command of the forces to Allan, (now a
Lieutenant-colonel,) and, turning his horse into a by-lane, rode into the
city privately, accompanied by Morton and two or three servants. When
Claverhouse arrived at the quarters which he usually occupied in the
Canongate, he assigned to his prisoner a small apartment, with an
intimation, that his parole confined him to it for the present.
After about a quarter of an hour spent in solitary musing on the strange
vicissitudes of his late life, the attention of Morton was summoned to
the window by a great noise in the street beneath. Trumpets, drums, and
kettle-drums, contended in noise with the shouts of a numerous rabble,
and apprised him that the royal cavalry were passing in the triumphal
attitude which Claverhouse had mentioned. The magistrates of the city,
attended by their guard of halberds, had met the victors with their
welcome at the gate of the city, and now preceded them as a part of the
procession. The next object was two heads borne upon pikes; and before
each bloody head were carried the hands of the dismembered sufferers,
which were, by the brutal mockery of those who bore them, often
approached towards each other as if in the attitude of exhortation or
prayer. These bloody trophies belonged to two preachers who had fallen at
Bothwell Bridge. After them came a cart led by the executioner's
assistant, in which were placed Macbriar, and other two prisoners, who
seemed of the same profession. They were bareheaded, and strongly bound,
yet looked around them with an air rather of triumph than dismay, and
appeared in no respect moved either by the fate of their companions, of
which the bloody evidences were carried before them, or by dread of their
own approaching execution, which these preliminaries so plainly
Behind these prisoners, thus held up to public infamy and derision, came
a body of horse, brandishing their broadswords, and filling the wide
street with acclamations, which were answered by the tumultuous outcries
and shouts of the rabble, who, in every considerable town, are too happy
in being permitted to huzza for any thing whatever which calls them
together. In the rear of these troopers came the main body of the
prisoners, at the head of whom were some of their leaders, who were
treated with every circumstance of inventive mockery and insult. Several
were placed on horseback with their faces to the animal's tail; others
were chained to long bars of iron, which they were obliged to support in
their hands, like the galleyslaves in Spain when travelling to the port
where they are to be put on shipboard. The heads of others who had fallen
were borne in triumph before the survivors, some on pikes and halberds,
some in sacks, bearing the names of the slaughtered persons labelled on
the outside. Such were the objects who headed the ghastly procession, who
seemed as effectually doomed to death as if they wore the sanbenitos of
the condemned heretics in an auto-da-fe. [Note: David Hackston of
Rathillet, who was wounded and made prisoner in the skirmish of
Air's-Moss, in which the celebrated Cameron fell, was, on entering
Edinburgh, "by order of the Council, received by the Magistrates at the
Watergate, and set on a horse's bare back with his face to the tail, and
the other three laid on a goad of iron, and carried up the street, Mr
Cameron's head being on a halberd before them."]
Behind them came on the nameless crowd to the number of several hundreds,
some retaining under their misfortunes a sense of confidence in the cause
for which they suffered captivity, and were about to give a still more
bloody testimony; others seemed pale, dispirited, dejected, questioning
in their own minds their prudence in espousing a cause which Providence
seemed to have disowned, and looking about for some avenue through which
they might escape from the consequences of their rashness. Others there
were who seemed incapable of forming an opinion on the subject, or of
entertaining either hope, confidence, or fear, but who, foaming with
thirst and fatigue, stumbled along like over-driven oxen, lost to every
thing but their present sense of wretchedness, and without having any
distinct idea whether they were led to the shambles or to the pasture.
These unfortunate men were guarded on each hand by troopers, and behind
them came the main body of the cavalry, whose military music resounded
back from the high houses on each side of the street, and mingled with
their own songs of jubilee and triumph, and the wild shouts of the
Morton felt himself heart-sick while he gazed on the dismal spectacle,
and recognised in the bloody heads, and still more miserable and agonized
features of the living sufferers, faces which had been familiar to him
during the brief insurrection. He sunk down in a chair in a bewildered
and stupified state, from which he was awakened by the voice of Cuddie.
"Lord forgie us, sir!" said the poor fellow, his teeth chattering like a
pair of nut-crackers, his hair erect like boar's bristles, and his face
as pale as that of a corpse--"Lord forgie us, sir! we maun instantly gang
before the Council!--O Lord, what made them send for a puir bodie like
me, sae mony braw lords and gentles!--and there's my mither come on the
lang tramp frae Glasgow to see to gar me testify, as she ca's it, that is
to say, confess and be hanged; but deil tak me if they mak sic a guse o'
Cuddie, if I can do better. But here's Claverhouse himsell--the Lord
preserve and forgie us, I say anes mair!"
"You must immediately attend the Council Mr Morton," said Claverhouse,
who entered while Cuddie spoke, "and your servant must go with you. You
need be under no apprehension for the consequences to yourself
personally. But I warn you that you will see something that will give you
much pain, and from which I would willingly have saved you, if I had
possessed the power. My carriage waits us--shall we go?"
It will be readily supposed that Morton did not venture to dispute this
invitation, however unpleasant. He rose and accompanied Claverhouse.
"I must apprise you," said the latter, as he led the way down stairs,
"that you will get off cheap; and so will your servant, provided he can
keep his tongue quiet."
Cuddie caught these last words to his exceeding joy.
"Deil a fear o' me," said he, "an my mither disna pit her finger in the
At that moment his shoulder was seized by old Mause, who had contrived to
thrust herself forward into the lobby of the apartment.
"O, hinny, hinny!" said she to Cuddie, hanging upon his neck, "glad and
proud, and sorry and humbled am I, a'in ane and the same instant, to see
my bairn ganging to testify for the truth gloriously with his mouth in
council, as he did with his weapon in the field!"
"Whisht, whisht, mither!" cried Cuddie impatiently. "Odd, ye daft wife,
is this a time to speak o' thae things? I tell ye I'll testify naething
either ae gate or another. I hae spoken to Mr Poundtext, and I'll tak the
declaration, or whate'er they ca'it, and we're a' to win free off if we
do that--he's gotten life for himsell and a' his folk, and that's a
minister for my siller; I like nane o' your sermons that end in a psalm
at the Grassmarket." [Note: Then the place of public execution.]
"O, Cuddie, man, laith wad I be they suld hurt ye," said old Mause,
divided grievously between the safety of her son's soul and that of his
body; "but mind, my bonny bairn, ye hae battled for the faith, and dinna
let the dread o' losing creature-comforts withdraw ye frae the gude
"Hout tout, mither," replied Cuddie, "I hae fought e'en ower muckle
already, and, to speak plain, I'm wearied o'the trade. I hae swaggered
wi' a' thae arms, and muskets, and pistols, buffcoats, and bandoliers,
lang eneugh, and I like the pleughpaidle a hantle better. I ken naething
suld gar a man fight, (that's to say, when he's no angry,) by and
out-taken the dread o'being hanged or killed if he turns back."
