The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Complete, Illustrated
Sir Walter Scott
Part 11 out of 13
an hour and a quarter long, which David termed a short allowance of
The preacher, who was a divine that held many of David's opinions,
privately apologised for his brevity by saying, "That he observed the
Captain was gaunting grievously, and that if he had detained him longer,
there was no knowing how long he might be in paying the next term's
David groaned to find that such carnal motives could have influence upon
the mind of a powerful preacher. He had, indeed, been scandalised by
another circumstance during the service.
So soon as the congregation were seated after prayers, and the clergyman
had read his text, the gracious Duncan, after rummaging the leathern
purse which hung in front of his petticoat, produced a short tobacco-pipe
made of iron, and observed, almost aloud, "I hae forgotten my
spleuchan--Lachlan, gang down to the clachan, and bring me up a
pennyworth of twist." Six arms, the nearest within reach, presented,
with an obedient start, as many tobacco-pouches to the man of office.
He made choice of one with an nod of acknowledgment, filled his pipe,
lighted it with the assistance of his pistol-flint, and smoked with
infinite composure during the whole time of the sermon. When the
discourse was finished, he knocked the ashes out of his pipe, replaced
it in his sporran, returned the tobacco-pouch or spleuchan to its owner,
and joined in the prayer with decency and attention.
[Illustration: The Captain of Knockdunder--303]
At the end of the service, when Butler had been admitted minister of the
kirk of Knocktarlitie, with all its spiritual immunities and privileges,
David, who had frowned, groaned, and murmured at Knockdunder's irreverent
demeanour, communicated his plain thoughts of the matter to Isaac
Meiklehose, one of the elders, with whom a reverential aspect and huge
grizzle wig had especially disposed him to seek fraternisation. "It didna
become a wild Indian," David said, "much less a Christian, and a
gentleman, to sit in the kirk puffing tobacco-reek, as if he were in a
Meiklehose shook his head, and allowed it was "far frae beseeming--But
what will ye say? The Captain's a queer hand, and to speak to him about
that or onything else that crosses the maggot, wad be to set the kiln
a-low. He keeps a high hand ower the country, and we couldna deal wi' the
Hielandmen without his protection, sin' a' the keys o' the kintray hings
at his belt; and he's no an ill body in the main, and maistry, ye ken,
maws the meadows doun."
"That may be very true, neighbour," said David; "but Reuben Butler isna
the man I take him to be, if he disna learn the Captain to fuff his pipe
some other gate than in God's house, or the quarter be ower."
"Fair and softly gangs far," said Meiklehose; "and if a fule may gie a
wise man a counsel, I wad hae him think twice or he mells with
Knockdunder--He auld hae a lang-shankit spune that wad sup kail wi' the
deil. But they are a' away to their dinner to the change-house, and if we
dinna mend our pace, we'll come short at meal-time."
David accompanied his friend without answer; but began to feel from
experience, that the glen of Knocktarlitie, like the rest of the world,
was haunted by its own special subjects of regret and discontent. His
mind was, so much occupied by considering the best means of converting
Duncan of Knock to a sense of reverend decency during public worship,
that he altogether forgot to inquire whether Butler was called upon to
subscribe the oaths to Government.
Some have insinuated, that his neglect on this head was, in some degree,
intentional; but I think this explanation inconsistent with the
simplicity of my friend David's character. Neither have I ever been able,
by the most minute inquiries, to know whether the _formula,_ at which he
so much scrupled, had been exacted from Butler, ay or no. The books of
the kirk-session might have thrown some light on this matter; but
unfortunately they were destroyed in the year 1746, by one Donacha Dhu na
Dunaigh, at the instance, it was said, or at least by the connivance, of
the gracious Duncan of Knock, who had a desire to obliterate the recorded
foibles of a certain Kate Finlayson.
Now butt and ben the change-house fills
Wi' yill-caup commentators,
Here's crying out for bakes and gills,
And there the pint-stoup clatters.
Wi' thick and thrang, and loud and lang,--
Wi' logic and wi' scripture,
They raise a din that in the end
Is like to breed a rupture,
O' wrath that day.
A plentiful entertainment, at the Duke of Argyle's cost, regaled the
reverend gentlemen who had assisted at the ordination of Reuben Butler,
and almost all the respectable part of the parish. The feast was, indeed,
such as the country itself furnished; for plenty of all the requisites
for "a rough and round dinner" were always at Duncan of Knock's command.
There was the beef and mutton on the braes, the fresh and salt-water fish
in the lochs, the brooks, and firth; game of every kind, from the deer to
the leveret, were to be had for the killing, in the Duke's forests,
moors, heaths, and mosses; and for liquor, home-brewed ale flowed as
freely as water; brandy and usquebaugh both were had in those happy times
without duty; even white wine and claret were got for nothing, since the
Duke's extensive rights of admiralty gave him a title to all the wine in
cask which is drifted ashore on the western coast and isles of Scotland,
when shipping have suffered by severe weather. In short, as Duncan
boasted, the entertainment did not cost MacCallummore a plack out of his
sporran, and was nevertheless not only liberal, but overflowing.
The Duke's health was solemnised in a _bona fide_ bumper, and David Deans
himself added perhaps the first huzza that his lungs had ever uttered, to
swell the shout with which the pledge was received. Nay, so exalted in
heart was he upon this memorable occasion, and so much disposed to be
indulgent, that, he expressed no dissatisfaction when three bagpipers
struck up, "The Campbells are coming." The health of the reverend
minister of Knocktarlitie was received with similar honours; and there
was a roar of laughter, when one of his brethren slily subjoined the
addition of, "A good wife to our brother, to keep the Manse in order." On
this occasion David Deans was delivered of his first-born joke; and
apparently the parturition was accompanied with many throes, for sorely
did he twist about his physiognomy, and much did he stumble in his
speech, before he could express his idea, "That the lad being now wedded
to his spiritual bride, it was hard to threaten him with ane temporal
spouse in the same day." He then laughed a hoarse and brief laugh, and
was suddenly grave and silent, as if abashed at his own vivacious effort.
After another toast or two, Jeanie, Mrs. Dolly, and such of the female
natives as had honoured the feast with their presence, retired to David's
new dwelling at Auchingower, and left the gentlemen to their potations.
The feast proceeded with great glee. The conversation, where Duncan had
it under his direction, was not indeed always strictly canonical, but
David Deans escaped any risk of being scandalised, by engaging with one
of his neighbours in a recapitulation of the sufferings of Ayrshire and
Lanarkshire, during what was called the invasion of the Highland Host;
the prudent Mr. Meiklehose cautioning them from time to time to lower
their voices, "for that Duncan Knock's father had been at that onslaught,
and brought back muckle gude plenishing, and that Duncan was no unlikely
to hae been there himself, for what he kend."
Meanwhile, as the mirth grew fast and furious, the graver members of the
party began to escape as well as they could. David Deans accomplished his
retreat, and Butler anxiously watched an opportunity to follow him.
Knockdunder, however, desirous, he said, of knowing what stuff was in the
new minister, had no intention to part with him so easily, but kept him
pinned to his side, watching him sedulously, and with obliging violence
filling his glass to the brim, as often as he could seize an opportunity
of doing so. At length, as the evening was wearing late, a venerable
brother chanced to ask Mr. Archibald when they might hope to see the
Duke, _tam carum caput,_ as he would venture to term him, at the Lodge of
Roseneath. Duncan of Knock, whose ideas were somewhat conglomerated, and
who, it may be believed, was no great scholar, catching up some imperfect
sound of the words, conceived the speaker was drawing a parallel between
the Duke and Sir Donald Gorme of Sleat; and being of opinion that such
comparison was odious, snorted thrice, and prepared himself to be in a
To the explanation of the venerable divine the Captain answered, "I heard
the word Gorme myself, sir, with my ain ears. D'ye think I do not know
Gaelic from Latin?"
"Apparently not, sir;"--so the clergyman, offended in his turn, and
taking a pinch of snuff, answered with great coolness.
The copper nose of the gracious Duncan now became heated like the Bull of
Phalaris, and while Mr. Archibald mediated betwixt the offended parties,
and the attention of the company was engaged by their dispute, Butler
took an opportunity to effect his retreat.
He found the females at Auchingower very anxious for the breaking up of
the convivial party; for it was a part of the arrangement, that although
David Deans was to remain at Auchingower, and Butler was that night to
take possession of the Manse, yet Jeanie, for whom complete
accommodations were not yet provided in her father's house, was to return
for a day or two to the Lodge at Roseneath, and the boats had been held
in readiness accordingly. They waited, therefore, for Knockdunder's
return, but twilight came, and they still waited in vain. At length Mr.
Archibald, who was a man of decorum, had taken care not to exceed in his
conviviality, made his appearance, and advised the females strongly to
return to the island under his escort; observing, that, from the humour
in which he had left the Captain, it was a great chance whether he budged
out of the public-house that night, and it was absolutely certain that he
would not be very fit company for ladies. The gig was at their disposal,
he said, and there was still pleasant twilight for a party on the water.
Jeanie, who had considerable confidence in Archibald's prudence,
immediately acquiesced in this proposal; but Mrs. Dolly positively
objected to the small boat. If the big boat could be gotten, she agreed
to set out, otherwise she would sleep on the floor, rather than stir a
step. Reasoning with Dolly was out of the question, and Archibald did not
think the difficulty so pressing as to require compulsion. He observed,
it was not using the Captain very politely to deprive him of his coach
and six; "but as it was in the ladies' service," he gallantly said, "he
would use so much freedom--besides the gig would serve the Captain's
purpose better, as it could come off at any hour of the tide; the large
boat should, therefore, be at Mrs. Dolly's service."
They walked to the beach accordingly, accompanied by Butler. It was some
time before the boatmen could be assembled, and ere they were well
embarked, and ready to depart, the pale moon was come over the hill, and
flinging a trembling reflection on the broad and glittering waves. But so
soft and pleasant was the night, that Butler, in bidding farewell to
Jeanie, had no apprehension for her safety; and what is yet more
extraordinary, Mrs. Dolly felt no alarm for her own. The air was soft,
and came over the cooling wave with something of summer fragrance. The
beautiful scene of headlands, and capes, and bays, around them, with the
broad blue chain of mountains, were dimly visible in the moonlight; while
every dash of the oars made the waters glance and sparkle with the
brilliant phenomenon called the sea fire.
This last circumstance filled Jeanie with wonder, and served to amuse the
mind of her companion, until they approached the little bay, which seemed
to stretch its dark and wooded arms into the sea as if to welcome them.
The usual landing-place was at a quarter of a mile's distance from the
Lodge, and although the tide did not admit of the large boat coming quite
close to the jetty of loose stones which served as a pier, Jeanie, who
was both bold and active, easily sprung ashore; but Mrs., Dolly
positively refusing to commit herself to the same risk, the complaisant
Mr. Archibald ordered the boat round to a more regular landing-place, at
a considerable distance along the shore. He then prepared to land
himself, that he might, in the meanwhile, accompany Jeanie to the Lodge.
But as there was no mistaking the woodland lane, which led from thence to
the shore, and as the moonlight showed her one of the white chimneys
rising out of the wood which embosomed the building, Jeanie declined this
favour with thanks, and requested him to proceed with Mrs. Dolly, who,
being "in a country where the ways were so strange to her, had mair need
This, indeed, was a fortunate circumstance, and might even be said to
save poor Cowslip's life, if it was true, as she herself used solemnly to
aver, that she must positively have expired for fear, if she had been
left alone in the boat with six wild Highlanders in kilts.
The night was so exquisitely beautiful, that Jeanie, instead of
immediately directing her course towards the Lodge, stood looking after
the boat as it again put off from the side, and rowed into the little
bay, the dark figures of her companions growing less and less distinct as
they diminished in the distance, and the jorram, or melancholy boat-song
of the rowers, coming on the ear with softened and sweeter sound, until
the boat rounded the headland, and was lost to her observation.
