The World's Greatest Books, Vol VII
Part 6 out of 7
"I dinna deserve this frae ye, Effie," said her sister, feeling the
injustice of the reproach and compassion for the state of mind which
"Maybe no, sister," said Effie. "But ye are angry because I love
Robertson. Sure am I, if it had stude wi' him as it stands wi' you----"
"O if it stude wi' me to save ye wi' the risk of _my_ life!" said
"Ay, lass," said her sister, "that's lightly said, but no sae lightly
credited frae ane that winna ware a word for me; and if it be a wrang
word, ye'll hae time enough to repent o' 't."
"But that word is a grievous sin."
"Well, weel, Jeannie, never speak mair o' 't," said the prisoner. "It's
as weel as it is. And gude-day, sister. Ye keep Mr. Ratcliffe waiting
on. Ye'll come back and see me, I reckon, before----"
"And are we to part in this way," said Jeannie, "and you in sic deadly
peril? O, Effie, look but up and say what ye wad hae me do, and I could
find it in my heart amaist to say I wad do 't."
"No, Jeannie," said her sister, with an effort. "I'm better minded now.
God knows, in my sober mind, I wadna' wuss any living creature to do a
wrang thing to save my life!"
But when Jeannie was called to give her evidence next day, Effie, her
whole expression altered to imploring, almost ecstatic earnestness of
entreaty, exclaimed, in a tone that went through all hearts:
"O Jeannie, Jeannie, save me, save me!"
Jeannie suddenly extended her hand to her sister, who covered it with
kisses and bathed it with tears; while Jeannie wept bitterly.
It was some time before the judge himself could subdue his own emotion
and administer the oath: "The truth to tell, and no truth to conceal, in
the name of God, and as the witness should answer to God at the great
Day of Judgement." Jeannie, educated in devout reverence for the name of
the Deity, was awed, but at the same time elevated above all
considerations save those to which she could, with a clear conscience,
call him to witness. Therefore, though she turned deadly pale, and
though the counsel took every means to make it easy for her to bear
false witness, she replied to his question as to what Effie had said
when questioned as to what ailed her, "Alack! alack! she never breathed
a word to me about it."
A deep groan passed through the court, and the unfortunate father fell
forward, senseless. The secret hope to which he had clung had now
dissolved. The prisoner with impotent passion, strove with her guard.
"Let me gang to my father! He is dead! I hae killed him!" she repeated
in frenzied tones.
Even in that moment of agony Jeannie did not lose that superiority that
a deep and firm mind assures to its possessor. She stooped, and began
assiduously to chafe her father's temples.
The judge, after repeatedly wiping his eyes, gave directions that they
should be removed and carefully attended. The prisoner pursued them with
her eyes, and when they were no longer visible, seemed to find courage
in her despair.
"The bitterness of 't is now past," she said. "My lords, if it is your
pleasure to gang on wi' this matter, the weariest day will have its end
David Deans and his eldest daughter found in the house of a cousin the
nearest place of friendly refuge. When he recovered from his long swoon,
he was too feeble to speak when their hostess came in.
"Is all over?" said Jeannie, with lips pale as ashes. "And is there no
hope for her?"
"Nane, or next to nane," said her cousin, Mrs. Saddletree; but added
that the foreman of the jury had wished her to get the king's mercy, and
"nae ma about it."
"But can the king gie her mercy?" said Jeannie.
"I well he wot he can, when he likes," said her cousin and gave
instances, finishing with Porteous.
"Porteous," said Jeannie, "very true. I forgot a' that I culd mind
maist. Fare ye well, Mrs. Saddletree. May ye never want a friend in the
hour o' distress."
To Mrs. Saddletree's protests she replied there was much to be done and
little time to do it in; then, kneeling by her father's bed, begged his
blessing. Instinctively the old man murmured a prayer, and his daughter
saying, "He has blessed mine errand; it is borne in on my mind that I
shall prosper," left the room. Mrs. Saddletree looked after her, and
shook her head. "I wish she binna roving, poor thing. There's something
queer about a' thae Deanes. I dinna like folk to be sae muckle better
than ither folk; seldom comes gude o't."
But she took good care of "the honest auld man," until he was able to go
to his own home.
Effie was roused from her state of stupefied horror by the entrance of
Jeannie who, rushing into the cell, threw her arms round her neck.
"What signifies coming to greet ower me," said poor Effie, "when you
have killed me? Killed me, when a word from your mouth would have saved
"You shall not die," said Jeannie, with enthusiastic firmness. "Say what
you like o' me, only promise, for I doubt your proud heart, that you
winna' harm yourself? I will go to London and beg your pardon from the
king and queen. They _shall_ pardon you, and they will win a thousand
hearts by it!"
She soon tore herself from her sister's arms and left the cell.
Ratcliffe followed her, so impressed was he by her "spunk," he advised
her as to her proceedings, to find a friend to speak for her to the
king--the Duke of Argyle, if possible--and wrote her a line or two on a
dirty piece of paper, which would be useful if she fell among thieves.
Jeannie then hastened home to St. Leonard's Crags, and gave full
instructions to her usual assistant, concerning the management of
domestic affairs and arrangements for her father's comfort in her
absence. She got a loan of money from the Laird of Dumbiedikes, and set
off without losing a moment on her walk to London. On her way she
stopped to bid adieu to her old friend Reuben Butler, whom she had
expected to see at the court yesterday. She knew, of course, that he was
still under some degree of restraint--he had been obliged to find bail
not to quit his usual residence, in case he were wanted as a witness--
but she had hoped he would have found means to be with his old friend on
such a day.
She found him quite seriously ill, as she had feared, but yet most
unwilling to let her go on this errand alone; she must give him a
husband's right to protect her. But she, pointing out the fact that he
was scarcely able to stand, said this was no time to speak of marrying
or giving in marriage, asked him if his grandfather had not done some
good to the forebear of MacCallumore. It was so, and Reuben gave her the
papers to prove it, and a letter to the Duke of Argyle; and she, begging
him to do what he could for her father and sister, left the room
With a strong heart, and a frame patient of fatigue, Jeannie Deans,
travelling at the rate of twenty miles and more a day, traversed the
southern part of Scotland, where her bare feet attracted no attention.
She had to conform to the national extravagance in England, and
confessed afterwards "that besides the wastrife, it was lang or she
could walk as comfortably with the shoes as without them"; but found the
people very hospitable on the whole, and sometimes got a cast in a
At last London was reached, and an audience obtained with the Duke of
Argyie. His Grace's heart warmed to the tartan when Jeannie appeared
before him in the dress of a Scottish maiden of her class. His
grandfather's letter, too, was a strong injunction to assist Stephen
Butler, his friends or family, and he exerted himself to such good
purpose, that he brought her into the presence of the queen to plead her
cause for herself. Her majesty smiled at Jeannie's awestruck manner and
broad Northern accent, and listened kindly, but said:
"If the king were to pardon your sister, it would in all probability do
her little good, for I suppose the people of Edinburgh would hang her
out of spite." But Jeannie said: "She was confident that baith town and
country would rejoice to see his majesty taking compassion on a poor
unfriended creature." The queen was not convinced of the propriety of
showing any marked favour to Edinburgh so soon--"the whole nation must
be in a league to screen the murderers of Porteous"--but Jeannie pleaded
her sister's cause with a pathos at once simple and solemn, and her
majesty ended by giving her a housewife case to remind her of her
interview with Queen Caroline, and promised her warm intercession with
The Duke of Argyie came to Jeannie's cousin's, where she was staying, in
a few days to say that a pardon had been dispatched to Effie Deans, on
condition of her banishing herself forth of Scotland for fourteen
years--a qualification which greatly grieved the affectionate
disposition of her sister.
_IV.--In After Years_
When Jeannie set out from London on her homeward journey, it was not to
travel on foot, but in the Duke of Argyle's carriage, and the end of the
journey was not Edinburgh, but the isle of Roseneath, in the Firth of
Clyde. When the landing-place was reached, it was in the arms of her
father that Jeannie was received.
It was too wonderful to be believed--but the form was indisputable.
Douce David Deans himself, in his best light-blue Sunday coat, with
broad metal buttons, and waistcoat and breeches of the same.
"Jeannie--my ain Jeannie--my best--my maist dutiful bairn! The Lord of
Israel be thy father, for I am hardly worthy of thee! Thou hast redeemed
our captivity, brought back the honour of our house!"
These words broke from him not without tears, though David was of no
"And Effie--and Effie, dear father?" was Jeannie's eager question.
"You will never see her mair, my bairn," answered Deans, in solemn
"She is dead! It has come ower late!" exclaimed Jeannie, wringing her
"No, Jeannie, she lives in the flesh, and is at freedom from earthly
restraint. But she has left her auld father, that has wept and prayed
for her. She has left her sister, that travailed and toiled for her like
a mother. She has made a moonlight flitting of it."
"And wi' that man--that fearfu' man?" said Jeannie.
"It is ower truly spoken," said Deans. "But never, Jeannie never more
let her name be spoken between you and me."
The next surprise for Jeannie Deans was the appearance of Reuben Butler,
who had been appointed by the Duke of Argyle to the kirk of
Knocktarlitie, at Roseneath; and within a reasonable time after the new
minister had been comfortably settled in his living, the banns were
called, and long wooing of Reuben and Jeannie was ended by their union
in the holy bands of matrimony.
Effie, married to Robertson, whose real name was Staunton, paid a
furtive visit to her sister, and many years later, when her husband was
no longer a desperate outlaw, but Sir George Staunton, and beyond
anxiety of recognition, the two sisters corresponded freely, and Lady
Staunton even came to stay with Mrs. Butler, after old Deans was dead.
A famous woman in society was Lady Staunton, but she was childless, for
the child of her shame, carried off by gypsies, she saw no more.
Jeannie and Reuben, happy in each other, in the prosperity of their
family, and the love and honour of all by gypsies, she saw no more.
* * * * *
"Ivanhoe," in common with "The Legend of Montrose" and "The
Bride of Lammermoor," was written, or rather dictated to
amanuenses, during a period of great physical suffering;
"through fits of suffering," says one of Scott's biographers,
"so great that he could not suppress cries of agony."
"Ivanhoe" made its appearance towards the end of 1819.
Although the book lacks much of that vivid portraiture that
distinguishes Scott's other novels, the intense vigour of the
narrative, and the striking presentation of mediaeval life,
more than atone for the former lapse. From the first,
"Ivanhoe" has been singularly successful, and it is, and has
been, more popular among English readers than any of the
so-called "Scottish novels." According to Sir Leslie Stephen,
it was Scott's culminating success in the book-selling sense.