"But, my dear Cuddie," continued the persevering Mause, "your bridal
garment--Oh, hinny, dinna sully the marriage garment!"
"Awa, awa, mither," replied. Cuddie; "dinna ye see the folks waiting for
me?--Never fear me--I ken how to turn this far better than ye do--for
ye're bleezing awa about marriage, and the job is how we are to win by
So saying, he extricated himself out of his mother's embraces, and
requested the soldiers who took him in charge to conduct him to the place
of examination without delay. He had been already preceded by Claverhouse
My native land, good night!
The Privy Council of Scotland, in whom the practice since the union of
the crowns vested great judicial powers, as well as the general
superintendence of the executive department, was met in the ancient dark
Gothic room, adjoining to the House of Parliament in Edinburgh, when
General Grahame entered and took his place amongst the members at the
"You have brought us a leash of game to-day, General," said a nobleman of
high place amongst them. "Here is a craven to confess--a cock of the game
to stand at bay--and what shall I call the third, General?"
"Without further metaphor, I will entreat your Grace to call him a person
in whom I am specially interested," replied Claverhouse.
"And a whig into the bargain?" said the nobleman, lolling out a tongue
which was at all times too big for his mouth, and accommodating his
coarse features to a sneer, to which they seemed to be familiar.
"Yes, please your Grace, a whig; as your Grace was in 1641," replied
Claverhouse, with his usual appearance of imperturbable civility.
"He has you there, I think, my Lord Duke," said one of the Privy
"Ay, ay," returned the Duke, laughing, "there's no speaking to him since
Drumclog--but come, bring in the prisoners--and do you, Mr Clerk, read
The clerk read forth a bond, in which General Grahame of Claverhouse and
Lord Evandale entered themselves securities, that Henry Morton, younger
of Milnwood, should go abroad and remain in foreign parts, until his
Majesty's pleasure was further known, in respect of the said Henry
Morton's accession to the late rebellion, and that under penalty of life
and limb to the said Henry Morton, and of ten thousand marks to each of
"Do you accept of the King's mercy upon these terms, Mr Morton?" said the
Duke of Lauderdale, who presided in the Council.
"I have no other choice, my lord," replied Morton.
"Then subscribe your name in the record."
Morton did so without reply, conscious that, in the circumstances of his
case, it was impossible for him to have escaped more easily. Macbriar,
who was at the same instant brought to the foot of the council-table,
bound upon a chair, for his weakness prevented him from standing, beheld
Morton in the act of what he accounted apostasy.
"He hath summed his defection by owning the carnal power of the tyrant!"
he exclaimed, with a deep groan--"A fallen star!--a fallen star!"
"Hold your peace, sir," said the Duke, "and keep your ain breath to cool
your ain porridge--ye'll find them scalding hot, I promise you.--Call in
the other fellow, who has some common sense. One sheep will leap the
ditch when another goes first."
Cuddie was introduced unbound, but under the guard of two halberdiers,
and placed beside Macbriar at the foot of the table. The poor fellow cast
a piteous look around him, in which were mingled awe for the great men in
whose presence he stood, and compassion for his fellow-sufferers, with no
small fear of the personal consequences which impended over himself. He
made his clownish obeisances with a double portion of reverence, and then
awaited the opening of the awful scene.
"Were you at the battle of Bothwell Brigg?" was the first question which
was thundered in his ears.
Cuddie meditated a denial, but had sense enough, upon reflection, to
discover that the truth would be too strong for him; so he replied, with
true Caledonian indirectness of response, "I'll no say but it may be
possible that I might hae been there."
"Answer directly, you knave--yes, or no?--You know you were there."
"It's no for me to contradict your Lordship's Grace's honour," said
"Once more, sir, were you there?--yes, or no?" said the Duke,
"Dear stir," again replied Cuddie, "how can ane mind preceesely where
they hae been a' the days o' their life?"
"Speak out, you scoundrel," said General Dalzell, "or I'll dash your
teeth out with my dudgeonhaft!--Do you think we can stand here all day to
be turning and dodging with you, like greyhounds after a hare?" [Note:
The General is said to have struck one of the captive whigs, when under
examination, with the hilt of his sabre, so that the blood gushed out.
The provocation for this unmanly violence was, that the prisoner had
called the fierce veteran "a Muscovy beast, who used to roast men."
Dalzell had been long in the Russian service, which in those days was no
school of humanity.]
"Aweel, then," said Cuddie, "since naething else will please ye, write
down that I cannot deny but I was there."
"Well, sir," said the Duke, "and do you think that the rising upon that
occasion was rebellion or not?"
"I'm no just free to gie my opinion, stir," said the cautious captive,
"on what might cost my neck; but I doubt it will be very little better."
"Better than what?"
"Just than rebellion, as your honour ca's it," replied Cuddie.
"Well, sir, that's speaking to the purpose," replied his Grace. "And are
you content to accept of the King's pardon for your guilt as a rebel, and
to keep the church, and pray for the King?"
"Blithely, stir," answered the unscrupulous Cuddie; "and drink his health
into the bargain, when the ale's gude."
"Egad," said the Duke, "this is a hearty cock.--What brought you into
such a scrape, mine honest friend?"
"Just ill example, stir," replied the prisoner, "and a daft auld jaud of
a mither, wi' reverence to your Grace's honour."
"Why, God-a-mercy, my friend," replied the Duke, "take care of bad advice
another time; I think you are not likely to commit treason on your own
score.--Make out his free pardon, and bring forward the rogue in the
Macbriar was then moved forward to the post of examination.
"Were you at the battle of Bothwell Bridge?" was, in like manner,
demanded of him.
"I was," answered the prisoner, in a bold and resolute tone.
"Were you armed?"
"I was not--I went in my calling as a preacher of God's word, to
encourage them that drew the sword in His cause."
"In other words, to aid and abet the rebels?" said the Duke.
"Thou hast spoken it," replied the prisoner.
"Well, then," continued the interrogator, "let us know if you saw John
Balfour of Burley among the party?--I presume you know him?"
"I bless God that I do know him," replied Macbriar; "he is a zealous and
a sincere Christian."
"And when and where did you last see this pious personage?" was the query
which immediately followed.
"I am here to answer for myself," said Macbriar, in the same dauntless
manner, "and not to endanger others."
"We shall know," said Dalzell, "how to make you find your tongue."