Still Jeanie remained in the same posture, looking out upon the sea. It
would, she was aware, be some time ere her companions could reach the
Lodge, as the distance by the more convenient landing-place was
considerably greater than from the point where she stood, and she was not
sorry to have an opportunity to spend the interval by herself.
The wonderful change which a few weeks had wrought in her situation, from
shame and grief, and almost despair, to honour, joy, and a fair prospect
of future happiness, passed before her eyes with a sensation which
brought the tears into them. Yet they flowed at the same time from
another source. As human happiness is never perfect, and as
well-constructed minds are never more sensible of the distresses of those
whom they love, than when their own situation forms a contrast with them,
Jeanie's affectionate regrets turned to the fate of her poor sister--the
child of so many hopes--the fondled nursling of so many years--now an
exile, and, what was worse, dependent on the will of a man, of whose
habits she had every reason to entertain the worst opinion, and who, even
in his strongest paroxysms of remorse, had appeared too much a stranger
to the feelings of real penitence.
While her thoughts were occupied with these melancholy reflections, a
shadowy figure seemed to detach itself from the copsewood on her right
hand. Jeanie started, and the stories of apparitions and wraiths, seen by
solitary travellers in wild situations, at such times, and in such an
hour, suddenly came full upon her imagination. The figure glided on, and
as it came betwixt her and the moon, she was aware that it had the
appearance of a woman. A soft voice twice repeated, "Jeanie--Jeanie!"--
Was it indeed--could it be the voice of her sister?--Was she still among
the living, or had the grave given uly its tenant?--Ere she could state
these questions to her own mind, Effie, alive, and in the body, had
clasped her in her arms and was straining her to her bosom, and devouring
her with kisses. "I have wandered here," she said, "like a ghaist, to see
you, and nae wonder you take me for ane--I thought but to see you gang
by, or to hear the sound of your voice; but to speak to yoursell again,
Jeanie, was mair than I deserved, and mair than I durst pray for."
"O Effie! how came ye here alone, and at this hour, and on the wild
seabeach?--Are you sure it's your ain living sell?" There was something
of Effie's former humour in her practically answering the question by a
gentle pinch, more beseeming the fingers of a fairy than of a ghost. And
again the sisters embraced, and laughed, and wept by turns.
"But ye maun gang up wi' me to the Lodge, Effie," said Jeanie, "and tell
me a' your story--I hae gude folk there that will make ye welcome for my
"Na, na, Jeanie," replied her sister sorrowfully,--"ye hae forgotten what
I am--a banished outlawed creature, scarce escaped the gallows by your
being the bauldest and the best sister that ever lived--I'll gae near
nane o' your grand friends, even if there was nae danger to me."
"There is nae danger--there shall be nae danger," said Jeanie eagerly. "O
Effie, dinna be wilfu'--be guided for ance--we will be sae happy a'
"I have a' the happiness I deserve on this side of the grave, now that I
hae seen you," answered Effie; "and whether there were danger to mysell
or no, naebody shall ever say that I come with my cheat-the-gallows face
to shame my sister among her grand friends."
"I hae nae grand friends," said Jeanie; "nae friends but what are friends
of yours--Reuben Butler and my father.--O unhappy lassie, dinna be dour,
and turn your back on your happiness again! We wunna see another
acquaintance--Come hame to us, your ain dearest friends--it's better
sheltering under an auld hedge than under a new-planted wood."
"It's in vain speaking, Jeanie,--I maun drink as I hae brewed--I am
married, and I maun follow my husband for better for worse."
"Married, Effie!" exclaimed Jeanie--"Misfortunate creature! and to that
"Hush, hush," said Effie, clapping one hand on her mouth, and pointing to
the thicket with the other, "he is yonder." She said this in a tone which
showed that her husband had found means to inspire her with awe, as well
as affection. At this moment a man issued from the wood.
It was young Staunton. Even by the imperfect light of the moon, Jeanie
could observe that he was handsomely dressed, and had the air of a person
"Effie," he said, "our time is well-nigh spent--the skiff will be aground
in the creek, and I dare not stay longer.--I hope your sister will allow
me to salute her?" But Jeanie shrunk back from him with a feeling of
internal abhorrence. "Well," he said, "it does not much signify; if you
keep up the feeling of ill-will, at least you do not act upon it, and I
thank you for your respect to my secret, when a word (which in your place
I would have spoken at once) would have cost me my life. People say, you
should keep from the wife of your bosom the secret that concerns your
neck--my wife and her sister both know mine, and I shall not sleep a wink
the less sound."
"But are you really married to my sister, sir?" asked Jeanie, in great
doubt and anxiety; for the haughty, careless tone in which he spoke
seemed to justify her worst apprehensions.
"I really am legally married, and by my own name," replied Staunton, more
"And your father--and your friends?"
"And my father and my friends must just reconcile themselves to that
which is done and cannot be undone," replied Staunton. "However, it is my
intention, in order to break off dangerous connections, and to let my
friends come to their temper, to conceal my marriage for the present, and
stay abroad for some years. So that you will not hear of us for some
time, if ever you hear of us again at all. It would be dangerous, you
must be aware, to keep up the correspondence; for all would guess that
the husband of Effie was the--what shall I call myself?--the slayer of
Hard-hearted light man! thought Jeanie--to what a character she has
intrusted her happiness!--She has sown the wind, and maun reap the
"Dinna think ill o' him," said Effie, breaking away from her husband, and
leading Jeanie a step or two out of hearing--"dinna think very ill o'
him--he's gude to me, Jeanie--as gude as I deserve--And he is determined
to gie up his bad courses--Sae, after a', dinna greet for Effie; she is
better off than she has wrought for.--But you--oh, you!--how can you be
happy eneugh! never till ye get to heaven, where a'body is as gude as
yoursell.--Jeanie, if I live and thrive, ye shall hear of me--if not,
just forget that sic a creature ever lived to vex ye--fare ye
weel--fare--fare ye weel!"
She tore herself from her sister's arms--rejoined her husband--they
plunged into the copsewood, and she saw them no more. The whole scene had
the effect of a vision, and she could almost have believed it such, but
that very soon after they quitted her, she heard the sound of oars, and a
skiff was seen on the firth, pulling swiftly towards the small smuggling
sloop which lay in the offing. It was on board of such a vessel that
Effie had embarked at Portobello, and Jeanie had no doubt that the same
conveyance was destined, as Staunton had hinted, to transport them to a
Although it was impossible to determine whether this interview, while it
was passing, gave more pain or pleasure to Jeanie Deans, yet the ultimate
impression which remained on her mind was decidedly favourable. Effie was
married--made, according to the common phrase, an honest woman--that was
one main point; it seemed also as if her husband were about to
abandon the path of gross vice in which he had run so long and so
desperately--that was another. For his final and effectual conversion
he did not want understanding, and God knew his own hour.
Such were the thoughts with which Jeanie endeavoured to console her
anxiety respecting her sister's future fortune. On her arrival at the
lodge, she found Archibald in some anxiety at her stay, and about to walk
out in quest of her. A headache served as an apology for retiring to
rest, in order to conceal her visible agitation of mind from her
By this secession also she escaped a scene of a different sort. For, as
if there were danger in all gigs, whether by sea or land, that of
Knockdunder had been run down by another boat, an accident owing chiefly
to the drunkenness of the Captain, his crew, and passengers. Knockdunder,
and two or three guests, whom he was bringing along with him to finish
the conviviality of the evening at the Lodge, got a sound ducking; but,
being rescued by the crew of the boat which endangered them, there was no
ultimate loss, excepting that of the Captain's laced hat, which, greatly
to the satisfaction of the Highland part of the district, as well as to
the improvement of the conformity of his own personal appearance, he
replaced by a smart Highland bonnet next day. Many were the vehement
threats of vengeance which, on the succeeding morning, the gracious
Duncan threw out against the boat which had upset him; but as neither
she, nor the small smuggling vessel to which she belonged, was any longer
to be seen in the firth, he was compelled to sit down with the affront.
This was the more hard, he said, as he was assured the mischief was done
on purpose, these scoundrels having lurked about after they had landed
every drop of brandy, and every bag of tea they had on board; and he
understood the coxswain had been on shore, making particular inquiries
concerning the time when his boat was to cross over, and to return, and
"Put the neist time they meet me on the firth," said Duncan, with great
majesty, "I will teach the moonlight rapscallions and vagabonds to keep
their ain side of the road, and pe tamn'd to them!"
Lord! who would live turmoiled in a court,
And may enjoy such quiet walks as these?
Within a reasonable time after Butler was safely and comfortably settled
in his living, and Jeanie had taken up her abode at Auchingower with her
father,--the precise extent of which interval we request each reader to
settle according to his own sense of what is decent and proper upon the
occasion,--and after due proclamation of banns, and all other
formalities, the long wooing of this worthy pair was ended by their union
in the holy bands of matrimony. On this occasion, David Deans stoutly
withstood the iniquities of pipes, fiddles, and promiscuous dancing, to
the great wrath of the Captain of Knockdunder, who said, if he "had
guessed it was to be sic a tamn'd Quakers' meeting, he wad hae seen them
peyont the cairn before he wad hae darkened their doors."
And so much rancour remained on the spirits of the gracious Duncan upon
this occasion, that various "picqueerings," as David called them, took
place upon the same and similar topics and it was only in consequence of
an accidental visit of the Duke to his Lodge at Roseneath, that they were
put a stop to. But upon that occasion his Grace showed such particular
respect to Mr. and Mrs. Butler, and such favour even to old David, that
Knockdunder held it prudent to change his course towards the latter. He,
in future, used to express himself among friends, concerning the minister
and his wife, as "very worthy decent folk, just a little over strict in
their notions; put it was pest for thae plack cattle to err on the safe
side." And respecting David, he allowed that "he was an excellent judge
of nowte and sheep, and a sensible eneugh carle, an it werena for his
tamn'd Cameronian nonsense, whilk it is not worth while of a shentleman
to knock out of an auld silly head, either by force of reason or
otherwise." So that, by avoiding topics of dispute, the personages of our
tale lived in great good habits with the gracious Duncan, only that he
still grieved David's soul, and set a perilous example to the
congregation, by sometimes bringing his pipe to the church during a cold
winter day, and almost always sleeping during sermon in the summer time.
Mrs. Butler, whom we must no longer, if we can help it, term by the
familiar name of Jeanie, brought into the married state the same firm
mind and affectionate disposition--the same natural and homely good
sense, and spirit of useful exertion--in a word, all the domestic good
qualities of which she had given proof during her maiden life. She did
not indeed rival Butler in learning; but then no woman more devoutly
venerated the extent of her husband's erudition. She did not pretend to
understand his expositions of divinity; but no minister of the Presbytery
had his humble dinner so well arranged, his clothes and linen in equal
good order, his fireside so neatly swept, his parlour so clean, and his
books so well dusted.
If he talked to Jeanie of what she did not understand--and (for the man
was mortal, and had been a schoolmaster) he sometimes did harangue more
scholarly and wisely than was necessary--she listened in placid silence;
and whenever the point referred to common life, and was such as came
under the grasp of a strong natural understanding, her views were more
forcible, and her observations more acute, than his own. In acquired
politeness of manners, when it happened that she mingled a little in
society, Mrs. Butler was, of course, judged deficient. But then she had
that obvious wish to oblige, and that real and natural good-breeding
depending on, good sense and good humour, which, joined to a considerable
degree of archness and liveliness of manner, rendered her behaviour
acceptable to all with whom she was called upon to associate.
Notwithstanding her strict attention to all domestic affairs, she always
appeared the clean well-dressed mistress of the house, never the sordid
household drudge. When complimented on this occasion by Duncan Knock, who
swore "that he thought the fairies must help her, since her house was
always clean, and nobody ever saw anybody sweeping it," she modestly
replied, "That much might be dune by timing ane's turns."
Duncan replied, "He heartily wished she could teach that art to the
huzzies at the Lodge, for he could never discover that the house was
washed at a', except now and then by breaking his shins over the pail--
Cot tamn the jauds!"