_I.--The Hall of Cedric the Saxon_
In the hall of Rotherwood at the centre of the upper table sat Cedric
the Saxon, irritable at the delay of his evening meal, and impatient for
the presence of his favourite clown Wamba, and the return of his
swineherd Gurth. "They have been carried off to serve the Norman lords,"
he exclaimed. "But I will be avenged. Haply they think me old, but they
shall find the blood of Hereward is in the veins of Cedric. Ah, Wilfred,
Wilfred!" he went on in a lower tone, "couldst thou have ruled thine
unreasonable passion, thy father had not been left in his age like the
solitary oak that throws out its shattered branches against the full
sweep of the tempest!"
From his melancholy reflections, Cedric was suddenly awakened by the
blast of a horn.
"To the gate, knaves!" said the Saxon, hastily. "See what tidings that
horn tells us of."
Returning in less than three minutes, a warder announced "that the Prior
Aymer of Jorvank, and the good knight Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Commander
of the Order of Knights Templars, with a small retinue, requested
hospitality and lodging for the night, being on their way to a
tournament to be held not far from Ashby-de-la-Zouche."
"Normans both," muttered Cedric; "but, Norman or Saxon, the hospitality
of Rotherwood must not be impeached; they are welcome since they have
chosen to halt; in the quality of guests, even Normans must suppress
The folding doors at the bottom of the hall were cast wide, and preceded
by the major domo with his wand, and four domestics bearing blazing
torches, the guests of the evening entered the apartment, followed by
their attendants, and, at a more humble distance, by a pilgrim, wearing
the sandals and broad hat of the palmer.
No sooner were the guests seated, and the repast about to commence, than
the major domo, or steward, suddenly raising his wand, said
aloud--"Forbear!--Place for the Lady Rowena." A side door at the upper
end of the hall now opened, and Cedric's ward, Rowena, a Saxon lady of
rare beauty and lofty character, entered. All stood up to receive her,
and, as she moved gracefully forward to assume her place at the board,
the Knight Templar's eyes bent on her with an ardour that made Rowena
draw with dignity the veil around her face.
Cedric and the Prior discoursed on hunting for a time, the Lady Rowena
seemed engaged in conversation with one of her attendants; while the
haughty Templar's eye wandered from the Saxon beauty to the rest of the
"Pledge me in a cup of wine, Sir Templar," said Cedric, "and fill
another to the Abbot. To the strong in arms, Sir Templar, be their race
or language what it will, who now bear them best in Palestine among the
champions of the Cross!"
"To whom, besides the sworn champions of the Holy Sepulchre, whose badge
I wear, can the palm be assigned among the champions of the Cross?" said
Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert.
"Were there, then, none in the English army," said the Lady Rowena,
"whose names are worthy to be mentioned with the Knights of the Temple?"
"Forgive me, lady," replied de Bois-Guilbert, "the English monarch did,
indeed, bring to Palestine a host of gallant warriors, second only to
those whose breasts have been the bulwark of that blessed land."
"Second to NONE," said the Pilgrim, and all turned towards the spot from
whence the declaration came. "I say that the English chivalry were
second to none who ever drew sword in defence of the Holy Land. I saw it
when King Richard himself and five of his knights held a tournament
after the taking of Sir John-de-Acre, as challengers against all comers.
On that day each knight ran three courses, and cast to the ground three
antagonists. Seven of these assailants were Knights of the Temple--and
Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert well knows the truth of what I tell you."
A bitter smile of rage darkened the countenance of the Templar. At
Cedric's request the Pilgrim told out the names of the English knights,
only pausing at the sixth to say--"he was a young knight--his name
dwells not in my memory."
"Sir Palmer," said the Templar, scornfully, "I will myself tell the name
of the knight before whose lance fortune and my horse's fault occasioned
my falling--it was the Knight of Ivanhoe; nor was there one of the six
that for his years had more renown in arms. Yet this I will say, and
loudly--that were he in England, and durst repeat, in this week's
tournament, the challenge of St. John-de-Acre, I, mounted and armed as I
now am, would give him every advantage of weapons and abide the result."
"Your challenge would be soon answered," replied the Palmer, "were your
antagonist near you. If Ivanhoe ever returns from Palestine, I will be
his surety that he meet you. And for pledge I proffer this reliquary,"
taking a small ivory box from his bosom, "containing a portion of the
true cross, brought from the Monastery of Mount Carmel."
The Templar took from his neck a gold chain, which he flung on the
board, saying, "Let Prior Aymer hold my pledge, and that of this
nameless vagrant, in token that when the Knight of Ivanhoe comes within
the four seas of Britain, he underlies the challenge of Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, which, if he answers not, I will proclaim him as a coward
on the walls of every Temple Court in Europe."
"It will not need," said the Lady Rowena, breaking silence; "my voice
shall be heard, if no other in this hall is raised on behalf of the
absent Ivanhoe. I affirm he will meet fairly every honourable challenge,
and I would pledge name and fame that Ivanhoe gives this proud knight
the meeting he desires."
"Lady," said Cedric, "this beseems not; were further pledge necessary, I
myself, justly offended as I am, would yet gage my honour for the honour
The grace-cup was shortly after served round, and the guests marshalled
to their sleeping apartment.
_II.--The Disinherited Knight_
The Passage of Arms, as it was called, which was to take place at Ashby,
attracted universal attention, as champions of the first renown were to
take the field in the presence of Prince John himself.
The laws of the tournament, proclaimed by the heralds, were briefly:
First, the five challengers were to undertake all comers.
Secondly, the general tournament in which all knights present might take
part; and being divided into two bands of equal numbers, might fight it
out manfully, until the signal was given by Prince John to cease the
The challengers, headed by Brian de Bois-Guilbert, were all Normans, and
Cedric saw, with keen feeling of dissatisfaction, the advantage they
gained. No less than four parties of knights had gone down before the
challengers, and Prince John began to talk about adjudging the prize to
Bois-Guilbert, who had, with a single spear, overthrown two knights, and
foiled a third.
But a new champion had entered the lists. His suit of armour was of
steel, and the device on his shield was a young oak-tree pulled up by
the roots, with the Spanish word _Desdichado_, signifying Disinherited.
To the astonishment of all present he struck with the sharp end of his
spear the shield of Brian de Bois-Guilbert until it rang again. Amazed
at his presumption was the redoubted knight, whom he had thus defied to
"Have you confessed yourself, brother," said the Templar, "that you
peril your life so frankly?"
"I am fitter to meet death than thou art," answered the Disinherited
"Then look your last upon the sun," said Bois-Guilbert; "for this night
thou shalt sleep in paradise."
The champions closed in the centre of the lists with the shock of a
thunderbolt. The Templar aimed at the centre of his antagonist's shield,
and struck it so fair that his spear went to shivers, and the
Disinherited Knight reeled in his saddle. On the other hand, that
champion addressed his lance to his antagonist's helmet, and hit the
Norman on the visor, where his lance's point kept hold of the bars. The
girths of the Templar's saddle burst, and saddle, horse, and man rolled
on the ground under a cloud of dust.
To extricate himself from the stirrups and fallen steed, was to the
Templar scarce the work of a moment; and stung with madness, he drew his
sword, and waved it in defiance of his conqueror. The Disinherited
Knight sprung from his steed, and also unsheathed his sword. The
marshals of the field, however, intervened, for the laws of the
tournament did not permit this species of encounter, and Bois-Guilbert
returned to his tent in an agony of rage and despair.
The Disinherited Knight then sounded a defiance to each of the
challengers, and the four Normans each in his turn retired discomfited.
The acclamations of thousands applauded the unanimous award of the
Prince and marshals, announcing that day's honours to the Disinherited
To Prince John's annoyance the champion declined either to raise his
visor or to attend the evening banquet, pleading fatigue and the
necessity of preparing for the morrow. As victor it was his privilege to
name the lady, who, as Queen of Honour and of Love, was to preside over
the next day's festival; and Prince John, having placed upon his lance a
coronet of green satin, the Disinherited Knight rode slowly around the
lists and paused beneath the balcony where Cedric and the Lady Rowena
were placed. Then he deposited the coronet at the feet of the fair
Rowena, while the populace shouted "Long live the Lady Rowena, the
chosen and lawful Queen of Love and of Beauty!"
On the following morning the general tournament was proclaimed, and
about fifty knights were ready upon each side, the Disinherited Knight
leading one body, and Brian de Bois-Guilbert the other.
Prince John escorted Rowena to the seat of honour opposite his own,
while the fairest ladies present crowded after her to obtain places as
near as possible to their temporary sovereign.
It was not until the field became thin by the numbers on either side who
had yielded themselves vanquished that the Templar and the Disinherited
Knight at length encountered hand to hand, with all the fury that mortal
animosity and rivalry of honour could inspire. Bois-Guilbert, however,
was soon joined by two more knights, the gigantic Front-de-Boeuf, and
the ponderous Athelstane, who, though a Saxon, had enlisted under the
Norman--to Cedric's disgust. The masterly horsemanship of the
Disinherited Knight enabled him for a few minutes to keep at sword's
point his three antagonists, but it was evident that he must at last be
An unexpected incident changed the fortune of the day. Among the ranks
of the Disinherited Knight was a champion in black armour, who bore on
his shield no device of any kind, and who, beyond beating off with
seeming ease those who attacked him, evinced little interest in the
On discovering the leader of his party so hard beset, this knight threw
aside his apathy and came to his assistance like a thunderbolt,
exclaiming in trumpet tones, "_Desdichado_, to the rescue!" It was high
time; for, while the Disinherited Knight was pressing upon the Templar,
Front-de-Boeuf had got nigh to him with his uplifted sword; but ere the
blow could descend, the Black Knight dealt a blow on the head--and
Front-de-Boeuf rolled to the ground, both horse and man equally stunned.
The Black Knight then turned upon Athelstane, wrenched from the hand of
the bulky Saxon the battle-axe which he wielded, and bestowed him such a
blow on the crest that Athelstane also lay senseless on the field.
Having achieved this double feat he retired calmly to the extremity of
the lists, leaving his leader to cope as best he could with Brian de
Bois-Guilbert. This was no longer matter of so much difficulty. The
Templar's horse had bled much, and gave way under the shock of the
Disinherited Knight's charge. Brian de Bois-Guilbert rolled on the
field, and his antagonist, springing from horseback, waved his fatal
sword over the Templar's head, and commanded him to yield. But Prince
John saved him that mortification by putting an end to the conflict.