"If you can make him fancy himself in a conventicle," answered
Lauderdale, "he will find it without you.--Come, laddie, speak while the
play is good--you're too young to bear the burden will be laid on you
"I defy you," retorted Macbriar. "This has not been the first of my
imprisonments or of my sufferings; and, young as I may be, I have lived
long enough to know how to die when I am called upon."
"Ay, but there are some things which must go before an easy death, if you
continue obstinate," said Lauderdale, and rung a small silver bell which
was placed before him on the table.
A dark crimson curtain, which covered a sort of niche, or Gothic recess
in the wall, rose at the signal, and displayed the public executioner, a
tall, grim, and hideous man, having an oaken table before him, on which
lay thumb-screws, and an iron case, called the Scottish boot, used in
those tyrannical days to torture accused persons. Morton, who was
unprepared for this ghastly apparition, started when the curtain arose,
but Macbriar's nerves were more firm. He gazed upon the horrible
apparatus with much composure; and if a touch of nature called the blood
from his cheek for a second, resolution sent it back to his brow with
"Do you know who that man is?" said Lauderdale, in a low, stern voice,
almost sinking into a whisper.
"He is, I suppose," replied Macbriar, "the infamous executioner of your
bloodthirsty commands upon the persons of God's people. He and you are
equally beneath my regard; and, I bless God, I no more fear what he can
inflict than what you can command. Flesh and blood may shrink under the
sufferings you can doom me to, and poor frail nature may shed tears, or
send forth cries; but I trust my soul is anchored firmly on the rock of
"Do your duty," said the Duke to the executioner.
The fellow advanced, and asked, with a harsh and discordant voice, upon
which of the prisoner's limbs he should first employ his engine.
"Let him choose for himself," said the Duke; "I should like to oblige him
in any thing that is reasonable."
"Since you leave it to me," said the prisoner, stretching forth his right
leg, "take the best--I willingly bestow it in the cause for which I
suffer." [Note: This was the reply actually made by James Mitchell when
subjected to the torture of the boot, for an attempt to assassinate
The executioner, with the help of his assistants, enclosed the leg and
knee within the tight iron boot, or case, and then placing a wedge of the
same metal between the knee and the edge of the machine, took a mallet in
his hand, and stood waiting for farther orders. A well-dressed man, by
profession a surgeon, placed himself by the other side of the prisoner's
chair, bared the prisoner's arm, and applied his thumb to the pulse in
order to regulate the torture according to the strength of the patient.
When these preparations were made, the President of the Council repeated
with the same stern voice the question, "When and where did you last see
John Balfour of Burley?"
The prisoner, instead of replying to him, turned his eyes to heaven as if
imploring Divine strength, and muttered a few words, of which the last
were distinctly audible, "Thou hast said thy people shall be willing in
the day of thy power!"
The Duke of Lauderdale glanced his eye around the council as if to
collect their suffrages, and, judging from their mute signs, gave on his
own part a nod to the executioner, whose mallet instantly descended on
the wedge, and, forcing it between the knee and the iron boot, occasioned
the most exquisite pain, as was evident from the flush which instantly
took place on the brow and on the cheeks of the sufferer. The fellow then
again raised his weapon, and stood prepared to give a second blow.
"Will you yet say," repeated the Duke of Lauderdale, "where and when you
last parted from Balfour of Burley?"
"You have my answer," said the sufferer resolutely, and the second blow
fell. The third and fourth succeeded; but at the fifth, when a larger
wedge had been introduced, the prisoner set up a scream of agony.
Morton, whose blood boiled within him at witnessing such cruelty, could
bear no longer, and, although unarmed and himself in great danger, was
springing forward, when Claverhouse, who observed his emotion, withheld
him by force, laying one hand on his arm and the other on his mouth,
while he whispered, "For God's sake, think where you are!"
This movement, fortunately for him, was observed by no other of the
councillors, whose attention was engaged with the dreadful scene before
"He is gone," said the surgeon--"he has fainted, my Lords, and human
nature can endure no more."
"Release him," said the Duke; and added, turning to Dalzell, "He will
make an old proverb good, for he'll scarce ride to-day, though he has had
his boots on. I suppose we must finish with him?"
"Ay, dispatch his sentence, and have done with him; we have plenty of
Strong waters and essences were busily employed to recall the senses of
the unfortunate captive; and, when his first faint gasps intimated a
return of sensation, the Duke pronounced sentence of death upon him, as a
traitor taken in the act of open rebellion, and adjudged him to be
carried from the bar to the common place of execution, and there hanged
by the neck; his head and hands to be stricken off after death, and
disposed of according to the pleasure of the Council, [Note: The pleasure
of the Council respecting the relics of their victims was often as savage
as the rest of their conduct. The heads of the preachers were frequently
exposed on pikes between their two hands, the palms displayed as in the
attitude of prayer. When the celebrated Richard Cameron's head was
exposed in this manner, a spectator bore testimony to it as that of one
who lived praying and preaching, and died praying and fighting.] and all
and sundry his movable goods and gear escheat and inbrought to his
"Doomster," he continued, "repeat the sentence to the prisoner."
The office of Doomster was in those days, and till a much later period,
held by the executioner in commendam, with his ordinary functions. [Note:
See a note on the subject of this office in the Heart of Mid-Lothian.]
The duty consisted in reciting to the unhappy criminal the sentence of
the law as pronounced by the judge, which acquired an additional and
horrid emphasis from the recollection, that the hateful personage by whom
it was uttered was to be the agent of the cruelties he denounced.
Macbriar had scarce understood the purport of the words as first
pronounced by the Lord President of the Council; but he was sufficiently
recovered to listen and to reply to the sentence when uttered by the
harsh and odious voice of the ruffian who was to execute it, and at the
last awful words, "And this I pronounce for doom," he answered boldly--"
My Lords, I thank you for the only favour I looked for, or would accept
at your hands, namely, that you have sent the crushed and maimed carcass,
which has this day sustained your cruelty, to this hasty end. It were
indeed little to me whether I perish on the gallows or in the
prison-house; but if death, following close on what I have this day
suffered, had found me in my cell of darkness and bondage, many might
have lost the sight how a Christian man can suffer in the good cause. For
the rest, I forgive you, my Lords, for what you have appointed and I have
sustained--And why should I not?--Ye send me to a happy exchange--to the
company of angels and the spirits of the just, for that of frail dust and
ashes--Ye send me from darkness into day--from mortality to immortality--
and, in a word, from earth to heaven!--If the thanks, therefore, and
pardon of a dying man can do you good, take them at my hand, and may your
last moments be as happy as mine!"
As he spoke thus, with a countenance radiant with joy and triumph, he was
withdrawn by those who had brought him into the apartment, and executed
within half an hour, dying with the same enthusiastic firmness which his
whole life had evinced.