Of lesser matters there is not occasion to speak much. It may easily be
believed that the Duke's cheese was carefully made, and so graciously
accepted, that the offering became annual. Remembrances and
acknowledgments of past favours were sent to Mrs. Bickerton and Mrs.
Glass, and an amicable intercourse maintained from time to time with
these two respectable and benevolent persons.
It is especially necessary to mention that, in the course of five years,
Mrs. Butler had three children, two boys and a girl, all stout healthy
babes of grace, fair-haired, blue-eyed, and strong-limbed. The boys were
named David and Reuben, an order of nomenclature which was much to the
satisfaction of the old hero of the Covenant, and the girl, by her
mother's special desire, was christened Euphemia, rather contrary to the
wish both of her father and husband, who nevertheless loved Mrs. Butler
too well, and were too much indebted to her for their hours of happiness,
to withstand any request which she made with earnestness, and as a
gratification to herself. But from some feeling, I know not of what kind,
the child was never distinguished by the name of Effie, but by the
abbreviation of Femie, which in Scotland is equally commonly applied to
persons called Euphemia.
In this state of quiet and unostentatious enjoyment, there were, besides
the ordinary rubs and ruffles which disturb even the most uniform life,
two things which particularly chequered Mrs. Butler's happiness. "Without
these," she said to our informer, "her life would have been but too
happy; and perhaps," she added, "she had need of some crosses in this
world to remind her that there was a better to come behind it."
The first of these related to certain polemical skirmishes betwixt her
father and her husband, which, notwithstanding the mutual respect and
affection they entertained for each other, and their great love for
her--notwithstanding, also, their general agreement in strictness, and
even severity, of Presbyterian principle--often threatened unpleasant
weather between them. David Deans, as our readers must be aware, was
sufficiently opinionative and intractable, and having prevailed on
himself to become a member of a kirk-session under the Established
Church, he felt doubly obliged to evince that, in so doing, he had not
compromised any whit of his former professions, either in practice or
principle. Now Mr. Butler, doing all credit to his father-in-law's
motives, was frequently of opinion that it were better to drop out of
memory points of division and separation, and to act in the manner most
likely to attract and unite all parties who were serious in religion.
Moreover, he was not pleased, as a man and a scholar, to be always
dictated to by his unlettered father-in-law; and as a clergyman, he did
not think it fit to seem for ever under the thumb of an elder of his own
kirk-session. A proud but honest thought carried his opposition now and
then a little farther than it would otherwise have gone. "My brethren,"
he said, "will suppose I am flattering and conciliating the old man for
the sake of his succession, if I defer and give way to him on every
occasion; and, besides, there are many on which I neither can nor will
conscientiously yield to his notions. I cannot be persecuting old women
for witches, or ferreting out matter of scandal among the young ones,
which might otherwise have remained concealed."
From this difference of opinion it happened that, in many cases of
nicety, such as in owning certain defections, and failing to testify
against certain backslidings of the time, in not always severely tracing
forth little matters of scandal and _fama clamosa,_ which David called a
loosening of the reins of discipline, and in failing to demand clear
testimonies in other points of controversy which had, as it were, drifted
to leeward with the change of times, Butler incurred the censure of his
father-in-law; and sometimes the disputes betwixt them became eager and
almost unfriendly. In all such cases Mrs Butler was a mediating spirit,
who endeavoured, by the alkaline smoothness of her own disposition, to
neutralise the acidity of theological controversy. To the complaints of
both she lent an unprejudiced and attentive ear, and sought always rather
to excuse than absolutely to defend the other party.
She reminded her father that Butler had not "his experience of the auld
and wrastling times, when folk were gifted wi' a far look into eternity,
to make up for the oppressions whilk they suffered here below in time.
She freely allowed that many devout ministers and professors in times
past had enjoyed downright revelation, like the blessed Peden, and
Lundie, and Cameron, and Renwick, and John Caird the tinkler, wha entered
into the secrets, and Elizabeth Melvil, Lady Culross, wha prayed in her
bed, surrounded by a great many Christians in a large room, in whilk it
was placed on purpose, and that for three hours' time, with wonderful
assistance; and Lady Robertland, whilk got six sure outgates of grace,
and mony other in times past; and of a specially, Mr. John Scrimgeour,
minister of Kinghorn, who, having a beloved child sick to death of the
crewels, was free to expostulate with his Maker with such impatience of
displeasure, and complaining so bitterly, that at length it was said unto
him, that he was heard for this time, but that he was requested to use no
such boldness in time coming; so that when he returned he found the child
sitting up in the bed hale and fair, with all its wounds closed, and
supping its parritch, whilk babe he had left at the time of death. But
though these things might be true in these needful times, she contended
that those ministers who had not seen such vouchsafed and especial
mercies, were to seek their rule in the records of ancient times; and
therefore Reuben was carefu' both to search the Scriptures and the books
written by wise and good men of old; and sometimes in this way it wad
happen that twa precious saints might pu' sundry wise, like twa cows
riving at the same hayband."
To this David used to reply, with a sigh, "Ah, hinny, thou kenn'st little
o't; but that saam John Scrimgeour, that blew open the gates of heaven as
an it had been wi' a sax-pund cannonball, used devoutly to wish that most
part of books were burnt, except the Bible. Reuben's a gude lad and a
kind--I have aye allowed that; but as to his not allowing inquiry anent
the scandal of Marjory Kittlesides and Rory MacRand, under pretence that
they have southered sin wi' marriage, it's clear agane the Christian
discipline o' the kirk. And then there's Aily MacClure of Deepheugh, that
practises her abominations, spacing folks' fortunes wi' egg-shells, and
mutton-banes, and dreams and divinations, whilk is a scandal to ony
Christian land to suffer sic a wretch to live; and I'll uphaud that, in
a' judicatures, civil or ecclesiastical."
"I daresay ye are very right, father," was the general style of Jeanie's
answer; "but ye maun come down to the Manse to your dinner the day. The
bits o' bairns, puir things, are wearying to see their luckie dad; and
Reuben never sleeps weel, nor I neither, when you and he hae had ony bit
"Nae outcast, Jeanie; God forbid I suld cast out wi' thee, or aught that
is dear to thee!" And he put on his Sundays coat, and came to the Manse
With her husband, Mrs. Butler had a more direct conciliatory process.
Reuben had the utmost respect for the old man's motives, and affection
for his person, as well as gratitude for his early friendship. So that,
upon any such occasion of accidental irritation, it was only necessary to
remind him with delicacy of his father-in-law's age, of his scanty
education, strong prejudices, and family distresses. The least of these
considerations always inclined Butler to measures of conciliation, in so
far as he could accede to them without compromising principle; and thus
our simple and unpretending heroine had the merit of those peacemakers,
to whom it is pronounced as a benediction, that they shall inherit the
The second crook in Mrs. Butler's lot, to use the language of her father,
was the distressing circumstance, that she had never heard of her
sister's safety, or of the circumstances in which she found herself,
though betwixt four and five years had elapsed since they had parted on
the beach of the island of Roseneath. Frequent intercourse was not to be
expected--not to be desired, perhaps, in their relative situations; but
Effie had promised, that, if she lived and prospered, her sister should
hear from her. She must then be no more, or sunk into some abyss of
misery, since she had never redeemed her pledge. Her silence seemed
strange and portentous, and wrung from Jeanie, who could never forget the
early years of their intimacy, the most painful anticipation concerning
her fate. At length, however, the veil was drawn aside.
One day, as the Captain of Knockdunder had called in at the Manse, on his
return from some business in the Highland part of the parish, and had
been accommodated, according to his special request, with a mixture of
milk, brandy, honey, and water, which he said Mrs. Butler compounded
"potter than ever a woman in Scotland,"--for, in all innocent matters,
she studied the taste of every one around her,--he said to Butler, "Py
the py, minister, I have a letter here either for your canny pody of a
wife or you, which I got when I was last at Glasco; the postage comes to
fourpence, which you may either pay me forthwith, or give me tooble or
quits in a hit at packcammon."
The playing at backgammon and draughts had been a frequent amusement of
Mr. Whackbairn, Butler's principal, when at Liberton school. The
minister, therefore, still piqued himself on his skill at both games, and
occasionally practised them, as strictly canonical, although David Deans,
whose notions of every kind were more rigorous, used to shake his head,
and groan grievously, when he espied the tables lying in the parlour, or
the children playing with the dice boxes or backgammon men. Indeed, Mrs.
Butler was sometimes chidden for removing these implements of pastime
into some closet or corner out of sight. "Let them be where they are,
Jeanie," would Butler say upon such occasions; "I am not conscious of
following this, or any other trifling relaxation, to the interruption of
my more serious studies, and still more serious duties. I will not,
therefore, have it supposed that I am indulging by stealth, and against
my conscience, in an amusement which, using it so little as I do, I may
well practise openly, and without any check of mind--_Nil conscire sibi,_
Jeanie, that is my motto; which signifies, my love, the honest and open
confidence which a man ought to entertain when he is acting openly, and
without any sense of doing wrong."
Such being Butler's humour, he accepted the Captain's defiance to a
twopenny hit at backgammon, and handed the letter to his wife, observing
the post-mark was York, but, if it came from her friend Mrs. Bickerton,
she had considerably improved her handwriting, which was uncommon at her
Leaving the gentlemen to their game, Mrs. Butler went to order something
for supper, for Captain Duncan had proposed kindly to stay the night with
them, and then carelessly broke open her letter. It was not from Mrs.
Bickerton; and, after glancing over the first few lines, she soon found
it necessary to retire to her own bedroom, to read the document at
Happy thou art! then happy be,
Nor envy me my lot;
Thy happy state I envy thee,
And peaceful cot.
Lady Charlotte Campbell.
The letter, which Mrs. Butler, when retired into her own apartment,
perused with anxious wonder, was certainly from Effie, although it had no
other signature than the letter E.; and although the orthography, style,
and penmanship, were very far superior not only to anything which Effie
could produce, who, though a lively girl, had been a remarkably careless
scholar, but even to her more considerate sister's own powers of
composition and expression. The manuscript was a fair Italian hand,
though something stiff and constrained--the spelling and the diction that
of a person who had been accustomed to read good composition, and mix in
The tenor of the letter was as follows:--
"My Dearest Sister,--At many risks I venture to write to you, to inform
you that I am still alive, and, as to worldly situation, that I rank
higher than I could expect or merit. If wealth, and distinction, and an
honourable rank, could make a woman happy, I have them all; but you,
Jeanie, whom the world might think placed far beneath me in all these
respects, are far happier than I am. I have had means of hearing of your
welfare, my dearest Jeanie, from time to time--I think I should have
broken my heart otherwise. I have learned with great pleasure of your
increasing family. We have not been worthy of such a blessing; two
infants have been successively removed, and we are now childless--God's
will be done! But, if we had a child, it would perhaps divert him from
the gloomy thoughts which make him terrible to himself and others. Yet do
not let me frighten you, Jeanie; he continues to be kind, and I am far
better off than I deserve. You will wonder at my better scholarship; but
when I was abroad, I had the best teachers, and I worked hard, because my
progress pleased him. He is kind, Jeanie, only he has much to distress
him, especially when he looks backward. When I look backward myself, I
have always a ray of comfort: it is in the generous conduct of a sister,
who forsook me not when I was forsaken by every one. You have had your
reward. You live happy in the esteem and love of all who know you, and I
drag on the life of a miserable impostor, indebted for the marks of
regard I receive to a tissue of deceit and lies, which the slightest
accident may unravel. He has produced me to his friends, since the estate
opened to him, as a daughter of a Scotchman of rank, banished on account
of the Viscount of Dundee's wars--that is, our Fr's old friend Clavers,
you know--and he says I was educated in a Scotch convent; indeed, I lived
in such a place long enough to enable me to support the character. But
when a countryman approaches me, and begins to talk, as they all do, of
the various families engaged in Dundee's affair, and to make inquiries
into my connections, and when I see his eye bent on mine with such an
expression of agony, my terror brings me to the very risk of detection.