Thus ended the memorable field of Ashby-de-la-Zouche. The Knight of the
Black Armour having disappeared, the Disinherited Knight was named the
champion of the day, and was conducted to the foot of that throne of
honour which was occupied by Lady Rowena. His helmet having been
removed, by order of the marshals, the well-formed, yet sun-burnt
features of a young man of twenty-five were seen, and no sooner had
Rowena beheld him than she uttered a faint shriek. Trembling with the
violence of sudden emotion, she placed upon the drooping head of the
victor the splendid chaplet which was the destined reward of the day.
The Knight stooped his head, and then, sinking down, lay prostrate at
the feet of his lovely sovereign.
There was general consternation. Cedric, struck mute by the sudden
appearance of his banished son, now rushed forward. The marshals
hastened to undo Ivanhoe's armour, and finding that the head of a lance
had penetrated his breastplate and inflicted a wound in his side, he was
quickly removed from the lists.
_III.--The Burning of Torquilstone_
Cedric, Rowena, and Athelstane, returning home with their retinue from
Ashby, were waylaid by Bois-Guilbert and his followers, and boldly
carried off as prisoners to Torquilstone, Front-de-Boeuf's castle. In
those lawless times these Norman nobles trusted thus to obtain a good
ransom for Cedric and Athelstane, and to win Rowena for a bride.
Ivanhoe, who, enfeebled by his wound, lay concealed in a litter, unknown
to his father, was also taken.
But Gurth rallied the Saxon outlaws and yeomen of the neighbourhood to
the rescue, the Black Knight of the tournament led the attacking party,
and in spite of a ferocious defence Torquilstone was stormed. The Black
Knight bore the wounded Ivanhoe in his arms from the burning castle,
Rowena was saved by Cedric and Gurth, just as she had abandoned all
hopes of life.
One turret was now in bright flames, which flashed out furiously from
window and shot hole. But, in other parts, the great thickness of the
walls resisted the progress of the flames, and there the rage of man
still triumphed. The besiegers pursued the defenders of the castle from
chamber to chamber, and satiated in their blood the vengeance which
animated them against the soldiers of the tyrant Front-de-Boeuf. Most of
the garrison resisted to the uttermost--few of them asked quarter--none
The courtyard of the castle was soon the last scene of the contest. Here
sat the fierce Templar mounted on horseback, with a remnant of the
defenders, who fought with the utmost valour. Athelstane who, on the
flight of the guard, had made his way into the ante-room and thence into
the court, snatched a mace from the pavement, and rushed on the
Templar's band striking in quick succession to the right and left: he
was soon within two yards of Bois-Guilbert, whom he defied in his
But Athelstane was without armour, and a silken bonnet keeps out no
steel blade. So trenchant was the Templar's weapon that it levelled the
ill-fated Saxon to the earth.
Taking advantage of the dismay which was spread by the fall of
Athelstane, and calling aloud, "Those who would save themselves, follow
me!" the Templar pushed across the drawbridge, and then galloped off
with his followers.
And now the towering flames surmounted every obstruction, and rose to
the evening skies one huge and burning beacon. Tower after tower crashed
down, with blazing roof and rafter, and the combatants were driven from
When the last turret gave way, the voice of Robin Hood was heard,
"Shout, yeomen!--the den of tyrants is no more! Let each bring his spoil
to our chosen place of rendezvous, and there at break of day will be
made just partition among our own bands, together with our allies in
this great deed of vengeance."
Cedric, ere he departed, earnestly entreated the Black Knight to
accompany him to Rotherwood, "not as a guest, but as a son or brother."
"To Rotherwood will I come, brave Saxon," said the Knight, "and that
speedily. Peradventure, when I come, I will ask such a boon as will put
even thy generosity to the test."
"It is granted already," said Cedric, "were it to affect half my
fortune. But my heart is oppressed with sadness, for the noble
Athelstane is no more. I have but to say," he added, "that during the
funeral rites I shall inhabit his castle of Coningsburgh--which will be
open to all who choose to partake of the funeral banqueting."
Rowena waved a graceful adieu to the Black Knight, the Saxon bade God
speed him, and on they moved through a wide glade of the forest.
At the castle of Coningsburgh all was a scene of busy commotion when the
Black Knight, attended by Ivanhoe, who had muffled his face in his
mantle, entered and was welcomed gravely by Cedric--by common consent
the chief of the distinguished Saxon families present.
"I crave to remind you, noble Thane," said the Knight, "that when we
last parted, you promised, for the service I had the fortune to render
you, to grant me a boon."
"It is granted ere named, noble Knight," said Cedric; "yet, at this sad
"Of that also," said the Knight, "I have bethought me--but my time is
brief--neither does it seem to me unfit that, in the grave of the noble
Athelstane, we should deposit certain prejudices and hasty opinions."
"Sir Knight," said Cedric, colouring, "in that which concerns the honour
of my house, it is scarce fitting a stranger should mingle."
"Nor do I wish to mingle," said the Knight, mildly, "unless you will
admit me to have an interest. As yet you have known me but as the Black
Knight--know me now as Richard Plantagenet, King of England. And now to
my boon. I require of thee, as a man of thy word, to forgive and receive
to thy paternal affection the good Knight, Wilfred of Ivanhoe."
"My father!--my father!" said Ivanhoe, prostrating himself at Cedric's
feet, "grant me thy forgiveness."
"Thou hast it, my son," said Cedric, raising him up. "The son of
Hereward knows how to keep his word, even when it has been passed to a
Norman. Thou art about to speak, and I guess the topic. The Lady Rowena
must complete two years mourning as for a betrothed husband. The ghost
of Athelstane himself would stand before us to forbid such dishonour to
his memory were it otherwise."
Scarce had Cedric spoken than the door flew open, and Athelstane,
arrayed in the garments of the grave, stood before them, pale, haggard,
and like something arisen from the dead!
"In the name of God," said Cedric, starting back, "if thou art mortal,
speak! Living or dead, noble Athelstane, speak to Cedric!"
"I will," said the spectre, very composedly, "when I have collected
breath. Alive, saidst thou? I am as much alive as he can be who has fed
on bread and water for three days. I went down under the Templar's
sword, stunned, indeed, but unwounded, for the blade struck me
flatlings, being averted by the good mace with which I warded the blow.
Others, of both sides, were beaten down and slaughtered above me, so
that I never recovered my senses until I found myself in a coffin--an
open one, by good luck--placed before the altar in church. But that
villain Abbot has kept me a prisoner for three days and he shall hang on
the top of this castle of Coningsburgh, in his cope and stole. I will be
king in my own domains, and nowhere else. Cedric, I rise from the tomb a
wiser man than I descended."
"My ward, Rowena," said Cedric--"you do not intend to desert her?"
"Father Cedric," said Athelstane, "be reasonable. The Lady Rowena cares
not for me--she loves the little finger of my kinsman Wilfred's glove
better than my whole person. There she stands to avouch it--nay, blush
not, kinswoman, there is no shame in loving a courtly knight better than
a country thane,--and do not laugh neither, Rowena, for grave-clothes
and a thin visage are, God knows, no matter of merriment. Nay, as thou
wilt needs laugh, I will find thee a better jest--Give me thy hand, or,
rather, lend it me, for I but ask it in the way of friendship. Here,
cousin Wilfred of Ivanhoe, in thy favour I renounce and abjure--Hey! our
cousin Wilfred hath vanished!"
Ivanhoe had disappeared, and King Richard had gone also.
Ivanhoe hastened away at a secret message to fight once more with Brian
de Bois-Guilbert, who had abducted a Jewish maiden named Rebecca, and
spurned by Rebecca, Bois-Guilbert only escaped condemnation by the Grand
Master of the Templars for his offence by admitting Rebecca to be a
sorceress, and by challenging to mortal combat all who should dare to
champion the high-souled and hapless Hebrew maid.
Bois-Guilbert fell in the lists as Ivanhoe approached, and, unscathed by
the lance of his enemy, died a victim to the violence of his own
Ivanhoe and King Richard (who had followed Wilfred) hastened back to
Coningsburgh, and Cedric, finding his project for the union of Rowena
and Athelstane at an end by the mutual dissent of both parties, soon
gave his consent to the marriage of his ward Rowena and his son Wilfred
The nuptials thus formally approved were celebrated in the noble Minster
of York. The King himself attended, and the presence of high-born
Normans, as well as Saxons, joined with the universal rejoicing of the
lower orders, marked the marriage as a pledge of the future peace and
harmony betwixt the two races.
* * * * *
Scott's success in portraying the character of Mary Stuart in
"The Abbot" fired him with the desire of doing likewise with
her great rival Elizabeth; and although history has modified
his picture of the English Queen, the portrait still remains a
vivid and in many respects a faithful likeness. In his preface
to the first edition of "Kenilworth," which was published in
January, 1821, Scott, referring to his delineation of
Elizabeth, admits that he is a "Scottishman," and therefore
may be pardoned for looking at his subject with certain
prejudices. Another source of inspiration that led him to
write the romance was the old ballad of "Cumnor Hall," in
which the tale of Amy Robsart is told. Scott's genius for
depicting the life and manners and customs of the Middle Ages,
of visualising scenes of long-gone chivalry, is exhibited in
"Kenilworth" as in none other of his works. In common also
with all his historical novels, "Kenilworth" bears witness to
its author's passion for historical truth.
The village of Cumnor, within three or four miles of Oxford, boasted in
the eighteenth of Queen Elizabeth an excellent inn, conducted by Giles
Gosling, whom no one excelled in his power of pleasing his guests of
A traveller in the close of the evening was ushered, with much semblance
of welcome, into a large, low chamber, where several persons were seated
in different parties, some drinking, some playing cards, some
The host soon recognised, without satisfaction, his graceless nephew,
Michael Lambourne, who had not been heard of for long years; but, saying
his sister's son should be called to no reckoning in his house, he
heartily invited all who would to join them at supper in honour of his
nephew's return. Many present remembered him as a school companion, and
so forth, and, encouraged by the precept and example of Michael
Lambourne, they soon passed the limits of temperance, as was evident
from the bursts of laughter with which his inquiries after old
acquaintances were answered. Giles Gosling made some sort of apology to
a solitary guest who had sat apart for their license; they would be
to-morrow a set of painstaking mechanics, and so forth, though to-night
they were such would-be rufflers, and prevailed on him to join them.