The Council broke up, and Morton found himself again in the carriage with
"Marvellous firmness and gallantry!" said Morton, as he reflected upon
Macbriar's conduct; "what a pity it is that with such self-devotion and
heroism should have been mingled the fiercer features of his sect!"
"You mean," said Claverhouse, "his resolution to condemn you to death?--
To that he would have reconciled himself by a single text; for example,
'And Phinehas arose and executed judgment,' or something to the same
purpose.--But wot ye where you are now bound, Mr Morton?"
"We are on the road to Leith, I observe," answered Morton. "Can I not be
permitted to see my friends ere I leave my native land?"
"Your uncle," replied Grahame, "has been spoken to, and declines visiting
you. The good gentleman is terrified, and not without some reason, that
the crime of your treason may extend itself over his lands and tenements
--he sends you, however, his blessing, and a small sum of money. Lord
Evandale continues extremely indisposed. Major Bellenden is at
Tillietudlem putting matters in order. The scoundrels have made great
havoc there with Lady Margaret's muniments of antiquity, and have
desecrated and destroyed what the good lady called the Throne of his most
Sacred Majesty. Is there any one else whom you would wish to see?"
Morton sighed deeply as he answered, "No--it would avail nothing.--But my
preparations,--small as they are, some must be necessary."
"They are all ready for you," said the General. "Lord Evandale has
anticipated all you wish. Here is a packet from him with letters of
recommendation for the court of the Stadtholder Prince of Orange, to
which I have added one or two. I made my first campaigns under him, and
first saw fire at the battle of Seneff. [Note: August 1674. Claverhouse
greatly distinguished himself in this action, and was made Captain.]
There are also bills of exchange for your immediate wants, and more will
be sent when you require it."
Morton heard all this and received the parcel with an astounded and
confused look, so sudden was the execution of the sentence of banishment.
"And my servant?" he said.
"He shall be taken care of, and replaced, if it be practicable, in the
service of Lady Margaret Bellenden; I think he will hardly neglect the
parade of the feudal retainers, or go a-whigging a second time.--But here
we are upon the quay, and the boat waits you."
It was even as Claverhouse said. A boat waited for Captain Morton, with
the trunks and baggage belonging to his rank. Claverhouse shook him by
the hand, and wished him good fortune, and a happy return to Scotland in
"I shall never forget," he said, "the gallantry of your behaviour to my
friend Evandale, in circumstances when many men would have sought to rid
him out of their way."
Another friendly pressure, and they parted. As Morton descended the pier
to get into the boat, a hand placed in his a letter folded up in very
small space. He looked round. The person who gave it seemed much muffled
up; he pressed his finger upon his lip, and then disappeared among the
crowd. The incident awakened Morton's curiosity; and when he found
himself on board of a vessel bound for Rotterdam, and saw all his
companions of the voyage busy making their own arrangements, he took an
opportunity to open the billet thus mysteriously thrust upon him. It ran
thus:--" Thy courage on the fatal day when Israel fled before his
enemies, hath, in some measure, atoned for thy unhappy owning of the
Erastian interest. These are not days for Ephraim to strive with Israel.
--I know thy heart is with the daughter of the stranger. But turn from
that folly; for in exile, and in flight, and even in death itself, shall
my hand be heavy against that bloody and malignant house, and Providence
hath given me the means of meting unto them with their own measure of
ruin and confiscation. The resistance of their stronghold was the main
cause of our being scattered at Bothwell Bridge, and I have bound it upon
my soul to visit it upon them. Wherefore, think of her no more, but join
with our brethren in banishment, whose hearts are still towards this
miserable land to save and to relieve her. There is an honest remnant in
Holland whose eyes are looking out for deliverance. Join thyself unto
them like the true son of the stout and worthy Silas Morton, and thou
wilt have good acceptance among them for his sake and for thine own
working. Shouldst thou be found worthy again to labour in the vineyard,
thou wilt at all times hear of my in-comings and out-goings, by enquiring
after Quintin Mackell of Irongray, at the house of that singular
Christian woman, Bessie Maclure, near to the place called the Howff,
where Niel Blane entertaineth guests. So much from him who hopes to hear
again from thee in brotherhood, resisting unto blood, and striving
against sin. Meanwhile, possess thyself in patience. Keep thy sword
girded, and thy lamp burning, as one that wakes in the night; for He who
shall judge the Mount of Esau, and shall make false professors as straw,
and malignants as stubble, will come in the fourth watch with garments
dyed in blood, and the house of Jacob shall be for spoil, and the house
of Joseph for fire. I am he that hath written it, whose hand hath been on
the mighty in the waste field."
This extraordinary letter was subscribed J. B. of B.; but the signature
of these initials was not necessary for pointing out to Morton that it
could come from no other than Burley. It gave him new occasion to admire
the indomitable spirit of this man, who, with art equal to his courage
and obstinacy, was even now endeavouring to re-establish the web of
conspiracy which had been so lately torn to pieces. But he felt no sort
of desire, in the present moment, to sustain a correspondence which must
be perilous, or to renew an association, which, in so many ways, had been
nearly fatal to him. The threats which Burley held out against the family
of Bellenden, he considered as a mere expression of his spleen on account
of their defence of Tillietudlem; and nothing seemed less likely than
that, at the very moment of their party being victorious, their fugitive
and distressed adversary could exercise the least influence over their
Morton, however, hesitated for an instant, whether he should not send
the Major or Lord Evandale intimation of Burley's threats. Upon
consideration, he thought he could not do so without betraying his
confidential correspondence; for to warn them of his menaces would have
served little purpose, unless he had given them a clew to prevent them,
by apprehending his person; while, by doing so, he deemed he should
commit an ungenerous breach of trust to remedy an evil which seemed
almost imaginary. Upon mature consideration, therefore, he tore the
letter, having first made a memorandum of the name and place where the
writer was to be heard of, and threw the fragments into the sea.
While Morton was thus employed the vessel was unmoored, and the white
sails swelled out before a favourable north-west wind. The ship leaned
her side to the gale, and went roaring through the waves, leaving a long
and rippling furrow to track her course. The city and port from which he
had sailed became undistinguishable in the distance; the hills by which
they were surrounded melted finally into the blue sky, and Morton was
separated for several years from the land of his nativity.
Whom does time gallop withal?
As You Like It.