Good-nature and politeness have hitherto saved me, as they prevented
people from pressing on me with distressing questions. But how long--O
how long, will this be the case!--And if I bring this disgrace on him, he
will hate me--he will kill me, for as much as he loves me; he is as
jealous of his family honour now, as ever he was careless about it. I
have been in England four months, and have often thought of writing to
you; and yet, such are the dangers that might arise from an intercepted
letter, that I have hitherto forborne. But now I am obliged to run the
risk. Last week I saw your great friend, the D. of A. He came to my box,
and sate by me; and something in the play put him in mind of
you--Gracious Heaven! he told over your whole London journey to all who
were in the box, but particularly to the wretched creature who was the
occasion of it all. If he had known--if he could have conceived, beside
whom he was sitting, and to whom the story was told!--I suffered with
courage, like an Indian at the stake, while they are rending his fibres
and boring his eyes, and while he smiles applause at each well-imagined
contrivance of his torturers. It was too much for me at last, Jeanie--I
fainted; and my agony was imputed partly to the heat of the place, and
partly to my extreme sensibility; and, hypocrite all over, I encouraged
both opinions--anything but discovery! Luckily, _he_ was not there. But
the incident has more alarms. I am obliged to meet your great man often;
and he seldom sees me without talking of E. D. and J. D., and R. B. and
D. D., as persons in whom my amiable sensibility is interested. My
amiable sensibility!!!--And then the cruel tone of light indifference
with which persons in the fashionable world speak together on the most
affecting subjects! To hear my guilt, my folly, my agony, the foibles and
weaknesses of my friends--even your heroic exertions, Jeanie, spoken of
in the drolling style which is the present tone in fashionable
life--Scarce all that I formerly endured is equal to this state of
irritation--then it was blows and stabs--now it is pricking to death
with needles and pins.--He--I mean the D.--goes down next month to spend
the shooting-season in Scotland--he says, he makes a point of always
dining one day at the Manse--be on your guard, and do not betray
yourself, should he mention me--Yourself, alas! _you_ have nothing to
betray--nothing to fear; you, the pure, the virtuous, the heroine of
unstained faith, unblemished purity, what can you have to fear from the
world or its proudest minions? It is E. whose life is once more in your
hands--it is E. whom you are to save from being plucked of her borrowed
plumes, discovered, branded, and trodden down, first by him, perhaps,
who has raised her to this dizzy pinnacle!--The enclosure will reach you
twice a-year--do not refuse it--it is out of my own allowance, and may
be twice as much when you want it. With you it may do good--with me it
"Write to me soon, Jeanie, or I shall remain in the agonising
apprehension that this has fallen into wrong hands--Address simply to L.
S., under cover, to the Reverend George Whiterose, in the Minster-Close,
York. He thinks I correspond with some of my noble Jacobite relations who
are in Scotland. How high-church and jacobitical zeal would burn in his
checks, if he knew he was the agent, not of Euphemia Setoun, of the
honourable house of Winton, but of E. D., daughter of a Cameronian
cowfeeder!--Jeanie, I can laugh yet sometimes--but God protect you from
such mirth.--My father--I mean your father, would say it was like the
idle crackling of thorns; but the thorns keep their poignancy, they
remain unconsumed. Farewell, my dearest Jeanie--Do not show this even to
Mr. Butler, much less to any one else. I have every respect for him, but
his principles are over strict, and my case will not endure severe
handling.--I rest your affectionate sister, E."
In this long letter there was much to surprise as well as to distress
Mrs. Butler. That Effie--her sister Effie, should be mingling freely in
society, and apparently on not unequal terms, with the Duke of Argyle,
sounded like something so extraordinary, that she even doubted if she
read truly. Not was it less marvellous, that, in the space of four years,
her education should have made such progress. Jeanie's humility readily
allowed that Effie had always, when she chose it, been smarter at her
book than she herself was, but then she was very idle, and, upon the
whole, had made much less proficiency. Love, or fear, or necessity,
however, had proved an able school-mistress, and completely supplied all
What Jeanie least liked in the tone of the letter, was a smothered degree
of egotism. "We should have heard little about her," said Jeanie to
herself, "but that she was feared the Duke might come to learn wha she
was, and a' about her puir friends here; but Effie, puir thing, aye looks
her ain way, and folk that do that think mair o' themselves than of their
neighbours.--I am no clear about keeping her siller," she added, taking
up a L50 note which had fallen out of the paper to the floor. "We hae
eneugh, and it looks unco like theftboot, or hushmoney, as they ca' it;
she might hae been sure that I wad say naething wad harm her, for a' the
gowd in Lunnon. And I maun tell the minister about it. I dinna see that
she suld be sae feared for her ain bonny bargain o' a gudeman, and that I
shouldna reverence Mr. Butler just as much; and sae I'll e'en tell him,
when that tippling body the Captain has ta'en boat in the morning.--But I
wonder at my ain state of mind," she added, turning back, after she had
made a step or two to the door to join the gentlemen; "surely I am no sic
a fule as to be angry that Effie's a braw lady, while I am only a
minister's wife?--and yet I am as petted as a bairn, when I should bless
God, that has redeemed her from shame, and poverty, and guilt, as ower
likely she might hae been plunged into."
Sitting down upon a stool at the foot of the bed, she folded her arms
upon her bosom, saying within herself, "From this place will I not rise
till I am in a better frame of mind;" and so placed, by dint of tearing
the veil from the motives of her little temporary spleen against her
sister, she compelled herself to be ashamed of them, and to view as
blessings the advantages of her sister's lot, while its embarrassments
were the necessary consequences of errors long since committed. And thus
she fairly vanquished the feeling of pique which she naturally enough
entertained, at seeing Effie, so long the object of her care and her
pity, soar suddenly so high above her in life, as to reckon amongst the
chief objects of her apprehension the risk of their relationship being
When this unwonted burst of _amour propre_ was thoroughly subdued, she
walked down to the little parlour where the gentlemen were finishing
their game, and heard from the Captain a confirmation of the news
intimated in her letter, that the Duke of Argyle was shortly expected at
"He'll find plenty of moor-fowls and plack-cock on the moors of
Auchingower, and he'll pe nae doubt for taking a late dinner, and a ped
at the Manse, as he has done pefore now."
"He has a gude right, Captain," said Jeanie.
"Teil ane potter to ony ped in the kintra," answered the Captain. "And ye
had potter tell your father, puir body, to get his beasts a' in order,
and put his tamn'd Cameronian nonsense out o' his head for twa or three
days, if he can pe so opliging; for fan I speak to him apout prute
pestil, he answers me out o' the Pible, whilk is not using a shentleman
weel, unless it be a person of your cloth, Mr. Putler."
No one understood better than Jeanie the merit of the soft answer, which
turneth away wrath; and she only smiled, and hoped that his Grace would
find everything that was under her father's care to his entire
But the Captain, who had lost the whole postage of the letter at
backgammon, was in the pouting mood not unusual to losers, and which,
says the proverb, must be allowed to them.
"And, Master Putler, though you know I never meddle with the things of
your kirk-sessions, yet I must pe allowed to say that I will not be
pleased to allow Ailie MacClure of Deepheugh to be poonished as a witch,
in respect she only spaes fortunes, and does not lame, or plind, or
pedevil any persons, or coup cadger's carts, or ony sort of mischief; put
only tells people good fortunes, as anent our poats killing so many seals
and doug-fishes, whilk is very pleasant to hear."
"The woman," said Butler, "is, I believe, no witch, but a cheat: and it
is only on that head that she is summoned to the kirk-session, to cause
her to desist in future from practising her impostures upon ignorant
"I do not know," replied the gracious Duncan, "what her practices or
postures are, but I pelieve that if the poys take hould on her to duck
her in the Clachan purn, it will be a very sorry practice--and I pelieve,
moreover, that if I come in thirdsman among you at the kirk-sessions, you
will be all in a tamn'd pad posture indeed."
Without noticing this threat, Mr. Butler replied, "That he had not
attended to the risk of ill-usage which the poor woman might undergo at
the hands of the rabble, and that he would give her the necessary
admonition in private, instead of bringing her before the assembled
"This," Duncan said, "was speaking like a reasonable shentleman;" and so
the evening passed peaceably off.
Next morning, after the Captain had swallowed his morning draught of
Athole brose, and departed in his coach and six, Mrs. Butler anew
deliberated upon communicating to her husband her sister's letter. But
she was deterred by the recollection, that, in doing so, she would unveil
to him the whole of a dreadful secret, of which, perhaps, his public
character might render him an unfit depositary. Butler already had reason
to believe that Effie had eloped with that same Robertson who had been a
leader in the Porteous mob, and who lay under sentence of death for the
robbery at Kirkcaldy. But he did not know his identity with George
Staunton, a man of birth and fortune, who had now apparently reassumed
his natural rank in society. Jeanie had respected Staunton's own
confession as sacred, and upon reflection she considered the letter of
her sisteras equally so, and resolved to mention the contents to no one.
On reperusing the letter, she could not help observing the staggering and
unsatisfactory condition of those who have risen to distinction by undue
paths, and the outworks and bulwarks of fiction and falsehood, by which
they are under the necessity of surrounding and defending their
precarious advantages. But she was not called upon, she thought, to
unveil her sister's original history--it would restore no right to any
one, for she was usurping none--it would only destroy her happiness, and
degrade her in the public estimation. Had she been wise, Jeanie thought
she would have chosen seclusion and privacy, in place of public life and
gaiety; but the power of choice might not be hers. The money, she
thought, could not be returned without her seeming haughty and unkind.
She resolved, therefore, upon reconsidering this point, to employ it as
occasion should serve, either in educating her children better than her
own means could compass, or for their future portion. Her sister had
enough, was strongly bound to assist Jeanie by any means in her power,
and the arrangement was so natural and proper, that it ought not to be
declined out of fastidious or romantic delicacy. Jeanie accordingly wrote
to her sister, acknowledging her letter, and requesting to hear from her
as often as she could. In entering into her own little details of news,
chiefly respecting domestic affairs, she experienced a singular
vacillation of ideas; for sometimes she apologised for mentioning things
unworthy the notice of a lady of rank, and then recollected that
everything which concerned her should be interesting to Effie. Her
letter, under the cover of Mr. Whiterose, she committed to the
post-office at Glasgow, by the intervention of a parishioner who had
business at that city.
The next week brought the Duke to Roseneath, and shortly afterwards he
intimated his intention of sporting in their neighbourhood, and taking
his bed at the Manse; an honour which he had once or twice done to its
inmates on former occasions.
Effie proved to be perfectly right in her auticipations. The Duke had
hardly set himself down at Mrs. Butler's right hand, and taken upon
himself the task of carving the excellent "barn-door chucky," which had
been selected as the high dishes upon this honourable occasion, before he
began to speak of Lady Staunton of Willingham, in Lincolnshire, and the
great noise which her wit and beauty made in London. For much of this
Jeanie was, in some measure, prepared--but Effie's wit! that would never
have entered into her imagination, being ignorant how exactly raillery in
the higher rank resembles flippancy among their inferiors.
"She has been the ruling belle--the blazing star--the universal toast of
the winter," said the Duke; "and is really the most beautiful creature
that was seen at court upon the birth-day."
The birthday! and at court!--Jeanie was annihilated, remembering well her
own presentation, all its extraordinary circumstances, and particularly
the cause of it.
"I mention this lady particularly to you, Mrs. Butler," said the Duke,
"because she has something in the sound of her voice, and cast of her
countenance, that reminded me of you--not when you look so pale
though--you have over-fatigued yourself--you must pledge me in a glass
She did so, and Butler observed, "It was dangerous flattery in his Grace
to tell a poor minister's wife that she was like a court-beauty."
"Oho, Mr. Butler," said the Duke, "I find you are growing jealous; but
it's rather too late in the day, for you know how long I have admired
your wife. But seriously, there is betwixt them one of those inexplicable
likenesses which we see in countenances, that do not otherwise resemble
"The perilous part of the compliment has flown off," thought Mr. Butler.