Most of Michael's old friends seemed to have come to some sad end, but
one, Tony Foster, for whom he inquired had married, and become a good
Protestant, and held his head high, and scorned his old companions. He
now dwelt at Cumnor Place, an old mansion house, and had nothing to do
with anybody in Cumnor, not entirely from pride; it was said there was a
fair lady in the case.
Here Tressilian, the guest, who had sat apart, intervened in the
conversation, and was informed that Foster had a beautiful lady closely
mewed up at Cumnor Place, and would scarcely let her look upon the light
Michael Lambourne at once wagered that he would force Tony Foster to
introduce him to his fair guest, and Tressilian asked permission to
accompany him, to mark the skill end valour with which he should conduct
himself, and, in spite of the host's warnings, the next morning they set
off together to Anthony Foster's dwelling.
Michael Lambourne soon let Tressilian know that he suspected other
motives than simple curiosity had led him, a gentleman of birth and
breeding, into the company of such a scant-of-grace as himself, and
owned that he expected both pleasure and profit from his visit.
They found the gate open, and passed up an avenue overshadowed by old
trees, untrimmed for many years. Everything was in a dilapidated
condition. After some delay, they were introduced into a stone-paved
parlour, where they had to wait some time before the present master of
the mansion made his appearance. He looked to Tressilian for an
explanation of this visit, so true was Lambourne's observation that the
superior air of breeding and dignity shone through the disguise of an
inferior dress. But it was Michael who replied to him, with the easy
familiarity of an old friend, and though Foster at first made it obvious
that he had no wish to renew the acquaintance, in a few minutes he
requested him to follow him to another apartment, and the two worthies
left the room, leaving Tressilian alone.
His dark eyes followed them with a glance of contempt, some of which was
for himself for having stooped for a moment to be their familiar
companion. A slight noise interrupted his reverie. He looked round, and
in the beautiful and richly attired female who entered he recognised the
object of his search. His first impulse urged him to conceal his face in
the cloak, but the young lady (she was not above eighteen years old) ran
joyfully towards him, and, pulling him by the cloak, said playfully:
"Nay, my sweet friend, after I have waited for you so long, you come not
to my bower to play the masquer."
"Alas, Amy," said Tressilian, in a low and melancholy voice. Then, as
she turned pale as death, he added: "Amy, fear me not."
"Why should I fear you?" said the lady; "or wherefore have you intruded
yourself into my dwelling, uninvited, sir, and unwished for?"
"Your dwelling, Amy?" said Tressilian. "Alas! is a prison your dwelling?
A prison, guarded by the most sordid of men, but not a greater wretch
than his employer?"
"This house is mine," said Amy, "mine while I choose to inhabit it. If
it is my pleasure to live in seclusion, who shall gainsay me?"
"Your father, maiden," answered Tressilian, "your broken-hearted father,
who dispatched me in quest of you with that authority which he cannot
exert in person."
"Tressilian," said the lady, "I cannot--I must not--I dare not leave
this place! Go back to my father. Tell him I will obtain leave to see
him within twelve hours from hence. Tell him I am well--I am happy. Go,
carry him the news. I come as sure as there is light in heaven--that is,
when I obtain permission."
"Permission? Permission to visit your father on his sick-bed, perhaps on
his death-bed?" repeated Tressilian impatiently. "And permission from
whom? Amy, in the name of thy broken-hearted father, I command thee to
As he spoke, he advanced and extended his arm, as with the purpose of
laying hold upon her. But she shrunk back from his grasp, and uttered a
scream which brought into the apartment Lambourne and Foster.
"Madam, fare you well!" said Tressilian. "What life lingers in your
father's bosom will leave him at the news I have to tell."
He departed, the lady saying faintly as he left the room:
"Tressilian, be not rash. Say no scandal of me."
Tressilian pursued the first path through the wild and overgrown park in
which the mansion of Foster was situated. At the postern, a cavalier,
muffled in his riding cloak, entered, and stood at once within four
yards of him who was desirous of going out. They exclaimed, in tons of
resentment and surprise, the one "Varney!" the other, "Tressilian!"
"What takes you here?" said Tressilian. "Are you come to triumph over
the innocence you have destroyed? Draw, dog, and defend thyself!"
Tressilian drew his sword as he spoke, but Varney only replied:
"Thou art mad, Tressilian! I own appearances are against me, but by
every oath Mistress Amy Robsart hath no injury from me!"
Tressilian forced him to draw, and Varney received a fall so sudden and
violent that his sword flew several paces from his hand. Lambourne came
up just in time to save the life of Varney, and Tressilian perceived it
was madness to press the quarrel further against such odds.
"Varney, we shall meet where there are none to come betwixt us!"
So saying, he turned round, and departed through the postern door.
Varney, left alone, gave vent to his meditations in broken words. "She
loves me not--I would it were as true that I loved not her! But she must
not leave this retreat until I am assured on what terms we are to stand.
My lord's interest--and so far it is mine own, for if he sinks I fall in
his train--demands concealment of this obscure marriage."
_II.--The Earl and the Countess_
At first, when the Earl of Leicester paid frequent visits to Cumnor, the
Countess was reconciled to the solitude to which she was condemned. But
when these visits became rarer and more rare, the brief letters of
excuse did not keep out discontent and suspicion from the splendid
apartments which love had once fitted up for beauty. Her answers to
Leicester conveyed these feelings too bluntly, and pressed more
naturally than prudently that she might be relieved from the obscure and
secluded residence, by the Earl's acknowledgement of their marriage.
"I have made her Countess," Leicester said to his henchman Varney;
"surely she might wait till it consisted with my pleasure that she
should put on the coronet?"
The Countess Amy viewed the subject in directly an opposite light.
"What signifies," she said, "that I have rank and honour in reality, if
I am to live an obscure prisoner, without either society or observance,
and suffering in my character, as one of dubious or disgraced
Leicester, high in Elizabeth's favour, dared not avow his marriage, and
Varney was always at hand to paint the full and utter disgrace that
would overwhelm him at the Court were the marriage known, and to spur
his ambition to avoid the ruin of his fortunes.
Varney even prompted Leicester to invite the Countess to pass as
Varney's wife, lest Elizabeth's jealousy should be aroused, and this
suggestion and the knowledge that Varney desired her for himself (for he
made no secret of his passion), drove the Countess to escape from Cumnor
and to seek her husband at Kenilworth, Janet Foster, her faithful
attendant, at first suggested that the Countess should return home to
her father, Sir Hugh Robsart, at Lidcote Hall, in Devonshire.
"No, Janet," said the lady mournfully; "I left Lidcote Hall while my
heart was light and my name was honourable, and I will not return
thither till my lord's public acknowledgement of our marriage restore me
to my native home with all the rank and honour which he has bestowed on
me. I will go to Kenilworth, girl. I will see these revels--these
princely revels--the preparation for which makes the land ring from side
to side. Methinks, when the Queen of England feasts within my husband's
halls, the Countess of Leicester should be no unbeseeming guest."
"Dearest madam," said the maiden, "have you forgotten that the noble
Earl has given such strict charges to keep your marriage secret, that he
may preserve his Court favour? And can you think that your sudden
appearance at his castle, at such a juncture, and in such a presence,
will be acceptable to him?"
"I will appeal to my husband alone, Janet. I will be protected by him
alone. I will see him, and receive from his own lips the directions for
my future conduct. Do not argue against my resolution. And to own the
truth, I am resolved to know my fate at once, and from my husband's own
mouth; and to seek him at Kenilworth is the surest way to attain my
"May the blessing of God wend with you, madam," said Janet, kissing her
With pomp and magnificence, Leicester entertained the Queen at the
Castle of Kenilworth. Of the Countess he saw nothing for some days, and
Varney let it be thought that the unhappy lady who had made her way into
the castle was his wife, while Amy, mindful of the alarm which Leicester
had expressed at the Queen's knowing aught of their union, kept out of
the way of her sovereign.
Then, on one memorable morning, when a hunt had been arranged, Leicester
escorted the Queen to the castle garden, with another chase in view.
Without premeditation, but urged on by vanity and ambition, his
importunity became the language of love itself.
"No, Dudley," said Elizabeth, yet with broken accents. "No, I must be
the mother of my people. Urge it no more, Leicester. Were I, as others,
free to seek my own happiness, then indeed--but it cannot be. It is
madness, and must not be repeated. Leave me. Go, but go not far from
hence; and meantime let no one intrude on my privacy."
The Queen turned into a grotto in which her hapless, and yet but too
successful, rival lay concealed, and presently became aware of a female
figure beside an alabaster column.
The unfortunate countess dropped on her knee before the queen, and
looked up in the queen's face with such a mixed agony of fear and
supplication, that Elizabeth was considerably affected.
"What may this mean?" she said. "Stand up, damsel, what wouldst thou
have with us?"
"Your protection, madam," faltered the unfortunate countess. "I
request--I implore--your gracious protection--against--against one
"What, Varney--Sir Richard Varney--the servant of Lord Leicester? What
are you to him, or he to you?"
"I was his prisoner, and I broke forth to--to--"
Amy hastily endeavoured to recall what were best to say which might save
her from Varney without endangering her husband.
"To throw thyself on my protection, doubtless," said Elizabeth. "Thou
art Amy, daughter of Sir Hugh Robsart. I must wring the story from thee
by inches. Thou didst leave thine old and honoured father, cheat Master
Tressilian of thy love, and marry this same Varney."
Amy sprung on her feet, and interrupted the queen eagerly with: "No,
madam, no! As there is a God above us, I am not the wife of that
contemptible slave--of that most deliberate villain! I am not the wife
of Varney! I would rather be the bride of Destruction!"
The queen, startled by Amy's vehemence, replied: "Why, God, ha' mercy,
woman! Tell me, for I _will_ know, whose wife, or whose paramour, art
thou? Speak out, and be speedy. Thou wert better dally with a lioness
than with Elizabeth!"
Urged to this extremity, Amy at length uttered in despair: "The Earl of
Leicester knows it all!"
"The Earl of Leicester!" said Elizabeth, in astonishment. "The Earl of
Leicester! Come with me instantly!"
As Amy shrunk back with terror, Elizabeth seized on her arm, and dragged
the terrified countess to where Leicester stood--the centre of a
splendid group of lords and ladies.
"Stand forth, my Lord of Leicester!" cried the queen.
Amy, thinking her husband in danger from the rage of an offended
Sovereign, instantly forgot her own wrongs, and throwing herself before
the queen, exclaimed, "He is guiltless, madam--he is guiltless; no one
can lay aught to the charge of noble Leicester!"