It is fortunate for tale-tellers that they are not tied down like
theatrical writers to the unities of time and place, but may conduct
their personages to Athens and Thebes at their pleasure, and bring them
back at their convenience. Time, to use Rosalind's simile, has hitherto
paced with the hero of our tale; for betwixt Morton's first appearance as
a competitor for the popinjay and his final departure for Holland hardly
two months elapsed. Years, however, glided away ere we find it possible
to resume the thread of our narrative, and Time must be held to have
galloped over the interval. Craving, therefore, the privilege of my cast,
I entreat the reader's attention to the continuation of the narrative, as
it starts from a new era, being the year immediately subsequent to the
Scotland had just begun to repose from the convulsion occasioned by a
change of dynasty, and, through the prudent tolerance of King William,
had narrowly escaped the horrors of a protracted civil war. Agriculture
began to revive, and men, whose minds had been disturbed by the violent
political concussions, and the general change of government in Church and
State, had begun to recover their ordinary temper, and to give the usual
attention to their own private affairs, in lieu of discussing those of
the public. The Highlanders alone resisted the newly established order of
things, and were in arms in a considerable body under the Viscount of
Dundee, whom our readers have hitherto known by the name of Grahame of
Claverhouse. But the usual state of the Highlands was so unruly that
their being more or less disturbed was not supposed greatly to affect the
general tranquillity of the country, so long as their disorders were
confined within their own frontiers. In the Lowlands, the Jacobites, now
the undermost party, had ceased to expect any immediate advantage by open
resistance, and were, in their turn, driven to hold private meetings, and
form associations for mutual defence, which the government termed
treason, while they cried out persecution.
The triumphant Whigs, while they re-established Presbytery as the
national religion, and assigned to the General Assemblies of the Kirk
their natural influence, were very far from going the lengths which the
Cameronians and more extravagant portion of the nonconformists under
Charles and James loudly demanded. They would listen to no proposal for
re-establishing the Solemn League and Covenant; and those who had
expected to find in King William a zealous Covenanted Monarch, were
grievously disappointed when he intimated, with the phlegm peculiar to
his country, his intention to tolerate all forms of religion which were
consistent with the safety of the State. The principles of indulgence
thus espoused and gloried in by the Government gave great offence to the
more violent party, who condemned them as diametrically contrary to
Scripture,--for which narrow-spirited doctrine they cited various texts,
all, as it may well be supposed, detached from their context, and most of
them derived from the charges given to the Jews in the Old Testament
dispensation to extirpate idolaters out of the Promised Land. They also
murmured highly against the influence assumed by secular persons in
exercising the rights of patronage, which they termed a rape upon the
chastity of the Church. They censured and condemned as Erastian many of
the measures by which Government after the Revolution showed an
inclination to interfere with the management of the Church, and they
positively refused to take the oath of allegiance to King William and
Queen Mary until they should, on their part, have sworn to the Solemn
League--and Covenant, the Magna Charta, as they termed it, of the
This party, therefore, remained grumbling and dissatisfied, and made
repeated declarations against defections and causes of wrath, which, had
they been prosecuted as in the two former reigns, would have led to the
same consequence of open rebellion. But as the murmurers were allowed to
hold their meetings uninterrupted, and to testify as much as they pleased
against Socinianism, Erastianism, and all the compliances and defections
of the time, their zeal, unfanned by persecution, died gradually away,
their numbers became diminished, and they sunk into the scattered remnant
of serious, scrupulous, and harmless enthusiasts, of whom Old Mortality,
whose legends have afforded the groundwork of my tale, may be taken as no
bad representative. But in the years which immediately succeeded the
Revolution, the Cameronians continued a sect strong in numbers and
vehement in their political opinions, whom Government wished to
discourage, while they prudently temporised with them. These men formed
one violent party in the State; and the Episcopalian and Jacobite
interest, notwithstanding their ancient and national animosity, yet
repeatedly endeavoured to intrigue among them, and avail themselves of
their discontents, to obtain their assistance in recalling the Stewart
family. The Revolutionary Government in the mean while, was supported by
the great bulk of the Lowland interest, who were chiefly disposed to a
moderate Presbytery, and formed in a great measure the party who in the
former oppressive reigns were stigmatized by the Cameronians for having
exercised that form of worship under the declaration of Indulgence issued
by Charles II. Such was the state of parties in Scotland immediately
subsequent to the Revolution.
It was on a delightful summer evening that a stranger, well mounted, and
having the appearance of a military man of rank, rode down a winding
descent which terminated in view of the romantic ruins of Bothwell Castle
and the river Clyde, which winds so beautifully between rocks and woods
to sweep around the towers formerly built by Aymer de Valence. Bothwell
Bridge was at a little distance, and also in sight. The opposite field,
once the scene of slaughter and conflict, now lay as placid and quiet as
the surface of a summer lake. The trees and bushes, which grew around in
romantic variety of shade, were hardly seen to stir under the influence
of the evening breeze. The very murmur of the river seemed to soften
itself into unison with the stillness of the scene around.
The path through which the traveller descended was occasionally shaded by
detached trees of great size, and elsewhere by the hedges and boughs of
flourishing orchards, now laden with summer fruits.
The nearest object of consequence was a farmhouse, or, it might be, the
abode of a small proprietor, situated on the side of a sunny bank which
was covered by apple and pear trees. At the foot of the path which led up
to this modest mansion was a small cottage, pretty much in the situation
of a porter's lodge, though obviously not designed for such a purpose.
The hut seemed comfortable, and more neatly arranged than is usual in
Scotland. It had its little garden, where some fruit-trees and bushes
were mingled with kitchen herbs; a cow and six sheep fed in a paddock
hard by; the cock strutted and crowed, and summoned his family around him
before the door; a heap of brushwood and turf, neatly made up, indicated
that the winter fuel was provided; and the thin blue smoke which ascended
from the straw-bound chimney, and winded slowly out from among the green
trees, showed that the evening meal was in the act of being made ready.
To complete the little scene of rural peace and coinfort, a girl of about
five years old was fetching water in a pitcher from a beautiful fountain
of the purest transparency, which bubbled up at the root of a decayed old
oak-tree about twenty yards from the end of the cottage.
The stranger reined up his horse and called to the little nymph, desiring
to know the way to Fairy Knowe. The child set down her water-pitcher,
hardly understanding what was said to her, put her fair flaxen hair apart
on her brows, and opened her round blue eyes with the wondering "What's
your wull?" which is usually a peasant's first answer, if it can be
called one, to all questions whatever.
"I wish to know the way to Fairy Knowe."
"Mammie, mammie," exclaimed the little rustic, running towards the door
of the hut, "come out and speak to the gentleman."
Her mother appeared,--a handsome young country-woman, to whose features,
originally sly and espiegle in expression, matrimony had given that
decent matronly air which peculiarly marks the peasant's wife of
Scotland. She had an infant in one arm, and with the other she smoothed
down her apron, to which hung a chubby child of two years old. The elder
girl, whom the traveller had first seen, fell back behind her mother as
soon as she appeared, and kept that station, occasionally peeping out to
look at the stranger.