His wife, feeling the awkwardness of silence, forced herself to say,
"That, perhaps, the lady might be her countrywoman, and the language
might have made some resemblance."
"You are quite right," replied the Duke. "She is a Scotch-woman, and
speaks with a Scotch accent, and now and then a provincial word drops out
so prettily, that it is quite Doric, Mr. Butler."
"I should have thought," said the clergyman, "that would have sounded
vulgar in the great city."
"Not at all," replied the Duke; "you must suppose it is not the broad
coarse Scotch that is spoken in the Cowgate of Edinburgh, or in the
Gorbals. This lady has been very little in Scotland, in fact she was
educated in a convent abroad, and speaks that pure court-Scotch, which
was common in my younger days; but it is so generally disused now, that
it sounds like a different dialect, entirely distinct from our modern
Notwithstanding her anxiety, Jeanie could not help admiring within
herself, how the most correct judges of life and manners can be imposed
on by their own preconceptions, while the Duke proceeded thus: "She is of
the unfortunate house of Winton, I believe; but, being bred abroad, she
had missed the opportunity of learning her own pedigree, and was obliged
to me for informing her, that she must certainly come of the Setons of
Windygoul. I wish you could have seen how prettily she blushed at her own
ignorance. Amidst her noble and elegant manners, there is now and then a
little touch of bashfulness and conventual rusticity, if I may call it
so, that makes her quite enchanting. You see at once the rose that had
bloomed untouched amid the chaste precincts of the cloister, Mr. Butler."
True to the hint, Mr. Butler failed not to start with his
"Ut flos in septis secretus nascitur hortis," etc.,
while his wife could hardly persuade herself that all this was spoken of
Effie Deans, and by so competent a judge as the Duke of Argyle; and had
she been acquainted with Catullus, would have thought the fortunes of her
sister had reversed the whole passage.
She was, however, determined to obtain some indemnification for the
anxious feelings of the moment, by gaining all the intelligence she
could; and therefore ventured to make some inquiry about the husband of
the lady his Grace admired so much.
"He is very rich," replied the Duke; "of an ancient family, and has good
manners: but he is far from being such a general favourite as his wife.
Some people say he can be very pleasant--I never saw him so; but should
rather judge him reserved, and gloomy, and capricious. He was very wild
in his youth, they say, and has bad health; yet he is a good-looking man
enough--a great friend of your Lord High Commissioner of the Kirk, Mr.
"Then he is the friend of a very worthy and honourable nobleman," said
"Does he admire his lady as much as other people do?" said Jeanie, in a
"Who--Sir George? They say he is very fond of her," said the Duke; "but I
observe she trembles a little when he fixes his eye on her, and that is
no good sign--But it is strange how I am haunted by this resemblance of
yours to Lady Staunton, in look and tone of voice. One would almost swear
you were sisters."
Jeanie's distress became uncontrollable, and beyond concealment. The Duke
of Argyle was much disturbed, good-naturedly ascribing it to his having
unwittingly recalled, to her remembrance her family misfortunes. He was
too well-bred to attempt to apologise; but hastened to change the
subject, and arrange certain points of dispute which had occurred betwixt
Duncan of Knock and the minister, acknowledging that his worthy
substitute was sometimes a little too obstinate, as well as too
energetic, in his executive measures.
Mr. Butler admitted his general merits; but said, "He would presume to
apply to the worthy gentleman the words of the poet to Marrucinus
Non belle uteris in joco atque vino."
The discourse being thus turned on parish business, nothing farther
occurred that can interest the reader.
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench'd by an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding.
After this period, but under the most strict precautions against
discovery, the sisters corresponded occasionally, exchanging letters
about twice every year. Those of Lady Staunton spoke of her husband's
health and spirits as being deplorably uncertain; her own seemed also to
be sinking, and one of the topics on which she most frequently dwelt was
their want of family. Sir George Staunton, always violent, had taken some
aversion at the next heir, whom he suspected of having irritated his
friends against him during his absence; and he declared, he would
bequeath Willingham and all its lands to an hospital, ere that
fetch-and-carry tell-tale should inherit an acre of it.
"Had he but a child," said the unfortunate wife, "or had that luckless
infant survived, it would be some motive for living and for exertion. But
Heaven has denied us a blessing which we have not deserved."
Such complaints, in varied form, but turning frequently on the same
topic, filled the letters which passed from the spacious but melancholy
halls of Willingham, to the quiet and happy parsonage at Knocktarlitie.
Years meanwhile rolled on amid these fruitless repinings. John, Duke of
Argyle and Greenwich, died in the year 1743, universally lamented, but by
none more than by the Butlers, to whom his benevolence had been so
distinguished. He was succeeded by his brother Duke Archibald, with whom
they had not the same intimacy; but who continued the protection which
his brother had extended towards them. This, indeed, became more
necessary than ever; for, after the breaking out and suppression of the
rebellion in 1745, the peace of the country, adjacent to the Highlands,
was considerably disturbed. Marauders, or men that had been driven to
that desperate mode of life, quartered themselves in the fastnesses
nearest to the Lowlands, which were their scene of plunder; and there is
scarce a glen in the romantic and now peaceable Highlands of Perth,
Stirling, and Dumbartonshire, where one or more did not take up their
The prime pest of the parish of Knocktarlitie was a certain Donacha dhu
na Dunaigh, or Black Duncan the Mischievous, whom we have already
casually mentioned. This fellow had been originally a tinkler, or
_caird,_ many of whom stroll about these districts; but when all police
was disorganised by the civil war, he threw up his profession, and from
half thief became whole robber; and being generally at the head of three
or four active young fellows, and he himself artful, bold, and well
acquainted with the passes, he plied his new profession with emolument to
himself, and infinite plague to the country.
All were convinced that Duncan of Knock could have put down his namesake
Donacha any morning he had a mind; for there were in the parish a set of
stout young men, who had joined Argyle's banner in the war under his old
friend, and behaved very well on several occasions. And as for their
leader, as no one doubted his courage, it was generally supposed that
Donacha had found out the mode of conciliating his favour, a thing not
very uncommon in that age and country. This was the more readily
believed, as David Deans's cattle (being the property of the Duke) were
left untouched, when the minister's cows were carried off by the thieves.
Another attempt was made to renew the same act of rapine, and the cattle
were in the act of being driven off, when Butler, laying his profession
aside in a case of such necessity, put himself at the head of some of his
neighbours, and rescued the creagh, an exploit at which Deans attended in
person, notwithstanding his extreme old age, mounted on a Highland pony,
and girded with an old broadsword, likening himself (for he failed not to
arrogate the whole merit of the expedition) to David, the son of Jesse,
when he recovered the spoil of Ziklag from the Amalekites. This spirited
behaviour had so far a good effect, that Donacha dhu na Dunaigh kept his
distance for some time to come; and, though his distant exploits were
frequently spoken of, he did not exercise any depredations in that part
of the country. He continued to flourish, and to be heard of
occasionally, until the year 1751, when, if the fear of the second David
had kept him in check, fate released him from that restraint, for the
venerable patriarch of St. Leonard's was that year gathered to his
David Deans died full of years and of honour. He is believed, for the
exact time of his birth is not known, to have lived upwards of ninety
years; for he used to speak of events as falling under his own knowledge,
which happened about the time of the battle of Bothwell Bridge. It was
said that he even bore arms there; for once, when a drunken Jacobite
laird wished for a Bothwell Brigg whig, that "he might stow the lugs out
of his head," David informed him with a peculiar austerity of
countenance, that, if he liked to try such a prank, there was one at his
elbow; and it required the interference of Butler to preserve the peace.
He expired in the arms of his beloved daughter, thankful for all the
blessings which Providence had vouchsafed to him while in this valley of
strife and toil--and thankful also for the trials he had been visited
with; having found them, he said, needful to mortify that spiritual pride
and confidence in his own gifts, which was the side on which the wily
Enemy did most sorely beset him. He prayed in the most affecting manner
for Jeanie, her husband, and her family, and that her affectionate duty
to the puir auld man might purchase her length of days here, and
happiness hereafter; then, in a pathetic petition, too well understood by
those who knew his family circumstances, he besought the Shepherd of
souls, while gathering his flock, not to forget the little one that had
strayed from the fold, and even then might be in the hands of the
ravening wolf.--He prayed for the national Jerusalem, that peace might be
in her land, and prosperity in her palaces--for the welfare of the
honourable House of Argyle, and for the conversion of Duncan of
Knockdunder. After this he was silent, being exhausted, nor did he again
utter anything distinctly. He was heard, indeed, to mutter something
about national defections, right-hand extremes, and left-hand failings
off; but, as May Hettly observed, his head was carried at the time; and
it is probable that these expressions occurred to him merely out of
general habit, and that he died in the full spirit of charity with all
men. About an hour afterwards he slept in the Lord.
Notwithstanding her father's advanced age, his death was a severe shock
to Mrs. Butler. Much of her time had been dedicated to attending to his
health and his wishes, and she felt as if part of her business in the
world was ended, when the good old man was no more. His wealth, which
came nearly to fifteen hundred pounds, in disposable capital, served to
raise the fortunes of the family at the Manse. How to dispose of this sum
for the best advantage of his family, was matter of anxious consideration
to Butler. "If we put it on heritable bond, we shall maybe lose the
interest; for there's that bond over Lounsbeck's land, your father could
neither get principal nor interest for it--If we bring it into the funds,
we shall maybe lose the principal and all, as many did in the South Sea
scheme. The little estate of Craigsture is in the market--it lies within
two miles of the Manse, and Knock says his Grace has no thought to buy
it. But they ask L2500, and they may, for it is worth the money; and were
I to borrow the balance, the creditor might call it up suddenly, or in
case of my death my family might be distressed."
"And so if we had mair siller, we might buy that bonny pasture-ground,
where the grass comes so early?" asked Jeanie.
"Certainly, my dear; and Knockdunder, who is a good judge, is strongly
advising me to it. To be sure it is his nephew that is selling it."
"Aweel, Reuben," said Jeanie, "ye maun just look up a text in Scripture,
as ye did when ye wanted siller before--just look up a text in the
"Ah, Jeanie," said Butler, laughing and pressing her hand at the same
time, "the best people in these times can only work miracles once."
"We will see," said Jeanie composedly; and going to the closet in which
she kept her honey, her sugar, her pots of jelly, her vials of the more
ordinary medicines, and which served her, in short, as a sort of
store-room, she jangled vials and gallipots, till, from out the darkest
nook, well flanked by a triple row of bottles and jars, which she was
under the necessity of displacing, she brought a cracked brown cann, with
a piece of leather tied over the top. Its contents seemed to be written
papers, thrust in disorder into this uncommon _secre'taire._ But from
among these Jeanie brought an old clasped Bible, which had been David
Deans's companion in his earlier wanderings, and which he had given to
his daughter when the failure of his eyes had compelled him to use one of
a larger print. This she gave to Butler, who had been looking at her
motions with some surprise, and desired him to see what that book could
do for him. He opened the clasps, and to his astonishment a parcel of L50
bank-notes dropped out from betwixt the leaves, where they had been
separately lodged, and fluttered upon the floor. "I didna think to hae
tauld you o' my wealth, Reuben," said his wife, smiling at his surprise,
"till on my deathbed, or maybe on some family pinch; but it wad be better
laid out on yon bonny grass-holms, than lying useless here in this auld
"How on earth came ye by that siller, Jeanie?--Why, here is more than a
thousand pounds," said Butler, lifting up and counting the notes.
"If it were ten thousand, it's a' honestly come by," said Jeanie; "and
troth I kenna how muckle there is o't, but it's a' there that ever I
got.--And as for how I came by it, Reuben--it's weel come by, and
honestly, as I said before--And it's mair folk's secret than mine, or ye
wad hae kend about it lang syne; and as for onything else, I am not free
to answer mair questions about it, and ye maun just ask me nane."