"Why, minion," answered the queen, "didst not thou thyself say that the
Earl of Leicester was privy to thy whole history?"
At that moment Varney rushed into the presence, with every mark of
"What means this saucy intrusion?" said Elizabeth.
Varney could only prostrate himself before her feet, exclaiming:
"Pardon, my Liege, pardon! Or let your justice avenge itself on me; but
spare my noble, my generous, my innocent patron and master!"
Amy started up at the sight of the man she deemed most odious so near
her, and besought the queen to save her from "that most shameless
villain!" "I shall go mad if I look longer on him."
"Beshrew me, but I think thou art distraught already," answered the
queen. Then she bade Lord Hunsdon, a blunt, warm-hearted old noble,
"Look to this poor distressed young woman, and let her be safely
bestowed, till we require her to be forthcoming."
"By our Lady," said Hunsdon, taking in his strong arms the swooning form
of Amy, "she is a lovely child! And though a rough nurse, your Grace
hath given her a kind one. She is safe with me as one of my own
ladybirds of daughters."
So saying he carried her off, and the queen followed him with her eye,
and then turned angrily to Varney, for Leicester stared gloomily on the
"Speak, Sir Richard, and explain these riddles."
"Your Majesty's piercing eye," said Varney, "has already detected the
cruel malady of my beloved lady. It is the nature of persons in her
disorder, so please your Grace, to be ever most inveterate in their
spleen against those whom, in their better moments, they hold nearest
and dearest. May your Grace then be pleased to command my unfortunate
wife to be delivered into the custody of my friends?"
Leicester partly started, but making a stronger effort, he subdued his
emotion, while Elizabeth answered sharply, that her own physician should
report on the lady's health.
That night Leicester sought the countess in her apartment, and would
have avowed his marriage to the queen, but for Varney's influence.
Finding all other argument vain, Varney finally urged that the countess
was in love with Tressilian, and mentioned that he had seen him at
Cumnor. Leicester allowed his mind to be poisoned, and was silent when,
on the Queen's physician declaring Lady Varney to be sullen and the
victim of fancies, Elizabeth answered, "Nay, then away with her all
speed. Let Varney care for her with fitting humanity, but let them rid
the castle of her forthwith."
_IV.--The Death of the Countess_
Armed with the authority of Leicester's signet-ring Varney induced the
countess to leave Kenilworth for Cumnor, declaring that the earl had
ordered it for his own safety. But no sooner was the lady gone than
Leicester repented of the consent Varney had wrested from him. An
interview with Tressilian and the recovery of a letter written by Amy at
Cumnor revealed all Varney's villainy. Too late he acknowledged his
marriage to the queen, and when the fury of Elizabeth's anger had
somewhat subsided, she ordered Tressilian and Sir Walter Raleigh to
repair at once to Cumnor, bring the countess to Kenilworth, and secure
the body of Richard Varney, dead or alive.
But Varney's fell purpose had already decided that the countess must be
got rid of. A part of the wooden gallery immediately outside her door
was really a trap-door, and beneath it was an abyss dark as pitch. This
trap-door remained secure in appearance even when the supports were
withdrawn beneath it.
"Were the lady to attempt an escape over it," said Varney, to his
accomplice Foster, who held the house by Varney's favour, "her weight
would carry her down."
"A mouse's weight would do it," Foster answered.
"Why, then, she die in attempting her escape, and what could you or I
help it? Let us, to bed; we will adjust our project to-morrow."
On the next day, when evening approached, Varney summoned Foster to the
execution of their plan. Foster himself, as if anxious to see that the
countess suffered no want of accommodations, visited her place of
confinement. He was so much staggered at her mildness and patience, that
he could not help earnestly recommending to her not to cross the
threshold on any account until Lord Leicester should come. Amy promised
that she would resign herself to her fate, and Foster returned to his
hardened companion with his conscience half-eased of the perilous load
that weighed on it. "I have warned her," he said; "surely in vain is the
snare set in the sight of any bird!"
He left the countess's door unsecured on the outside, and, under the eye
of Varney, withdrew the supports which sustained the falling trap,
which, therefore, kept its level position merely by a slight adhesion.
They withdrew to wait the issue on the ground floor adjoining; but they
waited long in vain.
"Perhaps she is resolved," said Foster, "to await her husband's return."
"True! Most true!" said Varney, rushing out; "I had not thought of that
In less than two minutes, Foster, who remained behind, heard the tread
of a horse in the courtyard, and then a whistle similar to that which
was the earl's usual signal. The instant after the door to the
countess's chamber opened, and in the same moment the trap-door gave
way. There was a rushing sound--a heavy fall--a faint groan, and all was
At the same instant Varney called in at the window, "Is the bird caught?
Is the deed done?"
"O God, forgive us!" replied Foster.
"Why, thou fool," said Varney, "thy toil is ended, and thy reward
secure. Look down into the vault--what seest thou?"
"I see only a heap of clothes, like a snowdrift," said Foster. "O God,
she moves her arm!"
"Hurl something down on her."
"Varney, thou art an incarnate fiend!" replied Foster. "There needs
nothing more--she is gone!"
"So pass our troubles," said Varney; "I dreamed not I could have
mimicked the earl's call so well."
While they were at this consultation Tressilian and Raleigh broke in
upon them. Foster fled at their entrance, and escaped all search. He
perished miserably in a secret passage, behind an iron door, forgetting
the key of the spring-clock, and years later his skeleton was
But Varney was taken on the spot. He made very little mystery either of
the crime or of its motives--alleging that there was sufficient against
him to deprive him of Leicester's confidence, and to destroy all his
towering plans of ambition. "I was not born," he said, "to drag on the
remainder of life a degraded outcast; nor will I so die that my fate
shall make a holiday to the vulgar herd."
That night he swallowed a small quantity of strong poison, which he
carried about his person, and next morning was found dead in his cell.
The news of the countess's dreadful fate put a sudden stop to the
pleasures of Kenilworth. Leicester retired from court, and for a
considerable time abandoned himself to his remorse. But as Varney in his
last declaration had been studious to spare the character of his patron,
the earl was the object rather of compassion than resentment. The queen
at length recalled him to court; he was once more distinguished as a
statesman and favourite; and the rest of his career is well known to
history. But there was something retributive in his death, for it is
believed he died by swallowing a draught of poison, designed by him for
Tressilian at length embarked with his friend, Sir Walter Raleigh, for
the Virginia expedition, and young in years, but old in grief, died
before his day in that foreign land.
* * * * *
"Old Mortality" and the "Black Dwarf" were published together
as the first series of the "Tales of My Landlord" on December
1, 1816. The first is certainly one of the best of Scott's
historical romances. It was the fourth of the "Waverley
Novels," and the authorship was still unavowed; though Mr.
Murray, the publisher, at once declared it "must be written
either by Walter Scott or the Devil." On the other hand, there
were critics who did not believe the book was Sir Walter's
because it lacked his "tedious descriptions." Some said openly
it was the work of several hands. The study of the fierce,
fanatical Covenanters in "Old Mortality" is done not only with
all the author's literary genius, but a wonderful fidelity to
historical truth; and while the accuracy of the portrait of
Claverhouse--"Bonny Dundee"--will always be disputed, no lover
of romance will question its brilliant charm. The immediate
popularity of "Old Mortality" was less than many of the
"Waverley Novels," only two editions, amounting to 4,000
copies, being sold in six weeks.
"Most readers," says the manuscript of Mr. Pattieson, "must have
witnessed with delight the joyous burst which attends the dismissing of
the village school. The buoyant spirit of childhood may then be seen to
explode, as it were, in shout and song and frolic; but there is one
individual who partakes of the relief, whose feelings are not so
obvious, or so apt to receive sympathy--the teacher himself."
The reader may form some conception of the relief which a solitary walk,
on a fine summer evening, affords to the head which has ached, and the
nerves which have been shattered for so many hours in plying the irksome
task of public instruction.
To me these evening strolls have been the happiest hours of an unhappy
life; and it was in one of them that I met, for the first time, the
religious itinerant known in various parts of Scotland by the title of
"Old Mortality." He was busily engaged in deepening with his chisel the
letters of the inscription upon the monument of the slaughtered
Presbyterians--those champions of the Covenant whose deeds and
sufferings were his favourite theme.
For nearly thirty years this pious enthusiast visited annually the
graves of those who suffered for the cause during the reigns of the last
two Stuarts, most numerous in the districts of Ayr, Galloway, and
Dumfries. To talk of their exploits was the delight, as to repair their
monuments was the business of his life.
My readers will understand that in embodying into one narrative many of
the anecdotes I derived from Old Mortality, I have endeavoured to
correct and verify them from the most authentic sources of tradition
afforded by the representatives of either party. Peace to their memory!
"Implacable resentment was their crime,
And grievous has the expiation been."
Under the reign of the last Stuarts, frequent musters of the people,
both for military exercise and for sports and pastimes, were appointed
by authority, and the Sheriff of Lanark was holding the wappen-schaw of
a wild district, on the day our narrative commences, May 5, 1679.
The lord-lieutenant of the country alone, who was of ducal rank,
pretended to the magnificence of a wheel-carriage, but near it might be
seen the erect form of Lady Margaret Bellenden on her sober palfrey, and
her granddaughter; the fair-haired Edith appeared beside her aged
relative like Spring, close to Winter.
Many civilities passed between her ladyship and the representatives of
sundry ancient royal families, and not a young man of rank passed by
them in the course of the muster, but carried himself more erect in the
saddle and displayed his horsemanship to the best advantage in the eyes
of Miss Edith Bellenden.
When the military evolutions were over, a loud shout announced that the
competitors were about to step forth for the shooting of the popinjay--
the figure of a bird suspended to a pole. When a slender young man,
dressed with great simplicity, yet with an air of elegance, his
dark-green cloak thrown back over his shoulder, approached the station
with his fusee in his hand, there was a murmur among the spectators.
"Ewhow, sirs, to see his father's son at the like o' thae fearless
follies!" said some of the more rigid, but the generality were content
to wish success to the son of a deceased Presbyterian leader. Their
wishes were gratified. The green adventurer made the first palpable hit
of the day, and two only of those who followed succeeded--the first, a
young man of low rank, who kept his face muffled in a grey cloak; and
the second, a gallant young cavalier, remarkably handsome, who had been
in close attendance on Lady Margaret and Miss Bellenden.