"What was your pleasure, sir?" said the woman, with an air of respectful
breeding not quite common in her rank of life, but without anything
The stranger looked at her with great earnestness for a moment, and then
replied, "I am seeking a place called Fairy Knowe, and a man called
Cuthbert Headrigg. You can probably direct me to him?"
"It's my gudeman, sir," said the young woman, with a smile of welcome.
"Will you alight, sir, and come into our puir dwelling?--Cuddie,
Cuddie,"--a white-headed rogue of four years appeared at the door of the
hut--"rin awa, my bonny man, and tell your father a gentleman wants him.
Or, stay,--Jenny, ye'll hae mair sense: rin ye awa and tell him; he's
down at the Four-acres Park.--Winna ye light down and bide a blink, sir?
Or would ye take a mouthfu' o' bread and cheese, or a drink o' ale, till
our gudeman comes. It's gude ale, though I shouldna say sae that brews
it; but ploughmanlads work hard, and maun hae something to keep their
hearts abune by ordinar, sae I aye pit a gude gowpin o' maut to the
As the stranger declined her courteous offers, Cuddie, the reader's old
acquaintance, made his appearance in person. His countenance still
presented the same mixture of apparent dulness with occasional sparkles,
which indicated the craft so often found in the clouted shoe. He looked
on the rider as on one whom he never had before seen, and, like his
daughter and wife, opened the conversation with the regular query,
"What's your wull wi' me, sir?"
"I have a curiosity to ask some questions about this country," said the
traveller, "and I was directed to you as an intelligent man who can
"Nae doubt, sir," said Cuddie, after a moment's hesitation. "But I would
first like to ken what sort of questions they are. I hae had sae mony
questions speered at me in my day, and in sic queer ways, that if ye kend
a', ye wadna wonder at my jalousing a' thing about them. My mother gar 'd
me learn the Single Carritch, whilk was a great vex; then I behoved to
learn about my godfathers and godmothers to please the auld leddy; and
whiles I jumbled them thegether and pleased nane o' them; and when I cam
to man's yestate, cam another kind o' questioning in fashion that I liked
waur than Effectual Calling; and the 'did promise and vow' of the tape
were yokit to the end o' the tother. Sae ye see, sir, I aye like to hear
questions asked befor I answer them."
"You have nothing to apprehend from mine, my good friend; they only
relate to the state of the country."
"Country?" replied Cuddie; "ou, the country's weel eneugh, an it werena
that dour deevil, Claver'se (they ca' him Dundee now), that's stirring
about yet in the Highlands, they say, wi' a' the Donalds and Duncans and
Dugalds, that ever wore bottomless breeks, driving about wi' him, to set
things asteer again, now we hae gotten them a' reasonably weel settled.
But Mackay will pit him down, there's little doubt o' that; he'll gie him
his fairing, I'll be caution for it."
"What makes you so positive of that, my friend?" asked the horseman.
"I heard it wi' my ain lugs," answered Cuddie, foretauld to him by a man
that had been three hours stane dead, and came back to this earth again
just to tell him his mind. It was at a place they ca' Drumshinnel."
"Indeed?" said the stranger. "I can hardly believe you, my friend."
"Ye might ask my mither, then, if she were in life," said Cuddie; "it was
her explained it a' to me, for I thought the man had only been wounded.
At ony rate, he spake of the casting out of the Stewarts by their very
names, and the vengeance that was brewing for Claver'se and his dragoons.
They ca'd the man Habakkuk Mucklewrath; his brain was a wee ajee, but he
was a braw preacher for a' that."
"You seem," said the stranger, "to live in a rich and peaceful country."
"It's no to compleen o', sir, an we get the crap weel in," quoth Cuddie;
"but if ye had seen the blude rinnin' as fast on the tap o' that brigg
yonder as ever the water ran below it, ye wadna hae thought it sae bonnie
"You mean the battle some years since? I was waiting upon Monmouth that
morning, my good friend, and did see some part of the action," said the
"Then ye saw a bonny stour," said Cuddie, "that sail serve me for
fighting a' the days o' my life. I judged ye wad be a trooper, by your
red scarlet lace-coat and your looped hat."
"And which side were you upon, my friend?" continued the inquisitive
"Aha, lad?" retorted Cuddie, with a knowing look, or what he designed for
such,--"there 's nae use in telling that, unless I kend wha was asking
"I commend your prudence, but it is unnecessary; I know you acted on that
occasion as servant to Henry Morton."
"Ay!" said Cuddie, in surprise, "how came ye by that secret? No that I
need care a bodee about it, for the sun's on our side o' the hedge now. I
wish my master were living to get a blink o't"
"And what became of him?" said the rider.
"He was lost in the vessel gaun to that weary Holland,--clean lost; and
a' body perished, and my poor master amang them. Neither man nor mouse
was ever heard o' mair." Then Cuddie uttered a groan.
"You had some regard for him, then?" continued the stranger.
"How could I help it? His face was made of a fiddle, as they say, for a'
body that looked on him liked him. And a braw soldier he was. Oh, an ye
had but seen him down at the brigg there, fleeing about like a fleeing
dragon to gar folk fight that had unto little will till 't! There was he
and that sour Whigamore they ca'd Burley: if twa men could hae won a
field, we wadna hae gotten our skins paid that day."
"You mention Burley: do you know if he yet lives?"
"I kenna muckle about him. Folk say he was abroad, and our sufferers wad
hold no communion wi' him, because o' his having murdered the archbishop.
Sae he cam hame ten times dourer than ever, and broke aff wi' mony o' the
Presbyterians; and at this last coming of the Prince of Orange he could
get nae countenance nor command for fear of his deevilish temper, and he
hasna been heard of since; only some folk say that pride and anger hae
driven him clean wud."
"And--and," said the traveller, after considerable hesitation,--"do you
know anything of Lord Evan dale?"
"Div I ken onything o' Lord Evandale? Div I no? Is not my young leddy up
by yonder at the house, that's as gude as married to him?"
"And are they not married, then?" said the rider, hastily.
"No, only what they ca' betrothed,--me and my wife were witnesses. It's
no mony months bypast; it was a lang courtship,--few folk kend the reason
by Jenny and mysell. But will ye no light down? I downa bide to see ye
sitting up there, and the clouds are casting up thick in the west ower
Glasgow-ward, and maist skeily folk think that bodes rain."
In fact, a deep black cloud had already surmounted the setting sun; a few
large drops of rain fell, and the murmurs of distant thunder were heard.