"Answer me but one," said Butler. "Is it all freely and indisputably your
own property, to dispose of it as you think fit?--Is it possible no one
has a claim in so large a sum except you?"
"It _was_ mine, free to dispose of it as I like," answered Jeanie; "and I
have disposed of it already, for now it is yours, Reuben--You are Bible
Butler now, as well as your forbear, that my puir father had sic an ill
will at. Only, if ye like, I wad wish Femie to get a gude share o't when
we are gane."
"Certainly, it shall be as you choose--But who on earth ever pitched on
such a hiding-place for temporal treasures?"
"That is just ane o' my auld-fashioned gates, as you ca' them, Reuben. I
thought if Donacha Dhu was to make an outbreak upon us, the Bible was the
last thing in the house he wad meddle wi'--but an ony mair siller should
drap in, as it is not unlikely, I shall e'en pay it ower to you, and ye
may lay it out your ain way."
"And I positively must not ask you how you have come by all this money?"
said the clergyman.
"Indeed, Reuben, you must not; for if you were asking me very sair I wad
maybe tell you, and then I am sure I would do wrong."
"But tell me," said Butler, "is it anything that distresses your own
"There is baith weal and woe come aye wi' world's gear, Reuben; but ye
maun ask me naething mair--This siller binds me to naething, and can
never be speered back again."
"Surely," said Mr. Butler, when he had again counted over the money, as
if to assure himself that the notes were real, "there was never man in
the world had a wife like mine--a blessing seems to follow her."
"Never," said Jeanie, "since the enchanted princess in the bairn's fairy
tale, that kamed gold nobles out o' the tae side of her haffit locks, and
Dutch dollars out o' the tother. But gang away now, minister, and put by
the siller, and dinna keep the notes wampishing in your hand that gate,
or I shall wish them in the brown pigg again, for fear we get a black
cast about them--we're ower near the hills in these times to be thought
to hae siller in the house. And, besides, ye maun gree wi' Knockdunder,
that has the selling o' the lands; and dinna you be simple and let him
ken o' this windfa', but keep him to the very lowest penny, as if ye had
to borrow siller to make the price up."
In the last admonition, Jeanie showed distinctly, that, although she did
not understand how to secure the money which came into her hands
otherwise than by saving and hoarding it, yet she had some part of her
father David's shrewdness, even upon worldly subjects. And Reuben Butler
was a prudent man, and went and did even as his wife had advised him. The
news quickly went abroad into the parish that the minister had bought
Craigsture; and some wished him joy, and some "were sorry it had gane out
of the auld name." However, his clerical brethren, understanding that he
was under the necessity of going to Edinburgh about the ensuing
Whitsunday, to get together David Deans's cash to make up the
purchase-money of his new acquisition, took the opportunity to name him
their delegate to the General Assembly, or Convocation of the Scottish
Church, which takes place usually in the latter end of the month of May.
But who is this? what thing of sea or land--
Female of sex it seems--
That so bedeck'd, ornate, and gay,
Comes this way sailing?
Not long after the incident of the Bible and the bank-notes, Fortune
showed that she could surprise Mrs Butler as well as her husband. The
Minister, in order to accomplish the various pieces of business which his
unwonted visit to Edinburgh rendered necessary, had been under the
necessity of setting out from home in the latter end of the month of
February, concluding justly that he would find the space betwixt his
departure and the term of Whitsunday (24th May) short enough for the
purpose of bringing forward those various debtors of old David Deans, out
of whose purses a considerable part of the price of his new purchase was
to be made good.
Jeanie was thus in the unwonted situation of inhabiting a lonely house,
and she felt yet more solitary from the death of the good old man who
used to divide her cares with her husband. Her children were her
principal resource, and to them she paid constant attention.
It happened a day or two after Butler's departure that, while she was
engaged in some domestic duties, she heard a dispute among the young
folk, which, being maintained with obstinacy, appeared to call for her
interference. All came to their natural umpire with their complaints.
Femie, not yet ten years old, charged Davie and Reubie with an attempt to
take away her book by force; and David and Reuben replied, the elder,
"That it was not a book for Femie to read," and Reuben, "That it was
about a bad woman."
"Where did you get the book, ye little hempie?" said Mrs. Butler. "How
dare ye touch papa's books when he is away?" But the little lady, holding
fast a sheet of crumpled paper, declared "It was nane o' papa's books,
and May Hettly had taken it off the muckle cheese which came from
Inverara;" for, as was very natural to suppose, a friendly intercourse,
with interchange of mutual civilities, was kept up from time to time
between Mrs. Dolly Dutton, now Mrs. MacCorkindale, and her former
Jeanie took the subject of contention out of the child's hand, to satisfy
herself of the propriety of her studies; but how much was she struck when
she read upon the title of the broadside-sheet, "The Last Speech,
Confession, and Dying Words of Margaret MacCraw, or Murdockson, executed
on Harabee Hill, near Carlisle, the day of 1737." It was, indeed, one
of those papers which Archibald had bought at Longtown, when he
monopolised the pedlar's stock, which Dolly had thrust into her trunk out
of sheer economy. One or two copies, it seems, had remained in her
repositories at Inverary, till she chanced to need them in packing a
cheese, which, as a very superior production, was sent, in the way of
civil challenge, to the dairy at Knocktarlitie.
The title of this paper, so strangely fallen into the very hands from
which, in well-meant respect to her feelings, it had been so long
detained, was of itself sufficiently startling; but the narrative itself
was so interesting, that Jeanie, shaking herself loose from the children,
ran upstairs to her own apartment, and bolted the door, to peruse it
The narrative, which appeared to have been drawn up, or at least
corrected, by the clergyman who attended this unhappy woman, stated the
crime for which she suffered to have been "her active part in that
atrocious robbery and murder, committed near two years since near
Haltwhistle, for which the notorious Frank Levitt was committed for trial
at Lancaster assizes. It was supposed the evidence of the accomplice
Thomas Tuck, commonly called Tyburn Tom, upon which the woman had been
convicted, would weigh equally heavy against him; although many were
inclined to think it was Tuck himself who had struck the fatal blow,
according to the dying statement of Meg Murdockson."
After a circumstantial account of the crime for which she suffered, there
was a brief sketch of Margaret's life. It was stated that she was a
Scotchwoman by birth, and married a soldier in the Cameronian
regiment--that she long followed the camp, and had doubtless acquired in
fields of battle, and similar scenes, that ferocity and love of plunder
for which she had been afterwards distinguished--that her husband,
having obtained his discharge, became servant to a beneficed clergyman
of high situation and character in Lincolnshire, and that she acquired
the confidence and esteem of that honourable family. She had lost this
many years after her husband's death, it was stated, in consequence of
conniving at the irregularities of her daughter with the heir of the
family, added to the suspicious circumstances attending the birth of a
child, which was strongly suspected to have met with foul play, in order
to preserve, if possible, the girl's reputation. After this she had led
a wandering life both in England and Scotland, under colour sometimes of
telling fortunes, sometimes of driving a trade in smuggled wares, but,
in fact, receiving stolen goods, and occasionally actively joining in
the exploits by which they were obtained. Many of her crimes she had
boasted of after conviction, and there was one circumstance for which
she seemed to feel a mixture of joy and occasional compunction. When she
was residing in the suburbs of Edinburgh during the preceding summer, a
girl, who had been seduced by one of her confederates, was intrusted to
her charge, and in her house delivered of a male infant. Her daughter,
whose mind was in a state of derangement ever since she had lost her own
child, according to the criminal's account, carried off the poor girl's
infant, taking it for her own, of the reality of whose death she at
times could not be persuaded.
Margaret Murdockson stated that she, for some time, believed her daughter
had actually destroyed the infant in her mad fits, and that she gave the
father to understand so, but afterwards learned that a female stroller
had got it from her. She showed some compunction at having separated
mother and child, especially as the mother had nearly suffered death,
being condemned, on the Scotch law, for the supposed murder of her
infant. When it was asked what possible interest she could have had in
exposing the unfortunate girl to suffer for a crime she had not
committed, she asked, if they thought she was going to put her own
daughter into trouble to save another? She did not know what the Scotch
law would have done to her for carrying the child away. This answer was
by no means satisfactory to the clergyman, and he discovered, by close
examination, that she had a deep and revengeful hatred against the young
person whom she had thus injured. But the paper intimated, that, whatever
besides she had communicated upon this subject was confided by her in
private to the worthy and reverend Archdeacon who had bestowed such
particular pains in affording her spiritual assistance. The broadside
went on to intimate, that, after her execution, of which the particulars
were given, her daughter, the insane person mentioned more than once, and
who was generally known by the name of Madge Wildfire, had been very
ill-used by the populace, under the belief that she was a sorceress, and
an accomplice in her mother's crimes, and had been with difficulty
rescued by the prompt interference of the police.
Such (for we omit moral reflections, and all that may seem unnecessary to
the explanation of our story) was the tenor of the broadside. To Mrs.
Butler it contained intelligence of the highest importance, since it
seemed to afford the most unequivocal proof of her sister's innocence
respecting the crime for which she had so nearly suffered. It is true,
neither she nor her husband, nor even her father, had ever believed her
capable of touching her infant with an unkind hand when in possession of
her reason; but there was a darkness on the subject, and what might have
happened in a moment of insanity was dreadful to think upon. Besides,
whatever was their own conviction, they had no means of establishing
Effie's innocence to the world, which, according to the tenor of this
fugitive publication, was now at length completely manifested by the
dying confession of the person chiefly interested in concealing it.
After thanking God for a discovery so dear to her feelings, Mrs. Butler
began to consider what use she should make of it. To have shown it to her
husband would have been her first impulse; but, besides that he was
absent from home, and the matter too delicate to be the subject of
correspondence by an indifferent penwoman, Mrs. Butler recollected that
he was not possessed of the information necessary to form a judgment upon
the occasion; and that, adhering to the rule which she had considered as
most advisable, she had best transmit the information immediately to her
sister, and leave her to adjust with her husband the mode in which they
should avail themselves of it. Accordingly, she despatched a special
messenger to Glasgow with a packet, enclosing the Confession of Margaret
Murdockson, addressed, as usual, under cover, to Mr. Whiterose of York.
She expected, with anxiety, an answer, but none arrived in the usual
course of post, and she was left to imagine how many various causes might
account for Lady Staunton's silence. She began to be half sorry that she
had parted with the printed paper, both for fear of its having fallen
into bad hands, and from the desire of regaining the document which might
be essential to establish her sister's innocence. She was even doubting
whether she had not better commit the whole matter to her husband's
consideration, when other incidents occurred to divert her purpose.
Jeanie (she is a favourite, and we beg her pardon for still using the
familiar title) had walked down to the sea-side with her children one
morning after breakfast, when the boys, whose sight was more
discriminating than hers, exclaimed, that "the Captain's coach and six
was coming right for the shore, with ladies in it." Jeanie instinctively
bent her eyes on the approaching boat, and became soon sensible that
there were two females in the stern, seated beside the gracious Duncan,
who acted as pilot. It was a point of politeness to walk towards the
landing-place, in order to receive them, especially as she saw that the
Captain of Knockdunder was upon honour and ceremony. His piper was in the
bow of the boat, sending forth music, of which one half sounded the
better that the other was drowned by the waves and the breeze. Moreover,
he himself had his brigadier wig newly frizzed, his bonnet (he had
abjured the cocked-hat) decorated with Saint George's red cross, his
uniform mounted as a captain of militia, the Duke's flag with the boar's
head displayed--all intimated parade and gala.
As Mrs. Butler approached the landing-place, she observed the Captain
hand the ladies ashore with marks of great attention, and the parties
advanced towards her, the Captain a few steps before the two ladies, of
whom the taller and elder leaned on the shoulder of the other, who seemed
to be an attendant or servant.
As they met, Duncan, in his best, most important, and deepest tone of
Highland civility, "pegged leave to introduce to Mrs. Putler,
Lady--eh--eh--I hae forgotten your leddyship's name!"