But the applause, even of those whose wishes had favoured Lord Evandale,
were at the third trial transferred to his triumphant rival, who was led
by four of the duke's friends to his presence, passing in front of Lady
Margaret and her granddaughter. The captain of the popinjay (as the
victor was called) and Miss Bellenden coloured like crimson, as the
latter returned the low inclination he made, even to the saddlebow, in
"Do you know that young person?" said Lady Margaret.
"I--I--have seen him, madam, at my uncle's, and--and--elsewhere,
occasionally," stammered Edith.
"I hear them say around me," said Lady Margaret, "that the young spark
is the nephew of old Milnwood."
"The son of the late Colonel Morton of Milnwood, who commanded a
regiment of horse with great courage at Dunbar and Inverkeithing," said
a gentleman beside Lady Margaret.
"Ay, and before that, who fought for the Covenanters, both at Marston
Moor and Philipshaugh," said Lady Margaret, sighing. "His son ought to
dispense with intruding himself into the company of those to whom his
name must bring unpleasing recollections."
"You forget, my dear lady, he comes here to discharge suit and service
in name for his uncle. He is an old miser, and although probably against
the grain, sends the young gentleman to save pecuniary pains and
penalties. The youngster is, I suppose, happy enough to escape for the
day from the dullness of the old home at Milnwood."
The company now dispersed, excepting such as, having tried their
dexterity at the popinjay, were, by ancient custom, obliged to partake
of a grace-cup with their captain, who, though he spared the cup
himself, took care it should go round with due celerity among the rest.
On leaving the alehouse, a stranger observed to Morton that he was
riding towards Milnwood, and asked for the advantage of his company.
"Certainly," said Morton, though there was a gloomy and relentless
severity in the man's manner from which he recoiled, and they rode off
They had not long left, when Cornet Grahame, a kinsman of Claverhouse,
entered with the news that the Archbishop of St. Andrews had been
murdered by a body of the rebel Whigs.
He read their descriptions, and it was clear that the stern stranger who
had just left with Henry Morton, was Balfour of Burley, the actual
commander of the band of assassins, though Morton himself knew nothing
of Burley's terrible deed.
"Horse, horse, and pursue, my lads!" exclaimed Cornet Grahame. "The
murdering dog's head is worth its weight in gold."
_II.--Henry Morton's Escape_
The dragoons soon arrived at Milnwood, and carried off Henry Morton
prisoner for having given a night's shelter to Balfour of Burley, an old
military comrade of his father's. Morton acknowledged he had done this,
but refused to give any other information. Hitherto he had meddled with
no party in the state. They decided to bring him before Colonel Grahame
of Claverhouse, who was expected next day at the Castle of Tillietudlem,
the residence of Lady Margaret Bellenden.
Although Henry Morton had prevailed upon the sergeant to let him be
muffled up in one of the soldier's cloaks, Miss Edith Bellenden found it
impossible to withdraw her eyes from him, and her waiting maid soon
discovered his identity, and found means for the lovers (for such they
were) to meet in secret in the room where the prisoner was confined.
"You are lost, you are lost, if you are to plead your cause with
Claverhouse!" sighed Edith. "The primate was his intimate friend and
early patron. 'No excuse, no subterfuge,' he wrote to my grandmother,
'shall save either those connected with the deed, or such as have given
them countenance and shelter.'"
They were interrupted by the guard, and Morton, assuming a firmness he
was far from feeling, whispered, "Farewell, Edith; leave me to my fate;
it cannot be beyond endurance, since you are interested in it. Good
night, good night! Do not remain here till you are discovered."
"Everyone has his taste, to be sure," said the sentinel; "but, d---- me
if I would vex so sweet a girl for all the Whigs that ever swore a
After breakfast next day, Major Bellenden, Edith's grand-uncle, to whom
she had written, approached Claverhouse, to plead for the life of the
son of his old friend, but she heard the reply.
"It cannot be, Major Bellenden; lenity in his case is altogether beyond
the bounds of my commission. And here comes Evandale with news, as I
think. What tidings do you bring us, Evandale?" addressing the young
lord, who now entered in complete uniform but with dress disordered, and
"Unpleasant news, sir," was the reply. "A large body of Whigs are in
arms among the hills, and have broken out into actual rebellion."
Claverhouse immediately bid them sound to horse, saying, "There are
rogues enough in the country to make the rebels five times their
strength, if they are not checked at once."
"Many," said Evandale, "are flocking to them already, and they expect a
strong body of the indulged Presbyterians, headed by young Milnwood, the
son of the famous old Roundhead, Colonel Silas Morton."
"It's a lie!" said the major hastily, and begged that Henry Morton might
at once be heard himself. Evandale drew near to Miss Bellenden, and
addressed her in a manner, expressing a feeling much deeper and more
agitating than was conveyed in his phrases.
"I will but dispose of this young fellow," said Claverhouse, "and then
Lord Evandale--I am sorry to interrupt your conversation--but then we
must mount. Why do you not bring up your prisoner? And hark ye, let two
files load their carbines."
Edith broke through the restraint that had hitherto kept her silent, and
entreated Lord Evandale to use his interest with his colonel, becoming
bolder and more urgent as the soldiers entered with the prisoner, whom
they had just informed that Lady Margaret's niece was interceding for
his life with Lord Evandale, to whom she was about to be married.
The unfortunate prisoner heard enough, as he passed behind Edith's seat,
of the broken expressions which passed between her and Lord Evandale, to
confirm all that the soldiers had told him.
That moment made a singular and instantaneous change in his character.
Desperate himself, he determined to support the rights of his country,
insulted in his person. So he declined to answer any questions, and
assured Claverhouse that there were yet Scotsmen who could assert the
liberties of Scotland.
"Make you peace then, with Heaven, in five minutes space. Bothwell, lead
him down to the courtyard, and draw up your party!"
A silence of horror fell on all but the speaker at these words. Edith
sprang up, but her strength gave way, and she would have fallen had she
not been caught by her attendant.
Evandale at once addressed Claverhouse, and calling him aside reminded
him of services rendered by his family in an affair of the privy
"Certainly, my dear Evandale," answered Claverhouse; "I am not a man who
forgets such debts. How can I evince my gratitude?"
"I will hold the debt cancelled," said Lord Evandale, "if you will spare
this young man's life."
"Evandale," replied Claverhouse in great surprise, "you are
mad--absolutely mad. You see him? He is tottering on the verge between
time and eternity; yet his is the only cheek unblanched, the only heart
that keeps its usual time. Look at him well. If that man should ever
come to head an army of rebels, you will have much to answer for."
He then said aloud, "Young man, your life is for the present safe, owing
to the interference of your friends." So Morton was hurried down to the
courtyard, where three other prisoners remained under an escort of
dragoons; soon they were all pressing forward to overtake the main body,
as it was supposed they would come in sight of the enemy in less than
two hours. It was obvious, when they did so that there were old soldiers
with the rebels from the choice of the ground, and the order of battle
in which they waited the assault. Cornet Grahame was sent with a flag of
truce to offer a free pardon to all but the murderers of the archbishop
if they would disperse themselves. On his persisting in addressing the
people themselves in spite of the warning of their spokesman, Balfour of
Burley, whom he recognised. "Then the Lord grant grace to thy
soul--amen!" said Burley, and fired, and Cornet Grahame dropped from his
horse, mortally wounded.
"What have you done?" said one of Balfour's brother officers.
"My duty," said Balfour firmly. "Is it not written 'Thou shalt be
zealous even to slaying?' Let those who dare now venture to talk of
truce or pardon!"
Claverhouse saw his nephew fall; with a glance of indescribable emotion
he looked at Evandale. "I will avenge him, or die," exclaimed Evandale,
and rode furiously down the hill, followed by his own troop, and that of
the deceased cornet, each striving to be first in revenge. They soon
fell into confusion in the broken ground. In vain Claverhouse shouted,
"Halt! halt! This rashness will undo us." The enemy set upon them with
the utmost fury, crying, "Woe, woe to the uncircumcised Philistines!
Down with the Dagon and all his adherents!" Though the young nobleman
fought like a lion, he was forced to retreat, and soon Claverhouse was
compelled to follow his troops in their flight; as he passed Henry
Morton and the other prisoners just released from their bonds,
Evandale's horse was shot, and Morton rushed forward just in time to
prevent his being killed by Balfour himself in hot pursuit.
_III.--The Presbyterian Insurgents_
John Balfour of Burley, a man of some fortune and good family, a soldier
from his youth upwards, aspired to place himself at the head of the
Presbyterian forces then in arms against the English government. On this
account he was particularly anxious to secure the accession of young
Henry Morton to the cause of the insurgents, for the memory of Morton's
father was esteemed among the Presbyterians, and few persons of decent
quality had so far joined the rising.
Morton, on his side, was willing to join in any insurrection which
promised freedom to the country though he abhorred the murder of Sharpe,
and the tenets of the wilder set of Cameronians, by whom the seeds of
disunion were already thickly sown in the ill-fated party.
At the nomination of the council of the Presbyterian army Morton was
sent with the main body to march against Glasgow, while Burley, with a
chosen body of five hundred men, remained behind to blockade the castle
of Tillietudlem. A command to surrender had been scorned with
indignation by Major Bellenden and Lord Evandale.
A few weeks later a pause in the hostilities enabled Morton, anxious for
the fate of Tillietudlem, to return to Burley's camp, where he learnt
that Evandale had been taken prisoner, and was to be hanged at daybreak
unless the castle surrendered.
Burley sullenly yielded his prisoner into Morton's hands, and Evandale,
released on parole by the man whose life he had previously saved,
undertook to set out for Edinburgh, with a list of the grievances of the
insurgents. A mutiny within the castle drove Major Bellenden to evacuate
Tillietudlem; the ladies acquiesced in the decision, and when the
scarlet and blue colours of the Scottish Covenant floated from the keep
of Tillietudlem, the cavalcade led by the major was on the road towards
Lord Evandale's good word saved Morton a second time when Claverhouse
routed the Presbyterian army at Bothwell Bridge. Morton was taken
prisoner, but his life was spared, and at Leith he was put on board a
vessel bound for Rotterdam with letters of recommendation to the Prince
_IV.--Henry Morton Returns in Time_
By the prudent tolerance of King William Scotland narrowly escaped the
horrors of a protracted civil war. The triumphant Whigs re-established
Presbytery as the national religion, and only the extreme sect of
Cameronians on the one side, and the Highlanders, who were for the
deposed Stuart king, on the other, disturbed the peace of the land.