"The deil's in this man," said Cuddie to himself; "I wish he would either
light aff or ride on, that he may quarter himsell in Hamilton or the
But the rider sate motionless on his horse for two or three moments after
his last question, like one exhausted by some uncommon effort. At length,
recovering himself as if with a sudden and painful effort, he asked
Cuddie "if Lady Margaret Bellenden still lived."
"She does," replied Cuddie, "but in a very sma' way. They hae been a sad
changed family since thae rough times began; they hae suffered eneugh
first and last,--and to lose the auld Tower and a' the bonny barony and
the holms that I hae pleughed sae often, and the Mains, and my kale-yard,
that I suld hae gotten back again, and a' for naething, as 'a body may
say, but just the want o' some bits of sheep-skin that were lost in the
confusion of the taking of Tillietudlem."
"I have heard something of this," said the stranger, deepening his voice
and averting his head. "I have some interest in the family, and would
willingly help them if I could. Can you give me a bed in your house
to-night, my friend?"
"It's but a corner of a place, sir," said Cuddie, "but we'se try, rather
than ye suld ride on in the rain and thunner; for, to be free wi' ye,
sir, I think ye seem no that ower weel."
"I am liable to a dizziness," said the stranger, but it will soon wear
"I ken we can gie ye a decent supper, sir," said Cuddie; "and we'll see
about a bed as weel as we can. We wad be laith a stranger suld lack what
we have, though we are jimply provided for in beds rather; for Jenny has
sae mony bairns (God bless them and her) that troth I maun speak to Lord
Evandale to gie us a bit eik, or outshot o' some sort, to the onstead."
"I shall be easily accommodated," said the stranger, as he entered the
"And ye may rely on your naig being weel sorted," said Cuddie; "I ken
weel what belangs to suppering a horse, and this is a very gude ane."
Cuddie took the horse to the little cow-house, and called to his wife to
attend in the mean while to the stranger's accommodation. The officer
entered, and threw himself on a settle at some distance from the fire,
and carefully turning his back to the little lattice window. Jenny, or
Mrs. Headrigg, if the reader pleases, requested him to lay aside the
cloak, belt, and flapped hat which he wore upon his journey, but he
excused himself under pretence of feeling cold, and, to divert the time
till Cuddie's return, he entered into some chat with the children,
carefully avoiding, during the interval, the inquisitive glances of his
What tragic tears bedim the eye!
What deaths we suffer ere we die!
Our broken friendships we deplore,
And loves of youth that are no more.
Cuddie soon returned, assuring the stranger, with a cheerful voice, "that
the horse was properly suppered up, and that the gudewife should make a
bed up for him at the house, mair purpose-like and comfortable than the
like o' them could gie him."
"Are the family at the house?" said the stranger, with an interrupted and
"No, stir, they're awa wi' a' the servants,--they keep only twa nowadays,
and my gudewife there has the keys and the charge, though she's no a
fee'd servant. She has been born and bred in the family, and has a' trust
and management. If they were there, we behovedna to take sic freedom
without their order; but when they are awa, they will be weel pleased we
serve a stranger gentleman. Miss Bellenden wad help a' the haill warld,
an her power were as gude as her will; and her grandmother, Leddy
Margaret, has an unto respect for the gentry, and she's no ill to the
poor bodies neither.--And now, wife, what for are ye no getting forrit
wi' the sowens?"
"Never mind, lad," rejoined Jenny, "ye sall hae them in gude time; I ken
weel that ye like your brose het."
Cuddie fidgeted and laughed with a peculiar expression of intelligence at
this repartee, which was followed by a dialogue of little consequence
betwixt his wife and him, in which the stranger took no share. At length
he suddenly interrupted them by the question: "Can you tell me when Lord
Evandale's marriage takes place?"
"Very soon, we expect," answered Jenny, before it was possible for her
husband to reply; "it wad hae been ower afore now, but for the death o'
auld Major Bellenden."
"The excellent old man!" said the stranger; "I heard at Edinburgh he was
no more. Was he long ill?"
"He couldna be said to haud up his head after his brother's wife and his
niece were turned out o' their ain house; and he had himsell sair
borrowing siller to stand the law,--but it was in the latter end o' King
James's days; and Basil Olifant, who claimed the estate, turned a papist
to please the managers, and then naething was to be refused him. Sae the
law gaed again the leddies at last, after they had fought a weary sort o'
years about it; and, as I said before, the major ne'er held up his head
again. And then cam the pitting awa o' the Stewart line; and, though he
had but little reason to like them, he couldna brook that, and it clean
broke the heart o' him; and creditors cam to Charnwood and cleaned out a'
that was there,--he was never rich, the gude auld man, for he dow'd na
see onybody want."
"He was indeed," said the stranger, with a faltering voice, "an admirable
man,--that is, I have heard that he was so. So the ladies were left
without fortune, as well as without a protector?"
"They will neither want the tane nor the tother while Lord Evandale
lives," said Jenny; "he has been a true friend in their griefs. E'en to
the house they live in is his lordship's; and never man, as my auld
gudemother used to say, since the days of the Patriarch Jacob, served sae
lang and sae sair for a wife as gude Lord Evandale has dune."
"And why," said the stranger, with a voice that quivered with emotion,
"why was he not sooner rewarded by the object of his attachment?"
"There was the lawsuit to be ended," said Jenny readily, "forby many
other family arrangements."
"Na, but," said Cuddie, "there was another reason forby; for the young
"Whisht, hand your tongue, and sup your sowens," said his wife; "I see
the gentleman's far frae weel, and downa eat our coarse supper. I wad
kill him a chicken in an instant."
"There is no occasion," said the stranger; "I shall want only a glass of
water, and to be left alone."
"You'll gie yoursell the trouble then to follow me," said Jenny, lighting
a small lantern, "and I'll show you the way."
Cuddie also proffered his assistance; but his wife reminded him, "That
the bairns would be left to fight thegither, and coup ane anither into
the fire," so that he remained to take charge of the menage.
His wife led the way up a little winding path, which, after threading
some thickets of sweetbrier and honeysuckle, conducted to the back-door
of a small garden. Jenny undid the latch, and they passed through an
old-fashioned flower-garden, with its clipped yew hedges and formal
parterres, to a glass-sashed door, which she opened with a master-key,
and lighting a candle, which she placed upon a small work-table, asked
pardon for leaving him there for a few minutes, until she prepared his
apartment. She did not exceed five minutes in these preparations; but
when she returned, was startled to find that the stranger had sunk
forward with his head upon the table, in what she at first apprehended to
be a swoon. As she advanced to him, however, she could discover by his
short-drawn sobs that it was a paroxysm of mental agony. She prudently
drew back until he raised his head, and then showing herself, without
seeming to have observed his agitation, informed him that his bed was
prepared. The stranger gazed at her a moment, as if to collect the sense
of her words. She repeated them; and only bending his head, as an
indication that he understood her, he entered the apartment, the door of
which she pointed out to him. It was a small bedchamber, used, as she
informed him, by Lord Evandale when a guest at Fairy Knowe, connecting,
on one side, with a little china-cabinet which opened to the garden, and
on the other, with a saloon, from which it was only separated by a thin
wainscot partition. Having wished the stranger better health and good
rest, Jenny descended as speedily as she could to her own mansion.