"Never mind my name, sir," said the lady; "I trust Mrs. Butler will be at
no loss. The Duke's letter"--And, as she observed Mrs. Butler look
confused, she said again to Duncan somethin sharply, "Did you not send
the letter last night, sir?"
"In troth and I didna, and I crave your leddyship's pardon; but you see,
matam, I thought it would do as weel to-tay, pecause Mrs. Putler is never
taen out o'sorts--never--and the coach was out fishing--and the gig was
gane to Greenock for a cag of prandy--and--Put here's his Grace's
"Give it me, sir," said the lady, taking it out of his hand; "since you
have not found it convenient to do me the favour to send it before me, I
will deliver it myself."
Mrs. Butler looked with great attention, and a certain dubious feeling of
deep interest, on the lady, who thus expressed herself with authority
over the man of authority, and to whose mandates he seemed to submit,
resigning the letter with a "Just as your leddyship is pleased to order
The lady was rather above the middle size, beautifully made, though
something _embonpoint,_ with a hand and arm exquisitely formed. Her
manner was easy, dignified, and commanding, and seemed to evince high
birth and the habits of elevated society. She wore a travelling dress--a
grey beaver hat, and a veil of Flanders lace. Two footmen, in rich
liveries, who got out of the barge, and lifted out a trunk and
portmanteau, appeared to belong to her suite.
"As you did not receive the letter, madam, which should have served for
my introduction--for I presume you are Mrs. Butler--I will not present it
to you till you are so good as to admit me into your house without it."
"To pe sure, matam," said Knockdunder, "ye canna doubt Mrs. Putler will
do that.--Mrs. Putler, this is Lady--Lady--these tamned Southern names
rin out o' my head like a stane trowling down hill--put I believe she is
a Scottish woman porn--the mair our credit--and I presume her leddyship
is of the house of"
"The Duke of Argyle knows my family very well, sir," said the lady, in a
tone which seemed designed to silence Duncan, or, at any rate, which had
that effect completely.
There was something about the whole of this stranger's address, and tone,
and manner, which acted upon Jeanie's feelings like the illusions of a
dream, that tease us with a puzzling approach to reality. Something there
was of her sister in the gait and manner of the stranger, as well as in
the sound of her voice, and something also, when, lifting her veil, she
showed features, to which, changed as they were in expression and
complexion, she could not but attach many remembrances.
The stranger was turned of thirty certainly; but so well were her
personal charms assisted by the power of dress, and arrangement of
ornament, that she might well have passed for one-and-twenty. And her
behaviour was so steady and so composed, that, as often as Mrs. Butler
perceived anew some point of resemblance to her unfortunate sister, so
often the sustained self-command and absolute composure of the stranger
destroyed the ideas which began to arise in her imagination. She led the
way silently towards the Manse, lost in a confusion of reflections, and
trusting the letter with which she was to be there intrusted, would
afford her satisfactory explanation of what was a most puzzling and
The lady maintained in the meanwhile the manners of a stranger of rank.
She admired the various points of view like one who has studied nature,
and the best representations of art. At length she took notice of the
"These are two fine young mountaineers--Yours, madam, I presume?"
Jeanie replied in the affirmative. The stranger sighed, and sighed once
more as they were presented to her by name.
"Come here, Femie," said Mrs. Butler, "and hold your head up."
"What is your daughter's name, madam?" said the lady.
"Euphemia, madam," answered Mrs. Butler.
"I thought the ordinary Scottish contraction of the name had been Effie;"
replied the stranger, in a tone which went to Jeanie's heart; for in that
single word there was more of her sister--more of _lang syne_ ideas--than
in all the reminiscences which her own heart had anticipated, or the
features and manner of the stranger had suggested.
When they reached the Manse, the lady gave Mrs. Butler the letter which
she had taken out of the hands of Knockdunder; and as she gave it she
pressed her hand, adding aloud, "Perhaps, madam, you will have the
goodness to get me a little milk!"
"And me a drap of the grey-peard, if you please, Mrs. Putler," added
Mrs. Butler withdrew; but, deputing to May Hettly and to David the supply
of the strangers' wants, she hastened into her own room to read the
letter. The envelope was addressed in the Duke of Argyle's hand, and
requested Mrs. Butler's attentions and civility to a lady of rank, a
particular friend of his late brother, Lady Staunton of Willingham, who,
being recommended to drink goats' whey by the physicians, was to honour
the Lodge at Roseneath with her residence, while her husband made a short
tour in Scotland. But within the same cover, which had been given to Lady
Staunton unsealed, was a letter from that lady, intended to prepare her
sister for meeting her, and which, but for the Captain's negligence, she
ought to have received on the preceding evening. It stated that the news
in Jeanie's last letter had been so interesting to her husband, that he
was determined to inquire farther into the confession made at Carlisle,
and the fate of that poor innocent, and that, as he had been in some
degree successful, she had, by the most earnest entreaties, extorted
rather than obtained his permission, under promise of observing the most
strict incognito, to spend a week or two with her sister, or in her
neighbourhood, while he was prosecuting researches, to which (though it
appeared to her very vainly) he seemed to attach some hopes of success.
There was a postscript, desiring that Jeanie would trust to Lady S. the
management of their intercourse, and be content with assenting to what
she should propose. After reading and again reading the letter, Mrs.
Butler hurried down stairs, divided betwixt the fear of betraying her
secret, and the desire to throw herself upon her sister's neck. Effie
received her with a glance at once affectionate and cautionary, and
immediately proceeded to speak.
"I have been telling Mr. ------, Captain , this gentleman, Mrs. Butler,
that if you could accommodate me with an apartment in your house, and a
place for Ellis to sleep, and for the two men, it would suit me better
than the Lodge, which his Grace has so kindly placed at my disposal. I am
advised I should reside as near where the goats feed as possible."
"I have peen assuring my leddy, Mrs. Putler," said Duncan, "that though
it could not discommode you to receive any of his Grace's visitors or
mine, yet she had mooch petter stay at the Lodge; and for the gaits, the
creatures can be fetched there, in respect it is mair fitting they suld
wait upon her Leddyship, than she upon the like o' them."
"By no means derange the goats for me," said Lady Staunton; "I am certain
the milk must be much better here." And this she said with languid
negligence, as one whose slightest intimation of humour is to bear down
Mrs. Butler hastened to intimate, that her house, such as it was, was
heartily at the disposal of Lady Staunton; but the Captain continued to
"The Duke," he said, "had written"
"I will settle all that with his Grace"
"And there were the things had been sent down frae Glasco"
"Anything necessary might be sent over to the Parsonage--She would beg
the favour of Mrs. Butler to show her an apartment, and of the Captain to
have her trunks, etc., sent over from Roseneath."
So she courtesied off poor Duncan, who departed, saying in his secret
soul, "Cot tamn her English impudence!--she takes possession of the
minister's house as an it were her ain--and speaks to shentlemens as if
they were pounden servants, and per tamned to her!--And there's the deer
that was shot too--but we will send it ower to the Manse, whilk will pe
put civil, seeing I hae prought worthy Mrs. Putler sic a fliskmahoy."--
And with these kind intentions, he went to the shore to give his orders
In the meantime, the meeting of the sisters was as affectionate as it was
extraordinary, and each evinced her feelings in the way proper to her
character. Jeanie was so much overcome by wonder, and even by awe, that
her feelings were deep, stunning, and almost overpowering. Effie, on the
other hand, wept, laughed, sobbed, screamed, and clapped her hands for
joy, all in the space of five minutes, giving way at once, and without
reserve, to a natural excessive vivacity of temper, which no one,
however, knew better how to restrain under the rules of artificial
After an hour had passed like a moment in their expressions of mutual
affection, Lady Staunton observed the Captain walking with impatient
steps below the window. "That tiresome Highland fool has returned upon
our hands," she said. "I will pray him to grace us with his absence."
"Hout no! hout no!" said Mrs. Butler, in a tone of entreaty; "ye maunna
affront the Captain."
"Affront?" said Lady Staunton; "nobody is ever affronted at what I do or
say, my dear. However, I will endure him, since you think it proper."
The Captain was accordingly graciously requested by Lady Staunton to
remain during dinner. During this visit his studious and punctilious
complaisance towards the lady of rank was happily contrasted by the
cavalier air of civil familiarity in which he indulged towards the
"I have not been able to persuade Mrs. Butler," said Lady Staunton to the
Captain, during the interval when Jeanie had left the parlour, "to let me
talk of making any recompense for storming her house, and garrisoning it
in the way I have done."
"Doubtless, matam," said the Captain, "it wad ill pecome Mrs. Putler, wha
is a very decent pody, to make any such sharge to a lady who comes from
my house, or his Grace's, which is the same thing.--And speaking of
garrisons, in the year forty-five, I was poot with a garrison of twenty
of my lads in the house of Inver-Garry, whilk had near been unhappily,
"I beg your pardon, sir--But I wish I could think of some way of
indemnifying this good lady."
"O, no need of intemnifying at all--no trouble for her, nothing at all--
So, peing in the house of Inver-Garry, and the people about it being
uncanny, I doubted the warst, and"
"Do you happen to know, sir," said Lady Staunton, "if any of these two
lads, these young Butlers, I mean, show any turn for the army?"
"Could not say, indeed, my leddy," replied Knockdunder--"So, I knowing
the people to pe unchancy, and not to lippen to, and hearing a pibroch in
the wood, I pegan to pid my lads look to their flints, and then"
"For," said Lady Staunton, with the most ruthless disregard to the
narrative which she mangled by these interruptions, "if that should be
the case, it should cost Sir George but the asking a pair of colours for
one of them at the War-Office, since we have always supported Government,
and never had occasion to trouble ministers."
"And if you please, my leddy," said Duncan, who began to find some savour
in this proposal, "as I hae a braw weel-grown lad of a nevoy, ca'd Duncan
MacGilligan, that is as pig as paith the Putler pairns putten thegither,
Sir George could ask a pair for him at the same time, and it wad pe put
ae asking for a'."
Lady Staunton only answered this hint with a well-bred stare, which gave
no sort of encouragement.
Jeanie, who now returned, was lost in amazement at the wonderful
difference betwixt the helpless and despairing girl, whom she had seen
stretched on a flock-bed in a dungeon, expecting a violent and
disgraceful death, and last as a forlorn exile upon the midnight beach,
with the elegant, well-bred, beautiful woman before her. The features,
now that her sister's veil was laid aside, did not appear so extremely
different, as the whole manner, expression, look, and bearing. In outside
show, Lady Staunton seemed completely a creature too soft and fair for
sorrow to have touched; so much accustomed to have all her whims complied
with by those around her, that she seemed to expect she should even be
saved the trouble of forming them; and so totally unacquainted with
contradiction, that she did not even use the tone of self-will, since to
breathe a wish was to have it fulfilled. She made no ceremony of ridding
herself of Duncan as soon as the evening approached; but complimented him
out of the house under pretext of fatigue, with the utmost _nonchalance._
When they were alone, her sister could not help expressing her wonder at
the self-possession with which Lady Staunton sustained her part.
"I daresay you are surprised at it," said Lady Staunton composedly; "for
you, my dear Jeanie, have been truth itself from your cradle upwards; but
you must remember that I am a liar of fifteen years' standing, and
therefore must by this time be used to my character."
In fact, during the feverish tumult of feelings excited during the two or
three first days, Mrs. Butler thought her sister's manner was completely
contradictory of the desponding tone which pervaded her correspondence.
She was moved to tears, indeed, by the sight of her father's grave,
marked by a modest stone recording his piety and integrity; but lighter
impressions and associations had also power over her. She amused herself
with visiting the dairy, in which she had so long been assistant, and was
so near discovering herself to May Hettly, by betraying her acquaintance
with the celebrated receipt for Dunlop cheese, that she compared herself
to Bedreddin Hassan, whom the vizier, his father-in-law, discovered by
his superlative skill in composing cream-tarts with pepper in them. But
when the novelty of such avocations ceased to amuse her, she showed to
her sister but too plainly, that the gaudy colouring with which she
veiled her unhappiness afforded as little real comfort, as the gay
uniform of the soldier when it is drawn over his mortal wound. There were
moods and moments, in which her despondence seemed to exceed even that
which she herself had described in her letters, and which too well
convinced Mrs. Butler how little her sister's lot, which in appearance
was so brilliant, was in reality to be envied.