Balfour of Burley refused to sheathe his sword, and Evandale followed
his old commander Claverhouse (now Viscount Dundee) in joining the rebel
Jacobites. Major Bellenden was dead.
No news had ever come of Henry Morton, and it was believed with good
reason he was lost when the vessel in which he sailed went down with
crew and passengers. But Morton was already back in Scotland, in the
service of King William.
In the belief of her Morton's death, Edith Bellenden had become
betrothed to Lord Evandale, though she postponed marriage, and her
prayers went out to him that he would refrain from joining Claverhouse,
when he came to bid her farewell.
"Oh, my lord, remain!" said Edith. "Do not rush on death and ruin!
Remain to be our prop and stay, and hope everything from time."
"It is too late, Edith," answered Lord Evandale. "I know you cannot love
me, that your heart is dead or absent. But were it otherwise, the die is
As he spoke thus an old servant rushed in to say a party of horse headed
by one Basil Olifant, a rascal who was anxious to take Evandale for the
sake of reward, had beset the outlets of the house.
"Oh, hide yourself, my lord!" cried Edith, in an agony of terror.
"I will not, by Heaven!" answered Lord Evandale. "What right has the
villain to assail me or stop my passage? I will make my way, were he
backed by a regiment. And now, farewell, Edith!"
He clasped her in his arms, and kissed her tenderly; then rushed out and
mounted his horse, and with his servants rode composedly down the
As soon as Lord Evandale appeared, Olifant's party spread themselves a
little, as if preparing to enclose him. Their leader stood fast,
supported by three men, two of whom were dragoons, the third in dress
and appearance a countryman, all well-armed. Whoever had before seen the
strong figure, stern features, and resolved manner of the third
attendant could have no difficulty in recognising Balfour of Burley.
"Follow me," said Lord Evandale to his servants, "and if we are forcibly
opposed, do as I do."
He advanced at a hand gallop; Olifant called out, "Shoot the traitor!"
and four carbines were fired upon the unfortunate nobleman. He reeled in
the saddle, and fell from his horse mortally wounded. His servants fired
and Basil Olifant and a dragoon were stretched lifeless on the ground.
Burley, whose blood was up, exclaimed, "Down with the Midianites!" and
advanced, sword in hand. At this instant the clatter of horses' hoofs
was heard, and a party of horse appeared on the fatal field. They were
foreign dragoons led by a Dutch commander, accompanied by Morton and a
Only the belief that Evandale was to marry Edith had kept Morton
hitherto from revealing his return.
A hasty call to surrender, in the name of God and King William, was
obeyed by all except Burley, who turned his horse and attempted to
escape. Pursued by soldiers he made for the river, but was shot in the
middle of the stream, and felt himself dangerously wounded. He returned
towards the bank he had left, waving his hand as if in token of
surrender. The troopers ceased firing, and as he approached a dragoon
laid hands on him. Burley, in requital, grasped his throat, and both
came headlong into the river, and were swept down the stream. They were
twice seen to rise, the trooper trying to swim, and Burley clinging to
him in a manner that showed his desire that both should perish. Their
corpses were taken out about a quarter of a mile down the river.
While the soul of this stern enthusiast flitted to its account, that of
the brave and generous Lord Evandale was also released. Morton had flung
himself from his horse, to render his dying friend all the aid in his
power. Evandale knew him, for he pressed his hand, and intimated by
signs his wish to be conveyed to the house. This was done with all the
care possible, and the clamorous grief of the lamenting household was
far exceeded in intensity by the silent agony of Edith. Unconscious even
of the presence of Morton, she was not aware that fate, who was removing
one faithful lover, had restored another as if from the grave, until
Lord Evandale taking their hands in his, united them together, raised
his face as if to pray for a blessing on them, and sunk back and expired
in the next moment.
* * * * *
The marriage of Morton and Miss Bellenden was delayed for several months
on account of Lord Evandale's death. Lady Margaret was prevailed on to
countenance Morton, who now stood high in the reputation of the world,
and Edith was her only hope, and she wished to see her happy. So Lady
Margaret put her prejudice aside, for Morton's being an old Covenanter
stuck sorely with her for some time, and consoled herself with the
recollection that his most sacred majesty Charles the Second had once
observed to her that marriage went by destiny.
* * * * *
Peveril of the Peak
"Peveril of the Peak," the longest of all the Waverley novels,
was published in 1823. For the main idea of the tale Sir
Walter was indebted to some papers found by his younger
brother, Thomas Scott, in the Isle of Man. These papers gave
the story of William Christian, who took the side of the
Roundheads against the high-spirited Countess of Derby, and
was subsequently tried and executed, according to the laws of
the island, by that lady, for having dethroned his august
mistress and imprisoned her and her family. "Peveril" is one
of the most complicated, in respect of characters and
incidents, of Scott's works. The canvas is crowded with
personages, good, bad, and indifferent, yet all full of
vitality and responding to the actual forces which their
creator set in motion.
_I.--Cavalier and Roundhead_
In Charles the Second's time, the representative of an ancient family in
the county of Derbyshire, long distinguished by the proud title of
Peverils of the Peak, was Sir Geoffrey Peveril, a man with the
attributes of an old-fashioned country gentleman.
When the civil wars broke out, Peveril of the Peak raised a regiment for
the king, and performed his part with sufficient gallantry for several
rough years. He witnessed also the final defeat at Worcester, where, for
the second time, he was made prisoner, and being regarded as an
obstinate malignant, was in great danger of execution. But Sir
Geoffrey's life was preserved by the interest of a friend, who possessed
influence in the councils of Cromwell. This was a Major Bridgenorth, a
gentleman of middling quality, who had inherited from his father a
considerable sum of money, and to whom Sir Geoffrey was under pecuniary
Moultrassie Hall, the residence of Mr. Bridgenorth, was but two miles
distant from Martindale Castle, the ancient seat of the Peverils; and
while, as Bridgenorth was a decided Roundhead, all friendly
communication which had grown up betwixt Sir Geoffrey and his neighbour
was abruptly broken asunder at the outbreak of hostilities, on the trial
and execution of Charles I., Bridgenorth was so shocked, fearing the
domination of the military, that his politics on many points became
those of the Peverils, and he favoured the return of Charles II.
Another bond of intimacy, stronger than the same political opinions, now
united the families of the castle and the hall.
In the beginning of the year 1658 Major Bridgenorth--who had lost
successively a family of six young children--was childless; ere it
ended, he had a daughter, but her birth was purchased by the death of an
affectionate wife. The same voice which told Bridgenorth that he was a
father of a living child--it was the friendly voice of Lady Peveril--
told him that he was no longer a husband.
Lady Peveril placed in Bridgenorth's arms the infant whose birth had
cost him so dear, and conjured him to remember that his Alice was not
yet dead, since she survived in the helpless child.
"Take her away--take her away!" said the unhappy man. "Let me not look
on her! It is but another blossom that has bloomed to fade."
"I will take the child for a season," said Lady Peveril, "since the
sight of her is so painful to you; and the little Alice shall share the
nursery of our Julian until it shall be pleasure, and not pain, for you
to look on her."
"That hour will never come," said the unhappy father; "she will follow
the rest--God's will be done! Lady, I thank you--I trust her to your
It is enough to say that the Lady Peveril did undertake the duties of a
mother to the little orphan, and the puny infant gradually improved in
strength and in loveliness.
Sir Geoffrey was naturally fond of children, and so much compassionated
the sorrows of his neighbour, that morning after morning he made
Moultrassie Hall the termination of his walk or ride, and said a single
word of kindness as he passed. "How is it with you, Master Bridgenorth?"
the knight would say, halting his horse by the latticed window. "I just
looked in to bid you keep a good heart, man, and to tell you that Julian
is well, and little Alice is well, and all are well at Martindale
"I thank you, Sir Geoffrey; my grateful duty waits on Lady Peveril," was
generally Bridgenorth's only answer.
The voice of Peveril suddenly assumed a new and different tone in the
month of April, 1660. He rushed into the apartment of the astonished
major with his eyes sparkling and called out, "Up, up, neighbour! No
time now to mope in the chimney-corner! Where is your buff coat and
broadsword, man? Take the true side once in your life, and mend past
mistakes. Monk has declared at London--for the king. Fairfax is up in
Yorkshire--for the king, for the king, man! I have a letter from Fairfax
to secure Derby and Chesterfield with all the men I can make. All are
friends now, and you and I, good neighbour, will charge abreast as good
neighbours should!" The sturdy cavalier's heart became too full, and
exclaiming, "Did ever I think to live to see this happy day!" he wept,
to his own surprise as much as to that of Bridgenorth.
The neighbours were both at Chesterfield when news arrived that the king
had landed in England, and Sir Geoffrey instantly announced his purpose
of waiting upon his majesty, while the major desired nothing better than
to find all well at Martindale on his return.
Accordingly, on the subsequent morning, Bridgenorth went to Martindale
Castle, and gave Lady Peveril the welcome assurances of her husband's
"May Almighty God be praised!" said the Lady Peveril. The door of the
apartment opened as she spoke, and two lovely children entered. The
eldest, Julian Peveril, a fine boy betwixt four and five years old, led
in his hand a little girl of eighteen months, who rolled and tottered
Bridgenorth cast a hasty glance upon his daughter, and then caught her
in his arms and pressed her to his heart. The child, though at first
alarmed at the vehemence of his caresses, presently smiled in reply to
"Julian must lose his playfellow now, I suppose?" said Lady Peveril.
"But the hall is not distant, and I will see my little charge often."
"God forbid my girl should ever come to Moultrassie," said Major
Bridgenorth hastily; "it has been the grave of her race. The air of the
low grounds suited them not. I will seek for her some other place of
"Major Bridgenorth," answered the lady, "if she goes not to her father's
house, she shall not quit mine. I will keep the little lady as a pledge
of her safety and my own skill; and since you are afraid of the damp of
the low grounds, I hope you will come here frequently to visit her."
This was a proposal which went to the heart of Major Bridgenorth. He
expressed his grateful duty to Lady Peveril, and having solemnly blessed
his little girl, took his departure for Moultrassie Hall.
The friendly relations between the inhabitants of Martindale and
Moultrassie came to an end with the common rejoicing over the
restoration of Charles II.
The Countess of Derby, queen in the Isle of Man, whose husband had
perished for the crown, took refuge at the castle, fleeing from a
warrant for her arrest, and told her story to Lady Peveril in the
presence of Major Bridgenorth.