"Oh, Cuddie!" she exclaimed to her helpmate as she entered, "I doubt
we're ruined folk!"
"How can that be? What's the matter wi' ye?" returned the imperturbed
Cuddie, who was one of those persons who do not easily take alarm at
"Wha d' ye think yon gentleman is? Oh that ever ye suld hae asked him to
light here!" exclaimed Jenny.
"Why, wha the muckle deil d'ye say he is? There's nae law against
harbouring and intercommunicating now," said Cuddie; "sae, Whig or Tory,
what need we care wha he be?"
"Ay, but it's ane will ding Lord Evandale's marriage ajee yet, if it 's
no the better looked to," said Jenny; "it's Miss Edith's first joe, your
ain auld maister, Cuddie."
"The deil, woman!" exclaimed Cuddie, starting up, "Crow ye that I am
blind? I wad hae kend Mr. Harry Morton amang a hunder."
"Ay, but, Cuddie lad," replied Jenny, "though ye are no blind, ye are no
sae notice-taking as I am."
"Weel, what for needs ye cast that up to me just now; or what did ye see
about the man that was like our Maister Harry?"
"I will tell ye," said Jenny. "I jaloused his keeping his face frae us,
and speaking wi' a madelike voice, sae I e'en tried him wi' some tales o"
lang syne; and when I spake o' the brose, ye ken, he didna just laugh,--
he's ower grave for that nowadays, but he gae a gledge wi' his ee that I
kend he took up what I said. And a' his distress is about Miss Edith's
marriage; and I ne'er saw a man mair taen down wi' true love in my days,
--I might say man or woman, only I mind how ill Miss Edith was when she
first gat word that him and you (ye muckle graceless loon) were coming
against Tillietudlem wi' the rebels.--But what's the matter wi' the man
"What's the matter wi' me indeed!" said Cuddie, who was again hastily
putting on some of the garments he had stripped himself of; "am I no gaun
up this instant to see my maister?"
"Atweel, Cuddie, ye are gaun nae sic gate," said Jenny, coolly and
"The deil's in the wife!" said Cuddie. "D 'ye think I am to be John
Tamson's man, and maistered by women a' the days o' my life?"
"And whase man wad ye be? And wha wad ye hae to maister ye but me,
Cuddie, lad?" answered Jenny. "I'll gar ye comprehend in the making of a
hay-band. Naebody kens that this young gentleman is living but oursells;
and frae that he keeps himsell up sae close, I am judging that he's
purposing, if he fand Miss Edith either married, or just gaun to be
married, he wad just slide awa easy, and gie them nae mair trouble. But
if Miss Edith kend that he was living, and if she were standing before
the very minister wi' Lord Evandale when it was tauld to her, I'se
warrant she wad say No when she suld say Yes."
"Weel," replied Cuddie, "and what's my business wi' that? If Miss Edith
likes her auld joe better than her new ane, what for suld she no be free
to change her mind like other folk? Ye ken, Jenny, Halliday aye threeps
he had a promise frae yoursell."
"Halliday's a liar, and ye're naething but a gomeril to hearken till him,
Cuddie. And then for this leddy's choice, lack-a-day! ye may be sure a'
the gowd Mr. Morton has is on the outside o' his coat; and how can he
keep Leddy Margaret and the young leddy?"
"Isna there Milnwood?" said Cuddie. "Nae doubt the auld laird left his
housekeeper the liferent, as he heard nought o' his nephew; but it's but
speaking the auld wife fair, and they may a' live brawly thegither, Leddy
Margaret and a'."
"Rout tout, lad," replied Jenny; "ye ken them little to think leddies o'
their rank wad set up house wi' auld Ailie Wilson, when they're maist
ower proud to take favours frae Lord Evandale himsell. Na, na, they maun
follow the camp, if she tak Morton."
"That wad sort ill wi' the auld leddy, to be sure," said Cuddie; "she wad
hardly win ower a lang day in the baggage-wain."
"Then sic a flyting as there wad be between them, a' about Whig and
Tory," continued Jenny.
"To be sure," said Cuddie, "the auld leddy 's unto kittle in thae
"And then, Cuddie," continued his helpmate, who had reserved her
strongest argument to the last, "if this marriage wi' Lord Evandale is
broken off, what comes o' our ain bit free house, and the kale-yard, and
the cow's grass? I trow that baith us and thae bonny bairns will be
turned on the wide warld!"
Here Jenny began to whimper; Cuddie writhed himself this way and that
way, the very picture of indecision. At length he broke out, "Weel,
woman, canna ye tell us what we suld do, without a' this din about it?"
"Just do naething at a'," said Jenny. "Never seem to ken onything about
this gentleman, and for your life say a word that he suld hae been here,
or up at the house! An I had kend, I wad hae gien him my ain bed, and
sleepit in the byre or he had gane up by; but it canna be helpit now. The
neist thing's to get him cannily awa the morn, and I judge he'll be in
nae hurry to come back again."
"My puir maister!" said Cuddie; "and maun I no speak to him, then?"
"For your life, no," said Jenny. "Ye're no obliged to ken him; and I
wadna hae tauld ye, only I feared ye wad ken him in the morning."
"Aweel," said Cuddie, sighing heavily, "I 'se awa to pleugh the outfield
then; for if I am no to speak to him, I wad rather be out o' the gate."
"Very right, my dear hinny," replied Jenny. Naebody has better sense than
you when ye crack a bit wi' me ower your affairs; but ye suld ne'er do
onything aff hand out o' your ain head."
"Ane wad think it's true," quoth Cuddie; "for I hae aye had some carline
or quean or another to gar me gang their gate instead o' my ain. There
was first my mither," he continued, as he undressed and tumbled himself
into bed; "then there was Leddy Margaret didna let me ca' my soul my ain;
then my mither and her quarrelled, and pu'ed me twa ways at anes, as if
ilk ane had an end o' me, like Punch and the Deevil rugging about the
Baker at the fair; and now I hae gotten a wife," he murmured in
continuation, as he stowed the blankets around his person, "and she's
like to tak the guiding o' me a' thegither."
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