There was one source, however, from which Lady Staunton derived a pure
degree of pleasure. Gifted in every particular with a higher degree of
imagination than that of her sister, she was an admirer of the beauties
of nature, a taste which compensates many evils to those who happen to
enjoy it. Here her character of a fine lady stopped short, where she
ought to have
Scream'd at ilk cleugh, and screech'd at ilka how,
As loud as she had seen the worrie-cow.
On the contrary, with the two boys for her guides, she undertook long and
fatiguing walks among the neighbouring mountains, to visit glens, lakes,
waterfalls, or whatever scenes of natural wonder or beauty lay concealed
among their recesses. It is Wordsworth, I think, who, talking of an old
man under difficulties, remarks, with a singular attention to nature,
Whether it was care that spurr'd him,
God only knows; but to the very last,
He had the lightest foot in Ennerdale.
In the same manner, languid, listless, and unhappy, within doors, at
times even indicating something which approached near to contempt of the
homely accommodations of her sister's house, although she instantly
endeavoured, by a thousand kindnesses, to atone for such ebullitions of
spleen, Lady Staunton appeared to feel interest and energy while in the
open air, and traversing the mountain landscapes in society with the two
boys, whose ears she delighted with stories of what she had seen in other
countries, and what she had to show them at Willingham Manor. And they,
on the other hand, exerted themselves in doing the honours of
Dumbartonshire to the lady who seemed so kind, insomuch that there was
scarce a glen in the neighbouring hills to which they did not introduce
Upon one of these excursions, while Reuben was otherwise employed, David
alone acted as Lady Staunton's guide, and promised to show her a cascade
in the hills, grander and higher than any they had yet visited. It was a
walk of five long miles, and over rough ground, varied, however, and
cheered, by mountain views, and peeps now of the firth and its islands,
now of distant lakes, now of rocks and precipices. The scene itself, too,
when they reached it, amply rewarded the labour of the walk. A single
shoot carried a considerable stream over the face of a black rock, which
contrasted strongly in colour with the white foam of the cascade, and, at
the depth of about twenty feet, another rock intercepted the view of the
bottom of the fall. The water, wheeling out far beneath, swept round the
crag, which thus bounded their view, and tumbled down the rocky glen in a
torrent of foam. Those who love nature always desire to penetrate into
its utmost recesses, and Lady Staunton asked David whether there was not
some mode of gaining a view of the abyss at the foot of the fall. He said
that he knew a station on a shelf on the farther side of the intercepting
rock, from which the whole waterfall was visible, but that the road to it
was steep and slippery and dangerous. Bent, however, on gratifying her
curiosity, she desired him to lead the way; and accordingly he did so
over crag and stone, anxiously pointing out to her the resting-places
where she ought to step, for their mode of advancing soon ceased to be
walking, and became scrambling.
In this manner, clinging like sea-birds to the face of the rock, they
were enabled at length to turn round it, and came full in front of the
fall, which here had a most tremendous aspect, boiling, roaring, and
thundering with unceasing din, into a black cauldron, a hundred feet at
least below them, which resembled the crater of a volcano. The noise, the
dashing of the waters, which gave an unsteady appearance to all around
them, the trembling even of the huge crag on which they stood, the
precariousness of their footing, for there was scarce room for them to
stand on the shelf of rock which they had thus attained, had so powerful
an effect on the senses and imagination of Lady Staunton, that she called
out to David she was falling, and would in fact have dropped from the
crag had he not caught hold of her. The boy was bold and stout of his
age--still he was but fourteen years old, and as his assistance gave no
confidence to Lady Staunton, she felt her situation become really
perilous. The chance was, that, in the appalling novelty of the
circumstances, he might have caught the infection of her panic, in which
case it is likely that both must have perished. She now screamed with
terror, though without hope of calling any one to her assistance. To her
amazement, the scream was answered by a whistle from above, of a tone so
clear and shrill, that it was heard even amid the noise of the waterfall.
In this moment of terror and perplexity, a human face, black, and having
grizzled hair hanging down over the forehead and cheeks, and mixing with
mustaches and a beard of the same colour, and as much matted and tangled,
looked down on them from a broken part of the rock above.
"It is the Enemy!" said the boy, who had very nearly become incapable of
supporting Lady Staunton.
"No, no," she exclaimed, inaccessible to supernatural terrors, and
restored to the presence of mind of which she had been deprived by the
danger of her situation, "it is a man--For God's sake, my friend, help
The face glared at them, but made no answer; in a second or two
afterwards, another, that of a young lad, appeared beside the first,
equally swart and begrimed, but having tangled black hair, descending in
elf-locks, which gave an air of wildness and ferocity to the whole
expression of the countenance. Lady Staunton repeated her entreaties,
clinging to the rock with more energy, as she found that, from the
superstitious terror of her guide, he became incapable of supporting her.
Her words were probably drowned in the roar of the falling stream, for,
though she observed the lips of the young being whom she supplicated move
as he spoke in reply, not a word reached her ear.
A moment afterwards it appeared he had not mistaken the nature of her
supplication, which, indeed, was easy to be understood from her situation
and gestures. The younger apparition disappeared, and immediately after
lowered a ladder of twisted osiers, about eight feet in length, and made
signs to David to hold it fast while the lady ascended. Despair gives
courage, and finding herself in this fearful predicament, Lady Staunton
did not hesitate to risk the ascent by the precarious means which this
accommodation afforded; and, carefully assisted by the person who had
thus providentially come to her aid, she reached the summit in safety.
She did not, however, even look around her until she saw her nephew
lightly and actively follow her examples although there was now no one to
hold the ladder fast. When she saw him safe she looked round, and could
not help shuddering at the place and company in which she found herself.
They were on a sort of platform of rock, surrounded on every side by
precipices, or overhanging cliffs, and which it would have been scarce
possible for any research to have discovered, as it did not seem to be
commanded by any accessible position. It was partly covered by a huge
fragment of stone, which, having fallen from the cliffs above, had been
intercepted by others in its descent, and jammed so as to serve for a
sloping roof to the farther part of the broad shelf or platform on which
they stood. A quantity of withered moss and leaves, strewed beneath this
rude and wretched shelter, showed the lairs,--they could not be termed
the beds,--of those who dwelt in this eyrie, for it deserved no other
name. Of these, two were before Lady Staunton. One, the same who had
afforded such timely assistance, stood upright before them, a tall,
lathy, young savage; his dress a tattered plaid and philabeg, no shoes,
no stockings, no hat or bonnet, the place of the last being supplied by
his hair, twisted and matted like the _glibbe_ of the ancient wild Irish,
and, like theirs, forming a natural thick-set stout enough to bear off
the cut of a sword. Yet the eyes of the lad were keen and sparkling; his
gesture free and noble, like that of all savages. He took little notice
of David Butler, but gazed with wonder on Lady Staunton, as a being
different probably in dress, and superior in beauty, to anything he had
ever beheld. The old man, whose face they had first seen, remained
recumbent in the same posture as when he had first looked down on them,
only his face was turned towards them as he lay and looked up with a lazy
and listless apathy, which belied the general expression of his dark and
rugged features. He seemed a very tall man, but was scarce better clad
than the younger. He had on a loose Lowland greatcoat, and ragged tartan
trews or pantaloons. All around looked singularly wild and unpropitious.
Beneath the brow of the incumbent rock was a charcoal fire, on which
there was a still working, with bellows, pincers, hammers, a movable
anvil, and other smith's tools; three guns, with two or three sacks and
barrels, were disposed against the wall of rock, under shelter of the
superincumbent crag; a dirk and two swords, and a Lochaber axe, lay
scattered around the fire, of which the red glare cast a ruddy tinge on
the precipitous foam and mist of the cascade. The lad, when he had
satisfied his curiosity with staring at Lady Staunton, fetched an earthen
jar and a horn-cup, into which he poured some spirits, apparently hot
from the still, and offered them successively to the lady and to the boy.
Both declined, and the young savage quaffed off the draught, which could
not amount to less than three ordinary glasses. He then fetched another
ladder from the corner of the cavern, if it could be termed so, adjusted
it against the transverse rock, which served as a roof, and made signs
for the lady to ascend it, while he held it fast below. She did so, and
found herself on the top of a broad rock, near the brink of the chasm
into which the brook precipitates itself. She could see the crest of the
torrent flung loose down the rock, like the mane of a wild horse, but
without having any view of the lower platform from which she had
David was not suffered to mount so easily; the lad, from sport or love of
mischief, shook the ladder a good deal as he ascended, and seemed to
enjoy the terror of young Butler, so that, when they had both come up,
they looked on each other with no friendly eyes. Neither, however, spoke.
The young caird, or tinker, or gipsy, with a good deal of attention,
assisted Lady Staunton up a very perilous ascent which she had still to
encounter, and they were followed by David Butler, until all three stood
clear of the ravine on the side of a mountain, whose sides were covered
with heather and sheets of loose shingle. So narrow was the chasm out of
which they ascended, that, unless when they were on the very verge, the
eye passed to the other side without perceiving the existence of a rent
so fearful, and nothing was seen of the cataract, though its deep hoarse
voice was still heard.
Lady Staunton, freed from the danger of rock and river, had now a new
subject of anxiety. Her two guides confronted each other with angry
countenances; for David, though younger by two years at least, and much
shorter, was a stout, well-set, and very bold boy.
"You are the black-coat's son of Knocktarlitie," said the young caird;
"if you come here again, I'll pitch you down the linn like a foot-ball."
"Ay, lad, ye are very short to be sae lang," retorted young Butler
undauntedly, and measuring his opponent's height with an undismayed eye;
"I am thinking you are a gillie of Black Donacha; if you come down the
glen, we'll shoot you like a wild buck."
"You may tell your father," said the lad, "that the leaf on the timber is
the last he shall see--we will hae amends for the mischief he has done to
"I hope he will live to see mony simmers, and do ye muckle mair,"
More might have passed, but Lady Staunton stepped between them with her
purse in her hand, and taking out a guinea, of which it contained
several, visible through the net-work, as well as some silver in the
opposite end, offered it to the caird.
"The white siller, lady--the white siller," said the young savage, to
whom the value of gold was probably unknown. Lady Staunton poured what
silver she had into his hand, and the juvenile savage snatched it
greedily, and made a sort of half inclination of acknowledgment and
"Let us make haste now, Lady Staunton," said David, "for there will be
little peace with them since they hae seen your purse."
They hurried on as fast as they could; but they had not descended the
hill a hundred yards or two before they heard a halloo behind them, and
looking back, saw both the old man and the young one pursuing them with
great speed, the former with a gun on his shoulder. Very fortunately, at
this moment a sportsman, a gamekeeper of the Duke, who was engaged in
stalking deer, appeared on the face of the hill. The bandits stopped on
seeing him, and Lady Staunton hastened to put herself under his
protection. He readily gave them his escort home, and it required his
athletic form and loaded rifle to restore to the lady her usual
confidence and courage.
Donald listened with much gravity to the account of their adventure; and
answered with great composure to David's repeated inquiries, whether he
could have suspected that the cairds had been lurking there,--"Inteed,
Master Tavie, I might hae had some guess that they were there, or
thereabout, though maybe I had nane. But I am aften on the hill; and they
are like wasps--they stang only them that fashes them; sae, for my part,
I make a point not to see them, unless I were ordered out on the preceese
errand by MacCallummore or Knockdunder, whilk is a clean different case."
They reached the Manse late; and Lady Staunton, who had suffered much
both from fright and fatigue, never again permitted her love of the
picturesque to carry her so far among the mountains without a stronger
escort than David, though she acknowledged he had won the stand of
colours by the intrepidity he had displayed, so soon as assured he had to
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