The countess had kept the royal standard flying in Man until her vassal,
William Christian, turned against her. Then for seven years she had
endured strict captivity, until the tide turned, and she was once more
in possession of the sovereignty of the island. "I was no sooner placed
in possession of my rightful power," said the countess, "than I ordered
the dempster to hold a high court of justice upon the traitor Christian,
according to all the formalities of the isle. He was fully convicted of
his crime, and without delay was shot to death by a file of musketeers."
At hearing this, Bridgenorth clasped his hands together and groaned
bitterly. "O Christian--worthy, well worthy of the name thou didst bear!
My friend, my brother--the brother of my blessed wife Alice, art thou,
then, cruelly murdered!"
Then, drawing himself up with resolution, he demanded the arrest of the
This Lady Peveril would not permit, and Bridgenorth left the castle. The
arrival of Sir Geoffrey from London with news that the council had sent
a herald with the king's warrant for the Countess of Derby's arrest,
made flight to the Isle of Man imperative. Bridgenorth, with a number of
the old Roundheads, attempted to prevent the escape, but were beaten off
by Sir Geoffrey and his men, and the countess embarked safely for her
son's hereditary dominions, until the accusation against her for breach
of the royal indemnity by the execution of Christian could be brought to
Before leaving Martindale, the countess called Julian to her, and
kissing his forehead said: "When I am safely established and have my
present affairs arranged, you must let me have this little Julian of
yours some time hence, to be nurtured in my house, held as my page, and
the playfellow of the little Derby."
Five years passed.
Major Bridgenorth left his seat of Moultrassie Hall in the care of his
old housekeeper and departed to no one knew whither, having in company
with him his daughter, Alice, and Mrs. Deborah Debbitch, the child's
early nurse at the castle.
Lady Peveril, with many tears, took a temporary leave of her son,
Julian, who was sent as had been long intended for the purpose of
sharing the education of the young Earl of Derby. The plan seemed to be
in every respect successful, and when, from time to time, Julian visited
the house of his father, Lady Peveril had the satisfaction to see him
improved in person and in manner. In process of time he became a gallant
and accomplished youth, and travelled for some time upon the Continent
with the young earl.
_III.--The Island Lovers_
Julian, leaving the earl to go on a sailing voyage, assumed the dress of
one who means to amuse himself with angling. Then, mounted upon a Manx
pony, he rode briskly over the country, and halted at one of the
mountain streams, and followed along the bank until he reached a house
where once a fastness had stood, called the Black Fort.
He received no answer to his knocks, and impatience getting the upper
hand, Julian opened the door, and passed through the hall into a summer
"How now--how is this?" said a woman's voice. "You here, Master Peveril,
in spite of all the warnings you have had!"
"Yes, Mistress Deborah," said Peveril. "I am here once more, against
every prohibition. Where is Alice?"
"Where you will never see her, Master Julian--you may satisfy yourself
of that," answered Mistress Deborah. "For if Dame Christian should learn
that you have chosen to make your visits to her niece, I promise you we
should soon be obliged to find other quarters."
"Come now, Mistress Deborah, be good-humoured," said Julian. "Consider,
was not all this intimacy of ours of your own making? Did you not make
yourself known to me the very first time I strolled up this glen with my
fishing-rod, and tell me that you were my former keeper, and that Alice
had been my little playfellow?"
"Yes," said Dame Deborah; "but I did not bid you fall in love with us,
though, or propose such a matter as marriage either to Alice or myself.
Why, there is the knight your father, and my lady your mother; and there
is her father that is half crazy with his religion, and her aunt that
wears eternal black grogram for that unlucky Colonel Christian; and
there is the Countess of Derby that would serve us all with the same
sauce if we were thinking of anything that would displease her. Though I
may indeed have said your estates were born to be united, and sure
enough they might be were you to marry Alice Bridgenorth."
The good nature of Dame Debbitch could not, however, resist the appeal
of Julian, and she left the apartment and ran upstairs.
The visits of Julian to the Black Fort had hitherto been only
occasional, but his affections were fixed, and his ardent character had
already declared his love. To-day, on her entrance to the room, Alice
reproached him for again coming there against her earnest request. "It
were better that we should part for a long time," she said softly, "and
for heaven's sake let it be as soon as possible--perhaps it is even now
too late to prevent some unpleasant accident. Spare yourself, Julian--
spare me--and in mercy to us both depart, and return not again till you
can be more reasonable."
"Reasonable?" replied Julian. "Did you not say that if our parents could
be brought to consent to our union, you would no longer oppose my suit?"
"Indeed, indeed, Julian," said the almost weeping girl, "you ought not
to press me thus. It is ungenerous, it is cruel. You dared not to
mention the subject to your own father--how should you venture to
mention it to mine?"
"Major Bridgenorth," replied Julian, "by my mother's account, is an
estimable man. I will remind him that to my mother's care he owes the
dearest treasure and comfort of his life. Let me but know where to find
him, Alice, and you shall soon hear if I have feared to plead my cause
"Do not attempt it," said Alice. "He is already a man of sorrows.
Besides, I could not tell you if I would where he is now to be found. My
letters reach him from time to time by means of my Aunt Christian, but
of his address I am entirely ignorant."
"Then, by heaven," answered Julian, "I will watch his arrival in this
island, and he shall answer me on the subject of my suit."
"Then demand that answer now," said a voice, as the door opened, "for
here stands Ralph Bridgenorth." As he spoke, he entered the apartment
with slow and sedate step, and eyed alternately his daughter and Julian
Peveril with a penetrating glance.
Bidding his daughter learn to rule her passions and retire to her
chamber, Bridgenorth turned to Julian and told him he had long known of
this attachment, and went on to point out calmly the differences which
made the union seem impossible. "But heaven hath at times opened a door
where man beholds no means of issue," continued Bridgenorth. "Julian,
your mother is, after the fashion of the world, one of the best and one
of the wisest of women, with a mind as pure as the original frailty of
our vile nature will permit. Of your father I say nothing--he is what
the times and examples of others have made him. I have power over him,
which ere now he might have felt, but there is one within his chambers
who might have suffered in his suffering. Enough, however, of this, for
to-day this is thy habitation."
So saying, he stretched out his thin, bony hand and grasped that of
Presently, with the feeling of one who walks in a pleasant dream from
which he fears to awake, and whose delight is mingled with wonder and
with uncertainty, Julian found himself seated between Alice Bridgenorth
and her father--the being he most loved on earth and the person whom he
had ever considered as the great obstacle to their intercourse.
It was evening when he departed. "You have not, after all," said
Bridgenorth, bidding Julian farewell, "told me the cause of your coming
hither. Will you find no words to ask of me the great boon which you
seek? Nay, reply not to me now, but go, and peace be with you."
_IV.--The Popish Plot_
Julian Peveril set out for London when the fictitious "popish plot" of
Titus Oates had set England "stark staring mad," promising the countess
that he would apprise her should any danger menace the Earl of Derby or
herself. He had learnt that Bridgenorth was on the island with secret
and severe orders, and that the countess in return was issuing warrants
on her own authority for the apprehension of Bridgenorth, and before
leaving he obtained one more interview with Alice, who was alive to the
dangers on all sides.
"Break off all intercourse with our family," said Alice. "Return to your
parents--or, what will be much safer, visit the Continent, and abide
till God sends better days to England, for these are black with many a
storm. Placed as we are, with open war about to break out betwixt our
parents and friends, we must part on this spot, and at this hour, never
to meet again."
"No, by heaven!" said Peveril, venturing to throw his arm around her;
"we part not, Alice. If I am to leave my native land you shall be my
companion in my exile. Fear not for my parents; they love me, and they
will soon learn to love, in Alice, the only being on earth who could
have rendered their son happy. And for your own father, when state and
church intrigues allow him to bestow a thought upon you, will he not
think your happiness is cared for when you are my wife? What could his
pride desire better for you than the establishment which will one day be
"It cannot--it cannot be," said Alice, faltering. "Think what I, the
cause of all, should feel when your father frowns, your mother weeps,
your noble friends stand aloof, and you--even you--shall have made the
painful discovery that you have incurred the resentment of all to
satisfy a boyish passion. Farewell, then, Julian; but first take the
solemn advice which I impart to you: shun my father--you cannot walk in
his paths; leave this island, which will soon be agitated by strange
incidents; while you stay be on your guard, distrust everything----"
Alice broke off suddenly, and with a faint shriek. Once more her father
stood unexpectedly before them.
"I thank you, Alice," he said solemnly to his daughter, "for the hints
you have thrown out; and now retire, and let me complete the conference
which you have commenced."
"I go, sir," said Alice. "Julian, to you my last words are: Farewell and
She turned from them, and was seen no more.
Bridgenorth turned to Peveril. "You are willing to lead my only child
into exile from her native country, to give her a claim to the kindness
and protection from your family, which you know will be disregarded, on
condition I consent to bestow her hand on you, with a fortune sufficient
to have matched that of your ancestors when they had most reason to
boast of their wealth. This, young man, seems no equal bargain. And yet,
so little do I value the goods of this world, that it might not be
utterly beyond thy power to reconcile me to the match which you have
"Show me but the means, Major Bridgenorth," said Peveril, "and you shall
see how eagerly I will obey your directions, or submit to your
"This is a critical period," cried the major; "it becomes the duty of
all men to step forward. You, Julian Peveril, yourself know the secret
but rapid strides which Rome has made to erect her Dagon of idolatry
within our Protestant land."
"I trust to live and die in the faith of the reformed Church of
England," said Peveril. "I have seen popery too closely to be friendly
to its tenets."
"Enough," said Bridgenorth, "that I find thee not as yet enlightened
with the purer doctrine, but willing to uplift thy testimony against the
errors and arts of the Church of Rome. At present thy prejudices occupy
thy mind like the strong keeper of the house mentioned in Scripture.
But, remember, thou wilt soon be called upon to justify what thou hast
said, and I trust to see thy name rank high amongst those by whom the
prey shall be rent from the mighty."
"You have spoken to me in riddles, Major Bridgenorth," said Peveril;
"and I have asked for no explanation. But we do not part in anger?"
"Not in anger, my son," answered Bridgenorth, "but in love and strong
affection. I accept not thy suit, neither do I reject it; only he that
would be my son must first show himself the true and loving child of his
oppressed and deluded country. Farewell; thou shalt hear of me sooner
than thou thinkest for."
He shook Peveril heartily by the hand, leaving him with confused
impressions of pleasure, doubt, and wonder. Surprised to find himself so
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